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