Friday, May 13, 2016

Seen and (over)heard at Canadian Music Week

Talking vintage studio gear with recording pioneer Eddie Kramer
(Hendrix, Doors, etc) and El Mocambo archivist Greg Godovitz
Directly below is a clip of Sam Cash and a lot of other great artists I heard at Canadian Music Week. Sam is a real up-and-comer with 3 albums to his credit. I had been meaning to hear him ever since I got some inquiries from a friend at a big US label. I still think of him as a little kid running up and down the street when his dad Andrew was my neighbour on Woodfield Road.  Sam put on a great set and ties with Bleeker as my "Discovery of the Week" at CMW.  Great signage and excellent tunage – and he was the only bandleader I saw who actually introduced his band. Classy.
Working my way back, the last show I saw at CMW was Holy Holy at the Phoenix. They played David Bowie's album ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ live in it’s entirety but this was not just a tribute act.  The band is led by Tony Visconti, Bowie's long time producer and collaborator who also gave a keynote address at the conference and by all accounts was the most inspirational speaker at CMW.
It was an intense week of walking, talking and listening to great music.  By "great music,"  I mean it was all played great, flawless, for the most part but usually quite "generic."  But as I repeatedly encountered the mantra of CMW that great music was being lost in the tsunami of not-so-great music, I now find myself sifting through the tsunami of great (ie greatly-played) music trying to find some artists who were doing something original and innovative. There was one very charismatic singer who I would say was my "discovery of the week." I just spent a couple of hours trying to backtrack when I saw them and now I tracked them down It is Taylor Perkins and the band is called Bleeker.  Watch out for them.
Another highlight for me was meeting recording pioneer Eddie Kramer (best known for his recordings of Hendrix and the Doors).  He also gave a keynote address but I missed that one also (why do they have to be so early in the morning?).  We had a nice chat about the studio he's building on the second floor of the legendary El Mocambo.
I also attended the presentations of several tech start-ups and I think the fellow that won the 10k prize ( will be able to help with my new electronica project, Stringbuster.  Another new collaboration website for musicians ( was being launched and they had a booth.  I took a minute to sign up on the spot except when I entered my age the program said "you cannot enter a number over 60."  I said to the developer, "I think I found a bug"…and he was quite mortified to discover that his programmer probably didn't expect any of their users to be over 60.  Anyway, they fixed it right away.
Had some great seafood at the Music Nova Scotia showcase and got the last sausage at the Aussie BBQ where I heard an Australian who had been a rock star in the 60s but had now morphed into an old white bluesman (I can relate). His name is Russell Morris – thanks for the tip, Kerry!  Blues was hard to find at CMW even though they had initially expressed some interest in doing a blues event.  Still, a lot of bands put "blues" as one of their genres on the website even though they are not remotely blues. Speaking of the website, it left a lot to be desired and the mobile app was even more lackluster (the app did not use the "genre" feature at all and when you clicked on a venue name all you got was a map – when should display a list of who's playing).  Even the first website I made for the jazz festival (way back when websites were nothing but text and links) would do that! 
Another highlight was the party at the Google offices across the street.  They put out a great spread and had some top bands playing (they cleared out an area as big as any club with full sound & lights. The band playing when I was there was Alberta Cross – I think it's the first time anybody tried combining trumpet and pedal steel.   Maybe the last.
And after hearing a lot of muddy bass everywhere I went, I had to compliment the soundman at the Horseshoe for having a nice tight bass sound.  Next time I play the Shoe I will ask for Adam
The conference had lots on streaming and social media – more than I could absorb.  But the big buzz was about Facebook Live, which means we have finally arrived at that dream world (some would say nightmare) where everyone can have their own TV station.  I'm in!
Nobody was handing out CDs like the old days – one band was selling their album on a USB stick and DineAlone Records, one of the hot new labels, was handing out their compilation on cassette.  Go figure!

Other stuff overheard at CMW

"Festivals are coming to the end of their 'boom' cycle"

""If you can't bring festivals to gaming, bring gaming to festivals"

"Artist fees for festivals have quadrupled in the last 5 years" (Eric Hoffman, Live Nation)

"Labels don't sign artists, they sign fan bases"

"Our label genre is anything around 173 BPM"

"The fire department wanted to evacuate the hotel but those people at that conference were not budging"  (security guard after the fire alarm went off on Friday afternoon)

"When somebody follows you, you should do them the courtesy of following back"

@samcashmusic. Good tunage. Good signage. My last post. Thank you #cmw2016. More clips & commentary on at

via Instagram @brianblain