Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blainettin #1

For those who are not familiar with the (mostly)monthly Blainletter, it’s a long rambling chronicle of my attempts to develop a music career in the Toronto music scene. This is an abbreviated version with less stories and gets right down to the blatant self-promotion:

Tuesday Night (tonight!) it’s the First Anniversary Campfire at Highway 61 Southern BBQ. Actually, the Campfire has only been going for 7 months, but the club has been open a year. My special guests this night will be Robin Banks, Son Roberts and barrelhouse piano player Roberta “Bertie” Hunt. I’m sure they’ll be a few surprises, too. Apparently Roots & Music Canada folks will be by to do their “reportage”. The address is 1620 Bayview, a couple of blocks south of Eglinton. We play from 7-10.

Thursday Night (Feb 25) I’ll be doing an opening set (8:30) for the Alfie Smith concert at Free Times Café, 320 College St.

“Blain Mops Up at Winterfolk” - Mose Scarlett

When I hit the stage for my first set at Winterfolk, the stage floor was so sticky that my feet were practically glued to the ground. Whe I lifted them up, the made weird squishy sounds and everybody laughed. After a couple of songs I asked the waitress to bring out a mop and I was thus able to spare all the performers that followed me at the Willow. I was subbing for Howard Gladstone, and also subbed for Mr. Rick and ended up playing bass with Mose Scarlett twice. Well, it will take more than a couple of passes to learn all those changes but Mose had good advice: “Don’t play what I’m playing, just be sure you’re following the melody.”

NEWS FLASH! “Two hardened Winterfolk soundmen reduced to goose bumps by Brian Blain song.”

It’s true, after my first set at Winterfolk, the sound man at the Willow said “I got goose-bumps when you sang that song about Lenny Breau”  Then a couple of days later, I did the same song and told the story of how I gave the soundman at the Willow goose bumps and a burly guy with beard shouted from the other side of the room “Well I’m a soundman and I just got goose bumps.”  That’s two, count ‘em, TWO, soundmen won over in one week-end.

My “discovery of the week” at Winterfolk was a great blues guy from the London area called Rick Taylor. Some may remember him from a long time ago, before my time in TO. He was away on the west coast but he’s back now and playing wih a vengeance! Honorable mention to the soft-spoken Rich Burnett from Guelph who shared the City Roots stage with me and played exquisitely on a beautiful hand-made guitar.

Out and About

Just in from hearing the “new” Sisters Euclid at the Orbit Room. The new guy is organist Mark Malana, a phenomenal player – this was the first time he played some of those tunes but you never would have known it. Kevin Breit would be hard to follow at the best of times but tonight he was giving the new kid a taste of how it’s going to be. Wild, unabashed improvisation – with Kevin taking solos by flipping his guitar backwards and rubbing the strings against his shirt opr by unplugging the guitar and making a rhythmic pattern by tapping the live plug with his thumb.  They’re only playing the Orbit on the last Monday of the month, but I plan on catching them again. Yesterday, I heard bluegrass at it’s best – James King from Virginia, with a new tenor singer/mandolinist Ron Spears who knocked me out.

If you’re my age, you might remember a folk-phenomenon called Fraser & DeBolt. They were the original “acid folk” and they came by that label honestly. I worked with them in those days and we’re still great friends  and they’ve asked me to help with the Fraser & DeBolt website – I put in a Flickr slideshow and a video of Allan and Daisy performing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1971.  That reminds me, if you go to,  you will see another Flickr slideshow, this one with lots of cool old posters and promo shots. Some pretty funny (check out the Alligators, Butch Coulter, Allan Fraser and me, circa 1974)

If you’re reading this at 9am or before, tune in CIUT.FM and you’ll hear hear Harry Manx playing some new tunes live in the studio (how often does that happen??) Hey, that sounds like my guitar!

If you’d like to receive the Blainletter (and these occasional Blainblasts) go to and sign up!  Thanks for your support, BrianB

Out and About