Thursday, October 27, 2011

a week of large casts

Monday night was the tribute/celebration for Daisy DeBolt and she wouyld have approved of the "cast of thousands" that gathered on the stage at Hugh's Room to sing some of her tunes. When we were planning, there wasn't really anybody that was going to try to cover Daisy's vocals on anything so we were focusing on instrumental medleys and I was going to do a song I wrote about Lenny Breau, her mentor. But then I guess it was her old friend Naomi who was the one to say "We've got to do some of those songs" ...Up on Eagle Hill..."seeing all that love in your eyes" Then the genie was out of the bottle and then we went all the way and parachuted in a powerhouse focalist in the person of Heather Katz. Heather had never sung a Daisy DeBolt song but here she nailed it, and the whole gang was up on stage. I don't think we broke Daisy's record for large ensembles (24) but there were a lot of people on stage and the whole crowd was joining in on "All This Paradise".  This was happening at midnight, an hour beyond when most shows end at Hugh's Room.  The management there were great.  Sound was first class (thank you Anne and Dave). It was most moving to see Allan Fraser, Daisy's partner from Fraser & DeBolt doing a tune with Daisy's son, Jake.  There's a facebook page with comments at <>There's also a lovely tribute video by world-renown videographer Tim Wilson at

Last night it was the new musical "Fela" with a huge cast of singer-dancers. all black, and a killer afrobeat band that was nearly all-white. Whatsmore, the rhythm guitarist who drove that afro-groove was not only white, but left-handed. He and the other guitarist had distilled that Nigerian sound down to the two essential guitar parts and then a bass that played over top of it. Lots of percussion and a fabulous horn-section which sometimes included some great tenor sax from Sahr Ngaujah who plays a very credible Fela Kuti. Amazing state-of-the-art sound and visuals occasionally interrupted by some less elegant theatrical devices and even a Big Bird lookalike that I thought was a little high-school but which my companion found to be her part the show. If you love African Music, you will be captivated by this band. Who are these guys? They may not be African but they are official!.  The run ends Nov 6

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blainletter #46 Oct 22, 2011

In This Issue

• Brian Blain Upcoming shows

• Daisy DeBolt Celebration

• Out and About

I write this Blainletter with a heavy heart. Just when I arrived back in Toronto from Donna Louthood's memorial service (she was Allan Fraser's wife of 30+ years) only to wake up next morning to the news that Daisy DeBolt, Allan's partner in Fraser & DeBolt, had just passed away. Both were gone before the doctors could even complete their "tests."

A friend noted that this time of year is a very busy time for funerals. Then it was Bert Jansch and Steve Jobs. Well, to quote Daisy, we should "Live Each Day With Soul"

Upcoming Appearances:

TONIGHT I head out to Orangeville where I'm playing with Larry Kurtz, Fionn MacCools! Saturday October 22nd at 9:30 PM Larry & The Lawbreakers will be ripping it up playing some lowdown blues. Larry Kurtz - Harmonica & Vocals, Brian Blain - Guitar & Vocals, Douglas Watson - Bass & Vocals, Dave Menard - Drums & Vocals

Tuesday, November 1, Blues in the Schools presentation at Regent Park School (I love these sessions)

Saturday, November 5, 7-9pm, at Long & McQuade's upstairs performance space, 925 Bloor St W, This show is part of the International Squeaky Wheel Tour®. SWT is an acclaimed concert series that raises awareness for those who go missing every year. Also appearing are Jannel and Elijah Rap, Kiki Misumi, Andreena, Leah Pinsent and, I think, Arthur Renwick. Admission is free – come find out more about this great initiative.

Sunday, November 6, 2-5pm, Reba's Café, 3289 Dundas Street West (416) 626-7372 Brian Blain & Clayton Doley (this is the place we recorded New Folk Blues)

Saturday, November 12, 6:30-9:30 at Ray's Bistro in Alton. I'll be playing with harmonica man Nelson Sleno

Daisy DeBolt Celebration

Monday, October 24, 8pm
Hugh's Room
2261 Dundas Street West Toronto
(416) 531-6604 for reservations

Admission: $20 recommended donation or pay-what-you-can. Further donations gratefully accepted. All proceeds go to the Daisy DeBolt musical legacy fund

Many of Daisy DeBolt's musical friends and colleagues will gather to remember Daisy and honour her significant contribution to the Canadian music scene since the 60s.

Co-hosted by myself and George Koller with performances from Daisy's son, Jake DeBolt, Allan Fraser (her partner from Fraser & Debolt), David Woodhead, Richard Bales, Michelle Josef, Teddy Fury, Brent Titcomb, Tony Quarrington, Margaret Stowe, Evelyn Datl, Tina Kiik, Grier Coppins, John Switzer, Michal Hasek, Jaro Czerewinec, Matt Zimbel, Sultans of String with Chris Mckhool, Bill Bourne, George Koller/Julie Michels, Magoo, Mark Sepic, Grindl Kuchirka, Heather Katz, Naomi Tyrrell, Steve Fruitman and Lloyd Greenspoon.

George wrote "With each album it seemed as if a new circle of musicians were added to her extended family of friends and admirers and she was never happier than when she was with as many friends as possible...On this evening.. friends meet friends... and we all celebrate Daisy DeBolt"

Here's some links to a couple of obituaries that have just been posted:

If you didn't get a chance to hear CBC's documentary on Fraser and DeBolt, it's archived here:

Out and About

Celebrated my birthday at Hollywood on the Queensway with Lily's band, Groove Corporation and I danced the night away. They got me up to play a couple of tunes, too.
Enjoyed a couple of CD launches last month – first was a combined CD launch for Monkey Junk and a book launch for Holger Peterson. I guess I had a few drinks. The last thing I remember is shouting "give me a spin" to Holger as he was walking down College Street. I don't think that's going to work…
Next was Bill King's CD launch at the Orbit Room. Now that was an old-school CD launch with drinks and and some fine BBQ. I guess it helps that this project was financed by the deepest pockets in the music business, Gary Slaight. A 4-shrimper (as I used to rate these events back in the golden era).

While I was in Montreal for Donna Louthood's memorial, we got the guitars out a few times (it's theraputic) and since getting back I've done a little jamming with Daisy's son, Jake. In Montreal we played a game of "What's the oldest original song you remember?" As it turned out, my friend Sue Lothrop had the lyrics of some of my earliest tunes so I was able play some of my oldest, long-forgotten songs – even the first song I ever wrote (about my father…"you went off to war in nineteen thirty-nine, came back a hero after serving your time…"

After a couple of false-starts, I was finally on Danny Marks' Bluz.FM radio show. It was pre-recorded and I only heard a little bit of the broadcast on my walkman because while it was airing, I was in the second row of Mavis Staples at the Southside Shuffle and what an uplifting performance that was! I tried to listen to a bit of the radio but who would you rather listen to - Mavis Staples or Brian Blain? That's a no-brainer. A lot of people must have heard it, though, because I had many comments.

I was asked to MC the Toronto Blues Society's showcase at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in Niagara Falls and that was fun. Suzie Vinnick kicked it off with an acoustic set then the Richard Henderson with his Hawaiian guitar. Then TBS talent search winners 24th St Wailers and Bradley Boy rocked the house – maybe just a little too much rock for the folkies. We were up against the star-studded East Coast Music showcase downstairs (so packed I couldn't get in). I got to play a tune in the middle (they call that a "tweener") but as MC I probably wasn't exactly a seasoned pro. Two of the acts ended up introducing themselves, Henderson because your (barely)managing MC (moi) was schmoozing in the hall and then Tracy K just launched into her set without me. The blues jam that followed was fun but there was not much of an audience, even though there were a few high-profile participants like Michael Jerome Browne, who is amazing (he's having a CD release at the Gladstone on Dec 3). Once again, a great opportunity for some blues players who never met to jam together but not that important in the grand scheme of career development.

Next day we did a mini Blues Campfire Blaincast direct from the hotel room. I was delighted that the Rev Max Woolaver joined us. I originally met him through Marg Stowe and Michelle Josef. He really has something all his own (and isn't that what we all seek). David Nigel Lloyd played his unique guitar-like instrument called the "octar" and a young lap-slide player called Dekota knocked me out. Bill Bourne, another instantly recognizable artist, dropped in for a couple of tunes but regrettably, there were a few technical issues with the streaming (ie, interference from a live baseball game ?!?). Anyway, there's a little taste of the stream archived at (lesson of the day: lighting is everything). It is pretty amazing that for eighty bucks (my share of the room cost) and nothing more than a laptop (and a light) I was able to broadcast to the world. Try it yourself…
The OCFF conference was, as usual, a giant group-hug for the folk community. 600 earnest young folksingers and a few old geezers like me playing for each other and the occasional festival booker. I didn't do much "bizness" but I had a great time catching up with old friends. Unfortunately, the room was closed when I went to deposit my CD into the boxes that the festival directors take home but I shan't worry about it. They all got a pre-release copy in their box last year and nary a one replied, even to acknowledge receipt. You've got to be pretty aggressive to get attention these days – not my style. I remember one industry leader saying that the only artists that he's interested in are the ones who are "larger than life"…I think Matt Andersen's got that wrapped up. My highlight of the week-end was Manitoba Hal – he put on a great set and I was captivated, even though he's made his name doing the uke-blues thang, he's great on the guitar and I look forward to seeing him play for a whole evening. And he might just qualify in the "larger than life" department.

I left early on Sat, but thoroughly enjoyed myself - probably because I went with no agenda and no expectations.

Keep an eye on my website for more Blaincasts and other ramblings. If you're on Facebook and “like” my music, go to and make it official.

Thanks for reading,
BrianB, aka Colorbline Brine, the Stringbuster