Sunday, July 5, 2015

On Tour with Brock Zeman...and playing the Bass! And the kick drum!

I'm what you might consider a restless musical soul. While I have tended to stay with the Roots/Folk/ Blues/ Country/ Rock boundaries...there's quite a bit of room to move in there, I am always looking for opportunities to improve my skills and look at music from different angles.

One such opportunity was put in front of me by singer/ songwriter Brock Zeman this past February, when we both attended the Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City, along with our friend, the great Steve Purtelle ( of Acoustic Grill fame). I was playing lead guitar with Brock on his sets down there, as well as performing my own songs, and we were having a grand ol' time hanging out, shooting the breeze, and witnessing the joy and absurdity that is Folk Alliance play out in front of us in the hallways of the Westin Hotel.

Brock and I both have been on the road a number of years, and we both know the struggle of keeping a band together. The constant turnover due to personality conflicts, conflicting schedules, or burnout. Brock has been playing bass pedals with his feet while playing the guitar and singing the past couple of years ( which I think is an amazing brain-splitting feat), and was looking to change things up. He wanted to stand up for a change!

So, he asked me if I wanted to play bass. To tell the truth, the thought had never even crossed my mind before ( playing bass in a band), but I gave it some thought, and said I would do it if I could open shows for him doing my solo acoustic set. He was all for that, so we had ourselves a plan.

This week we head out on a three week tour of Canada. We have had some good rehearsals and the sound we are creating is really happening!

Tour Dates :

July 10th - Loplops (Sault Ste Marie, ON)
July 11th- House Concert (Thunder Bay, ON)
July 12th- Greenachers (Wabigoon, ON)
July 13th – Jeff Robson House Concert (Winnipeg, MB)
July 16th – Waterton Opera House (Waterton Lakes, AB)
July 17th – The Nanton Auditorium (Nanton, AB)
July 18th – South Country Fair (Fort Macleod, AB)
July 19th – South Country Fair (Fort Macleod, AB)
July 21st – The Ironwood (Calgary, AB)
July 22nd – Gilmore Guitars (Red Deer, AB)
July 24th – Moongate House Concert (Whitemouth, MB)
July 25th – The Whiskey Jack (Perrault Falls, ON)
July 27th- The Legion (Sioux Lookout)
July 28th – The Apollo (Thunder Bay, ON)
July 30th – The Raven and Republic (North Bay, ON)
Aug 1st – The Island Unplugged (Peele Island, ON)

In addition to playing bass, I will also be driving the beat with my "Kick drum", which is actually a logjam stomp board. I love this thing!  I was searching around the internet one day ( while listening to Brock's tunes, familiarizing myself with them) and I came across the site and thought,'Wouldn't it be cool to play the bass and have a kick drum sound?', and once that lightbulb went off there was no turning back. Now, in addition to my kick sound, lead guitarist Blair Hogan is playing 'snare shots' with a tambourine on a kick pedal. Too cool.  Plus the guys have other gizmos and gadget creating all kinds of neat sounds...but you'll have to come to a show to hear what it sounds like.

Brock Zeman's new record is called, " Pulling Your Sword Out Of The Devil's Back", and it is his best work to date, in my humble opinion. Stream it here :

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Music is Life and Life is Good

It has been a very satisfying couple of weeks for me musically-speaking. The past two weekends offered up some great moments on stage, starting with the May 2nd Songwriter's Circle at The Cove in Westport, ON. I really enjoy this format. Four songwriters on stage, passing the guitar around, sharing songs and stories, and trading licks. On this night, it was myself, along with Chris Brown, Luther Wright, and Seamus Cowan.

The first set, we all played our songs individually, passing my old Guild around, then in the second
set, we all collaborated on each other's songs. This was a lot of fun. I ended up jumping around from guitar to bass, and even piano for one song! I was really impressed by Seamus' singing and his songs. I'd heard Luther and Chris before in this style, but had mostly heard Seamus playing in bands. The acoustic thing suited him quite well.

There is talk that we will do this again. Perhaps on Wolfe Island next time. I hope so.

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of performing at The Pumpkin Pie Concert Series in Battersea, ON. What an incredible vibe! I love church halls and I love listening audiences...and I also love pie, so this was pretty much the perfect gig!

I've performed at many house concerts and small coffeehouse-style venues over the past couple of years touring my solo show, but this was the first opportunity in awhile that I have had to do so with a band. Bonz Bowering ( drums) and Alexander Tikhnenko (bass) did an excellent job holding down the rhythm. Some special moments on stage for sure. I love to play a room where the audience is so attentive. It's nice to have the ability to take advantage of the silence in the room, and play with the dynamic range of the songs. We rode the wave in No-Win Situation for sure - at one point bringing it down so quiet that I was barely touching the strings on the guitar as I was soloing. Then kicking it back up again, eliciting spontaneous applause from the crowd, and sending shivers up our spines.

Music is life and life is good.