CLIPS AND COMMENTARY FROM CANADA'S BEST KNOWN UNDISCOVERED OLD WHITE BLUESMAN

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

Blainletter #130

 

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November 2020
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Hey it's Bandcamp Friday, a good day to support your favourite musical artist(s) because this is the one day a month when Bandcamp forgoes their commission on all sales. You can download my new album "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" and you can pre-order the physical CD, which is not quite ready to be shipped.  Go to www.brianblain.bandcamp.com.  I've finally signed off on the CD artwork so it's safe to say your CD will be in the mail…..shall we say, before Christmas??  Sorry for the delay but my mantra for 2020 has been "What's the rush?"
 
I woke up the morning after Halloween to the sound of ice being scraped off windshields and when I looked out there was snow on the ground (it's gone now!)  The best part of the day was looking at my bedside clock-radio and knowing for the first time in six months, the time is correct.  That's how lazy I've been! I didn't even bother to switch from Daylight Savings Time because, well…."what's the rush?" You wait long enough and eventually it will say the right time.  Every other timepiece in my universe adjusts itself.
 
This Blainletter was intended to promote my big Halloween Blaincast, my return to the streamnet after a bit of a break. I was getting a little stressed out trying to pull something together every Sunday at 2pm and I thought this might be my last chance to get a little traction on my Trump Trilogy, as well as my old Halloween favourite, "The Ghost of Clinton's Tavern."  I even fired up the Ableton Live on my new computer (a hand-me-up from my son the DJ) and threw in some synth sounds. You can view it on YouTube < https://youtu.be/fXI0C9E8KpI >
 
And if you didn't watch the album launch…you might get a kick out of it: https://youtu.be/pPrzSbCcBXY
 

 

MapleBlues Awards Voting is Open

In other news, we weren't included in the Maple Blues Awards short list but I did get some encouraging feedback from some of those radio guys and influencers and it's always interesting to see what tracks people glom onto.  Here's the list of nominees and please vote for your favourites at www.mapleblues.ca:
 
The 24th Annual Maple Blues Awards Nominees
 
Entertainer of the Year
Dawn Tyler Watson
Downchild
Jack de Keyzer
JW-Jones
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
 
Electric Act of the Year
Dawn Tyler Watson & Ben Racine Band
Jack de Keyzer
JW-Jones
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Sue Foley
 
Acoustic Act of the Year
Adam Karch
Harrison Kennedy
Matt Andersen
Michael Jerome Browne
Rick Fines
 
Male Vocalist of the Year
Chuck Jackson
Harrison Kennedy
Jack de Keyzer
Jim Byrnes
Matt Andersen
 
Female Vocalist of the Year
Angel Forrest
Crystal Shawanda
Dawn Tyler Watson
Dione Taylor
Samantha Martin
 
New Artist of the Year
Dione Taylor
HOROJO Trio (Holmes, Rogers, Jones)
Liam Docherty
Matt Weidenger
Smoke Wagon Blues Band
 
Recording/Producer of the Year
Crystal Shawanda - Church House Blues / True North (Dewayne Strobel)
Durham County Poets - Hand Me Down Blues / Self (Bill Garrett)
Jack de Keyzer - Tribute / Blue Star (Jack de Keyzer)
JW-Jones - Sonic Departures / Solid Blue (Eric Eggleston)
Smoke Wagon Blues Band - Ballad of Albert Johnson / Self (Steve Sherman)
 
B.B. King International Artist of the Year
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
Ghost Town Blues Band
Larkin Poe
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats
Victor Wainwright
 
Songwriter of the Year
Colin Linden
Crystal Shawanda/Dewayne Strobel
Dione Taylor
Kevin Harvey (Durham County Poets)
Paul Reddick
 
Blues with a Feeling Award (Lifetime Achievement Award)
Alec Fraser
Brent Parkin
Danny Brooks
Joe Murphy
Ken Whiteley
Michael Fonfara
Tom Lavin
 
Guitarist of the Year
Garrett Mason
Jack de Keyzer
JW-Jones
Sue Foley
Tony D (MonkeyJunk)
 
Harmonica Player of the Year
Guy BĂ©langer
Harpdog Brown
Paul Reddick
Roly Platt
Steve Marriner
 
Piano/Keyboard of the Year
David Vest
Duane Blackburn
Jesse O’Brien
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne
Michael Kaeshammer
 
Horn Player of the Year
Jerry Cook (Harpdog Brown)
Mark LeClerc (Fuel Junkie)
Gordon Aeichele (Smoke Wagon Blues Band)
Richard Thornton (Jack de Keyzer Band)
Mat “Moose” Mousseau (Ben Racine Band)
 
Drummer of the Year
Cory Blackburn
Dani Nash (Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar)
Gary Craig (Colin Linden, Steve Dawson)
Lindsay Beaver
Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk)
 
Bassist of the Year
Alan Duffy (Jack de Keyzer)
Alec Fraser
Gary Kendall
John Dymond (
Keith Picot
 

 

On Guns and Mental Illness

Somebody on TV was just referring to the "ranks of the insane" and it got me thinking that we are all suffering from some degree of mental illness, just as no one gets through life without some degree of physical illness, I think just about everybody might have an occasional bout of some kind of minor mental illness. I even found a name for my low-level mental affliction: Trichotillomania (you can look it up if you want).
 
I'm thinking almost all the evil-doing that happens could be tagged as some form of insanity.  That fellow who beheaded the teacher in the name of Islam…I count him insane.  He's a religious zealot of course but in addition to that he suffers from some mental instability and even though he's committing crimes, he's still best treated as a mental case.  In other words, all criminals are criminally insane.
 
I could even suggest that bullying and the love of guns and shooting things might be a symptom of a less than balanced mind. There was a time when a man needed a gun to defend himself, but now we live in a society where you don't need to walk around with a gun. There is definitely something intoxicating about holding a beautifully engineered handgun and as a kid I had quite the introduction.
 
I grew up in a house with a lot of guns.  And I was thinking, how is it that I can remember exactly the order they were placed in that gun cabinet (which I had figured how to open at a very early age). On the top shelf was a flintlock "pirate pistol" and a small .22 six-shooter.  Going down the side was a tiny Walther (more of a decorative gun for SS officers), a full-size Walther, a US Army issue .45, a Canadian Army issue .44, a German Luger, a .38, a Colt .45 and maybe a couple of others. Then there was a row of long guns including my favourite, a Winchester '73 repeating rifle, "The Gun that Won the West."  Then there were a couple of drawers of assorted ammo and German pins and badges and other war souvenirs.
 
How do I remember that?  I can't remember the row of toys or model airplanes that decorated my bedroom. Or what the kitchen looked like.  It's because there is a special feeling you get when you hold a gun. Even if it's not loaded. They are a marvel of engineering and craftsmanship and sometimes even artwork when you look at those intricately carved handles.  It occurs to me that in the same way that the space race lit a fire under the semi-conductor industry, the demand for better firearms fueled the industrial age and manufacturing methods (just a theory).
 
That feeling you get holding a gun is especially appealing to a child (maybe also any adult who is not fully developed mentally or emotionally).  I used to take them out of the gun cabinet just to hold them.  Then I eventually got into the ammo drawer and started loading them and rearranging the drawer so the old man wouldn't see that some was missing. I would choose a pistol and take it out into the woods behind the house and shoot at trees.
 
Then came the last day I ever touched those guns.  I was maybe 12 and charged with babysitting my sister and her friend.  The little girls came to me yelling they saw a prowler outside their window. I immediately went into "alpha-male" protector mode, snapped open the gun cabinet, grabbed the .45, loaded it up and cocked it, and just as I walked around the corner to the bedroom, I placed my finger against the trigger and the gun fired with a big recoil.  I had never fired this one and it had much more of a "hair-trigger" than the others. I looked up to see these two little girls staring at the floor where I had just put a bullet directly between two little slippered feet. I managed to camouflage the bullet hole in the tile floor, the girls never said a word and I never touched a gun again except one summer when I was a cadet in the militia (but that's a whole other story).

Happy American Thanksgiving

Besides all this music stuff, it's American Thanksgiving this month and I always like to pull out my song about Alice Brock (yes, the Alice from Alice's Restaurant).  Arlo Guthrie's song about Alice is the unofficial anthem of American Thanksgiving. All the more poignant because Arlo has just announced his retirement from performing and Alice herself has been going through some hard times, too.
Alice has been a great booster of mine and was the first person to contribute to my GoFundMe campaign when I started this recording project and who has now fallen onto hard times herself.  Here's an early Blaincast (2013) when I had a little chat with Alice.  If Alice holds a special place in your heart, here's your chance to chip in and make sure she can keep her head above water down there in Provincetown.  Here's the link to her GoFundMe page
Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These clips and more are always available on my blog, www.torontobluesdiary.com.

See you out there, eventually...

BrianB, aka Butch, Nappy, Shaker, Two-Lane Blain, Colorblind Brian, Stringbuster, Buddha of the Blues

Upcoming
Shows

The weekly Backyard sometime Basement Blaincast reached episode 25 last Sunday and with all this CD Launch activity, I have decided to forego the regular Sunday thing in favour of spontaneous Facebook Live Pop-ups whenever I feel like it. I'll be putting out a series of "Songs that didn't make it onto the album" as well as my continuing series on "How-to-write-a-blues-song-with-Brian" And I'm sure I'll find other reasons to stream They say you have to be consistent to succeed with streaming. Well, nothing else in my life is consistent...

For this album, I wanted to bring attention to the water crisis that is affecting 3 billion people on the planet. "Water Song" is a pretty dark "ear movie" with a global vibe provided by Sadio Sissokho (kora) and Harry Manx (mohan veena). The haunting vocals are provided by Ruth Mathiang. "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" kicks off the album with a little tongue-in-cheek  humour and some fine harp playing from Steve Marriner.  “The Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)” and “You Are Also His Son” were recorded with Julian Fauth and Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild.  “Blues Des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)” is a leaving-home barrelhouse boogie “en francais” with David Vest pounding the 88s. Patrick Merner added some bass & synth, and Clayton Doley overdubbed some organ from his studio in Melbourne, Australia. Ken Whiteley played some lap steel on "You Are Also His Son", Jesse O'Brien added some piano and organ to "The Mother I Never Knew" and drummer Michelle Josef provides a solid backbeat throughout.  Some songs end with extended jams (because I loves to jam) and the last track is a ten-minute acoustic soundscape with Michael Jerome Browne from the last day of recording my “Overqualified For The Blues” album years ago in Montreal. I call it “Tai Chi Ten,” …because it’s just the right pace and length for my Tai Chi set, but it makes for a fine meditation even if you aren’t moving.
 
 
Track Listing
 
 
1. I’m Not Fifty Anymore  3:07
  feat. Steve Marriner
2. You Are Also His Son  4:52
  feat. Ken Whiteley
3. Blues des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)  4:22  
feat. David Vest & Clayton Doley
4. The Mother I Never Knew  3:55  
feat. Jesse O’Brien
5. Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)  3:37  
feat. Julian Fauth
& Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild
6. Water Song  5:26  
feat. Harry Manx & Sadio Sissokho
7. Tai Chi Ten  (A Meditation)  9:54  
feat. Michael Jerome Browne

mixed by Margaret Stowe at Ozworld Toronto
mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal
art direction Linda Turu
photography Margaret Mulligan
design Keijo Tapanainen
 
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