Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lepatriinu at Hugh's Room

Still no sign of Professor Piano

My old buddy Scott Cushnie has been missing for a month. It's incomprehensible, but it looks like he went out into that huge downpour of August 7 never to be seen again.  Police have poured over security videos in his hood (River & King).  He must have got disoriented in that horrible storm (which flooded the blues office). If you never got to hear him play you really missed something. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

We're Back at the Old Mill!

My Folk Music Ontario 2018

Folk Music Ontario is an annual conference and showcase for the folk community.  I always discover some great artists (and hear later about all the great ones I missed). Here's a video montage (7 minutes or so) of some of the artists I saw (in the same order I saw them).  It will give you an idea of how broad the definition of "folk" is becoming.

I drove up on the Saturday with Huma, Office Manager at the Toronto Blues Society, and the first performance I saw was Amanda Rheaume, who I've been working with at the TBS.  Her song opens the clip and it's become a bit of an "earworm" in my head. She had a great guitar player…wish I could remember his name.  Next up, the Slocan Ramblers (who got a standing ovation), the charming Melanie Brulee singing "These Boots" en francais.  Then the soaring vocals of the Lifers, Big Little Lions (Helen Austin and Paul Otten), Manitoba Hal's new project with Karen Morand, "Even the Bird Was Free". 

Sugar Brown had never done a "guerilla showcase" before and worried there might just be a couple of people to play to but I told him one of those people might be a festival director or a label president. It happens. After Ken (Sugar), I wanted to head home. It was nearly 2am, but as I made my way through the crowded hotel corridor with lots of string bass players snaking their way through, I passed a room where there were just two musicians and zero audience so I was drawn in and sat down (I guess I remembered exactly how it felt when you're playing to nobody as a stream of people walk by the door).  They were playing a South African groove – Brian Litvin & son. When he finished the song, he reached out to shake my hand and said "I know you – you play guitar."  He was very complimentary. And I liked what he was doing, too. In the Borealis Records suite, I heard Anne Lederman in a duo with a great cellist then the irrepressible James Gordon singing a song about the band he played with years ago, Tamarak. Alex Sinclair played some beautiful second guitar. A First Nations artist named Jay Gilday has a whistling cowboy kind of stance, a young fiddle sensation, some Inuit throat-singing, even a DJ (Shreem) working with a celtic fiddler, then another First Nations group, Kym Gouchie and Northern Sky, who got everybody into a Round Dance. Singer-songwriter Johnson Crook probably has more commercial potential than most of the artists I saw and the showcase room closed out with a group I've been wanting to see for a long time, Les Poules a Colin. Back on "guerilla showcase" floor, I ended my evening hearing a tune from Braden Gates whose name was suggested to me more than once over the weekend.  Very Dylanesque, would you not say?

There were a couple of interesting artists who didn't make it onto my vlog.  Two different artists were playing a fiddle like a guitar (or a uke) and running it through all kinds of effects processors.  Respectfulchild was pretty special and there was a First Nations artist - kind of androgynous looking but you knew it was a woman when she broke down in the middle of a tune and had to stop and ask for a tissue.  She explained to the sympathetic crowd that she was a high-school teacher in the far north and one of her kids had been sent home under some sad circumstances as she explained that the residential school system trauma is not over and is still part of the sad state of affairs for kids in the far north.  One interesting artist with a bluesy bent I never got to hear was Kalyna Rakel but I got her CD and look forward to hearing her live real soon.

Edisode 4 - Brian Blain's CD Crowdfunding Campaign

Here's Brian playing "Bulletproof", his tune about the great Kathi Macdonald
Pre-order the album at

Stringbuster jam1

If you watched me on FaceBook Live the last couple of times, and watched to the end, you would have seen me looping 4 bars of the tune and building up 6 tracks of MIDI notes – one track for each string.  Those MIDI notes are run through lots of "smart" filters and devices and even a "groove template." 

This is not only a "work-in-progress", it is an "instrument-in-progress"  In episode 3, we went live with my first attempt with the MIDI looper running 6 channels – one per string (and it didn't blow up).  In Episode 4, Joel took the helm at the iPad, played a little bit with the synthesizer sounds and kicked in a beat, and I feel like that was a milestone, too.