Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Here come de Festivals

Here come de Festivals

I told my son today that I felt like some kind of thoroughbred dog in the
gate waiting for the race to begin. Not because I've got so many gigs (2
this week-end, mind you) but because I know what a marathon it is keeping up
with all the action at the Downtown jazzfest - now called the Toronto Jazz
Festival...OK, the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival. All year long, I'm
the (barely)managing editor of the newsletter and website and this is the
payoff - ten or more days of exquisite music. And yes, I even got a gig for
myself and what a privilege to have Carlos del Junco on board playing harp.


Saturday June 24 - 6PM at the Greektown Stage (Danforth and Logan) Brian
Blain with Carlos del Junco and Henry Heilig. This is part of the Toronto
Jazz Festival. It's going to rock.

Sunday June 25th, 4PM I'm doing a solo set on the Trinity Square Stage at
the City Roots Festival in the Distillery District


After that I'll be running around Nathan Phillips Square for ten days
listening to as much music as I can and fixing any computer or internet
problems that arise. Right now, the challenge of the day is getting the
e-commerce going...argh! I won't whine any further, I'm pretty lucky to be
around all this phenomenal music. I wish I could say some of it rubs off on
my playing, but I've come to accept that for the last 40 years I've been
writing a succession of variations on the same couple of songs, with mostly
the same chords and riffs...played on the same guitar, too.

If you ever wondered what a "blog" is, well, it's something like this except
it doesn't arrive in your mailbox - you have to go to a website. I have a
blog at and now I post it at

What else is going on? Well, I've read with great interest when publicist
and friend Richard Flohil has sent a report on his club hopping over the
last few weeks. I'm sure he'll be reporting a hot steamy session with Paul
Reddick and the Sidemen in a smoky, crowded after-hours hang in the Liberty
Village. He might have missed some stuff when he fell asleep on the couch
but he was in good hands with Samantha and Roxanne. It was quite a crush of
people and we were pushed right up inches from the band - and they were on
fire. Teddy Leonard's guitar playing never ceases to amaze and Paul Reddick
was in his element. Having Vince and Greg, original Sidemen since 91 playing
behind them was rock solid.

I'm sure this is the closest I've ever been to a crowded Juke joint/ Rent
party in the southern US. Cigarette smokers were in heaven, and although I'm
sometimes bugged by smoke, here it was helping fuel the overall experience
which I dare say would not be reproducible. Maybe more of these joints will
surface, if only to accommodate the smokers (all kinds).

Before that I swung by the Silver Dollar and heard Suzie Vinnick playing
with Ottawa guitarist, and probably one of Suzie's mentors. He plays so
effortlessly and pushes the intrument to the edge (literally - I noticed he
had no whammy bar on his strat but he would pull and push the neck to get
some dramitic sounds). Suzie has been doing more laid back gigs - this was a
rockin power trio and he bass playing was at a very high level. At one
point, Tony stopped playing the riff for a couple of bars as he made some
adjustment and she just jumped in with some riffs that held the whole thing

I'll try to post regular blogs during the festival...though finding a free
moment is going to be a challenge. The jazz festival is always a great ride
for this old country blues picker from the hill country of Quebec who
happens to know a bit about computers. I'll try to keep track of my
"discoveries" and relate them back here.


QUOTE OF THE DAY: ³Brian's music is not only delicious, but it's
nourishing.² - Alice Brock, Alice's Restaurant

OVERQUALIFIED FOR THE BLUES available at,,, and EPK at

Downtown Jazz