Monday, 23 March 2020

The CAL State of the Union

i want to thank everyone for reaching out
so many messages coming in
i started replying individually
then i had to do a format reply
that felt fake
so i’m addressing a few things in this blog

i don’t think we’ll be back in business for a very long time
i can’t imagine a large public gathering in two months
maybe six months
probably more
but even then - who’ll have money to spend?
i hope i’m wrong about this
but as soon as the big sports teams get back to normal
so will CAL

despite the song
i do trust our governments
i don’t believe that anyone will go hungry or get thrown out onto the streets
the change coming is severe
but the humanity of the crisis is starting to take hold
and people are going to be taken care of
it’s a time of trust and awareness

i don’t think we’ll be doing a live broadcast anytime soon
i have been in talks 
and we agree that when the time is right - we’ll do it right 
until then 
we can’t gather
it’s just not responsible
we’re abiding by the protocols and doing our part to flatten the curve

and having musicians all stream together online is extremely problematic
sound and sync
mics and mixes
too many moving parts
it’s classic albums live
not classic albums digital

i do applaud all the musicians that have been doing their thing from their pads
they’re joyous and connecting
i’ll post more of those as time passes
right now my feed is full of living room performances
rob phillips did one with his daughter
they wrote a hit song!
i’ve been humming it all day
i hope to see more of these
they restore our connections to one another 

it’s dark days for us all
and yet
in isolation there is a certain peace
all the alumni are practicing 
and learning things
i do chores and cook and crosswords and compose
i put on some doobie brothers from time to time 
i’m learning french through the duolingo app!
mostly i play guitar piano and sing
while music is not an essential service
we do have a silver lining in that we have our instruments
to guide us through the uneasy unclear path

my mother is a world war two survivor
she was in london
a child 
she was evacuated to the country
where it was rations and drills and uneasy expectations
her stories of this time
filled both my childhood and my adult life
i’ve learned that 
the stiff upper lip can really make a difference
she came through the experience and is living a life full of love and appreciation
so 
i look at that time from the comforts of my home
and reflect on her and my father’s experience
and i stiffen my lip and get on with it
i abide

when the curve disappears
we will all be amidst the roaring 20s once again
people will be warmer and more empathetic 
borders will just be lines on a map - but respected
and the world will appear like a mirror to us

and when this happens
it will be the musicians who will make a difference
it will be our time to share what we have committed to 
we’ll show the way towards love and goodness
we will be harbingers of soul defining life experiences
we will be at our best 
me and my crew
we’ll do it with classic rock

i send love and hope and harmony to anyone who reads this

craig martin
founder 
classic albums live

(glenfiddich with apple and cheese)

Thursday, 7 November 2019

The Lithium Experience


time for change
a new project
the lithium experience
grunge

this show differs from CAL
in that it’s a show

my generation is quick to dismiss the 90s
but the grunge bands brought real change
a sincere shot of integrity
eddie vedder radiates integrity

when grunge first hit
we all sensed the shift
all the silly hair bands collapsed
people became aware
poetry

the lithium experience debuts in florida
the casino on dania beach
jan 4
joe - the cat that books the venue - understands how serious this music is
so we launch in tandem

the band is nicky h kara shain joe colin
with a canadian line up soon to come
perhaps a return to the phoenix!

sirius has a channel called lithium
named after the nirvana song
it’s a fantastic station 
this music is thirty years old now
it still grips

this is a nice time for change
something about a new year
a fresh page

wishing everyone peace and prosperity


craig
nov 7 2019
perrier nuts


Friday, 25 October 2019

Elton John's Farewell to Toronto

i went to see elton on wednesday night
the world’s greatest solo artist
a case could be made for michael jackson or prince
but elton survived
and he shines brighter than ever before

the show was joyous
hit after hit
the cannon fully loaded 
with the band firing perfectly alongside of him

this was my 6th time seeing elton
previously i wore a pink shirt and sat about 7 rows back
after every song he looked down at me and waved and was me sending love signals
later i learned that i was sitting right behind his husband and family!
i thought my pink shirt was a calling card for elton and i to be best friends forever
not so!

but we are friends
i think that kind of success is telling
the audience - the mass of millions - become an entity
and that entity is loved by elton
sincerely
a couple times throughout the evening
elton addressed the audience
and in a casual way - radiated love
it was deep, profound and warm

for the record 
he has said goodbye before
all the greats do it
it allows them to close a chapter 
grow
and move on
we allow for it
because like family
we are understanding and forgiving
and happy to have them back in our lives
but old elton - he’s a sly one
he’ll pop up here and there in the years to come
the light just finds him
he can’t help it

elton is a player
a serious musician
his career is garnished with garish
but his heart is that of a musician
that night he made the piano his bitch
and he made the piano his baby
he’s rock’s greatest piano player 
we use the word ‘awesome’ without thinking
elton is an awesome musician

vocally he was strong and emotional
connecting to lyrics that were written for him decades ago
he didn’t phone anything in
he worked hard 
professional
his falsetto is gone - vaporized on 100,000 microphones
but he’s more committed to what he sings now - than ever before

he was somewhat all alone up there amidst the circus
he drew us in 
during levon i thought of my son
during daniel i thought of my father
during rocketman i thought of bandmates
i went back to a time long ago 
when his songs were currents running through my life
guiding streams of beauty
educating me 
challenging me
flickering notes on a road
that i wished would run on forever

craig
oct 24 2019

orange juice and a power bar

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Troy Feener

woke up to this email from troy
troy and i go way back
i first met him in the early 90s
we joined the same band 
and wound up together in dubai for 3 months

i get a ton of drummers emailing me
looking for work
and i wish that i can accommodate them
but we have a troy feener
he puts in the hard work
and likes to hang out and get his groove on post show

800 shows troy
good work old freind

I have charted and performed 52 albums!!!

Yes - Close to the Edge, The Yes Album
Pink Floyd - Animals, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall
Queen - A Night at the Opera
The Eagles - Hotel California, Their Greatest
Pearl jam - Ten
The Police - Outlandos d'Amour, Regatta De Blanc
The Doors – The Doors, LA Woman
U2 – The Joshua Tree
Nirvana – Nevermind
The Who – Who’s Next
Supertramp – Crime of the Century, Breakfast In America
Led Zeppelin – I, II, In Through the Outdoor
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Prince – Purple Rain
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic
Deep Purple - Machine Head
The Beatles - Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road, White album
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Janis Joplin - Pearl
Boston - Boston
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
Bob Marley - Legend, Exodus
John Lennon
Van Halen - I
The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed, Some Girls, Exile On Main street, Sticky Fingers
Best of Woodstock
Saturday Night Fever
Elton John -  Greatest Hits
Paul McCartney - Band On the Run
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
ACDC - Back In Black
The Allman Brothers - A Decade Of Hits

Tom Petty - Damn the Torpedoes


craig 
oct. 20, 2019
starbucks coffee orlando airport

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Summertime Rolls

i’ve been streaming summer
in real time
lots of sun
and i’m happy that i’ve been social
concerts and dinners
chats with strangers about my dog
interaction is the new currency

we did our first boat cruise
with the CAL zep band
it worked!
maybe more of these going forward
nick walsh and myself are not sailors
but we were even on the horizon
and enjoyed a barf free day
funny bit - nick - mid song - pretending to puke over starboard
nick hildyard’s the same way
something about the name
i must ask nicole
and i’ve resolved to start calling everyone in CAL nicky

the upcoming CAL season is getting tricky
we’re growing so fast
a nice interaction with tom barlow - he did the cruise with us (he’s great!)
he said that he knew of lots of musicians
who all spoke about how great a gig CAL was
that made me feel  good
it’s nice to know that other players regard us like that
perhaps our paths will cross
it’s tricky with cats that write their own music - tom’s won junos!
but we’re a safe place for musicians to dock 

chalking up the air miles this month
in and out of airports
i used to think it was exciting but the routine is…
—no - it’s exciting
alex once said she likes airports because adventure awaits
i feel the same way

saw the stones about a month ago
very pleasing
at my age the bonus came in the form of VIP parking
we zoomed in and out
the stones were great!
glad they’re still at it
i hope to be shuffling off to a pub to play when i’m in my 70s
hell - dez manages just fine

the stones shows and rehearsals have been good for the soul
my body kicks into a memory 
and once the light hits
i thaw
and melt away hesitation
it’s always good to keep a foot in the game
it reminds me of how much work it takes to do what we do
troy told me that i belong on stage
he’s usually right about things
we’ll see

and soon we’re off to san diego to do a few pepper shows with the symphony
this is important 
we know how to do this
and plan on many more symphony shows
in some ways - this is the future of CAL
even without an orchestra
we’re our own orchestra
the modern day orchestra

in canada 
the four seasons are distinct
but summer’s the sweetest
it’s difficult to imagine our streets blanketed in snow
but not too difficult
brrr
as if it wasn’t hot enough
i’m about to land in florida
100 degrees baby
have a little sympathy
have some taste


craig
july 28, 2019
vegetarian mushy airplane food and coffee


.







Tuesday, 9 April 2019

16 Year Anniversary

16 years ago today
CAL started
dark side of the moon was our first show
dez and steve butler played that show
and are still with me today

in fact
many of the musicians from the phoenix years
are still with me
i don’t think we’ve changed
but when i look back at the photographs
i see little kids

we’ve done so much
shared this music with so many
it’s a life

what we do feels true
there’s so much noise and misinformation out there
i don’t get caught up in it
i look back at all the bad advice people have tried to impart on me
unnecessary steps
i’ve stopped going to meetings
we know what we’re doing
i don’t need to hear about how should capitalize on social media
or target demographics
or build a brand
i hate that term
brand
it just sounds like a buzz word used to remove people from their money
it rings false with me
we’re a band
an orchestra
actually 
we’re more of a family

never before has a generation been this passionate about music
never!
my parents generation liked music
but it faded and fleeting
today’s pop is fine
but it’s here today and gone later today
just look at the charts from 5 years ago
time has passed and things have changed
CAL represents music that endures
and will continue to accompany us all through and around this mortal coil

after 16 years
i’ve learned a few things
this past weekend 
we had 37 musicians on the road
that takes a lot of planning
my sister handles most of that kind of thing
i love her so 
15 years ago she asked me if i wanted some help
i said okay
and with that she helped grow CAL

and grow we did
it’s getting big
and i’m giving more musicians work
here’s a copy of the email i send out to new musicians
i’m sure i shouldn’t be sharing it
but i’m a doors are open kind of guy:

WELCOME TO CAL

listen to the album
learn the album
play the album
love the album
that’s it

note for note
cut for cut
tone for tone

groove onstage
but never grandstand
avoid tired old rock cliches
govern yourself like you are in an orchestra

don’t be frightened by alex’s snorts

wear black
and look as cool as possible
put comfort before style
don’t let fashion inhibit your show
shine your shoes
no colours
no logos
dress like a pro 
and make sure boge gets you a CAL water bottle for stage
no plastic baby

we don’t talk to the audience during the album performance
and during the 2nd set - the outro set - only sparingly
we never talk about anything that relates to the outside world
no politics / sports / new events / 
never anything like ‘hello cleveland’ or ‘are you ready to rawk chicago!’
that’s not our style
the core members know how to relate to the audience 
if you’re new to CAL - just stand back and smile

always compliment nick walsh on his hair

keep an eye on your booze intake
and be ready to hang out post gig
we like to hang out
we maintain a family vibe

if you’re having a problem with a part
seek help
start with rob phillips
he’ll point you in the right direction
we’ve all been there
and ask to have that part run at soundcheck
we want you to be great

never talk politics with nicky

if you start to incur expenses in order to make the show
let us know
we can help
we’re very pro-active in making sure your experience is a happy one
and if you need an advance - just ask
we’ve all been there too

don’t let mia confuse you

try and get each other gigs outside of CAL
i really like this part of our tribe
everyone getting each other work
that’s the good stuff
and if you have a better paying or a more important gig
let us know with as much time as possible
and we’ll work around it
we’ve all been there too
the doors are always open
we don’t carry grudges
we just want you to make money and be happy

ask nicole to make you a hat

if you have a bad guitar cable
throw it away
you’ll never fix it
just get a new one
you’ll sleep better

try hard not to start your own version of CAL
it upsets me when this happens
and it makes me rumble 

feel free to kick rick vatour out of your room at 2:00am

take care of each other
after 16 years we’ve all grown quite fond of each other
the toxic traders have been weeded out and replaced with givers 
CAL is a nice place for social interaction

and always take a moment to enjoy the moment
what we do is the stuff of greatness
we have something special
take it in
and reflect on your career and how far you’ve come

boge can fix anything 

make sure we get your family on the guest list
and bring them backstage so we can say hi 
and then rush away to tear down your gear quick
remind your guests that you are at work

never share a monitor mix with mark

make sure to eat well
it’s probably chicken for dinner
but we’re working through that

and learn to love the stones
as i don’t like people who don’t like stones

i’m looking forward to working with you
welcome to CAL
you’re at the top of your game now

craig


.

that’s how we live
that’s our vibe
go ahead and steal the above blueprint
and start your own version of CAL
but you’ve got to have heart 
if you don’t feel it in your heart
and just want to make money
you’ll fail
and the audiences will know
our audience can smell a phoney a million miles away

that’s true with most things in life
back in the day i skipped an important exam
just to hear ‘don’t fear the reaper’ on the radio
i have always been that passionate about music
i still hang onto the hippie credo of the 60s
and think that music can change the world

it took a long time to figure this all out
i’m not sure how we did it
i think it had something to do with blind faith
once i had the idea for CAL
i was like a zombie
i maxed credit cards
cashed in savings and inheritance
exhausted lines of credit
i never left the house without a bundle of flyers
i worked and worked 
i had two sons
i never stopping to pause
somehow it worked out
i think because i cared so much
it’s funny - because i still feel like we’re just starting

when i do interviews
i often get asked 
what advice i have for anyone starting a new business
two things i have not been very good at: relationships and business
so i tell them
run your company on a high point rewards credit card
pay off that card every month
then use the points to upgrade to business class
and pursue love at all costs

16 years gone
a tattoo of truth on our invested careers
a life shared with our version of the holy trinity
the musicians
the venues
the crowd
we all care about this music
we all care about each other

so please join me 
in wishing CAL
a happy anniversary

craig
april 10, 2019

jack daniels and ritz crackers

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Forward

i’m a mess of a man
there’s a lot wrong with me
as there is most of us
but i’m trying to work through it

it’s been just over 2 years since my son passed
i’ve been trying to hold things together
for my son and mother and sister and partner
but now i need to get myself strong
it started with physical training
and now i’m moving towards seeing a shrink
to get my brain healthy

funny thing
i’ve reached out to 4 different shrinks
and once they asked why i wanted to get shrunk
they passed
as if it was too big a task
i was troubled at first
but now i think this is funny
and i think lucas would think it was funny too

last night
i connected with my oldest friend 
and we headed out to brampton to see the queen show
it was great
and i was happy
because everyone onstage takes care of me
in a deeply profound way
i realized that i’ve been absent 
and in my absence
these fantastic musicians carry the torch
compassionate people all
perhaps they don’t even realize it
but i do
and that feels good
it thrusts me towards building more shows
with more musicians
man
that feels really good

once home
i wandered down the road to my local pub 
and ran into doug - our lighting tech from massey hall
we chit chatted 
i returned to my seat at the bar
and he wandered over
and thanked me for the work i was doing with the canadian cancer society
no one has ever done that
we shared stories
brief yet heartfelt
and then 
heading home
it came 
my knees buckled
and i let it go
alone on carlton street at midnight
weeping like a baby
all from a little flash of meaning

i think it’s about forgiveness
that’s as close as i get to clarity
i’m living through extraordinary circumstances
and running a company all the while
i question everything
i start by looking for the fault in myself
and radiate out from there
this is starting to work
and moving me forward towards healing

that and music
what else is there?
maybe a book
maybe a movie
but you can move with music
take it with you
let it be a bandaid
a declaration
a piece of ID
a fashion
a lifestyle
soar

we’re going through a time 
where music and love are the only true things in our lives
everything else seems like it’s attached to an agenda
an agenda that just wants to remove you from your money
we get lied to
we get identified and marketed to
processed

but when i get my headphones on
and walk through an airport with springsteen playing
i feel strong
when i get in the car and switch on the beatles channel
i feel happy
when i put the pretenders on my turntable while i’m cooking dinner
i feel smart
and when i go to a show
and sit in the audience amongst people
who all grew up with this music
and the musicians walk on stage and shine
i feel alive


craig
february 24, 2019

coffee and apple slices