Category Archives: Tours

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.

Touring Italy (pt. 7)

A plan is hatched when Paolo’s friend Benny, who purchased a vinyl copy of “In Her Dream” and loved last night’s show meets us. The plan – he has an old North American cable. He suggests we cut and splice it with a European cable and make a Frankenstein. I don’t know enough to know whether or not I’m making a huge mistake and we’re late for getting to Sorrento but we start the job.
The performance space in Sorrento is owned by a wonderful man named Nello, I liked him immediately. He was an electrical engineer for years and saved his money and started this place as a coffee shop but now it’s an upscale restaurant with occasional concerts. More importantly he puts together the two cables. In my mind an imaginary drum roll commences when we are ready to try it – IT WORKS – I’m back in business! Paolo also has a friend who owns a natural food store who offers me some free shopping. He is the doppelganger of remarkable promoter friend in my Western Canadian tours named Jamie Elder. Jamie formerly had a vegetarian restaurant on the Sunshine Coast where he brought me to play many times starting in ’94. Even had a juice named after me. A much higher accomplishment than the Junos or winning a few Now Magazine Readers Poll. I was between the Sven Robinson juice and the Terry Fox.
The show was perfect. One guy rushes me afterward and asks if I love Andy Kaufman. I get that occasionally, people thinking Andy Kaufman is my big love and yes I did love him but I love a lot of artists and I think we’re obviously from different worlds. What he did was more brave and talented than yours truly. The tools Benny used to cut the cables earlier in the evening he left in a plastic bag, at the end of the night he asked
“Do you still have my treasures?”
What an excellent translation for a utility knife and electrical tape.
Driving home hoping to go to the vintage store which they said would be open. But Stefano and Benny need to stop at 2:30 and buy sandwiches and beer which Benny drinks in the passenger seat. Stefano explains it is okay for the driver to drink too, thanks for the reassurance Stefano. We get to Sorreto and it is closed he disappears into the bar forever. Drunks want to talk to me outside. Beautiful curly haired guy would be swallowed whole by Keith Cole. After every show it’s all guys all the time come to think of it. Like an audition for the Big Lebowski everyone wants to show me how well they can pronounce “fuck”.