Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brian's Birthday Blainletter

Still basking in all the love that came my way for my 70th birthday. There's still a few streamers hanging from the ceiling and some birthday balloons.  Almost lost my balloons when they were alI sucked into my ceiling fan.   I must have got 200 Facebook birthday greetings and if that didn't have me feeling acknowledged enough, it was very nice to get a shout out from Kerry Doole in the FYI news and Holger Peterson on Saturday Night Blues.  And the day before my birthday, New Folk Blues 2.0 got a nice review in the Saturday Vancouver Sun.  They call me "understated" and I would have to agree. Definitely not pushy enough J

As I have written here more than once, now that I'm retired, I just don't have it in me to chase gigs and when I do get in front of an audience, they're not always ready for my quiet folky blues. Solution: I continue to develop my new musical project that is designed for audiences that prefer more "ambient" sounds and I am generating them with my new "hyper-looper" which takes looping to a whole new level.  It's still taking shape but I took it out to a meeting of the Toronto Ableton Users Group and Joel & I kicked off their first "Link Jam," where about ten guys (yes, they were all guys) were all jamming on their Macbooks or iPads and everybody perfectly in sync (thanks to Link).  The great thing about the "hyper-looper" is that it loops MIDI data, not audio, and those notes can be sliced and diced and also shared with others – ie, the Link Jam.  Brian's Campfire Jams will never be the same again.  Instead of bringing guitars, they'll be bringing iPads!

On The Cape:  Had a very relaxing time for the last couple of weeks.  Sitting in the quiet back yard of my best ex where there is no cell service and only a pathetic dial-up internet connection. I spent the best part of an hour watching a woodpecker work on every branch of a small tree.  When I'm there I try to make sure I have lobster (in one form or another) at least once a day. I didn't quite achieve that but if there weren't lobsters, there were clams or oysters. A visit to the Cape would not be complete without a visit to my friend Alice (yes, THAT Alice) in Provincetown. She has moved and doesn't have a storefront gallery any more but you can still order her painted beach stones online at There was one big show in the tent they set up at Payomet – it was Beausoleil, zydeco music from Louisiana, but we ended up spending the afternoon walking around Wellfleet where every store and gallery (and a few private homes) had musicians playing on their porch (or lawn).  Ran into Ken & Donna Irwin –Ken is the Rounder Founder and still seems to be quite involved with the label even though it's been sold to Concord.  Donna's launching a new concert series in the park at Newburyport and celebrating a big birthday right about now.  Wish I was there!

I drove back from the Cape with Linda and she will be hanging out in TO for a while. We did a stopover in the Townships and visited friends including my collaborator on my French soon-to-be-a-hit anthem, Ramene Moi Demain.  We settled on an English translation so now I am going to create a new video for the tune and this one will have English subtitles.  Just bought some video editing software and as soon as I install it, that will be my first project. I remember joking with a bunch of musicians in the green room at Healey's Roadhouse that pretty soon, every musician would have to be able to edit video as well as play guitar if he wanted to sustain a career and ain't it true!

But back to the birthday, we celebrated in the best possible way – with a bunch of musicians jamming in my back yard.  It was a splendid gathering of talented players and I had a great time but sorry that I hardly got to visit with some friends, and especially sorry that I didn't really manage the jam so that everybody got a chance to sing. I don't think Noah Zacharin got to sing a single tune (or Laura).  Can't wait to hear his new CD – being released next Sunday at Grafitti's in Kensington Market.

Speaking of Kensington Market, I didn't get to take in any of the inaugural Kensington Market Jazz Festival but planning to drop in on George Koller's jazzelectronica gig at the Handelbar tomorrow at 5pm.  And I just got back from a rather soggy afternoon at the Toronto Urban Roots Festival festival. But the sun came out halfway through the Sheepdogs set.  Jimmy Bowskill brings a lot to the table, listen to him ripping it up on the pedal steel.

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The Sadies are staples at this festival and if you like the Sadies you'll probably like most of the music at TURF.  Here's their take on an old gospel tune:

via Instagram @brianblain