Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blainletter #42 June 21, 2011

In This Issue:

• Upcoming Gigs and Cancellations
• New Folk Blues gets nice review
• No campfire tonight
• Toronto Jazz Festival
• How hi-tech are we, really?
• Out and About at NXNE. Luminato, MMVAs
• Tweets from the Streets

Sun. June 26, noon to 3pm, Toronto Jazz Festival, Boiler Room Stage in the Distillery (with Brent Titcomb)

Sat. July 2, 3-6pm, Toronto Jazz Festival, Distillery Mainstage (with Brent Titcomb)

Tues July 19 8-11pm Blues Campfire at Gladstone Hotel All Musicians Welcome

Thurs, Aug 18 9:30pm Monarch's Pub, Delta Chelsea Hotel 33 Gerrard St Toronto

No campfire tonight: If you were thinking of heading down to the Gladstone for the Blues Campfire, we've been bumped by a CD Release Party – tho I read that there will be some fiddle jamming after their set. The next blues campfire will be Tuesday July 19th. Come jam or listen.

Toronto Jazz Festival: It's happening this week – kicking off with a free concert by Aretha Franklin on Friday – that will be something to behold. Some friends and fans will recall that the jazz festival is one of my publishing clients but, no, I don't think I can arrange an introduction to Aretha. Meanwhile, sorry to say the Blainettes horn section will not be playing with me on July 2nd (as advertised in some of the promotional material) though I'm hoping Carrie Chesnutt will drop in for a few tunes. I am thrilled to have Brent Titcomb on percussion – his own home-made kit – and harmonica. We played together at the Orangeville Blues & Jazz festival earlier this month and had so much fun that we're doing it again at the Distillery this Sunday (noon) and next Saturday (3pm)

A nice review of New Folk Blues – Thanks to Gary Kendall for bringing this to my attention (I guess Google Alerts do sometimes miss stuff). This is from The Blues Report "The Best Source For Blues News and Info, On The Internet..." Who is this guy, how does he know all this stuff about me? He ends his review saying " 'New Folk Blues' is one of those rare treasures that just makes you feel good inside to listen to and for exceptionally well done Folk Blues, I highly recommend this Album." Click here to read the whole thang.

How hi-tech are we, really? I'm here trying to stream the MuchMusic Video Awards just to see how it looks on TV since I was at the site a couple of hours ago. I was coming from a Luminato event and musing how Luminato was on a larger scale than the jazz festival. If only on the basis of their budget. Then I walk up the street and encounter the Much Music Video Awards conflabulation – all the streets around the block of the City-TV parking lot – where we used to fit a stage and an audience at jazz festival in the 90s (aka the duMaurier days). Now the MMVA set takes up the entire parking lot.

(the streaming is very sketchy but I just saw o minute of Lady Gaga's encore it it looked quite spectacular – it would have been something to witness close up but I've just lost my "fire" for those thangs. Now screen has frozen on a slide saying "thank you for watching". I'll make that "thank you for 3 or 4 momentary connections where I saw a bit of the show."

Out and About at NXNE. Luminato, MMVAs

These music events always have a lot of parties, maybe not as much as the old days, but I know there are industry people that come to Toronto but don't bother with any of the official programme and spend the whole week-end in meetings and private parties. I was late for both of the parties I was invited to – one was a showcase and screening of the documentary Yonge Street Rock & Roll Stories. It was hosted by rock pioneer John Brower who figures prominently in the film. Got to meet the legendary Cathy Young and there were a few other legends in the house…like the drummer who played on Moondance – and he still dresses like a 70's rock star!

I didn't get invited to any Luminato parties – and I'm sure there were some very posh ones – and even though they gave me a media pass, the only events I was invited to were the free ones. And even then there was no accommodation for us media mooches. Not even a designated seating area or a complimentary muffin – thougf programmer Derek Andrews did guide me to the backstage hospitality area for a coffee and a cookie. Ran into a couple of fellow media types who complained that they weren't able to pick up their pass because of the narrow window…you had to pick it up at the Chapters/Indigo store on Wednesday between 10:30 and 11:30am. With Luminato, if you snooze, you lose, but you've got to give them credit – the production was first class. Great sound – fabulous video on the big screens.

I happened upon one NXNE party strictly by happenstance. I was waiting for a streetcar at Queen and Shaw and hear music coming from the courtyard at the Canadian Contemporary Art gallery. I walked over to the security people and flashed my NXNE media pass and they let me in to the "secret showcase" by the band Stars (if you haven't heard of Stars, you've probably heard of their parent group, Broken Social Scene) . There were about 200 hard-core Stars fans in attendance and dig this, all of them had been advised of this secret location after scanning a QR code on some Stars promotional material.

If you've never heard of a QR code, neither had I until a couple of months ago when I had to create a contest for one of the jazz festival sponsors. The QR is that little square at the bottom of many ads and posters – when you point your smart phone at it it takes you to a web page (or a contest, or a "secret showcase.")

Speaking of smartphones, one panelist at the NXNE Interactive conference described a scenario that is not that far in the future. You're walking down the street and you get a notification on your smartphone that the band you recently downloaded from iTunes is playing at a club just around the corner. Awesome!

With 650 bands showcasing last week, all of them hoping to be heard by the right person, it occurred to me that it really is a crapshoot and if I'm any example, I made some great discoveries because they were playing right after or right before the band I went to see. Case in point is a duo from Brooklyn called Tiny Victories who were playing after Kaya Fraser who played a sweet and soulful set on Saturday. I was sitting with her dad, my oldest musical buddy Allan Fraser, and I used to joke that when I listened to recording of the two of us I sometimes could not tell who was playing what. And now watching his daughter's touch on the guitar I started thinking she has inherited that trait – though she plays way more chords than me ☺. Caught Jadea Kelly at Dakota and then got to hear Harlan Pepper with Tom Wilson (Jr.). A very creative young band – a standout in a sea of generic indie rock bands. Proud dad watching from the sidelines – and making sure I got a copy of their CD when he saw my media badge. His band, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, is dropping a new CD next month with a stunning all-star lineup of guest artists.

Tweets from the streets

Invited to 2 private showcases and late for both. Punk so ubiquitous @nxne that I expect by next year there will be a genre called punk-pop.

So much music – I'm getting jaded. Listening to one group who are undeniably brilliant but after a couple of songs it's time to move along…next!

At a panel discussion on performance rights, the Socan representative shudders as rapper Saukrates tells the crowd not to worry about licensing samples – "don't call them, wait for them to call you."

In the lounge area of the NXNE Interactive conference the complimentary laptop workstations sit empty while everyone checks their email on their smartphone or tablet. You know this is not your usual business conference when half the slides in the Powerpoint presentation include the f-word.

In a tele-conference demonstrating a Social media "dashboard," Adobe Connect doesn't want to.

One minute I'm standing at the back of a crowd of 8500 at the k.d. lang free outdoors concert (she was singing "Halleluiah" and you could hear a pin drop ) and then a few minutes later I'm in a tiny club where half the crowd is shouting at the top of their lungs.

Sound guy does not spend much time at the board. Rushes over to put out fires. He's going to set one if he keeps using that blowtorch of a lighter instead of a Maglite.

On a mission to find some bands at the NXNE festival who are using Ableton (the music software I am working with), but every time I ask someone they're looking me over like I just asked them to recommend a good hash dealer. Am I too old to be playing with Ableton??

Tribute to Ron Sexsmith at Massey Hall went well except for Measha Brueggergosman who bowed out because of allergies and a lot of anxiety because Ron had to catch a flight to London England at 11:30 so the concert started a little early and ended around 9:30, at which point he bounded off the stage and straight into a waiting car. I'm starting to warm up to Ron Sexsmith. I almost get run down by Greg Keelor in his Land Rover as I'm leaving the hall.

Kept running into ole Doc MacLean playing on the street and in the subway during my musical marathon. He'll be doing another cross-canada tour with Big Dave McLean in August. What a work ethic. He plays out in blazing sun for 4 or 5 hours – maybe more – then moves underground into a subway station to cool off and play for another couple of hours. He's got a heluva tan.