One Night at NXNE

I have mixed feelings about these music conferences but this year I decided to get my media accreditation and take in some music. I didn’t realize till after I got the pass that I was only going to be able to use it on Thursday because I was in Hamilton on Friday and Young’s Point on Saturday. The latter is a gig at an outdoor concert, a one-day festival, as it were. So for those of you that are following my blog (and I want to thank Russ K and Barry and Rosie for mentioning that they look me up once in a while). I’m sure there are two or three others. I think I’m going to broadcast this Blainletter because I have a little something to promote:

This Monday at 1PM, on CIUT-FM 89.5 and, they will rebroadcast the Motherless Day Concert I did with Harrison Kennedy at Free Times (highlights).

It was a special evening, I hope this show can give you a bit of the vibe. I want to thank all the “friends of Brian” who came out to that and other gigs. Here’s a couple coming up:

June 24 – 6-9pm GreekTown Stage, Danforth & Logan, Toronto Jazz Festival
June 25 4pm Distillery District, City Roots Festival
July 8 Wintergreen House of Pancackes, Haliburton
July 11 9pm– The Red Guitar Art Bar
July 22-23 Home County Folk Festival, London
August 10 Free Times Café

And since I’m sitting here typing I’ll trell you quickly the rest of my NXNE crawl. It got off to a slow start, my body didn’t want to go anywhere and I was curled up on the couch so I missed the first couple of acts but I got downtown by 11 and made directly for the Rivoli, even though my ultimate destination was the Fox & Fiddle where I wanted to hear Yukon singer-songwriter Kim Beggs. She had a nice soft touch (a contrast, I thought, to her day-job as a carpenter.

I get out of my car on Queen street and the first music I hear is a busker on electric guitar across the street. As I get closer I realize he’s got a lot of pedals going – I threw in a buck to help cover the cost of the batteries. He was playing “Let the Good Times Roll” a la Stevie Ray.

At the Rivoli there’s a huge lineup. I’ve got my badge in my pocket but I’m not sure what to do so I take my place in the line. The I see a fellow badge-wearer – he’s taling on his cell phone – sounds like he’s talking to someone who’s just outside. He tells me they’ll call for badges first when they start to let people in (ie when some people come out). I
Saw somebody with a badge breaking through the crowd so I jumped in his wake and followed him to the front. Anyplace but Canada, somebody would have made some comment – or worse. Interesting though, there was obviously a badge greater than ours, because a woman came in waving it and the le her right through into the back room.

There I saw a band from Winnipeg called Waking Eyes and then a little later another Winnipeg band called Floor Thirteen. They seemed to have a lot in common, though an aficionado would probably tell me how intrinsically different they are. They both had a loud punk quality but I felt after seeing that little flurry of new, young bands that they were paying attention to vocals. They seemed to have some real good snging (and they would both push it to a shriek now and then. A little taste of Winnipeg. Refreshing. Some cynics would say “we’ve got a hundred bands in Toronto that can do that” but I don’t think a Toronto band would have it so worked out.

I swung into the Horseshoe where I hear a bit of a very heavy band called Priestess while I made my way to the Fox and Fiddle to see one of the few roots shows I could find. – No lineups for the roots, I’m afraid. I left after hearing a couple of songs from Michelle Rasky – the young woman who bieat me out for ther OCFF Songs From The Heart competition. Though after hearing her song, I did tell her (and mean it) that she deserved the win.

The last stop was going to be the Silver Dollar where I just hear it was an “R&B Horn Band”. Well, it was an amazing set – certainly a festival highlight. They’re based in Berlin…called King Khan. Just like being at a James Brown show. Definitely a festival highlight.

Tip of the Day; Go to and find the Spade Cooley footage

Apology of the Day: Two this time, it must have been that 666 thing because this all happened on June 6. First to Bonnie Raitt for getting the venue wrong in MapleBlues (the cover, no less). The next apology is re: The Downtown Jazz newsletter and it might not have to happen because I’ve corrected the mistake and tracked down most of the bad copies. I had written up a little blurb about how a certain local jazz pianist had “saved the day” at last year’s jazz festival, except I attributed to the wrong piano player. It reminded me of the time I wrote up a little blurb about the “late” Tracy Nelson - I had her confused with Sandy Denny. The (barely)managing editor strikes again!

Anyway there’s a few gigs, as you see above, and more great reviews on “Overqualified For The Blues”. Just got an envelope full of them from the lovely Betsie Brown, my publicist in Memphis…if I ever get Stateside. Apparently Senator John Kerry is proposing an amendment to go easy on musicians entering the US. But that’s a story for another time.