Wednesday, April 16, 2003
What I did when I should have been mixing:
Sat - Saw a great film called Amandla, about the importance of music to the South African struggle against apartheid (free showing at Harbourfront)
Sun - My first show at the legendary Elgin Theatre. What an impressive place, and an amazing "folk opera" of Bible Stories from a South African opera company.
Mon - An advance screening of the movie "A Mighty Wind" a hilarious spoof 60s folk phenomenon at its worst. Side-splittingly funny but even before the movie started we were entertained by a goofy trio led by Steven Ambrose (not exactly a folk fixture). Terry Wilkins was playing bass. They were snging in the upstairs foyer of the Paramount (a real state-of-the-art megaplex) and then they actually took to the stage in the theatre, trailers flashing behind them (obviously no one told the projectionist there were going to be musicians in frront of his screen). They looked so small - a little minitature trio playing in front of that giant screen.
The humour of the film is so close to truth that I'm told some folkies didn't find it funny, but I thought it was a gas (don't know if it'll make a big popular hit...)
Tues - The Funk Brothers - Standing in the Shadows of Motown. This was a Downtown Jazz production so I got to hang around at Massey Hall for the sound check. They were getting some amazing sounds during the sopundcheck - a keyboard player, somebody singing and two drummers playing full tilt. And these were just the roadies setting up the gear!. Walking in the dressing room area I saw through an open door that the horn section was being rehearsed. I heard them running through a couple of classic horn riffs, then I hear sombody say "by the way, have you guys met? Looked like they'd already rehearsed half the set before the regular horn guy was introduced to the two Toronto "ringers" one of whom was Chase Sanborne. I know only because at the end of the show, the entire band was introduced (and a big band it was) and when he got to the two new horn players, he had to be told their names. This was the greatest show I've seen in...whatever. At first I wasn't too sure about this, but as it progressed it was a phenomenal musical experience, especially watching bass player Bob Babbit drive that huge hit-making machine. An inspiration watching a bass player where every note counts.
Friday, April 4, 2003
We all agree that we get the best results when we leave Paul to himself. Many engineers are that way. But I can't believe I've allowed myself to be so rushed...I was never a one-take-wonder! Anyway before handing off the big dual-processor mac to Paul, I plug in the pod and my strat and had a last shot to improve on the solo. I finally got a take that picked up the whole song, but I don't expect anybody to like it. I'm finding it quite stressful making this album but it's probably because there was already a residue of stress in me.
I was born in 1946, they say September 11 but no one knows exactly - I was taken in by some French Nuns who yearned to find me a nice catholic home. Two nuns were talking and one said " We have a patient who just lost a child and it looks like she might adopt" They brought me right away - all dalled up - but the woman said she was still grieving and sent us away. But the nuns came back the next day with another orphan, but she would not see them. The nuns returned a third time with another child and the woman relented, she said "l'll adopt... but I want you to bring me back the first one" (just trying out the intro for one of the tunes on the upcoming CD, Overqualified for the Blues) The song is the true story of how I was adopted.
Thank you, dear Fred, for being patient while I put together this album. I know you've been announcing its release since 2001.
I wanted to do this at my leisure and while I was grabbing a breath, a year went by. I started out recording at home, with basically the same equipment we used to record the final album in Paul Benedict's basement studio. Ah, to enjoy the wonders of being able to go through and edit the music in a safe, non-destructive environment. I guess everybody does this now, but it was a wonder for me, who's first professional session was on an Ampex 3-track at RCA's Montreal studio in 1964.
I go to pick up my old Strat and I notice i'm having trouble holding down the strings with my left hand. My nails have grown out to the edge of the finger so you can't press down on the guitar strings. That's a true sign that you have not been keeping music at the forefront of you consciousness.
It's so typical of this whole project that the moment I have a little time to play with the tracks some more that they're being taken away from me to be mixed. So I still want to fix some guitar parts but I haven't been playing in weeks - and my nail work needs to be done pronto. Like the day we started the sessions and I had this weird rash on my thumb - nothing serious, just enough to make me want to use a pick instead of playing finger-style. Then the day sheduled for some vocal overdubs, which we only used one, I wake up with a nasty cold - laryngitis even! On the third take of Ghost, my voice got very rough - I attribute it to a chanelling attempt from that damn ghost. This song has a new groove that came to the surface when I played it a few times with Lance Anderson and Terry Wilkins.