End of September 2021
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You'll see me getting a haircut for the first time in two years and losing that pathetic pandemic ponytail. Linda Singer is back in town and she brought her scissors. I play my Cape Cod Blues in honour of the occasion and also dig up a tune I wrote back in the 90s and pitched to Liam Titcomb when he was starting out. Also a little stroll up the street to get a taste of old-school R&B and some obligatory noodling in the studio.

End of September

Well, I'm calling this the "End of September" Blainletter (even though it's October).  The last day of September was National Truth and Reconciliation Day and I wrote out some thoughts on that below.  Still nary a gig to promote but I'm happy to see a few venues coming to life. I haven't done a club crawl yet and it will be a while before I do.
After a couple of years I finally got a haircut and got rid of the "pandemic ponytail" thanks to my best ex Linda who made her way up from Cape Cod back to Canada (and they don't make it easy!). I play my "Cape Cod Blues" while submerged by Cape Cod waves lapping the shore.  Then I take a short walk up my street for another driveway concert – this time a pretty tight R & B outfit called the Hip Kings. I don't know how long they can keep this up – it's getting cooler out there – but what an amazing summer it's been.  Too bad I hardly got out of the house :-(
I finish off the Blaincast with a little session in the studio where I'm still beta-testing this most powerful music software called Ableton Live.  This latest update (11.1) seems to have improved the perennial problem of "latency" (a lag in the audio that makes it hard to play guitar) and I was able to avoid (mostly) the overload that causes glitches in the sound.  Waiting for the new Macs to come out then I hope I'll have enough horsepower to do the things I want. And then I dug up an old tune I wrote for Liam Titcomb when he was just starting his recording career (he's come a long way since then).  The song is called "The End of September" and it's a boy-meets-girl in the classroom and I had the feeling that Liam did not want to be singing about school (he was probably just thinking of escaping school at that age). 
Blainreaders will have followed along my adventures in ancestry and the DNA led to my birth mother and a couple of sisters that I've come to know a bit and sadly one of them passed away last week. Lynn was the sister who was most skeptical of this DNA matching stuff, but once she was convinced (with a separate DNA test) she and I had some great correspondence with and some nice long chats on FaceTime and now her son reports that she just laid down on her bed one day and never got up. I think that's how her/our mother died, too.  Seems like a good way to go.
…..but enough of this doom and gloom – we can get back to that.  Meanwhile here's that bit on Reconciliation that I intended to post on the 30th

On Reconciliation

Today is the inaugural "Truth and Reconciliation" Day – now a national holiday in Canada.  That is a worthy initiative, but of course it's just fancy trimmings on a national disgrace. How do you reconcile that 15 or 20 generations ago, a bunch of Europeans came and stole the land from the indigenous people who had been living here since time immemorial. 
In the early days of colonization they slaughtered anyone who defied them but even more insidious was the way they tried to "kill" the Indian in native children in order to make them assimilate into white society.  I suppose assimilation is preferable to enslavement and it's interesting that the colonizers recognized that the way to shape the future to their liking was to start with the kids and imprint them with a new way of thinking.  And to a certain extent it worked.  Many "graduates" of the most reviled residential schools went on to build successful lives playing by the white man's rules.  But so much was lost and so many were damaged.
Imagine how different it would have gone if the colonizers had recognized what a beautiful, respectful culture the First Nations offered.  Their knowledge of natural healing herbs, their responsibility to care for the land and the water and their respect for the elders.  All this knowledge, collected over millennia of living on this land, was just dismissed as "primitive".  And now, after all this time, white people are seeking out these natural remedies, some even delving into native spirituality with pipe circles and sweat lodges (call it appropriation if you will but the end result is kinder, gentler people).
I've often thought (and said) that the only way to change societies that thrive on mutual hatred is to start in the schools and make sure that little kids are spared all this vitriol and taught about compassion and kindness and discouraged from a natural tendency to look for reasons to feel superior to others.  Many will still be instilled with bigotry, prejudice and hatred from their parents at home, but if it's not reinforced in the school system, they might have a better chance to break out of that cycle and bring up their kids with more tolerance, embracing diversity instead of fearing it.
One great benefit to this upheaval is that it is spearheaded by women. So many indigenous women taking on the role of leaders and even in the "Black Lives Matter" movement, it is women who set the tone, and even when they talk tough you know that with them in charge we won't be starting any wars.
In the modern world we have (mostly) overcome theocracy, but patriarchy is just as damaging and any society that is trying to keep women down should be ostracized by the rest of the civilized world until they come to their senses and realize that the "warrior class" is a thing of the past and it is the women who will lead us to a kinder, gentler future.
Here a little bit of obscure Canadian Music History. My old friend Maurice Singfield just posted a video with some of the early tunes from the band we played with in the 70s.  It was one of those "brother bands" where the core was siblings who had been playing together since they were kids.  In bluegrass music they call it "Family Harmony" – the blend that happens when you've been singing together since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.
Montreal's music mogul Donald K. Donald called them the original "D.I.Y" band. We had a lot of good times in that funky basement studio.


See you out there (eventually)

That's enough of my musings. 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,

See you out there, eventually...

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


Still no real gigs to report for this month, but Halloween is coming up so there will be a Halloween on...

Sunday, October 31, 4pm
Halloween Blaincast
(on YouTube and FaceBook)

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 © 2021 Brian Blain, All rights reserved.

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