‘Come From Away’ Bio
Kim Ratcliffe - band - Guit. 2
Mirvish/ Junkyard Dog Productions
January 2018

In the show I play mandolin, octave mandolin (a lower sounding mando), Celtic bouzouki (a longer sounding mando), acoustic guitar, and another ac. guitar in dadgad tuning.  It was only a few weeks ago that I noticed that these things are all different lengths and sizes, which may account for why some of the notes are a bit tricky to play.  When I’m not tuning mandolins, I can be found playing electric guitar in jazz, rock and pop bands.  I’ve toured with Holly Cole, Colm Wilkinson, and bands in mini vans with all our gear in the back, driving across the country doing one nighters. I’ve also done shows such as Hairspray, Grease, Chicago, and Stan Rogers - A Matter of Heart, and I teach in the music programs at Humber and Mohawk Colleges. 

In September 2001, my future wife and I were at the ‘start of a moment’ of a new relationship.  We had met a year earlier when she had come from Germany to work at CanStage for a few months.  We woke the morning of 9/11 intending to head out for an early fall canoe trip in Algonquin Park.  Around 9:20 a.m. I popped into the vet’s to pick up some insulin for my old diabetic cat.  They were all gathered around a tv watching something that looked like an apocalyptic disaster movie.  I think the words that came out of my mouth were  “What are you watching??”.  It just didn’t compute.  After we witnessed, with the eyes of the world, those horrible events unfold that fateful morning, we decided that if it was all going to end, Opeongo Lake was as good a place as any to be. Over the course of the next four days, with no access to news, no planes in the sky, and no contact with anyone else, we pondered the meaning of it all, moment to moment (not to mention that both our fathers had been pilots).

Now we have three daughters, and like all parents we worry about what kind of world our kids are going to inherit.  The waters can still look pretty rough.  

It’s a great honour and privilege to be a part of this remarkable show and great band.  There may still be a lot of craziness on our third stone from the sun, but here in this space we are reminded that it’s the humanity, compassion, and love that will triumph over darkness and ignorance and shine the light for future generations.  This was demonstrated so beautifully and resourcefully by the folks of Gander, Newfoundland and their guests ‘from away’ around the globe.

God love your cotton socks - (Newfinese for) - thank you.   

I’d also like to thank my Mom and Phil for finding me a mandolin on which to woodshed on Gabriola Island last summer.  And my girls, Stefanie, Annika, Maike, and Finnya.

Short bio

Guitarist Kim Ratcliffe has 40 years experience covering a wide variety of musical endeavors and worlds.  As a teenager, he was playing six nights a week in bar bands, studying classical guitar, and discovering jazz. 

Kim is honoured and privileged to be playing the Mirvish/ Junkyard Dog production of 'Come From Away,' first at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Jan. 2018, then at the Royal Alex in Toronto.  In CFA he plays mandolin, octave mandolin, celtic bouzouki and acoustic guitars. 

Kim has recently recorded two instrumental trio jazz/rock albums, both with drummer Aubrey Dayle.  One features el. bassist Brad Cheesman, called 'On Topic', and the other is a project with N.Y. bassist Calvin Jones, also on el. bass, called '3Fold.'  Both feature original compositions by the three respective band members.  He also plays with his own jazz quartet - Rat4, the Walrus Guitar Quartet (chamber music with David Occhipinti, Ted Quinlan and Roddy Elias), and with groups led by Bruce Cassidy (free improv with Heal the Universe and the eclectic Hotfoot Orchestra), Paul Delong (fusion cover band 'Bucket of Fish' plays classic jazz/rock from the '70's) and more.  Kim's toured or recorded with singers Holly Cole, Colm Wilkinson, David Clayton Thomas and Ron Sexmith.  He was a member of genre bending ensemble Hemispheres, avant funk band Gotham City, studied and performed with composer James Tenney, and played w/ children’s entertainers Sharon, Lois and Bram and many others, including many of Toronto’s top dance bands. Theatre experience includes Grease at the Wintergarden, Chicago at the Canon, 'Hairspray' at the PoW.   He has a B.F.A. from York University and is on the guitar faculties in the jazz programs at Humber and Mohawk Colleges.


I've been influenced by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Ventures, Elvis, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, the Monkees, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Cream, The Allman Bros., The Guess Who, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Joni Mitchell, Joe Pass, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jim Hall, Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau, Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, B.B. King, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, John McLaughlin& Mahavishnu, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Steely Dan, Santana, James Brown, Tower of Power, Willie Dixon, Chick Corea, Alan Holdsworth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Frank Zappa, Fred Frith, Bach, Stravinsky, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Bartok, Julian Bream, Mingus, Monk, The Police, Dave Holland, Charley Christian, King Crimson, Michael Brecker, Cannonball, Charlie Haden, Yes, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Danny Gatton, Leo Kottke, Villa Lobos, Oscar Peterson, George Benson, Oregon, Gil Evans, CSNY & Neil Young, Cold Blood, James Taylor, Jeff Beck, Lorne Lofsky, Kevin Breit, Joe Henderson, Bjork, Keith Jarrett, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Kenny Wheeler, Scott Henderson, Guthrie Govan, Ornette, Paul Bley, Ravi Shankar, Trichy Sankaran, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder and many others.

Most of this music and these musicians I don't know as well as I could or should (except for the Monkees).  At this point in my life I'm trying to let go of the 'I should be better' thing, (I should be) and just enjoy that I can go back and constantly rediscover all of this great music by these amazing people. 

Paul Horn, Dave Keen, David Mott and Nic Gotham have been great influences musically and personally. 

Of course all the great musicians and guitar players in Toronto are a constant source of inspiration.  And ass kicking!

Some other contemporary music that I'm into - Chris Potter Underground, Adam Rogers, Allen Hinds, Chris Thile, Jon Cleary, Julian Lage, Nels Cline, Rez Abbazi, Gilad Hekselman, John Pattitucci, Alex Machacek, Lionel Louecke, David Occhippinti, Anouar Brahem.  I'd like to check out more bluegrass and contemporary chamber music. 

Long and Winding

I don't expect anyone to actually read this, but it was fun to put it down one afternoon and take stock.
Here goes...

Crammed in a mini-van with three other guys for weeks on end, a drum kit, amps, suitcases, guitars, bags of food. One nighters. You played a bar the night before, finally packin' it in way late. You’re up early, driving through the Rocky Mountains from Revelstoke to Banff in a monster February blizzard, one big whiteout, to make an afternoon soundcheck. All part and parcel of a working day for a musician in a country 9.9 million sq. km. large with a population slightly greater than Morocco.

Toronto based guitarist (Edmonton native) Kim Ratcliffe is known for covering a wide variety of creative endeavours and musical worlds. He has been involved with music, primarily on a professional level, for close to 40 years, (the path has had a few curves, alternate routes and snowstorms to deal with) performing, touring, writing, recording and teaching.
Starting in his teens, Kim was into rock/blues/pop, then discovered jazz, and also was developing interests in chamber/classical music.

In the summer and fall of 2015 Kim recorded two trio projects with drummer extraordinaire Aubrey Dayle.  The first features young phenom Brad Cheesman on the bass, and is called 'On Topic,' and the second is a project with the great New York bassist Calvin Jones, the trio being '3Fold', and both feature tunes by all three band members.  He has also been leading his own jazz quartet, 'Rat4', with Pat Collins (b), Ted Warren (dr) & Jim Lewis (tr), and is a member of the Walrus Guitar Quartet, with David Occhipinti, Ted Quinlan and Roddy Ellias. He’s played in groups led by Bruce Cassidy (free improv space/time with 'Heal The Universe', and the eclectic 'Hotfoot'), Montreal reed man Frank Lozano, Paul Delong's 'Bucket of Fish' fusion cover band, (Mahavishnu, Holdsworth, Herbie etc.) and others, and can still occasionally be found stomping on a distortion pedal in a formerly smoky bar somewhere.

He toured for three years with Holly Cole (North America, Japan, Europe and Australia), numerous times with Colm Wilkinson, Carlos Del Junco and others, and performed with Carol Welsman, David Clayton Thomas (doing the BS&T rep), Nikki Yanofsky, recorded with singer/songwriters such as Ron Sexmith, Cate Friesen, Kristi Magraw, Catherine Wheatley and many others. Jazz groups include bands led by Ted Warren, Andrew Downing, John Geggie, Ted Moses and others. He was a member of the contemporary chamber music ensembles 'Hemispheres' and the Toronto New Music Co-op, and was in the jazz/funk/avant rock bands ‘Gotham City’, with Nic Gotham, and ‘Vector’, with Victor Bateman, ‘Thin Men’ with Tom Walsh. His compositions can be heard on albums recorded with 'The Heillig Maneuvre', Melissa Stylianou, John Alcorn and others. Kim has worked with artists as diverse as composers James Tenney and Gabriel Procofiev, saxophonist Glen Hall with trombonist Roswell Rudd, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, rockabilly singer Johnny D. Fury (& his country/rock band 'The Dillons'), acoustic group The Henry's, kid's entertainers Sharon Lois and Bram, country singers Kelita and Leisa Way, Chinese vocal star Teresa Carpio, Berlin-based drummer Andrea Marcelli, and violinist Christian Howes. He’s played with the Mike Malone Jazz Orchestra and the John Cheesman J.O., with the Pat Collins/Tom Szesniak Trio, Steve Cole's 25 Strings w/ Ted Quinlan and Marc Rogers, Rob Frayne, Paul Fitterer's One Big Song, Bill McBirnie, drummer Aubrey Dayle's 'My Id', Jason Jestadt, and the Stuart Steinhart Trio.  Kim's played festivals across North america and Europe including Lilith Fair, SXSW, the Berlin Jazz Festival etc.  He toured the Middle East playing at Canadian Armed Forces bases with John Allen Cameron.

He's also played for many years with some of the city's top dance bands, notably Linda Cara/ Tony Padalino, Paul Zurin, Rain Fields and Lewis (doing vocal groups of the 50's and 60's), Aubrey Mann and his soul/Motown Review, Shelley Miller, Bob DeAngelis, A Touch of Class, and Graham Howes.  Italian, Jewish and Finnish wedding bands.  The group 'The British Invasion.'  He toured the north Ontario bar circuit with pop/funk band Oleo, featuring singer Smokey Burke from Barbados and Gord Sheard on keys. 

He's played in groups that have opened shows for Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter, the Stray Cats, Dick Clark's R&R Review, The Beach Boys and Blue Rodeo. He's backed visiting artists such as Little Anthony and the Imperials, Regis Philbin, Vera Lynn, Il Divo, and been on gigs where he performed with Dave Young, Craig Taborn, Don Braden, Don Ross, Bonnie Raitt, Phil Dwyer, Larry Klein, Sarah McLaughlin, and others.

His theatre experience includes being a member of the pit bands for 'Grease' at the Wintergarden, 'Chicago' at the Canon, 'Hairspray' at the Princess of Wales, 'The Full Monty' in Belleville, 'Rent' for Theatre Sheridan, Christmas Panto at the Canon,'Stan Rogers, A Matter of Heart' in Charlottetown, ‘Outrageous’ at CanStage and many others, including subbing on 'Dirty Dancing' and 'The Boys in the Photograph' at the Royal Alex, 'Joseph' at the Canon.

He is currently a member of the band for the Mirvish/ Junkyard Dog production of Come From Away. 

Kim had Gillaume Barre Syndrome when he was seven, and his parents encouraged him to start playing the guitar a couple years later partly as a way to help with his ongoing recovery at the time.  He was already a Beatles fan, although there was a time when he most wanted to be a drummer like Ringo rather than a guitar player.  He got to hear his 'uncle' Bill Pisarchuk, picking and singing rockabilly and country tunes, and it made a big impression. Bill, did, and still does, have incredible enthusiasm and a lot of fun making music.  Before leaving Edmonton, his parents, being very supportive and encouraging, bought him a very nice hand made guitar (a big deal, there wasn't a lot of money floating around) by top notch local builder Frank Gay, whom he had also heard playing in a restaurant.  Then as a teenager in Victoria, he took lessons with country ace Norm Winquist, started playing guitar in rock bands at Mount Doug High.  Around this time his parents also sprung once more for a very special gift, his first electric guitar and amp - a1952 Les Paul and a late 60's Fender Super Reverb amp!  (again, they couldn't really afford to do this, and it was probably my best rig ever, to this day)  A very fortunate young guitar player!   

In a great and fortunate twist of fate, he was to meet, hang out with, and receive mentoring from flute/saxophone master Paul Horn, (Kim was playing in a band with Paul's sons Robin and Marlon).  Paul led a 'jazz camp' one summer, probably one of the first such things, with his L.A. band which included guitarist Ron Johnson, who was great, and the whole experience made a big impression.   Paul was quite dedicated to helping out younger musicians.  He also introduced Kim to Transcendental Meditation, and Kim used to go over to his place to meditate with him. 

Around this time Kim was very lucky to meet the great saxophonist Dave Keen, who had moved to Victoria from London, and kind of took him under his wing and was a huge influence on his fledgeling music career, and helped him out a great deal.  Dave showed great patience in fostering a group of young musicians, and a few of them including Kim started gigging around town with him.  Another musician that started playing with Dave at this time was Neil Swainson, and also Russ Botten, a great bass player now living in Vancouver, pianist Richard Whitehouse, and artist and pianist Graham Thompson.  Paul Horn and Dave Keen were two very big influences, and fostered a love of  jazz and creative improvised music that had a lasting effect.

Realizing that he needed to get the guitar a bit more together, he also studied classical guitar with Bruce Domoney, Ben Heywood, and Henri Dorigny/ Ako Ito (at the prestigious Shawnigan Lake Summer Music Program) and with Vancouver classical guitarist Teo Bacchus. He was also lucky to play percussion in the Gordon Head Junior and Mount Douglas Senior High School bands under the direction of a great teacher, Emile Michaux, who recognized a bit of potential and pointed out repeatedly and quite pointedly that the youngster would have to work much harder if he hoped to achieve any level of musical fluency.  Some good lessons. 

There was a very good music scene in Victoria at the time with many fine players, and some great rock bands playing their own music.  He was soon playing six nights a week in bar bands. His first steady gig, upon graduating from high school and shortly before turning 18, was a 6 month engagement in the bar at the Red Lion Hotel, playing the Beatles, Eagles, Doobies etc.  They played 6 nights a week and matinees on the weekend.  Another gig was playing on a ferry that went between Victoria, Seattle and Port Angelis.  They played about 8 hours a day, and then went out at night to hear some great bands in Seattle.  There was a jazz club where Sonny Rollins, Oregon, Pat Martino, the Headhunters, Grover Washington Jr. etc. would play week long engagements.  Pretty amazing.  After a 3 or 4 month run their hip, jazz/pop ferry lounge quartet was replaced by a single singer doing Irish Rover songs with an accordion and a monkey running around collecting tips with a jar.  He was also a member of a band in Victoria that played avant garde jazz funk, inspired by Stravinsky and Miles, and during a gig at the MacPherson Playhouse as the professional entertainment between high school bands they so enraged the audience that the theatre was pretty much empty when they finished. 

He moved to Toronto in 1976, and attended York University, where he studied with John Gittens, David Mott, Trichy Sankaran, James Tenney, the great faculty there, and also on the side with Freddie Stone.  It was a tremendous experience to study jazz, contemporary composition, and South Indian Music with some of the best in the world.  York had an amazing faculty.  He also studied privately with Howard Spring, a great guitarist and teacher.  In Toronto he started playing in 'jobbing' bands, club bands, backing up singers, and doing jazz gigs. 

While the guitar keeps him well occupied, Kim also plays mandolins, bouzouki, 4 and 5 string banjos, resonator/ slide guitar, lap steel, ukelele, and electric bass.  He also ran a home studio for several years, doing demo recordings for singer/ songwriters as well as his own projects. 

Kim has for some time been on the guitar faculties in the Jazz Programs at Humber College and Mohawk College, and is a dedicated educator. Kim has also taught at the Humber Summer Jazz Workshop, the Ottawa Jazzworks Jazz Camp, the Humber Community Music Program, Dave Snider Music, Crescent Boys School, and been involved in projects for Sheridan College for many years. He has a B.F.A. from York University (Reginald Godden Award for Academic Achievement), and received a Duke of Edinburgh Award from Prince Phillip when he was 13, (he's not sure why). In previous lives he has also worked for an arts related consulting firm, been a professional house painter, tree planter, a bicycle courier, worked in home reno for a while, lived in a zen centre, and practiced Uechi Ryu Karate.  He is a member of T.M.A. local 149. 

Website Info

Website design, layout and all things technical by Steve Cole.
Design and input also by Stefanie Koenig and Kim Ratcliffe.
Header photo by Grant Slater.
Studio photos by Garrick Meyers, Jan/14.