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Rock Start Ride

On screen, a concert video features “Buffalo Springfield Revisited” playing “Mr. Soul.”  On stage is an actor/musician playing the same song.  He announces to the audience that he is not Neil Young but rather Frank Wilks.  Since he has been playing Neil Young so much, he asks the audience to tell him he is not Neil Young, every time the name comes up.  Frank sings the first song he ever learnt, “Heart of Gold.”  He explains how he met up with Bruce Palmer of “Buffalo Springfield”, and later with Dewey Martin and Stan Endersby, as they formed the band “Buffalo Springfield Revisited” with the blessing of Neil Young and Steve Stills. Frank sings “On the Way Home” which was the band’s opening song on tour.  The band moved on to bigger gigs like the LA Forum in front of 50,000 fans which is shown on video while Frank sings the 60s anthem, “For What It’s Worth.”  Another highlight was their appearance on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in Las Vegas where Frank sings along with “Down to the Wire.”


The tours got bigger as did the partying with drugs and alcohol. Frank sings “The Needle and the Damage Done" to honour all the rock stars like Richard Manuel who died from drugs.  He sings a song he wrote for Rick Danko of the Band who had died recently, “Raise my Spirit Away.”  Two puppets appear, the Devil and God, representing the two sides of Frank fighting for or against his descent into drugs.  During his troubles, Frank learns the song “4 & 20” from Steve Stills, the lyrics showing his confusion.  Rock stars are dropping like flies as we see photos of them on screen like “Hollywood Squares” forming the “Frank Wilks Spirit Museum”.  Frank, as a carnival barker, urges the audience to enter his museum in “Come Séance With Me.” Inside the museum, Frank appears as a swami asking the audience to join him in a séance to find the spirit of somebody I can’t remember being his former self.  At first the spirits of Elvis and Jimi enter the scene until he sings, “Somebody I Can’t Remember.”  Frank tries to let go of the past in “Gotta Let Go’ as he slips further into addiction.  The band breaks up and Frank returns to Toronto addicted to coke and meth. He sings of the death of his mentor and friend, Bruce Palmer in “Friends Left Behind.”


Frank stops his descent with “Making Up Time”.  He joins AA and gets sober in Newfoundland which he finds ironic inspiring the writing of a new song, “No Drinking in Newfoundland.”  Frank, now sober and drug-free, talks of his present career in singing Neil Young tributes with “Helpless” on screen at Massey Hall.  This is followed by “The Painter” where he acknowledges his past and his debt to Neil with lines like, “If you follow every dream, you might get lost.”  The show ends with Frank thanking the audience on his road to recovery.

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