Trama was formed in the late ’70s as a by-product of Shama, which featured four Sault Ste Marie, Ontario natives – drummer Brien Armstrong and Jeff Neill on guitars, and bassist Mick Dalla-Vee (real name Michael Dalla Vincenza) and keyboardist Mike Sicioly. Neill and Armstrong were already living in Vancouver, and once Sicioly and Dalla-Vee joined, they ended up becoming mainstays on the prairie bar circuit.

They lured the talents of Bruce Allen Talent Agency (Loverboy, Bryan Adams, and just about every other major international Canadian star at the time). He saw their first show in Vancouver at the Body Shop in 1980 and instantly wanted to work with them. They recorded 50 songs with Jim Vallance, but the elusive record deal was nowhere to be found. But Shama’s house began to crumble after they’d dropped Allen to go with Sam Feldman instead less than a year later, when the two agents/managers separated into two companies. They’d been convinced they’d be better off with a new drummer, and Bob Ego (Streetheart) and Bernie Aubin (Headpins) were both rumoured to be interested. It wasn’t long before Dalla-Vee also left to manage a music store, leaving Neill and Sicioly to ponder their future.

Tommy Stewart of Trooper, who Shama had backed on a western Canadian tour only months earlier, soon joined them on drums as more of something to do than anything. Combining Trooper with Shama – and Trama was born. But after a couple of months, Stewart was back on the road with Trooper, and Vallance ended up behind the drumkit for awhile. But when Bryan Adams’ YOU WANT IT YOU GOT IT started gaining some traction, he was out.

By the spring of ’81 Neill was asked to join Streetheart, so Dalla-Vee was back in, and shortly after Stewart was back in, as well – this time on a permanent basis. They continued touring and became fixtures on the west coast, backing up Three Dog Night in Victoria on one night.

Feldman footed the bill for the guys to record a five-song EP at Little Mountain Studios, but it was never released. In early ’84, they were again in the studios, following a chance meeting with Tom Lavin (Powder Blues). He and friend Ken Spence, who’d just come back from Germany working with Nina Hagen, were looking for a band to record in Lavin’s new studio and saw the band playing in Vancouver. One thing led to another, and some tracks were recorded, but again … nothing was released.

But those sessions caused ripples in the band’s chemistry that worked into waves, and by May of ’84 Dalla-Vee had quit and formed a new group with Neill and Bernie Aubin called Paradox. Trama continued on with new guitarist Brent Knudsen, then over the years several west coast musicians filled various roles.

Stewart talked Trooper alumni bassist Doni Underhill (and Zwol) into the fold, and eventually longtime friend Ray Roper on guitars. As a member of Stonebolt, Roper some tours with Trama and were also represented by Sam Feldman. But within a year, outside projects got in the way and everyone went their separate ways, though Underhill kept incarnations of the band in the bars. For Roper, the short-lived Ray Roper Project was followed by The Edge, both which featured members from various incarnations of The Headpins at one time or another. By the early ’90s he reformed Stonebolt. Stewart concentrated mostly on studio work, and he and Underhill both took part in a special Trooper celebration in Vancouver in 2011. Roper was part of the Vancouver ’80s Rock & Roll Reunion in May the next year. Stewart, Dalla-Vee, and Sicioly then hooked up again for a pair of one-off shows in 2014.

  • With notes from Mick Dalla-Vee, David Payne, Ray Roper