CLIPS AND COMMENTARY FROM CANADA'S BEST KNOWN UNDISCOVERED OLD WHITE BLUESMAN

Monday, October 5, 2020

Quote of the day

 "Warm-heartedness and compassion is the foundation for happiness"  - DALAI LAMA

In my 75th year and still marking career milestones

I love getting notifications.  I don't get notifications I didn't ask for - though I guess if I got more famous I'd get more.  Today's notification looked like it was going to be a playlist that included me but when I clicked, it was a transcription of an interview with DJ Ken Wallis (which I included in my CD launch event).  And I do believe this will be the first time I'm confronted with a "transcription" of an interview...or any recording of something I was just babbling about. Everybody knows I don't have a filter for whatever comes out of my mouth :-)  I'm kind of scared to read the whole thing. I hope I didn't say anything stupid - oh now I remember, all I talked about was previous recordings rather than the one I'm supposed to be promoting. Oh well...

Friday, October 2, 2020

Blainletter #129

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
October 2020
View this email in your browser
The new CD was officially launched a couple of weeks ago but I'm embarrassed to say I haven't done a thing to promote it since then. I just had to take a breather after the launch - you can replay a video of our launch party here  - it includes a short interview, a couple of videos and some pop-up appearances from Harry Manx, Ken Whiteley, David Vest and others who played on the album. It's 35-minutes and reveals a lot about yours truly and the-making-of…
 
Today (Friday) is what they call "Bandcamp Friday" which means if you buy a track or a CD today,  Bandcamp will forgo their commission and all the $$$ goes to the artist.  They do this on the first Friday of every month. You can stream the music everywhere but if you're inclined to buy it, today's the day. Here's the link: www.brianblain.bandcamp.com.
 
Speaking of taking a breather, after 25 consecutive Sunday Backyard and Basement Blaincasts, I've given it a rest but I'll be popping up with a new series of "songs that didn't make it onto the album" and maybe I'll get back to some bluesy ambient electronica from my alter-ego, the Stringbuster.  It will provide a  "meditational" component and I must say I've been spending a lot more time in contemplation and meditation (when I should have been sending out press releases promoting this album :-) I was happy to get some positive feedback about the 10-minute instrumental "meditation" that closes out the album.  I didn't expect it would get any radio play but I think many of my crowd will enjoy spacing out to it.  Brad Wheeler wrote in his review, that it "…goes nowhere in particular – an excellent destination and peaceful exhale."  You can read the whole review here
 
So I could go on talking about the CD (there certainly aren't any gigs to talk about) and I don't want to get too heavy with my beloved Blainreaders, but I've got a couple of friends who are near-death right now, our entire live-music ecosystem has collapsed and everybody around me has reached that six-month "wall" so that even my most optimistic friends are reeling.

Try to take in some live streaming events that are happening all over the interweb these days. Lots of great stuff coming up on the Toronto Blues Society Facebook Page and also Can't Stop The Blues Facebook Page. Most artists are just happy to have some way to get their music out to you, their fans, and even if it's just a guy singing into his iPhone, there's still some kind of live connection happening. You can feel it. You can even chat with them through the comments and help them spread their music by hitting the share button, and of course, you can leave a "tip" if you are able.
 
I would like to put in a word for my friend Alice Brock, who was the first person to contribute to my GoFundMe campaign when I started this recording project and who has now fallen onto hard times herself.  She is, of course, the Alice that I sing about in my song "Another Song About Alice" and who Arlo Guthrie sings about in "Alice's Restaurant". Here's an early Blaincast (2013) when I had a little chat with Alice.  If Alice holds a special place in your heart, here's your chance to chip in and make sure she can keep her head above water down there in Provincetown.  Here's the link to her GoFundMe page
 

The Last Word

The other morning while listening to the new CBC Sunday morning program (we miss you, Michael Enright) there was an interview with an Indian classical musician who was bemoaning the fact that young Indian musicians coming to the west we’re not interested in pursuing Indian classical music or Indian folk music but were mostly interested in Bollywood or pop music.
 
This was a revelation to me even though I should not be surprised because as a resident of Little India, every summer I witness the festival of South Asia which makes no effort to bring in world-renown sitar players in favour of karaoke bands and wedding fashion shows.  But it's *their* community festival and it's the Indian community who will decide the programming.  Meanwhile across town at the Small World Centre, Indian classical musicians are playing for a predominantly white audience. Go figure!
 
But it did make me reflect on recent discussions that have been taking place in the blues community where there's been a lot of soul-searching about the appropriation of blues (ie Black) music by white folks and I even saw a Facebook post by some righteous black blueswoman complaining that gigs were being stolen from her by white folks who were playing her music. And there was even some questioning about Blues Societies that are typically run by old white men - even in the deep south, "the land where blues began."
 
At a recent online "town hall," a friend of mine was chastised for making the statement that it was white people who rescued the blues meaning blues music would’ve gone the way of the dodo bird if it had not been for a small group of blues lovers - mostly white - who took it upon themselves to seek out old blues musicians who had since abandoned a music career and were now working as janitors or labourers and bringing them out and presenting them at festivals and big stages and giving that music a new lease on life.
 
And as I was restoring some old videotapes for the Toronto Blues Society archives I came upon a recording of Jodie Drake who was highly regarded on the Toronto Blues scene in the early days and there was a great quote from her when somebody asked her about Blues; "The blues have to really be felt. If you don't feel it inside…if you have to apply and put it back in… if you have to learn it from the book or record or whatever and then apply it….hmmmm… then that's not really… but if it's really there, inside, then you don't have to…if it's genuine, in your heart..if you have to chase around playing the albums and all that stuff, that means it's going to be a slow process…you're supposed to be able to hear it."
 
That made so much sense to me that you either feel it or you don’t. It’s inside you or it’s not and she wasn't talking about where you come from or the colour of your skin.  That explains why a small cohort of music fans and musicians (mostly white, as it turns out) have gravitated to this music and can't get enough of it. In addition to that, blues music is the ultimate primer for all kinds of music and so many people started out playing blues because it's a very simple form to learn and then moved on to jazz or rock or pop or whatever. "Simple, but not easy" is the expression we often hear. And no musician in his right mind would get into the blues thinking s/he's gonna strike it rich.
 
And much like that vast majority of South Asians in my hood who couldn't care less to hear a master sitar player or see a kathak dancer, most of the black people I know just don't "feel" the blues.  It's not inside them.  Maybe it was before but not anymore so it's left to whoever has a passion for it to play it, promote it and preserve it - no matter what colour they are.
 

Quote of the Day

"The blues have to really be felt. If you don't feel it inside…if you have to apply and put it back in… if you have to learn it from the book or record or whatever and then apply it….hmmmm… "  - JODIE DRAKE
 
Check out the Campfire Cameos on my YouTube channel if you want to see some great moments from 4 years of Campfire Jams with some of the top blues players in the country, and "moi" trying to keep up...  
 
Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These clips and more are always available on my blog, www.torontobluesdiary.com.

See you out there, eventually...

BrianB, aka Butch, Nappy, Shaker, Two-Lane Blain, Colorblind Brian, Stringbuster, Buddha of the Blues

Upcoming
Shows

The weekly Backyard sometime Basement Blaincast reached episode 25 last Sunday and with all this CD Launch activity, I have decided to forego the regular Sunday thing in favour of spontaneous Facebook Live Pop-ups whenever I feel like it. I'll be putting out a series of "Songs that didn't make it onto the album" as well as my continuing series on "How-to-write-a-blues-song-with-Brian" And I'm sure I'll find other reasons to stream They say you have to be consistent to succeed with streaming. Well, nothing else in my life is consistent...

For this album, I wanted to bring attention to the water crisis that is affecting 3 billion people on the planet. "Water Song" is a pretty dark "ear movie" with a global vibe provided by Sadio Sissokho (kora) and Harry Manx (mohan veena). The haunting vocals are provided by Ruth Mathiang. "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" kicks off the album with a little tongue-in-cheek  humour and some fine harp playing from Steve Marriner.  “The Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)” and “You Are Also His Son” were recorded with Julian Fauth and Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild.  “Blues Des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)” is a leaving-home barrelhouse boogie “en francais” with David Vest pounding the 88s. Patrick Merner added some bass & synth, and Clayton Doley overdubbed some organ from his studio in Melbourne, Australia. Ken Whiteley played some lap steel on "You Are Also His Son", Jesse O'Brien added some piano and organ to "The Mother I Never Knew" and drummer Michelle Josef provides a solid backbeat throughout.  Some songs end with extended jams (because I loves to jam) and the last track is a ten-minute acoustic soundscape with Michael Jerome Browne from the last day of recording my “Overqualified For The Blues” album years ago in Montreal. I call it “Tai Chi Ten,” …because it’s just the right pace and length for my Tai Chi set, but it makes for a fine meditation even if you aren’t moving.
 
 
Track Listing
 
 
1. I’m Not Fifty Anymore  3:07
  feat. Steve Marriner
2. You Are Also His Son  4:52
  feat. Ken Whiteley
3. Blues des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)  4:22  
feat. David Vest & Clayton Doley
4. The Mother I Never Knew  3:55  
feat. Jesse O’Brien
5. Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)  3:37  
feat. Julian Fauth
& Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild
6. Water Song  5:26  
feat. Harry Manx & Sadio Sissokho
7. Tai Chi Ten  (A Meditation)  9:54  
feat. Michael Jerome Browne

mixed by Margaret Stowe at Ozworld Toronto
mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal
art direction Linda Turu
photography Margaret Mulligan
design Keijo Tapanainen
 
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* *|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*

Our mailing address is:
*|HTML:LIST_ADDRESS_HTML|* *|END:IF|*

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

*|IF:REWARDS|* *|HTML:REWARDS|* *|END:IF|*
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Blaincast #25 (Final Episode)






Backyard Blaincast # 25 - Final Edition. Here I include a little PSA for the TBS (Toronto Blues Society) who will be promoting the release with a "premiere" on Wednesday. 

 

Then check out the new video of the title track, "I'm not Fifty Anymore" recorded with Steve Marriner a couple of weeks ago. We end with a "Campfire Cameo" from May 13, 2017 at the Old Mill. It was celebrating Mother's Day and I had had a "Ladies Night" with Roberta Hunt, Carrie Chesnutt and Alison Young. Hope you enjoyed the Blaincasts while they lasted. All the Blaincasts and Campfire Cameos are archived on my blog (torontobluesdiary.com) and my YouTube Channel. Please subscribe and if you'd like to receive my (mostly) monthly Blainletter please go to brianblain.com and subscribe to that. That's a lot of subscriptions! And, of course, the album will be available at brianblain.bandcamp.com starting Friday

Blainletter #128

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
September 2020
View this email in your browser

Listen/Buy "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" at www.brianblain.bandcamp.com

Well tomorrow's the big day (or is it today?) Drop in to my Facebook at 8pm for a little celebration. This CD is a bit of a birthday present to myself. Actually, this CD encompasses many gifts, from the folks who contributed to the GoFund Me Campaign to get it off the ground, then the labours of love from the many musicians who participated and to the friends who've been helping make it as good as it can be.  And everybody agrees it's pretty good.
 
Friday Night at 8pm we'll have a bit of a "CD Launch" on Facebook Live.  If you're not on Facebook you can watch it on my musician page, www.facebook.com/brianblain.musician.  And after that it will be posted on my YouTube channel and my blog, www.torontobluesdiary.com. You will see the new video w/Steve Marriner
 
But, like most of my (artistic) career, every time I think "we've got it made!", "…easy Sailing from here on…" I am brought back to earth with a harsh reality check.  I was thrilled to be invited to play Kitchener's downsized festival last week-end - it was my first gig since March 14 and I even prepared well, I thought.  I was told it was a small restaurant so I thought it would be great to play for some blues lovers who have been "jonesing" for live music for the last six months but as it turned out I was playing for restaurant patrons who were probably having their first big night out with friends and they had a lot of catching up to do.  So the front table was two young couples who couldn't care less about music and chattered continuously. I guess I could have tried to blast them and be louder but that's not my style and like I said, this was probably a big night for them, getting together with friends they hadn't seen in a while.  And it was an upscale joint so not a cheap night out for these folks (Joel the roadie had a charcuterie selection that came to $68).  So just when you think things are going great….boom!  And I believe everybody's had their boom moment lately.
 
…Reminds me of when I was just starting out as a solo artist in the early seventies. Signed to a label, big budget recording, opening concerts for Seals & Crofts and Lou Reed, riding high (in a big Mercedes with a driver/road manager) then… going on tour supporting the hottest band out of Montreal, April Wine.  The first theatre was Belleville or Brockville and when I got up to do my folky thing the rowdys started shouting "A-PRIL-WINE, A-PRIL-WINE"  Argh… Then the next stop it was a similar reception.  By the third gig, I had dumped all my originals and just got up and did Chuck Berry songs but I was not having fun.  I called the office and told them I was leaving the tour effective immediately.  Well, nobody does that to Donald K. Donald and as the saying goes, "you'll never work in this town again".  And I never did.
 
That's when I became "the itinerant bass player" criss-crossing the country for 5 years playing bass for one band after another, one day with western attire in a country rock band, next week in a tux doing a tour of CP Hotels with a Romanian Streisand clone.  When I left that gig, I remember the last words from her impresario, "You musicians! You get two-hundred dollars in your pocket and you think you're rich!"
 
Anyway, I've always considered the events that prevented me from making it to the "big time" were a protection of sort, even when they were self-inflicted.  Somehow I knew that I would not do well in the rarified atmosphere at the top of the mountain.
 
I've said before how I thought this would be my last album but nobody likes to hear me say that.  Well, I'm still writing songs even though my left hand is having trouble with barre chords, my ears are missing high frequencies, my eyes can't make out the lyrics and can't tell when the lights on my pedals turn from red to green (well, that was always a problem) and… I don't travel well.
 

The Big Release

Anyway, back to the CD…The time has come. The Day is here. It has been years in the making and has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.  I have to admit, I don't really like the recording process.  I like writing songs, I like playing them for people, but when it comes to laying them down on tape (or whatever) it can be a painful process for me. First of all, I don't do "flawless."  Recordings are supposed to be flawless.  They even have to pass muster under a microscope. And meanwhile, you're trying to capture the spontaneity of the moment…the magic.  Putting "lightning in the bottle." Well we captured a few bolts of lightning on this one despite my control-freak behavior.  I feel like I should have sent letters of apology/appreciation to all the people who worked on all my recordings because I know I've given them all a lot of grief.  And it's not about being a perfectionist. Like I said, I don't do "flawless."  So here in this public forum I prostrate myself before all the folks who helped me make this record as good as it is, many without adequate (if any) compensation. Thank You. You know who you are.
 
You can now stream the album from your favourite service and if you care to buy a track (it's pay what you can) go to www.brianblain.bandcamp.com. We don't have the printed CDs yet but if you're a Blainbacker, you'll be hearing from me as soon as we get them.  You can pre-order physical copies at Bandcamp as well.  And please drop in to my Facebook on Friday at 8pm ET for the launch party (oh yeah , it's also my birthday)
 

Spiritual stuff (skip over if this is not your thing)

I used to joke that I would end my days like a monk in isolation spending my time in meditation and contemplation. Thursday was kinda like that. The isolation part is easy - that's been all laid out for me. And thanks to Michael Herring's regular Qigong class, I've integrated a warm up for my Tai Chi set and a feel-good ending (visualizing a ball of energy slowly flowing down through my body). Then in the evening I was part of a virtual (in the old sense) healing/pipe circle in the native tradition where I created a little altar of sorts and smudged myself with sage & sweetgrass, then sat in a deep silence until I was called upon (?) to reach for my rattle and shake it for a while.  In the course of this I felt another aspect of myself present itself from within my body. As the ball of golden energy had flowed down my body, this bundle of energy flowed up and it had a face a very stern face with chiseled features (native looking, of course) that settled into my body for a few minutes until the spell was broken. I knew I had an "inner child" but I think this was my "inner parent." In that moment I was feeling that strict, dead-serious attitude that is the opposite of my usual easy-going state of mind. I have felt energy manifesting itself in me at other times but it always came from outside.  This time it came from within and I now realize it's part of me, though quite repressed (and I think I'll keep it that way). As I floated back down to earth I picked up the glass of water and was trying to remember the water blessing that I've heard many times. It wasn't coming to me but, dig this, I start hearing droplets of rain striking the skylight. I kid you not. And it stopped as quickly as it came. I never did remember the water blessing but I do remember the affirmation that would always start our gatherings: "to release all conditions, affairs, relationships and beliefs that no longer serve me back to the Earth Mother to be recycled or returned to the Native nothingness from whence they came." Or something like that.
 

What's Goin' On

After six months of this pandemic, overlapping a smouldering race war, California on fire, floods and famine, all results of climate change that gets me thinking our planet might be deteriorating even faster than we thought.  And even though I've often wondered at how my cohort had escaped any real tragedies like getting drafted into a war or going through a depression, it looks like it might have caught up to me.  Six months locked down and once I do surface there will be a new "blues landscape" -  one where old white men singing the blues might not be feeling a lot of love.  I always thought we oughta let women run things and if the pendulum is taking a big swing and it's time to let black people run things, then we can be reassured that it will be mostly women taking charge - and that's for the better if you ask me.
 

Quote of the Day

"The real old blues...no cause for jumpin. You go to jumpin', that ain't the blues...when you get lonesome and worried - that's the blues"  - SON HOUSE
 
Here's the video we just shot with Steve Marriner. This opportunity just fell in my lap and as you can see it's a pretty professional presentation.  The Redwood (formerly Circus) Theatre is just down the street from me and has new owners who are investing $$$ to fix it up.  You have to wonder why anyone who owns a big venue would be spending money on renovations, but on the positive side, you are making work for the tradesmen.  (watch through to the end for my little Blues Society PSA...the "Maple Blues" (have you renewed your subscription?) 
 
Here's the "Campfire Cameo" for this month.  It was Ladies Night on Mother's Day week-end at the Old Mill on May 13, 2017. Roberta Hunt, Alison Young and Carrie Chesnutt all get a tune and I also included me singing an old favourite, "Terrace Inn."  I've got quite a playlist of Campfire Cameo's on my YouTube channel if you want to see some great moments from 4 years of Campfire Jams with some of the top blues players in the country, and "moi" trying to keep up...  
 
Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These clips and more are always available on my blog, www.torontobluesdiary.com.

See you out there, eventually...

BrianB, aka Butch, Nappy, Shaker, Two-Lane Blain, Colorblind Brian, Stringbuster, Buddha of the Blues

Upcoming
Shows

The weekly Backyard sometime Basement Blaincast reached episode 25 last Sunday and with all this CD Launch activity, I have decided to forego the regular Sunday thing in favour of spontaneous Facebook Live Pop-ups whenever I feel like it. I'll be putting out a series of "Songs that didn't make it onto the album" as well as my continuing series on "How-to-write-a-blues-song-with-Brian" And I'm sure I'll find other reasons to stream They say you have to be consistent to succeed with streaming. Well, nothing else in my life is consistent...

I call it my "living" album because it started life as a solo "live" recording with bassist George Koller and has now been "sweetened, stacked, mixed and mastered" with new instrumentation on all the songs. It starts with New Orleans marching horns from Alison Young and Colleen Allen on "Forgotten",  “Alice“ gets violin and banjo from Drew Jurecka and Tim Posgate. There's a reggae percussion workout with Trinidadian Wayne Stoute and the wonderful Michelle Josef, some sweet slide from Harry Manx on the French tune, barrelhouse piano from Toronto expat Patrick Godfrey and organ grooves galore from Australian B3 sensation Clayton Doley. "The Ghost of Clinton's Tavern" is a full-tilt electronic ambient remix by my son the DJ. 
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* *|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*

Our mailing address is:
*|HTML:LIST_ADDRESS_HTML|* *|END:IF|*

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

*|IF:REWARDS|* *|HTML:REWARDS|* *|END:IF|*
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward