I'll be talking to Danny in the third segment at 10pm. Tune in to JAZZ-FM 91.1 on your radio dial and online at www.jazz.fm. Here I am with Danny and the lovely Sabrina Weeks at Hugh's Room last week
I'd like to wish a Happy and Healthy 2014 to all Mapleposters and Maplebluzers who might be reading this. This is what my (mostly)monthly Blainletter and blog looks like. I started it back in 1990 when I first arrived in Toronto to break into the music business. I have managed to break in to the music business but more business than music and I've been chronicling my ups and downs ever since. If you care to subscribe, just reply to this with "subscribe" in the subject line. Or you can view the blog at www.torontobluesdiary.com
I spend a lot more time behind the scenes than on the big stage but I love being around music any way I can. You could call me Canada's best known undiscovered blues artist.
Undiscovered, you say? Even David Farrell, a genuine “influencer“ on the mainstream music industry since the 70s was surprised when I told him I played guitar. I gave him a copy of the new CD and he wrote back that he was enjoying “what is clearly not a rank and file blues album.“
The following week he wrote a nice review on www.newcanadianmusic.ca and that website provides much more than a review. It actually tracks all your activity on the web. Everytime somebody streams one of your tunes, watches one of your songs on YouTube or likes your Facebook page, it gets calculated on a graph on your NCM page. So now it's downright embarrassing if a week goes by and I don't have any new likes or plays. or other fan activity. So, if you haven't already, please “Like“ me on Facebook or play me on Spotify or Rdio.
And I don't know if they count physical sales but you can order it here or download it on iTunes. No pressure, eh? Lord knows, I'm done with twisting the arms of my friends to give me a gig at their festival or play me on their radio show. I was trying to get a Christmas party gig for my band (it's been a while since I got out with the Blainettes) and the club booker actually said “but is it going to be blues enough?" I should have responded that it would not be “rank and file“ blues. Anyway when I saw the band who got the gig, I had to admit I would not have been putting out like they did, playing fast and loud and practically standing on their heads to get people on that dance floor. I sure ain't blues enough for that.
I hope I can continue to keep you all amused and informed in the coming year (and I will try to avoid the long late-night ramblings). I had a good lesson in keeping things short and snappy from my interview with Danny. He played a couple of tracks from the album and we talked a bit about Penny Lang. Danny did not know very much about her but had a great “first impression“ after meeting her at a festival in Nova Scotia. I told Danny about the time I saw Penny on the second stage at a Harbourfront Soul & Blues Festival where the PA died halfway through her set and she used what could have been a disaster for another artist and turned it into an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with her audience. I don't know if she changed her set list but she had that audience in the palm of her hand and you could hear the proverbial pin drop.
We never got around to talking about my guitar (we talk a lot about guitars) but as I was driving home I heard that today was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I've often told the story of how I was immediately drawn to the Gibson acoustics that John and George were playing because they had a pick-up. Brilliant! Those must have been the original acoustic-electric guitars but when I went to order one at my local music store I was told the J160-E was back-ordered but that they had a similar guitar (an Epiphone Texan) and they would install a pickup on it for me. $310 (without case) and that's the guitar I've been playing ever since. Interesting to note that Paul McCartney's acoustic of choice is an Epiphone Texan.
(Apologies to all the non-guitar geeks for all this shop-talk but it's also interesting to note that I never got so many Facebook comments as the time I posted a picture of my beloved Epiphone with the headstock broken off. I don't think I would have attracted as much sympathy if my own head had been knocked off. )
Sorry to say I still haven't had a chance to put together a proper CD launch with full band although it would be a beautiful thing to gather together all or most of the musicians who played on the record. Maybe in February. Meanwhile I was just offered a gig in the Townships for the springtime and maybe that will be the anchor date for a Quebec tour.
Speaking of Quebec, I want to share with you a quickie youTube I just created for my French tune “Ramene Moi Demain“ with beautiful photos of Townships landscapes by Daniel Racine, who wrote the beautiful French lyrics to that song. And let me also mention that the beautiful slide guitar playing is by Harry Manx.
I haven't mailed the CD to Media yet, either, but I have handed out a few to media folk when I ran into them. When I gave one to John Valenteyn or Eric Thom (or anyone who had already reviewed New Folk Blues 1.0), I was quick to mention that I hardly expected another revue for what was essentially the same album. Anyway, JV must have deemed it worthy because he wrote about it in the current issue of MapleBlues and you and you can read it here.
We lost our power for a couple of days here at the old homestead but it came back and it was quite a novelty to be able to sit around the gas stove playing chess by candlelight with my son and no digital distractions.
Last week I came upon an old demo cassette of a group I played with briefly back in the 70s. Slim Chance was the name of the band. We were a country-rock and I recently came upon an old cassette demo and digitized a couple of the tunes and sent them to Sue Lothrop (who was the lead singer - she asked me to send the rest but now I can't find that damn cassette – sorry Sue) Sue sent me back this picture which I don't remember at all. But I do remember those embroidered cowboy pants (Dan Kershaw owns them now). I don't think I ever looked so thin in my whole life. Must have been the drugs (that would explain why I can't remember the picture)
I always like to start out a new year by consulting my runes and I'm always amazed that year after year they give me the same advice, with some slight variation or glimmer of hope for the future. But mostly it's “sow the seeds and wait for the harvest“ or “this is a period of gestation.“ This time my situation is described as “gradual development and steady progress, slow growth and moral effort will be required.“ Argh! The advice was “Do not rely on others for help or support“ and “Watch for signs of spring“. It ended with some encouragement for the new year: “you now have the strength to achieve completion.“ So now I just have decide what I want to complete.
Thanks for reading this far and I wish you all the strength to achieve completion this year (whatever you need to complete).
And let me leave you with a little history lesson that came my way from Jean-Nil, an old friend from the Townships. Check it out
Click image to see the full interactive music graphic(via Concert Hotels).