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October 2020
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The new CD was officially launched a couple of weeks ago but I'm embarrassed to say I haven't done a thing to promote it since then. I just had to take a breather after the launch - you can replay a video of our launch party here  - it includes a short interview, a couple of videos and some pop-up appearances from Harry Manx, Ken Whiteley, David Vest and others who played on the album. It's 35-minutes and reveals a lot about yours truly and the-making-of…
 
Today (Friday) is what they call "Bandcamp Friday" which means if you buy a track or a CD today,  Bandcamp will forgo their commission and all the $$$ goes to the artist.  They do this on the first Friday of every month. You can stream the music everywhere but if you're inclined to buy it, today's the day. Here's the link: www.brianblain.bandcamp.com.
 
Speaking of taking a breather, after 25 consecutive Sunday Backyard and Basement Blaincasts, I've given it a rest but I'll be popping up with a new series of "songs that didn't make it onto the album" and maybe I'll get back to some bluesy ambient electronica from my alter-ego, the Stringbuster.  It will provide a  "meditational" component and I must say I've been spending a lot more time in contemplation and meditation (when I should have been sending out press releases promoting this album :-) I was happy to get some positive feedback about the 10-minute instrumental "meditation" that closes out the album.  I didn't expect it would get any radio play but I think many of my crowd will enjoy spacing out to it.  Brad Wheeler wrote in his review, that it "…goes nowhere in particular – an excellent destination and peaceful exhale."  You can read the whole review here
 
So I could go on talking about the CD (there certainly aren't any gigs to talk about) and I don't want to get too heavy with my beloved Blainreaders, but I've got a couple of friends who are near-death right now, our entire live-music ecosystem has collapsed and everybody around me has reached that six-month "wall" so that even my most optimistic friends are reeling.

Try to take in some live streaming events that are happening all over the interweb these days. Lots of great stuff coming up on the Toronto Blues Society Facebook Page and also Can't Stop The Blues Facebook Page. Most artists are just happy to have some way to get their music out to you, their fans, and even if it's just a guy singing into his iPhone, there's still some kind of live connection happening. You can feel it. You can even chat with them through the comments and help them spread their music by hitting the share button, and of course, you can leave a "tip" if you are able.
 
I would like to put in a word for my friend Alice Brock, who was the first person to contribute to my GoFundMe campaign when I started this recording project and who has now fallen onto hard times herself.  She is, of course, the Alice that I sing about in my song "Another Song About Alice" and who Arlo Guthrie sings about in "Alice's Restaurant". Here's an early Blaincast (2013) when I had a little chat with Alice.  If Alice holds a special place in your heart, here's your chance to chip in and make sure she can keep her head above water down there in Provincetown.  Here's the link to her GoFundMe page
 

The Last Word

The other morning while listening to the new CBC Sunday morning program (we miss you, Michael Enright) there was an interview with an Indian classical musician who was bemoaning the fact that young Indian musicians coming to the west we’re not interested in pursuing Indian classical music or Indian folk music but were mostly interested in Bollywood or pop music.
 
This was a revelation to me even though I should not be surprised because as a resident of Little India, every summer I witness the festival of South Asia which makes no effort to bring in world-renown sitar players in favour of karaoke bands and wedding fashion shows.  But it's *their* community festival and it's the Indian community who will decide the programming.  Meanwhile across town at the Small World Centre, Indian classical musicians are playing for a predominantly white audience. Go figure!
 
But it did make me reflect on recent discussions that have been taking place in the blues community where there's been a lot of soul-searching about the appropriation of blues (ie Black) music by white folks and I even saw a Facebook post by some righteous black blueswoman complaining that gigs were being stolen from her by white folks who were playing her music. And there was even some questioning about Blues Societies that are typically run by old white men - even in the deep south, "the land where blues began."
 
At a recent online "town hall," a friend of mine was chastised for making the statement that it was white people who rescued the blues meaning blues music would’ve gone the way of the dodo bird if it had not been for a small group of blues lovers - mostly white - who took it upon themselves to seek out old blues musicians who had since abandoned a music career and were now working as janitors or labourers and bringing them out and presenting them at festivals and big stages and giving that music a new lease on life.
 
And as I was restoring some old videotapes for the Toronto Blues Society archives I came upon a recording of Jodie Drake who was highly regarded on the Toronto Blues scene in the early days and there was a great quote from her when somebody asked her about Blues; "The blues have to really be felt. If you don't feel it inside…if you have to apply and put it back in… if you have to learn it from the book or record or whatever and then apply it….hmmmm… then that's not really… but if it's really there, inside, then you don't have to…if it's genuine, in your heart..if you have to chase around playing the albums and all that stuff, that means it's going to be a slow process…you're supposed to be able to hear it."
 
That made so much sense to me that you either feel it or you don’t. It’s inside you or it’s not and she wasn't talking about where you come from or the colour of your skin.  That explains why a small cohort of music fans and musicians (mostly white, as it turns out) have gravitated to this music and can't get enough of it. In addition to that, blues music is the ultimate primer for all kinds of music and so many people started out playing blues because it's a very simple form to learn and then moved on to jazz or rock or pop or whatever. "Simple, but not easy" is the expression we often hear. And no musician in his right mind would get into the blues thinking s/he's gonna strike it rich.
 
And much like that vast majority of South Asians in my hood who couldn't care less to hear a master sitar player or see a kathak dancer, most of the black people I know just don't "feel" the blues.  It's not inside them.  Maybe it was before but not anymore so it's left to whoever has a passion for it to play it, promote it and preserve it - no matter what colour they are.
 

Quote of the Day

"The blues have to really be felt. If you don't feel it inside…if you have to apply and put it back in… if you have to learn it from the book or record or whatever and then apply it….hmmmm… "  - JODIE DRAKE
 
Check out the Campfire Cameos on my YouTube channel if you want to see some great moments from 4 years of Campfire Jams with some of the top blues players in the country, and "moi" trying to keep up...  
 
Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to forward this to any friend you think might enjoy my occasional ramblings (and maybe my music, too). These clips 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

The weekly Backyard sometime Basement Blaincast reached episode 25 last Sunday and with all this CD Launch activity, I have decided to forego the regular Sunday thing in favour of spontaneous Facebook Live Pop-ups whenever I feel like it. I'll be putting out a series of "Songs that didn't make it onto the album" as well as my continuing series on "How-to-write-a-blues-song-with-Brian" And I'm sure I'll find other reasons to stream They say you have to be consistent to succeed with streaming. Well, nothing else in my life is consistent...

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 © 2020 Brian Blain, All rights reserved.


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