Category Archives: Tours

Touring Italy (pt. 8)

There was a big build up to playing the Loop Cafe in Perugia mostly because the odds were best that the video cable couriered from Toronto had arrived thereby making the remainder of the tour easy and then there was Stefano going on about an old communist I had to meet who hung out there  (like it was a tourist attraction) and then there was two Gianlucas. Gianluca 1 the owner and Gianluca 2 the booker. I tried to communicate with the two Gianlucas how important retrieving this cable was but their English was like my Italian, we couldn’t communicate.

No cable arrived.

The ups and downs moment by moment, are really what doing this music work, touring/ performing is about. If one finds that stimulating then it couldn’t be more perfect but if you can’t handle the the pathetic and the humiliating you shouldn’t be a touring artist. Anyone can handle compliments and good press but the work is never only about that. I think of the motor that died touring Western Canada in the mountains, the band house in Thunder Bay practically Breaking Bad set for meth heads or critics who might dismiss everything you do even if they attended a show that was successful to fans and new fans. Many times you feel like you’re in jail waiting to get bail.

As it turned out the communist was an old man in a trench coat who called everyone comrade and drank too much but did some research about performers. Upon meeting me his first question was who do I love more Celine Dion or Michael Bublé to which I answered with universal gestures of throwing up. He meant well but the young men there saw him as an object to mock, he didn’t seem to have real friends at the Loop Cafe.

Owner Gianluca shrugged like tough shit, I can’t do anything about it, chill out man. He was a skinny, mousey looking pothead.  The second Gianluca looked like a member of Young Conservatives for Stephen Harper the only time he showed concern was when he wanted a free cd. compare that to Nello the night before insisting on paying 15 Euros though I pressed it into his hands and insisted it free. He would have none of it and treated me to a classy meal. The two Gianlucas were losers. But the show was another magic one, 45 people crammed into 30 seats falling in love with the films and my way of communicating. I stopped at one point and opened the itouch from Magali, the one that contained phonetic translations and slowly tied to say…“La Prosimma Canzone situtti” (the next song is called) but I paused longer because the itouch font is so tiny and I couldn’t clearly make out  “situtti” and people starting yelling the answer to help me and I would give them a raised eyebrow as if to say “don’t help me I must do it myself” and they laughed and wanted to take me home.

Soon Marzio introduced himself. He had the weirdest/ best haircut in the world. Like myself he is also booked by Monica and proved the most valuable person ever because he wasn’t a slacker and had wifi at his apartment, a stones throw from the Loop. Stefano and Gianluca say they will remain at the Loop and Marzio and I should only be 20 minutes so we go to his place, it is raining, I check the internet and we now have Fedex tracing numbers. We return and find the Loop café closed. I can’t believe Stefano would leave without informing me where he has gone, not even a note in the window. My duffle bag, my clothes, all my money are in his car. I can’t recall ever working with anyone this inconsiderate. Marzio tries to find them, he has a cell. He laughs boyishly about the nuttiness of it all and about Italians. He is a very likeable guy, I want to hear his music and hope I like it. I think he would be so much more fun to tour with than Stefano.

He eventually gets Gianluca on the phone and gets his address. We walk 15 minutes away from the car through a dark maze of medieval Perugia, I keep looking backwards to remember the way, so glad I went to wilderness camp as a kid, and I’m wondering about how easily I can be rolled if I have to walk back to the car to get my bag by myself. I’m also filling up my stress-o-meter regarding whether we will meet the FedEx guy tomorrow and what sort of fiasco will entail if we don’t. Gianluca explains to me and Marzisio that Stefano went out on the town, he doesn’t know where. He is a chain smoking pothead and wants me to sleep in his bed the only half good thing about that is that the door closes and it will smell slightly less smoky. But I share the bed with Stefano who no doubt will  enter round 4am drunk.

Marzio leaves, I wish he could stay. Gianluca leads me through the clouds of smoke to explain how to flush his toilet, you have to fill a bucket of water and pour it into the toilet. This somehow makes whatever shit and piss have collected proceed into the sewer system. Fabulous. I try to get under the covers, it’s cold, I’m sleeping in his bed which probably hasn’t been washed in the 21rst century and curse Stefano that he took off without allowing me to collect my bag, that the car may be broken into and that my money and clothes may be stolen. He enters round 5:30 a.m. stinks of booze and smokes. Goes to bed. I wonder if he is an alcoholic.

In the morning I try to communicate with Gianluca but he can’t speak any English. He has to go to the bank and then we’ll go to the Loop. He shows me that his cell phone has no money on it hence we won’t hear from FedEx. This is getting sadder and sadder. His room-mate wakes up, I didn’t know there was one, he is a nice guy, a great resemblance to Nick Frost the room-mate in “Shawn of the Dead” and he has an internet connection, maybe I can check if the FedEx has arrived. His room is thick thick thick with smoke. These guys seem in their 30s but remind me of teenagers, they smoke a joint because they just woke up. I sit down at his computer and the mouse is a topless woman on her back, you click the titz, right boob or left boob. I’m in jail.


easy answer

My daughter spilled orange juice onto my Macbook last weekend. Who’s fault could it be but mine letting a 5 yr old watch a program on a computer with a tall glass of orange juice in her hands. Track pad soon became all whack-a-doodle, could not click on anything and the longer the computer remained on the more it started being controlled by invisible forces. Repair inquiries indicated $150 – $300.
Decided to take the plunge after reviewing fix-it tutorials on Youtube but more than one friend said
“I’ve never done that.”
“Are you crazy?”
“Don’t do it.”
“Have you ever done it before?”
Chickens, all chickens but the thing is, most of us (leaders of music projects) know we have to do everything ourselves, that’s how it is probably always will be. We book the shows, we pick up the band, sell the merch (nowadays I give it away), pay the gas, negotiate the door, negotiate the studio time, the schedules of others (insert infinity).
Very unlikely anyone ever gets to be Ron Sexsmith – gigging around the world and doesn’t know how to drive a car – astonishing. People drive him to and fro. It’s unnatural, it’s incredible. One in a million. If orange juice spills into his computer bet someone swoops down from the clouds and fixes it free, maybe it would even be me, “gimme that damn computer lemme at it with my 00phillips. There, done, your welcome”.
Sometimes interviewers throw a certain question out to me as though they are asking something nobody ever thought of before.
“Let me ask you something, in a perfect world what is it you want? A record deal? A movie deal? Produce a hit? Write a hit? A world tour?”
I know the answer to this question, it’s the easiest question ever invented in a world of difficult questions.

The Agent Business

Ten years ago after playing the Ironwood Stage in Calgary, the owner, Patrick, was hard to contain after the show. He liked it a lot and didn’t understand why I didn’t have an agent. (I booked it myself, usually did). Like the other acts he usually received he thought I should have more corporate representation. Appreciating his enthusiasm I thanked him but explained that none of the usual agents like me, don’t like my work or they don’t like me personally.
He said no no no you have to meet Fred (not real name) at the Agency he’s different. Next day Patrick wrote an introductory email for Fred and me and Fred responded inviting me to contact him. I followed up with a phone call.
Hi Fred, Bob Wiseman here.
Hey Bobby how are you? Love your stuff!
Bobby I got to tell you we’re pretty full up right now, it’s a tough time.
No sweat I was just honouring the introduction Patrick made.
Look Bobby let me know next time you come to town, I want to see your show.
I live in Toronto. I’ll be playing the Tranzac Wednesday.
Shit Wednesday I have racquetball but any other Wednesday Bobby I’d really like to know.
How about the 27th?
Shit that’s POP Montreal.
I gotta go Bobby but do keep in touch man, for real ok? And please please please let Patrick know we spoke?
I will.
I called Patrick, tried to not act all I-told-you-so but he just changed the subject – you gotta talk to Shelly (not her real name) at Paquin entertainment. She’s so great and she’s really different than the others yada yada. Within the hour he made another email introduction. I wondered if his confidence stemmed from his relationships, like if these agents encourage club owners like him, who are pivotal, to believe they have sincere friendships and that their opinions are taken very seriously by the agents or if that was just an act, something they hi five each other for back in the office after the client hangs up. My guess is the latter, so far I didn’t think I was wrong. A couple days later I was talking with Shelly.
Hi Bobby, sorry for the delay it’s a zoo around here. I am very familiar with your work, so what are you doing these days?
Just the usual, making records, touring.
Nice real nice. So what can I do for you?
I was following up to your response email after Patrick from the Ironwood wrote to suggest you work with me?
Oh ya, right. Thanks yes ok. So who do you work with now?
Just myself.
Right ok yes well I would love to help where I can. Unluckily though I am just too busy to take on any more artists. I would not be able to spend enough time on the project to do it proper justice. I mean it’s really really “really” hard you know what I mean?
I know.
Why don’t you send me your work?
I thought based on the exchange with Patrick you might want to work with me but I’m actually I’m ok, I’m good. I don’t have the things in place that probably are preferable for you like an ordinary manager or an ordinary record company-
You have no label support?
No I don’t.
Ok well I’ll get going.
Ok sure, thanks a lot for calling Bobby and please let Patrick know we spoke . Okee dokee?
Okee Dokee.
I called back Patrick and told him what happened, now it was almost a week after the show that excited him. I expected him to give up by now but he did it again. He said Bob Wilson at Live Tour Artists you have to speak with him. He’s different. (How many people can be different?) Ok sure I said. Once again he wrote an introductory email but then my phone rang.
Hi Is Bob there?
Hi I’m Bob.
Hi I’m Bob Wilson I got your number from Patrick at the Ironwood, I remember you from years ago. You want to meet for a drink and discuss what you’re doing now?
Sure when’s a good time for you?
See you tonight.
And he was great and we did a bunch of work over the next 3 years and he got me paid much higher than I do by myself and then my daughter was born and I rearranged my life to be a stay at home person. She just turned 5, I might be due to try again now.