Thursday, March 16, 2000

My First House Concert in Toronto

House Concerts are something you will more likely find happening in outlying rural areas or small towns where they don't have a club scene but I decided to do one at the jazz office in downtown Toronto. Publicist Richard Flohil was kind enough to drop in and my dear friend Jacquie who was collecting at the door didn't know who he was and charged him ten bucks and and he kindly paid it. I don't think he pays for too many shows...Thursday, March 16, 2000 was Colorblind Brian's Acoustic Blues House Concert at the offices of Downtown Jazz The promo blurb said "Hear the elusive Colorblind Brian in a rare solo performance, "intimate and interactive" (as they say). We'll be throwing a log in the fireplace, pushing back the old boardroom table and sitting back for a set or two of unique, offbeat, some say "kinda quirky" original blues. At Brian's last performance at the Montreal Bistro, Bill Garrett of Borealis Records said "I had a smile pasted on my face all night long". Even old school jazz guys were seen enjoying a twelve-bar blues. Brian will be performing tunes from his recent CD, "Who Paid You to Give Me The Blues?" as well a some experimental new material. Come early as there is very limited seating."

The house concert was a blast. This was my first solo gig since one festival date last summer and I'm going to do more of this because I had a great time and so did the audience. It turned into a bit of a media frenzy because there was a big CD launch happening down the road at the Montreal Bistro and a lot of the photographers came directly to my gig. For a while it seemed there were more photgraphers than audience!
A couple of days later, I attended my first house-concert as an audience member yesterday - it was a sunday afternoon at a big rambling house in the country. Almost 50 folk fans came out to see my friends Bill Garrett, Sue Lothrop and Curly Boy Stubbs. I was presented from the stage when they introduced a song of mine that they perform, The Big Fire, and I thought I might be getting my foot in the door but alas when I thought I might get a chance to play them a couple of songs in the after-concert song circle, I wasn't really agressive enough and didn't get my shot. Tip of the Day: If you want to make an impression, don't be shy.
Blues News: Saw Dutch Mason on Saturday night at the Dollar. He was performing seated and moving quite slowly but the place was packed for the "Prime Minister of the Blues." Still had his trademark scotch in one hand and cigarette in the other.

Sunday, March 12, 2000

JUNO Awards

It's been a very hectic week culminating with the JUNO awards. Congratulatioms to Ray Bonneville for Blues Album of the Year and to other blues-friendly winners, Madagascar Slim (World Music) and Michael Wrycraft (graphics). Slim was very modest about his win, "This Juno belongs to all the people who played on the album, but if you don't mind, I'll hold onto it."

Here I am pictured with Ray and a couple of other Blues nominees (l to r, Rene Moisan, Tom Bona, Steve Hill, Ray himself, yours truly and Michael Jerome Browne:

R.I.P Tony Flaim: Ran into Serge Sloimovits in the JUNO media room. He was shocked to hear of the death of Tony Flaim, doubly so because he had spoken to Tony following a news report on CityTv that reported on the death of former Downchild singer Hock Walsh but mistakenly aired footage of Tony with Downchild. Tony, who was very superstitious, though that was some kind of omen of impending doom - and he was right.
Welcome back Kyle: Looks like Kyle Ferguson is back with the Sidemen again. The boys will be sticking a little closer to home for a while, playing the local blues circuit. I missed their set during Canadian Music Week, but I sure do look forward to hearing them again.
Canadian Music Week: Musical highlight: Martha Wainright. She was singing with another young woman who turns out to be the daughter of Anna McGarrigle (Martha is the daughter of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainright...and sister of Rufus Wainright - looks like some kind of dynasty taking shape). Other great music from Darlin, Danko Jones. I did a crub crawl down Queen Street and hear little bits of lots of bands - one group at the Bovine Sex Club must have found it hard to stay focused with TV screens all around showing 50's sci-fi soft porn flicks.
I attended part of a guitar workshop by Leslie West but once I took my seat I was sure this was some other guitar player (because he didn't weigh 300 lbs - he didn't hardly look 100 lbs). But it was Leslie West alright, transformed by a stretch in rehab and obviously a healthier lifestyle. The licks and the tone were unmistakeable, even though he's not playing a Les Paul Jr. anymore.
Words of Wisdom from ICE-T: I didn't know anything about Ice until his keynote address at Canadian Music Week. He had some great comments: "The Rock Star is the top of the food chain - you could could be the richest man - Bill Gates - but if a rock star walks into the restaurant, your bitch is climbing over you to get to him!" "When the President of the United States says your name in anger, lots of shit happens - I had the FBI, CIA, Secret Service watching me - I had an ice-cream truck parked outside my house in February." And Ice provides the Tip of the Day: "If you want to be in the music "bizniss", you have to entertain people. If you just want to entertain yourself, then play in your room or take your guitar to the park and play for all the people who walk by."
Link of the Day: This is Thomas Dolby's new project for putting music on the web. The beatnik player allows the user to re-mix selected tunes from their favourite artist. Dolby demon strated on a tune from Moby and was able to do a remix by clicking on numerous buttons that triggers vocal parts, horn shots, strings, all the elements of the tune. Very cool.

Friday, March 3, 2000

Canadian Music Week

The big news is that Reggie Boivard is back as doorman at the Horseshoe after fourteen years!
I remember one of these music conferences when I went club-crawling for three nights and didn't see any music that I would call memorable. This year, however, I'm off to a good start and even if I don't hear anything else that grabs me, at least I saw Martha Wainright. After her set I dropped in downstairs at the Bar Code and heard Hey Stella for the first time. Michele Josef on drums and Victor Bateman was playing bass. For their encore the whole band did a little "walk-through" the audience getting the whole place to sing along some Bob Dylan song.
At a conference panel of big time managers, agents and promoters who kept talking about long-term career development, I asked if they would ever consider being part of the "talent development" of an artist who was their age - ie: would they reject out of hand an over-fifty "new face". Donald Tarlton (who I always remember as Donald K. Donald, the legendary Montreal promoter) was the moderator and he and a couple of others would not admit it but they examples they used of over-50 talent they were working with were John McDermott (an irish tenor) and the new Journey. They were not very encouraging for this 50-plus blues guy but I am not deterred.
Spoke with Donald afterwards and reminded him that he had once put me out on tour opening for April Wine. He also got me some other choice gigs, opening for Seals & Crofts and then Lou Reed (right at the time of "Walk on the Wild Side") I forgot to mention that I had played bass with one of his favourite home-grown bands, Oliver Klaus.
One club that was perfect for the music industry schmooze-fests is the new Rancho Relaxo. The entrance is next to the stage and it's lit up like a stage, so everyone entering the club has their moment "in the spotlight". Saw Darlin with Lisa LeBotniere (sp?) and Holly Go Lightly, two bands fronted by talented young women with something to say.
Dropped in at the Free Times but all my media accreditation could not get me in to see Joe Hall. He was playing with Tony Quarrington and Daisy DeBolt. Joe reminded me a lot of Allan Fraser (who partnered with Daisy to make Fraser & DeBolt back in the 60's-70's).
Got to the East Coast Showcase (Lobsterpalooza) right at the end and heard a couple of tunes by Johnny Favourite (it's not "swing orchestra" anymore - sounded more like Blood, Sweat & Tears. Michele was playing drums, Marg Stowe was burning on guitar and the horns under the direction of Rich Underhill were fabulous.