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August 2022
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You're Invited

Hello Friends.  I'm going to have a big birthday bash on Sunday, September 11 at the newly renovated Redwood Theatre which is just down the street.  Last year my plans for a big 75th birthday got shut down by you-know-what so I'm calling this one Brian's "I'm not 75 Anymore" Birthday Bash. I sure hope a lot of you folks who I haven't seen in almost 3 years will come by and say hello.  The theatre just installed new AC/ventilation system and offers state-of-the-art audio-video production. And there's a patio as well.

A lot of great musicians will be joining me to celebrate my 30+ years making music in this town - players who encouraged me and helped this blues newbie from the hill country of Quebec navigate my way through the Toronto blues scene.  Lorraine Ingle was half of Blue Willow, the first band to hire me as a sideman. There was not a gig or a rehearsal with Terry Wilkins that did not teach me an important lesson. Roberta Hunt's love of New Orleans music infected me, Raoul Bhaneja invited me to be part of one his theatrical projects, and Mark Sepic showed how you can be a musician even when you don't have an instrument at hand. Paul Reddick played on "Overqualified for the Blues" CD and Steve Marriner played on the title track of my most recent CD, "I'm Not Fifty Anymore."  I'm sure there will be a few surprise guests, too.  The rhythm section is my dream team - Michelle Josef on drums and bassmeister George Koller who just mentioned to me that he'll be playing with the Eagles at the Budweiser Stage for the two nights before our party (as part of their string section). Gab Lavoie and my son the DJ, Joel Blain, will join me at the end to demonstrate some of the ambient electronic music I've been messing with in my new incarnation, Stringbuster.  We will provide the "exit music"
 

Kitchener Blues Adventures

When I turned sixty-five, I loudly announced that I was retiring from the music business - though I would continue to play when invited. For the first five years I got just about as many gigs as I did when I was hustling but since then it sort of fizzled out...and then the pandemic hit!

Lst year the Kitchener Blues Festival folks wanted to try to keep some kind of music happening so they created a mini-festival in the clubs and I was invited to play one of those clubs. It was the best paying solo gig I ever had but it had to be one of the worst gigs of my life. Just as the show is about to start, a very rowdy group of young folks came and sat at the big table that was right in front of the stage. There must’ve been eight of them and they hadn’t seen each other in a long time and they never shut up - The whole evening was me struggling to get across to a couple of other tables that were trying to listen.
 
So I felt awful after that and I and it encouraged me to pursue my side project, Stringbuster, which would be an all-instrumental electronica ambient bluesy kind of a show with no stories, no vocals, no chitchat… just some kind of ambient bluesey sounds perfect for an audience that really wasn’t interested in listening to me.

So this year I said I would be bringing my all-instrumental electronica project and they went along with it - and wouldn't you know it, the club we played on the Friday Night had a loud, rowdy table once again right in front of the stage! And this time we just played some long ambient jams and let them talk amongst themselves. No problem!
 
Then towards the end of the night, somebody shouts "why don't you sing something!" and I got them singing along on "Have a Toke" – quite a-propos since they had a big fat doobie on their table waiting for a trip to the parking lot.  But even then, I wasn't  halfway through the song when they started talking amongst themselves again. Sheesh!
 
But this time I let them talk as loud as they wanted and I didn't give a whit!  I left that gig with a big smile on my face.

The next day we were playing on the street in the scorching mid-day sun and I got such a sunburn that it hurt to smile.  I was out of commission for a week. 
 
But I'm back in the saddle (figuratively) even though my allergies have kicked in big-time, I can't drive long distances, I can't schlep around that Fender amp. I have issues with my skin, my eyes, my ears (on one side), a left hand that seizes up a right knee that gives out on me now and then  and I can't be more than ten paces from a washroom. Other than that, I'm good.  Thanks for asking. 

Now you know why I called it "A Celebration of my Life – While I'm still here to enjoy it"

If you're in the area, please try to swing by and say hello.  After all this isolation, I need to see your smiling face!

See you out there (eventually)

Thanks for reading this far. I see that the Blainletter gets opened by hundreds of people but not sure how many read through it. But I always seem to hear from someone or other that they enjoyed it and that's what keeps me going. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These bits and more are always available on my blog, www.torontobluesdiary.com.

See you out there, eventually...

BrianB, aka Butch, Nappy, Shaker, Two-Lane Blain, Colorblind Brian, Stringbuster, Buddha of the Blues

Shows

Sunday, September 11  7-11pm

Brian's
"I'm not 75 Anymore"
Birthday Bash

with lots of musical guests

The Redwood Theatre
1300 Gerrard St E.


Tix $20 at theredwoodtheatre.com
Proceeds will be shared by the musicians
(but no one will be turned away for lack of funds - it's my birthday, after all)

For this album, I wanted to bring attention to the water crisis that is affecting 3 billion people on the planet. "Water Song" is a pretty dark "ear movie" with a global vibe provided by Sadio Sissokho (kora) and Harry Manx (mohan veena). The haunting vocals are provided by Ruth Mathiang. "I'm Not Fifty Anymore" kicks off the album with a little tongue-in-cheek  humour and some fine harp playing from Steve Marriner.  “The Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)” and “You Are Also His Son” were recorded with Julian Fauth and Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild.  “Blues Des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)” is a leaving-home barrelhouse boogie “en francais” with David Vest pounding the 88s. Patrick Merner added some bass & synth, and Clayton Doley overdubbed some organ from his studio in Melbourne, Australia. Ken Whiteley played some lap steel on "You Are Also His Son", Jesse O'Brien added some piano and organ to "The Mother I Never Knew" and drummer Michelle Josef provides a solid backbeat throughout.  Some songs end with extended jams (because I loves to jam) and the last track is a ten-minute acoustic soundscape with Michael Jerome Browne from the last day of recording my “Overqualified For The Blues” album years ago in Montreal. I call it “Tai Chi Ten,” …because it’s just the right pace and length for my Tai Chi set, but it makes for a fine meditation even if you aren’t moving.
 
 
Track Listing
 
 
1. I’m Not Fifty Anymore  3:07
  feat. Steve Marriner
2. You Are Also His Son  4:52
  feat. Ken Whiteley
3. Blues des Cantons (Goodbye Sherbrooke)  4:22  
feat. David Vest & Clayton Doley
4. The Mother I Never Knew  3:55  
feat. Jesse O’Brien
5. Not Worried Blues (An American Dream)  3:37  
feat. Julian Fauth
& Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey from Downchild
6. Water Song  5:26  
feat. Harry Manx & Sadio Sissokho
7. Tai Chi Ten  (A Meditation)  9:54  
feat. Michael Jerome Browne

mixed by Margaret Stowe at Ozworld Toronto
mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal
art direction Linda Turu
photography Margaret Mulligan
design Keijo Tapanainen
 
Copyright © 2022 Brian Blain, All rights reserved.


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