It's 3am and I'm sitting here sighing a breath of relief that i"m finished with putting out four newsletters in two weeks and get my mind back to music. I should really be working on my album, running over those tunes ...you know, an amateur practices till he gets it right but a professional practices until he can't get it wrong! Homilies Schmomilies. I never had a guitar lesson in my life but the few times I tried to practice something, I did get something out of it. Had to write a song with the lick right away or I'd forget it. And I don't have that many songs and a lot of them use the same licks, too. I've got a great tune called "Just Leave" that uses the boggie-woogie style bass pattern that I learned off a Danny Gatton instructional video.
But I don't care - when I turned fifty, I said to myself I'm not going to end my days making newsletters and websites. I'm going to get the music back in my life because it's good for me to play and because most of the people that hear it feel better too. At least they spend a couple of hours distracted from their daily preoccupations. Then they probably forget me - more so if I was doing the opening set for a phenomenal artist like Harry Manx, as I just did for a couple of weeks last month.
I guess I can blame Harry for the fact that I'm not using this precious time to work on my soon-to-be-recorded tunes and instead messing around with a newly set-up lap slide guitar, just like Harry plays. You couldn't spend that many nights watching him close up without being inspired to try it. I've never played slide or open tunings (in fact I remember that Lorraine from Blue Willow gave me a slide for a birthday present and I never made any effort to figure it out). But this time, I had an extra flat-top guitar hanging around (that's another heavy, sad story) so I bought a "thang" to raise the strings and Harry helped me pick out a proper slide. Now I'm into it, but my son has asked me to lay off, because all that shaky sliding is making him nauseous. He never complains about my playing in the house so I take this as a message that I better not inflict this on anyone for quite a while.
Last week-end I had a lot of musical activity (as (barely)managing editor, I get into a lot of shows for free and for the first time in months, I had a Thursday off. I was doing a Thursday house-gig at the Tranzac for almost a year, with an amazing lineup of guests (link) but not an amazing lineup at the door, unfortunately. Now they're trying scronky jazz on Thursdays and even that is doing better than my blues night. I will continue doing a series at the Tranzac but it will not be every week - rather try to make each time a special event. And here comes one now. Mark your calendars...
Friday, November 22
(in the Main Hall - $5.00 cover)
The The Entire Stratford Roots Music Scene
(well, maybe a few won't be there, probably not Loreena)
Lineup includes: Jamie Randsley, Michelle Hundt, Sophie,
hosted by Brian Blain
Yesterday, as I dropped by the Toronto Blues Society office I found in my mailbox two new blues CD releases. Two Walkers! Joe Louis Walker (releasing his 3rd album in 14 months - I'll be lucky to get 3 albums done in the next 14 years!) and Wailin' Walker, a Vancouver-based guitar hero. Never saw him in Toronto, though he must have played here. Five years back, a band I played with - Blue Willow - shared some tracks on a Peerless compilation CD with Wailin. And this new CD of his is still on Peerless, with the first 3 tracks produced by Fred Xavier. Fred lived in Toronto for a while and from what I remember he was very business-like. I always had the feeling that he was only interested in the two blondes and not the bearded guitar player.
That's my connection to Wailin' Walker - or, more precisely, Peerless Music. Hearing Joe Louis reminds me of the time I came along for the ride with an American label head and his A&R director as they auditioned artists while rolling down the highway in a big SUV. I seem to recall they had considered signing Joe when he was cut loose from Verve (was it Blue Thumb?). But they had discovered that his last two albums had not scanned well - in fact, neither made it near 5 figures. Shocking when you coniser he is one of the leading lights of the blues scene - hope he continues to be.
I just realized, I have the distinction of being his neighbour on the Northern Blues compilation CD, The Future of the Blues. He's on a track with Paul Reddick and the Sidemen from a CD he produced for them a while back. I have a song on there from my first CD. It features one of the all time great piano solos from "Professor Piano" Scott Cushnie - equal to anything from Otis Spann or Pine Top. You can order the sampler at the NorternBlues website - http://www.northernblues.com.
Any way, in my (barely)managing editor role, I get a lot of promo CDs and I get to hang around music industry types. I dare say I know many music movers and shakers (disproving the theory that you make it based on who you know).