Sunday, 16 November 2014

Join Together in the Band

sometimes i just want to hear classic rock
it's like craving a steak
you try all kinds of different food
toy with some vegetarianism
share some sushi with the kids
then all of a sudden you're craving a steak

i listen to a lot of music
all day
i listen to classical to train my ear to pitch
i listen to old country to hear the twang of a perfect voice
i listen to 50s for the mix
i listen to a lot of pop because my youngest loves it
(i love pop too - i grew up with chum charts) (chum charts are worth googling)
but i always make my way back to classic rock

today was chore day
leaves mostly
five bucks a bag for the kids
i put on some doobie brothers and went about my chores
all the while Q107 played
i got to hear my ads running
and while i thought it was exciting
the kids shrug
no big deal to them - dad's just not cool
i urge all of our american cousins to tune in Q107 on sundays
for the psychedelic sunday experience
deep tracks and cool faves spun by andy frost
a DJ who has lived this music alongside us
and knows how to communicate it

in the middle of the day
andy spun 'gettin' in tune' off of who's next
and i had one of those defining moments
where i was giddy with joy
at the thought of hearing that song and the rest of the album
played perfectly this friday at massey hall
my life - like everyone's goes through a lot of ups and downs
so when a moment occurs when you just feel good
i've learned to seize it
that moment gets better if music is involved

there's a certain feeling to the week that we play massey hall
in some ways it overtakes our every move
we do a lot of shows
but massey hall is special to us
it's our home town
it's a room where we all bring our family to
and it's a room where we get super serious about the show
in some ways - performing at massey hall
has helped shape the way we govern ourselves in every other city and town
it's greatness we strive for
it's the greatness of the album that inspires us and moves us vertically

this friday night is going to be a roof raiser
the band is smart and tight
and full of just the right amount of piss
the who are a rock 'n' roll band
like no other rock 'n' roll band
pete townsend is our generation's shakespear
the stage is set
i want you to join together with the band

november 17, 2014
budweiser and raw almonds

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fleetwood Mac at the ACC

a fantastic show
all the hits
and sing song songs
one after another
performed perfectly
i love when older bands step up
decades of experience shows up
and takes over

the mix was excellent
immediately the bass and drum grabbed me
they opened with the chain
john mcvie is the driving force
the rock
and he's the one that no one knows
but his playing is the groove
so big that you can set up a small commune inside it

mick fleetwood was wonderful
a fat drum sound and a nice touch
the old master at work
him and john the only remaining founding members
best friends still
it made me think about how the road
is confirming
and goes on forever
mick spoke lovingly of the others on stage
and finished his performance with a very forward thinking drum solo
the old dog

everyone was happy to see christine back
she sounded great
looked great
i imagined her alone
back in her hotel room
a cup of tea and a crossword
an english garden
she sang effortlessly
i'm not sure why she spent sixteen years away from the band
perhaps the chaos was too much
but in the end
it's the call of tour
that brings you back
and perhaps rids your life of the other chaos
or boredom
christine was a joy to behold

and stevie
and in control
she had a couple of cool stories she shared
i like when we get a look behind the velvet rope
stevie has paid her dues
she's one of the greats for a reason
i saw an interview with her
she quietly spoke about not having children
because of fleetwood mac
that the band and fame et al was just too demanding
when she sang landslide
i didn't expect to be riveted
but i was
we're all getting older
stevie was the first to unashamedly tell us this
she was a kid at the time
she always made us think

when the band performed silver spring
it was heavy
lyrically haunting
my one complaint about the concert was that there wasn't much interaction
between the members
i started imagining hard feelings
they all slept together
all of them
they were young
it was the 70s
they had all the money in the world
and every weasel in the business wanted a piece of the kill
so they went insular
things got messy
feelings were strained and confused
lindsey left the band for a while
but last night
during silver spring
when stevie turned her mic towards lindsey
and the two of them sang to each other
'you'll never get away from the sound
of a woman that loves you'
that was opera
emotional and telling
decades of music together is the glue
the iron

lindsey is mad genius
i don't think he has a regular life
i think his entire existence is about sound
he's a monster guitarist
one of my favourites
he performed big love alone
just him and the guitar
the camera / screen cats knew enough
to go in tight on his fingers
and show everyone that you need superpowers to do this
that this kind of playing is a lifetime's study
that you have to sacrifice a great deal to get here
sure you make millions along the way
but there's nothing you can buy
that will ever make you feel as good as a guitar will
lindsey buckingham is mad genius
a gentle soul with tiny brains in each finger
his solo during 'i'm so afraid' brought the house down
we revelled in his ability

there were some stupid visuals on the big screen
it would have been nice if they peppered the night
with some personal old photographs
but instead it was blobs of light and colour
that did nothing to enhance the music
it wasn't needed
they should have hung curtains and a chandelier

all in all
a great night out
the vibe was velvet
and the groove was gold
the audience awed
and the band beamed
i took a quick trip to the facilities
and ran into a couple cats listening to some doobie brothers
i stopped and had a quick listen with them
returned to my box
and immediately started thinking about CAL
by the time that band teared into 'go your own way'
i had rethought performing our rumours show
i've decided to hold off for a few years
the original masters are taking good care of their music
it's heart warming

october 19, 2014
shari's apple cake and milk

Monday, 6 October 2014

Dream Big

and today
the new season starts
we announce more shows
and we connect with more music lovers
people whom we have a symbiotic relationship with

first out the gate is the beatles' white album
4 shows in the sunshine state
i can't wait to perform this album
it's like we all got presents
and get to collectively unwrap them
the white album has something for everyone
for me
it's about revolution 9
we're the only ones in the entire world
attempting to perform it note for note

then it's into our true north capital city
with our inaugural performance of the bat out of hell album
followed by a full on ontario tour
that promises to awe and inspire
many of us grew up with this album
it plays out like a musical staring us in our teens
certain songs wail through our hearts like sirens on there way to a three alarm fire
one thing is clear
the arrangements are unprecedented in their range and commitment
murray james bosch is defining himself as a singer on this album
i'm excited at rehearsals
working alongside of him
hearing him relive the words
it's like being in a movie
where memories are blinking by
the bat out of hell show is CAL at it's best
every cylinder is firing on high octane fuel
and we're all revved up with a clear indication of where we want to go

i made another play for vegas
and i was handed another defeat
i don't gamble with money
never have never will
but i do put myself and my company out there for challenges
unfortunately vegas wants the dancing bears
not the serious musicians
the cat we ended up dealing with doesn't see it
doesn't get it
and doesn't want it
which is a drag
because from what i can glean
vegas is all sheen
and while everyone is out there shooting icicles at each other
we're warm and fuzzy
a breath of cool
genuine cool
that would stand out as the cool destination for music lovers
perhaps another venue another day
but for now
vegas is a mirage

it's been an emotional entrance into autumn
old friends are reconnecting
and we're sparking on each others love vibe
we're welded together by years of travel and music
the two hand in hand
brothers in arms
literally at times
one thing is crystal
music unites and clears out the cob webs
the dust of yesterday is replaced by a the breeze of forgotten hope
and our fingers and throats itch to play again
last night we crashed a jam
and a beautiful mess emitted
my thanks to alumni dale harrison and toad for the accommodations

we're announcing a new batch of florida dates later this week
it's nice to have bookings that carry us into 2016
it's as close as job security gets for a working musician
we have beauty in our lives
when we have black ink on the calendar 

this coming season
has musicians on planes and in cars
all over north america
wish them love and safety
and if you see them
point them in the direction
of good coffee

october 6, 2015
good coffee

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Chopped Salad (random saturday notes)

had a great chat with a cat
who informed me that back in the 20s
singers would show up to sing at gigs
and the audience would be dissatisfied
because they didn't sound like the record
so the singers started changing their voices
to make it sound more twangy and nasally
to affect the sound of the record players of the time
clearly what CAL is doing is nothing new
people want note for note - cut for cut
and tone for tone

welcome aboard nick walsh
a few weeks ago i was out at a scarborough jam night
and nick got up and sang
i couldn't move
his voice was riveting
i was so taken with him that i couldn't even speak to him after he got off stage
so i asked michale vassos for an introduction
and two weeks later nick is on stage in owen sound wailing led zep 2
wailing it!
we spent some time together and he's a warm hearted soul
with a ton of good stories
including one nefarious one about yours truly
chastising him years ago for postering at one of the CAL phoenix gigs
i said that he must have been postering over our posters
he said he wasn't and that i was quite vocal
we had a laugh about it
look for nick to be a mainstay in the CAL line up
i believe that he is capable of pure absolute greatness

here's a look behind the scenes on what it means to be a CAL alumni
first - you have to be a stand up individual
you have to pack up your ego and your dogma
and mail them to your local tribute band where they will fester
underneath feathers and wigs
second - you have to know how good you are
we don't suffer fools or sycophants
we want a bit of bravado in the mix
third - you have to know when someone is better than you
i've learned this lesson every day of my life
i'm humbled by how hard it is to do what we do
case in point: des leahy and rob phillips

on the very first show
des leahy was the dark side of the moon guitarist
perfect tone
perfect execution
cool stage presence
and for a couple years - des was our go to first guitarist for floyd
crowds loved him
girls brought him soup
then des did a gig
and rob phillips was in the opening band
des called me and said that he had the right guy for the floyd band
i said 'you're the right guy'
des said 'this guy is the guy'
that's the barometer of cool
so in comes rob phillips
and life is escalated to a new level
rob phillips is the musician's musician
a good man with talent to explode with
and des is on stage with him
backing him up - playing 2nd guitar
i can't tell you how emotional this makes me
this is the mindset
this is greatness
this is a template for life
now and then i offer a musician a gig
and they tell me that they're not right for the show
that another musician would be better
i love that
there's lots of work for everyone
my favourite day is when i go online
and order new cheques

i think that CCR is america's greatest band
they had the most hits
they got people boogieing the most
you can't listen to their music
and not sing along or toe tap
i was talking with russell gray a while back
and he was telling me that he's trying to break the habit
of putting a little flourish on his rhythm guitar playing
- a little 'tick chaw' in between every chord
i told him that i'm trying to break the habit of suspending every chord
- adding or removing a finger to make the chord bounce a bit
well - let me tell ya
CCR has no little 'tick chaws' or suspending chords
CCR is a mack truck of rhythm
straight ahead
clean and strong
flourish free
and steady as a rock
i love this band more than i realized
every song is perfect
every song is engrained in us
make sure to make a point of catching the CCR shows
they're going to be events
i picture full houses all up dancing

and finally some great news
as many of you know
my family - like so many other families
has been affected by cancer
so i volunteer
spending every monday driving cancer patients to and from their appointments
and at the shows - in toronto
we set up a booth with the canadian cancer society
and try and recruit some new volunteers to help drive
so far we have recruited 9 drivers
i know that doesn't sound like very much
but when you do the math - it's fantastic:
once a week - one driver picks up 5 people
and drives them to and from their appointments
times that by 40 weeks
that's two hundred drives
now times that by nine other people
that's 1800 patients that won't be getting on a bus after chemotherapy
and that's a beautiful thing
we're making a difference
we're doing something that counts and helps other people
all under the umbrella of music
man - that's the good stuff

july 19, 2014
coke and salt and vinegar chips

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Dreaming on a Sunday

it was almost spring in canada today
the trees are hinting at buds
everyone was out doing yard work

i put some doobie brothers on in the garage
certain stereos have a certain sound significant to a certain place
i love the garage stereo
it's one of shari's old boom boxes
we used to call them ghetto blasters
but the kids tell me that term's improper
by midday i had jimi's axis bold as love wailing through the neighbourhood
on cassette

i got a feeling that most people dug it
funny thing about hendrix
you may not get it
but you listen regardless
i got it
clifton got it
a generation got it
and i think the neighbours over at 121 got it too
suddenly their landscaping took on a more freer vibe

one cat from down around the bend didn't get it
i know this guy
he knows me
we're polar opposites
i'm cool with it
he's not
he wants the music turned down to a level
that sours the mix
i can't abide

here's the plot twist
years ago we were doing this one theatre
and the tech used to stand over us with a decibel meter
it felt like getting your knuckles rapped
and it really impeded our groove

one christmas
our chief sound tech - rich
and my sister - tracy
presented said decibel meter to me for christmas
they stole it
it's one of my favourite gifts ever
it measures sound

so down around the bend polar opposite guy
has a team of landscapers show up to his place once a week
and they're equipped with leaf blowers
leaf blowers are the natural enemy of musicians
they're like our kryptonite
they impede music
they ruin vibes
leaf blowers suck

one day i chuffed around the corner
and measured 92 decibels worth of leaf blower noise pollution
aching out of polar opposite guy's front yard

now imagine if you're with your family
in the backyard chilling
and suddenly i crank out 92 decibels of norwegian death metal
for 10 minutes
you'd freak
you'd go john wayne

as the hendrix kept filling the neighbourhood with positive vibrations
i came to the realization that i can do something about the leaf blowers
so i re-started my petition at
and i'm going to go door to door
to see if i can get leaf blowers banned from my hood
united we stand
there's a lot of asian people in our hood
so i'm going to get the petition translated to mandarin
and turn them on to some hendrix too

meanwhile i gotta figure out how to get down around the bad bend guy
feeling more open to some heavy music
he needs to drop by the garage one sunday
and check out some doobie brothers with me

may 5. 2014


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Notes from the Road

just back from the hotel california rehearsal
we were cramped up in a good sounding room
running the songs
nicky's here from florida
he's jet lagged
but wailing the don henley
and bobby sounds great singing the glenn fry
the eagles are the greatest american band

i've started running television ads on cp24
that's our hometown news station
the ads are flashes of brilliance
there's no way to communicate what CAL does in thirty seconds
so i just showed rob playing really beautifully
and slow
i did another one with rusty
it's cool
share your thoughts on them
they're on our facebook page
a ways down

the elton john shows are selling out
i was so hesitant about doing the greatest hit album
over goodbye yellow brick road
but i feel like it was the right decision
yellow brick road is waiting in cue - a dense double album
but right now
the greatest hits show is in full bloom
and it's fantastic
big band
tight band
all of us commenting how elton
has been one of the more disciplined albums to learn
it's not very often you get to hear 'someone saved my life tonight'
note for note
we use a real piano when we can
will bangs the hesitancy out of it

we're just about ready to announce next year's season
bat out of hell is going to be making the rounds
new albums for some rotations
it'll be on the web site soon
and of course they'll be lots of beatles floyd and zeppelin shows

we sold a ton of CAL hoodies
i saw a guy on the street wearing one
i was driving
i wanted to pull over and invite him to dinner
proceeds from all the merch
go to the canadian cancer society
american cousins - think of it as cross border shopping
thanks to all who bought one
we're doing a good thing
we're also setting up a volunteer booth at massey hall
for the canadian cancer society
if you have some spare time
volunteer to drive patients to and from their appointments
i do it once a week
it's very rewarding
no one wants to get on a bus after chemo
so drop by the booth and ask some questions

i've been listening to a lot of 50s rock
you can hear the sound of the room
it's toe tapping rock n roll
i think an elvis show is in the cards
it's never been done
it's always been impersonators
or campy stuff
i think a real effort to bring forth the mastery of his voice
would be a defining show
i think it would be a lot of fun
and that's the point

there's also talk of doing let it be
i love this album
it's got such a band vibe
along with the performance
i would love to do a rooftop re-enactment
invite a bunch of people
film it and have a laugh
it would create a huge buzz
the right roof top is key
do it the same day as the show
get arrested

we're loving california
and we're making more friends with every visit
we hear it all the time
people tell us how much the music means to them
there's a vibe in california
that is pure american
the final frontier
driving up the pacific coast is like being in a feature film
you need the right selection of songs
we're planning a series of tours through california this coming year
i can't wait

i regret not seeing the stones the last time they came through town
everyone was asking me 'are you going?'
i was being a fool
and didn't go
but if they come again
i'm going
front and centre
same with springsteen
and all the greats
i want to see as many shows as i can
this is my religion
being in a big room with people who all love the same music
that's the keys to the universe

craig martin
april 10, 2014
fresca and salt and vinegar chips

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Grammys

shari i actually enjoyed last night's grammys

every generation throws a hero up the pop chart

the daft punk song rocks
and their performance with chic and stevie wonder was groovin'
plus their helmets get everyone talking
they're probably our age and balding underneath

the metallica song - one - with the classical pianist was fantastic and forward thinking
you need chops to play metal
i've always thought the two genres melded
metallica has been working with classical orchestration for a couple decades now
last night they hit their stride

willie kris and merle sounded great
it was clear they just gave kris the guitar as a prop
i reviewed the performance and kris' fingers are lost
but who cares - i'd love to look that good at 70

my kids love macklemore
and all those people getting married with two beatles in the audience was touching
i'm happy their message of peace and love is still being told by young people

of course paul's song was a bit of a let down
we all wanted to hear something from the white album
but if you listened the song was pretty cool

ringo's performance of 'photograph' was amazing
that song is a song from my early teens that i've always felt bound to it
and it was nice to hear it played properly

the sets were the best i've ever seen at any awards show

it's amazing how many people our age were just ready to bash the show
and roll their eyes
and say 'that's not music'
learned behaviour
my dad used to call me in to see the stones!

craig martin
january 27, 2014
wine and cheese

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Elton John

elton john was my best friend growing up
and he always brought along his best friend - bernie taupin
and the three of us would hold hands
and skip through fields together
'from the edge of the world
to your town'

my dad's favourite song was 'daniel'
i like having that union in my life

elton john's greatest hits was my first album
my first jump from 45s
i know this album

whenever we went on vacation
usually to visit family on long island
my dad would let me buy an album
one trip i bought goodbye yellow brick road
listening to that album was like getting a college degree
fast songs
slow songs
story songs
'fantastic the feedback'
and elton's fingers wailing away at the piano
when you listen to love lies bleeding
you can hear elton pounding the piano
making it his bitch

here's a funny story
i'm a member of the rocket club
advance tickets etc.
my buddy and i go to see elton at the ACC
i wear my pink shirt
my dad looked great in a pink shirt
(my mum would laugh)
we're at the concert
and the band is cooking
after every song elton would stand at the edge of the stage
gracefully thank the audience
paying special attention to me
who was sitting in front of him 5 rows back
even my buddy said 'elton's digging you'
so i'm sizing the situation up

at the end of the concert elton once again
bowed and sent love my way
i'm thinking he really understands me
and he loves my pink shirt
but of course - it's his husband's family who are sitting directly in front of me
that's who he was thanking
his family
not narcissistic gay ready me

the chording on the song 'goodbye yellow brick road' is genius
the voicing he put to bernie's words
that's as good as our era gets
elton stands alongside
the british masters

i have a vision for our upcoming elton john greatest hits shows
that involves showcasing his piano playing and vocals
in an unusual way
whenever i talk to people about this vision
they express their concern
telling me that things aren't done like that
that tells me me
that i'm on the right track
beyond the yellow the brick road

january 4, 2014
coffee and sweet chocolate biscuits