Monday, April 10, 2006


Had a bit of a setback this week-end. The gig I was to play next week-end at Chicago's in Oshawa has been cancelled because the owner didn't think we were enough of a dance band. I guess I'm going to have to work on getting a "club show" together where I can play for a dance crowd. It's true that the cuurent set is more for a listening crowd...but I prefer a listening crowd (or at least a listening table or two).

But that doesn't mean I'm not willing to get out the old Strat and rock 'da house! With Michelle on drums and Roberta on piano we put out quite a bit of energy, I thought - even without the Strat. But we're not your regular blues band.

I think we made a few new fans this week-end, but not very many old ones showed up. It was pretty light crowd but I can't feel too bad when I look around me at what is happeming to musicians with a far higher profile than mine. Just the day before my gig, I dropped by the Montreal Bistro to hear an impeccable performance by some of the pre-eminent players on the Canadian jazz scene, and still the attenance was pretty sparse for the last show.

Over at the Dollar the night after my gig I saw Watermelon Slim and he had a full house, but this was after some big bumpf - the front page of the Star entertainment section, I'm told. Down the road at Healey's, we heard the last hour of the Sonny Landreth show...and they were packed. But when you consider Sonny was a mainstage act at the Toronto Bluesfest, and headlines many other festivals, but in Toronto, he's playing a club. Lucky Peterson was just in town - playing the Dollar. And a few short years ago he was headlining the Downtown Jazz Festval and selling 1100 tickets.

Slim has been packing them in across the East Coast, according to Maureen Brown, who was subbing for their drummer. Mo hooked up with them at the Blues, Brews & BBQ's in Kitchener and really deliverd for the boys even though she's played with two other bands that day. Now she got the call for a tour. Slim was something to behold and I counted at least three times that he jumped off the stage to play harp in the audience but then it became a bigger and bigger struggle to do that leap back onto the stage.

Well now here he was at the Dollar, climbing on top of the speakers. At another point, he was leaning precariously over his makeshift guitar holder and it started to wobble. That guy's gonna hurt himself one of these days. But what a showman! In addition to standing on the speakers and jumping off the stage, he did a walkabout throughout the club shaking a tambourine. People love it.

Tip of the Day: Slim had noted the names of all the staff and soundman and took a moment to thank them all indiidually. (I couldn't even remember the name of the bartender at Chicago's...I called her Sarah...but that's not her name). Slim was dressed all in white, which I wouldn't try, but it's become a bit of a signature with him and that's a good thing - big dry cleaning bills, I suppose.

Sonny Landreth, meanwhile, was not into any grandstanding but played the most impeccable slide - if only we could graft his steel guitar vituopsity onto Slim's larger-than-life personna.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Record Labels have Birthdays too

Just played the CD/DVD compilation celebrating the 30 year anniversary of Edmonton-based Stony Plain Records. Got to meet Alvin, the man behind the scenes at Stony Plain. Lots of other artists and music industry types in attendance.

My own label, NorthernBlues Music, will be celebrating 5 years next month. Man did that go by fast. I was there right at the beginning, and even though my CD didn't come out till last fall, we had signed the deal in 2001. It just took me a little while - too many distractions in my life (like making a living)

Happy Birthday Holger, Happy Birthday Fred. Two great guys supporting the blues in Canada.