Campbell Yates and I secretly met in the coach house he rented as a teenager in the 70s and we listened to this guy who made these crazy records that we believed nobody else had ever heard of named Brian Eno. Before and After Science, Taking Tiger Mountain By Surprise, Another Green World. He was our hero and we were his unlikely Winnipeg fan club.
It was sort of cute 10 years later to hear he and Daniel Lanois produced a pop band and it became pretty successful. Cute because we knew what he was really into was way cooler than a pop band that rhymes with boo hoo.
Cut to: One day 10 years later driving in the country and on CBC they announce they were about to play a band from Russia that Brian Eno had been working with. It was a big deal, lots of anticipation in the CBC introduction about the Russian band’s experience working with Eno and then the music started ….and it sounded like every Eno record.
That was just wrong.
Note to self: Try not to make other people sound like yourself if you’re hired to produce them.
(part of an email from a Thunder Bay musician last month)
I’m not very good at rambling to an audience and I don’t think I ever will be. I get tongue tied. Do you have to be born good at that because I’m not never was.
Go watch comedy. Comedians have no instrument to hide behind they have to be real or they lose the crowd. Watch them fail, watch them win but watch them all alone and vulnerable and you will find your legs on stage.
It’s weird that writing a song has nothing to do with being a performer but that’s how it is. You are a performer once you try to play your song on stage and if you can’t get comfortable being yourself in front of the crowd…it’s unlikely they will care to stay quiet and consider your lyrics and music.
Comedians who are talented are good at being themselves right away and that’s what you need to do too plus it’s fun to attend comedy shows.
Older brother Ronnie was into the blues which was the most fortunate thing for his little brother. To have Ronnie teach the blues was like being born into a Zen monastery and real blues too, Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Big Bill Broonzy – not the tiny-talent-time folks who claim to be members of the team but are in fact just cheerleaders or worse, mascots. It has to be the same frequency as Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sister Rosetta Tharpe or else it is just iceberg lettuce pretending to be a salad.
But all that is to say I saw Muddy Waters twice in concert growing up in Winnipeg and the coolest part about the 2cnd show was that Mayor Bill Norrie came out halfway through and give him a plaque substantiating his honourary Winnipeg citizenship because Winnipeg is a Cree word meaning Muddy Water.