BLOGGING AND VLOGGING FROM CANADA'S BEST KNOWN UNDISCOVERED OLD WHITE BLUESMAN

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Sorry that I let June go by without any posts about all the exciting stuff that was going on in Toronto. Day after day...one fabulous musician after another - I have to say there were moments when I just felt like putting my guitar away for good, but then there were other moments where I was inspired to go back home and do a little writing. I need to, I've promised three new tunes to spruce up the new album - these I want to record in a context that will be a "bookable" unit for festivals next year. An acoustic trio, I guess - and I'm still looking for a fiddler that can dig in and play the blues. They're not a dime a dozen.



Yesterday I got back from playing Porquis Fest (a slightly rocky flight in a Dash 8) and I went straight to the computer to re-mix the track that I had to hand-off to NorthernBlues for their next sampler - that's surely shows faith that they will eventually receive a finished album from me. Early 2005, I promise. The track is Saab Story.



Porquis was a chance for me to play two of the three songs I've just written for the album. They seem to go over great though, out in Northern Ontarion like this, I wondered about these lyrics like "making quorum" and other inside stuff (wtrite what you know). Jack de Keyzer closed out the festival and it doesn't get much better than that. Then it was tiime for the all-star jam and my guitar was back at the motel, so I ended up with a bass guitar and the only song I could think of that I could sing and play bass was "Born under a Bad Sign" so I did it - even though Jack had done a great version in his set. I could have just started into some funky jam groove, but that's a risky proposition in front of a big crowd. Note to self: have a few more blues standards you can sing & play on bass. Hell I need blues standards I can play on guitar - I realize I don't know all the words to hardly any blues standards - I've played the songs, but never sung them. I have trouble enough remembering the words to my own compositions.



So now I'm back into working on my music schedule (so why am I sitting here typing this blog?), but let me collect my musical highlights from the blur that was the Downtown Jazz Festival and other great stuff in June. On the world music front, I saw Yousoo N'Door (sp?) , a ska-group from Mexico called Los de Abajo and Guinea's Bembeya Jazz featuring the legendary guitar hero Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté. Interesting to see one of this city's most sophisticated jazz guitarists (and fellow blogger) Reg Schwager enraptured by "Diamond Fingers"



OK, my faves for the jazz fest were John Scofield, Jean-Luc Ponty and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Oscar Petrerson was no slouch either - he played a very blues set - no piano histrionics here, just some bluesy jazz with big, beautiful chords. DD Jackson opened the evening concert for the first night and he gave that Yamaha piano a good taste of what was to come - the tuner was kept pretty busy with the likes of Michel Camilo and Hilton Ruiz. Ron davis played some fine stride too.



Sorry that I didn't get out to the after-hours jams - especially sorry that I wasn't there the night Wynton Marsalis and his band closed the place at 4 am. Apparently the Montreal Jazz fest is pretty upset with us because Wynton had to cancel his appearance at their festival the next day - his lip was too swolen. At Grossman's that night, I saw the amazing youg guitarist Jordan Cook sitting in with Jerome Godboo, Al Webster and Alec Fraser.



At the hotel, I had a chance to chat with Jay McShann, who moved very slow but was not fuzzy about where he was going next and what gigs were coming up. He played with Junior Mance at the bistro - two pianos. Last time I saw that set up at the Bistro the players were Ralph Sutton and Dick Hyman. Sutton is gone now - I'll always remember shaking that huge hand. Jay also had a big hand, but softer and just his handshake enveloped you like a big hug.



The day before the jazz fest I went to a big party for publicist Richard Flohil's 70th birthday. The room was filled with music industry - musicians and behind the scenes types - lots of media guys, including your truly. There were some fine musical performances, but in true fashion, the audience refused to move down close to the stage - so there were these great performers, some of who had written songs specially for the occasion, and yet the entire crowd was way at the back of the room talking up a storm. Somebody should write a song about that!