Friday, May 31, 2013

Orangeville blues and jazz

Day one

Discovery of the day: Ben Racine  blues band from MontrĂ©al.  Righteous guitar and great horn section -tenor & bari, just like the Blainettes. Methinks we both dig James Hunter.

Brian Blain Awards (the BBs) to Lisa Watson, Norma and Larry Kurtz for "Hosts of the Year." "Best Musical Moment": Playing with Adam Gussow, "Discovery of the year": The Ben Racine Band,  "Highest Energy Performance": Steve Strongman, "Best Quiet Moment": Hanging with Harry Manx, "Best Festival Meal": Veal Picatta at Il Corso, "Busiest schedule of the year": 5 (five) 3-hour shows in 4 days in OrangevilleI. Special "Thanks for the Memories" Award to Shrimpdaddy  Michael Reid who is moving to the East Coast and "Haven't Seen You in a While" Award to Andie Maranda, bluesfan extraordinaire.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blainletter #60, April 2013

Not much time to play guitar this last little while - peak period for my desktop publishing enterprise. Two newsletters and a website all due practically the same day. But's it's done and no major screw-ups (even got a nice fanmail complimenting the website). So now I'm back in music mode and hitting the road….

Fri May 10 9-11pm
Gladstone Hotel - Melody Bar
9th Annual Motherless Day Blues Concert with Brian and the Blainettes

This is probably the only time you'll get to hear me singing my cult classic, "Don't Forget Your Mother". And if you like you can hear the mega production here

Thu May 30, Fri May 31 and Sat June 1 6-9 PM
THREE NIGHTS at the fabulous Il Corso Restaurant
(part of The Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival)

Sun June 2, 2-5pm Grand River Chop House - 5 Amaranth W, Grand Valley, ON
(part of The Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival)

Fri June 7 Black Shire Pub 511 Talbot St London, ON (519) 433-7737
(Blues Masters Series)

Sun June 30, 3-6pm Distillery District Main Stage - Brian and the Blainettes
(part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival)

It's been a little while since the last Blainletter so I'm trying to get this out before the end of the month and I think I'll keep it short this time. I've had some friendly comments that it gets a little long-winded (and one not-so-friendly comment from an ex-girlfriend who writes "I never hear from you except for that stupid Blainletter which I never read anyway…"). So we've unsubscribed her but I'm glad to report that whenever I'm out and about there's always an encouraging word to keep it up.

I had some great gigs with Robert Davis and Malcolm Gould last month and was happy to play a couple of tunes with Shrimp Daddy and Danny Marks at a fundraiser for the lovely Jenn Martin, my rep at Indie Pool who had a nasty snowmobile accident. I hope she's back in the saddle now.

Lots of folks have been asking me when I'm going to start up a weekly campfire jam but the stars have not aligned for that yet. Meanwhile, young Jake DeBolt (Daisy's son) got something going at the little "Sideshow Cafe" just down the street from me so I've gone over a couple of times and I will again. It's on Wednesday nights. It's attached to the Center of Gravity Circus HQ at Gerrard and Greenwood.

On the "Living Album" project I upgraded my computer with Protools and even though it's giving me a little trouble right now, it's been a pretty smooth transition. I never thought I would end up with ProTools - I've hated it ever since it started out as Sound Tools but it's what everybody is using and now I am too. I'm glad to report a couple more contributions to the recording fund and I intend to get into the studio in the next month to do the final overdubs and then we can come out with New Folk Blues 2.0. Thanks for your patience (and if you really can't wait, then most of the raw tracks (just guitar, vocal and bass) are available for download on my Reverbnation. Even though I don't have a new release, I still hear a teack on the radio now and then so thanks to my friends in radio land who haven't forgotten Brian Blain, especially Ted Crouch who gave me a spin on the inaugural edition of "Acoustic Avenue"

I saw a few great shows lately including James Hunter at the Horseshoe. I love his sound with the tenor/bari combo. He'll be back at the jazz festival opening for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. That will be a great night. I guess the biggest show I got to last month was Fleetwood Mac as a guest of my dear friend Jacquie and it was pretty awesome. The Air Canada Centre was packed and the production was great. Before the show starts, a booming "voice of doom" warns about any picture taking or recording, listing all the different devices that are not allowed from throw-away cameras to cell phones. Then the show starts and all kinds of people rush the front and start taking pictures - some are tapped on the shoulder and others are allowed to the front (usually cute girls with big smiles and short skirts). I guess they have to make the official request…but then how are you gonna stop them from taking pictures? I haven't been to too many, but I can tell arena shows have come a long way. I was interested to hear pioneer impresario Michael Cohl (who promoted the Rolling Stones & U2 tours and lots of others) he was speaking at Canadian Music Week. Bob Lefsetz said "he told us NOTHING!" but I thought it was a real eye-opener about how that industry operates. Then next day, his arch-rival and former employee gave his take on the state of the industry and the one thing they could agree on was how they both hated Bill Graham (and I guess he hated them back). I ran into another pioneer promoter at the coat-check - it was Donald K. Donald and I was surprised that he remembered me - he seemed happy to see me though we had a bit of a falling-out in the 70s when I bailed out halfway through a tour where I was opening for April Wine. I just couldn't keep going out onto those stages (solo) and trying to play a "warm-up" set while thousands of kids yelled "A-Pril-Wine, A-Pril-Wine" I was told in no uncertain terms that I would never work for him again and I never did.

The rest of Canadian Music Week was a thousand bands all trying to sound the same and then when you went to the panel discussions it was all about "Authenticity" and finding your own sound. One guy said he listens to 11,000 submissions a month and narrows it down to a couple of hundred recommendations for his blog. Yikes!

My Facebook friends already heard about my guitar disaster - My beloved Epiphone took a fall and I didn't even open the case until I got to a gig at Gate 403 and saw it sitting there in two pieces. I posted a picture on Facebook and never got so many comments in my life….The guitar is glued back now, but it's road days are over - it could not withstand another shock - so I've been shopping around for another flat-top.

Maybe you'll get a kick out of this little video we made of me trying out guitars

We brought along the briPhone and shot a little videoclip of my "Great Guitar Search." Linda has latched onto the name "Awful Video Productions" because her first attempt at video - Allan and myself at the Tranzac - was one of Richard Flohil's weekly video pics which he referred to as "an awful video of great song," or something like that… For the great guitar search, I started at Capsule Music then Long & McQuade and played a lot of guitars that were mostly under $1000…still haven't found one that I couldn't put down so I may up the ante and head to the 12th Fret next. I dropped in already and the first guitar I picked up was a beauty - a Bourgeois (never heard of them) but it was 5K. I realize I'm more concerned about how it feels than how it sounds - my Epiphone had a rather small neck - almost like an electric. I've checked out a few guitars that friends had for sale and if any Blainreaders out there might have a suggestion, send it my way.

I'm also on the lookout for female sax player who could fill in for Colleen Allen who had to bale out of the Gladstone gig on the 10th. Both Colleen and Carrie are very busy sax players so I have recruited the phenomenal Alison Young but now need another tenor/bari gal and I'm open to suggestions on that too.

And let me finish with my congratulations to a bunch of great musician friends - Steve Strongman just won the Blues JUNO and Jim Galloway just got married. And my oldest musical buddy Allan Fraser has moved to Toronto and we have had a few opportunities to play together and there will be more. On a sad note, there have been many passings including Richie Havens (who crossed paths with many friends of mine over the years/decades) and the irascible Johnny V - a great guitar player who I always admired even though he was a bit cantankerous. He's the first guitarist I ever saw who leaned a piece of plywood in front of his Fender amp so the people in the front would not get blasted. I think J-W Jones does that too.

Thanks for reading this far. It was snowing just yesterday but I think Spring is in the air. Let's go for a long walk! BrianB


Anyone who rides with me knows I'm very cavalier about parking but on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto I tread carefully. It worked against me today. I paid to park at a meeting that didn't happen, used only half the time I paid for at the Portabelo for a guest set with Allan Fraser & Bob Cohen then paid for nothing when the restaurant we were going to was closed. Hey this is adding up. I'm back to risking it - hell, a parking ticket is not much more than some lots.