Saturday, 13 June 2015

Hanging out with Nick Gilder and Sweeney Todd, Upcoming summer shows

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog and I thought it was about time to put fingers to work on the keyboard. In this case, the computer keyboard instead of a synthesizer. A lot of my past few months have been consumed by domestic circumstances. Of course I have still been playing music, but haven’t pushing the BoodAbooM band much as I should. I am still stumbling through the process of changing distributors which doesn’t help. The gigging in the past couple of months has been mostly working with a dance / cover band adding harmonica, guitar, harmony vocals, as well as singing a dozen or so rock cover tunes. It’s been fun and profitable, but I really need to concentrate on other things, like my own music.
Nick Gilder and I before the show.
 I have also been playing a few solo shows lately including opening for Nick Gilder and Sweeney Todd at a pair of concerts here on Vancouver Island. Opening up a rock show armed with only my guitar and my voice was a little unnerving at first thought.  I called the promoter back to be sure he realized who and what he was bringing to the stage. I had been recommended to Brandon of Nightlife Entertainment, so he was glad to have me on board for the shows. It was super cool to throw myself out there in “Billy Bragg” style. The first show at the Tidemark Theatre was huge fun! After introductions from Nanaimo Hip-Hop Artist “SirReal”, I opened with the song “The Answer” from my BoodAbooM album and dove straight into “The Light Within” off the “Choices” album. I kicked out my best, had a great time with the audience, a lot of laughs and a few tears on the sadder songs. I leaned heavily into my up tempo folk-rock / alternative songs from previous releases and a couple of new songs.
Tidemark Theatre

The audience rewarded me with warmth, many applause and cheers. If you’d like to see half an hour or so of the concert click here. If you’d like to see a quick clip from that show, click here to watch “Canada `52” being performed. It was also awesome to hang around with a master entertainer like Nick Gilder for a couple of days. He and the boys put on a fantastic genuine rock show. Nick draws the audience in, shares his music and by the time the night is over folks are dancing in front of the stage like it’s party time plus! At the Saturday show I watched him wander through the crowd of dancers, remote mic in hand singing his heart out. All the while trying to accommodate those trying to get “selfies”.
Before the show in Parksville
Nick’s band was nothing short of amazing. They were energetic and played with razor sharp precision. Longtime stage mate Mark Kenny on bass, former Trooper alumni Lance Chalmers on drums, another longtime stage mate Mike Russell on guitars and keyboards, along with the amazing guitarist Joe Wowk. That band absolutely floored me with their musical prowess. Mike Russell has cloned the Jon Lorde organ sounds and plays like a maestro.  At this point I have to say that Joe Wowk left me slack jawed with his guitar work. I’m pretty sure I heard him do things with a guitar that I’ve never heard before. By the way, groove master Mark Kenny took the picture of me and Nick, that’s no selfie.
I’m doing some solo shows this summer starting with one of my faves, the Lantzville Farmers Market. The farmers market shows are cool because not only are you paid to perform, but it’s friendly and laidback. ( Welcome to the west coast folks ) There is no clock or particular set times to complete. Stop when folks want to chat, sell your merchandise, take requests and gratuities if you can do the song, notes for next time if you can’t. I love these kind of shows and the bonus is you get to go home with some great local grown produce and products in your goodie bag. June 21st I will be starting at 1:30 in Lantzville. Check the BoodAbooM website to find out where and when I’m playing after that. Ok, I admit it. Sometimes I’m a little laxed in getting the postings up. For current information it’s best to follow my “Theo’s Trio” facebook page. I will also be performing as part of the “Donny Boyd and Fine Company” at the Vancouver Island Exhibition held in Nanaimo this August and a few other select concerts.
Before I “write off into the sunset” for this blog, let me toss out a little bit of reality check. We’ve all heard the joke about musicians, “$5000 worth of gear into a $500 vehicle willing to drive 500 miles to a gig for $50”. It’s not a joke, for the right gig it’s true. Having been on both sides of the fence I will assure you that to hire a high profile musical act is not cheap. Here is a link to what some of today’s big stars are asking for when they perform. Here’s what the performers got paid to appear at the famous Woodstock Festival. Santana did the gig for $750. And another income story of interest is the grammy award winning music writer who revealed his royalty statement and talks about the low compensation for online music streaming. Morale of the story is, if you’re going to choose music as your livelihood do it as a labour of love. Don’t take up music thinking you’re going to get rich. If that happens, nice. Just don’t make that your motivating factor, rather submit to the muse and let the music take you to where you need to go.
All that withstanding, I have posted a link on my BoodAbooM website for you to stream and listen to the songs from my two most recent albums free of charge. The link will take you to my CBC based website.
Remember as you wind your way through the path of life that we are all connected, everything changes and you have to pay attention. Wake up, be aware folks, accept the reality of your situation and do what needs to be done. Treat each other with love, kindness, respect and truth. Things will get better that way.
Namaste, Brother T

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Introspective views, self definition and understanding, the song “You’re So Afraid”

We are the composite of our own personal experiences, circumstance, situations and background. Nothing in the universe is static, so what we are will evolve into what will become. Many people define themselves as being this or that. I for example, when asked about myself will usually reply, “I’m a musician”. But of course we are all more than just one thing or the other. A father, a brother, a friend, a husband, and a multitude of other attributes, functions and skills. In the stream of life as we flow along, the achievements, interactions, possessions, accumulate to form our history, but underneath this we are humans and all basically the same. As such we should strive to treat each other with benevolence and respect, loving kindness, forgiveness and due regard for the sanctity of life. Each and everyone of us is trying to be happy. We are all acting and reacting in a manner that we think is best, at that moment, in any given situation. This can be hard to remember when faced with someone who is angry, not willing to listen to reason and no longer is seeking the reality or truth, but rather some form of vindication. If you can remember that we are all the same, you may be able to remember frustrations in your own life and relate in a more forgiving humane manner. Again seeking what is best.

The point of the song “You’re So Afraid” is to remember to not box yourself in. As life progresses, the repertoire of what composes who you are changes. Also, to remember that everything is connected and we are all basically the same. We each want love, comfort, food and shelter. We are bound together with all that is through water, air and this planet earth. We are bound together with the plants and every other living creature.

Tesla said that we are energy and frequency. Einstein concurred saying this was a matter of physics, not philosophy. As a musician I understand that frequency vibrates, it resonates and emulates. This relates to the inner self as your feelings emulate an energy wave. This is how animals discern how to react to you. How it is that you can “feel” if someone else is angry, sad or exuberant, when they walk into a room in a heightened state of emotion. The feelings, the frequency, the energy, the life force within you is the mortar that binds us to the mind, our consciousness, our perception of life and our biomass, our animal nature. Not any of these elements on their own, but rather a balance or blend of these characteristics.

Lets strive to treat each other with truth, love and respect. We can change the world one step at a time.

Until next time, Brother T

Monday, 26 January 2015

Jams, open mics and the ever changing music biz...

During the 90’s I ran a band called Gypsy Heart. We were a country-rock quartet playing primarily top forty “new” country. It was a good time for a hard working band. The Gypsy Heart Band had two collapsed recording deals, played every area festival, bar, dance hall and had a decent fan following. After 6 years as a country rock band and 3 years of playing whatever we wanted, the group disbanded. Click here to see an old video of the band.
The Gypsy Heart Band early 90' and my son.
Many of our engagements would call for 5 consecutive shows or more plus a Saturday and Sunday “jam” at the same venue. Nothing ever stays the same including the music business. As I once heard the manager of D.O.A. say at a seminar, “you have to be like a cat and always try to land on your feet”, it also really helps if you have nine lives!
Over the years and as things evolve, the jams also started to include the “open mic” where basically you can come in and strut you stuff with or without a backup band. Nice concept and a lot of fun for those trying to get their feet wet on a professional stage. From a band’s standpoint, landing a steady jam at a venue is a sweet deal. A regular gig of any kind is always welcome for a musician. Plus it is cool to be able to socialize, mix and mingle with other musicians.
Shelly Dubois Band at a jam in 2009
Venues are really keen on the open mic / jam concept because every jammer, every open mic participant brings along several friends to listen and share their moment in the spotlight. All their friends buy drinks or meals boosting the proprietors revenues. Plus the venues have an opportunity to listen to new bands or entertainers that might be a good fit for their venue. Really a “win win” situation when handled in an honourable way.
That being said, I do take issue with venues that don’t pay or grossly underpay a host or a house band to conduct these events. Most often these are the same venues that never have other musical events, concert shows or dances. At that point one begins to suspect that the motive is to put bodies in seats without having to pay much for the entertainment. Oh sure you have the promise of a free beer for the entertainers or you didn’t have to pay the door charge because you are singing (not always the case), but the six friends you dragged along paid the cover charge and bought a beer each easily paying for yours plus a profit. Lately, I’ve seen several incidents of popular bands building a large regular attendance for “jams”, only to have the venues slash the pay rate, handing it off to those who would work for less. A race to the bottom for working musicians. Trouble is, there is always someone willing to play for less. In a world of fewer and fewer gigs you can’t blame the musicians, although I find the trend disturbing.
Myself and Glen Foster with Donny Ginter Band.
Open mics, jams, open stages, by all means lets support and attend these gatherings. Be sure to also support and attend other music events as well. Dances, coffee houses, house concerts, restaurants with live music and of course nightclub / pub dances need people to show up to keep them viable. It’s easy to confine yourself to a glowing screen and correspondence with friends through the ticky tacky of your laptop or smartphone, but that won’t let you be immersed in the great feeling and vibration of live music. Celebrate life with your friends and others by attending a local musical event. A little research on the web will quickly let you know what’s happening musically in your neighbourhood.
Until next time, Brother T

Sunday, 2 November 2014

What a great summer it was!

Not as much blogging as I had hoped to do this year, but that’s because I have been a very busy musician. Not sure where I left off in the stream of things. Still trying to iron out some of my distribution woes on the BoodAbooM albumThe Answer”. I’m hoping that will finally be resolved before 2015 arrives. Thankfully the album has been well received and is selling at iTunes, as is my previous album “Choices”.
BoodAbooM duo - photo by Ian Johnstone
I gigged my butt off throughout the summer with solo shows, duo and trio BoodAbooM shows, as well as with the band Hygrade playing the manic rock harmonica. Mid way through August saw me playing with the BoodAbooM trio at the Vancouver Island Exhibition and with another band called Donny Boyd and Fine Company during the same event. Wow, what a great day that was. The bands that followed our performances included some of BC’s rock royalty in the form of Chilliwack, Prism and The Grapes of Wrath. It’s hard to believe that one can be so busy in what is considered by many to be the greatest slump in the past hundred years of the music industry. I suppose it’s because while I do expect to be paid for my musical services, money is not my main motivator. The muse of music itself is what drives me deeper and deeper into my relationship with music.
BoodAbooM Trio - photo by Paul Jay
And yes, I said relationship because music is a reciprocal affair, you give and it gives back. A very “Karma” like circumstance between performer and audience exists, as well as being a spiritual / emotional experience at times.
One of the big projects for me last summer was to be the producer for a 12 song album recorded by Donny Boyd and Fine Company. What exactly is the producer’s role in the studio will be subject for a later blog. Suffice it to say that a multi-faceted job of being the liaison between the artist, the studio and the musicians. A thorough understanding of musical theory, songwriting, engineering, arrangement, as well as the ability to source the appropriate musicians for the appropriate tracks all comes into play. Budget and time constraints are always major concerns, coordinating recording sessions and keeping things on track are also of major importance. Beyond all of this the producer should be able to draw out the best of performances from each of the musicians involved. A tall order to say the least, but tons of fun for me. We recorded the project at Wayon Sound with engineer Wayne Veillet. Rick Salt of Lois Lane Studio handled the mastering process. Having played guitar, harmonica, keyboards and background vocals on the album, I earned a spot in the Donny Boyd and Fine Company musician line up. The album “Watch The Pretty Flowers” was released at the 2014 VIEX show. More sessions are lined up for other projects as well, but strictly as a musician for those gigs.
BoodAbooM Trio - photo by Ian Johnstone
The next couple of months will see fewer performances for BoodAbooM while I work on some administrative duties. We are scheduled for a couple of mid-island shows. One on November 22nd at the French Creek Marine Resort in Parksville and another on December 6th at the Shady Rest in Qualicum Bay. Both of these show will be with Marisha Devion on bass and Rich Bazille on drums. New songs destine for the next album are part of the mix of tunes we’re kicking out at these shows amongst my usual mix of unusual songs and rocking faves. For those who can, I hope you can come to the Mid-Island shows this fall. Details are on the website under “shows”.
One of the tasks at hand this fall is to sort through a lot of video from last summers performances to see if there is anything to be posted. A few videos of live performance have been posted on my YouTube channel. Happy Man and Rebellious Fool have been posted from the VIEX show with Wayne Veillet on bass and Billy Hicks on drums.
For those who may be interested, here is an article regarding the “real life” income of musicians. After that you’ll understand why it has to be a labour of love, something you are called or driven to do.
So likely this is the last blog until early in the new year. Remember, love, kindness, understanding and forgiveness is the best approach to all situations. Be good to each other.
Brother T

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A few thoughts and observations from a life long musician

Nothing good in this life comes easy and if it did for you, be damn thankful. I have, during the past several months, been running a variety of shows which included featuring other musical artist. It’s a great way to keep things interesting for the audience that come out to my shows locally and a great way to expose the amazing talent that resides here in the central Vancouver Island region. One of the things that has amazed me is the number of performers that are not very astute when it comes to self promotion. In today’s entertainment business you have to constantly strive to keep up with technology and trends. Learn your craft. That means more than just wood-shedding guitar chops or honing the craft of songwriting. It means learning about all of the aspects of your endeavour. How to maximize on social media, press releases, networking, socialize at jams and open mics, find out what’s going on in your area. I have been amazed that many musicians don’t even know the ropes of facebook!
John T the Drifter AKA John Massop
My two oldest brothers helped me along in the early part of my musicianship, my apprenticeship if you will. Brother John showed me the street level skills required to find gigs, work a stage and an audience. He showed me a lot of things our parents wished he wouldn’t have being 18 years senior to me and being quite the “rounder”. Brother Gerry, my eldest brother, started to give my musical endeavors a guiding hand when I was about 24. I had over 10 years of performing under my belt at that point and showing no signs of slowing down. Gerry saw that and taught me about the “pro” side of music. He was a well respected musical journalist who had lots of savvy and always drove home how important understanding the business side of music was. “When you look at the words ‘music business’ you’ll notice that the word business is nearly twice as big as the word music. Treat your career the same way, you need more than just talent to survive” he would say.
JR and brother Gerry jamming with Chico
Gerry also told me often to think globally and act locally which has proven to be valuable advice over the years. International radio airplay and sales wouldn’t have happened for me without thinking globally.
These days the music industry is changing more rapidly than ever. It can make your head spin trying to keep up with emerging technologies and trends. As a modern musician you have to constantly be searching out not only new venues to perform at, but also keeping your ear to the ground in an effort to understand trends and what’s coming. Yes, maintaining web sites, facebook, twitter, blogs and all may cut into a little practise time. Still, you have to find a way to balance all these elements in today’s music world in order to survive and thrive. The music is the muse and sharing the music is why we all get into this. It is easy to get hooked on that stage time adrenalin, so you have to have a good musical foundation. Without that element, you’ve got nothing. In reality it’s not all that you need. Raw talent on it’s own does nothing to help you through the maze of today’s industry. Everywhere you turn companies stand with their hand out offering to help you for a fee. It seems to be a trend many are using for survival, so be cautious. Talk to others who have used these services before signing up to anything that puts it’s hand in your wallet. Some companies are reputable and will deliver as expected, others are less scrupulous and once they have your money can be difficult to deal with. While no one is an army by themselves and your career will be helped along with the right people assisting you, choose carefully and wisely who you tie yourself up with. Un-doing those ties can be costly and difficult. As my life long friend and ex-bandmate Dennis Olsen use to say, “love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe”.
Until next time, happy gig hunting and trail blazing through the mind boggling maze of the music biz. Brother T.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Music on Vancouver Island, gigging and busy boy...

The previous blog I posted was in January. I can’t believe how time goes flying by. Here we are in March and I’m finally getting a chance to get back to the blog. The first quarter of the year has been a busy one with the “Acoustic Monday” shows at the Queen’s Hotel in Nanaimo and the Hygrade party rock cover band picking up pace as well. Hygrade has done a series of shows at different venues in the Nanaimo area, as well as up and down the island. The repertoire of well known dance and sing-a-long rock tunes played with a wailing harmonica in the mix seems to be going over very well and gaining popularity. Hygrade has shows coming up at the Timberland Pub in Cassidy, the French Creek Marine pub in Parksville and the Cranberry in Cedar over the next couple of months. Dates can be found on my BoodAbooM website. Beyond some recording projects and working on new videos, the “Acoustic Monday” shows have been great fun working them as the BoodAbooM Duo with my friend, bassist Marisha Devoin.
Click here for a video clip from one of the shows. The Next Queen’s Acoustic Monday show is on St. Paddy’s day March 17th starting at 7 PM. Elf Song is on the line up with their penny whistles and Celtic flavour to honour the day. 4 acts for a low $5 cover charge and there is a great chinese food kitchen associated with the venue. Dinner followed by a great music show.

This week I am the featured artist on Tom Lambert’s syndicated show from Ireland which rebroadcasts on over 200 internet and other radio stations. This of course brought a huge smile to my face as it helps the music and the message reach out across the world. What message? That love is “The Answer”. As well, I was asked to write a blog / article for Canadian Musicians. So, remember to be kind to each other and here’s what I wrote about being a musician on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places in Canada to live. Most times the winters are mild, spring and fall are wet but it give folks more reason to go to the night clubs. Summer time on Vancouver Island is festival season, time for the outdoor art shows which often feature music performances as well. In the early Fall the community fairs and exhibitions offer places for island musicians to perform and for others to listen to the abundant musical talent living on Vancouver Island.

Let me enlighten you as to why I think Vancouver Island is a great place for musicians. First off the climate means very little travelling in sub zero weather. Although we do get our occasional big dump of snow, the norm around here is decent travelling weather and reputed to have the mildest climate in Canada. Having literally performed from one tip to the other of this paradise island, I speak from experience when I say the next gig up the street is not really that far away. The entire island is 460 Km long and 80 Km wide at it’s widest point. Vancouver island is covered with vast uninhabited areas which are mostly forest, mountains and valleys. With a decent industrial base, folks do have money for entertainment of one form or the other which always helps the musicians cause. The bulk of Vancouver Island’s 760,000 people live in the greater Victoria area on the southern tip of the island consisting of about 360,000 folks, about 98,000 in the mid island Nanaimo region. Duncan, Courtney, Campbell River, Parksville / Oceanside and a host of other small communities comprise the rest.  Obviously gigs are more plentiful in more populated areas, although for myself being based out of Nanaimo there isn’t a single music venue anywhere on the island that isn’t within a days drive.  Vancouver, being a North American major music center is only a ferry ride away.

We have a thriving music scene with each major community having a host of coffee house venues, pubs, nightclubs and bistros with live music. Rock, reggae, folk, celtic, bluegrass, country, jazz, childrens music, metal and funk, you name it and it can be found on the island. There are more recording artists living on Vancouver Island than I can mention in this blog. Nearly all the larger population centres have first rate recording studios, many of which are so busy they do little if any advertising. We even have our own “Vancouver Island Music Awards” which is a well attended annual event hosted by James Kasper honouring the best of the previous year’s V.I. artist releases. Musical gatherings are happening up and down the island on virtually a daily basis. There are several songwriter circle gatherings, folk guilds, open mics, showcases and jams in nearly every community. A little networking, attending a few open stages and it doesn’t take long for the musical world of V.I. to open up for you.

We’ve had quite a few award winning musicians come from Vancouver Island from Carly Rae Jepson to David Foster, Diana Krall, Nelly Furtado, Christine and Ingrid Jensen, David Gogo, Randy Bachman, Valdy and the list goes on. Many more musical artists of notoriety have migrated to Vancouver Island as a place of refuge and inspiration. Places like Cathedral Grove and Long Beach Tofino are the kinds of locations that are steeped in spirit and offer the sort of environment songwriters thrive on.

There are many relatively unknown stellar musicians on this magnificent island and with a little ingenuity, effort, networking and diligence, everything a musician could want is here. From the weekend rock shows to the bars, night clubs, bistros, coffee houses, restaurants and lounges, there are plenty of places to catch some live music and obviously just as many places to perform. Small, medium and larger concert halls in most communities host music acts from classical to jazz, rock, blues and children's music. During the summer months Vancouver Island blossoms with farmer’s markets, free outdoor shows in community amphitheatres, all of which provide platforms for potential performances as well as entertainment. Come on out to the west coast and join the fun on Vancouver Island. It’s a different pace in a different place, you may never want to leave.

Until later, Brother T

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Wishing you an amazing 2014

Once again, this is my third attempt at getting back to the blog. 2013 has finished it’s run and it’s on to 2014. What’s coming down the pipe for 2014? Who knows which way the wind blows? Tomorrow is after all, just another day albeit January 1st or the 31st. Not that new beginnings aren’t special, I do my best to keep aware that every moment is a new beginning. I have my moments of frustration, times when my annoyance with situations seems to out weigh my ability to stay balanced. When I find myself feeling that way, I try to remind myself that everything changes. One of the basic truths taught by the Buddha is that of impermanence. Permanence is the grand illusion. Hence, the good times never last and the bad times never last. Reminding oneself to stay aware is a little like trying to see the forest when you’re surrounded by trees. Perspective is required from time to time.  All in all I am very blessed to be able to do what I love to do in sharing music and ideas with so many people. Consequently, I look forward to whatever 2014 brings. One needs to stay focused on savouring every moment this life has to offer.

2013 was quite a year starting with great shows like the Red Willow Coffee House, a myriad of private shows, farmer’s markets, dinner shows and pub gigs. The Release of The BoodAbooM album "The Answer - Songs of Theo Massop" complete with video releases for the songs "Run" and "Not for me" and more. "Run" was big fun with the zombie apocalypse theme brought to the table by my daughter Angela and video director Marius Tecumseh von Lohmann. "Not For Me" featured "Pepper the feathered philosopher" giving us the Ok to be different set to a rocking harmonica track. Live performances, other bands and interviews cans be found on my YouTube channel if you are interested. 
Red Willow Coffee House - Photo by Paul Jay
Solo, duo, trio and quartet in the band “Hygrade”. The Hygrade band had a busy fall season as we shifted gears and picked up the pace. In the Hygrade band I play mostly harmonica to favourite party rock songs. Classics to current tunes including songs from the Black Keys and White Stripes which don’t have harmonica in the arrangement. 
Hygrade in action - Photo by Paul Jay
Big fun and a musical challenge for me. My fall season was made extra busy with a weekly dinner show in Nanaimo. I brought in guests for the first 12 weeks and closed the series off by performing the last few shows myself followed by an open mic till closing time. I compiled a video of some of the highlights of my fall dinner show series which covers 19 artist in 6 ½ Minutes. Click here to check it out.

So far 2014 is shaping up to be an interesting year. The Hygrade band has plans to complete a recording project and shoot a video. Tentative shows for Hygrade are in the wind although details need to be confirmed. Gigs will be posted on the BoodAbooM web site along with my other solo and upcoming BoodAbooM shows. January 20th will be my first show of 2014 at the Queens Hotel in Nanaimo. Acoustic Monday’s are proving to be popular amongst Nanaimo-ites. I will be sharing the stage with Jeffrey Randle, Glen Foster and Jupiter Jill. Each of us will make a 45 minute musical offering. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door as well as in advance at Fascinating Rhythms and at the Queen's Hotel. All proceeds are going directly to the artist involved and each artist will have CD’s for sale as well. I hope you can come out and support this event.

Here’s hoping for a great year in 2014. Remember that radical changes never stick, so while the world needs some fixing, let’s nudge toward a better future one step at a time. I’m still a big believer in the idea that if we all strive to be loving, kind, forgiving, truthful and respectful, the world will become a better place. Wouldn’t it be great if we (humankind) could become the first species to evolve by collaboration rather than domination and elimination. Come out to one of my shows this year and let’s share the joy of music.

Namaste, Brother T