Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

"The entertainment business is a carnival barker, enticing you to pay first before you see the man behind the curtain, who's too often a disappointment. Now it's try before you buy. People take the music out for a test spin, and unless it's really damn good, they pass." - Bob Lefsetz

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blainletter #44 and Blaincast #2

In This Issue

• Upcoming gigs

• The Inaugural Blaincast

• A Little Internet History

• More Facebook angst

• Out and About

• Tweets from the Streets

• Nice Review in Penguin Eggs

Upcoming Gigs:

TOMORROW – Monday August 8, 3pm Blaincast #2 direct from oceanside at Provincetown, Mass. w/special guest American folk music pioneer Alice Brock (of Alice’s Restaurant) streaming live at

Sunday, August 14, 1-4 pm Reba’s CafĂ©, Dundas St West Toronto Brian Blain (solo)

Thursday, August 18, 9-1pm Monarchs Pub, Delta Chelsea Hotel, Gerrard & Yonge, Toronto (w/Brent Titcomb, Clayton Doley and the beautiful Blainettes, Carrie & Colleen)

Thursday, Sept 1, noon, City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square Brian Blain (solo) tweener for Roxanne Potvin

We're Blaincasting!

Welcome to the Blainletter/Blaincast. We are moving into the 21st Century. This week’s Lefsetzletter (yes, that’s where I got the idea) starts out “ Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, the streaming era has begun…” If you don’t know who Bob Lefsetz is, google him and if you’re in the music business he will strike a chord.

Back on the “bleeding edge”

Remember, I’m the guy who started making websites back before they had pictures. I remember back in Quebec on my Apple IIe, I had to have a post office address and a bank account across the border in Richford, Vt. just to be connected to the (then) only game in town, Compuserve. There was no internet in Canada. Then when I got to Toronto and we launched the website for the jazz festival (95 or 96) there were no commercial Internet providers, just a few community-based garage operations like, where we started. All was well until Bell pulled the plug on IO when they failed to pay their phone bill ($10,000+). A few well-placed phone calls from the jazz festival office got us back online within 24 hours and IO became ICAN. which was soon gobbled up by interlog or inter-something, which was soon gobbled up by…some bigger fish. Anyway, that was then and this is now…the age of streaming. If you shuddered at the thought of everybody who played an instrument putting out their own CD, then picture everyone who owns a computer having their own weekly webcast! Talk about reality TV ☺

So I’m doing my part and if you’ve got an hour to kill, you can watch the inaugural “Backyard Blaincast” at… in which I spend the first 15 minutes searching the house for a missing guitar and then introducing you to a wonderful musician who has just made his way to our town, organist extraordinaire Clayton Doley. Don’t take my word for it – everyone who’s heard him has given him a gig or a session already. I had already done a couple of gigs with Clayton before I googled him and and saw all the amazing stuff he was doing in Australia. I first heard him with Harry Manx and they are a match made in musical heaven. The Gladstone Campfire Jam is on hiatus until the fall so I hope you can join me for these “virtual” get-togethers.

Facebook angst

Regular readers will recall my ongoing inner struggle with facebook – over 400 pending requests to be my friend from people I’ve not met personally…what to do??? Nor do I friend people who have been suggested as friends unless I know them personally. Most fellow musicians think I’m nuts and tell me to open up the floodgates and friend anybody who asks but I kind of like the idea that when some newsy bit ends up on my wall, it’s always from someone I know. I know it’s a great marketing tool, and as an ex (m)adman you’d think I’d be a little more savvy, but I’ve created a Facebook Page for BrianBlain.musician and I’m focusing my musical activities there. (may I take this moment to request any readers who are on Facebook and who actually “like” my music to go to and make it official. End of commercial.) Well, I’ve taken a small step forward and confirmed all the requests from people I know (even though I’ve never met them and I don’t know how they know me). That seems reasonable. I’d love to redirect the rest of those requests to my “Page” but I know some folks are going to ignore that - I’m still smarting a bit from the time I sent a friend request to Jaymz Bee and got a personal message back saying (in essence) that professional acquaintances such as myself should go to his “Page.” I don’t remember if I did and I wonder if he still keeps such a tight rein on his Profile page…

Out and About

Beaches Jazz was another great success, though the Saturday night Streetfest got a little damp – especially for bands who were set up in front of establishments that were less than co-operative – it would have been a bit more neighbourly if some had been willing to roll out their awning to provide a little cover for the band. Three nights on the street, going through the load-in from hell and hoping to sell enough CDs to make it all worthwhile (and it rarely is, these days). Not to mention the battle of the PA systems where size counts more than talent.

Great to see David Rotundo back in action after an extended break – I don’t think that guy took a holiday in the last ten years. Reddick was in full flight with most of the original Sidemen and Fathead and Johnny Max were out there doing their thing and they did not disappoint. At the beautiful Kew Gardens stage, I chatted with Duke Robilard as he was preparing to play and I think it’s the first time I wasn’t captivated by another guitar player’s gear. I didn’t even take note of his pedal set-up – interesting because the week before I just bought a guitar pedal for the first time in 10 years or so (fyi, it’s a Boss Dyna, a pedal that adds crunch when you play hard but sounds clean when you play quiet - nice idea but not the greatest execution). It was a consolation prize to myself for not spending two grand on a new resonator guitar.

Caribana (or whatever they call it now) week-end came and went pretty quickly. I skipped the parade (and ducked a bullet, as they say) but I made it to the tail end of Phil Vassell’s Irie Festival being held in Queen’s Park and what a great set-up they had. On the Saturday night, instead of the Caribbean vibe, I found myself at the Dakota Tavern listening to Joanne Mackell singing Patsy Cline songs and other country classics. My old buddy Victor Bateman was playing bass. I did get a little taste of Caribana just driving across town seeing all the American Escalades and Navigators along Gerard Street, including one that was pulled over with cops poking in all the doors.

Enjoyed seeing Chris Smither playing a whole night at Hugh’s Room. This was the best sound I’ve heard in that room and he had a good house. I had only seen him do a song or two in various showcase/award presentations. He’s built up a lot of fans in Toronto and he deserves it.

Tweets from the Streets

So here I am sitting on the screened-in porch of a beautiful Cape Cod home (near Wellfleet, where I think Eric Clapton lives…or used to) and it’s a good thing it’s screened in because there are a lot more mosquitoes here than in T.O. I sent a tweet this morning that went something like this: “I’ve created a new Tai Chi move and I’m going to call it “swat strange biting creature off forearm.” The day before I sent a tweet about how much lobster I’ve been eating and garnered many comments but after tonight I think I have to say I’ve had enough lobster…never thought I would say that! I can hardly wait to get a smartphone – I will be tweeting to my heart’s content. I understand you can even stream from an iPhone. Oh, look out!

Nice Review in Penguin Eggs

I don’t think it’s online but I’m going to transcribe it on my website. Thanks to Eric Thom for the kind words. Interesting that I was with Harry Manx when he had the distinct pleasure of seeing his mug on the cover of Penguin Eggs a few years back and as he looked through it he said “hey, you’re in here too” pointing out a small review for “Overqualified For The Blues” and wouldn’t you know, this issue has a feature on Harry and Kevin’s new release. “New Folk Blues” has not had the benefit of the NorthernBlues publicity machine so I’m not getting the kind of coverage I got for the last album. I did send out a few promos, and if you are a reviewer or radio host, drop me a line and I will be happy to send you a play copy. We are continuing the “Living Album” project with some sweetening sessions and those tracks will be made available in due time. The extended versions of some tunes, just as they were recorded with my rambling intros are available on my website.

Speaking of “rambling”, I just missed meeting Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at Alice Brock’s place on the day I arrived. I hope to see him at Hugh’s Room in September and I believe the charming Tracy K will be opening for him. Alice said he had a million stories but then so does she, so tune in the Blaincast tomorrow (Mon, 5pm Wastern Time) or come back to view the archived podcast at

Thanks for reading,

BrianB, aka Colorblind Brine, the Stringbuster

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brian's Backyard Blaincast

Ain't technology a wonderful thang! Last month we did a little test of uStream from my backyard with Mojo Willie. It went pretty smooth except for the end where I thought I had turned off the microphone but I hadn't. Still working on a better audio sound - there's extra noise from the laptop's built-in mic.

You can view an archived version of the last Backyard Campfire with my guest Clayton Doley. Clay does a couple of his own tunes and I spend the first half of the program trying to find where I had misplaced my resonator guitar. It's a pretty casual attempt but I'm encouraged to continue doing regular "blaincasts" from my backyard and other locations.

Since I find myself in Cape Cod right now, I'm going to try to do a report from here. I don't have any musical guests lined up yet, but my friend Alice Brock has agreed to do a little interview. I wish I'd been here a day earlier because Ramblin' Jack Elliot had just dropped by - it's his 80th birthday. That would have been a very long interview...

Once I get an iPhone, I think I'll be able to use it to blast out a "blaincast" from wherever I happen to be!