Sunday, March 22, 2020

Brian's Socially Distanced Basement Blaincast Ep1 World Water Day

my Water Day

I did another Blaincast - haven't done once since December - the house concert at Ann Kerr-Linden. This event was to bring attention World Water Day, something that seemed very urgent until something more urgent came along. I had thought to have a big show and glad I didn't!

This social media streaming thing requires a lot more than "going live." Tell them what you're going to go live, then go live, and finally tell them what a great livestream they missed and where to view a replay.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Orange Devils Big Band Toronto Mar 2020

Just when I should be posting stuff about my new Release ("Water Song") I've been in work-avoidance assembling this little montage of Martin Loomer's Ortange Devils big band. Jim Galloway was his mentor and Martin is a special kinda guitar player - no amp, no pick-up, no MIC! Just chopping that rhythm.  I told him Jeff Healey would approve.

Quote of the Day

"My religion is a body of myth and as bodies of myth go, it's a pretty good one but it's not the only one that's worthwhile" - Bruce Cockburn (in the Netflix doc)

I'm wondering if there's anything in the bible or Nostradamus that predicted what we're about to go through...

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

Brian Blain Solo Set at Winterfolk 2020 short

A 10-minute condensed version of my solo set at Winterfolk 2020 in Toronto. The first song, "I'm Not Fifty Anymore," resonated with the older crowd and that phrase was repeated to me numerous times that week-end and since. Then we have short clips of  "Hownlin':, a blues standard and  "Water Song", the first single from the new album. Next was the "premiere" of my Mother Trilogy, 3 songs about Mother written decades apart, the most recent, "The Mother I Never Knew" about finding my birth mother, "Enfant Choisi" (sung in French) about the circumstances of my adoption and my 1973 "cult classic", "Don't Forget Your Mother." I finish off with a Buddhist perspective on Jesus and an ode to medicinal marijuana, "Have A Toke" 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Blainletter #121

March 2020
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Greetings Blainreaders! I'm excited to announce that the new recording is about to see the light of day…well, not all of it :-) On Saturday the 14th, we will be releasing the first single (that's how they do it nowadays, single first…whatever) at the Old Mill Home Smith Bar with some of the folks who played on the album, Ken Whiteley, Julian Fauth and Michelle Josef.
Last night I got to hear the final, mastered version of the "Water Song" and it sounds real sweet, though I've tackled a subject that's a bit "darker" than my usual fare: the world water crisis.  The original version of the song, which some of you have heard me perform over the last year, was all about the crisis in sub-Sahara Africa but I was reminded (probably by a listener at the Old Mill) that we have water issues much closer to home so I added a verse about Attawapiskat… which made it more than 5 minutes long so I'm told it will never get played on the CBC but then again I haven't had a spin on CBC since Jurgen Goth.
March 22 is World Water Day and I'm hoping some radio and internet broadcasters will see that as an opportunity to play the track (even if it is five and a half minutes long!) It's a worthy message.
"Water Song" features some exotic sounds from kora master Sadio Sissokho and sliding, soulful Mohan Veena from Harry Manx with haunting vocals from Ruth Mathiang.  Patrick Merner added some cool synth sounds and played bass.  Michelle Josef provided the driving rhythm alongside some djembe from Sadio.  It has a nice afro-blues groove, a sound that's been rolling in my head for years finally realized. It feels good. And we've got a professional video which will be released on YouTube on March 14 as well.
Have no fear, the rest of the album will get back to my usual lighthearted fare.  One of the tunes (which features a burning harp solo from Steve Marriner and barrelhouse piano from David Vest) is called "I'm Not 50 Anymore." Ever since I've been performing it I've had a steady stream of strangers coming up to me saying (or singing) "I'm Not 50 Anymore." 
As we prepare the artwork and finishing touches for the album, this is probably a good time to shout-out a big THANK YOU to all the "Blainbackers" who have made it possible and here's how it looks on the CD package
If you contributed and I missed you in my Thank You's, please let me know.  And I have to tell you we could sure use a few more contributions for the last stretch.  I went and wrote another song, "The Mother I Never Knew" (regular Blainreaders will know what that is all about) and I really wanted it on the album so now I've really blown the budget. If you would like to be added to the Thank-You salad (or if you would like to enlarge your contribution) I'm accepting e-transfers or any other means you see fit.
Glad to report the Toronto Jazz Festival has me back working on the website for this summer's festival (lots of changes coming – all good) and also coming up this summer (sooner than you think) I will be guesting with Julian Fauth on June 5 at his Friday Night residency at the Senator Wine Bar.  That is as intimate as it gets, a small room with a real piano and no PA system. I love it. 

Winterfolk Redux

Had a great time at Winterfolk.  Lots of folks congratulating me on the Blues Booster award and I'm still basking in the glow.  I did a little video montage of the sets I managed to see when I wasn't running around preparing for my performances and here's the accompanying text I posted on Facebook:  
@WinterfolkBluesandRootsFestival worked out great in its new home in the Annex. Pretty smooth transition. I've been attending since it started and played it a few times including 4 plays this year. Unfortunately, when you play a festival, you don't get to hear that much because you're concentrating on your own sets. But I did grab some video clips of the acts I was able to catch and here they are - in the same order I recorded them.
Ken Whiteley was on stage when I arrived on Friday playing some inspirational new songs and inviting the fine young mandolinist (and bluegrass radio host) Graham Mansfield. The inimitable Wendell Ferguson (0:50) provided comic relief throughout the week-end and traded licks with me at the Campfire Jam. Mr. Rick (1:06) surfaced from his "semi-retirement" and did some official country blues at the fingerpicking workshop. Glen Hornblast, (1:25) a mainstay of this festival and a real community builder gathered as many musicians as could fit on some of those stages. The beloved folk icon Lynn Myles (1:40) surprised everybody be bringing out bluegrass superstar Claire Lynch to sing harmony and sang a great tribute to Merle Haggard. Guitar wizard Kevin Breit (2:39) did some obligatory guitar pyrotechnics and a beautiful rendition of "Hang On" from his collaboration with Harry Manx. Jack de Keyzer (3:30) was rocking the house wherever he played and even called yours truly up to the stage and when I didn't have a guitar he offered up a '62 re-issue Telecaster which he had just bought but not yet played on stage. So I broke it in for him Description: And what a fabulous new drummer he's got, Peter...from Hamilton. Carley Hope (4:03) is a very promising student in John Switzer's music programme at Seneca College. Donné Roberts (4:53) provided some infectuous Malagasy grooves and what a delight it was to hear a genuine legend of the golden age of Queen Street the Artsy Beat, Barbara Lynch (5:22). Heather Lynne Luckhart (5:56) was silky smooth in this setting but can belt out the blues with the best of them. That's Tony Quarrington backing her up, as he did numerous others and when he joined us at the Campfire Jam that added up to 20 hours of playing over the course of the weekend. Kudos to him andBrian Gladstone and Dougal Bichan and all the volunteers for putting on such a beautiful gathering. Everywhere I played, it was to a totally attentive "hear-a-pin-drop" audience. It was all peace and love except for one little dust-up when a rowdy audience member started harassing Danny Marks, who showed remarkable restraint though he was ready to "take it out into the alley". I don't believe they did because Danny (6:36) was playing a set as I was heading out to the car to get home and collapse. He invited a couple of "youngsters" he had heard earler (didn't get their names) and they joined him for an impromptu "Peeping and Hiding" which must have been the thrill of a lifetime for them. That "passing of the torch" is what I love to see at these festivals and it's what I try to promote myself with the Campfire Jams and elsewhere. That's why they call me the "Blues Booster" and I wore that title proudly over the course of the festival. I also had many total strangers coming up to me saying, "I'm Not Fifty Anymore!" because they heard my new tune at one of my sets so I'll leave you with that one (6:58). 
Thanks for reading this far.  This was a short one - now rushing off to a meeting at the Blues Society. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These clips and more are always available on my blog,

See you out there, 

BrianB, aka Butch, Nappy, Shaker, Two-Lane Blain, Colorblind Brian, Stringbuster, Buddha of the Blues


Saturday March 14 7:30-10:30pm "Water Song" Single & Video Release Party w/Ken Whiteley, Julian Fauth, Michelle Josef - "Second Saturdays" at The Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto.  9 Old Mill Road.  No Cover ($20 min food & beverage)

Saturday April 11 7:30-10:30pm  Brian's Campfire Jam w/ special guests - "Second Saturdays" at The Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto.  9 Old Mill Road.  No Cover ($20 min food & beverage)

Saturday May 9 7:30-10:30pm  Brian's Campfire Jam w/ special guests - "Second Saturdays" at The Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto.  9 Old Mill Road.  No Cover ($20 min food & beverage)

June 5 -guesting with Julian Fauth at Senator Wine Bar

I call it my "living" album because it started life as a solo "live" recording with bassist George Koller and has now been "sweetened, stacked, mixed and mastered" with new instrumentation on all the songs. It starts with New Orleans marching horns from Alison Young and Colleen Allen on "Forgotten",  “Alice“ gets violin and banjo from Drew Jurecka and Tim Posgate. There's a reggae percussion workout with Trinidadian Wayne Stoute and the wonderful Michelle Josef, some sweet slide from Harry Manx on the French tune, barrelhouse piano from Toronto expat Patrick Godfrey and organ grooves galore from Australian B3 sensation Clayton Doley. "The Ghost of Clinton's Tavern" is a full-tilt electronic ambient remix by my son the DJ. 
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