By the time he left Crowcuss following their debut lp, Greg Leskiw’s resume on the Winnipeg scene was already impressive, including previous stints with Wild Rice, Gettysburg Address, Mood Jga Jga, and three albums with The Guess Who.
By 1978 he’d retreated out of the limelight while forming his latest project with keyboardist and ex-Crowcuss bandmate Herman Fruehm, Ian Gardiner on bass, and Gord Osland on drums. They shopped around a series of demos while playing the local circuit, eventually signing with Winnipeg label SL Records. They went down the street to Roade Recording Studios. BE MY CHAMPION was released in ’79. The album featured eight original numbers – mostly new numbers Leskiw had been working on, except for “Do What You Want Mama” – a Crowcuss holdover, as was the Leskiw-penned “Big Man In The Country” which was produced by Crowcuss with Jack Lenz.
Although less than 30 minutes long, the album showcased a maturity in songwriting and uncanny versatility, transitioning smoothly between the raucus “Do What You Want Mama” and “Right Hand Driver” to the soulful “Love Wild” and title track. The band played a series of dates throughout eastern Canada and the US until he caught the attention of CBS Records executives in the fall of 1980 and signed a US distribution deal. He hooked up with former Guess Who mate Bill Wallac and formed Kilowatt, with Steve Hegyi on guitars and drummer Bob Brett for two albums in ’81 and ’82, then disbanded.
Throughout the rest of the 80s and 90s, Leskiw would go on to other projects, including setting up Vox Pop Recording Studios in Winnipeg. The studio was instrumental in the careers of the likes of Crash Test Dummies, Nelly Furtado, and The Blue Meanies, among others. From ’86 to ’97 he continued to write and record with a number of area artists. Along with the occasional reunion and release with just about all of his former bands during that time, he resurfaced with his latest project, SwingSoniq in ’97.
The acoustic trio was met with rave reviews for his versatile swing-jazz interpretations of early 30s and 40s roots music, as well as developing a unique set of arrangements of their original compositions in that vein. He then drifted off to do other projects again, including session work and producing other acts.
BE MY CHAMPION (1979)
Be My Champion
Do What You Want Mama
She’s The One You Love
Big Man In The Country
Right Hand Driver
You Say You Love Me