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October 12, 2005

Canadian Jazz Pianist Loses Major Work

Written by
cindy mcleod

Juno-nominated artist Paul Tobey and wife Nancy Houle arrived at their home in Brantford, Ontario, Tuesday to find their house had been robbed of computer equipment containing Tobey’s digital files. Tobey, a jazz pianist/composer and filmmaker, was nominated for a Juno award for his CD Street Culture in 2002.

“My life’s work is in there,” said a distraught Tobey. “These people don’t know what they have. It’s worth far more than anything they would get at a pawn shop. The (digital files are) worthless to them. They wouldn’t know what to do with it, but to us, it’s worth thousands.” The couple are offering a $5,000 reward for the safe return of the computer equipment with the files intact.

Among the files on the stolen computers was an edited version of the documentary film The Road to Santiago, filmed during Tobey’s 800-kilometre pilgrimage last year along an ancient route in France and Spain. Twenty-two music tracks Tobey had composed for the film also were on the stolen computers. All were stored on two MDG computers with 600GB hard drives and backed up on two 300GB external hard drives. “This could actually ruin my career,” he said. “It’s not going to ruin our resolve, we’ll keep going, but it could bankrupt the business.”

In March, Tobey put his piano in storage after he was diagnosed with tendonitis. He used the time to launch an Internet marketing business, with which he planned to raise the $1 million he said is needed to produce a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Such a performance would push his music career to new heights, he said.

Brantford City Police Inspector Scott Easto said theft of personal computers from a residence is unusual, as is recovery of the equipment. He remarked stolen computer equipment is sometimes left in a field or in a stolen vehicle, and occasionally discovered when a search warrant is executed during an unrelated investigation.

Anyone with information about the theft can contact Police Inspector Scott Easto at 519-756-6324, or Nancy Houle at 519-865-3807.

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