The Curse of the Vorus is in its final stages of recording. I plan to release it in the Fall of 2011. But the universe laughs in the face of plans. So, it will be released when it's done. I've a hankering to get out and play some of this music live. The Joni tour was great, and it reminded me of how much I miss playing my own music.
Finishing writing the last two songs for my next album. Waiting to see if funding comes through. Recorded some demos, and may post them on MyFace, FaceSpace or this neglected site. Will be playing with Justin Haynes, Dan Goldman, Ryan G-M and Chris Gartner on April 15th at The Drake Hotel. See gigs page. In the meantime, got a Joni show at Hugh's Room to host March 6th/2010. Will be taking that show on the road in 2011 to a soft seater near you.
I have been thinking about things missing in my life these days. A few weeks ago, I was immersed in a Gestalt therapy training workshop for a week. In that time, I did more dancing and acting than I had in years. It was the most therapeutic week I can remember (no pun intended). So simple and so much fun, dancing gets you into your body and out of your head. By the end of the week I felt virtually stress-free. I then read Brian Eno's piece on group singing I Believe This. He says: "I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing."
I teach singing and I'm struck by how many students show up and tell me they're not real singers. A real singer, they say, does it professionally. I wish I could quash this belief with one giant fist. When I visited India years ago singing was ubiquitous. The poor, the sick, the young the old all sang. It's a part of being human. It's a right. I find when I'm driving and start to feel road rage, I sing my frustration. It's amazing how quickly the feeling fizzles.
Right, so amidst dancing and singing, writing the next album (yes, one note at at time), I am working, with my friend Joel, on making the annual Christmas show at the Rivoli a bigger attraction. We've put together a blog you can check out here: xmas14.com And the Joni show this year at Hugh's Room was another big success. It was taped for Canada Live and you can hear it here: Joni Tribute on Canada Live
I've been putting a lot of time and energy into putting together the annual Christmas benefit at the Rivoli. It's going to be another great show with Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, Tony Dekker, Colin Mochrie & Debra McGrath, and many more talented folks. If you haven't been before, you'll discover why it's a cult classic. The Rivoli - December 19th & 20th. Details on my "gigs" page. And what else? Just played last night at Oh Susanna's gig at Hugh's Room. It was a great time, and a thrill to be on the same bill as Sarah Harmer and Jim Cuddy. I also started playing with Paul Linklater -- a kick-ass guitar player with energy to burn. We'll be playing another rock extravaganza in the New Year, for sure. I like to rock. But Paul? He EATS rock! And no mullet. Go figure. Check out Paul Linklater on MySpce. And don't make me find the link and post it here 'cause I'm busy updating this site, which is a feat in itself. Um... oh yeah, I'm putting together another Joni Mitchell tribute night at Hugh's Room. That'll be March 7th, 2009. Go to Hughsroom.com for details. And writing. Yes, I'm writing. I have a bunch of new tunes that I haven't yet recorded, but will. If you want to host a living room gig, I'll play 'em for ya. But enough about me. Really, don't you have friends on Facebook to visit? Thanks for stopping by.
Spring inspirations: Veda Hille's new album "This Riot Life", Paul Linklater and all that is Id, Tony Scherr, acoustic, on a Thursday evening in downtown T.O.
What to avoid: The news, Facebook, trying to outsmart a 41/2 yr. old.
It's true, I don't keep my website up to date. I'm working on it. Don't give up quite yet....
Why I've picked the hottest day this summer to update my website is a mystery. It's been months since I've been here. I've warn out five pairs of socks, travelled the world 78 times in my mind, done the dishes 3400 times, memorized the Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Put Me In The Zoo and One Fish Two Fish, learned "Great Gig in the Sky" note for note and cut off all my hair once without feeling even a twinge of guilt that I've left this page to fodder. Perhaps the heat has lit a fire under my ass. So here's the deal: I am writing new material, performing with Classic Albums Live and looking forward to singing some of my own stuff this Fall.
This Fall I've been listening to Smog, walking around in my new blue raincoat and trying to recall names I've forgotten. Been putting together a night of interesting covers, lining up interesting musicians to come sing them (see gigs page!). Got myself a French grammar book. Dreaming of one day moving to the south of France. Succeeded in making a great pastry crust. Watched a ladybug inhale her last breath in the park yesterday.
Summer is approaching. The sun's debut yesterday brought with it smiles from strangers and the faint sweet smell of soil. In my neighbourhood, arms adorned with Rolex watches tapped rhythmically to generic beats outside windows of engorged cars while cyclists on cell phones thread through them. A line of strollers as long as an Arcade Fire queue pushed tiny noses, exhaust pipe level, past windows filled with organic beauty aids, fair trade coffees, herbs to boost the immune system. Voices connected to shadows inside doorways whispered requests for coins. A firetruck's call momentarily shattered the din.
It was a beautiful day yesterday, I thought, tasting the air's metal residue on my lips. Pity this season comes in such small portions.
The Ninth Christmas was a great success. We raised $1300.00 for Amnesty International and the Daily Bread Food Bank. Thank you to all who supported the event, and who donated food. We had a record drop-off of non-perishable food this year. Good on you all! For those of you who attended the event, and for those who wished they had but couldn't make it, go visit here for pics of the show. You might just spot Daniel Lanois in there, too, who happened to show up to the show AND grace us with a tune.
The 9th Christmas show at the Rivoli is in my hands this year!!! Tamara Williamson, founder and co-ordinator of this annual Christmas party for Toronto's independent musicians, has decided to take a leave of absence and return to her homeland for the holidays. So, plan to set aside the evening of WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22ND for a heartfelt Christmas celebration that includes all walks of life. Visit my gigs page for details.
It's been a whirlwind few months. Between changing diapers and picking up peas and cheerios off the kitchen floor, I've actually done some gigging. I just played at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals, was hired to do my first voice over, sang on a couple of albums and now, well, I'm going to do a Mia Sheard gig. Not with the band this time. I've decided to break out the band when I break out new material. For now, I will be performing old tried and trues. Solo. See the gigs page for details. And watch for the Christmas show at the Rivoli on December 22nd, which I am in charge of this year as Tamara Williamson has decided to spend Christmas with family in the UK. It's going to be a great show with lots of surprise guests. Stay tuned!
It was brought to my attention recently that I have been neglecting the upkeep of my site. It's true, but I have been distracted by my daughter who's been re-introducing me to the world below knee level. I have been digging in sand lately, watching blades of grass twitch from bustling ants below, and examining pieces of lint imbedded in carpet. When the two of us remember that to sustain our obsessions we must re-fuel by visiting humanoid food storage buildings, we resist gravity and join the verticals. It is only then that I recall my past life as a musician, that I feel the pull of screens on computers left untouched, that I come face to face with the cell phoners and the carbon monoxiders and the fecund starbuckers. And I remember this sight. And this site. So here I am.
I see now that I have been missing nothing. The greedy are getting greedier still and breeding little Stephen Harpers. A landlord named Michael Tippin has decided to triple the rent at C'est What's music venue so that no one other than the Gap or Starbucks can possibly survive the hike. Hence, C'est What's music venue, Nia, is being threatened to close its doors for good in August.
What can we do? Go back to the lint in the carpet? NO! Let's VOTE on JUNE 28th to STOP STEPHEN HARPER from becoming PRESIDENT OF CANADA. Can you imagine what it would be like to have TWO George Dubyas in power? You think Canadian *winters* are cold? Think of a Canada that doesn't accept a woman's right to choose, that doesn't allow same sex marriages, that puts millions into military, that supports Bush's war on Iraq, that pulls out of the Kyoto treaty. I get the shivers just thinking about it and it's almost summer. Please drag any deadbeat friends you have to the polls and let's stop this cancer in its tracks.
Okay, now that we've saved our country, what can we do for C'EST WHAT? If you've ever gone to see great music at this lovely venue, or played there yourself, or if you just love independent music as much as George Milbrandt does (owner of C'est What), please help him.
Here's how: "C'est What has spent 16 years promoting "True Local Flavour" - a homegrown mix of Toronto's culture in food, drink, and music. It's sad to see one of our flavours, music, lost in the interests of one landlord's revenue stream. We can not afford the $60,000 increase he is demanding (could you?). Mr. Tippin seems to be unaware of the impact of his demands on the local community and live music scene.
YOU CAN HELP
We want your help in making Mr. Tippin aware of the impact of his decision on our community. Let your voice be heard. Send us your thoughts at email@example.com and we will forward them to Mr. Tippin, The Mayor, our Councillor, and other interested parties.
Thank you kind folk. Please visit MAPLEMUSIC.com and CDBABY.com to purchase great independent music.
Thank you to all who have requested to be on my mailing list. You have been added and will be kept up to date on any gigs I have in this year of the monkey. May a howler monkey not shit on your head. That almost happened to me once when I was in Belize. A group of howler monkeys had the bright idea of ridding themselves of pesty tourists AND their lunch at the same time. There's nothing like being shat on to get you moving off someone's territory. Maybe George Bush should try that tactic on the EVILDOERS. He's good at shitting on people.
Here's what's going on in February 2004:
Saturday, Feb. 14th (Valentine's Day) - Hearts in Harmony: A benefit in support of Artists Against Racism. Reid Jamieson, Dave Celia and I join forces and mesh voices at the Rivoli (332 Queen St. W.). Doors open at 8pm and tickets are $10.
February 26 - This will be the third year I've participated in the annual Closer to the Heart benefit for the Regent Park School of Music. The show will take place at Club 279 - above the Hard Rock Cafe at Yonge & Dundas. Showtime 9pm. It will be a night of Canada's finest singers, songwriters and musicoids performing songs by other Canadians. Last year's guests included the Barenaked Ladies, Sarah Harmer, Emm Gryner, Danny Michel, Kurt Swinghammer and Luke Doucet. The line-up is still being put together by the lovely and indefatigable Karen Pace , so I'm sure it will be another star-stellar cast.
See? I told you I'd be back in the limelight before the new year. On October 31, I heard someone by the name of Joni Mitchell performed my material at Hugh's Room during the Supers' Hallowe'en bash. What an honour. And can you believe Ozzy Osbourne was her drummer? I'm sorry I missed that show. I think Ozzy missed it, too, if you know what I mean. Of course you do. Poor bastard can barely get soup to his mouth without most of it landing on his neighbour's lap. I believe Carolyn Mill was there to capture most of that evening, so you can visit her site for pics. Here's the URL again: www.kitchenink.com.
On Tuesday, November 25th, you can catch me at the Rivoli (332 Queen St. W., Toronto) partaking in the BLUEBIRD NORTH show. I will be joined by a handful of other tunesmiths. Doors open at 7:30 pm. There are two sets, and I will be in the first. Later that week, Friday and Saturday (Nov. 28/29) at the Rivoli, I will join Reid Jamieson on background vocals. See the gigs page for more info.
Please forgive the gap in my "entries". On August 20th I gave birth to my daughter Astrid, and she has managed to make the top of my "To Do" list for the past 3 weeks. Go figure. It wasn't that Astrid required my full attention during my pregnancy, but she did seem to siphon most of whatever brain I had into her watery world. There hasn't been a thought in my head for the past 10 months, so I have avoided sharing any airy farts with the outside world. Until now. We're all friends, right? And I'm starting to feel remnants of grey matter return. I did manage to play Hillside this summer (see photos on Carolyn Mill's website http://www.kitchenink.com) three weeks before giving birth. The Hillside crew -- mostly volunteers -- made the whole adventure easy for me. I can't say enough good things about Hillside and its volunteers. It's a great festival and I recommend going every year. But what now? I know about the best laid plans, but I will be getting back on that ax (maybe even learning how to play it one day!) and performing before the new year 2004. I will post gig dates as always. Keep checking in. Vote. And don't let your car idle.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Rivoli gig. I've got a couple of other gigs lined up before we head into summer. Check out the "gigs" page for the dates. If you're reading this and you're not from Toronto, or Canada, please note that the SARS "crisis" is completely overblown. No one is walking around Toronto in masks, people are still shaking hands and hugging, riding the subway, etc. DO NOT be afraid to visit this city. Ignore the politics and come see for yourself!
Happy Year of the Goat! Also known as "Black Sheep". Hey, I'm going to be playing at the Black Sheep Inn (Wakefield, QC) in April. Whoa! That's synchronistic, man. Right. So, here's the lowdown: I'm going to be hunkering down for a while to try and write some more songs in an attempt to satisfy that nagging need for immortality. There will be some gigs coming up in April, and possibly some added between now and then. We musicoids must take time out to live so that we may have something to say at the end of... well, in my case, every two years. In the meantime, if you are someone who would be interested in hosting a LIVINGROOM GIG in your home town and, well, livingroom (pref. somewhere in Ontario or Quebec -- for the time being. I do plan on getting to the States, but not until next Fall), please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're having trouble finding 'Anemone' or 'Reptilian' where you live, you can get it online at www.maplemusic.com. There's food in the fridge. Make yourself at home. I'll be back soon.
Welcome bottom feeders. The band and I have just returned from touring our great country coast to coast. It was a quick jaunt through the West, thanks to Canada Council for the Arts whose generous support enabled us to fly that portion. (Adding my two cents to the argument that grants promote mediocrity: I tried getting money from the big labels, but they told me I'd have to dumb down and take off my clothes.) I must confess, I missed the drive between Wawa and Thunder Bay. And I do have a soft spot for those Trans-Canada grilled cheeses and iceburg lettuce salads. But West Jet made up for it with their cheerful "buh byes" and those damn cute denim outfits. In Winnipeg, we were lucky to share the night with "Nathan" (www.nathanmusic.ca), who had just won Best Independent Album at the 2002 Prairie Music Awards. I believe they're playing in Toronto in early december, so check them out if you live here. Edmonton was a bit of a drunken blur. Ryan's (drums) folks came out to that show so, trying to keep the expletives to a minimum, I compensated by filling the cake hole with beer. At our favourite spot, the Railway club in Vancouver, we were treated to an opening set by Paul Myers. He's busy writing biographies on rock stars, and judging potential pop tarts, so we were lucky he was able to take time out and bless us with his power pop. I love paul. Many thanks to the loquacious table for shutting the f#*@! up. Also thanks to Clay George for warming up the audience in Victoria. The folks at Thursdays treat us well. It was a good way to say goodbye to the Pacific.
The Eastern trek was more familiar: a van packed full of gear and perpetual fighting over who gets control of the radio dial. I'm not sure what we were fighting for. It's all shite over the airwaves these days. It got to the point where we were happy just to hear Saga or Rush.
Any longing for processed cheese out West was sated on this stretch. Where the people get friendlier, it is said, the food gets less. Ah yes, but the people get friendlier by God! Get a taste of East Coast hospitality and you'll never let a Queen Street "server" bully you out of a tip again. The crowd in Charlottetown didn't hold back in the love department. John, a local artist, drew our portraits. In fact, we had people on the dance floor. Now, I know people who have seen us before might raise an eyebrow, but it's TRUE! In an attempt to satisfy these aliens who had mistakenly left their chairs for to move their bodies, we broke into "Hurricane" by Neil Young. Unfortunately, when I shouted "long live Neil!" they thought I was talking about Neil Sedaka. Oh boy.
Many thanks to Jill Barber (www.jillbarber.com) who opened for us in Halifax at Hell's Kitchen. She cooked up some creme brule for the ears. And last, but not least, Fredericton. Although Ryan was puking his guts out during soundcheck from food poisoning (I know I said the East Coast food was less than desirable but by no means am I implying it is poisoned! This was just bad timing), we had a great time playing that night. Chris (bass) took it upon himself to dismantle Ryan's kit and mute my amp during the show. I sure hope he was able to hitch a ride out of Quebec City....
Thanks to the following people for all their help in making touring not just bearable, but fun: Clive and Cathy, Sharon and Roger, Petri, Cara, Janelle, Nathan, Oriana, Jill, Colin and Kenny. We couldn't have done it without you guys. Gracias.
P.S. But he IS a moron!