Friday, July 14, 2006

Another week in my musical life

Two weeks since the jazz festival ended and I guess I'm recovered. It was a lot of music to take in at once. Then again, this week wasn't much different.

Tonight I read that mandolin player Matt Smith was in town doing an opening set with Doc Mclean at the Silver Dollar. The headliner was a young blues phenom called "Slick" Ballinger. I had also received a last-minute email invite to a video taping of the Kevin Breit and Sisters Euclid. Turns out they were taping a new music series for a High-Definition TV Channel in the US. The series is called "Beautiful Noise". It was obviously big-budget: six cameras and it seemed like three people to operate each camera. A big crane and a steadicam, too. Very professional, except for one thing: After four or five songs Kevin finished up a number with a scorching solo and I watched as he broke one string, then a second and at that point he just decided to go all out and before he signaled an end to the song, he had only two strings left on the guitar. It was a spectacular ending. Then the director steps up onto the stage to say they'll have to re-do the ending because the tape ran out. I don't think so... there's no strings left on the guitar!

I slipped out and raced up to the Silver Dollar hoping to catch a few tunes of Matt and Doc but when I walked in Slick Ballinger and his band had already taken the stage. Slick, like me, played a flat top guitar but got a very edgy electric sound. The rhythm section had that Mississippi hill country rough edge tome - made me think I should put together a power trio with bass and drums. You sure have to crash people over the head to made any kind of impact in this town. After the Dollar, I slipped down to Healeys to hear Jerome Godboo playing with Jeff Healey. To hear both Jeff Healey and Kevin Breit in full flight in one evening is an amazing gift - something one shouldn't take for granted. Oh yeah, Pat Rush was playing second guitar. It was guitar-heaven. The club, meanwhile has a broken air-conditioner amd floods every time it rains. I think those guys are ready to get out of the basement.

Last night I made my way to the Lula Lounge to hear a 15-piece Afrobeat band led by Femi Abosede (6 horns - it rocked!). (Note to self: If you're going to have fifteen musicians on stage you'll have to rehearse five times as much as you would for a trio.)

The night before that, I had a gig of my own but that didn't stop me from getting out to hear some more great blues. Kelley Hunt was in town at Hugh's Room. My set at the Red Guitar was 7-9 (I played with Roberta Hunt, and I think we made a few new fans) and promptly dragged Roberta to hear Kelley who I knew she'd enjoy (even though I'd never heard her live, I knew that Kelley was one barrelhouse piano mama). Seeing her, there was a lot more variety than I expected (that's a good thing). Kelley was a knock-out. The band was soooo tight. Roberta was an instant fan, bought two CDs and booked a trip to Ottawa to see Kelley play at the Ottawa Bluesfest.

On Monday I guess I didn't go out, but Sunday, I drove directly from my gig in Haliburton to Queen's Park to take in Afrofest. As I walked towards the park I ran into Donne Robert who was part of the African Guitar Summit, along with Mighty Popo, Adam Solomon and Alpha Yaya Diallo from BC. Alpha got a lot of sound out of his acoustic guitar and was mostly driving the set. Muna Mungole played - she's a Cameroonian singer living in Montreal, though I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up in Toronto. The gig I played on the Saturday night was in a "sugar shack" in Haliburton - kinda reminiscent of the Townships. It was a big barn of a building with the maple syrup production facility on the main floor and a small concert room upstairs. A great listening audience and it was packed - in fact this may be another milestone in my music career: "First sold out show" (with a waiting list, to boot).

Also overheard this week: A renowned scientist claims that the global warming effect is irreversible and within 30 to 100 years, all hell will break loose. It will start by raising sea-level and countries like Bangladesh will be completely submerged. The mass exodus will create other problems and it could conceivably be the end of a civilization (for about the 300th time on this planet). He was saying we should make sure that all the knowledge we've accumulated should be gathered in a "time capsule" or something. "So that the next civilization will know things like disease is caused by bacteria, not witches"