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
as if it wasn’t hot enough
i’m about to land in florida
100 degrees baby
have a little sympathy
have some taste

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
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
we’re more of a family

never before has a generation been this passionate about music
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:


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



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

april 10, 2019

jack daniels and ritz crackers

Sunday, 24 February 2019


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
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

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

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

february 24, 2019

coffee and apple slices