Saturday, March 27, 2021

Blainletter #134


March 2021
View this email in your browser
Please drop in to my Facebook Page at 7pm for my monthly Blaincast. There was lots to celebrate this week - the start of Spring, St Patrick's Day and it's "Francophone" Month (I've got a tune for that!). And today is The UN designated "World Water Day" (and I've got a song for that, too! And happy to report that my "Water Song" is getting played as far away as Australia and I've got requests for the CD from radio guys in Russia and Italy. Tomorrow I do an interview with Newfoundland's blues radio host Terry Parsons and last week I was the featured on artist on a (cable) TV show from my old stompin' grounds, the Eastern Townships. You'll see a bunch of interesting artists and it closes out with a killer acoustic blues from Adam Karch.
We'll see what happens with the Blaincast – I've been experimenting with a green screen in the studio and I'm figuring out the new Ableton 11 software. That should be fun. Last night I was warming up on the acoustic in the kitchen so I turned on the iPhone and captured a few tunes. It's mostly me noodling on the guitar like I would if we were just sitting around the kitchen.  "iPhone-in-kitchen" would be considered the low end of streaming technology but if you don't think of it as a show – it's just like having a dude in your kitchen strumming on a guitar.  Some would consider it a pest and others would be glad for the company
There's plenty to be happy about despite this horrible year we've been through.  And despite all the hardships, as usual, we're better off than most people in other parts of the world who have really been put through the ringer – with no end in sight when you look at the water crisis.
This is the anniversary of my last gig with a live audience and it's been exactly one year since I started a streaming series with my special Blaincast to promote World Water Day. I had just released my "Water Song" as a single thinking we might get a little action for my socially conscious initiative to bring some attention to the water crisis that I was starting to educate myself about. If you haven't seen the video we created, check it out here
If you want to get deep into water (pardon the pun) check out this video that describes the reverence they have for water in India. One thing that struck me was how they always wait for water to settle (preferably in a copper container) before drinking. And that old saw, our body is mostly water, etc. I've been in pipe circles and ceremonies where the water is blessed and prayers are said around it – and it deserves our prayers of appreciation. Water is life.
And last month it hit close to home when the city of Jackson, Miss got hit by a big freeze and their water infrastructure broke apart and they still don't have potable water. I have great memories of Jackson and though some might joke that Jacksonites would rather go without water than their PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), it must be pretty tough of those folks.  It's just one disaster after another down there…My best wishes to the folks down at Frank Jones Corner – I have some great memories of that place.  It's an after-hours juke joint where I first saw the slogan "No Black, No White, Just Blues" writ large along one wall. That was a powerful statement from the heart of racist country. It would seem that slogans on walls are not sufficient these days and you've got to wonder where this is gonna end.
I'm thinking the only cure for these centuries of injustice, fueled by hatred of one tribe for another, is going to take centuries, or at least generations, to turn around.  And we can start counting when we see a new approach to education that does not instill a feeling of "we are better than them" in kids who don't know the meaning of prejudice until it's drummed into them with god-fearing, flag-waving anthem-singing.

New Website!

I have moved and over to Blogger from the server that my son the DJ built back when he was learning server-side programming.  He's lost interest in that and doesn't even like sitting in front of a computer anymore.  The advantage of Blogger is that…well, it's free! And it's easy to update.  It's missing some of the bells and whistles of a big-time website but I think it'll be fine for now.  Check it out.  It doesn't have all the photo galleries that were fun but it has my new, "definitive" bio on there.  That's one bio I didn't write myself and it's the last bio of me that I ever want to look at! (my blog, is also on Blogger)

Just Streaming Along

Who have I been watching online, you ask (or even if you didn't ask).  I love when Alex Pangman and friends do their monthly show on the first Saturday on the month.  They are playing together live over the internet with a program called JamKazam and they have mastered it.  Then anything with Kid Andersen is going to be great musically, fun visually and highly entertaining.
Sunday I watched Harpdog Brown's show, "In the Dog House" – top notch production values – this is the gold standard – but they had a budget (and we don't). Then I I caught a bit of two serious streamers – they play for a couple of hours and they give a lot of bang for the buck (and I hope they're seeing some bucks).  One is a phenomenal guitarists and stream-meister, Larry Mitchell who obviously takes this streaming business quite seriously.  He shows up twice a week with a different show each time – Sundays he does a spacy laid-back instrumental soundscape, and you can tell for him this is a gig – and that's what he's been doing all his life and he's not going to stop now!  Before that I was watching folksinger Susan Werner who I met once waiting for an elevator at the Folk Alliance.  She is one talented lady and obviously has a big fan base who love to spend their Sunday evenings with her.  She has a different theme everytime and today it was songs from the "Rat Pack"!  Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin.  Imagine!  That must take some preparation.  Hats off to both of them.

Speaking of Folk Alliance, that was an avalanche of streams last month (hundreds!) – from the most rudimentary iPhone-in-kitchen to very slick presentation.  They wanted feedback and I wrote up a little blurb for  For those who might be interested, I'll leave you with this and say goodbye till the next time.

Amazing to see how much Canadian content makes up the Folk Alliance family – from the top down, eh?  I must have watched 20 or 30 showcases & panels – Margaret Atwood not a likely choice for keynote speaker but had a lot to say. "Music is not a frill – it is at the heart of the matter" 
Now who did I discover? I should have taken notes. You might call her a "re-discovery" but one highlight was a session with Wendy Waldman and friends.  I knew she's an "old-timer" at FAI, but I never heard her (though I knew she had written so
me hit songs). She was just so much fun – and had some great tunes, with good sound and "in-yer-face" video – she was living proof that if it goes well (some would say "if God is in the room), your personality can actually pierce through the interweb and your audience can be thoroughly entertained – as if you were sitting across from them in your kitchen!
Production and personality did not shine that way in most showcases, but I don't have any trouble seeing past that if the music is interesting and groovy.  There was a couple of times that I thought "we got lift-off here"  Charly Lowry, Samantha Robichaud, Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics,  Terrence Simian and daughter Marcella, Sean Ardoin and anything from Louisiana.  "Far West" Folk Alliance had a lot of talent
Heard some fresh bluegrass, not enough blues for my liking. Blues Foundation presented Eric Gales and Dom Flemons (??). They also had Kevin Burt and reigning Queen of Contemporary Blues, Shemekia Copeland and a couple of others, but not a lot of representing from the (folk)blues community. Do we need to remind the Folk Alliance that Blues is Folk Music!
Southern Avenue are an interesting combo. I've seen a lot of them (less is more, kids).  Most over-rated that I've run across is War and Treaty.  I'm not even sure if it was at FAI, but they're playing everywhere.
Peter, Paul (but not Mary, RIP) had a lot of plays and words of wisdom. My old pal, Freebo seems to be over his  "dog" days. The whole event was so….real – so "folky".  The hardest working streamer must have been Dan Navarro (on-the-air 4 to 5 hours in one day) He hosted a great series with terrific guests I never heard of . I knew nothing about Dan either, but now I do.
Other artists who presented pre-recorded sets went from sloppy to slick.  By next year everybody will have broadcast quality video (but it's all about the lighting :-) 
But there's still some essential stagecraft required. I'm thinking of the guitarist who spent many minutes just noodling on the guitar between songs, and that's OK except when you finally decide on the next tune,  it requires an ope tuning and you require another few minutes to re-tune the guitar…Argh!
One interesting note - The Folk Process is alive and well! A song that was just written in these recent days was performed in at least two showcases by folks who didn't even know the writer.  It's called "Twenty Dollar Bill" and is about George Floyd. It was written by Tom Prasada-Rao, until now, a virtual unknown.  But the song took flight, and more and more folks will be singing it, in kitchens and at campfires.
The technology demands of putting on 800 hours of showcases and workshops was damn near insurmountable, but they did it!  Sometimes that website was kinda sluggish but it didn't crash on me.  The platform is called Pathable and they really came through.


Read All About It

There's a nice article about the CD and some of the stories that inspired the songs on  Check it out, and if you'd like to hear from some of the musicians who participated, check out the replay of my zoom launch.

Quote of the Day

"Artists know who's the real deal" – Clive Davis
Thanks for reading this far and let's just try to get through this. Music will help.. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These bits and more are always available on my blog,

See you out there, eventually...

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


Join me for another live stream TODAY at 7pm on my Facebook Page ( you're not on Facebook you can still watch on my musician page: It's my 2nd (now Annual) World Water Day Webcast and I hope to make it a tradition. I'll be playing the "Water Song" and other tunes from the new album, "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" then we'll retire to the kitchen for a casual hangout where I hope I can "engage" a bit with those of you who stick around.

For this album, I wanted to bring attention to the water crisis that is affecting 3 billion people on the planet. "Water Song" is a pretty dark "ear movie" with a global vibe provided by Sadio Sissokho (kora) and Harry Manx (mohan veena). The haunting vocals are provided by Ruth Mathiang. "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" kicks off the album with a little tongue-in-cheek  humour and some fine harp playing from Steve Marriner.  “The Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)” and “You Are Also His Son” were recorded with Julian Fauth and Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild.  “Blues Des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)” is a leaving-home barrelhouse boogie “en francais” with David Vest pounding the 88s. Patrick Merner added some bass & synth, and Clayton Doley overdubbed some organ from his studio in Melbourne, Australia. Ken Whiteley played some lap steel on "You Are Also His Son", Jesse O'Brien added some piano and organ to "The Mother I Never Knew" and drummer Michelle Josef provides a solid backbeat throughout.  Some songs end with extended jams (because I loves to jam) and the last track is a ten-minute acoustic soundscape with Michael Jerome Browne from the last day of recording my “Overqualified For The Blues” album years ago in Montreal. I call it “Tai Chi Ten,” …because it’s just the right pace and length for my Tai Chi set, but it makes for a fine meditation even if you aren’t moving.
Track Listing
1. I’m Not Fifty Anymore  3:07
  feat. Steve Marriner
2. You Are Also His Son  4:52
  feat. Ken Whiteley
3. Blues des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)  4:22  
feat. David Vest & Clayton Doley
4. The Mother I Never Knew  3:55  
feat. Jesse O’Brien
5. Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)  3:37  
feat. Julian Fauth
& Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild
6. Water Song  5:26  
feat. Harry Manx & Sadio Sissokho
7. Tai Chi Ten  (A Meditation)  9:54  
feat. Michael Jerome Browne

mixed by Margaret Stowe at Ozworld Toronto
mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal
art direction Linda Turu
photography Margaret Mulligan
design Keijo Tapanainen
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward