Monday, 30 May 2011

A Certified Fool

t shirts
i should be selling t shirts at the shows
i'm a certified fool
i'm missing a golden opportunity to make some extra scratch
what kind of an entrepreneur am i to squander this lash for cash?
how will this bode at the 'entrepreneur of the year' question period?

there's zero rationale behind this
my gut says run
my head says run
and my heart says don't waste your time - put on some springsteen

we had T shirts once
lost a bundle on it
i would go to the shows and just give them away to kids
i liked that

i imagine there's some kind of board out there that oversees business
and they call on certified fools like me when opportunities are squandered

Board: Mr. Martin - why don't you have advertising on your web site?

Me: I dunno. The vibe just ain't right.

Board: Mr. Martin - you could really be lining your pockets. The kind of web traffic you're getting could manifest itself into substantial earnings.

Me: I know. But it doesn't feel right. This is not our music. This is the people's music. I know you all think I'm nuts but a T shirt isn't going to be viewed as a very forward thinking marketing tool. I hate marketing tools. I think most marketers are tools.

Board: That's not the way the real world operates.

Me: Who said anything about the real world?

Board: We suppose your 'book' is to be regarded as forward thinking?

Me: Yeah.

Board: And when will we see this 'forward thinking book?'

Me: Well…I…Uhm…

Board: Case closed. No further questions.

we've all been hustled and pounded on so much
i just want people to come to the shows
that's all
connect to the music
save your T shirt money and go out and buy the album for your kids
it's such a grab for cash these days
there's a crassness to it all that forces me to confront my own duality
my music lover side vs. my business side

up to now we've done very well without T shirts and web banners
i see no reason to change that
it would be an honour to sell t shirts that led zeppelin dropped off for us to sell
i wouldn't even want a cut
i'd do it for free
for the association

Board: Mr. Martin, you're insane.

monday may 30, 2011
mum's homemade fruit cake with butter and milk (melk)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My Fishing Trip with Bob Dylan

i enjoy listening to bob dylan's music
a couple times a week i'll put on an album side
and drift away while doing chores or making dinner for the boys

i've read a lot of books about bob dylan
i find them very boring
i was excited about the greil marcus one that just came out
shari got it for me
i keep reading it and falling asleep
it's like watching the golf channel on a sunday afternoon
i keep thinking that i should write my own book about bob
but i got nothing to say
at least nothing that i'd feel comfortable sharing with other people
what's the quote?
something to the effect of 'writing about music is like dancing to architecture'

i got to wondering how bob was spending his 70th birthday
so i phoned his head office
and invited him to come fishing with me
i got a call back
and they politely declined
so i headed up to my friend rob's cottage by myself
and prepared the dock for a mid afternoon boat ride to a honey hole i know

the motor on the boat took a few pulls to get going
it was an old mercury
i primed and primed it
but it still wouldn't start
i was distraught over how much effort it took to simply get the boat afloat
"you're flooding it"  a voice over my shoulder said
it was bob
he'd made the journey after all

"i'll let it sit a minute and try it again," i said

"nice country up here"

"you're in the kawartha's," i said, "not quite as chic as the muskokas. I prefer it. there's cottages here - not condos."

"i can see that" said bob. "you need a new dock."

"i know. my kids keep getting splinters on this dock"
still - there was no immediate plans ever spoken about getting a new dock
i sat in the boat and gazed out across the water
the sun was beating down on bat lake and it was getting too close to mid afternoon
i knew fish took a lot of coaxing to bite at this time of day

"try it now," said bob

sure enough the mercury choked itself to life
we creaked our way into the boat and headed for the honey hole
it was only a short jaunt across the water
bob was fixing his line with a bobber

"what kind of bait you using" i asked

"the grandkids got me this lure for my birthday'" said bob

"it's pretty shiny for this time of day"

"we'll see"

"what's in this lake?" asked bob, squinting as he surveyed the water

"perch, sunfish - maybe we'll get lucky and catch a bass"

"any catfish?"

"yeah'" i said, "but we have to paddle up a creek and it's too hot for that"

"yeah -  i guess," said bob, "i've only ever caught one catfish"

"what'd you use?"

"a piece of cheese - the fish took it right away!"

we sat in silence for a while
bob let his bobber sit patiently in the water
while i cast out different sides of the boat

"my friend, des, and i write songs that we think you'd write - we take historical figures and put them on different modes of transportation"

bob almost smiled "yeah? like what?"

"like 'mozart in a go cart' or ' a coup de ville with cecil b demille' "

"sure, why not? but it's been done. you got anything to drink?"

i had packed a small cooler with some drinks and some packages of crackers

"yeah thanks - that's a good name"



we fished a while longer
i caught the same sunfish twice
bob reeled in a small mouth bass
but nothing worth keeping
the sun was heading west and the fish were heading east
it was nice to do nothing but sit in a boat

"you voting for vancouver?" i asked

"in what sense?"

"nhl! hockey finals! stanley cup!"

"yeah - okay - i'll vote for vancouver. I like canada a lot - so why not?"

"what sports do you follow?

"i like baseball."

i nodded
who doesn't like baseball
doesn't matter what the circumstances are
everyone can swing a bat

we sat on bat lake a while longer
we could hear a radio come and go from the far side of the lake
"that sounds like…"

"hoagey carmichael" said bob. "he's great."

we listened to the song weave in and out of our hearing range
there wasn't much wind
but what little there as greatly affected the audibility
somehow hearing the song in broken pieces was better than hearing it whole

"you want a packet of ritz?"

"no thanks. but i got a hankering for some french fries"

"i got some mcCain fries back at the cottage - i could heat 'em up."

"well, i don't know, it's getting late and i should get going soon."

"back to your house in ireland?"

"no," said bob, wincing a little, "we're doing a family thing on the west coast."

my line jerked "hey! - i gotta bite."
i tugged back and felt something tug back in turn
the black water rippled slightly where my line met
then the line went dead
and i pulled in a bunch of weeds

"there's some salad to go with your french fries" bob joked

we reeled in our lines and stowed the empty snapple bottles
i pulled the small anchor onto the boat
and we set course back to the dock
i could have swam it
but it was nice to be in the boat

we tied up the boat
i gave bob a helping hand to get onto the dock
we walked back up to the cottage
i noticed bob's car

"I drive a caddy too," i said. "mines considerably older. I just can't wrap my head around getting a new one. i love this car"

"i like the feel of the caddy's on the highway" said bob. "i don't care for driving much in the city"

"the old ones have the automatic trunk opener" i said pressing the button on my key fob, "this is my favourite feature on the car"

"yeah - they got rid of that on the new ones - i guess too many people were getting bonked in the head."

we loaded bob's tackle into the trunk
i gave him a snapple for the road
i took a quick look into his car
there was a willie nelson cd on the passenger seat
a cell phone
and in cup holder was a tim horton's coffee cup
i felt a moment or national pride
but decided not to comment on it
bob got into the car - started it - and rolled down the window

"i appreciate the invite," he said, "beautiful country here"

"really glad you could make it" i hesitated
i wanted to ask him about his recording techniques
or whether he was aware that no other band on earth is playing like his band
"happy birthday, bob" i said

"thanks a lot. try and catch a show sometime soon"
he rolled up the window and drove off

i yelled out "make sure to turn left at the big rock!"
but it was too late
he was already gone

craig martin
wednesday may 25, 2011
wild turkey bourbon

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Secret Agents

last night i went to a small arena to see a show
it was a fact finding mission
i wanted to see if there was a play for CAL in a small arena
from the second i walked into the venue
i knew that this would not be a fit for CAL
first of all we couldn't sell that many seats on a regular basis

the arena was big
and while the venue held about 5000 seats
only half were sold
and everything looked sparse
no one goes back to an empty room
it was worth the drive
now i know that i never want to leave the performing arts centres

years ago steve butler moved us from the phoenix concert theatre
to performing arts centres
i didn't know what to expect
but from the first note of the first song in a theatre
i knew that this is where CAL belongs

after 9 years of shows
you want to grow and fertilize some new ground
you want to be the painted pony
and let the spinning wheel spin
a play into arenas could be a gamble that pays off
but i don't gamble
i spent years at the mohegan sun
and never dropped on coin in any machine
we're boring
we're canadian
we like familiarity
so we're staying in the PACs

a big part of our continuing journey is brian swanson at monterey international
it's nice to finally be with a cool professional agency
it was a big thing for monterey to take us on
they're heavy music lovers
and only get involved with the best
monterey has two offices
one in california
and one in chicago
brian had to do some heavy explaining about the what what with CAL
the first obstacle was - of course - making the agency realize
that this is not a tribute band
they got it
and they got it big time
now brian and monterey are booking us extensively in america
all through america
with nice concentrated little tours
album after album

this was no small feat
imagine how many conversations and follow calls and visits
it would take to get a theatre manager to go with CAL
especially when there's a slag heap of budget tribute bands
fermenting in the wings
licking their lips in anticipation
for their chance to desecrate the legacy of the greats

but no
the theatre owners / buyers / bookers are a united bunch
and they care deeply about what goes on their stage
so one by one
we're coming to new american cities and towns
we're bringing our classic rock gospel
and we're cementing bridges that only we get to cross

another nice thing to come of all this
is brian and our canadian agent - steve butler
have been working closely together
there is no territorial pissing
they are a team that has learned a valuable lesson
professionals collaborate

we're just about ready to announce a ton of new shows
they'll be on the web site
i have a great blog to follow this one up with
regarding the new shows
some funny stories
some politics
it all makes for a good read

there's some heavy stuff going on behind the scenes here at CAL
i'll have a full detailed report once it settles
it's scandalous!
again - a great read
but until then
i send love to my agents
respectable men who care greatly about their careers
and the careers of their artists

craig martin
may 19, 2011
backstage at the rose theatre with luke warm coffee

Monday, 9 May 2011


i was born in 61
dief the chief was prime minister here in canuckville
kennedy was in office in the states
the beatles performed their first cavern club show
and the 60s began to evolve with us

here in the burbs the 60s happened on TV
'laugh in'
that was the 60s to us
we saw flashes of protests
but all the boys in the neighbourhood had short hair

the beatles were mythical
we knew all about them
we were young
but they were real to us
it was exciting
i remember seeing the performance of 'hey jude' on david frost
and while watching it i was rubbing my hands along the seams of my pants
while rocking back and forth
my dad told me to stop

but there was something rumbling underneath all the apple pie
and i was drawn to it
i was too young for world politics
or social consciousness
but something rumbled

it turned out to be nothing
another decade
the 70s
we hung out and listened to music
that was pretty much it

but we had the best music
and it was nice because most of us were discovering 60s music
the 70s was all about the music
it was a given
music was everywhere
bands playing everywhere
lots of shows
crazy shows
magazines were a big thing
vinyl covering everything
vinyl albums strewn about
it rained vinyl
and bands started to perform on TV with a bit more frequency
kiss was everywhere
except on the radio

fm radio was a trip in the 70s
entire albums
the jock would take a bit while he flipped the album
no script
no hype
no commercials
no listeners
our parents were still tuned into am

then nothing
so we hung out and listened to music

in the 80s we were all on the move
i was playing 60s and 70s music in bars
everyone i know rocks out to the 80s
guitars with tons of effects
machines started to take root
seeds for future generations

i watched MTV for two entire days when it came on
rumble rumble
the 80s
i began to feel very american
american culture and ours began to blend
we were all wiring in
around the dial

i would love to live through one more upswing
some heavy music cultural left turn
but i don't think it will happen on line
it'll be a gathering
a changing of the guard
live music
the new church
we all arrive with our ideals
and rock out together

craig martin
may 9, 2011

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Real Me

children will bring out your true colours
hopefully it's skittles
but there's lots of fragmented mono rainbows out there

other than that
what else brings out the 'real me' in us?
i don't think so
i think of relationships as air miles
you do good - you get points

it's the stage
at least within my circle and orbit
it's the stage
i see alumni discover their true colours underneath the lights

braxton hicks
found his voice on the CAL stage
we had him doing some percussion
second keys
and of course sax
but we pushed him vocally
and then out west
the larynx opened and honey wind came out
his head space is now on the bravado setting
and he's ready to start a new chapter as a vocalist with CAL
this changes many things in ones life
suddenly the opportunities bud
life is exciting
and the radius clause blankets around everyone close to him

and nicky
there is nothing else for him to do
he's got a brilliant mind
he's got a tome of propaganda
he's got three countries competing for him
but what he's really packing is music muscle
anyone can see it
take the massey hall show
he proclaims to be a god fearing, no swearing, hard right activist
but his true colours come out on stage
he's swearing
he's forgotten god
he's forgotten politics
he's a rock n' roller
a tattooed bad boy rock n' roller
you can see it with brilliance as he gears up for the scream in lemon song
his true colours flashing fast into great halls

what about rob phillips?
rob is a cardiograph of calm
and the stage accentuates this
we go there to see him not get excited
of course there's exceptions to the rule
he windmills
and pimps a scratch every now and then
but for the majority of shows
rob calmly puts out perfection free of pomp and ceremony
is this an affirmation that mirrors his life?
i think so
i also think we'll never really know
but it's my blog
and i'll be forward enough to say that nowhere else does rob shine
like the insane piece of compressed carbon that we see on stage

rick vatour emits more joy after his drum solo
than anyone else on the planet at that very time
i have data to back this up
what can be more affirming?

leslea keurvorst was born on a stage
her every move was designed for stage
her life outside of CAL remains a mystery to me
in fact i like not knowing more about her
i've created a persona and identity for her
that i think of as historic
i can't believe i get to consistently work with someone of her calibre
she's a perfect 22 shot of diva
and a machine gun round of notes
all the world's her stage

we wait around for our lives to unfold
we work hard and prepare
we prick up our ears like antennae receiving master works
we care deeply about the music we perform
every show is the one
what else defines us?
doctors save people
architects behold buildings
dry wallers seamlessly connect
teachers plant seeds
and musicians walk out of dressing rooms onto stage
that's the moment

there's more about all of this in the book
but right now i'm still reeling from the massey led zep 4 show
something happened that night
a reset
a different angle
and i don't need no stinking glasses to see it

craig martin
may 2, 2011
kicking horse coffee freshly ground