Monday, September 22, 2014

On Living, Dying and Second Chances

Now back from a nice getaway in Cape Cod.  That little white spec in the sand on the left is Linda walking down the dunes at Long Nook (no sharks today). I got back to TO in time to celebrate my 68th birthday with a few friends including my oldest musical buddy, Allan Fraser, and we jammed a little but not into the night the way we used to.  In the big clean-up, I found all kinds of family pictures and ephemera and I decided it was time to get that stuff out of the boxes they've been in and put them up on the wall so I spent the night before my birthday drilling holes and hanging pictures. I also managed to lose the iPad - those things are so thin they could melt into a stack of papers and that is exactly what happened.  It was missing for a week and I was starting to think that it got thrown out along with the stacks of magazines & files that I dumped - but I didn't stop looking and this morning I looked in a box full of envelopes and bags and behold...thar she blows! What a relief - not that I use it a whole lot but I'm planning to load up one of those fake books so the next time I'm asked to go play bass for someone, I can have a chart for every song in every key right at my fingertips.

Last week was one to remember. Thursday morning I had two emails informing me that two friends had died.  One I had just met the week before, at my birthday party actually, and he was quite an eccentric looking character. His name was Nik Beat and the day after the party I googled him and sent him a Facebook friend request.  He friended me right away and then I learnt a bit more about him, he had a long-running show on CIUT was a musician (though he didn't join in our jam session). and a couple of days later he was dead. Then as I'm wrapping up the Crescendo newsletter, we get word that Jim Biros, the Executive Director of the Toronto Musician's Association and a friend to all musicians, union or not, had passed away. Stop the presses! And just a week ortwo before, another one-of-a-kind broadcaster, Reiner Schwartz had passed away. What's going on?

That was the day I was invited to a special event at the Ontario Science Centre called the Science of Rock and this night feature all kinds of activities including a panel of experts dissecting a hit song (by the Who), a make-your-own-cigar-box-guitar (sorry I missed that one) and an amazing display of Rock & Roll artifacts curated by Alan Cross.  The evening ended with a concert/lecture by guitar god Steve Cropper. Remeber "Green Onions" and here he told us how he wrote it and other hits like "Soul Man" and other Stax hits.  I saw an old friend Rob Bowman in the crowd and chatted with him a bit and he told me it was the one-year anniversary of his double lung transplant.  Talk about a new lease on life! As we spoke, the concert ended and he made his way to the stage - I figured to say hi to Steve who he has written about a lot in his book about Stax and liner notes for a CD box set.  But I was surprised to see him take the stage with Steve and there followed a "celebrity interview" with Steve that went into some great stories about the early days of Rock & Roll.

I also got invited to be part of my friend Raoul Bhaneja's theatre/music production called "Life Death and the Blues" The show runs from September 25 to October 19th and each night features a special guest to sing a couple of tunes with the band at the end of the show.  I'm on October 15th and here's where you can buy tix:

And in the "Second Chances" department, I had a meeting with an old friend who is now responsible for a new online live music calendar which just launched at I encourage all my musician friends to post their gigs, so that the government will know it's being used.  It'll be a while before they build an audience but it will be easier if they have some content.  Folks who know me will remember that an comprehensive online music event calendar has been my pet project for twenty years.  In fact, as I was cleaning up for the birthday party I came upon correspondence from 1994 about just that.  I had long given up on trying to do it myself but I was sure that by now someone else would have done it and I could just buy one at Staples.  But alas, it was not to be.  Just a long succession of false starts...but maybe this time it will be different.