We have a wee contest going…..by submitting your email address you’ll get a free download of the title track off of “Sing in My Meadow” (due for release on Oct 18th) and you’ll also be eligible for a whole bunch of groovy prizes. Click the “Free Download and Contest” box on the right side of the your screen for more info. Enjoy the music.
WWE’s Smackdown came to the ACC in Toronto last night and me and Margo, my two youngest, and Margo’s son Ed, were all in attendance. It was a great night of scantily clad babes, greased up beefcake, too loud music, low and high drama, overpriced merch, pyro and more pyro and lots of great athleticism. We saw Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Shamus, Sin Cara, The Miz, R-Truth, Beth Phoenix, Chris Stratus, Daniel Bryant, Cody Rhodes, and too many more to mention (my fave wrestler these days is CM Punk but he is currently on the Raw roster so he wasn’t on the bill). To top it all off it was Edge Appreciation Night. As you no doubt know, Edge had to retire last year, after Wrestlemania, as the reigning Heavy Weight Champion, because of a on-going spinal injury. Edge is a proud Torontonian and so we gave him a big send off last night…yes, there were tears. I love the WWE. Margo and I decided that getting to a Wrestlemania has to go on our must-do list. I guess we’ll need to do it before the kids get too much older….then again, maybe we’ll save it until were in our 60’s and we don’t have the kids as an excuse to attend…keep it weird and surreal.
About five years ago I was doing some recording with a friend of mine when she happened to mention a young woman that she had come across at a few open mic nights at a café that she frequented. She had gotten to know this young singer and was really impressed with her song writing and her underlying spirit. She asked if she could bring her in to our studio so that I could have a listen to her. The singer’s name was Ivy Mairi and she was in her last year of high school. Ivy had no experience with recording studios and had little experience outside of those open mic nights and singing with her family. I was blown away by her voice, the way it was both fragile and powerful at the same time. And I was stunned by the sophistication of her song writing. So we decided to do an album together. Despite Ivy’s lack of experience in the studio she had a very definite idea about how she wanted to represent herself on record. We made a very simple, almost naïve, album, which highlighted her voice and blossoming song writing skills. After we released the album, Ivy went off to university in Montreal. She was undecided as to whether she wanted to truly pursue a life in music. About two years ago she slowly made her way back to Toronto and found a music community that she could grow with, started writing songs again and found a few musicians that shared her vision.
Early this year she walked into our studio with a couple of friends and played me a few things that she had been working on and I fell in love all over again. Later we talked about what she wanted to do with this album, about how she wanted to present this batch of songs as a band and how she wanted to expand her sound, her singing style and her song writing. And I think that, with Lucas Gadke on bass, Matt Bailey on guitar and Mike Brushey on drums, she has done just that. On No Talker there are still the wispy folk leanings of her debut album represented by the delicate East Of The Don and the desolate Bruise, but there is also the fully charged Neil Young-styled No Talker; the bewildering and explosive Kenyatta; the rockabilly rave-up of Scar and the stunning, soul-laced I Can See You. This is a very young artist fully in command of her talent, surrounded by some excellent young musicians. I was very pleased to be the one to push the button, sit back and let them do their thing. Take a listen, and if it makes you feel good…buy a copy…share it on Facebook…tell a friend…we need to help young talent survive…we need things that make us feel good.
In September 2001 we were on tour in Florida. On the 9th we played the Carefree Theater in West Palm Beach, we talked after the show with JP and a few others and then headed off to Tampa for a day off and then a show scheduled for the following night, September 11th. Needless to say the show didn’t take place. Am I alone in feeling that our society has become a whole lot nastier, baser and less inspired over the past ten years? Maybe it’s just me, maybe disillusionment is just part of the natural cycle of getting old, but then again, perhaps we have lost our way, just a little.
Here is the tour diary that I posted that day and the diaries from the following few days: days fraught with fear, anxiety and confusion. Here’s hoping that the next ten years gets us back to a place of mutual respect and empathy and, dare I say, tolerance. Yep, I’m definitely getting old.
Sept 11 (Tampa Bay)
What a horribly strange day. If you ever had any doubt that the world can be a frightening place, I would guess that doubt is now gone. Welcome to the new millennium.
We spent the day wandering from TV to TV, exchanging knowing glances and a few words of dismay and solace with strangers.
The gig was cancelled very early in the day by the promoter. I understand the decision and it probably wasn’t even in their hands: it looks like all public gatherings, no matter how small, have been cancelled. I am of mixed feelings about the decision. There are times when you want to be with other people just to be reassured that the ground beneath your feet is still somewhat stable and what better way to do that than by gathering to listen to music. It’s got to be better than watching those fucking airplanes slam in to the side of the Trade Center again and again. But I suppose that if I were at home I would prefer to stay inside and just hold on to my children.
Tomorrow is another day, but I have a feeling that this sick feeling in our stomachs is not going to go away anytime soon.
Sept 13 (Gainesville)
A very difficult night for all involved. These past three days have been hard on everyone. It has been especially tough being away from home. It’s not like there is anything that can be done there, but human instinct makes one long for the security of the familiar: parental instinct makes one anxious to be with ones kids. Coupled with this longing to be home is the fact that for three days we have been holed up in our hotel rooms unable to escape the replaying and rehashing of the minutia of this atrocity. Without a doubt we need to try and get back to a routine of normalcy, to shake this malaise. We need to start playing music again. Unfortunately, the gig tonight is at The Brick City Music Hall.
I have often bitched in this diary about shitty rock clubs. They are everywhere and every city has at least one and we’ve played a lot of them. But this place is beyond that. It is downright dangerous and should be closed up immediately. Portions of the roof are caving in, parts of the club have no electricity, including the bathrooms, which have lamps standing beside the sinks with extension chords running across the wet floor and up the bar where they have been plugged in. All of the toilets in the woman’s washroom were clogged. There are open power outlets all over the club. One patron walked in and immediately called the fire department to try and get the place closed down. The inspector showed up, but had been properly greased so he only issued a couple of warnings. As well as the place being downright dangerous it is unbelievably filthy. When you walk in you would think that the place has been abandoned for a few years. It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to anyone who performs there or pays to attend a show there.
If you live in Gainesville you should start a concerted campaign to get the club closed down. Call the fire department, the building inspector and the health inspector until they do something about it. Somebody is going to get hurt in that building and I think that we have all had enough hurt to last us for a while.
We apologize to those of you who had to subject yourself to that shithole and we appreciate your determination.
Sept 14 (Birmingham)
We spent a pleasant day in Birmingham. The hotel was in Five Points, the same part of town as the venue. Five Points is an old suburb of Birmingham, which these days acts as a center for clubs and restaurants and second hand retail. You know the type of area, kind of upscale, kind of downbeat, a little something for everyone.
The venue itself is a rock club that we have played once or twice in the past. Not a bad place at all when compared to the dump in Gainesville. The PA was a little suspect and the light board blew up a few minutes before showtime (leaving us with two lights for the show), but we’ve seen the bottom and this was far from it.
We were looking forward to the gig tonight. It was a beautiful day and we are all still trying to find some solid ground. Talk of the “what’s to come” dominates our conversations and leave us all uneasy. A good gig would be a very welcome salve. Unfortunately, tonight was not a good gig.
Tonight’s audience reminded me of the Athen’s Georgia crowd that we bumped up against during the Waltz Across America Tour. Drunk, loud and obnoxious. There was a moment during “Close My Eyes” that there were three women in front of the stage talking so loud to one another that I couldn’t hear my guitar. I realize that for many in attendance it was probably the first night that they have been out since Tuesday and there was a real need to blow off some steam. But I question their choice of doing so at the expense of those who had come to listen. My apologies to those of you who were there to enjoy the music. It must have been as frustrating for you as it was for us.
We desperately need a good show.
Sept 15 (New Orleans)
House of Blues to the rescue. There is this running dialogue between bands and audiences about whether the expansion of the House of Blues concert club chain is a good or a bad thing. I agree that the corporate, cookie cutter approach to anything associated with music always has to be eyed with suspicion. But it only takes a few shows in a row at some of the rat infested holes that we have played in over the past few nights to make one appreciate the emergence of the House of Blues on the rock n roll landscape. The clubs are clean, the equipment is excellent, the staff is professional, the dressing rooms are comfortable, they feed you well, they pay you well and the sightlines are good all over the club. From our perspective they are a welcome addition to the live music scene.
We had an excellent show tonight and the audience was there to have fun along with us. I think over the next few weeks people are going to start to emerge from their homes and seek out ways to celebrate life. Seemingly insignificant acts that fill our lives, like having dinner with ones parents, watching a baseball game or listening to some live music will carry with them a peculiar sense of joy. It’s sort of like taking water for granted until you are dying of thirst and then every drop that you drink becomes heaven sent. We are not going to be able to, nor should we, forget this past week’s horrible acts and horrendous loss of life, but we are going to need to find ways to carry on. We need to cut through this numbness and rediscover at our core the innate joy that comes from celebrating the minutia of living, if for no other reason but to remind ourselves of how precious those 5,000 lost lives are. As my three year old daughter is fond of saying, “Dance for beauty, dad, dance for beauty!”
Sept 16 (Houston)
There is only one word to describe tonight…….fun. We had fun, the audience had fun, our crew had fun, even the security guards had fun. There was a police officer side stage all night and whenever I looked over at him he was wearing this enormous ear-to ear grin (Pat said that he bought three CDs from the merch booth after the show). It was an incredible night. I haven’t seen this many smiles since I was at home a few weeks ago and watched my kids and the neighborhood kids romping around the playground. It was like that tonight, a whole bunch of big kids romping around a playground. What a relief, what a release, what an overwhelming, beautiful feeling.
I don’t even think we played that well, from a technical point of view, but tonight it was all heart. And given a choice between heart and technique, I’ll take heart every night of the week. Needless to say the audience was fantastic: receptive, warm, rowdy, loud, respectful and fully charged.
This was a memorable night for us. I think, tonight, all of us in the club climbed the first rung of the ladder out of this dark hole into which we’ve all been cast. Perhaps, all over the country people are discovering the strength to begin that long climb towards daylight. Keep on climbing folks, keep on climbing.
Ivy Mairi has a new album (No Talker) coming out on Latent. It isn’t officially available until October, but in the meantime it will be exclusively available through Ivy’s site, later today. Ivy also has a CD release gig at the Dakota tomorrow night (Thursday), so come on down if you are in the area. I’ll be blogging more about the album in the next few days.
So that’s it for another Summer. I must admit it has been a rather spectacular sunny season up here in the North East and I’m very sad to see it go. For those of us with kids, September is really the start of our year and we here in Junkie-land have quite a full one on the horizon. We’ll be releasing Sing In My Meadow (Volume 3) on October 18th (lots more to come about that in the next few weeks); we get back on the road with a European tour in November and follow that up with the start of a North American tour in February; we’ll be recording and releasing Volume 4, The Wilderness, over the next few months (lots more to come on that); there’s also a new Lee Harvey Osmond record in the works and we’ll be releasing a new Ivy Mairi album this week (more to come on that in a couple of days). 2012 will also see the release of the Nomad Series book (which is going to be freakin’ fantastic) as well as many, many more goodies. So stick around, check back often and spread the word.
Although I spent most of this beautiful summer locked up in our stinky studio, I did get the opportunity to spend some time on a lake (which is what summer should be all about). And I managed to hook a really, really nice sized small mouth bass, on a lake on which I have never caught anything bigger than my toe, so my summer was complete. Photographic evidence below….(and for those of you who care about these things, I let the big guy go…..). So I’m ready to rock….let’s get this year underway.