Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Did I say I would be posting every day during the jazz fest. Well, sorry to
the 3 or 4 of you who check this regularly, it got pretty hectic, what with
my desktop publishing and web duties, but mostly with the gigs. Man, on
Sunday it was like 3 gigs in a day. An afternoon set at the Distillery
Ribfest, then an early evening rehearsal with Andrew and John and then
hosting the after-hours jam from 1-4 am at the Rex Jazz & Blues Bar.

The jazz festival always gets extended hours (for serving liquor) for a
club or two for the duration of the festival and this year the Rex was the
destination. They hired me for two nights and called it an acoustic blues
jam. Well, I should probably have brought a rhythm section rather than
fiddle & mandolin, but we had an amazing time (even though we had to play
without a bass player for a while).

There has never been a blues jam anything like this in Toronto (and we have
had many blues jams). The first night we had many of the jazz stars that
had just played in the tribute to Dizzy Gillespie on the main stage and
that included Roy Hargrove (who was the first jammer to arrive and the last
to leave), Antonio Hart, other horn players whose names I can't remember
but who are quite well known in the jazz world. Plus we had the entire
rhythm section of Roy's band, RH Factor, that were playing the next
evening. Then on the second night, Roy didn't come back, but the rest of
his crew did plus guitarist Russell Malone, who launched into a blues
guitar duel with Todd from Roy's band and they raised the roof. (Ooops,
just got a call from my soundman and I'm outa here - I have to be on stage
at 2 (that's pm today, not am)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

BluesBlog: A night at Downtown Jazz

Jimmy Bowskill took the stage at midnight at the Toronto Downtown Jazz
Festival for the first of two "Midnight Blues" shows to be held during the
festival (next Saturday it's Rita Chiarelli). Jimmy made a lot of new fans,
as he always does - it will be a national pastime watching this wonderful
young musician evolve. The festival has never presented a lot of blues on
the mainstage and except for Dr. John next Sunday, these midnight shows are
all we've.

However this year, the after hours "hang" that receives a special license
to serve liquor until 4 am, will not be at Traders's Lounge as in previous
years but at the Rex and Sage, and for the first time ever, a couple of
nights at the Rex will be dedicated to the blues. That's tonite the 26th,
(Sunday) and Monday the 27th. Many festival artists drop in to jam, though
it's impossible to predict what will happen. Last year, Wynton Marsalis
came by after his concert and played for hours - hardly left the stage.
Then he couldn't play his date at the Montreal Jazz Festival because he
wrecked his lip having too much fun in Toronto.

I have been invited to be the host for the two blues evenings - this will
be reminiscent of my Thurday residency at the Tranzac where I had the
opportunity to jam with the most amazing players every week. My special
guests at the Rex will be John Showman and Andrew Collins, fiddle and
mandolin respectively, from the phenomenal Creaking Tree String Quartet,
who blend all genres of music, classical, bluegrass, jazz... and now
they'll be getting into the blues!

Blues players: I hope you'll consider coming out or dropping by after your
gig. If you have a complete band, you're welcome to do a song or two with
your guys. Please talk to me when you get to the club. I'll have the jam
list. Otherwise I will be having fun creating some some spontaneous
combinations players.

Blues Fans: Please come to Rex if you're still awake at 1am. The blues was
meant to be played at this late hour! Sage will ne presenting DJs into the
wee hours.

The Rex Jazz & Blues Bar (we need to continuously remind them of their name)
194 Queen Street West. (2 blocks west of University Ave)
Sunday and Monday, June 26 & 27 12:30 to 4AM

If you have any questions call me at (416) 461-0638

***This was today's submission for my "blues blog" ahere I write about
books I've read and listened to it acoustivcally. Now I better go to bed.
In addition to getting a newsletter to press this week-end and keeping all
the on site computers working, I've been trying to get the old Epiphone out
of the case in preparation for my gig this afternoon at the Distillery Rib
Fest (I play from 1:30-2:30). The Distillery is also featuring an art
exhibit and a Farmers' Market. Check it out (at the foot of Parliamemt

And since I'm sending this to the world, let me also remind you that my
"bluesgrass" trio will be performing on Wed the 29th, Thurs the 30th and
Friday July 1st at the Bay Cafe at Bay & Queen - kitty corner to the Jazz
Festival site. We'll be playing from 2:00 to 4:00pm.

Hope to see you out at one of these gigs. If you'd like to read my blog,
it's posted at I' ll be trying to post daily during
the festival (something I've never eben approached in the past...but it
makes for interesting reading if you're going through something similar.
Putting out a CD, scrambling for gigs and media, and trying to carve a
"profile". If you need my Electronic Press Kit (EPK) go to My page at NorthernBlues Music is

Yhanks for reading all this

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It's the story of my life...well not all the time. I get to hear a lot of
great music in Toronto, but it never fails that when there is the most
abundant selection, during the ten days of the Downtown Jazz festival, I
end up missing the greatest stuff. And the irony is that it's because I
work for the festival and last night, like every year, I was scrambling to
configure computers and modems and routers in for the media people and the
transportation people who were setting up on site, and this time it was not
coming together quickly. And meanwhile there's all this great music going
on. I just had to see Duke Robillard, my favourite guitarist, so after
picking up a wireless router at a computer store on Spadina I poked in to
the Silver Dollar to hear a bit of Duke. The minute we sat down he ended a
tune and announced a break. I though we had enough time to run down to the
festival site and plug in the new router then make it back to catch at
least part of his second show, but by the time we got back, we were only
able to catch the last tune. Then over to the Phoenix to hear Antibalas, an
amazing Afro-funk groups. Once again, we catch the last tune. And still
the router was not working.

Anyway, today worked out a little better and we got all the computers
working fine, but not until after the opening ceremonies (which I missed,
of course). Then another afternoon of running around - missed a show that I
was very anxious to see, David Murray, but tonight I sat for the whole
concert of Sonny Rollins in Massey Hall and that was a delight. After that,
heard a few tunes of the Tim Ries Rolling Stones Project (jazzy versions of
Stones tunes) and before heading home, I dropped in on Mark Stafford's
Harmonica Knights at the Silver Dollar. I had hoped to play a little
myself, I've got two gigs on Sunday, but alas, that was not to be. Tomorrow
is another day (and one where I want to be sure to hear organist Tony
Monaco at the Mod Club)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Things are coming to a head. Today I picked up the proofs for the CD
artwork - it looks great. We had *many* late night phone discussions over
the last few says as we made our way onto the home stretch. I think I've
been very flexible about things, though others may disagree. Now I have to
put it under the microscope and while I proof that, I have to put out
another MapleBlues. I've got the layout mostly done...boy it's weird to be
at both ends of a similar predicament when one minute I am hearing excuses
from my designer and next minute I am making excuses to my publisher. And
none of this has anything to do with music.

On that front, I realized I better head over to the bluegrass jam at the
Silver Dollar to set up a rehearsal with the guys that are playing with me
on Sun (not so far away). They weren't there, as it turned out so the
search begins. I did speak to my sub mandolin player but I don't think
he'll remember the conversation. We sat in the outside "smoking lounge" and
there I listened to Dan and Jenny Whiteley singing some sweet, spontaneous

This was the first night of jazz festival "preview" events and I was too
late for the hip-hop thang at the Phoenix. At the Rex, there was the
Annual "Players Party" where all the musicians get together before the
festival. I was there for a while and heard some amazing players...Reg
Schwager on guitar, Tania Gill playing some "legit" jazz piano and nailing
it - I've only ever see her doing her "offbeat" thang. Victor Bateman was
leading the jam, and I stood there wondering what I would do on a stage
with musicians of that caliber? I suppose it will happen some day, and I
have no idea what I'd do. Play the blues, I guess.

Last night was the National Jazz Awards gala and that was a star-studded
evening. Lots of music...and lots of speeches too. Tomorrow I must see the
Tim Ries Rolling Stones Project - horn players from the Stones band doing
jazz arrangements of Stones a jazz club. Except my my Duke
Robillard is playing the Dollar (an 8 o'clock start). Oh yeah, I should
have a rehearsal too...even if it's only with myself.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Well they practically did in this old blues guy today. We played from 2:30
to 4:30 in the blazing sun on
the hottest day of the years (so far)...on an uncovered stage. My musicians
were worried for their instruments (Andrew wouldn't use his acoustic
mandolin) and the bass player following us was ready to walk. Me, I played
the gig, but I'm sitting here feeling what must be heatstroke. If I lay
down and don't wake up, then I want everybody to know I died with my boots

Danny Brooks saved the day and actually went and found a patio umbrella and
brought is up on the stage to give me a little shade. Danny and Dennis were
very complimentary - said I was the real deal, stuff like that. Very
encouraging. Musicians especially have been very complimentary and it's not
always their nature. I was talking to a great singer last night (well, it
was Laura Hubert) and I heard her echo some sentiments I've been feeling
lately - Something like "I can't get arrested in this town". And I thought
(but never said) "that's cause you're different, girl" And I hope that's
what they would say about me...even if it gets labeled "novelty blues."

MOATM: Danny Marks'<a href> </a>

Monday, June 6, 2005

One down, two to go (maybe 3). I love these festivals. Orangeville is far
enough out of Toronto to escape that "blasé" we've-seen-it-all vibe. We
were playing in an artists' studio at the back of a cute arts & crafts
boutique (well, let me give them a plug - it's The Dragonfly at 189
Broadway in Orangeville).

We had artists painting along as we played and a small but attentive
audience who really got into the music. They enjoyed whatever Andrew and I
were putting down although there was one request - a gentleman came up to
the stage and handed me this note, for which I was very appreciative about.
I'm going to post it later as soon as I scan it. Drop by again to check it

After packing up, I took a little walk down the street to hear some of the
other bands. I heard Johnny Max rocking out with that great guitarist Kevin
Higgins. Then I dropped in on Gary Kendall's band to hear some more fiery
guitar work from Teddy Leonard. Phenomenal. I'm standing there groovin to
the music then Gary announces "we've got some celebrities in the house" and
I'm looking around and he points over to me! I don't think anybody in that
audience knows who I am, but they applaud anyway. I'm still looking around
for the rest of the celebrities, but apparently I was "it". Now I might
have started to grovel in the irony of all this except after that I walk
over to the club where Chris Whiteley is playing and Chris also makes a big
deal from the stage (what's going on?) and this time, "Brian Blain is in
the house" and this time I'm coaxed up to the stage to sing a number. I
got up and did a slow blues on Chris's big Epiphone jazz guitar - and
before I even picked it up I remembered that guitar as having monstrously
heavy strings the last time I played it, but this time it was eminently
playable. Victor Bateman was playing bass and Dan Whitely was on guitar

I did "Girlfriend Blues." Did I ever tell you about the time I sat down at
one of the outdoor stages at last year's Distillery Jazz Festival to hear
the Victor Bateman Trio and Victor launched into a slow blues with an intro
that sounded ver much like something I wrote. Before I could start feeling
"ripped off," Victor started singing the lyrics and I realized he was doing
"Girlfriend Blues". He had learned my tune! What a trip. I think my
reputation is preceeding me - by the time I get to the "mainstage" level,
I'll already be famous...we'll see.

All in all, it was a very gratifying evening in Orangeville. The venue
owner had a great time - one of the artists that had to listen to the whole
thing from start to finish said she never had that much fun painting.
Andrew and I each got a little gift basket with a nice hand-made mug. I
need more gigs like this

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Colorblind Blain's Blues Blog

Colorblind Blain's Blues Blog

Album update: Still waiting on the artwork but I'm sure it'll be great once it's done. Now that we're into June, it probably makes it had to have an August release. So it'll probably be September. I gave an advance CD to a local blues radio show host, more for his feedback than any spins, but last night I'm listening to his show and low and behold there I am. Interesting to hear it coming over the airwaves into a cheap ghetto blaster. The vocal really stood out, which is what we were striving for (and which was a great challenge considering the vocal mike was only an arm's length from the drums). Anyway, right after the show I get a call from a promoter friend who says he was drawn into the song and wondering who the hell it was - and was pleasantly surprised to hear it was ole' Colorblind hisself.

Gig update: Maybe you'll get a chance to catch me doing my "bluesgrass" thang this month. We've got three festivals, starting Saturday night:

Saturday June 4 (with Andrew Collins, mandolin)
7:00 - 10:00
Orangeville Jazz & Blues Festival
189 Broadway

Saturday, June 11 (with Andrew Collins, mandolin and Chris McKhool, fiddle)
Distillery Blues Festival
Rack House Lane Stage

Sunday, June 26 (After Hours Acoustic Blues Jam w/special guests Andrew Collins and John Showman of The Creaking Tree String Quartet)
12:30am - 4:00am
Rex Jazz & Blues Bar (Downtown Jazz) 194 Queen St. W 416-598-2475

Monday, June 27 (After Hours Acoustic Blues Jam w/special guests Andrew Collins and John Showman of The Creaking Tree String Quartet)
12:30am - 4:00am
Rex Jazz & Blues Bar (Downtown Jazz) 194 Queen St. W 416-598-2475

Wednesday, June 29 (with Andrew Collins, mandolin and Chris McKhool, fiddle)
2:00 - 5:00
The Bay Jazz Cafe (Downtown Jazz) Queen & Bay St

Thursday, June 30 (with Andrew Collins, mandolin and Chris McKhool, fiddle)
2:00 - 5:00
The Bay Jazz Cafe (Downtown Jazz) Queen & Bay St

Friday, July 1 (with Marc Roy, mandolin and Anne Lindsay, fiddle)
2:00 - 5:00
The Bay Jazz Cafe (Downtown Jazz) Queen & Bay St

This will be my first time playing with most of these folks, but I know it's going to rock. I think I better cut this blog short and go run over a few more tunes. Hope you can make it out to one of these gigs. I think you'll enjoy what we're puttin down.

I usually ramble on about all the great music I've heard since my last post but I'll save it for the next entry. You can view the blog anytime at

You can view my new EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and hear 3 tracks from the album at

Thanks for your interest in my music. BrianB