a marriage of music and masonry




Bobby Watt is a stonemason who, as a teenager, used to play in a rock band in his native Scotland, doing Cream covers and Jimi Hendrix screamers. He came to Canada in 1975 and became a beat copper, and spent more time than perhaps was good for him in the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force’s Underwater Diving Unit.

A member of the Police Pipe Band, he also formed a rock group — with bagpipes — called Cromdale, before turning himself into a gentle bear of a singer-songwriter, with three CDs and a fan following at festivals across Canada, the United States, in Europe and back “home” again in Scotland.

Anxious to follow his early craft once again, he moved away from music, and built a stonemasonry company, based in Ottawa, with dozens of employees, working to restore old buildings to their original glory. (Among them, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa — on which he has been working on and off since 1996 — as well as the State Capitol in Topeka, Kansas, the Washington Monument, and the second oldest church in the “New World,” in San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

And now, his business a sparkling success, Bobby Watt is back into music again, as ebullient and joyful and sentimental and entertaining as ever. “Watt Next?” asks the title of his last solo recording. Good question, since most people would raise an eyebrow at a collection that includes songs by Robbie Burns and Bob Dylan, the Battlefield Band and The Eagles, traditional Scottish tunes, and four noteworthy originals by the singer and his collaborator, Toronto performer and club talent booker Holmes Hooke.

Of course, Bobby Watt won’t tour like he used to do, although he says he still spends “a ludicrous amount of time on the road, either for music or masonry.” But he is ready to play either solo or with Écosse at festivals, “listening room” clubs, and concerts.