Saturday, March 26, 2005

Good jazz is when the leader jumps
on the piano, waves his arms, and yells.
Fine jazz is when a tenor-man lifts
his foot in the air.
Great jazz is when he heaves a piercing note
for 32 bars and collapses
on his hands and knees.
A pure genius of jazz is manifested
when he and the rest of the orchestra
run around the room while the rhythm section
grimaces and dances around their instruments.

                                      Charles Mingus
First day out of the house all week - I finally got struck with the cold that knocked out everybody around me over the past couple of months.

I had my mastering session booked today and no way I could miss that, I've been responsible for enough delays in getting this CD out. Now I can blame any firther delays on a man called...oh maybe I shouldn't use real names in my blog. Let's just say he's a man who designs CD covers who always has someone waiting - but that's only because he's got a lot of people who want his services. And now that I've rushed to get it mastered, the record co prez is going to the coast for two weeks and I'm still going to have to wait. Hurry up and wait....except I find it easier to wait than to hurry.

Of course with a CD coming out, I can't just sit around waiting for people to invite me to gigs. I'm getting pro-active, and I've got help. Alyson has been following up on some festivals and presenters who received an advance copy of the CD (though they probably never listed). Anyway, all the festivals are booked - Easter is too late to be booking festivals, though I've been know to slip in at the last minute.

This year I'll have a nice mobile (almost strolling) acoustic blues setup - with myself on a resophonic guitar and fiddle & mandolin.

Anyway, back to the mastering. After lots of discussions and recommendations and dis-recommendations I finally said "to hell with it, I'm just going back to the guy that did my last CD" - a known quantity. As opposed to an elite group of miracle workers (or brutal destroyers of perfectly mixed music - depending who you were talking to. I thought the mastering went well - I still haven't heard it on my system - the tracks were defenitely sounding more cohesive amongst themselves - whether it sounds like a record remains to be seen.

Then tonight I couldn't resist going out to the Silver Dollar to hear Coco Montoya and boy am I glad I did. It doesn't get much better and obviously the word was out because the place was overflowing - and I don't think they expected it. It looked like they had only two waitresses working.

Here what I learended from Coco Montoya: Maye every gig a special event. Make every song a feature. And make every solo build and build until the audience is on their feet (or on their toes if they were already on their feet). And I hope I picked up a few guitar licks too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

As the month winds down, I'm into full-tilt newsletter production and trying to get ready for a mastering session at the end of the week. The CD artwork is taking longer than expected though we expected it to take longer than expected. Anyway, I'm going to decide on a final sequence and get this sucker mastered. I got so many contrary opinions about different mastering studios that I'm just going back to the place where I did my first album. It's all voodoo, anyway. Meanwhile I've picked up this cold/flu that's been going around so I running on one cylinder - don't know why I'm here updating this blog. Seize the moment, I guess.

Just did a bunch of dates opening for Harry Manx and that is always a treat - an audience that came to *listen*. I've picked up a couple of festival dates for June, but they are not listening situations and I'm trying to figure out what kind of format to use that will provide a more high-energy (louder) performance than my usual laid-back self. I had suggested myself on resophonic guitar and two tenor saxes but the prez (my record company prez) prefers that I do something that's a little more like what we've recorded. In that case, I should stick to the "Bluesgrass" trio idea, mandolin, violin and guitar. Still haven't found the fiddler of my dreams but I'm going to speed up the search.

My next gig is a leadbelly tribute concert and I'm frantically trying to get the lyrics for the two songs I've agreed to play, "when I was a cowboy" and "john hardy" Yeah, that's what I should be doing right now!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blues In The Schools, BITS for short, is something I've been writing about and promoting but this time I wa right there on the fron lines (and it's pretty frightening, folks). Still, we had fun with the kids and maybe they picked up a few little scraps of knowlewdge whuch will enrich their lives. Man was I exhausted when UI got home from a day of that. Quite draining, actually.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Day Three at the Folk Alliance. Up late again the night before. I wanted to see a bit of the exhibition area but I had a 5p showcase so I had to move along pretty quick. In the entrance to the trade show, I ran into Gilles Losier, a fiddler I hadn't seen in years and we just got out our instruments and started jamming (as many others did throughout the hotel and convention centre). We were joined by Lan, the erhu player from the night before and Gilles and she got on great (he was already familiar with that 2-string Chines fiddle). My showcase went fine but I was starting to run out of steam. There was one lady in the front who was cracking up throughout the set (who are you? where are you?) and this time my friend Alyson was snapping stills and video of the set. This was the showcase where I broke a nail - I like to make a big deal about it...I broke a nail in the middle of a Folk Alliance showcase. I've even got a little video souveneer of that!

That night I jammed with the Lee Boys, a scared steel outfit from Florida. Hard to imagine they fit everything into that room, drums and all. And if you know the Lee Boys, you will have noticed that they are all very large fellows. As I was walking down the hall, I poked into a room where Digging Roots wre playing - I thought it was a showcase but I think now it was just their own room. We'll I had been standing in the doorway for only a minute or two when Raven stops playing for a minute, grabs a guitar from behind the dresser and hads it over to me. That was a nice thing to happen. I stuck around and played non-stop for a couple of hours. Another couple were jamming with us too, they were called "Redwood Central" - the harmonica player played along on a couple of my tunes and it fit perfectly. Michelle the singer had that "high-lonesome" sound I like so much. I played for quite a while on a steel-bodied resophonic, and though it's a little heavier than my wood model, I think I'd like to get one.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Day Two at the Folk Alliance was gangbusters. Of course I slept in past any of the panels and workshops - I was up till 4:30 am jamming with David Jacobs-Strain, Guy Davis, Syd Cassone and Linda Tillery and most of her Cultural Heritage Choir. Some beautiful harmonies were wafting through that hotel room. I was so glad I had brought my bass and amp. I played it real quiet - maybe too quiet because I realized at one point that I was guessing the ket because I couldn't quite see where Guy Davis had his guitar capoed. I realized after a chorus and a bit that I was playing in the wrong key (half a tone flat, actually). I stopped for a bit then slipped back in but I was mortified that someone with more sensitive ears than me would have had to endure that. Nobody said anything, or looked over so maybe it was so low that they couldn't tell either.

I guess I should say the best part of the day was my own showcase. There was a small group in the room and some lurkers in the hall. I think everybody had a pretty good time including Fred, the owner of my record label. I had a few friends in the front who sang along on Saab Story and that was cool. Fred told me that the NorthernBlues Sampler (which includes Saab Story) is currently in listening posts in Borders stores all across the US.

I was not very encouraged by the American agents I spoke to. They do not relish working with Canadian artists (unless they have dual citizenship like my pals Michael Jerome Browne and Alan Gerber) because getting them into the States is such a hassle. You have to request the visa way in advance or pay the extortionary $1000 fee for "expediting" the process. If I want to break into New England, I think I'll have to organize it for myself the first couple of times.

On Saturday there was a special presentation to Kate & Anna McGarrigle with special guest Emmylou Harris. Michael Jerome Browne was showcasing in the Borealis suite so I spoke to him for a few moments before he went on and gave him an advance copy of my CD (he plays on four tracks). He was heading off directly to Australia. The couple who were backing him up in the "Twin Rivers String Band" were great. They perform as a duo as well - I think they're called "Ball and Chain".

Got to see "The Bills" for the first time and they are "as advertised" - high-energy good time music. They came right out into the audience...that's what I like to see - that's what I like to do.

Mort Goss, who manages the Duhks, told me they had recorded one of my friend Allan Fraser's tunes on their new album. I brought Allan and his wife Donna over to the hotel the next day and the whole band got to meet Allan and they gave him a copy of the CD. They were thrilled to meet the composer of "Dance Hall Girls" and he got a real ego boost. Other people came up to him as well and you can bet half of the people at that gathering had a Fraser & DeBolt album in their collection.