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August 2021
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Watch the August Blaincast 4pm Tues on YouTube (yes, it is still August)

Here's the YouTube link:

https://youtu.be/eLCCslb-Hgw

The link will still work later if you can't make it at 4.

I shall endeavor to be on Facebook at the same time...Trying something different again.

Thanks to those who have stuck with me as I try to up my streaming game. You wouldn't know I'm a streaming "pioneer" (Horseshoe Tavern, 96 Jazz Festival, Rene Lussier avant-garde thang,13 listeners)

Anyway, nothing I learned back then is any help figuring out the lighting or the audio routing on my current setup. 

Well how was your summer?  Hot enough for you?  The heat didn't bother me but then again,  heat is less of a problem if you just stay relaxed and do…nothing.  Yes, I've been taking it easy. So sue me. I've written a few tunes and you will hear a couple of them if you tune in to the Blaincast on Facebook and YouTube. Yes I've put together another Backyard Blaincast that I'm sure you'll enjoy.  Check it out!
 
I was watching the Dalai Lama on Facebook Live and he was taking questions from a group of students and one young gal stated "this younger generation is not reading books – what can we do to get these kids back in the library?"  I think he surprised her when he pulled out his smartphone and said, in awe, "…with this device you have all the information from all the books at your fingertips…" then he took off his glasses and made a comment how it was also a good thing for people with failing vision, like himself.
 
Well, I've got the failing vision, failing hearing (on one side), failing memory (it never was that good but getting worse), a left hand that seizes up when I play too many chords, and…knees and teeth and you don't want to hear all this...

I'm not taking all kinds of meds and supplements – just letting the body wind down on its own.  I'll keep doing these Blaincasts because I'm still getting a handful of people coming to me and saying they watched and they liked.
 
I've been hearing a lot of talk about how music has been devalued but, in truth, art has never been given its true worth and artists will be the first to tell you that they're not in it for the money. There was a time in the evolution of the music industry when your music might get the attention of some A&R person, and then if you had all the pieces in place, a manager, an agent, a publicist, a PA and a van, they might give you the big push. And those eager A&R guys really tried to sift out the special stuff. Now the only thing special is how many fans/followers do you have.  There is so much music coming out that the gatekeepers and influencers have thrown up their arms in exasperation.  There's no way to hear everything. But you have to be satisfied knowing that there will always be some folks out there who will like what you're doing.
 

Open Letter to D'Addario Strings

Dear D'Addario Strings,
 
I've been meaning to write for decades on behalf of all colourblind guitarists who have trouble distinguishing the colours on the ball ends of your colour-coded guitar strings.  It was much better when the strings were in separate envelopes marked "D", "G"….but I get it. You saved a tree.
 
And now today I go to put on a set of your new line of premium strings, the XT (upon recommendation of JP Cormier).  I figured I would treat my old Epiphone since she hasn't had new strings since the pandemic.  And now I'm having trouble reading some of the text on that package - even after several tries. I think I got it now…it was black on blue.  Just sayin'. 
 
Your faithful client for 50 years, Brian "Colorblind" Blain
Daniel Racine made this stunning video montage of scenes from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. He also wrote the lyrics back in '78 and I added the music and ultimately recorded it on New Folk Blues 2.0 with George Koller, Clayton Doley, Stacie Tabb and Harry Manx in 2005
 

Brian Gets a New Mic

If you knew how rarely I spend $$$ on equipment.  But when it's necessary... and this time I needed a better mic so on my rare outing to Long & McQuade to get some stuff repaired, I decided to buy a mic.  Just tried it tonight and I think I'll keep it.  It's an Audio-Technica, not a brand I'm fond of, but this one was the right price and it's a condenser mic so I tried it and I think it will be fine.  Always looking for a mic that will love my voice and I can't say I found it yet! But I'll let you know how this one works out.

The miracle of streaming

Just watched a livestream of a Keb Mo concert and was totally knocked out. He was playing for a live audience in a place called Beaver Creek. It sounded great, beautiful setting. And I think that was a capacity crowd. No doubt there was some promoter-type insisting that a free livestream would affect ticket sales, but if it's sold out already then that settles that. He is a great guitar player and what a band. I'm re-watching the end because I fell asleep.  That's another wonderful thing about this livestream thang, if you fall asleep you can catch the end later. Now when I went back next day it was set to "private"
 
The thing I remember most about Keb' Mo was when he played the jazz festival, back when we had the marquee tent in a parking lot on King Street (where you now have the TIFF Lightbox). I had been at the Horseshoe, I guess, and as I was making my way back to the main stage, I could hear that the show had started and as I got closer I was digging the groove even though you couldn't tell who was playing, but it sure sounded like a full band but as I got closer I realized it was just a guy and his guitar and his name was Keb' Mo.  His energy is what carried 6 or 7 blocks – I was feeling it.  And then to experience him close up was a marvel. I'm a big fan.
 
I wish I could give you gigs to put on your calendar – Not much shakin,  but I will definitely be popping up online on my birthday, September 11.  I don't know when I'll be out gigging in clubs or halls but I do plan on getting a decent set-up to jam with others online.  The technology is coming together, driven by demand, of course.
 
I've been pushing my hardware to the limit and I've had to keep things pretty slim and trim so that nothing craps out, But it would be nice to have a computer that can handle a little reverb and guitar effects without pushing the CPU into the danger zone.
 
And, as you know, all this boy wants to do is jam!  I've tried JamKazam, Jamulus and a new platform called Syncspace which has finally found the trick to enabling musicians to play together in real time across the internet.  Without any lag or latency (well, it's about the same latency as playing 6 feet apart in the same room). But it does require a fast internet connection and a new computer – and it helps if you're in the same town (though I've seen sessions with musicians in Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto).  Maybe one day we'll jam!
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, www.torontobluesdiary.com.

See you out there, eventually...

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

Upcoming
Shows

I wish I could give you a few gigs to put on your calendar but there's not much shakin...but I will definitely be popping up online on my birthday,

September 11, 4pm
Brian's 75th Birthday Blaincast
on Facebook, Zoom and YouTube
(contact me if you want to be part of the Zoom - or send me a FaceTime greeting I can play)

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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