Sunday, October 9, 2005

A big thank you to all the Canadian folk DJ's who gave "Overqualified For The Blues" a spin or two in September. The report I just got shows me tied with Bruce Cockburn for the most spins in September. Wow! (wait a minute, how is that possible - has anybody called for a recount?)

10 Plus Spins Location Playlists Spins

Corb Lund AB 10 13
Steve Dawson BC 8 15
David Francey ON 12 15
Brian Blain ON 9 16
Bruce Cockburn QC 13 16

I hope I'll have the opportunity to thank you in person at the OCFF Conference. If you spot me before I spot you, please stop and say hello. I'll be hosting the "Campfire" on Saturday from 12:30-2:00pm and doing a Midnight solo set followed by an all-night jam in the blues room where Lily Sazz will have her keyboard and I will be bringing along my bass.

The album is now available at and individual tracks are now available on Itunes and we’re getting a lot of play including a syndicated Blues show in the states with 100 stations and an audience of over 2 million listeners.

Lots of reviews, too: The Globe and Mail's Brad Wheeler had me at the top of his picks for September 30. He wrote: "On His new Overqualified For The Blues disc, the genial blues player does nothing like Born Under A Bad Sign. But for mature, relaxed-fit acoustic blues, Blain's the man for the job."

Kerry Doole wrote in TANDEM (Oct 2-9): “Brian Blain is one of the most important and popular figures on the local blues scene. The singer/songwriter launches his long-awaited new solo album, Overqualified For the Blues, with a gig at The Silver Dollar on Sept. 30. Expect a mix of gently satirical and more personal material.”

Here's a review from Austria (???):

“…a subtle, poignant, affecting album that initially confuses you; for the question here is; is it a folk influenced blues album, or a blues influenced folk album? … a distillation of life's experiences and frustrations including friendship, love, landmines, death, adoption and insensitive music executives, all presented with skill, love, care and conviction. A musical tapestry of styles and heartfelt emotions woven together with … an engaging feeling of warmth and comfort in sound, combined with a questioning stance on some social issues. An album to relax to and make you think! Mucho Impressto!
-Brian Harman. Blues Art Studio Magazine, Austria (lead review)


“Canada has had its own version of the blues for some time now, and two new albums find themselves prominently at the forefront of this genre. The first is Brian Blain's Overqualified for the Blues, which on the title track tackles the obvious irony of the "blues" that proliferates from this land of the north: how do guys who've got money, are never abused, and have insurance, justify singing the blues?

Throughout the album, Blain seeks to justify this. "Some say to get the blues you need to be low down livin' on welfare," he acknowledges on "High-Tech Blues", but as "my computer is crashing and my network's going down," he experiences the blues as well. "The high-tech blues strikes all, ask any millionaire," he adds. …A very interesting number is his blues song about the blues, "The Blues is Hurting". Funny no one's thought of doing this before, considering, as Blain points out, "My favourite club is closing, CD sales are down... the money hasn't changed in 30 years, and there's still clubs downtown expect the band to play for beers."

Nonetheless, Blain claims to write "the kind of blues that lifts you up if you're feeling down." …It's strange, ironic, maybe even oxymoronic, but it's true. Very entertaining, groovy music and stories that hold your attention are some of the defining characteristics of this album.

4/5 Reviewed by Dave Johnson – The Argosy, Halifax, NS September 05


“Canadian based label Northern Blues Music's latest releases focus on a trio of Canadian roots and blues artists. The catalogue numbers suggest that Brian Blain's album has been in the pipeline for a while, and the liner notes confirm this: the first tracks were laid down just before Christmas 2002. …Blain is an astute observer of life and this is reflected in his lyrics which are shot through with a wry sense of humour. Few would be able to get away with the opener "Saab Story" which cleverly plays on the Saab/sob pun, but Blain pulls it off with consummate ease. Blain sings and plays guitar throughout, accompanied by a range of familiar names including Michael Jerome Brown, Harry Manx, Paul Reddick, and the rhythm section from Downchild. The musical quality, however, remains unfailingly high throughout, as Blain traverses the blues and roots landscape. The album has a light, relaxed feel to it, the main exceptions being the straighter blues tracks, such as the excellent Magic Sam influenced "Terrace Inn" which has more of a rocking groove. Every one of the tracks has a tale behind it, and they are all memorable in their own way. The closing track ("The Big Fire"), in particular, occupies a soft spot in Blain's heart. Every year he enters it into the "Songs From The Heart" contest, although he is still waiting to pick up first prize!

…a real grower, and rewards the listener with repeated plays, and every track has something to recommend it.

Rating: 8/8 - Gordon Baxter Blues In Britain September 05


“Let's have a look at a new figure on the Canadian blues circuit. Brian Blain is a native of the eastern townships of Quebec. That's the portion of Quebec that borders on Vermont and New Hampshire. You're thinking to yourself that this isn't a likely setting for a bluesman. You're right!

Brian Blain didn't begin with the blues but played everything from Bach to the Beatles. Music has been part of his life for forty of his sixty years. Like many others, Blain learned the blues from an old 1964 Folkways LP by Jerry Silverman The Art Of The Folk-Blues Guitar. He learned his craft very well and is now an accomplished guitarist.

More importantly, Blain is a brilliant writer incorporating everyday experiences and situations into his lighthearted blues songs. Happily, the new CD Overqualified For The Blues is composed of a dozen original works and one cover tune. From the sentimental "Enfant Choisi" to the funny and topical "Hi-Tech Blues," the singer holds his listener's attention.

Brian Blain moved to the Toronto area fifteen years ago and uses many of that city's top musicians on the new album. The backbone of the Downchild Blues Band backs Blain on "Hi-Tech Blues." The title tune "Overqualified for the Blues" features harp ace Paul Reddick and ex- Janis Joplin piano-man Richard Bell. Guitarist extraordinaire Harry Manx appears on Blain's politically oriented "Peace."

Brian Blain's CD is a portrait of a folk-blues artist having fun with his music. He pokes fun at the music industry and especially the press with "One More Weasel." Thanks Brian! His "Saab Story" tells the funny tale of a girl and her car. Blain's guitar artistry comes to the forefront on the beautiful "Sailing." This reviewer enjoyed the guitarist's cover of Betty James and Edward Johnson's "I'm A Little Mixed Up." Brian Blain could put a smile on a gargoyle.

Reviewed by Richard Bourcier, September 05


And here’s my favourite review so far, a "haiku review" from Vue Weekly in Edmonton:

Storytelling Blues
A bit like David Wilcox
Only less annoying