Good Friday! This was a first for me. I've played in churches before but never as part of the religious service. But the good folks at St. Timothy's Anglican Church wanted to integrate some blues into their Good Friday service an I got the call.
I just went up to Itunes and dialed up Rev Gary Davis, listened to the short samples of many of his blues/gospel tunes and found a few that I knew instinctively, though I hardly remember ever playing them. It was a very moving service, with the readings from the bible interspressed with short "tableaus" of scenes from the Passion of Christ and my bluesy tunes. I wish I had let the audience know ahead of time that they were welcome to sing and clap - but alas, no one did.
Last week, they were talking about the passing of Mitchell Sharpe, a very influential minister in the time of Pierre Trudeau. Many reports related his passion for classical music and I was remembering playing a gig at "The Bay" department store - I think it was with Terry Wilkins on bass and Carrie Chesnutt on sax. We were jammin' away at the foot of the escalator, right by the shoe department, and there was this older gentleman sitting off to the side taking in a large part of our set, and then he showed up again later. Terry though he was Roland Mitchener, former Governor General, but when the gent came up to say thanks for the music, we realized it was Mitchell Sharpe himself - and now we know that he was a blues-lover, too.
My friend R who works at the Canada Council, dispensing grants mostly to classical musicians but spreading it around a little more, recently, came to town with his guitar and recorded a demo of some great new songs - right in my kitchen. We got Paul to come over with his Neumann mic and his big ears and we got a great sound. I'm sure those songs are going to travel well and I hope he can give them a good shot even though he's got a very demanding day gig. And I think I've noticed that it's harder to be accepted as an artist if you're working behind the scenes in the music industry, though I'm sure there are exceptions. The music scene is not much of a support system, even for those that work in it - some would say they "eat their young", even.
After the recording session, we headed out to hear Lance Anderson & Mike Sloski's gig at the Dollar. Not a great turnout but fabulous music. Lance is a master of the organ "footwork" - ie bass pedals. Looking forward to playing with him and his full rig sometime. Nick Blagona, who recorded their album, was there and I asked him if he might have a good copy of "Dont Forget Your Mother" the recording I made in 1973 - because he was the engineer on the session. Frazier Mohawk, who produced that session, thought I should dig up that old chesnutt and send it to the Radio stations for Mothers Day play. I was hoping to get a Mother's Day gig - I want to call it Brian Blain's "Don't Forget Your Mother" music and craft show. If it doesn't come through, I'm going to find a way to do this myself, some other year...Meanwhile, I'll send out a few CD's and we'll see if anybody plays that crazy track. It might even get me a little press - it's worth noting that I've recently been contacted by someone who working on a biography of world-renowned drummer Jim Gordon, who played on the session and later killed his own mother.
My very patient record company president, Fred, had asked me a couple of times if I had noticed that I got a thank you on the new Taxi Chain album and I finally pulled out that booklet to take a look and I went through a long list of thank-yous but I did not know what he was talking about because my name was not there. And I wondered why it ever would be, because the only person I knew in the band was the bass player, Joe Burns. Anyway, as I thumbed through the booklet I saw in the liner notes that Fred had written an introduction where he referred to me insisting that he come with me to hear this band at the Rivoli which is where he "discovered" them and ultimately, signed them. It makes me sound like some super-fan, but I had only seen them play once or twice and I didn't even meet the leader, Grier Coppins, until later that year at the Maple Blues Awards. So now, I'm waiting for the stampede of up & coming blues bands to beat a path to my door so that I can use my influence to get them signed...
Aplogy of the month: To the House of Blues for screwing up their listing. After they went and bought a full-page ad in MapleBlues for the Blues Tour at Hummingbird Centre, I listed it as Massey Hall. What was I thinking? Now I'm never going to get on the list for that show!