I had skipped the music conferences last year - maybe the last couple of years (it is so different from the roots music scene and jusrt served as a reminder of how insignificant blues, folk and even jazz are in the big picture of commercial music). This year, I got a media passes for me & Joel and we've both been taking in a lot of music for the last couple of days. Unfortunately my media cred ladder does not go as high as the revered Massey Hall. I had requested a media ticket for the Blind Boys show tonite and got a big "sorry". Then Jesse, the programming guy suggested he would keep me in mind but I guess I would have had to keep bugging him and I would have hoped one bug in his ear would be enough... Then I get a message this afternoon from someone who is better at getting Massey hall tix than me saying he though he could fix me up. As I headed out of the conference, I went by MH and asked if there was a ticket for me at the Box Office but alas no tikie. I poked in at the stage door thinking i might see a friendly face but all that confronted me was the ornery IATSE gatekeeper. Then I'm walking back to my car and run into Danny Marks who tells me he's MCing and invites me along but at that point I was worried about gettin g a ticket so I passed on the whole idea - and sure enough, I reached the Buick when the ticket guy was only a couple of car-lengths away from a $30. ticket.
So I didn't get to see the Blind Boys or Susan Tedeschi (I hope she played some guitar...she only sings on the new CD). There was so much music to see, though. On Thursfday I heard a few bands but they all kind of blended together. Tonight at the Silver Dollar I saw some bands that had a real character of their own, but my "discovery" of the week-end is a band that was playing downstairs at the Comfort Zone and they are not even listed as a Music Week venue. This band had great energy and I asked what they're name was and I think it's "Sweet" something...Before that, I swung by the Phoenix and the place was packed like sardines. Couldn't figure it out - 3 bands, none of whom I've heard of. They were very professional and "ready for prime time" and harkened the motivation talk I attended earler in the day.
The speaker was Tom Jackson (no, not the Canadian actor/musician) and his message was simple: all roads lead to the stage. That is where you will be making the bulk of your income and in fact that is where you will make or break the whole thang. It is that direct connection with the audience that Tom called "moments". The audience doesn't remember songs or what you were wearing. They remember how you made them feel for a brief moment in time. He talked about the importance of the stage show and was incredulous that a band would spend 6 months writing the songs, 6 months preparing to record and then 3 days rehearsing for the tour. What's wrong with this picture? He talked about your visual appearance on stage - you don't want every song to sound the same...why would you let them all "look" the same???
Anyway, that whole "moments" thing struck a chord with me. I think I instinctively knew that and was still flush from having had many wonderful musical "moments" at a couple of gigs lst week. One at a performance at the Shalom Village, a seniors residence (3rd time back there - I love it...and so do they) and then as a special guest at Rita's Parlour, a house gig hosted by Rita di Ghent. She played some piano with me and I backed up some of her tunes on the guitar. It was a magical evening, anyone who was there would surely agree.
I dropped by the office (which is right by the Phoenix),I flipped on the TV and there was Paul McCartney discussing the "slaughter" of seals with the premier of Newfoudland on Larry King Live. Danny the premier stood his ground but McCartney's argument was quite persuasive. He said the European boycott of lobster and other seafood from Canada would immediately be lifted and hundreds of millions of dollars would start flowing again. I thought he might just take out his checkbook and offer to pay the difference to all the fishermen who would be financially hurt if they made sealing illegal.
In the afternoon, I attended a FACTOR information session and asked about the final payment I just received from them - they deducted the ammount of my donated services because I didn't include a receipt to me from me. Thet assured me it could all be adjusted. I just hope I haven't lost her card - I've got to call that girl on Monday.
There was a "celebrity interview" with Allan Parsons - legendary engineer on the beatles' Abbey Road album. He talked about how the synced up the 4-tracks and how after the rhythm tracks were recorded, John Paul and George would come in separately to work on their songs. And Ringo would poke in every day and ask "Does anybody need me today?" then leave...
There was another celebrity interview that I missed and I think it was Bob Lesfetz who did the interview. I've been regaled by his Lefsetzletter for the last month or so - this guy has a lot to say about the music industry and he doesn't pull his punches. When I asked the publicist if he was still in Toronto, she offered to set up an interview and maybe I'll get to talk to him tomorrow. If you want to subscribe, go to his website lefsetz.com. Here's a sample of one of his recent tirades:
"If you're harvesting e-mail addresses to blast hype of your bullshit production around the world boy are YOU delusional. To quote Seth Godin, we now live in an era of PERMISSION MARKETING! Or, in the vernacular of the Web, PULL not PUSH!
Be nice to me. Say why I should be interested. Ask permission. And then I'll probably treat you with respect. But when you bombard me in your scattershot manner, me being roped into a group with zillions of other faceless people, I get PISSED OFF! At YOU and EVERYTHING YOU'RE SELLING!
Make no mistake. This isn't just about me. It's about EVERYBODY! STOP FORCING YOURSELF ON PEOPLE! IT JUST DOESN'T WORK! Put up a quality site. Put up GREAT music. ASK your friends what they think. If they LIKE IT, they'll spread the word without you even asking." (end of Bob Lesfetz tirade)
Two other observations from my evening out: They should make those laniards for the passes a dark colour because white like they are they glow like crazy in the clubs where there's black light. As if the badges were not flashy enough! And did you know when you buy a Whopper meal at Burger King, it comes to $6.66. I propose they reduce the price by one penny to $6.65...