Thursday, December 4, 2003

November 2003 Update

Hello Grandfather. It's been a very busy month but I'm ashamed to say not much of it spent on my own music. My R.C.P. (Record Company President) is trekking about in Southeast Asia and I've promised him a finished (if not mixed) album when he gets back on December 22. I promise starting Monday I will work on the album *every* day - note that I didn't specify how much time every day.

Still, I shouldn't be discouraged because we are progressing. I just had a mild disagreement with my son Joel as he is is installing MIDI drivers so that he can work on a remix of one of my tunes. That was one of the things I had hoped I might include on this album. If he wants to be a producer re-mixer, who better to remix than his own dad??? Actually, I'm probably not his first choice of candidates for remixing and he'd hate it if he knew I was talking about him but not to worry, he'll never be up here reading this. The other thing I wanted to do was have an instrumental track and I don't yet. Well, maybe. I wanted to do an instrumental version of "God Bless the Child" with Harry Manx on mohan veena but in the end, I ended up singing on it. I should listen to it without a vocal and see...

Hey, Joel just called me back to figure out the MIDI configuration and I fired up "God Bless", turned off the vocal and It sounded pretty sweet - I could record another guitar over that and it might work! I'll let you know how it turned out.

I haven't spent hardly any time on the recording in the last month, and haven't been hustling gigs either. But on Monday, I got to play with a fabulous group of musicians - I had Ken Whiteley, Mark "Bird" Stafford, Chris Murphy, Gary Kendall, Lily Sazz and the irrepressible Bucky Berger on drums. He's the drummer that's always smiling ear to ear, and I told him at the end what a great honour it was to be on the same stage as his smiling face. Likewise for many of the other players. The only other time I played with Ken was a hotel room in Sudbury.

A strange thing happened when I was standing at the door of the Silver Dollar. A street person was talking to Linda Turu and when I came up, he asked me what size pants I wore. Trying to be friendly, I said "40" and he said "well these are 42 but they look like they'll fit you. Ten dollars." I looked at the pants and they were brand new - looked like a sample with tags but no label. Nice thick material, too. Some might think it's bad karma or something but I look at it as a gift from the gods. I've been needing a new pair of pants for months (some friends might say years) and I just had a good feeling about these pants. Here's the really weird thing: As he walks away with my $10, I say "what's in the box?" and he runs back and says "CDs - you can have them for five dollars" I look in the box and there's about ten or twelve Jay Douglas CDs (did I mention I had just shared the stage with Jay Douglas, too!). I walked down Spadina with the homeless guy and Derek Andrews, "raison d'etre" of the gig at the Dollar, to find the spot where he picked up the box. We expected to find a car broken into, but there was nothing. Next day, we found out Jay probably left his car unlocked. The homeless guy came back at the very end of the evening, as we were packing up, and now he wanted to sell me a bottle of perfume and he was relentless. He would not stop until I was about to drive away, then he turned away in disgust. I told him "you already got fifteen bucks from me!" (I had given him another five for the CD's). Anyway, did I mention the pants fit perfectly.

Enough about me - let's talk about some of the great music I got to hear this month. Starting with last night, I was at the Thee-a-tah - more your style, Grandpere...balconies all around. This theatre is recent construction, I think, but with great respect for theatre tradition. It's called the Bluma Appel Theatre. The show was "Cookin' at the Cookery" a musical about the life of Alberta Adams. Jackie Richardson is the name immediately associated with it but I was equally and surprisingly knocked out by her co-star, Montego Glover.

After the show I dropped in at The Reservoir Lounge to see my old buddy Scott Cushnie, "Professor Piano." He was playing those old swing favourites with Bradley and the Bouncers (they play every Wednedsday and they pack the place). Scott was in good form - wants me to hear his soon-to-be released CD. I asked him to come and do an evening with me at the Downtown Jazz House Concert. We can only fit 30 or so, but it's perfect because it has a little PA system and a real piano.

COMMERCIAL: If the date isn't past by the time you read this...Saturday, Dec 13 my guest is harp player Butch Coulter. He's come all the way from Hamburg Germany and plays all over Europe with Long John Baldry. One time he got me to sub for Papa John King backing up Baldry at a club in Ornageville, I think. I didn't get to meet the Tall Guy until we hit the stage and the first thing he said to me after we'd played a couple of tunes was "You'll have to turn down there, Brian" - in a big booming voice. This is still the commercial, anyway. Don't forget, 82 Bleecker St, one block east of Sherbourne just north of Carleton. Show is 8-11pm. Reservations appreciated 416-928-2033.

Did I mention I've become a peace activist, grandfather. Well, not activist - but at least supporting those that are doing the real work by giving then a little entertainment and disversion. I played a benefit concert for Project Ploughshares in Hamilton. It was a beautiful gig - in a cathedral, no less. Michelle & Lily backed me up. There was a fabulous young jazz band there called the Hamilton All-Stars or something like that.

Last week I dropped in to Healeys (where I will be hosting the Toronto Blues Society Guitar Workshop on Sunday Afternoon, February 29.) It was Jeff Healey's regular Thursday Night and his special guest was James Cotton. I arrived pretty late and I've got the feeling that the energy was winding down instead of up. I didn't hear much, really

I finished my last post saying I was heading out to hear Popa Chubby and that I would be playing a couple of dates in Stratford with Harry Manx. Well I never got to see Popa Chubby (I'm so embarrased to say why - I didn't realize it was an early show and I got there late). I did however have a great time spending the next few days with Harry Manx, in a luxurious "boutique" style hotel called the Mercer Hall Inn. The audiences were great and I received the nicest compliment from a great singer called Ally who lives out that way. She said "I could name every song in your set and could tell what the story was for each one - that doesn't happen to me very often". Boy they treated us great up there.

A few nights later, Harry arrived at my place in Toronto and I had a couple of comps for a Ricky Lee Jones show at the Phoenix - I was hung up at a co-op meeting and so we didn't get there till the encore - it was gorgeaous, though and when I commented that the usually noisy Phoenix crowd had dropped dead silent Harry said "She must have won them over early in the show." It was just her and her guitar for one slow song but it really gave a complete picture of the energy and vibe of theis gal.

Who else did I see in Nov? (*I may add to this)