Monday, 30 July 2012

Interstellar Rodeo: Lost Together

Edmonton, you may have a new legacy to be proud of. But instead of Gretzky, Kurri and Messier, your dynasty just might be lead by Six Shooter Records.

The inaugural Interstellar Rodeo took place at Hawerlak Park over the course of the weekend, to much fanfare. They welcomed guests such as Randy Newman, Gillian Welch, Hawksley Workman, Richard Buckner, Jason Plumb & The Willing, Blue Rodeo, Cadence Weapon, Wagons, Jenn Grant, Shakura S'aida, Whitehorse and many more. Oh, and The Beauties. ;)

It was nice to witness a city embrace such a varied playlist of styles. People came in droves. I really think this is the way more festivals need to happen in Canada. If your programming sticks to one specific genre of music, you really alienate yourself from discovering something truly inspiring. You don't have to look any further than Guelph's Hillside Festival to realize this is the truth. Good music is good music, no matter what genre. If it's played with conviction and honesty, I could never speak ill of it.

A fresh and open ear keeps the soul anew.

This is where Six Shooter succeeded.

We played a tight and spirited set to a responsive audience who was trickling in to see headliners, Blue Rodeo. I like playing to an audience who aren't really familiar with the band. But by the end, everyone was singing "Devil Do". Mission accomplished.

If you read my last blog, you remember that Anna (our bassist) cut her hand open on the handle of a rented amp. Basically, she missed her window to get stitches, but still pushed on though the sets. Thankfully, the cut wasn't near the fingers that do all of the walking. Painful, still. A trooper, that Anna.

It was nice to see Luke Doucet & Melissa McClelland as Whitehorse, finally. Their re-working of Passenger 24 had an increase in intensity that was appreciated. I look forward to hearing new material from this astonishingly talented duo.

As always, a show with Blue Rodeo is somewhat of a love in. Michael Boguski joined us on keys for a couple of songs, and chilling with Glenn Milchem is always a pleasant time.

Sadly (for us), Jim Cuddy called us up to sing the last song of their set, and one of my personal favorites, "Lost Together". Unfortunately, we had already left to set up for our perfomance at the afterparty. He filled me in on this at The Pawn Shop, where we were performing for the vollunteers. I've sang and plaued it with them before, and am always honored to be asked up with them.  He understood why we had to leave, so all was forgiven. You don't want a surly Cuddy on your hands, friends.

It was great to see Greg Keelor, Colin Cripps, Bob Egan and Bazil Donovan, too. Truly a Can-Rock supergroup that I am proud to look up to.

Our evening ended with us setting the dancefloor afire at The Pawn Shop. Wagons shared the bill, again. I get the feeling those Aussies are having a blast. I am also pretty sure we will be seeing more of them down the road. Great blokes.

As I write this, we are travelling to Camrose to play the new Bailey Theatre with Serena Ryder. Back home, tomorrow. Wherever that is...

Link arms with love.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Calgary Folk Fest: Day 2

Calgary. You have to love a city that has separate streets for public transit.
We started yesterday by playing a rousing set of 100% Beauties gems on stage 4 to a large crowd of folk fans. I think people enjoyed the change of pace, as we were one of the more "rocking" bands. At first we thought we might get rained out, but just before we hit the stage, the sun burst through the clouds. Thankfully.

After our show, we were part of a workshop with The Barr Brothers, Serena Ryder and Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. Wow. A remarkable myriad of talent.

(It should be noted that Colin Linden of BARK first inspired me to play standard-tuned slide many years ago, when I saw them do a secret show at The Horseshoe Tavern with Bruce Cockburn under the name Bambi & The Deerhunters.)

We all went song for song for a couple of rounds. Serena has performed and recorded with BARK several times, and played like old friends at a campfire. It was and honor to have all the groups playing along with "Play With Fire" while I sang and manned the keys. Hearing Tom Wilson's deep sub-tenor voice and Colin's unmistakeable slide work under my voice was possibly the highlight of my summer. Colin has played on some of my favorite records.

The Barr Brothers lead the last "jam" of the workshop: a beautiful re-working of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down". Jud let me play his Gretch alongside Colin Linden. Double slides. I didn't want it to end, frankly. A perfect finish to a stellar set.

The great part of festivals is meeting up with other bands on the road. Jon Langford (of the legendary Mekons) is always good for a larf. As is Pokey LaForge and his band of misfit cowfolk. Junior Brown and his band showed us that you don't need a kick drum to deliver the country-fried goods. Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel showed us what NOT to do, by insisting the cameras on mainstage were off during his performance. I had never heard of someone clearing out 16,000 people before, but here we are. Bravo, pal.

Anyway, our mainstage performance with Serena Ryder was very well recieved by the capacity crowd. I still get teary-eyed when we get a standing ovation. I hope I never lose that feeling, ever. I am very fortunate that I get to do this. However, I don't consider myself lucky. I worked very hard to get here. Fortunate is the word I use.

So, off to Edmonton we go, playing Six Shooters' Interstellar Rodeo with Whitehorse and Blue Rodeo. Yet another stacked playbill.

Poor Anna (our bassist) just cut her finger open on a rented Traynor amp. Shawn just bought some Barbie band aids, and she seems to be in better spirits now. Barbie. Is there anything that gal can't do?

Music has never been a job to me.
It's hard work, but will never be a job.
It completes me.

Lastly, I would like to thank the thousands of readers who have already read these blogs. I am humbled, and thanks to everyone for spreading the word.

You actually gave me something to cry about.

Hold the hand of health.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Calgary Folk Fest: Day 1

Calgary. Surprisingly cooler in temperature than Ontario. As you may have read in my last blog, Calgary Folk Fest is very dear to my heart. We just played our first of 4 shows (3 tomorrow).

Our workshop consisted of us (The Beauties), Little Scream (from Montreal, fresh off the road with Beirut), The Barr Brothers (also from MTL) & The Magnetic North (Calgary).

The Magnetic North hosted, and did a fine job of leading the other bands through their material. Actually, every band did a great job of doing just that. Therein lies the biggest challenge of a workshop: choosing the right material that everyone can follow. Otherwise, it can become a jumbled mess, quickly. I played drums with TMN, and really got to dig in to their pop-in-a-blender sound.

The Barr Brothers were easy to enjoy, with their soft-yet-seasoned delivery. Their use of Pump Harmonium, Harp (yes, they had a giant harp on stage), and wild percussion (Waterphone anyone?) made for a myriad of tones and flavours. Plus, the song they dedicated to the late, great, Lhasa (who, evidentally, helped start the band) was nothing short of breathtaking. Oh, and their drummer SMOKED. Tasty chops to spare on that guy.

Little Scream was a pleasant surprise. They were essentially a female singer/guitarist, another guitarist, and a drummer. Air-y, thoughtful, angular pop; not unlike Beach House, The Cranes, and my favorite, My Bloody Valentine. Actually, comparing anyone to MBV might be the highest compliment I can give to a band. Yet, Little Scream maintains their own sound. I found them to be the least "conventionally accessible" band, but that's what made them so special. I anticipate great things from this crew.

I felt we more than carried our own, hammering through Devil Do & Without You with enough guitars to cripple the front row. The crowd responded positively, so, I guess we did something right.

I'd like to take a moment and say how greatful I am that Anna Ruddick is playing bass with us. Stepping into a position with a 5 year old stomping, clomping machine like The Beauties is no easy feat. I really feel like we are growing together as players, and with every show she gets better and more adventurous. I can't wait to get her singing more. She has been more than we hoped for. Thank you, Anna.

Tomorrow, we play 3 shows, including a mainstager for 16,000 folks with Serena Ryder. Not too shabby. Uhh, wanna buy a cd? ;)

Until tomorrow, friends.
Hold your heart high.
(Oh, did I mention Charles Bradley is playing at my hotel tonight? Bravo to The Weston!)

PS: Check out the Star Wars Lego rock concert someone made at the Artists Liason at The Weston. The little soundman is so cool!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tour Of Beauty: Wax Giddy-otic

Canmore. Mountain air. Last night's show was a glorious event. Wagons from Australia proved to be funnier than I had anticipated. I liken them to Nick Cave, if he had a sleeve-worn sense of humor. Great group of fellas, too.

The Communitea Cafe was more than accomidating, providing us with lovely, fresh food and smiles galore. Thanks Marnie, Erica, Mike and Rose.

Today, we travel to Calgary to enjoy a couple of days off. However, Calgary Folkfest is already on, and if I have to spend a night watching Beruit, Charles Bradley amd Chris Issak, well, I guess that will suffice. ;)

I haven't been to Calgary Folk in many years. I recall meeting Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle at the same time there. That will probably never happen again. Also, jamming gypsy-jazz songs I wrote with Jon Jourgenson of The Hellecasters (and some guy named Elton John) while bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs nodded along was a memory I won't soon forget.
I asked Jon, "Who are you here with?"
Jon replied "Earl Scruggs".
I then gushed about how much I wanted to meet him. Everyone around us started laughing, for a reason I wasn't privvy to. I recieved a tap on my shoulder, and an old hand was then outstetched in front of my guitar.
"Earl Scruggs. Nice to meet you."
He had been sitting beside me the whole time we were jamming.
He told me he enjoyed my playing, and I joked about how I wanted that statement in writing.
It was a meeting that will forever be etched into my thoughts.
No matter how much Wild Turkey made its way into my bloodstream that day (thanks, Carolyn Mark).

So, in lieu of these memories, Calgary Folk 2012 has it's work cut out for it. It will be nice to see Charles Bradley and his band again. Such nice blokes.

The night of our Saturday performance on the main stage finds us going on after Junior Brown (of git-steel infamy), and just before Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Revival is one of my favorite all-time-cry-my-face-off records.
Listening to: Only One And Only by Gillian Welch.

Thanks for reading.
Kiss a friend on the forehead.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Tour Of Beauty: Day 2.0

Travel Day. There's not much out there in this great world that can visually top the clouds in the Canadian prairie sky. More often then not, they hardly look real, almost watercolour. Mind=blown.

I am looking forward to playing in Canmore tomorrow. The Communitea Cafe seems to host some great acts, like our friends Jen Grant amd Royal Wood. We are sharing the bill with Wagons, an Aussie band who is on our label, Six Shooter. I don't really know their stuff, but I look forward to meeting them. I'm sure some great music will follow.

If there's one thing I love about mountain towns, it's that they almost always have a great coffee shop with a nu-hippie, organic ethos. I can't wait to explore the town in search of one. Nelson is pretty hard to top for this one. Bring the bean, Canmore!

Listening to Radiohead's "In Rainbows", en transit. Our tour manager Reuben (we poached him from Timbre Timbre for this run) has great taste in music. This band is thankful for him.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Tour Of Beauty: Day 1

Fort Macleod, Alberta. A lovely little town, home to the South Country Folk Festival, a small but spirited fest.

We were about 3 songs into our 60 minute set when the power went out...I don't think they saw our brand of high octane rock coming. After a few minutes of backstage deliberations and possible buck-passing, the power came back on. The air is very dry out here, so water is crucial to holding notes. Thankfully, the staff and vollunteers were armed with all things quenchable. A beer mysteriously made it's way beside my kit during the set. Nice touch. The crowd were enthusiastic, and certainly so when Shawn took his Theremin solo.

It was lovely to run into Miss Quincy and her sweet band, The Webber Bros., Scarlett Jane and other various Ontario ex-pats. The nearby river was freezing, but great for bringing down the core temperature.

Now, we are in the town, relaxing. Off to Canmore tomorrow. But first, dinner at Johnny's which was praised by folks on my Facebook page. Everyone has eaten here. From Randy Bachman to, er, Randy Quaid!
(see pic).

Until every show like it's your last.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

All your place are belong to us

So, The Beauties just finished playing Yonge & Dundas Square in our fine city of Toronto, and I was astounded by the amount of support this city provides us. Thank you to all who attended. It's nice to spend an evening with a couple thousand friends. The band was on fire tonight. I'm so proud to be in this band with my friends.

Tomorrow, we rehearse with our friend Serena Ryder, then head to Alberta to play the South Country Fair. I am looking forward to seeing some great acts, and meeting with old friends. Oh, Alberta, indeed.

I am especially piqued to be playing in Canmore with The Beauties. The backdrop of one of Canada's most beautiful areas. I feel fortunate that I am able to return there. Last time I was there was when I was playing with The Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir, at The Drake. Afterward, I went up to The Canmore Hotel ( The Can-Ho, to the locals) and jammed on guitar with a local band all night. What a glorious slice of Canada.

Thank you and goodnight.
Hug something.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Welcome, Crybabies

Since people were constantly asking if I had a blog, I have decided to start one. Thanks to my dear friend David Vasey for designing it, and my website,
I am hoping to give you all insight into the crazy musical world I live in. There will be travelling tales, photos, and even some video. Being the luddite that I am, the latter will require some patience ;)

Today, I am off to throw some ideas into the pot for Andy Kim's new recordings. (Note: for those who don't know, Andy is the guy who wrote Sugar, Sugar for The Archies, plus many other huge hits, and who is also my dear friend. I am the musical director for his band, too). My friends Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) & Ohad (Do Make Say Think) are at the dials, and I am looking forward to working with them again.

Tomorrow, The Beauties play Yonge & Dundas Square from 8-10pm. Free outdoor show. Tell everyone!

Saturday, we leave to Calgary to start a 2 week run of gigs in Alberta and beyond. Check for all of the dates. We are coming for you, Canada.

So, that's my first blog. How's my driving?


Test from phone