Monthly Archives: March 2014

Have Fun Working

lms

In and around 1990 while recording a 2cnd record to be released on Warner Music Canada, later titled Presented By Lake Michigan Soda,  there was a desire to enlist a fast and angular guitarist to play the outro section of a song about pollution and colonialism. The sounds and sensibilities of Nomeansno, UIC, Bad Brains were the music providing the most pleasure those days for these ears hence the desire to hear someone more or less surfing on cacophonous drums that simultaneously remained in time.

David Wilcox had a big reputation but it was already becoming a little bit yesteryear, or maybe yesterdecade – which intrigued me more. Isn’t it cooler to see John Travolta in Pulp Fiction than in Grease?

After forwarding a copy of the song to him a meeting was set up strangely on the street at College and Yonge. He just wanted to let me know he could play on the song and it would cost triple scale. He was a little weird in that there wasn’t anything else he wanted to discuss. Okay bye, see you later.

I thought it over and decided to look for someone else who I might have more fun with – I kept sniffing out who’s who in Toronto and then saw a Vector show at the Cameron. Victor Bateman’s group, Vector, had unique country soundscapes and always some guitar genius unknown to me like Kim Ratcliffe. That night the genius was Ted Quinlan, a monster among monsters. He may in fact get paid triple scale these days, totally deserves quadruple scale. Fortunately he was open minded and eager. Had a lot of fun with him at Metalworks playing the outro.

Gabriel Dumont Blues

I can measure the big big bus (oh the big big big big bus)

I can measure the redwood tree (oh the redwood, redwood tree)

I ain’t got a ruler, small enough, to measure your memory

There was a time not long ago (not long, not long, not long ago)

When the people of this land didn’t even know (didn’t know, didn’t know, didn’t even know)

That somebody would ever come along and say (come along, come along, come along and dare)

Suck the Earth dry pump smoke in the air (suck the Earth dry pump smoke in the air)

I ain’t got a ruler, small enough, to measure your memory

Gabriel Dumont he said to Louis Riel “Man we better fight back or we’re gonna get killed”

From Halifax to Victoria it’s a (big, big, country)

But it wasn’t always so easy to see in the,  (big, big, country)

Sewage in the rivers and parking lots in the (big, big, country)

The settlers they brought a lot to the (big, big, country)

I ain’t got a ruler, small enough, to measure your memory

A Year Without Matt

mattLast year was such a train wreck losing Matt Suhar and Sam Larkin, part of my brain departed with them. Reading this account in the news, one year later, that his death was probably a hit and run is a small consolation in understanding the mystery and tragedy around his death.

Matt, was my USA manager in waiting, if anything ever broke in America the way we musicians pursuing the music business imagine or wish it could, Matt would have been steering the ship and I would live below deck composing/ writing/ performing.

 

Over the years all I needed was a break and we almost had one with Ani Di Franco after she saw me at SXSW in 1991. Matt coincidentally was at the same show and introduced himself after Ani gave me a bear hug and said she was blown away. Her words echoed in my head and I hoped maybe one day she might take me on the road.

The biggest act of  generosity an established artist could do for a smaller one is to share their audience: take them on the road for a tour or two. Elvis Costello did that for Ron Sexsmith in the 90s and it’s more than 50% of the reason people discovered and praised Ron and things snowballed from there. Natalie Merchant did it for Tracy Chapman and then Fast Car was added to the radio.

Usually managers and agents control who is the opening act and often it misses the mark because they’re business people doing favours for each other. There is nothing as powerful as the headliner choosing someone to open the show and supporting them. Even walking out and doing a song with them.

After SXSW in 1991 Matt started bringing me to Chicago. I bet I played 30 shows there. The first time he set up 5 performances in a week at different venues each night. He was a anyone-can-do-anything-if-they’re-determined type of guy.

I got to know Ani a wee bit too through telephone messages and one night at Metalworks Recording Studio in 1994 or so. But things went sour after I drove to Milwaukee to do a show Matt set up. I tried to honour all the gigs Matt generated because that’s sorta the name of the game. But sometimes some destinations are pointless and it feels humiliating and that particular Milwaukee show should be the Wikepedia entry for pointless stupid shows. I drove 13 hours from Toronto, got to the gig, no posters advertising who was playing, the piano missing three notes, the bartender told me he didn’t know who was playing that night, three 40 ish women sitting at the bar celebrating a birthday who were more interested Phil Collins than Wrench Tuttle.

I was familiar with bad luck but thought by now I had become smarter at how not to end up in such  rotten situations. I wanted to cry on someone’s shoulder and looking at my address book “A” for Ani jumped out at me in my downer Milwaukee world. I left her a message about this fabulous gig and asked her to consider taking me on the road someday. I knew naturally a million people ask you for favours when your career has taken off, and I never asked before but based on our previous exchanges (which were funny and enjoyable) I thought she would commiserate and even laugh about it with me/ at me. Bad move Bob.

The next day she left three messages on my answering machine making it clear we were no longer friends, it was hard to listen to. Thanks be to the gods of music management that Matt listened to it as well later when I got to his coach house in Chicago. With his eye brows raised to the roof and then laughing about it and making fun of me and her and him until we fell off the couch.

 

An artist needs a business partner that believes in their writing (and who sends occasional emails of confidence).

…not sure but get this my little canadian hero
i was playing IF I KNEW on guitar and susan was on the computer
and said, WHAT IS THAT SONG
i said, Bobby Wiseman and she just said, WOW uh huh
you got the goods mang

Tantrum Management & Touring
Matt Suhar
Robert Cornelius 7 *Baldwin Brothers * The Godfathers
Sign Of The Fox *Javelinas * Divebar * The Siderunners
Kevin Tihista *Red Pop Fury * Frisbie * Colin Gilmore
Kevin Flynn & The Avondale Ramblers * Bob Wiseman
Musikanto * Fitz & The Celts * Flame Shark

 

Latest Film Scored

mugFor the 2cnd year in a row, a film I scored gets a premier spot at HotDocs. Yippee. Here is the trailer for the film which is about photography – mugshot photography.

Best part for me was the Andy Warhol connection and especially sound poet John Giorno. I didn’t know they were lovers. I remember Giorno’s triple album with Laurie Anderson and WIlliam Burroughs where he recites poems through double digital delay. Probably the Korg unit, might even have been called a triple delay if I remember right.

showtimes:

April 28 at 7 pm @ Isabel Bader theatre
April 28 at 4 pm @ Isabel Bader theatre
May 3 at 1 pm @ Scotia Bank theatre