I've been meaning to send this along for over a week, but things got pretty hectic culminating with my gig last night. I think I've reached another milestone in my slow climb up the slipery slope of the Toronto blues scene. Following that Thursday night at the Silver Dollar, my duo gig with Scott Cushnie at the Montreal Bistro and a solo acoustic gig at the Free Times, I was now invited to be the "special guest" (ie, you get $70) at Gary Kendall's 'Blues Tuesday' at Whistler's. So I had been practising a few old blues standards that I haven't played for years (if ever), and managed to pull them off. I had the unpleasant experience of hearing the band start up while I was seated in the washroom - I seem to recall this happening before somewhere...perhaps in my early days with Blue Willow. Anyway, I climbed onto my stool halfway through the tune and it worked out fine, then I proceeded to pull out all the most predictable tunes I knew since the bass player (Gary) had never heard them. In the end, I could have thrown a lot more at him. The only time there was a problem was when I tried to simplify on the fly and the other guys (who knew the tune) played it the old which left Gary in the lurch. Mostly, I could tell the whole band was having a good time...I felt it really lifted off - we were flying! I was sitting on top of the world as I stepped down off that stool and then I see that my fly was open. Back to earth, Brian! I seem to have this built-in curse that the moment I get too big for my briches a bird shits in my eye, or something like that.
I remarked to Rod, who was playing piano instead of his usual organ - and playing it great - that at least the people at the front table will not have been bothered by my 'deshabille' because they were both blind. They were the greatest listeners, really. They stayed til the end and chatted for awhile. The guy's name was David and he must be a collector because whenever I did a song he recognized, he would shout some acknowledgement, and he knew some of the more obscure ones. After this, I don't have a single gig lined up. And I haven't even started looking. What I need is one place where I can play every Thursday, or every Tuesday...
Just did a duo gig with Professor Piano and I didn't sing a single song. In the past I've called the tunes, but this time I called some, but I never called one of my own. Waiting to see if Scott would, I guess. He just kept pulling out these great old tunes and I was glad to play them. But to go from that to fronting this gig at Whistlers...well I guess that's what a lot of musicians do in this town. One night you're the star, next night you're the sideman
Monday, September 21, 1998
Friday, September 11, 1998
Played with Prof at the "Taste of the Kingsway" event, this time I just sat back and let Prof fly and he pulled out at least a dozen songs we'd never played - many of them "swing" tunes that I'm anxious to learn. At the risk of being accused of jumping on the swing bandwagon, I'd like to pursue some gigs with Scott that offer an evening of Swing. That'll be a lot more new chords for me to learn, but I love that chunky-chunk rhythm guitar. Tonight we were fooling around with a tune for "Swing, Stalker, Swing" which might be close to the truth as we find out more about a certain swing dance instructor (SWSRN) who can't take no for an answer from his female students.
Tuesday, September 8, 1998
Allan Fraser dropped in yesterday to spend a couple of days in Toronto - meeting with some record exec about how he might "ressucitate" (his word) his career. We had a happy dinner with Al and his buddy Joel Axler, who I met for the first time. Joel is managing a jazz singer called Terry Cade and played her tape. Then we jammed a little in my basement studio and Joel played rollicking piano while Allan played guitar. His acoustic was being troublesome and hard to tune, but when I got a close-up look, I could see the bridge had raised a quarter of an inch on one side and was held by strands of hardened glue. Allan and I drove to Hamilton to jam and were joined at Lily's by Kim Deschamps. Kim played some haunting dobro on an impromptu version of "Who Paid You (To Give Me The Blues)?" and then in my spaced out enthusiasm I said I wanted to hear what he could do on "Last Time I Saw Lenny" a song I had never sung for anyone before (except Daisy) and probably never will again. Who else would write a tune about a dead musician he had known briefly, and then kept adding verses everytime another musical aquaintance/colleague passes away. There's something sick about this.
Monday, September 7, 1998
I drop in with Allan on our way to Hamilton. Daisy wanted to discuss with Allan about promoting a Fraser & DeBolt re-issue. When we got there, we didn't discuss it very much past trying to find Bob DeVere's phone number. But then Daisy's son Jake arrived and it was something to behold him connecting with Allan. The last time he saw Allan, he was three years old. Then Jake picked up Daisy's guitar and while she sang, he accompanied her on "Matchstick Man", a very personal song Allan had written long ago about his deceased father. And here was young Jake - the same age as Allan & Daisy when Fraser & De Bolt were shaking up the folk scene.
Friday, September 4, 1998
I get a call at the end of August from my friend Sootara saying that she's geetiing back to gigging and that she had called Judy at the Free Times requesting a Saturday night. Judy didn't hesitate and offered her Sept 5. When she realized how soon it was, and how much preparation she would have to do, she asked me to split the Bill and I said impulsively that I would. Then the first two people I mention it to ask me if I realized it was Labour Day Week-End...No wonder it was easy for Sootara to get *that* Saturday night. Most venues consider that week-end as a write-off. Anyway, we got a few people out and it was a most appreciative crowd - lots of laughs - and they kept calling me back until someone who shall remain nameless (SWSRN) requested "Don't Paint That Wall" - the B-Side of my only solo recording, and I botched the lyrics. That was the end of the encores - but I qualify it as a successful gig and I intend to pursue more solo gigs in folk venues.