Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy 1972!

listen man
last year was a downer
it totally bummed me out
like - the shows were cool
there was some heavy moments
last waltz
dark side of the moon man
i mean this stuff blew my mind man

but then i'd come home and turn on the tv
and it was debbie downer time
it was occupy this
and crash that
and then there were all those old cats in suits talking about money
and arguing
and then all this stuff about gas and oil
and i just got the feeling that i was hustled
and not hustled in a funky get your freak on way
but in a way that i'd never understand
and at the end of it i was mixed up
and just wanted to hear some music

1972 has got to be about the music man
we've got to get back to the garden man
we've got to love one and other right now

i think 1972 is going to tap into our collective consciousness
and everyone's gonna get together and do what's right
and that involves us going more concerts man
because concerts unite us
tv man
that's a box of hypocrisy
the real people are on the streets man
going to concerts and getting their minds blown man

i can dig all the messages everyone is sending everyone
but you can't believe everything you read
big brother is watching man
he's seeing everything and collecting information man
in 1972 we've got to be careful
and go to more concerts man
that's the secret

so like wow man
i can't wait for midnight
i'm already feeling groovier

happy new year

dec 31, 2011
doobie brothers man

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Woodstock Show

i love the woodstock show
it was put together with love for the decade

i took a lot of liberties with the show
the csny set was based on the original recordings of the songs
their set in white lake was fantastic
but i think the live experience didn't quite translate to tape
it was a question of 'you had to be there'
we weren't there
i was eight
so in reviewing the album and the movie
i decided to go with album tracks instead of live tracks

i also cut out a ton of joan baez songs
and the same with a bunch of other performances
we had to take three days and get it down to 2 hours
the deeper i went into the catalogue
the deeper connection i felt to the event
ultimately i decided to go for the songs that vibed me the most

soul sacrifice
i watch troy on this song
his sacrifice
he could be anything
but he decided to be a drummer
that blows my mind
troy - your dedication to your art is admirable

i wrote a nice blog about bobby
so i'm not going to blow anymore sunshine up his ass
but man - bobby - you were great on this show

marty singing joe cocker is one of those moments
where if you're not smiling you're not alive
we all love marty together
all at the same time
that's real currency
that's the stuff that makes your humanity come to the forefront

and nicky
singing stephen stills
and playing piano on sha na na
did you catch it?
we know nicky for the zep shows
but he's flexible
and tight
when he steps up to sing the who set
we remember
oh yeah - nicky - he's the best

and leslea
in america carlia sings the janis
in canada les sings it
i remember nicky telling me that to sing janis
you have to sing every song like it's going to be the last song you ever sing
they both do that
carlia brings the spark
leslea brings the authenticity

for the hendrix set
i told clifton to lead the band
this was a bold call
our stock in trade being the 'note for note' creed was hanging in delicate balance
but clifton channels 1969
he looks it
plays it
and lives it
his part of the show is important
it's the farewell
clifton kissed it goodbye with grace

i've been posting some funny stuff about the mud and the acid
but could you imagine something like woodstock happening in this day and age?
that much unorganization
people getting in for free
what a vibe
it's my theory that our imperfections are what make us attractive
woodstock was one big beautiful imperfection
they calculate how many napkins you take at the $12 beer stand
there's nothing rock 'n' roll about that

man i wished i was born 10 years earlier
would i sacrifice growing up with zep floyd and stones
for growing up with jimi janis beatles and stones?
i don't know
it's all so star trek worm hole stuff

the woodstock show goes into the vault
it's a strange time for me
i'm putting the imperfections away for a while
2012 has our american agency kicking in
big time
we're smart and exact now
and of course i like that
but it'll be nice to pull this show out in a couple years
and get back to the garden

all my love to all of our audiences
and the beautiful musicians who gave all they had show after show
2011 was the journey to see if we had what it takes to survive
we do

peace and prosperity

december 22, 2011
jack daniels - lots of it

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rob Phillips

there's an energy to rob
he's one of the greats
he plays it like he lives it
and he looks like the albums we grew up with

he saved our life once
in florida in the van
swerved calmly away from an approaching accident
i was in the front seat
it was telling

i met rob over the phone
des had suggested we check him out
we were down a guitarist for a dark side show in vancouver
des doesn't fly
i called rob
and he immediately instilled confidence
we met at the airport
he was wearing a big green parka with who logos all over it
the show was great
he was fantastic
i immediately started plugging him into shows

at each show
the bar was raised a little higher
he did that
without saying a word
if rob's on the gig
you show up knowing your parts
or you're not on the gig

the hang is always smooth
the vibe is always cool
rob has a keen memory and a knack for voices
he can recite a great many things
with exactitude
it keeps us laughing

one night we're in orlando at the hard rock
and i'm eyeing the crowd
they're going bananas
the band finished their last song of the set
we're side stage confirming encores
i decide to pull 'echoes' in favour of 'have a cigar'
rob opposes me - strongly
no one has ever done this before
okay i say
echoes it is
it was the right call

he's a friend to us all
we're drawn to him
just like the audience is
it's such a gift to constantly be in contact with that kind of greatness

him and his wife play in a blues band together
troy plays drums
it's so cool
she's beautiful and you can tell that they love each other
and that's what it's all about
john lennon was right about everything
and rob mentors with john from afar

he's paid his dues with us
he's been in a ton of different situations
we've been through a lot together
he's the rock that guides us all through that difficult stretch of time
he keeps calm

one day some big rock star is going to snatch him up
i look forward to that
because i know rob
and no matter what
he'll always be playing
and we'll always keep a spot warm for him

december 20, 2011
pinot grigio

Sunday, 18 December 2011

2006 and Business is Booming

it's 2006
and it's a machine now
i've got my sister on daily operations
i've got one of my best friends - johnny b - road managing and blowing bass
i've got another one of my best friends booking me - steve butler!
and i've got the best musicians working with me

my dynamic with everyone feels good
i'll never quit the road
i like being with everyone

i realize that to many of the musicians
i'm their main source of employment
it's my decisions that shape the company
and keep musicians working
i start to pay strong attention to this

then i notice my dynamic changing
and i'm the boss
that takes some getting used to
but i got a good track record
and the shows go off
one after another
note for note - cut for cut

i started mixing the shows
it was the final step in my quest for absolute control of everything CAL
a lot of people don't realize
that what they hear in the audience is controlled by the sound-man
one day i just looked down at the sound board
and said i can do this
and began mixing the shows

i'd mix the eastern tours
that's where i learned about sound
in the maritimes
first with the zep band
then with the wall tour
i've always been hands on with the musicians and their sounds
i began to implement different changes they would make into my mix
i don't know of many techs that do this
our shows constantly change
different line ups
different gear
i can anticipate things with sound
the hardest thing to do is build the perfect 3 part harmony
each voice has to sit pretty
and the butter has to melt

i trust very few people with the mix
rich hagen is the best there is
he's got the gift of sound in him
and he's graceful if i have to bark instructions about a mix mid show
that says a lot
with rich there is no feedback
other than 'nice mix'

I also began to rethink how i do business
our shows are void of creativity
our boundaries clearly defined
so i thought i could be creative with my business dealings

it started with my bank
i was standing in line
in the business line
i pay a premium price to stand in the business line
it's supposed to move faster than the non business line
but i'm waiting
so every time  i'm in line
i get the receptionist to clock me in and out
and make a note of it
then i bill my bank $1200
i sent them an invoice
they phoned
i explained my situation
the bank manager said 'Well, Mr. Martin, we're not in a position to pay this. Is there something else you want?'
yes i said
wave my bank fees on all my accounts for a year
they agreed
right on

i began to apply this to other parts of the business
i get a business visa card with high reward miles
and i put my entire life on it
i pay it off entirely each month
i never payed a cent of interest
in fact
they're paying me now
i have a ton of air miles saved
this is good for the series

spending a lifetime on the road
teaches you the value of money
i keep things tight
i'd rather pay the musicians top dollar than another tech
we can load our own gear
we're not precious
we're strong and resilient

make sure to read the chapter on the imperial swan hotel (posting soon)
my god
we stayed dives
in a way i forced some of the players to pay their dues
growing up some us who gigged in the 70s and 80s
knew the lay of the land when it came to hotels
staying at the swan was slumming it for some of us
for others it was a throwback to another time
we all got through it together
i have many good memories connected to staying in dives

the best thing about a bit of success
is sharing it
musicians are honourable people
and CAL is a warm place for them to land
i aspire to employing more musicians
and paying them top rate for their work
isn't that a good reason to get up in the morning?
other than parenting
i can't think of a better one

revised on december 18, 2011
guinness and apple

Monday, 12 December 2011

Will Hare CAL Keyboardist Interview

i love will
he loves music and works very well with others
i'm always reviewing his sounds and he's always graceful about making changes
he sets a standard for keeping cool
i want him to grow his hair and grow a beard and develop a drug problem
but he plays it straight and takes my ribbing in good stride
because like all good keyboard players - he arrives preprogrammed
when will's on the show you can expect perfection
he's a good man
and becoming a good friend to many of us

here's an interview i did with him

What has CAL taught you?
For me CAL hasn't exactly taught me a lot of things so much as confirmed my beliefs about how one should conduct themselves as a musician.  It's proven to me that a high standard of musicianship has it's place and has it's rewards.   It has confirmed my beliefs about the value of teamwork - Never before have I dealt with companies of 10, 11 or 12 people.   I've always believed it crucially important that you get along with your bandmates and my experiences in CAL have demonstrated that.   So rather than teaching me something, CAL has shown me that I`ve learned my lessons well in the past.

Is there anything you can't do with your instrument?
I am not a strong soloist.  I have my days where I catch a magnificent wave and I don`t even understand how I`m playing what I`m playing but I can`t do that reliably.  Other than that, my instruments are my tools and serve me well.

Three Albums?
Fragile - Yes
Days of Future Passed - The Moody Blues
Tarkus - Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Beatles or Stones?

What has been your biggest musical challenge?
Maintaining a high level of musicianship - At a certain point it is no longer like riding a bike.   A high level has to be nurtured.   Playing songs like "Rudy", "Foreplay/Longtime" and most of Machine Head do not come easily - One just has to decide that they are going to play them and do the work required to accomplish this and ignore whether you think you can or not.  This takes a lot of time and commitment - That has been the challenge.

Monty Python or Spinal Tap?
Tough one...   Monty Python (but just barely)

What is the philosophy of your playing?
Assume you can play it.  If a song seems too difficult for you, believe that you just haven't seen the simplicity of it and continue to look for it.   Every difficult song will eventually cave into your persistence and hard work.   Ultimately, we're only as good as what we attempt to play.

Favourite album to perform?
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd.   Absolutely magical.

Favourite road story?
More a sound check story - Really when Clifton David starting picking up the local radio station through his fuzz pedal when we were in Moncton.  Fortunately this was captured on video.  A true Spinal Tap moment.

Favourite venue?
You'd think it'd be Massey Hall and it's close but the New Jersey Centre for the Performing Arts has a real power to it.   It's probably impossible to play badly there.

Where do you keep your passport?
On my dresser at home but in an inside pocket when I'm travelling.

What's it like working with Craig?
Let him take the reins - That's what you do.  I'm not a showman - Craig is and you have to understand that.  Learned that during the Lennon Christmas tour last year (2009) - First show was a little flat but Craig moved in, took the stage and the shows had a centre - a focus to them.   Things improved.   You then learn to trust that presence.

When did you first hear about CAL?
On Q107 - In fact I called in and won tickets on "Riffer Madness" to the Sgt. Pepper Show at the Carlu theatre.   I think that was 2005...

When are you the happiest?
During sex - Won't lie to you.

Springsteen or Springsteen?
What was the middle thing?

What do you hear in your playing that mirrors your life?
I'm pretty low-key - Not a loud, frenetic or agressive person - and I play the same way - I'm happier playing "Great Gig in the Sky" or "Shine on You Crazy Diamond - Part ix" or "Meeting Across the River" - That's more my speed. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Day In The Life

it starts like this
we get up in the morning and get into a van or a plane
we arrive at the venue and immediately walk onto the stage
greet the local crew
and go over our set up
there is always something missing
a mandolin
or a funny drum
or maybe something to do with the keyboard memory
but we solve it with phone calls and conversations
then we tune the guitars

then we head to catering
and have lunch
it's always sandwiches
once we've had lunch it's back to the stage
and we begin the long process of sound checking
we rehearse different parts of songs
sometimes only seconds of songs
we break at 5:30 providing there are no issues
then we tune the guitars

then we have dinner
it's always chicken with either rice or mashed
maybe a nice soup
and dessert
some of us have a beer
or wine
then we go back to the stage and tune the guitars some more
then the doors open at 7:30
by this time we're all in our rooms backstage
we're dress in our black and hang out in the dressing room hallway

this is a weird time
we can hear the audience in the distance
i sometimes sneak out to the lobby pre show
and have a look at everybody
3 generations at the shows
that's heavy

finally we make our way to the wings of the stage
and we can see everyone in their seats
there's always a lot of people
someone does some announcements
then the lights go out
and the house music goes off
and everyone cheers
we're really feeling the vibe now
we walk out onto stage
and tune the guitars

because we demand that our instruments be perfect
this is what classical orchestras do
for new comers this is the definition of being anti climatic
for the fans this is exciting
because they know that in any second
we're going to start the opening bars of hotel california
or whole lotta love
or come together
and we're going to play them perfectly
with the right tempo
the right sound
and most importantly - the right feel

there are people in audience who don't get it
at least not at first
they see a bunch of musicians just standing there
no costumes
no flash
no talking
and they feel uneasy
'i paid good money for this?'
but slowly they forget about the visual
and take the music in
and find excitement in a perfectly executed guitar solo
or vocal throw
and that's it
they're fans for life
and we love that they're sharing this music with us
the greatest music in the history of the world
performed by the greatest musicians in the world

after the show
we tear down our own gear
we're a tightly run organization
i keep expenses down so i can pay the musicians top dollar
we load our own gear
drive our own vans
make our own plans
and we look out for each other

once the van is loaded - it's back to the hotel
or a bar
we review the show
and have insane conversations about crazy things
rob can imitate anyone
clifton has a uniquely weird sense of humour
alex snorts when she laughs

we all hang out
that's a big part of the CAL vibe
the musicians hanging out
few of them met before CAL
you take one of the older cats like marty
and there he is hanging out and laughing with shain who's barely 21
i love that
i call it the cross pollination

i like the hotel rooms
i lock myself in
or internet for show reviews and emails
i venture down to troy's room
he's playing prog music for everyone
i take a drink of whatever is around
and smile and feel good

lobby call at 7:00am for a flight back to toronto
we gotta get some sleep

dec. 8, 2011
coffee and sliced apple

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Book is Dead, Long Live the Blog

well i scrapped writing a book
it was just too expensive
and i doubt that anyone would have bought it
once i started writing with proper grammar and punctuation
all the vibe evaporated

i had such high hopes for it
but i don't think the story is good enough to merit a book
it was the egotist inside me that spurned me on
my bastard id

alex has a theory that the world is divided into two types of people
fuck faces
and loomers
loomers just go with the flow
fuck faces try to control the flow
i asked her which one i was
and without missing a beat
she called me a fuck face
i'm okay with that

the book was becoming a burden
i started to force chapters
and it read accordingly
so i failed
my fault was announcing it
i should have just kept my mouth shut
but i'm not very good at that

i try to remain a creative person
our lines within CAL are so rigid
there's no way to colour outside of them
so i lock myself in my house
write songs
build lego with jack
debate with luke
cook with shari
it's important for people to spray paint different parts of their psyche
what's not important is telling everyone about it
some things are like poetry
i believe that poetry should never be shared in public

being a fuck face is hard work
the loomers have it made
they just blink at you while your attempting to hit a curve ball
babe ruth struck out 1360 times in his career
i've had a long list of strike outs in my life
a long list

i plan on blitzing a ton of book stuff on the blog over the next few months
it's free
but you should consider donating some money to charity
the plan was to sell enough copies
cover the expenses
and then donate all the profit to breast cancer research

i'm going to do just that
i'm going to donate the money that i think i would have raised
(this could be tense - because being a fuck face and an egotist i imagine that the book would have sold millions and that i'd lunch with oprah)
my ex battled with breast cancer
i'm going to donate in her name

the book is dead
long live the blog
the battle was futile
but the aim was true

december 6, 2011
toast and grapefruit juice

Monday, 14 November 2011


a while back i wrote
'to a teenage boy - townsend was like shakespeare
i believe that more and more with each passing day

i'm in the midst of preparing my oldest son for high school
when i say prepare
my method is to stand back and let him decide things for himself
quiet guidance and a steady hand when merited
he's into social justice and art
but quick to point out that fine art bores him
i like that he's come to that decision
it bores me too
i know i'm supposed to like it
but it doesn't move me
or astound me
andy warhol?
he gets me going

shakespeare bores me too
i read it thoroughly in high school
i can quote lines
but i like it a page at a time
i randomly read a passage here and there
i get enough juice without having to peel the entire fruit
keats yeats frost
read a lot of them
retained very little
years ago i would bullshit that i knew more about them than i did
it was some sort of inferiority complex
as if admitting that they bored me was an admission of idiocy
i haven't done that in quite a while

i'm proud of having raised myself on rock 'n' roll

to a teenage boy - townsend was better than shakespeare

what is now classic rock
was originally an intensive study of art culture and oneself

dark side of the moon taught me more
than anything i learned in high school
or college

having a cassette of houses of the holy
was more defining than any study group

and won't get fooled again was a battle cry

'to be or not to be?'
i've read that passage thirty times
and still get nothing from it

'run rabbit run - dig that hole - forget the sun'
that one stuck
and i quote it all the time
especially when i'm in traffic

'the sunshine bores the daylights out of me'
i lived that for twenty years
then i had kids

'when you got nothing - you got nothing to lose'
i've spent entire afternoons wondering what bob was up to when he wrote that
it was like a private exploration of a master

i feel curious when i listen to dylan

'i had a cup of tea and a butterpie'
this is a magic show
and kids love it
did mcCartney write a children's book?
his songs are the sound of school bells

'not a word i heard could i relate'
i say that one all the time
i mutter it to myself when discussing politics with people
who's dialogue becomes monologue

'history recalls how great the fall can be'
nothing on cbc or cnn comes close to this
it's perfect

'i'm getting older too'
that one makes me look up from the soundboard
sometimes i think mia is singing it just for me
and for a second i feel so deeply connected to her
and everyone in the theatre
and i want to send stevie nicks wilted roses

and this past weekend
we did let it be
and i heard a line i've heard a million times
but it found me and my knees got weak
'limitless undying love'
he means the most to me
people know me as a stones fanatic
and a dylan head
but john speaks to the secret heart soaring
and confirms that my decisions
be them right or wrong
are an essential part of the trip

rock is rock
and we carry it with us
through every doorway
across every field
we turn our children from pebbles to stone
we imagine with it
play within it
and we find our voice alongside it
we gather under it
and we remember through it

and when we need a change
when we need to accept some new turn of events
when we feel challenged to explain ourselves to un-understanding people
we roll

'rock is my life - and this is my song'

november 14, 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Last Waltz

when i first saw the last waltz
i never dreamed i'd be recreating on stage
at the time it was just a cool movie

nothing much happened during the 70s
at least not in my neck of the woods
the hype and hard sell was not yet part of the culture
it was more about hanging out
and seeing what tomorrow brings

my friends back yard backed onto the drive in theatre
that featured the last waltz
we had a side view of the screen
but a full sound from the movie
we spent a couple weekends just hanging out
and listening to the last waltz erupt from those drive in speakers
that you clipped to your window
i don't remember the sound being terrible
in fact i don't remember any bad sounding stereo's back then
music sounded good
high fidelity didn't hit us until the early eighties

i remember thinking 'what's the big deal?'
i wasseventeen
it would still take a couple of years for his music to move me
when it did
it was like being blind sided by a mountain

neil young
is there anybody better?
we were blown away that he said the word 'ontario' in a song

joni mitchell
it's like she never learned anything in school
and set out alone to become her own woman
what other woman came out of the 60s and survived with her credibility in tact?
grace slick?
she build a city on rock n' roll and it crumbled
janis died
but joni flourished
and still does

neil diamond
what's he doing on the last waltz
there's all kinds of google info about it
i used to hate his song
but now i love it
we have a james taylor singing it (not that james taylor the other one - the toronto one)
he captures the drama of the song
it's a fun part of the night
you'll leave singing this song

ronnie hawkins
he could probably still beat me in an arm wrestle
i think that time on the road with him would have been something
you'd have a tattoo by the end of it
and a tingling that you'd have to see a doctor for
i'm glad the band got him involved with the show

van morrison
i heard this crazy story about van the man
supposedly he came out on stage one night
and instead of singing
he reorganized the band
and made them move their amps
he's got a strange reputation for being a tad cantankerous
we're only going to be concentrating on the power of his voice
we have murray james bosch covering it
i told murray that after the show
he can pick a fight with anyone he likes

paul butterfield
i have a couple of his albums
they're pretty good
i've only ever listened to them once
but jerome godboo is performing this piece
and jerome brings the house down
in fact everything jerome does is astounding
i understand that his neighbours give him standing ovations
just for making toast

emmy lou harris
she's so sweet
her song is so country and happy
leslea has it down
it makes us all happy at rehearsal
we'll be locked up in the hall
running songs
getting lethargic
then we do the emmy song
and we're all pepped up again
it's like red bull for your ears

mavis and pops staples
what a sound
one of my favourite parts of the movie
every bar band in the world does a version of the weight
but when mavis and pops sing it
it's like you hear the song again for the first time

muddy waters
he got the band fired up
they were all freaking out that he was there
mannish boy is a defining song for me
play it at my funeral
we have john mays from the acclaimed toronto blues band fathead
he's going to be delivering the cock a roo on this one
i can't wait for this part of the show

eric clapton
great scene in the movie where his strap falls off
i get the guys to do it real quick
no one ever notices
clifton will be performing further on up the road

dr. john
what a voice
what a player
he sinks into the groove like a levy
he sounds like a swamp
and his song casts a velvet vibe over the entire evening
i saw him play in north ontario a bunch of years back
he was amazing
and he was really old then
i love that he's still on the road
still playing
heading for another joint

and the band
even levon is canadian from all the osmosis
it was  a time that everyone was wearing kimonos and listening to soft rock
but the band were in checkered shirts
and pounding out song after song
no image
no carrot dangling
any trend was on the other side of the road
moving in another direction
the band just wrote and recorded songs
they were driven but not too driven
they got out on top
i would have liked to see robbie join them
at the dylan bobfest 30 year thing
i think there was some bad blood
that's not canadian

two of the original band members have passed
you look at them in the movie
they're in the prime of their life
on stage with the masters
pounding out rock and r and b and folk and country
what a night

we're going to perform the album
with all the proper respect in tact
it's massey hall
i think something special will happen this night
something historical
we're the right group to do it

funny story
when we were getting ready to book this season at massey all
jesse - the director of programming at massey got in touch
and we went through the open dates
it was fairly random
but i suggested doing the last waltz
then we looked at dates
and i suggested november 25
i didn't realize at the time that november 25th
is the exact 35 anniversary of the evening
then i pulled a horseshoe out of my ass

35 years ago
it seems like it was yesterday
the last waltz stays with all of us
as i've said before
it's the sound of the hippies getting together
and saying goodbye
thanks for the trip

november 2, 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011


not sure what being canadian means
can't describe the smell of the air as fall cedes to winter
can't put my finger on a canadian sound

rock n' roll is an american art form
little richard and chuck berry
you'd be wrong to call elvis rock n' roll
he was a for a flash
but he didn't write his songs
nor did he perform much rock n' roll later in his career

jazz is also an american art form

maple syrup is a canadian art form
and it costs as much as jazz

rush is canadian
their music sounds more cosmic than hoser
despite them being hosers

bryan adams used to be canadian
but he buggered off to england
and besides
grown ups don't listen to bryan adams

drake is from canada
i have no idea what it is he sings about
it sounds like a bunch of disconnected thoughts
kind of like deep thoughts by jack handy
only with a bad clothes

max webster
they're canadian
but they represent a fringe element
like that kid in the back of science class
who relished slicing into a frog

anne murray is canadian
kill me now

those guys wore the worst clothes and hated each other
that's not canadian

arcade fire?
the main guy - the tall one with the hitler youth look
he's from texas

joni mitchell is canadian
and she's a good ambassador of what canada sounds like
providing you've run away from home and spent some time in a cult

leonard cohen is a fine canadian
and his music has more of a suicidal sound
for leonard to faithfully represent canada
we'd need to turn into a nation of brooders
and pontificate at length on such sacred topics as fruit and room service

gordon lightfoot sounds like canada to me
i pick him
even his name is canadian
everyone should know a gord at some point in their life
seek out gord's gold
it's a great retrospective and a perfect canadian album
i keep seeing gord around town
i rode in an elevator with him once
but i had nothing to say
because i'm canadian too
and like the english
we like to talk about the weather
and the weather in the elevator was fairly blah
so it was best to just keep my mouth shut
very canadian

there's dozens of canadian war stories
that tout the heraldry of canadian soldiers
and while this is a music blog
i do want to take a moment to let our american friends know that
because i see the young faces of these men and women
mostly in airports
and i want to give them a neil young album
and tell them thanks for your service

and speaking of neil young
isn't he the greatest canadian
a true hoser
never once bowing to trends or fashion
never compromising
and like all good canadians
he dreamed of success in the states
and went off to find it
i can relate to that!
neil sounds like canada
his voice is as unique as a loon
and his guitar playing is reflective of our weather
both with calm and fury
and neil has no problems calling you out
if you've done something wrong
you hock your songs for commercials?
neil's there to stick your money up your ass
you take up arms and wrongfully shoot a protester?
neil will immortalize your folly in song and forever become your conscience
and i don't think neil sees a border between america and canada
and i like that
because neither do
i pick neil to most faithfully represent the sound of canada
if you doubt me
then buy tickets to our last waltz show at massey hall
and i'll prove your wrong there

october 29, 2011
coors light (i bought it for rick vatour and it tastes like piss)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Let it Bleed

what a mess
we were supposed to be playing let it be this saturday in port hope
but instead we signed on for let it bleed
a mess
we have the let it be show all shiny and cemented
and the let it bleed show is a rag tag collective of old friends
with yours truly in the bullseye

we're having a blast getting the album together
any chance to stand in front of doug inglis
and beside des pup and mark's guitar onslaught is a truly joyous occasion
and i love the stones
let it bleed is a perfect album
i put monkey man on for my boys today
and they were freaked out
they connected

we've had some cats play with us in the past
who just can't play the stones
sure they got it charted out and understand where all the notes go
but you gotta have done hard time for either drug possession or murder
in order to properly play the stones
luckily we've all been arrested several times for a series of crimes
des' offences were mostly due to overdue library books
and doug inglis once shot a man in boise
just to watch him dance
i've escaped from maximum security prisons so many times i've lost count
this kind of bravado makes us all perfect for the let it bleed album

the stones themselves are imploding
there's been a lot of bad blood running through their party lines
i've said it before
they need to hire me
i'd whip them into shape
tell them to stop leaping about
stop pandering to a crowd that's seen it all before
just sit on a couple stools
and give me a knees weak version of love in vain
dig deep and connect us
we all know you're flashy peacocks
and always will be
but your souls are in the mississippi mud

i doubt we'll ever get the performance from them that we need
if they do decide to tour
it'll be big and flashy and there will be lots of leaping about
underneath a canopy of electronic steroids
and we'll hear all the hits
the same ones they've been hawking since they founded rock n' roll

which is fine

but if you need a reminder of how great the stones were
then you need to see our show in port hope ontario this saturday
we carry the torch and bleed it all over you
we'll give you the knees weak version of love in vain
or the madness of a monkey
the honk of some country
we'll give you what you want
we'll give you shelter

october 17, 2011

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


the shot of him on the gurney in the hospital
that shook me

fuckin' drug addicts
america's two biggest icons
elvis and mj
both died as drug addicts
how do you come to make sense of something like that?
the only logic that seems to rattle
is that living a sense of entitlement
will ultimately lead to a pathetic conclusion

they should have stayed performing
on stage where they belong
that's where the heart is
under the lights
look at elton
and a ton of the old rock school
still on the road
still getting learned
the time off should only be used to prep for another tour
i'm not saying a continuous run of years of dates after dates
but a healthy work ethic coupled with live interaction
that's the secret
you wanna dance?
that's the path to sustainability
without it
you alone
surrounded by a round of hired guns
all paid to continually blow sunshine up your wazzo
reality becomes a shrinking balloon

when we first tackled the thriller album
i had it on the car
immediately my boys reacted
who's this?
and the little one repeated his name like it was in direct relation to santa claus
we played it for the neighbours kids
they reacted immediately as well
and soon enough we were having poolside michael jackson dance parties
with all the kids
that's cause and effect

i beam into the ongoing trial from time to time
i could really care less
he's gone
everyone's accountable
you pander that much and fear overtakes common sense
you get to a point in your life where sticking a needle in your arm becomes routine
then it's tick tock my friend
you don't stop till you get enough
and there's a bad moon on the rise

last night we started re rehearsing thriller
the band was perfect from the drop
the groove was so big you could camp in it
and it was fun
fun music
remember that?
mj knew how to put a song together
him and q were the masters of pop
thriller thrills
it's a perfect record
and that's why it sold more than anything else

the king is dead
long live the king
whoever that may be
i wouldn't wish it on anyone

october 12, 2011
tea and milk chocolate

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Willie Nelson for President

i'd vote for him
so would bob dylan
and that's good enough for me

ol' willy just seems like the type of guy to get things done
problem at the UN?
he'd phone Kris
Kris would say 'what would johnny do?'
and it'd all be taken care of

willie's also got some unique first hand experience with taxes
chances are he'd know exactly how much people can afford to pay
the irs came at him hard and yet he's still standing
still riding in a nice bus
still eating well
still likes to walk on the grass
who better to explain america's tax laws to the public?

he'd be good at raising money
broken bridge in pittsburgh?
'get the bus boys - we're doing a charity show in pittsburgh'
farmer's crops wiped out in boise?
'get john mellancamp on the phone!'
he'd have things fixed up right away
communities would come together
and stuff would get done

he'd weed his way through some of the more archaic laws
again - he's had first hand experience with law enforcement
and police have had hands on experience with him
i can't think of a better way to gain insight with regard to law enforcement

and think of all those tiny fires he's lit his entire life
hand held fires
surely that's got to count for something when dealing with firefighters

and healthcare?
he's old now - no disrespect
he's in great health
he could probably put together a guideline
that details how to get old - live healthy - have fun - and make a little money in the process!
my kind of guy!

the last time i saw willie perform was at the mohegan sun
we were sitting kind of side stage
and could see backstage
with everyone mulling around and tuning up and stuff
the announcer comes out and introduces him
the crowd starts to cheer
and we cheer for a few minutes
but no willie
finally he and his band make their way to the stage
but do they launch into a song?
willie just goes back and forth on the stage waving to people
and we're all so glad to see him
that we're cheering even louder now
it was presidential

i put a call into willie's head office
said that i'd love to help handle his campaign
they told me it all sounded good
but they had no idea where he was
it turns out that somebody shot out the gps system on his bus
and willie's just cruising around america
going from town to town
playing music with his friends

that's the kind of guy i'd vote for

october 5, 2011
coca cola and dark chocolate

Monday, 3 October 2011


not sure what's going to happen with new artists
i'm pretty sure that if you set out to get rich you're going to fail
i think it's more about being driven
needing to do something

my friends and CAL alumni have a prog band called druckfarben
they made a cd
this is ancient thinking
but prog in an ancient art form
started by the druids i think
they pooled their money and made a cd

prog is complicated involved sometimes maddening music
i'm a rocker
i like it four on the four
at heart i'm a folkie
so making the leap to prog involves new shoes and new ears

so i laced up and i think we have a winner
the music is full of chops and riffs
and the production is clean and crisp

druckfarben sounds like nothing else out there today
so what compels these middle aged men
to get together and make music like this?
there's no big answer
it's what they do
it's like going to hockey practice
or having a stamp collection
it's for the enjoyment
and for them
it just needs to be done
and the boys in druckfarben got it right

in listening i'm astounded at how much work went into the disc
we're talking lots of hours
some of them have kids
i don't know where they found the time
the results are stellar

i think it's admirable that they do a prog jam
and people come and play
musicians who have no other venue to play prog music at
druckfarben affords them an audience and gear
it makes me want to run for public office and issue them tax credits

making a cd makes no sense to me
it's a sinking ship with all the money getting wet and too slippery to hang onto
i would have put the dough into touring
but they have a plan
and i support them whole heartedly
they'll always have this record to be proud of
that's a currency onto itself

go to their site
and support them

it's an honour to work alongside them in CAL

october 4, 2011
beer and olives

Friday, 23 September 2011

Happy Birthday Bruce

happy birthday boss

favourite quote:
"I don't know how I'm supposed to be the Boss if I get stuck carrying the amps...".

favourite song:
spirit in the night (hammersmith 75)

favourite tour:

best moment:
the rosie video where the girls all grab him

best look:
tunnel of love tour

best wife:

worst moment:
dancing in the dark video

best moment:
kissing clarence right on the lips in front of 50,000 people on the usa tour

favourite mix up:
rick springfield

favourite interview:
tiff with edward norton

can't sleep?
watch the promise

best cause:
feeding people

best band ever (and i mean this):
e street band

best that rock n' roll has ever been:
hammersmith odeon london 75

september 23, 2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

U2 and Me Too

i was on the U2 rattle from the get go
i did follow
and i still do
but not with the same glare glasses that i used to watch them through
they blinded me with silence
but every now and then i'll catch a new tune and jingle along

recently they ran the rock n' roll hall of fame 25th anniversary show on tv
there's a funny part where the guinness boys are on stage with springsteen
and bono's having a deep and profound chat to the crowd about rock n' roll
and springsteen kind of interrupts him as if to say
'shut the fuck up and let's play some music'
i love that
bono could always take the piss
he puts it out there
and believes it
say what you want
but he tries to save the world
and he tries very hard
lots of people talk a good game
i can't think of another revolutionary since lennon that put it on line
day after day
that's rock n' roll to me
when it jumps off the stage - off the album and into the public pockets

there's a scene in rattle and hum
they're playing sliver and gold
and bono says 'c'mon edge, play the blues'
and edge goes into this echo drenched guitar rhythm
that sounds nothing like the way blues are supposed to sound
yet it sounds exactly like the blues
that's never been done before to my knowledge

i've seen U2 live so many times
i cried once
it was the indoor broadcast of the actung baby tour
they did one
i couldn't move
i welled up
i've never done that at a concert before
that song can destroy the toughest of hearts
supposedly axl rose stayed in his room for days listening to that song over and over
i can relate to that kind of fervour

years ago me and a friend snuck into maple leaf gardens for their sound check
we just walked in the backstage
john had brought a brief case
they opened the doors for us
well once U2 arrived they cleared the entire gardens
and it was only the inside cabal of techs and staff
me and john were lying up in the greens on a walkway
watching them greet their crew and sound check
they played waterboys songs to check the PA
and they had some trouble with a click track
but their groove was loose and serious at the same time
i loved them
i wanted to be in a band like that
and i was jealous of bono's coat

U2 grew up in front of us
they are the last of the classic rockers
but even that title doesn't fit
they chase the carrot - but at least it's been grown in ireland
i'd love to get them into a studio and get rid of the electronica and click tracks
i'd tell them to stop writing choruses and just get a message out
without a hit seeking hook (that formula seems to fail of late)

we're performing the joshua tree in oakville
info on the site
i have murray james bosch singing the show
he has the opera and the range to capture bono at his finest
the guitar onslaught will be dialed in by russell gray
and clifton david broadbridge
i took troy feener off the who shows in florida
because i know that he's the best man for the job to play larry mullen jr
no small feat
the joshua tree is one of those left turn albums
it sounds like no other record
and it trespasses into your psyche and hangs around there as it begins
to rewire your brain
it's a perfect album
a beautiful album full of challenges and an earnestness that has long since
been removed by success and money

look at this blog
they make me all wordy
hell i even used some punctuation
usually my blogs are short little snippet lines
easy to read paragraphs with just the juice
but this one has run on sentences
and kind of meanders without a home
just like U2

september 21, 2011
bud and jack

Monday, 12 September 2011

5 Albums You Didn't Know You Needed

let me save you some time
if you're like me
you turn on classic rock in the car
maybe the kids talk you into tuning in the hits station every now and them
and you catch yourself humming along to bit of fluff
or you're in traffic and everything sounds annoying so you listen to talk radio
where people talk about how annoyed they are

we all have our skin graph albums
the ones the inhabit us
but sometimes they sound tired
the next day they sound energized
but so much depends on your mood

so i've found 5 albums that you probably don't have
and you should buy these albums and play them
that way you won't be tempted to buy some of the quantized crap
they continually try to shove down our throats

so here's my list of 5 albums you didn't know you needed

1. james gang rides again
crazy ol' joe walsh has crafted a perfect album
released way back in the early 70s
this album sounds like a time when you listened to an entire record
i implore you not to press skip when playing this album
the record is a trip and needs to be taken seriously
you'll thank me next time you drive to california

2. neil young - freedom

maybe you've got an old friend
and he still thinks it's the old days
and dresses like it's the old days
and sometimes he doesn't shower
and he lights funny shaped cigarettes
and talks about left wing politics
and ends up crashing on your couch
this is the perfect album for such an occasion

3. rolling stones - the london years
i have it on vinyl (i have everything on vinyl)
it's a 4 album set
if you ever meet up with me
and want to hang out
you'll need to own this album
i judge people by whether or not they own this album
now you know
you're welcome

4. elton john - captain fantastic
the master at his best
this album is the 70s
tracks need to be listened to with the accompanying booklets
and you need to spread the poster out that comes with it
and disappear into imagery poetry and grooves
it's one of the few albums that sound good
in both daylight
and evening
you've already got all the elton greatest hits packages
maybe you're familiar with honky chateau
this one will complete your eltonness

5. paul mcCartney - ram
his best album
better than band on the run
raw and cool to touch
my buddy rob and i bought farms and raised goats after listening to this album
linda is a big part of the mcCartney post beatles sound
she's amazing on this record
i spent the summer with my kids singing "hands across the water"
we should all email paul and tell him to play more songs from this album live
i tried
but he's still mad about me about the goat thing

so there you have it
i generally don't like lists
but i'm in a numbers mood
and besides
what's better than sharing music with friends?

love to all

september 12, 2011
corona and almonds

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


ac/dc got it right
not once
but twice

the bon scott years were like our naughty cousins coming over to visit
there was a strong chance that something was going to get broken
the band sounded like they could fight their way out of a title match
being from australia
they were left alone to define themselves without a care for the rest of the globe

i knew a cat - earl johnson - used to play with moxy
i worked with him for a while selling stereos
i was nineteen
he told me stories about being on the road with them
getting into a fight with bon
stuff like that
i loved it
remember at the time it was
soft rock
new wave
punk was still gasping
and everyone started to get bad hair cuts
but ac/dc gave us a pure shot of rock n' roll
at a very needed time

then bon died
and we heard nothing about them

then all of a sudden back in black comes out
and they've got a new singer
and some guy named mutt is producing them
and holy smokes does this band rock
and then it was everywhere

who does that?
i can't think of anyone
people counter with van halen
but i never bought a single record with sammy hagar
genesis maybe
but phil collins was already in the band so that doesn't count

no other superstar band switches up singers
and blazes a new trail
it just doesn't happen

ac/dc is harder to play than you think
their changes are smart
and the guitar tones are cleaner than you think
all the bar bands i see on line do it wrong
both bon and brian sing with a lot of melody

kids like it
and that's always a good sign
sure kids like jay z and all that stuff
but once you accept ac/dc as a part of your rock n' roll heart
you're a lifer

there's something honest in their music
i'm always surprised that more christian groups don't picket them more
there's a ton of hell references
but common sense prevails
the lads shone a spot light on hell
and made it seem
kinda thematic
it's more like a disney ride
than a certainty

i'm a folkie at heart
i like the poets
and the troubadours
most of all i like real things

ac/dc drive the train
and they never go off track

september 8, 2011

Monday, 5 September 2011

Guest Blogger: Dr. Wu

                                                              My Musical Epiphany

I had gone 48 years listening to and seeing many musical groups, but there was still a void in my life from not seeing some acts.
That all changed on the night of January 22, 2004.
I'd won tickets from a radio station to see Classic Albums Live Presents: Led Zeppelin II at The Phoenix. With my underage son and his friend in tow, we had no idea what was to occur on the stage that night. It was a defining moment in my love for music. Led Zeppelin WAS on stage that night, in a perfect recreation of the album note for note, cut for cut. It was an eerie, hair rising, out of body experience. Most of the evening was spent with my eyes glued to the stage or looking around the room at the reaction of others. My jaw was sore for days from being wide open in total disbelief. I have had this experience relived over and over many times since that night.
 My list of CAL shows seen is quite long now . My list of the Top 5 CAL shows is long too, as a few times a year I add a few other shows to it. 

Many Alumni also have played in other bands, and my love of music and  support of local musicians has allowed me to see many other fine acts and shows such as The Midnight Ramblers, Mason Dixon, Mamakin, Druckfarben, The Dylan Tree, Fraser Daley Duo , Jeff ‘s Healeys Jazz Wizards and the Jerome Godboo Band.

I had seen The Band (with CSNY and Jesse Colin Young ) live at Varisty Stadium September 2,1974 , and CAL perform The Last Waltz at The Phoenix December 13,2007.

I now anxiously await the epic presentation on the stage of Massey Hall Friday November 25,2011. My mind continues to wonder what surprises, and details Craig will have in store for us, and who from his stable of incredible world class musicians will grace the stage .

I can only imagine how perfect this upcoming night will be……..see you all soon at the Grand Dame of Concert Halls.


Sunday, 28 August 2011


when i was little
my dad called me in from the front yard
he knew i liked music
on the tv was a clip of the rolling stones
it was the 60s
and the clip was black and white
i can't remember the song
but i remember the feeling

a couple years later we crowded around
to see the beatles do hey jude on david frost

after that some of the older boys made fake guitars for us
and we started a pretend band in my garage

by the time i hit junior high i was distributing chum charts
they were a weekly mini foldout of all the songs on the radio
and their chart positions
i knew them all off by heart
still do

by high school i was in deep
banging away on a kent guitar that my dad traded a broken lawn mower for
we all traded licks in stairwells and burger joints
i remember my case open on a pinball machine
some older boys told me to move it
i told them to wait
i was busy learning the riff to china grove

a friend of mine in high school's cousin was jim kerr of simple minds
jim would send scott the papers from across the ocean
we were freaked out by the punk scene
the pictures were very much different from the kimonos and silk blouses
that were fashionable at that time
then one day scott brought in a sex pistols 45 jim had sent
god save the queen
we went back to my house and put it on
we had never heard anything like it
we didn't know anything about mosh pits or slam dancing
but we immediately started jumping around and banging into each other
i maintain that i was one of the first people in north america to ever hear
the sex pistols

our family vacations were spent wherever there was a beach
one of my parents favourite places to go was asbury park new jersey
beautiful beaches
the four of us would cram into a motel room
and hang out at the beach all day
i was always allowed to buy one album on family trips
i remember holding a copy of greetings from asbury park (springsteen's first lp)
i choose tommy instead because it was a double album
later the greetings album would have a deeply profound affect
on the way i listened to music
and the meaning i sought in it

as my father's business started to grow
so did our family vacations
but then i was old enough to be left at home by myself
my parents would return from jamaica
tanned and holding a stack of reggae 45s
big thick chunks of black vinyl
i used to listen to the music
and groove
at first it scared me
it was 1975
reggae was a term that very few people in north america knew
but i knew it
i was taken with the heavy dub
and the madness of the echo on the vocals
i thought nothing of it at the time
but now i wish for those singles
they've been left behind in several shuffles

i was a nobody in high school
average marks
no clique to hang with
a loner
i read a lot
and listened to a ton of music
playing along with what i could
then a band i threw together played at the high school
and everything changed
girls started paying attention
i knew the line was drawn
the cast was set

i stuck it for a year in college
then my band won the battle of the bands for all four campus'
and i knew there was no turning back
i quit college
quit my 4 year job at the hudson bay company (i sold albums)
broke up with my girlfriend
and hit the road

i was lost in bars for all of my 20s
all of them
non stop gigging
it was the 80s
and you could play seven nights a week - no problem
i had cash
a car
a cool place of my own
and i slept in every day

the girl i was living with at the time was from arkansas
originally from chattanooga tennesee
we spent a lot of time traveling down there
and so began my love of the south
and all the southern accents that blanketed life there
the flavour
the music
the pace
the vibe
i dug it
and the south began to weave into my dna
and the music i listened to began to change

when the 90s hit
i was unprepared
i got my heart broken
i was broke
my van was broke
and the gigs were drying up
i'm glad for this time
because this is the time for learning
i moved to the west end of the city
and did what all broke musicians do when the gigs dry up
i read philosophy
that went on for a couple months
then one day i got up and changed my life
got some money
fixed my van
made some band promo
and hit the road again
always heading for another joint

i met a beautiful girl
got married
had kids
i made a good living playing live music on the weekends
and composing music for television during the week
i arranged local cabaret shows that brought all the different artists
of my little italy neighbourhood together
money was good
and i was able to flex some muscle with my composing
i still receive royalty cheques
now and then i'll see a movie
or a show
and hear a piece of something i wrote in the background

when i came up with CAL
i knew immediately that everything in my life had led to this point
i was blind with ambition
and forceful with what i wanted to achieve
that was nine years ago
i remember telling everyone about it
i talked about it non stop
i had an idea and i shared it with everyone
everyone was supportive
that was a big part of the initial success
having everyone telling you to go for it

now my life resets
the series is just taking off
all of her
and we'll be there for her
with note for note accuracy

i'm about to put my family home up for sale
and do a brady bunch move with shari
i getting my will together
and i'm taking out life insurance
i'm filing corporate taxes in the united states
i'm hiring more musicians
i'm looking for a new house
and i'm starting a brand new venture
a very exciting jump forward
it's something that my entire live has been travelling towards
it's never been done before
like CAL
it's a brand new idea
i can't believe it's never been done

there's a cool wind creeping in tonight
the air is fresh with crackle
i have some early dylan on the turntable
change is coming
and i'm thinking about my life
and all the turns
they call it middle age
i think it's my third act
not quite winter
i turn fifty on friday
and this is my blog

august 29, 2011

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The State of Rock n' Roll

i just watched the tom petty documentary
it was about four hours long
and it recharged my rock n' roll clock

tom tells it like it is
he is america's troubadour
he had this quote about today's rock stars being made on game shows
i thought that was exact

i have people in my life who love the idol shows
and all the banal derivatives
i can't see it
i can't hear it
there's no heart
there's nothing real
it's smoke and mirrors

i realize i'm from a different time
and that i'm no longer being marketed too
that's okay
because the world is mostly for young people to enjoy
that's always been the way it is

but right now it's about speed
how fast can i get there?
when do i get my reward?
what can i do to stay relevant?
speed kills
you wanna get there?
take the high road
and take in some sights along the way
the high road ain't the easy road
the high road means you gotta work your ass off
and practice
and play with lots of different musicians
no free rides baby

i have people in my life who like the kings of leon
they sound like a good bunch of guys
and some of them have beards
they probably took the high road for a while
now they just cancelled a major tour
and this affects me
because our agency in canada works with their opening act - the sheepdogs
i like the sheepdogs
they have a decent sound
and some solid writing
and beards too!
and they know how to stink up a cross country van
for me
that gives them credibility
the kings of leon cancelled their tour because one of them has exhaustion
you're on stage for 90 minutes a night and you have exhaustion?
i watched two guys tear down a roof in 90 degree heat today
i bet they do that at least three times a week
you'd think they would be pretty tired at the end of an eight hour day
i wonder if they phone in sick with exhaustion ever?
could you imagine?
'i can't come into work today - i have exhaustion'
pass the pink slip
the sheepdogs were all set to rock the world opening for kings of leon
now they have a massive task of finding new shows on short notice
this makes my agent tense
i like happy agents
happy agents are good for the series
at least they have some good news by being on the cover of rolling stone magazine

right now the music business is full of strong beautiful women
lady gaga - beyonce - katy perry - rhianna - clifton david
i don't know any of their music
but they all have sexy videos
with lots of boobies and bums
but this is not rock n' roll
i've been left behind
i figure that's the way things are supposed to be
but i have CAL
to remind me that true talent will always find a place in the world

this past weekend we played two flawless dark side shows in florida
i don't know if pink floyd classifies as rock n' roll
i always think of rock n' roll music as little richard or the stones
or the beatles
maybe rock n' roll is an attitude
a way to get through life
question authority
work hard
pursue happiness

august 3, 2011
milk and a peanut butter and honey sandwich

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rock n' Roll Parenting

i've told this story before
but it's worth retelling
when my oldest son was nine
he wanted to buy the green day american idiot album
first song there's swearing
'dad - why are they swearing'
they're a punk band
'what's a punk band?'
kind of like a protest band
'what are they protesting?'
listen some more and you tell me
we listen
'the war?'
sounds that way yes
'why is there a war in iraq?'

and there it was
one song
a couple questions
and i'm talking foreign policy with my son
i tell him about other protest songs
he asks if bob dylan was a protest singer
i told him he was not

my kids are being raised in a split family
no one ever thought this would happen
but things just get in the way
and one day you're afloat in a sea of mistakes
mostly mine
so i live with this guilt of splitting up my family
once at a dinner party i was talking about this with a shrink
i don't do the shrink thing
but it was uncanny how acute her quick observation was
and how she offered one little piece of advice - apologize to your kids
i did
and still do

i know a lot of people from split families
i think that there has been a new way of thinking about this
i don't know why but i think that sharing music with your kids
is like a warm fuzzy bandaid
i'm not talking about the banal baby songs during the formative years
i'm talking about putting on some beatles and singing along
or telling them the smoke on the water story
i feel like this gives them a true insight into who their parents are
everyone's got song stories
sometimes they're the best stories to tell

and so there we were
hiking and climbing
sleeping under the stars
eating what we could carry
my and my two boys
scraped up knees
and arms covered in bites
we swam out into the middle of a lake
my youngest - jack - the adventure boy - always taking the lead
my oldest - luke - by my side - wary of the weeds
'dad - have you ever smoked pot?'
oh boy
i run a tight ship
there's lots of rock n' roll stuff
but it's not like the corner of haight ashbury
there's a part of me that wants to lie
and there's a part of me that can appeal to his rebellious side
i opt for the truth
yes i tell him
'a lot?'
no i tell him
i tell him that i was more into making money and meeting girls
and that i had my own car when i was seventeen
and that was a ton of responsibility
no pills no powders son
doing anything like that is telling me that you've decided to become
financially independent
and won't need my help anymore
i think he got it
the lie would have been exposed
i'd got enough to atone for already
we swam out to a small island together
he smiled at me in the water
his beautiful eyes full of love
i felt it
a quiet bond
rock n' roll

later that night
by the fire
the three of us sat close
i had my guitar
and played them workingman blues
and clay pigeons
they rubbed their eyes
kissed me
and both crawled into the tent
i stayed awake a while longer
took a small flask of whiskey from my pack
played a couple more songs
watching the fire ebb
and in that moment
i forgave myself for previous transgressions

july 25, 2011
coffee and blueberries

Friday, 8 July 2011

Entrepreneur of the Year Wrap Up

i'm out
i did not make it to the entrepreneur of the year finals
i called it all along

i did not connect with the judges
one of them was scared of me
another told me that he didn't like music
one cat smiled politely and nodded

a lot of the entrants were variations of
resource capital trust income merger fund
all good people providing jobs

i just wasn't in their league
nor were they in mine

i never do things that don't feel right
i can tell the way a shows gonna go
from the get go

and i always get into trouble when i follow instead of lead

i got a nice call from chris at ernst and young
hope to see him at some shows

right now i'm working out the details
on which musicians play on which album
i've got a massive column of shows
lighting up north america
lots of work for lots of players
note for note perfection
sublime moments
that moment of shivers when for fifteen seconds
a musician soars

no imitations
no costumes
no cheese
and certainly no more competitions

july 8, 2011

Warren Hudson

good lord
it's all going on today
the band is phoning and sending a flurry of funny emails to each other
jimmy cassells is supposed to be working
he works at long and mcquade's office
but i don't think he's done squat all day

and the spinning wheel spins in mysterious ways

we grew up in scarborough
a blue collar working class united nations suburban neighbourhood
moms stayed home with their kids
and the dads all left in the mornings to go to work
there were lots of kids

warren hudson was one of our gang
it was 1965
golden summers
i have movies of us all
moved over from 8mm

warren moved away by 68
maybe 69
the years get fuzzy
i have fleeting memories of him
but he moved to the other side of the tracks
to rick vatours neighbourhood
which was basically a mirror image of ours
and they all hung out like we would of if we lived closer

warren went on to play with the cfl
that's canadian football
and there is a difference
he had a couple defining games
he lit up the field more than once
i was always blown away that i knew someone on the bombers and the argos
it was a proud moment for many of us

now warren's sick
so rick phoned me up
and put together a fund raiser
to help warren's family out during some tough times
i can't say enough about how beautiful a thing this is
they booked a club
sold tickets
and now not only is it sold out
but it's oversold
and we're ready to rock

we have the midnite ramblers reforming
with rick on drums
it's important to note that these guys all grew up in scarborough
if fact i have a saying:
if you want something done - give it to a middle aged man in scarborough

i haven't really seen warren in about 42 years
he showed up at one of the phoenix gigs
it was heavy
i was at the sound board
and i got that feeling that someone was staring at me
i turned around and there's this guy looking at me smiling
40 years later i can connect him to the face
big smile
i asked about his family
and then had to get back to the mix
tonight i'll really connect with him
and we'll rock the house
because that's what we do
we do what we do best
can't wait

july 8, 2011

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Short Notices

in texas we all ate so much meat
that some of us came back vegetarians

the entrepreneur of the year meeting was fun
i was surprised at how mercenary i was
it was our job as entrepreneurs to network with the judges
i was very forthright and was probably the first of all of us
to get the CAL message to them
i figured get them early while their ears are still fresh
next comes the announcements for the finalists
i'll be surprised if i make the cut
frankly we don't make a ton of money
we do well
but we're not like a global corporation

our condolences to the king center crew
one of their techs passed
they're a tight group
he'll be missed

both nicky and dom decided to pioneer the black sleeveless look
for the zep 2 niagara safari show (zooz)
this was not a good look for the series

alex and i finished our dinners in the rain in orlando
while the rest of the girly men went scurrying for their girly umbrellas

clifton david has an original cd out
it was produced by eddie kramer
eddie kramer produced hendrix
and all the greats
it was one of clifton's life long goals to get an album produced
by eddie kramer
and he did it
and the album is strong
you can find clifton on facebook
and from there link up with his homepage
it's going to be tough for him to get his music out there
i keep emphasizing that it's all about performing live
and that's a long hard road
playing for gas money
to empty houses
so so slowly
building an audience
there's no easy way
nothing happens overnight
it never did
but he's a star
and he works hard at it
go for it clifton
i hope this post networks some people your way
it's all good for the series

there's a picture i took of the crowd in houston
but it wasn't our crowd
it was a picture of the venue that was in our dressing room
we had 16,000 people there for zep 2
but that picture was a picture of a picture
and i'm fraud for posting it

will hare is quite good at karaoke

it's not uncommon to walk into a room backstage
and see six guys in their underwear

we played the help movie before the help show in lakeland
it was cool
the help album is a strong record
our performance of the album is the best in the world
it's proof that we don't need any silly wigs or cheesy costumes
to connect with audience
the show was so good
that i considered putting it into roy thompson hall this winter
instead jesse optioned the rubber soul / revolver double bill
but i'm not allowed to talk about that

we're doing saturday night fever in oakville next week
i've taken the album
and trimmed the fat
the first set is going to be the best cuts from the record
the bee gees were amazing arrangers
their chord changes are complex
their harmonies are intense
there's a reason they sold so many albums
i realize that some of our core audience considers this
the jumping of the shark
but i'm okay with that
the second set is period friendly heavy tunes
with some serious musicianship flashing
expect a lot of stevie wonder in the second set
peter miller sings stevie sublime

the air is still cool in parry sound tonight
there's almost always a lake within sight
it's late
the band are all blobbing out in front of their tvs and computers
maybe some law and order on bravo
i'm up with a headful of hope
there have been some tough days lately
lawyers and things like that
i'm told this is the price of success
but i'm not sold on that
i don't like anything that gets in the way of the music
but now the smiles returning to the faces
and we just finished a joyous performance of the rumours album

i'm putting on the side four of the river to drift off to tonight

june 30, 2011
parry sound

Friday, 24 June 2011

Peter Gabriel and the New Blood Orchestra

peter gabriel
the music is his master
he's always been interesting
and deft

the show was like a show from the future
beautiful visuals and gorgeous music
no drums
no guitar
i went thinking i would be bored
but i was riveted

the new blood orchestra
was fantastic
it was exciting hearing them throw passion out from the stage
i think i accidentally had a crush on the conductor
he was in command
the arrangements were smart and engrossing

the visuals were the best i've seen at a concert
it made some of those big 'spectacular' shows look silly by comparison
this was a forward thinking use of the screen and sound
a triumph across the board

and peter
it was nice to see him be sixty odd years old
not defying gravity
being who he is
a master musician
his voice full of emotion and clarity
he took his songs
and reworked them
not content to let them simmer
he threw them into the fire
alongside some exotic steaks of cover songs
prime cuts across the grill

a lot of work went into the show
a lot
it's no small feat to move an orchestra across a country
they hybrid with some local players
i was happy to see CAL alumni anna atikinson on stage

i realized that i only knew about a third of the songs
but it didn't matter
the vibration of the evening was sweet and sultry
something mattered
i was happy to be there and share it with a crowd full of music lovers

june 24, 2011
backstage in lakeland
beer and cake

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Big Man

i love those ocean's 11 movies
there was a code with those guys
you shook sinatra's hand
and you were in

i shook the big man's hand
backstage at madison square garden
the night they were performing 'the river'
i walked right up to him
and i said :
hey man - we cover a lot of you stuff back in toronto - my horn player - braxton hicks- he had to rethink his entire horn to get the sound that you do - we call it the honey horn!
clarence looked at me - smiled nodded and said 'alright'
then he held out his hand and we shook
i shook the big man's hand

i'm trying to think of another performer that's given me as many goose bumps
as clarence has
jungleland alone - i spent an entire season listening to nothing but that song
but live
the shivers
the massive introduction of brass
carving aside the guitars and taking a rightful place within the acme of the song

we've been discussing what the greatest american album is
hotel california
toys in the attic
born to run
i don't know
hotel sold the most

but for me
the greatest that rock n' roll has ever been
the absolute pure rush of spirit
has never been greater
than when the e street band pulled into the hammersmith odeon in london in 1975
that's the moment for me
i know that's a big leap to make for a lot of the hard core pink zep walrus
but there's a vibe to that show that says it was okay to drop out of college
and go on the road

his book is fantastic
tripped out and funny
and heavy
there's a tense story about him having surgery just before superbowl show
it almost wasn't going to happen
but it happened and the big man made the time
that's character
being there for your brothers

i feel sad for his family
and his band
it's tough to bounce back from losses like this
i imagine everything will have a shrine like quality to it now
like it does with danny

thanks for the goosebumps clarence
that was some serious sound coming out of your horn

june 18, 2011

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Supertramp at the Molson Amphitheatre

tight band
really tight
CAL tight

great vocals and execution all around
tempos were spot on
brass was in pocket

rick davies went deep into his discography
and dusted off some money purse candy

they had a strong musician to cover rodger's parts
he did a good job of doubling on both guitar and keys
and sang the parts so well
that it made you miss rodger
i know that's the last thing that supertramp want to hear
but it's true
i don't know what caused the rift
if anyone does please share
the clock is ticking
who's got time for troubled water when you're in your sixties?
they need to sit down
have a cup of tea
and get it out
then huff and puff
and realize that the world is ready for them
to become greater than their individual parts
and reform
and tour the crime of the century album
(and then hire me to oversee things)

the lighting for the show tonight
was easily the absolute worst lighting i have ever seen
the band was in the dark the entire night
lone spotlight reserved for rick
there was too much flash and random movement
colours that didn't match
and darkness
lots of darkness
if you're a light man
having light in the show would be a given, no?
what do you expect from a 'tech' that lights the show with headphones on?
worst lights ever
heads need to roll

but the crowd loved it
and loved it some more
a full house
with loud happy cheering
we were in the box
the mix was one of the best live mixes i have ever heard
everything was sitting as pretty as the girl next to me
there were perfect moments flowering up during the show

rick davies did no talking
it was as if he knew there was a missing ingredient
he's a master musician
he knows innate talent
he misses rodger
they miss each other
i'm right about this

craig martin
midnight june 12, 2011
salt and vinegar chips and iced tea

Monday, 6 June 2011

A Beautiful Email

i was saving this for the book
but it couldn't wait
it's one of those little life droplets that sparkle up the entire well
it's one the reasons we do what we do
it's confirming for us to know that while visiting
we leave a nice little path behind us

many thanks to brian for his permission to share this
it's an honour, sir
Hi Craig,

My brother, Bill, introduced me to CAL years ago when you guys first started playing in Windsor. We were instantly hooked.

Every time a show came around, he made sure that we both went, brought our friends and made sure that there was always somebody new who had not seen a show so they could share in our little secret of great classic rock.

Bill was diagnosed with brain cancer in may of 2009.

Last year you brought the Zeppelin show to Windsor. Bill was in the hospital at the time, but was determined to go.  I snuck him out, we saw the concert and I got him back before the nurses even realized he left.

As his illness progressed, we often talked about all of the great concertts we had seen together.
Supertramp, Doobie Brothers, Triumph, Roger Waters, and every CAL show that ever came though town.

Bill died Jan 1, 2011.

I was at the Zepplelin show last Friday, I brought friends and 3 CAL virgins, just like we always did.
I had one extra ticket - the seat looked empty to everyone else except me.

I just want you to realize that what you and your musicians do have a lasting effect on people. So if you ever have a day that makes you wonder why the hell you bother with all the B.S. of trying to make this a go, just remember there are people out there, like me and my brother, who have memories to cherish because of your gift to us.


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