Monday, October 30, 2017

Blues at the Folk Music conference

Here I am arriving at the Folk Music Ontario conference and showcase.  I brought Huma Uster, the new office manager at the Toronto Blues Society and the first person I ran into was Stevie Connor from (that little sock puppet Huma is holding is their mascot). Stevie introduced me to Mike Biggar, who was in town checking out the scene - he just won Blues Artist of the Year at the Music New Brunswick awards and I've just been digging his CD, Go All In, on Busted Flat Records.  Looking forward to hearing him play live.

Arrived at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference & Showcase feeling like there will not be very much blues content this year - there's no blues showcase and just a handful of blues artists on the delegate list - but what do you know, the first folks I run into, at the hotel entrance, are blues folks. Stevie Connor from and Mike Biggar who just won Blues Artist of the Year and The Music New Brunswick Awards.  Then I ran into Michael Schatte, who just moved to the country (Coburg) and of course there were the usual suspects, Suzie Vinnick and Ken Whiteley and not too many more blues folks.  Then in the course of the showcases, there were a couple with a bluesy bent but all around I would have to say "The Blues is Hurting" in the folk world.  I joked that I was going to make a sandwich board that says/shouts "BLUES IS FOLK MUSIC" because from what I see folk festivals are presenting less blues, and even blues festivals are presenting less blues. What are you gonna do...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Blainletter #95 - Campfire Jam Sat Night at Old Mill - Shuffle Souvenirs - Swing Daddy's B-Day

Greetings Blainreaders - and welcome to my new subscribers, James and George.  It's only by serendipity that I collect a few names every month. I never think to ask - even when someone just bought a 3-pack of my CDs. I always appreciate when someone comes up to me at the gig and says "I got your Blainletter yesterday and here I am." Once again it's the day before the gig and here I am trying to remind everyone plus the obligatory whine from this seventy-something struggling emerging artist and a few tips & clips of some of the great music I've heard in Toronto last month.  

But first things first: The "Second Saturday" Campfire Jam is back at the Old Mill Home Smith Bar on Oct 14. Bass guru George Koller played with me last year at the Old Mill and figures prominently on "New Folk Blues". I've jammed with Rick Taylor a couple of times, once at a Winterfolk Campfire and a hotel room jam or two and I've always been a big admirer of his guitar style on that big ole Gretch White Falcon. I never played with Jesse O'Brien but every time I've seen him play I was knocked out - then I heard him sing a tune at Hugh's Room and I knew I had to get him out to the Campfire. So lucky to catch him between tours & recording with Colin James, Harrison Kennedy, Steve Strongman and many more. He's everybody's favourite pianoman these days and it will be a treat swapping songs and jamming with this crew!

Colorblind Brian's Toronto Blues Diary has been selected as one of Toronto's Top 50 Music Blogs!  I guess maybe I better start posting more often...

Southside Shuffle was a Gas: This was the first time I played the Shuffle under my own name and I'm so thankful to Chuck Jackson for bringing me in. I invited Mark "Bird" Stafford to play with me. Harp + for me (and I didn't have to pay him double!).  You can tell that festival is run by a musician. Everything was about the musician, great hospitality, top notch production, lots of little things (if you can call a towel on the stage a little thing).  Hmmm, I wonder if it's bad form to keep the towel...I've got some iPhone footage but it's not edited yet.  There was a magic moment when I just finished my song about Kathi McDonald when a butterfly took over the stage, darting about - I'm going to have to go ahead and say that was a nod from Kathi from beyond the grave.  It didn't seem like a big crowd there at my 1PM set, but throughout the day I ran into folks who complimented me - one guy even bought a couple of CDs. And the big highlight was Al Lerman telling me I had a "killer guitar sound."  I told him I realized at the end of the set that my overdrive pedal was on all the time because I couldn't see the light in the bright sun. And then, my new looper with the red and green lights very hard to discern by ole Colorblind.  Many thanks to Bird for doing the gig with me and then inviting me to sit in with him and Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne - that was a real highlight for me.

Steve Hill gave a great set - solo as always - but he puts out a lot of sound.  I had to laugh when he yelled "How Ya doin' Toronto!" and a park full of Missassaugans thinking "we wouldn't know..."  I like that Ben Racine (probably because he reminds me so much of one of my faves, James Hunter).  And at the end of the video is a long slow blues which he dedicated to Sab, a real champion of a lot of artists including yours truly not to mention a master of self-promotion.  They named the stage after him...The Sab Memorial Stage.  And Jack plays the most heartfelt blues. Check it out

Blues For the Red Door

This will be a great event. I played it the year before last and looking forward to doing it again. And look at the line-up they're bringing in this year.  This is a very good cause and always a great show

Terry Wilkins celebrated his 70th Birthday at the Cameron last Tuesday and it was a great evening. I told his daughter Gabriella and also a woman I had never met that of all the people in that room, I might have been just about the first one he met when he landed here in Toronto with the Flying Circus. I was supposed to be A&Ring them while my buddy Frazier Mohawk was crafting together the Blackstone Rangers.  It didn't last very long and I headed back to Quebec where Frazier soon caught up with me and ended up producing some tracks for me. Anyway, Terry's band, the Sinners' Choir, was soooooo tight - and yet improvising all the time.  3-part harmonies throughout.  They've got something special.  Here's a great montage from the party by Pamela Kohly:

Here I am with two lovely ladies who were helping Terry celebrate - Lori Yates and Kim Doolittle.  Lori and her band Hey Stella| played the early set at the Cameron and I was so glad to hear them - it's been a while.  Kim is going to be jamming around the Campfire with me at the Old Mill on December 9

Best Wishes to Terry and to all who read this far.  See you out there.  If you see me, please say hi and let me know you're a "blainreader."  And if you like what I'm doing, please "like" it on my Facebook page.  This will all help with my "klout" and, believe it or not, these statistics are what it takes to be "verified" as an artist on Spotify.  It gets crazy