Over the sounds of heavy traffic, Glen Creed plays an old George Jones tune on his accordion for all to hear.
While he used to play the bar scene back in his hometown in Pictou County, Creed now spends his days playing his music on the corner of Spring Garden Road and Dresden Row.
“It’s not something I have to do. I don’t do it for a living. If I make a few dollars fine, if I don’t that don’t bother me a bit. If I play and people enjoy it then that’s what counts.”
Click on the link to hear Creed’s cover of Glen Campbell’s Gentle on my Mind.
As he plays he looks straight ahead, focusing on his music and barely taking notice of the few glances he receives from people walking by. His open accordion case holds a handful of loonies and toonies.
Creed says he began playing the accordion at the age of 12, and hasn’t put it down in 53 years. Growing up, both his father and brother played the instrument, but being left handed, Creed had to teach himself to play. The first song he ever learned was You Are my Sunshine.
Creed has been playing music on the streets for decades. This year marks his 20th year playing on the waterfront on Canada Day. Most days he starts playing around 9 a.m. and goes all the way until lunch.
His old accordion has duct tape covering the many holes in the bellows, and although he has three more waiting at home, he needs to get the reeds fixed in them before they are ready to play again.
“It’s nice to get out. So many people today play all the young people’s music, but the older people like the type of music I play,” he says. “I do Newfoundland stuff, waltzes, polkas, fiddle music and Celtic stuff. It takes them back in time and they really enjoy it.”
While Creed enjoys playing all kinds of music, his love for country music is quite clear. His wide repertoire features many of his personal favourites by George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell.
Even with the long winter that Halifax has been experiencing, Creed is still determined to play despite the cold. His dry, weather-beaten hands prove it.
“The cold air is really hard on them (the accordions). You have days that are really cold, but you just do the best you can, play when you can. Some days are a little too rough, but I just keep on going.”