Friday, June 17, 2016

2 amazing sets @NXNE tonight. King Khan was phenomenal but then I walked into @stateofSATE - fuckingonemal!

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NXNE has re-invented itself and kicked off with a conference on virtual reality and gaming (apparently that's the next big thing :-) It started with a speech  from Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Steve Jobs' first boss (yes, he's the guy who turned down a one-third ownership of Apple for $50.000.) Had a disappointing first experience with virtual reality. Uncomfortable headset and glitchy software - they blamed it on a poor wi-fi signal but not ready for prime time.  It is one the market, but still needs a high-power desktop computer optimized for gaming.  It will trickle down like everything else technological. My friend Jordan was telling me about yet another VR conference taking place this week-end and he is pumped about this technology. I will wait and see.

Musically I didn't see anything till thurs and I was having a hard time getting out of the house. I really wanted to see King Khan - I remember lots of people raved about him and it was quite fabulous.  Big band with lots of horns and guitars and lots of energy. The horseshoe was packed solid. If I had made my way to the front before they started I never would have got there.

On my way to king khan, I got a taste of a group that my friend Barbara always loved (and I don't think it's just because of the name - they're called "Run with the kittens." Also heard a bit of two solo elctro-crooners. Singing along with tracks they produced - lots loft elaborate hand gestures. No attempt to "electronify" the vocals - it's like they wanted to be Michael Bublé.  Another hybrid - closer to karaoke than electronica.

Then, making my way back to the car I stop in at the Bovine and hear Sate (I think she pronounced it "saight") and was totally knocked out.  I knew Saida Baba Talibah had a great voice but she is killin it with this new band.  They started out with some sounds that were kinda "progressive" - chords I never heard - but then slipped into a hyper R 'n B groove that really raised the roof.  I'll never forget driving here mama (the legendary Salome Bey) to a rehearsal for the Women's Blues Revue.  Poor Salome, she was just starting to exhibit the symptoms of alzheimers and now according to her daughter is deep in dementia. So sad.

Now heading off to a Dan Mangan showcase at Sugar Beach.  I always liked what he was doing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

@holyholybowie wrapped up #cmw2016. @TonyVisconti interview inspired many

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Seen and (over)heard at Canadian Music Week: 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.
Sam Cash is a real up-and-comer with 3 albums to his credit.  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 introduced his band.
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 "boon" 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)

"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"

#alvinyoungbloodhart rockin Ontario thanks to @musicbythebaylive

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80 year old dub pioneer Lee Scratch Perry @scratchlee still strutting

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Slidemeister Steve Dawson @sdguitar13 plays to room of local pickers & strummers

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@stevehillmusic homme-orchestre. Start of a season of blues in the great outdoors

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West Coast electromaniac @longwalkshortdock kicks Queen Street in the ass

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