Monday, November 30, 1998

"Sherbrooke Night" at the Montreal Bistro

Nov 30 - Election day in Quebec so I called the gig "Sherbrooke Night" at the Montreal Bistro in honour of fellow Sherbrooker Jean Charest. Brigit, the hostess with the mostest who loves a "theme night" made the special of the night pea soup and tourtiere in keeping with the event. It was a fine turnout and it was especially gratifying to play for a lot of people who hadn't heard me in years (like 25 years!) and a few including the guys I work for at Downtown Jazz who had never heard me at all (Jim Galloway even shot some footage of my performance on his fancy new digital camcorder). At the back of the room were a group of Montreal expatriates including Rick Whitelaw, Ronney Abramson and Bill Garrett (who had rounded them up). When I saw Chris Rawlings come in I just said "The guitar players are assembled at the back, Chris". I had only seen Ronney once since I've been in Toronto and that was at the funeral for the beloved Montreal musician Ron Dann. Ronney sang back up on the demo and I think the final recording as well for a tune I recorded in '72 called "Don't Paint That Wall" I can't remember if the original vocals were used on the final, I know Sue-Ellen was on it but they brought in these hired guns from Manhattan Transfer, Laurel Masse and Janis Segal. I don't remember those days too clearly (as Ronnie Hawkins says "They tell me I had a real good time"). Some remember well though. Last year I was in the Black Swan and someone said they wanted me to meet Bob Segarini and I said "yes I remember him from Montreal - The Whackers!" When we were introduced he couldn't believe it, fell to his knees in the middle of a crowded Black Swan doing the "we're not worthy" bowing saying "Brian Blain - Don't Forget Your Mother!!!" After the theatrics, he pulled me over to the quiet end of the bar and related how he had been in the studio when we were recording the back up vocals and met Laurel right there in the control room, had a meeting of the eyes and made their way to the private lounge that overlooked the studio (which was in a former church, by the way) and began what became the most passionate and unforgettable love affair of his entire life. And it was consummated to the sounds of me recording the vocal to this quirky novelty song. Another odd twist that came to my attention about ten years ago when I was visting Montreal and a friend called James casually mentioned that the drummer who had played on that session had subsequently killed his own mother and was serving life in an institution for the criminally insane. That was Jim Gordon, drummer for Derek and the Dominoes, co-writer of Layla, and then playing with Frank Zappa's Mothers. Phew.

Anyway, back to the Bistro, the evening was lots of laughs and I think that's what people will remember most about it. The music was tight (we had just played a week-end in Barrie) but there were a few technical problems with the organ Leslie and it cut out a few times. Still it was a deliciously spontaneous evening. So spontaneous that I found myself doing songs I hardly ever performed and making up lyrics like the Muddy variation "I said I just want to be your man, if we could only get together and make love in the....sand" In the sand!!! Where did that come from?