Thursday, 27 December 2012

The CAL Curse!

the curse
the CAL curse
i used to think it was about us all getting divorced
if you crunch the numbers
you'll find that there's 15 of us who went through divorces during the onset of CAL
that's a huge percentage
i really thought CAL was responsible
i thought that the cosmos had decided
that the price for musical genius
depended on marriages ending
but i have this kind of egocentric personality
that makes me think that CAL has longer tentacles
than it really does
i realize that i can be idiotic at times
(just read on and you'll find the above statement true)

the CAL curse has to do with note for note
because if it ain't note for note
i freak out a bit
and everything sounds like a big mistake

i remember when we were rehearsing the let it be show
we were doing across the universe
and it wasn't sounding right
everyone was coy
but i kept being demanding and overbearing
because it wasn't sounding right
then mark said that the key of the song was off
that the song was not quite d flat
and not quite d
we had being playing it ind
playing it in d flat would have meant a new grouping of guitars
all tuned down to d flat
a big chore
but i insisted
and d flat it was
and the song came alive
and alex turned to me and said all the difference

last night
i watched led zeppelin receive their kennedy honors awards
led zeppelin sold more records than anyone else
they're the top of the rock
men on the mountain

so there i am
tuned in
all excited
they look great
and happy
but the CAL curse kicked in immediately
jack black's indoctrination was wrong on several fronts
zep were never heavy metal
they were never satanists
and they never sang directly of vikings
the curse!
it's like being a fact checker on CNN after the debates
you just want to grab the speaker and smack some sense into them
i liked jack black in school of rock
but there's nothing else about his career that works
and he does not have the zen of zep depth
needed to stand on such a coveted stage and speak at length

next up was the music
i prayed that the foo fighters would sit this one out
but no
there they were
distorted guitars
bashing instead of sounding the drums
and the singer - who was their drummer - was atonal scared and bland
it was acne

next up
kid rock
i like kid rock
i'd like to see him in concert
i always try to get my daughters to sing the sheryl crow part in that song they did together
but he had no business singing plant
and his band had no business playing zep
it sounded like a chicken coop being built
it was like watching old family inherited decorations falling from the tree
and smashing onto the floor
it took me a couple of vodka and tonics
to set me on my feet again

then the antichrist
lenny kravitz
i know that a lot of people like lenny
but he's a gap ad
style but no substance
he's not rock n roll
he's product placement
and he has no business singing led zeppelin
i can't even remember the song he was singing
it was torture
he should stick to shelling out for pizza hut
or whoever else he's networking for
probably some cologne that reeks of mediocrity
(his guitar player with the big hair was stellar and lives in my neighbourhood in toronto - so he gets a pass!)

the curse
i have the curse!

the saving graceful sisters
they have zep in their dna
and while they steered away from the note for note river
they reworked the song to flow with ease and depth

if you go to see the mona lisa?
would you be disappointed to only find half her face on display
if you look up the CN tower
would you be disappointed to see a partition that blocks the view
of the pod thing at the top?
if you watch goodfellas
would you be disappointed if they cut out the pasta sauce scene? - the 'i amuse you' scene? - the layla dead guy montage? - the dinner at joe pesci's mom's house with a dead guy in the trunk?
you'd be freaking if any of these elements were removed from great works of art

then why in the name of the hammered gods
did heart let them chop a solid 5 minutes out of stairway?
you'd think that the sisters had some clout
it's the kennedy center
a hallowed hall where greatness is meant to prance about in
not be neutered by hipsters in suits with stop watches and demographic charts
i lost it
led zeppelin - edited for television
it's like losing your taste buds

heart performed stairway
the greatest song ever written
they had choirs and strings and orchestras and the vibe
and the lads were smiling and feeling it
sitting cozy in their chairs with their medals on
a historic moment for rock
but a live on air circumcision is too tough for this cursed man to watch
from the get go they cut out half of the recorder intro
i revolted

the curse!

the curse won't let me work past sub par performances
the curse won't let me veer from note for note
the curse won't let me appreciate new arrangements of classic songs
(again - could you imagine citizen kane with a happy ending?)

i'm not alone on this
during the CAL christmas party
i watched des and mark play a perfect note for note rendition
of blue eyes crying in the rain
it was 4:20 am
there was a cab waiting out front
but nothing would deter them from perfection
they'd never played it - nor talked about it prior
but they understood the need and reverence for note for note

could you imagine rob phillips showing up at a jam
and just riffing along to some floyd for fun
it would never happen
you'd get the arched eyebrow of death
he'd bend a gilmour into your forehead before you could say
"let's freestyle comfortably numb"

we're all cursed
there's no point in fighting it
life outside of CAL is a series of mistakes for us

december 27, 2012
tea and mum's homemade shortbread

Sunday, 9 December 2012

5 Crazy Rock Films from the 70s That You've Probably Never Seen But Are Still Pretty Good

I've been researching rock movies
i've seen some really silly ones
and some very cool ones
i'm not talking concert films
i'm talking dramas

i've chosen 5 flicks that you might want to have a peek at
these are less than obvious choices
and in no order

remember that i love the doors movie
and purple rain
and hard days night
and help
and the wall
but these are films you've probably skipped over
and stand up as okay little time wasters

i've coupled each movie with a recommended beverage
snack wise you can't ever go wrong with potato chips

phantom of the paradise
a mad crazy fun film
lots of silly characters
and lots of cool songs
music was mostly written by paul williams
this move has the best screen credits ever made
and one of the greatest / most ridiculous rock stars ever created for film: beef
this is a 70s movie
so don't expect anything slick
you need to suspend belief and soak in some technicolor
will hare always plays songs from this movie during sound checks!
in winnepeg they have a phantom of the paradise festival
that rivals the cult status of the equally great rocky horror
without all the gheyness
recommended drink: brown cows!

david essex takes you on a rock star's journey
from clubs to castles
again - an early 70s movie
so don't expect anything neutered
it comes across as more david bowie than robert plant
there's some great scenes with the late great larry hagman
this movie is dark and sad most of the time
more real than one would expect
it stands the test of time
if you really get into it
it's important to note that stardust is part two
(part one is called that'll be the day
and features ringo starr playing alongside essex)
i used to regard this film as an instructional video
but i was so much older then
i'm younger than that now
recommended drink: tea

a star is born
kris kristofferson and barbara streisand
perhaps the worst pairing in cinema
but somehow it works
the music is a bit lame
but the story is sound
there's a couple great moments that make it
worth weeding through the cheese for
kris is killer
and kool
still - i can't rem
just for the record - i'm not ghey for liking this movie
that said
i'm changing my mind - this movie is pretty bad
best to skip it
recommended drink: beer in a bar

the songwriter
willie nelson and kris kristofferson
love this movie
love it
rip torn plays the best character
if you've ever toured then there's parts of this movie that ring true
and freak you out a bit
more country than rock
but that don't matter none
'cause ol' willie knows how to pen a song or two
it's a behind the scenes look at the inner dealings of songwriting in the 70s
this movie makes me want to drive over to des' at 3 in the morning
and write songs and drink whiskey
recommended drink: jack daniels

the rose
heavy film
another 70s movie
the most cinematically put together of the 5 films mentioned here
bette midler is tragically great
the saddest of tales
the saddest of songs
i was surprised the the title song is only heard over the closing credits
it's a tough movie to find - i think there might be some licensing issues
but it's worth the effort
i loved this movie because the band is really playing
and bette is really singing
leslea could play this role
recommended drink: fresca or shasta cola

december 10, 2012
hagaan das (caramel cone explosion)

Friday, 16 November 2012


we drove into sydney with streaks of sun straining through the grey clouds
i created a playlist
and was pleased when the music
and everything outside of the windshield
and the moment became beautiful

i spent the day walking around sydney
people say hello to each other on the streets here
and this simple pleasantry was warming
and deepened my appreciation of this canadian finger

johnnie b rules the roost out here
i stopped by the local radio station
to introduce myself and thank them for all the love
i offered up an interview to stimulate some last minute ticket sales
only to be told that johnnie b had already done an interview
earlier that morning
on our way out of sydney
the dj thanked 'johnnie b and the boys'
we're no longer known as CAL out here
we're 'johnnie b and the boys'
i'm okay with that

we took the ferry into prince edward island
like my father
i do not have sea legs
i spent a lot of the voyage on the deck
taking in the sea air
gripping the rail
and embracing the term maritime

the show last night was one of those defining shows in a man's career
i was pleased with my performance
it's hard to sing the stones without moving a bit
you got to move a bit to get the right feel
i get lost in the music
it's hard not to

i don't know if anyone in the audience caught it
but last night you were among friends
old friends
lots of smiles exchanged on stage

james gray got applause just for the beautiful intro to 'she's a rainbow'

braxton blows like a man on a mountain

troy and i have been playing together since 1992
i feel confident when he drums
and our friendship comes through his sticks

looking back and seeing alex singing
beaming beauty
and effortless grace
that's a sweet moment
she's classically trained
she's a first call cellist
and here she is with us bums
singing exactly like a young keith richards

and pup
and des
and b
the four of us have been playing together since the 1940s
telling glances
the years speaking in silence
and deep and profound absolute love of the stones binding us
like blood brothers

this is a distinct part of canada
i'm proud to be able to come here
and share this important music
with important people
the level headed love of life here is infectious
i feel like we're all in it together
and that playing classic rock is a battle cry that unites us as a nation
and makes us feel like we're all in the same band
that band would be 'johnnie b and the boys'

november 16, 2012
evian and a fisherman's friend

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Classic Rock is the New Classical

i've got dazed and confused wailing through my speakers
there is no difference in depth and meaning
between this song
and beethoven's fifth symphony
in fact it blows the fifth symphony back to the eighth position

classic rock is the new classical music
it's enduring
and selling
and more important
than any other music ever made

if keith moon ever met mozart
they'd get drunk
and then moonie would blow the frilly cuffs off mozart
with drum fills

bruce springsteen is a better poet that keats yeats or frost

david gilmore has a truer connection to the planets that holst

robert plant could've taken pavarotti in an arm wrestle

orchestras are losing funding
seats in symphony halls are not filling
styx outsells bach

they did an extensive study
they went to great lengths to find out who's listening to
and buying
traditional classical music
here's the answer:

janice snotwoggle (eels lane, wales)
lord leonard lickmore (earls court, london)
peter pzykaticunvyye (reykjavik, iceland)
michael white (toronto, ontario)
tippy titwiggle (perth, australia)
norman noseworthy (bismark, north dakota)

that's it!
6 people!
everyone else is listening to classic rock!

i keep trying to listen to jazz
but i never really listen
my attention derelict disorder kicks in
and i start day-dreaming about the next ac/dc CAL show

i listen to country music
but i never really listen
i find myself wandering into the tool shed to sharpen my axe

i listen to the music my kids are listening to
but i never really listen
instead i end up grounding them
and forcing them to listen to me lecture on the merits of the beatles
and how they saved the world

i listen to old music that old people like
but i never really listen
instead i get alarmed that it makes parts of my body shrivel
parts that i don't want to shrivel

classic rock is the new classical music
i know there's some purists out there
who would love to argue the point
they'd pull out charts
and cite historical references
and whatnot
but i don't give a damn
because that's rock 'n' roll

craig martin
october 31, 2012

Friday, 26 October 2012

There's Something Happening Here

q107 just played bon jovi
followed by joni mitchell

the queen band is tearing up ontario
the guitar army is charging forth fearlessly
and all the singers are becoming peacocks (sorry phil)

the landscape within performing arts centres is changing
a different view is needed
people are voting with their dollars
and they want classic rock
that's good for the series

the stones band is starting to rub up against each other
being on the road together throughout the east coast is going to be telling
we've chosen a big group of songs for our outro set
with four shows under our belt
pulling into toronto
and performing exile at massey hall
is going to be heavy

having two new stops
one in north carolina
and one in florida
is amazing
the audience loved the show
of course it was the CAL beatles band
and they're surgical with their commitment to the music

lots of chat about south florida
and our lack of presence there
it's hard to just show up and play
so many things have to fall into place
i did connect with someone
a heavy music fan
with some experience in the business
we might do something together
it will be an event

lots of stuff going on with the alumni
everyone is keeping busy
within and outside of CAL
i love all the bands that have been formed
because of musicians connecting within CAL
we've also been responsible for a couple marriages
and some kids!

leaves are falling all around
i'm in rake mode
i take the radio outside
and amass a pile of leaves
i find it soothing
all the while
i'm surprised at how much information
i'm getting from the radio
i was on the satellite kick for a while
but listening to DJs is the best

do they even get called DJs anymore?
i'm going to ask the gang at Q
maybe they could bring the term back

we're working with a lovely new singer
jenn kee
i get so many requests for auditions from musicians
it's humbling
i check everyone out
and always reply
jenn grabbed me right away
masters in music
loves classic rock
beautiful and easy going
fitting nicely into the alumni fold

to all the parents out there
who are deeply distressed about the music their kids are listening to
don't worry
one day you'll turn a corner
and they'll have some zep on
i've been researching charts
concentrating on the 70s
i know every song
some of them really don't stand the test of time
and there's a lot of fluff
but one day i put on houses of the holy
and it all changed

side note about the the charts
it's amazing how much stuff doesn't make it over the pond
to britain
they don't know a lot of our music
and we don't know a lot of theirs
except for classic rock

an exciting season leading up to the holidays
a bit of a scattered blog today
it has something to do with leaves

october 26, 1976
tang and wagon wheels

Thursday, 27 September 2012

CAL Q Massey Hall and the Stones

just back from a heavy meeting down at Q107 headquarters
i really like dealing with all of these people
their mandate is to make sure that more people listen to classic rock

everyone i met with is a music lover
and they care deeply about what they get involved with
and everyone is getting involved with CAL

we're going to be building a circle
Q is going to be putting a CAL portal on their web site
and i'm going to provide exclusive content
cool stuff
like why exile on main street is an album that everyone should own
and some guitar and drum videos detailing what it takes
to play these songs properly

i've always been hesitant about social media
my knee jerk reaction has always been that nothing beats word of mouth
and while i still believe that
it's up to me to provide my info for folks to word of mouth with

massey hall has gotten behind CAL in a big way
they love the shows
and love the crowds
and mary is thinking forward and plugging us into Q's tentacles

Q107 is the greatest classic rock station in the world
meeting with them has always been comfy
they've been with us from the very start
10 years now
that's a relationship

and the stones
i'm hoping they return my calls
i'm hoping to help sell their new album for them
and rekindle a movement to make every music lover on the planet
and love
exile on main street

then the stones need to hire me as their music director
i'd be a taskmaster
and demand perfectly executed riffs
and vocal highs

but if that doesn't happen
there's our november 23 massey hall show
exile performed note for note - cut for cut

big things in the months to follow
optimism and hope spring eternal
once again i feel like things are just beginning

craig martin
september 27, 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012


just finished surfing the web
lost a couple hours reading about bono
he's living a life
and he's played quite a few cards
both within and without music

there's a lot of articles about his involvement in tech companies
and how they're not performing very well
and how he's losing money
and i'm surprised at how many people revel in that detail
but not me

i want everyone to be successful
and most of all i want bono to be successful
in fact
i think bono should assemble a team
and manage the world's finances

think about it
with him in charge
there would be no hunger
and vaccines would be made readily available
to those most in need

nations would be forced to talk to each other
and you know the after party would do more for peace
than anything the united nations has ever done

i want bono to oversee injustice
you know if there's some evil shit going down somewhere
he's going to be there
and broadcast it to the world
and the world won't stand for it
because people are good and decent

i can't think of anyone better to do this
i just finished watching weeks of politics on tv
we had a couple weeks off
i really enjoy watching tv when i get some down time
but i was itchy and uneasy watching all the sloganeering
and name-calling
and ironless promises

imagine if bono was up there
he's have his sunglasses on
and he'd eloquently tell you
that there's some babies in a faraway part of the world
that need some help
and dammit
you know by the end of the telecast
that there would be a ton of money going straight to helping those babies

he'd consult with people
open up dialogue
if things got heated
he'd take everyone down to the pub for a beer

bono would figure out what was most important
and get people working on fixing whatever was broken

he'd invest in the arts and create an new economy out of roadies

you may say i'm a dreamer
but i'm not the only one
rock 'n' roll has lost it's footing
we need a man in beatle boots
to give things a swift kick up the arse
and punt away the dogma and rhetoric of egotistical politicians

bono knows ego
ego is go
people with ego do things
we've come to think associate ego as a negative trait
but i say the world is built on ego
that floats right alongside dreams and ability
throw in some heavy music
and you can save the world

september 10, 2012
red wine and improvised pasta

ps: classic albums live performs the joshua tree in florida this coming weekend

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bruce Springsteen at the Rogers Centre

i'm such a fool
i still believe that rock 'n' roll can save the world
and i'm not sure
but i think
that bruce springsteen does too

the show in toronto was joyous
it was a testament  to the power of performance

i don't think bruce has finished growing up
i think he still wakes up every afternoon
and taps into that tiny part of him that still wants to be elvis presley
and we're all better off for it
alongside of his biting commentary on the decline of western civilization
we get a celebration of life
that's not an easy balance to maintain

people think that dylan has a biting social commentary
i'm a huge dylan fan
and i don't hear it
dylan is clever rhymes and cinematic images

but bruce is cnn
and he doesn't just talk the talk
he walks the fuckin' walk
and gets us involved
people were crowding to drop money into the food bank jars as we were leaving
it's always been that way

but enough deep thoughts
let's rock
because i like rock 'n' roll
the show was deep cuts
a true springsteen fan's set list
i'm fairly stoic at concerts
bordering on analytical
but i'm pumping my fist in the air
singing along
i'm shouting out song requests
we were 10 feet from the stage
i'm 16 again and love rock 'n' roll
this is as close to church as i'm ever going to get

it took a 5 piece horn section to replace clarence
i wanted braxton hicks to get the gig
because brax knows how to blow like the big man
but the nephew did an admirable job
and it was nice to see the blood line represented
the video tribute was touching
you stand beside someone on stage for 30 years
and the world becomes different without them
 (if you search the blog archives you'll find a piece i wrote on clarence)

little steven is spending a lot more time alongside bruce
at front and centre
james brown had the cloak
springsteen has the sponge
after 3 hours - he'd collapse on stage
only to have steven come over and drip the sponge down onto to him
he'd jump up revived and count in another
it was old school greasy rock 'n' roll entertainment

the show was full of humour
i was surprised at how much time we spent laughing
there's no fourth wall to break down
there's no mystery
no forced icon like status
backstage you know he's not slurping caviar
he's working out the chord changes to 'murder incorporated'
he stays lean and smart
there's no trappings
everything leads to the stage
and you leave it all there

you're sixty plus years old
playing in front of tens of thousands of people
for three hours and forty five minutes
and there's not an ounce of energy left to give at the end of the night
that's the way to live a life
that's how i define rock 'n' roll

september 5, 2012

Monday, 13 August 2012

Massey Hall

do you like rock n roll?
because we're performing exile on main street at massey hall
on november 23
i know many of you don't know this album
but it's important that you run out immediately
and buy the album
it's a heavy record
with a splendid history
and it will enrich your life
i love second generation blues
i know
i'm a purist too
but i love the blues when zeppelin play them
and i love the blues when the beatles play them
but i especially love the blues when the stones play the blues
november 23
big band
big night
a great way to start off a new season in toronto

maybe you need more rock n roll?
then on  february 9
you want to slip into roy thomson hall
we're performing sgt. pepper
we've done this show a lot
but there's something about doing it at roy thomson hall
i dunno
it gives me energy
i feel like something important is going to happen that night
and we're all dreaming of the second set
we call it the outro set
it'll be another beautiful selection of songs from the lads
that marry well with the hall

you really do love rock n roll
and it's not just a bullet point in your self description
then you need to stop everything
and buy tickets for the march 1 dark side of the moon show
back at massey hall
this is the 40 year anniversary of the album's north american release
and it's also CAL's 10 year anniversary
that's a lot of numbers to fire up
rob phillips will be performing the show of his life
it's as though his entire being has been circling towards this show
his people died for his right to play
dark side of the moon
at massey hall
on the 40th anniversary of the album's north american release
on march 1
and we're planning heavy fun sneaky things for the show
it's going to be our thank note to our hometown for 10 years of love and support

it's such a great honour to be able to honour these albums like we do

craig martin
august 13, 2012
hard boiled eggs and lemonade

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


the first time i met leslea
she was muscling her way into the queen rehearsal
she insisted that she be a part of the album
she sang
and it was immediate
she's that good

we've had her on every album
she's worked so hard over the years
sang her heart out to thousands and thousands of people
and always a great performance
a true voice with captivating range

lots of girls say they can sing janis
janis sang every song like it was her last
leslea sang the show like that
she just kept going
like a train
note after note
tough hard edged screams
and then a little girl
alone in the spotlight

watch her on stage
her every movement
she's aware
she's aware that we're watching her
her hair afire
her hands graceful
born for the stage
seeing both beauty and bats in the lights

and she's smart
google smart
she's like a search engine
citing musicians in one breath
and historical events in the next

and she's beautiful
round and curvy
with innate stage attractiveness

and she's argumentative
like a diva
fighting for what she wants from a song
she's not afraid of the bumpy road
you arrive at respecting that

and she's the best
olympic gold medal best
one of the greats
twisting her voice around a song
with perfect clarity and delivery
i can't believe that she was never scooped up
and turned into a superstar

but that's not what it's about
the superstar thing
that's door number 3
rice a roni
one hundred eskimo bars
the real deal was about being the best you could be
and inspiring people around you
leslea does that
and it's an honour to work with her

aug 9, 2012
bourbon (at the centre of contradiction)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What A Week

on saturday night
in orlando
in the hard rock live
inside of universal studios
classic albums live
by pink floyd
note for note

that's historical information
i don't think the piece has ever been covered
with such an acute attention to detail before

and this is the essence of CAL
we look at the album as the document to curated
we bring the museum to you
this music will one day be artifact

the term 'classic rock' doesn't do justice to the work
to lump pink floyd into the same category as motely crue
seems demeaning
i've been searching for a new word to describe this music
something cool
the word has been alluding me for years

on friday night we were in melbourne
at the king center
performing the doors first album
note for note - cut for cut

this show was important on two levels
one - jim morrison grew up in melbourne
two - no one needs to see another jim morrison imitator

clifton david is the greatest doors singer in the world
and this is a strange claim to make
because most of us know clifton as one of the greatest guitarists in the world
it really is nice getting to hang out with someone as talented as clifton
sometimes it all borders on surreal

this coming week we perform sticky fingers at the state theater
in new brunswick new jersey
there's more to playing the stones than just the notes
there's that undefinable swagger in the music
and it's very british at times
and country
we're wearing a lot of different hats on this record
and once again
no where else in the world will it be performed better
or with such attention to detail

that's gotta count for something

july 24, 2012
grapefruit slices and almonds

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Story of the Stolen Cassette Deck

having just moved
i found a bunch of old boxes
with all my cassettes from a couple decades ago
i drive an old caddy
and it still has a cassette player
i've been playing the tapes
and they sound great
because they're tape!

here's a good story about my cassette player
ask me if it's a true story
i'd say that it's true it's a story:

i'm on the road with a top 40 band out of kingston ontario
the band was called self serve
and our logo included the phrase 'pumping it out'
i've done many cheesy things in my life
but this band had the highest limburger content

you used to be able to tour for 6 nights a week
and spend all day sunday driving to the next gig
it was great being young and lost on the road
you would make it like home
i traveled with a full out stereo system
there was no way that i was going to leave my set up unattended for months on end
again - this is back in the day
two big speakers
a heavy receiver
and a beautiful state of the art majestiCAL cassette deck (nikko nd990)

every night the party was in my room
i didn't drink back then
i spent all my time learning and listening to music
half the bar would be in my room at the end of the night
and they were nasty rooms
with some real bukowskiesque elements
but i'd crank out the tunes and everything would be jumping until the sun came up
and then some

one week we pull into montreal
the moustache club
a seedy and nefarious place
the waiters carried rolling papers
dealers hung out in the pinball room
and self serve - pumping it out
we had a female singer - holly
she was great
a mix of patti smith and chrissie hynde
her and i liked the more avant guade stuff
while the rest of the band were metal heads
but holly knew how to entice the crowd
she would smirk and sneer at them
we did a killer version of venus
and a crazy patti smith tune called space monkey
she kept the wolves at bay

i started to tape the shows
i would bring down my cassette deck
plug in a couple of mics
and record
then stay up all night listening to the show

so one night at the moustache
i set everything up
come off the stage
and there's my cassette deck - gone!
i freaked
i called for management
nobody liked that
i had a big crowd of staff around me
who all assured me that it would turn up
i sensed bullshit
and told them that i wanted to call the police
everyone went into panic mode
they implored me not to do that
i made the call anyway
and the bar emptied out

the police arrive
and i fill out a report and go through all the motions
the cops seemed to like me
and were impressed that i went to all of the trouble
most people would just write it off as a loss
they told me that the chances of my getting the cassette deck back were slim
but i went through with the report anyway

later that night
we're all up in my room
the rooms at the moustache consisted of a broken dresser
and a mattress on the floor
it was just the band
we'd been on the road a while
so the drummer and i decided to wrestle
we were throwing each other around the room
while the rest of the band cheered us on
and there's a knock on the door
it's about 4 am
there's the cop
and he's holding my cassette deck

joy ensued
the cop said he knew of a fence
it was a slow night
so he staked it out
and sure enough - some guy comes trotting along
holding my cassette deck
he's immediately arrested
and thrown in jail

the cop asks me to come down to the station and fill out a report
no problem
sure enough - there in the holding cell
is one of the waiters from the moustache club!
i seethe at him with crinkled eyes
he cowers
he's a scumbag and he knows it

morning now
the cops drive me and my cassette deck back to the moustache club
i thank them
shake their hands
and head upstairs
montreal morning traffic is just starting
i'm weary but too excited to sleep
i hook up the deck
shuffle through some cassettes
and find the perfect tape
'so ya thought ya might like to go to the show?'

july 26, 2012
honeynut cheerios and a banana

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Bob Dylan Turned 71 Today

i understand that a lot of you don't get him
i can't type anything to change that
i've asked friends - musicians - how it makes them feel
to not get bob dylan
and it frustrates them
because all of our idols revered him
and to not dig dylan
is like not having roots

i got him early
a teenage identity and all that
no one else i hung with was on that band wagon
i went straight from kiss to dylan
i'd read about him in creem and rolling stone
before i really heard him
that's a strange way to discover a musician

his entire career has been on the road
albums done in flashes
then tours
live - he's the farthest thing from note for note
i've seen him brilliant
the ghost
ignoring the black crowd beyond the edge
pushing his band for that moment that elevates

he never talks to the crowd
not a word
but that's not true
i saw him in toronto - at the masonic temple
he came out without a guitar
and was talking up a storm
we were freaking
bob's talking to the audience
it might have been a full moon

not sure what he's doing for his birthday
probably hanging with family
i understand he owns a castle in ireland
that would be a nice place for a picnic
skipping stones across the moat
filling the cauldron's with bourbon

if you search my blog
you'll find a piece i wrote called 'my fishing trip with bob dylan'
it's the best blog i've ever written

happy birthday bob
and still on the road
that's gotta count for something

may 24, 2011
red wine and cheesecake

Friday, 20 April 2012

'My First Cal Experience' by Evan White

My First CAL Experience
I'm a promoter.  I book shows for a a show, sell the tickets, rinse, repeat.  Seems pretty formulaic to the average person and for the most part it is.  People get all vacant in the eyes when I talk about promoting concerts.  One of the neighborhood kids told me recently, "My dad says that your job isn't important."  Ouch.  Its pretty much true though in the long run though for me promoting shows has always been about passion for the music and also about discovery.  Discovering new things is what makes me want to get up in the morning.  Music is just in my DNA thanks to mom's record collection and her acoustic guitar.

Most days I'm bidding on comedian X or rock star Y hoping that they will pay attention to my venue while bails of money are thrown at them from all directions.  Pick me! Pick me!  It's just gotten so strange the way artists roll through Jersey playing 3 or 4 shows at similar venues within 30 minutes of each other.  There's nothing special about it anymore and the bidding wars are nuts but I get it.  If you're aging rock star Y then why not just take the cash?  It's rarely fun to chase the big acts anymore...I've always gotten more enjoyment out of finding new acts, local talent, and figuring out how to give them a real opportunity.

I vaguely remember back in 2008 going to a casino in Connecticut...another scouting trip looking for interesting things to book.  Scouring the net one day I found a website.  There was a sample CAL radio spot.  There was a band or something doing note-for-note rock recitals.  This was new and unique so I was determined to check them out.  It was four hours away so I dragged my wife along on the basis that a casino was involved.  She listens to Top 40 and wasn't looking forward to the 90 minutes she'd have to spend listening to a band play Zeppelin covers before she could park in front of a Roulette table. I insisted.  I needed her objectivity.

We sat down with some strangers in an awkward booth and waited.  The seats were comped so we made up the difference in overpriced drinks.  I've been a closet Zep fanatic since I was fifteen so naturally I was excited at the remote possibility that a band could pull it off.  The room exploded when the band took the stage drowning out the hum of the slot machines and from the first note of Black Dog to the last note of When The Levee Breaks  Zep IV was flawless.  It had all the raw power and emotion, all the chops, the detail...the crowd was loving it.  To me there was something really important about what CAL was doing.  This is going to be a hit in Jersey.  I'm a believer. 

Fast forward to the present...a few years and a bunch of shows later...CAL is an established brand in Jersey. 

It's March 31, 2012 and I'm standing on the side of the stage holding my acoustic guitar getting ready to play Bron-Yr-Aur with CAL.  My stomach is in knots. What am I doing?!

A year ago Craig Martin somehow convinced me to get in on the act for a song. "There's this simple little tune in the middle of the Physical Graffiti album.  It'd be perfect for you and might be a good press angle if you played it." Not wanting to look like a chump I agreed to do it with assumption that these were just words that would be forgotten.  I was wrong.  Craig means what he says...a rare quality these days.  I'm rusty but I'll give it a shot.

As it turns out Craig was only half right: Bron-Yr-Aur is a very simple sounding tune but it's tricky little bugger. At least it was for me. It's the sort of perpetual motion piece that if you trip up once and lose momentum in your finger-picking you're gonna crash and burn. Gotta keep it moving. I memorized the tune pretty quickly but when it came time to really polish it up just like the recording I gained a whole new level of respect for the whole CAL army.

Aside from being some of the most downright friendly and talented people I've ever met the CAL folks care deeply about the music and that's the key.  Its funny, what I've noticed over the years is that as a listener at a CAL show it's easy to lose track of how hard everyone is actually working...the counting, the dynamics, the layering,'s amazing.  Takes some serious discipline.  They make it look too easy.

In The Light was wrapping up.  My nerves were telling that I was completely doomed but in the end I got out there on the stage and played the Zep tune the way I felt it should be played under the CAL banner. The crowd liked it and there was applause.  It was a blur and I was eager to get off stage.  It was a moment that I won't forget.

Funny how an opportunity given can repay in strange ways.  For me it was 2 minutes reliving the glory days.

Evan White
Program Manager
Co-Producer, Sounds of the City
New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Doors

there's an ongoing conversation we have backstage and in vans
about the greatest american band

surely the eagles win
they sold the most albums
they had a long run
they checked us into hotels with them
lots of scandal and infighting to keep us reading
but most of all they wrote songs that made everyone feel like they were in a movie

but aerosmith were the coolest
as far as straight up rock 'n' roll goes
they're the only contenders
get your wings
draw the line
these are proud moments for america
they were considered the american version of the stones
i never bought that
but steven always looked good in a boa

and the doors
the not so obvious choice
acid fuelled
bourbon soaked
breaking rules and looking like gods in the process
it's not until you step away from the doors
that you realize how amazing they were
while you're listening to them
you're not concerned with lists or technique
instead you're not so gently floating alongside a stream of consciousness

the movie hooked me when it came out
that was point of entry for many of us
it's not cool to admit that
we'd all rather say that we buzzed out to morrison hotel
on the week that it was released
but that's not so
it was the movie
prior to that it was apocalypse now
the movie wouldn't be the same without the doors' music

true confessions
i wore leather pants in the late 80s
we were hipped with a management company
they wanted me to be darker
like jim
darker lyrics
deeper sound
i failed miserably at the task
i left the pants in a dressing room in quebec city
never looked back
i'm too optimistic
i enjoy being around kids
nothing dark there

but i like the doors
i'm drawn to reckless abandonment
crazy artists excite me
pushing the limits of convention is something that appeals to me
i never get to do that in real life
i just like to pretend i do

and that's what the doors did
they let us pretend
they made us go deep
sure sooner or later we'd return before the spin cycle kicked in
but for that flash
we could imagine ourselves as circus performers

we've been performing the la woman album for a few years now
clifton takes the vocal
and coils it around all the seats in the theatre
when we were in melbourne florida
at the king centre
jim's hometown
you could feel an uneasiness before the show
people wondering if this was going to be another bad jim impersonation show
but we dropped oil in the water
the first note from clifton's throat
had them cheering
and grooving
and pretending that they had broken through
and it's been that way ever since

we have the doors show making  a big run in the theatres
i urge the intense fan
to bring the questioning fan
and come celebrate the greatest american band's greatest album
it's an album that demands attention
it's blue
avant garde
it crawls
and attacks
and bites your soul with dark knowledge

there i go again
trying to be like jim
and failing miserably

april 10, 2011 (the nine year anniversary of CAL)
beer with whiskey chasers

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Kids Today

there's no clear answers
i'm quite sure that i'll be messing up my kids
no matter what i do
the mandate is to just be there
as much as possible
let them know i care
and that they're loved

but why oh why
can i not control the music they listen to?
my oldest boy loves weezer and aerosmith and ac/dc
but he's been drifting towards rap and some pop songs
i put the pop station on in the car
he knows all the songs

the little one
he likes anything that pumps
we blast it together
it's fun
but i try to counter it with some beatles
nouns and colours and orchestration
he listens
but if i switch over to a rap song
the change is instant
he likes to rap along
and moves while doing it

my brady daughters have evolved
they're a little bit older
one day the young one loves bon iver
and the pop stuff is forgotten like cotton candy lip gloss
the older one wants something real
and broadway tunes
as long as it's smart
she likes it

but none of them have gone through a zeppelin phase yet
years ago i worked as a journalist
i emailed all the politicians about their music choices
and what that says about their campaigns
the answers were telling
none of them went through a zeppelin phase
consequently none of them are in office today
clearly there is a scientific connection here
based on my collected empirical data

as the founder of a company
i'm always adjusting the rabbit ears
looking for the heir apparent
my kids have been dragged through countless backstages
they've handed musicians guitars at sound checks
they've sat alongside me during radio interviews
they've traveled to florida and taken part in the hard rock live experience
and still they're completely nonplussed

we do art day from time to time
we cover the table in a sheet
dump art supplies
put on Q107
and just make art
the other day my ad for the queen show comes on the radio
i always get excited when my ad comes on
not the boys
the older one continues to paint
without missing a beat
zero acknowledgement
dad's on the radio!

the younger one hesitates for just a second
looks at me out of the corner of his eye for a flash of a second
and goes back to colouring

i have a cool job
but not really
it's just a job to my kids
i'm still a nerd to them

next week we perform sgt pepper with the mississauga symphony
i'm forcing them to go
and i'm going to quiz them on different aspects of the show
that's the plan
it'll work
they'll embrace classic rock
and want to take over my company in 20 years
and keep the spirit and discipline alive
because without the dna factor
it won't work

my reoccurring nightmare
is years from now
after i've been eaten by polar bears
my kids are sitting around a boardroom table
discussing shows
and one of them says 'katy perry had a big album in the 2011'

march 29, 2012
drinking heavily

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Hotel California (reprise)

i like this blog
i wrote it when i first started blogging
it reads nice
and spirits me with the upcoming hotel california show in LA
and for the record
we will be staying in a hotel in california


just back from a heavy night in jersey
we did the hotel california album
tough album
we first took it on 7 years ago
we thought it was going to be campfire songs
but no
the album immediately began kicking our asses

i remember this funny thing one of the cats in the eagles were talking about
they said that they had all the fancy cars
exotic houses
a private jet
tons of drugs
everything they wanted
and then they released hotel california

there's some funny skits by a comedian named bill hicks
he goes on about how all the music we loved
was made by guys fucked up on drugs
now don't get me wrong
i'm not a drug advocate
but this is a valid statement
and i get this sense from the eagles
whatever you want to say about them
they made a perfect album
and there's only a handful of artists in the world that can make that claim

hotel california sounds like a sun setting
listen to 'pretty maids all in a row'
it's the joe walsh track
the beauty of this song is the restraint
the song is slow
with a groove that sets slowly
when we do this song live
rob phillips sings with grace
i know we all rush towards 'life in the fast lane' and the title track
but this gem is a song that any serious music lover should seek out

'new kid in town' is a massively complex song
i don't understand how frey got around to writing this song
it twists and turns and there are layer after layer of creamy vocals
i kissed my first girl to this song
i was glad when it won grammy of the year back in 1856

'wasted time' is the song that we relive bad relationships to
this is henley baring it all
the drugs had turned
the money was meaningless
someone - maybe stevie nicks - took his heart from his chest and slap chopped it
(note that stevie nicks wrote 'sara' about henley - the key line "when you build your house - call me)
i can't move when i hear this song
nick hildyard sings it when we perform it
it's strange because nicky owns the zep when he sings it
it's his signature within CAL
but he sings henley perfect
he's able to find the depth of the lyrics and force them into your being
he destroys me when he does 'wasted time' live

bands like the eagles go down with the sun
that's their role
not to overplay
not to overkill
not to over market
but to go down with grace
and soar another day

craig martin
march 20, 2011
11:50 pm - sipping whiskey

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Bruce Springsteen's 'Wrecking Ball'

i love the album
love it
i feel like it's about time i write a bad review
but i can't
i think that more than any other classic rock artist
bruce has continually moved forward with his songwriting and production

i was tepid devils and dust
and the rising

but magic
working on a dream
and wrecking ball
those are 3 incredible records
he's got a sharp trigger finger on the pulse of the public
he's never forgotten who he is

he's sixty plus
and he's taking his life
and using it as a broadcast beacon
sure he's got a ton of cash and fame etc.
but none of us fans ever saw him embracing the privilege
he's about the art
the writing
he documents
and like i've said in previous blogs
his work is more important to a nation
than anything yeats or keats ever put out

there's this one part in the title song
where he just keeps singing 'hard times come and hard times go'
and at that moment your very own life flashes in front of your eyes
i can't think of any other piece of art that i've had contact with in the past five years
that ignites such a mindset

the performance on fallon was telling
big man free
the logical choice was an entire horn section
the performance showed him fit and ready
new songs
new vision
let's go

a lovely side note to the fallon performance
was seeing cal fan - vanessa - up on stage dancing alongside the entire audience
there was a hey jude vibe to it

if you're not a springsteen fan
this album won't win you over
it's not for you
but for the rest of us
who want a pound of substance in every down beat
bruce delivers again
bring on the tour
the world is a better place with him darting about in it

march 12, 2012
coke and peanuts

ps. i wrote this review for the forum
would love for folks to sign up and join us there!

Sunday, 4 March 2012


here's a peek at the program copy i wrote for the queen show
at massey hall
in toronto
on saturday april 14
well worth the drive
or the plane ticket
but i digress
please forgive the proper punctuation
and i really didn't mean anything derogatory about coldplay
(that comment was edited out)

Queen. What a perfect name for the band. We've come to just accept Queen. But back in 1973 when they began - they were a left turn for the music business - innovators in silk slacks with an arsenal of layered sounds and songs. Everyone paid attention. And still does. Pull out some of the early albums and listen to the music. It's a bit crazy. Somewhat manic. Frenzied with ports in the storm that soothe. And they were so young. Men in their twenties - putting all of their mojo into the music - as though their lives depended on it. I just don't get that feeling from today's artists. Ya think Coldplay slaves and sweats - foregoing common sense and urgency in order to get a sound that defines greatness? I don't.

Everybody overlooks Freddie's piano playing. He's a genius. We concentrate on his firework vocals and the flash of his personality. But alongside that was a committed musician who spent 10,000 hours honing his craft. The chording on "Bohemian Rhapsody' flows without rules. I've been scouting through old reviews and articles and never once does anyone mention his piano playing. I understand that his ashes were scattered. So next time you hear the lyric "anyway the wind blows" and you're outside and it's a tad breezy - make sure to thank Freddie for his piano playing.

Brian May's guitar sound is a direct result of the life he lives. He's an astrophysicist. It's true. And his guitar playing sounds…cosmic. He plays like he spent his formative years staring at the sky. Once he picked up a guitar, it was as though he used it to talk to the skies. If you look closely at some of the online photos of him - you can see a small satellite lodged in his hair. He's a master musician with the touch of a child. Perfect.

When we first tackled the 'Night at the Opera' album - one word that kept coming up was 'more'. More singers. More guitars. More harmonies. More money. Note for note is expensive when Queen is involved. There have been so many productions and tributes honouring the band, but nothing comes close to what we're about to do. At last count we'll have 44 musicians on stage. This includes a choir. I was a bit frenzied at rehearsals. More. More. Bigger. Thicker. Louder. More. The show at Massey Hall will not only be note for note - cut for cut, it will be perfect. Historic. And at times funny. Because like most British bands - their sense of humour was always in tact.

Classic Albums Live will perform Queen's 'Night at the Opera' at Massey Hall. Now that's what I call a threesome.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Facebook killed the Internet Star

there's something happening here
the CAL site used to get a ton of hits
now you look at the graph
and it sinking faster than you can say tribute band

the facebook stats are through the roof
up up and away

it's been a couple years since i put the company up on FB
i resisted for so long
wary of what i don't know
even the 'like' page only went up a few months ago
to this day i don't understand what collecting 'likes' does

it seems all roads lead to FB
not sure what to do about this
the rebel in me wants to splinter off and do something outside of it
but it would surely prove futile
i mean
look at the dismal attempts i've made at relaunching my forum
we get spammed like crazy
we get very few new members
and there's nothing to say there that we couldn't post on facebook
basically it's just me and johnnie b posting about each others middle aged exploits

i'm going to leave the forum up a little while longer
but i just don't see the point
we're so connected on FB
i get up every morning
grab coffee
and check email
then i check FB
not my forum
i imagine everyone's routine is similar
so why fight it?

i've been working with a cat
who crunches all of my online data
CAL is huge
we're in a position on google than most companies would pay millions to achieve
and we're grooving on FB with smart stats and cool feedback
even this modest punctuation free blog garners a ton of readers

what's it all about alfie?
more postings
more photos
more videos
and more home made movies

and more blogs
if someone wants to guest blog
they just need to email me
and i'll post it
i think that's a good way to stay connected

our CAL page is where people are going to find out where we're playing
agents are using it as a tool for selling more shows
one thing that is really taking off is the 'tout' feature
those little 15 second videos are fun
i'm enjoying that experience

i do want to apologize to all the people that try to friend me on my personal page
that page is pretty much set up for family
and off colour remarks that harken back to a british upbringing
the page is largely CAL free
anyone who has a teenage kid
knows that messaging 'dinners ready'
can be more effective than yelling up the stairs

i get my back up when a mass movement takes place
for someone who lives in crowds -  the irony is not lost on me
FB changed the game
i've been trying to imagine what the next big thing will be
it's like trying to imagine a new colour
it twists your brain around
and you're left comfortably numb

i love meeting people that i've interacted with online
it's like we could instantly fall into a barbecue together
with classic rock on the burner
pass the foghat

craig martin
february 28, 2012
coffee and yogurt with cracked walnuts

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Paul McCartney

i don't think there's another person
in the annals of history
who has a more documented life

every second the beatles were in the studio
tape was running

add the interviews
the concerts
the photographs
the news casts
the hysteria

now couple that with dollars
8 track tapes
guitar hero
concert tickets

mush it all together
and you have the world's most popular man
and he is indeed bigger than
dare i say it
ronald mcdonald

mcCartney is the world's greatest composer
the greatest that ever lived

i've been trying to get the band to argue this with me
'what about mozart' they ask
yes - well mozart never sold anywhere near as many albums
'but he lived a cajillion years ago'
yes - but his music is readily available for purchase
but no one buys it
at least not to the extreme that they buy mcCartney stuff
people vote with their dollar
consequently the people have spoken

i listen to mcCartney speak and it sounds like he's singing
everything he says has a 'follow the bouncing ball' quality to it
even his name sounds like a lyric

i can't imagine what his life must be like
everywhere he goes people want a piece of him
and i think he still generates that fanatic kind of 'grab a piece of his hair' hysteria

paul mcCartney is not only the greatest composer in the history of civilization
he's the most documented man ever to live
and the richest musician to ever grace the airwaves

it's a beautiful day to dream
a crisp blue sky
a south wind
lots of squirrels darting about
i'm dreaming that the bold claims i make
will have paul ringing me
and inviting me to tea
and i'd tell him that his band is the one band still on the road
that comes the closest to CAL standards
he'll be put out by this and ask me to leave
and as i'm being shown out
i'll scream 'there's no one better to nurture your legacy paul!'
and with those words echoing
late that night
he'll punch classic albums live into youtube
and quietly mutter to himself
'i think that bloke's onto something'

feb 22, 2012
almonds and coffee

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Future Shock

interesting post by a friend of cliftons
he said that CAL is the future of rock n roll
what's not to like about that statement?
i've been thinking about it non stop

i pulled out some old rolling stone magazines from years gone by
the older the artist - the longer they have endured
but if you had a career that launched in the 90s or the 00s
you're already gone
nothing survives
everyone moves on to something new
or something really old

i love the oldies
by that i mean the old rockers who are still out there
remaining vital
performing and still working their instruments
challenging themselves

i want to be old and playing in a pub
that is a clear and vital part of my retirement plan

the math is sound
the ticking away of moments no matter how dull or exciting is relentless
and one day
all the oldies won't be here
as morbid as it sounds
i plan on attending the funerals of the following people:
bob dylan
mick jagger
paul mcCartney
i've already spoken to my oldest son about this
he said that we'll never get anywhere near the service
i said it didn't matter
he said that i'm nuts

so who's going to take care of their music?
tribute bands and they're ridiculous pandering?
pub singers with drum machines and backing tracks?
one off shows with pooled quasi semi known rock stars
who barely have a connection but are there for the glory of their personal careers?
it's us
we're the logical conclusion
CAL is the future of rock n roll

jazz is historical
it's all historical music
and rock n roll is heading that way
the mystery of it is gone

it's easy to write catchy songs
my youngest son's tv watching consists of lots of disney type bands
all of them know how to write a catchy pop song
there's a formula
it's like a how to video
it's the twilight of rock n roll

CAL is the future of rock n roll
there's something new that will happen
that's inevitable
somewhere in an inner city some young black kid
is plugging something into something
and mixing something with something
and a new music art form will be born
but it won't be rock n roll

and in a few years
all my heroes will be in their 70s
hopefully doing cameo walk ons and special event appearances
but not touring

my life's wish is that they ask us to carry on their torch
hand it down
let us be the librarians
the historians
the caretakers
the documenters
the teachers
the curators
we'll do it with honour and pride
we'll make sure the music and the legacy lives on with grace and cool

i feel like something's rumbling underneath
another changing of the guard
every generation does indeed throw a hero up the pop charts
and every generation grows up - leaving behind a forgotten trail of digital diapers

CAL is the future of rock n roll
spread the word

feb 14 2012
tea and yogurt with honey

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Life in a Day

crazy day
up late
off to a meeting
to meet a couple heavy corporate cats

on my way
on bloor street
and there's braxton hicks
one of the world's greatest sax players
and CAL alumni

i pull up - he hops in the caddy
and we're off to his place
he has a present for me!
the meeting can wait

some background on braxton's present
years ago i'm hosting a party
and my attorney dino is there
i look around the room
and realize that he's a lawyer to everyone in the room
i ask him what it's like to know everyone's secrets
he said it renewed his faith in humanity
that it's our flaws that make us attractive
and without that - we'd be robotic
like star trek next generation

years later i relate that story to braxton

back at braxton's
it's 2:10pm
we're drinking scotch
he hands me my present
it's a painting of the starship enterprise that he painted in grade nine
he took my little story to heart
and i'm deeply touched
the painting is already up on the wall

running late
off to the meeting
with 2 fingers of scotch in me
nice restaurant
and the corporate cats are cool
they care about their jobs
they want to do something different
they have the know how and the infrastructure
i like them
we touch on my selling CAL
it's a valid question

the meeting had lots of other elements
i love that people dream
it ignites things inside me
we conclude feeling up and optimistic

trampoline class with my youngest
then dinner at a chinese food buffet
a tims to follow
and it's off to the doors rehearsal
the CAL doors band is smart
and exact
and clifton sounds and looks great
happy and strong
a strange headspace to be in when your singing doors
but clifton makes it all work
and flow

before you know it
the doors rehearsal is over and the zep rehearsal is starting
and in a flash there's 12 musicians in the room
and everyone is sparking and hugging and laughing

then it's down to business again
and the new CAL zep band begins unraveling zep 4
with all the mysticism of it in tact
phil naro understands this music
i comment on him needing a bit more 'british' in places
he digs it and wraps himself around the delivery
man this is good

then it's off to the old CAL zep band rehearsal
nicky's back in town
he's in through the out door
and fresh from zep 2 in orlando
and this is a big thing
because this month we have 2 CAL zep bands on the road
and they're both beautiful

back at my house
it's late now
rob phillips drops by to switch a bunch of guitars around
i make chilli and salad
some wine
we put on a doobie brothers album
talk shop
it's relaxing
he leaves with some heavy clothes that don't fit me anymore
watch for bobby and the black velvet blazer

now it's late
and i'm alone
listening to sticky fingers
in two weeks i'll be out of this house
my family house
i sold it to a young family with a nice vibe
time i was on my way

the year ahead is full of change
i think about selling CAL
because i'd be foolish not to consider every possibility
but there's this picture of the starship enterprise hanging on my wall
and there's a feeling i get
when musicians are busy
and working together
that brings life to life
and i realize
that there's no way i'd ever sell CAL

jan 18 2012
red wine and salad scrapings

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

We Love Lindsay!

we love lindsay clark
she works very very hard
normally someone that worked that hard on things
would be cause for alarm
but lindz is fast and fun
and holds up well when a challenge comes her way

here's a fun quiz i sent her a year or so ago
you can see her wit come through
she plays the same way
there's an assurance about her performances
there's never a worry when lindz is on boards

What has CAL taught you?
  Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.

Is there anything you can't do with your instrument?
  Uh, no.  Please don't ask me to elaborate on that; this is a family book. 

Three Albums? 
Zep IV, The Wall, Thriller.

Beatles or Stones? 
The Who.

What has been your biggest musical challenge? 
Boston.  I nearly soiled myself every night with stage fright, but I always won.

Monty Python or Spinal Tap?

What is the philosophy of your playing?
  Look innocent and keep going.

Favourite album to perform?
  The Wall.  It takes me on a real emotional journey each time.

Favourite road story?
  Once upon a time, on the Zep IV East Coast tour, Nicky had this binder he kept his lyrics in...

Favourite venue?
  Imperial Theatre, Saint John, NB.  I picked up a boyfriend through that place.  I ended up dating the GM's cousin, who lives in Toronto.  It lasted almost a year, and I still consider him to be the one that got away.

Where do you keep your passport?
  On me at all times.  You never know when you'll need to make a quick getaway.  (AND I KNOW THIS QUESTION WAS DIRECTED AT ME!)

What's it like working with Craig?
  In terms of Craig's energy and enthusiasm, like working with a really really really smart 10-year-old.  Everything new is an exciting adventure to him.  (AND YOU KNOW I SAY THIS WITH LOVE IN MY HEART!)

When did you first hear about CAL?
  They advertised the 1st anniversary show, which was The Wall, in NOW magazine, which I normally consider to be a waste of pulp.  I went to the show, loved it, and spent the next 3 years emailing Craig asking him to give me a job.  He obliged me on June 28, 2007.

When are you the happiest?
  With lots of work to do, and ample time to get it all done.

Springsteen or Springsteen? 

What do you hear in your playing that mirrors your life?
  In playing as in life, it's all a big puzzle. 
 On me at all times.  You never know when you'll need to make a quick getaway.  (AND I KNOW THIS QUESTION WAS DIRECTED AT ME!)

What's it like working with Craig? 
In terms of Craig's energy and enthusiasm, like working with a really really really smart 10-year-old.  Everything new is an exciting adventure to him.  (AND YOU KNOW I SAY THIS WITH LOVE IN MY HEART!)

When did you first hear about CAL?
  They advertised the 1st anniversary show, which was The Wall, in NOW magazine, which I normally consider to be a waste of pulp.  I went to the show, loved it, and spent the next 3 years emailing Craig asking him to give me a job.  He obliged me on June 28, 2007.

When are you the happiest?  With lots of work to do, and ample time to get it all done.

Springsteen or Springsteen?

What do you hear in your playing that mirrors your life?
  In playing as in life, it's all a big puzzle.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Johnnie B

here's a cool story from johnnie b
we've been together for so long

a couple weeks ago
we were in the van in new york
i was in a pissy mood
so was he
and we just started bitching at each other
for no reason
it passed
we ended up laughing about it seconds later
bobby remarked from behind us 'the marriage is back on'
and that's the way it is with us
we're brothers in arms
i would and will always do anything for him
all he ever has to do is ask
he never asks
he's a strong righteous man
a wicked bass player
a husband
a son
a farmer
a father
a friend

the road does things to you
we've been on the road for all of our adult lives
it's what we do
it takes a special person
and john batuszkin is a very special person

here's a story he sent about our beginnings together:

So I'm 22 and living with Mom & Dad - because that's just how it was. I left a band because I'd had it! Now I'm looking for something to do - maybe get involved with another band or go back to the dreaded daytime gig. 

I end up putting out a make shift poster with my number on it -you know the ones you find in laundromats with the little tags of numbers you just tear off - mine had a picture of Mickey Mouse on it.  Low and behold I get a call from this guy - Craig Martin. He asks me if I like the Stones? I politely say "Not really." Yet instead of hanging up he carries on with the questioning. At the end of it we agree that we're going to get together. "Alright," I say to myself, "He sounds like a cool guy."

He arrives at my house, knocks on the door & for some reason I'm giddy like a school girl! (friggin weird). He knocks on the door, looks at me and his first words are "Hey, you're tall! That's great!"  My Mom offers to feed him as soon as he walks in. (Mom's are great)

He walks into my room, looks at my gear, sits down, listens to demo tapes of bands I've been in, looks at me again and says, "Hold on a minute."

He walks out to his car (Burgundy Malibu Estate wagon) fumbles around and returns with an armful of albums and asks  "Can you learn these for Wednesday?" (it's Monday) "We have a gig outside of Montreal on Friday, rehearsal is Wednesday." So I look at him, perplexed and overcome with a fear of losing a gig, and I say "Sure, no problem".

Then I ask "What's the name of the band?"

"The Midnite Ramblers," he replies.

That was the beginning of a great friendship. Now as we push forward into the 9th year with CAL - my 7th - I really don't think things have changed that much. He's out there on the front lines making sure everything that he has sunk into this show is going to be as great as possible, no different than doing the Harbour Inn (Owen Sound) with The Midnite Ramblers on a Friday night!


ps: i'll always think of b as a giddy school girl