Friday, August 28, 2020

Tai Chi at foot of stairs

This is a messed up Tai Chi set loosely based on the Short Form of Dai Lu. I was disoriented doing it in those cramped quarters - I forgot some moves and repeated some in the wrong spot. If you want to learn a proper tai chi form, there are lots of great videos on YouTube but I kept this just because it had a "vibe" AND the track, "Tai Chi Ten (a Meditation)" is the closing track on my new CD, "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" being released September 11 (my birthday) with a special "Premiere" on Toronto Blues Society's Facebook Page Wednesday, September 9 at 8pm. This jam was recorded in 2005 with Michael Jerome Browne.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Blaincast #23

Here's a replay of Sunday's Blaincast wherin you can watch me go over some tunes for my first gig this summer (!!!) It's Saturday, 7-8:30 at a tiny restaurant patio called Swine & Vine - part of Kitchener's downsized bluesfest (just a few bars & restaurants), a little walk up my street to hear some country music, some shameless self-promotion for my CD RELEASE Sunday Sept. 11, 8pm right here on Facebook Live and a CD/Video "Premiere" on Toronto Blues Society's Facebook page on Wednesday, Sept 9, 8pm. We end the Blaincast, as usual, with a Campfire Cameo from the archives. This one is from June 2018 and features Gary Kendall​ singing the first song he wrote, Raoul Bhaneja​ singing an old blues standard and a surprise guest appearance from Zoe Chilco​ You can see all 15 campfire cameos on my YouTube Channel

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Campfire Cameo Jun 6, 2018 w/Raoul Bhaneja, Gary Kendall, Michelle Josef...

From June 2018, this was the last Campfire Jam before we took our summer break. Raoul Bhaneja sings a blues classic, Gary Kendall sings the first song he ever wrote and Zoe Chilco makes a surprise appearance

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Campfire Cameo Jan 16, 2015 at Blues Summit 7

Blues Summit 7 kicked off with Brian's Campfire Jam at Monarch's Pub in The Delta Chelsea. Two blues-belting mamas are featured here - Sabrina Weeks who had come in from the west coast and Samantha Martin who was just getting started on her meteoric rise on the local (and national) blues scene. Also on board were Peggy Voigt, Kim Doolittle, Casey Van, Sherman Lee Dillon up from Jackson, Miss., renown violinist Lenny Solomon getting into some blues fiddle, the irrepressible Danny Marks playing drums (who knew?) and young piano player whose name I forgot (let me know if you recognize him)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

On Appropriation of the Blues

There's been a lot of discussion lately about Blues Music being appropriated and and how come Blues Societies are just a bunch of old white men. I even saw a post from a female black blues singer (in the States) who was complaining that white blues singers were taking away work from her.  One blues singer in town, who is neither white or black, was feeling pangs of conscience about this and really feeling like maybe she didn't have the right to sing the blues.  

Well here's a quote I just pulled off an old video recording of Jodie Drake, who was a "grande dame" of the Blues in Toronto in the early 90s when she was honoured with a tribute concert at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival: "The Blues have to be really felt. And if you don't feel 'em inside, then you don't have it. If you have to acquire it and put it back in, then that's not really...if you have to learn it from the book or the record and then apply it...but if it's really there inside you don't have to do all this..."  She's not saying anything about black or white.  She's saying you either feel it from inside or you don't. And that would explain why there is a dearth of young black blues musicians. They're not feeling it inside. They're feeling another another beat inside, a "different drummer" as it were. 

And yet a lot of old (and young) white men (and women) who do feel it inside, follow that "call" and pursue a life singing the blues or just enjoying the blues wherever they can. And, in the case of the few academically-inclined, studying the blues. It's not a large percentage of the music lovers and players, but they are devoted to this music and even organize "blues societies" to gather with like-minded folks.  Every city and town (in most of the world, I reckon) has their resident blues band and a small group of fans who are probably not young and not black. And some of these fans have formed "blues societies" to ensure that they get their fix of live blues. 

As for the players, blues is probably the easiest style to learn when you're starting out and it's ideal for "jamming" because the changes are predictable and you could put together a bunch of blues players from various countries around the world and they could just start playing and everybody would know where to change chords even if they never heard the song before.  Then you've got songwriters like myself who use the blues form but try to create interesting variations on the chord structure and usually adding lyrics that are more appropriate to these times (we can't be singing about working in the cottonfields with a straight face). And it must be said, there are players (and fans) who are locked in to the "generic" blues sound and never really break out of that bag - much to the consternation of other blues players/fans who go "Oh no, I cannot listen to "Sweet Home Chicago" one more time!"

Lastly, the blues has been the entry point for countless musicians who went on to explore far more complex music like jazz and pop but hopefully those early blues grooves remained in their DNA and enrich the music they're playing now.

Campfire Cameo Jan13, 2018 w/Raha Javanfar, Adam Solomon and Micgael Fo...

the Campfire Cameo is from Jan, 2018 with Raha Javanfar, Adam Solomon and Michael Fonfara

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Campfire Cameo Jan 13, 2018 w/Adam Solomon, Raha Javanfar and Michael Fo...

Campfire Cameo Jan 13, 2018 w/Adam Solomon, Raha Javanfar and Michael Fonfara

Adam Solomon plays some afro-blues and Raha Javanfar belts out an Etta James tune. Michael Fonfara "The Fonf" is one the Yamaha Grand and yours truly playing bass and guitar

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Blaincast #20 the jazzy edition

...where you'll see the first public performance of my rendition of "Everything Happens To Me" - in fact it's the first time I was actually able to get through the whole song without messing up any chords. You'll hear more jazzy tunes, some standards and one I wrote...and some stories of recording it with Richard Bell. The Campfire Cameo this week features Mr. Rick and Howard Willett playing some country blues, with Jesse Whiteley on the piano and me on bass.