Archive for March, 2012

The year without a summer

It has occurred to me- save a week in China- I have not had summer for over a year.   It’s getting me down.  I have been playing Marvin Gaye covers and spending too much time in doors.  I am well due for a good summer.  This summer is especially long awaited, as it will be my first visit back to Canada for a good six or seven years.
First on the gig list is the opening weekend of the Montreal Jazz Festival at Theatre St Catherine. I defiantly want to play Toronto and Ottawa too- which means searching out some good venues.  Booking is perhaps my least favourite part of gigging- right next to moving gear, and navigating an over-packed tour car.  My favourite parts are a) being on stage, b) partying and c) seeing new places.  So despite the challenges, I am glad I got to do Europe (some of it anyway) for fall, and Eastern Canada & NY this summer coming.
In the meantime, it is springtime in London- or almost spring.  And it is just this time of year that I am always anxious for change; chomping at the bit for the end of the long, long winter.


Multiple Drummers and a Ton of Guitar

London has been amazing for simply making me a better musician.  You have to be here.  Unlike Canada, Australia, New Zealand or most of Europe- bands don’t make a cent here.  And I am not lying when I say that it often costs folks to play.  Rehearsal space is overpriced, everything is run by promoters and folks here don’t buy cds.  So suffice to say that many of the talented musos over here don’t (or rarely) rehearse, play in multiple bands and that most ‘bands’ have multiple members depending on who is free on any given night.   There is no member more likely to change then the drummer….
And so it has come to pass that I am often getting up on stage with folks that have never heard the song I am about to play.  Sounds like a disaster?  It actually isn’t… I have gotten very good at picking my set lists carefully and explaining myself on the fly.   The skill that took the longest to master was queuing folks to breaks and endings- it doesn’t seem hard, but I dance like a motherfucker on stage and so the band never knew if I was signalling them or just dancing erratically.   I have now mastered it- not too obvious for the audience but obvious enough for the band.
I am still working on the skill of picking out what exactly I am playing and am going through the process of transcribing my arrangements.  Lucky for me, the rotating group of amazing musicians I am playing with all help out- telling me what key is what- showing me other ways to play the same note on multiple instruments and just being out and out awesome.
So this year, I am getting good at directing on the fly and I am supper supper grateful for all the little lessons learned from the multitude of talented musicians I meet.


2am writing binges

When Con headed back to Australia, I got an opportunity to concentrate on my solo album again with an aim to release it late summer. The truth is, I have just been sitting on all the songs for the next solo album and I can’t wait to get out there and play them.

Where Kit & Con was an exercise in minimalism, this record is anything but.  Beach-Boy style harmonies, layered instrumentals, a host of fabulous guest players AND a chance for me to show off on keys, bass, guitar, thumb piano, nose harp and xylophone.  I had a lot of fun making this new record.
So instead of spending the time getting to know my new city- I spent it holed up in my studio apartment recording… and before I knew it, snow was on the ground.
I hadn’t stopped gigging, but I had slowed it down.  I’m a little bit jealous of artists that have the luxury of  going off to some retreat to do their albums- putting all live shows on hold until such time as the ‘sound is complete’.  As an independent artist, I don’t have that luxury.  I write and record in between work, tours, gigs… and life really.

My dream is to have a ‘writing break’ at some point- go off to Cape Breton in Canada or spend a summer in Poland… just be isolated and focus on music.  But that is a dream so far in the future…

For now it’s 2am writing binges and back up for the day job at 6:30am.