Loose Blues News


October 1997


Miss Lavelle White, after some 30 years in the business, is coming to sing the blues at the Silver Dollar on September 4. She got her start in Houston in the `50’s, recording for Duke Records and writing songs. She has since been singing and writing in Texas, Chicago, Louisiana and Florida. Her songs have been recorded by Bobby Bland, Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli & Lou Ann Barton. She currently works out of Austin and records for Antone’s. Her first album(not just her first for Antone’s, her first album!) was Miss Lavelle in 1994. It Haven’t Been Easy is the title of her second album as well as an all too appropriate subtitle for a life in the blues. (Photo by Ursula Coyote)

Northern Blues: The first Twisted Pines Blues Festival is being launched Labour Day Weekend at 13 Midland-Penetanguishene area venues with blues favourites Downchild, Fathead, Carey Bell, Tony D., Chicago Pete, Professor Piano (Scott Cushnie), Gayle Ackroyd, The Nationals and many more. Celebrate your last long week-end in this beautiful blues-friendly paradise – there’s even a blues cruise from Midland to Penetanguishene. For info call (705) 528-0607 or visit the website at www.csolve.net/~twisted.

Virtually Northern Blues: John Small‘s award-winning, (yet cancelled) radio show, Blues North may not be on Q107 anymore (to make room for Howard Stern, maybe?), but it is now available on the web as part of the new virtual radio station, virtuallycanadian.com. The Blues Dudes (the ever-familiar John & Grant) also play the blues and there’s a full spectrum of music styles up to and including world-beat with host Linda Turu. Big John Small can also be heard on most Air Canada flights (select Blues Review.)

Blues Bros. Update: As we go to print, there’s a battle-of-the-blues bands taking place at some undisclosed location with a mind-boggling cast of blues stars. It is, of course, the filming of another scene for the movie Blues Brothers 2000 which is being filmed in Toronto. Some of the players include guitar heros Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Clarence Clemmons, Steve Winwood and jazz icons such as Jack deJohnette and Grover Washington Jr. Tom “Bones” Malone, the horn genius behind the Blues Brothers (and Saturday Night Live, and Letterman and on and on) has been sitting in at every opportunity at the Reservoir with Jeff Healy, The Orbit Room with the Dexters, Quigley’s, Grossmans, and playing with TBS new talent Search winners the Rockin’ Highliners. Tom was knocked out with what he called “a very healthy scene with more live blues than New York.”

Toronto drummer/singer Maureen Brown‘s new CD has been released at last. Guests on the project include Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Richie Hayward (Little Feat), Ian Thomas (The Boomers, Ian Thomas Band), Peter Cardinali, Mike Francis, Bill Dillon (Robbie Robertson, Daniel Lanois, Peter Gabriel), Mitchell Lewis, Rick Gratton, Kirk Elliot, and more. A combination birthday bash (for Maureen’s hubby drummer/clinician extraordinaire Rick Gratton) and CD release party will be held in Toronto at the Rockit on 120 Church St. (at Richmond) on September 17th. See John Valenteyn’s Please Release Me for more info on the CD.

The Robin Banks Blues Band has completed their recording at The Studio at Puck’s Farm, using the time they won in last year’s Toronto Blues Society New Talent Search. The CD will be called Permanent Record. Puck’s Farm (www.pucksfarm.com), has asked them us to sign with their Acequis Records label in conjunction with Page Music Distribution. We’ll keep you posted as the CD becomes available.

One of this year’s TBS New Talent Search finalists Josh Miller and 3 Wheel Drive won the weekly Beale Street Blues Society contest in August.

Waterloo has a new blues show every Monday night from 10 pm – midnight on 98.7 FM, CKWR, hosted by Willy A & Spencer James, alternating weekly. The show is called Old Chicago Blues. Email willya@nonline.net for further info.

Stage Is Set For Wortham’s Blind Lemon Jefferson Blues Festival: On Saturday, September 13, 1997, the Wortham Area Chamber of Commerce will host the first annual Blind Lemon Jefferson Blues Festival. The festival features blues artists from around Texas, presenting on one stage in downtown Wortham, Texas beginning at 12 noon. So far the lineup includes Diamondback, The Java Heads, Sprattack, The All Stars, The New Breed, Tim Wheeler and the Soul Shufflers, and Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones, with more to be announced. A special treat will be a performance by a local gospel quartet which includes Curtis Jefferson, a cousin of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

The festival is being held in honour of Blind Lemon Jefferson, a native of Wortham, who greatly influenced blues music. Mr. Jefferson was born blind in the Couchman community, about two miles outside of Wortham, in either 1893 or 1897. “Blind” Lemon Jefferson began his music career on the streets of Wortham where, as a young boy, he would sing for people who tossed coins in a tin cup fastened to the neck of his guitar. As a teenager, he walked around the area, playing his guitar and singing at parties and picnics. He eventually traveled to Dallas’ “Deep Ellum” district to play his music in the bars and along the railroad in that area. In 1926, Jefferson was discovered by the Paramount Recording Company and taken to Chicago to record. He was a huge success and made over eighty recordings between 1926 and 1929. He is recognized as the first commercially successful, black male recording artist in American history. He was one of the first, and some critics say the best, blues musicians to play what became known as the “Texas Holler” or “Country Holler” style of blues. The festival has had a site on the internet since March 15, 1997 and has had visitors there from all over the world. The address of the website is www.mycroft.mexia.com/~blindlemon. It will be updated frequently as further details on the festival are released. For latest festival and lodging information call (254) 765 – 3141.

Ruth Brown‘s autobiography Miss Rhythm: The Autobiography of Ruth Brown, as told to co-author Andrew Yule, won first place at the Eighth Annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards. The book was chosen over 60 other entries, including David Ritz‘s co-written autobiography of B.B. King, Blues All Around Me, and Leg McNeil and Gillian McCain‘s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk, which won second and third prize, respectively. Miss Rhythm is a candid and revealing autobiography of rhythm and blues legend Ruth Brown, her music, her landmark confrontation with a major record label and her much lauded comeback as one of the music scene’s most dynamic and versatile performers, and one of the few to have been honoured with the trilogy of a Grammy Award, Tony Award and membership in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The rights to Miss Rhythm have already been bought by the Showtime Network and is presently in development for a television movie. (See our Please Release Me column by John Valenteyn for more info about Brown’s long-awaited new release on the Bullseye label.)

Blues musicians who have recorded in Montserrat will be returing to perform a benefit concert that will coincide with a London Benefit at Albert Hall (That one features Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Sting, Elton John, Jimmy Buffett, and others are all performing because they were touched by Montserrat when they recorded at Sir George Martin‘s Air Studios). The Climax Blues Band was the first group ever to record there in 1979, and members of the old line-up are returning to perform on September 15th in a concert to coincide with the London event.

The Montserrat concert, which has received the blessing of Sir George Martin and support from the Monserration and UK authorities, is due to take place at Gerald’s Bottom in the north of the island, a natural amphitheatre next to one of the temporary accomodation sites which houses many of the Montserratian population who have been re-located there since the beginning of the volcanic emergency in 1995. “The idea behind the Montserrat show is to entertain the people and to provide a brief respite from the stresses of the volcano and also to serve as a symbol of `the hope to return’ – a sentiment shared by so many of the Montserratians forced to vacate their homes.” said Peter Filleul, former member Climax Blues Band, and one of the organizers of the event. It is hoped the event will include performances from major West Indian artists including Burning Flames and Bankie Banx as well as contributions from Montserratian singers and performers The final go-ahead will have to wait until closer to the show-date depending on conditions at that time. “Our main concern is that the situation on the ground doesn’t escalate so as to prevent us from going.” “The volcano and the weather will be the principal factors that determine whether the project can go ahead but accomodation may also prove to be a problem.” All the islands’ hotels have had to close leaving visitors and tourists to find rooms in private houses. “We are making sure the musicians know what they are getting into – no limousines or luxury hotels on this trip – more of an expedition than a gig!” commented Chris Runciman, veteran tour and production manager for artists such as Jackson Browne, JJ Cale and the Kinks.

– Brian Blain, Lily Sazz


Musicians Take Note:

Canada Council Program Deadlines: The Small Ensembles/Bands/Groups Program provides support to small professional ensembles/bands/groups that wish to self-produce or co-produce one or more concerts in their city or town of residence, or that wish to rehearse for a special event. The program’s emphasis is on encouraging the performance of music played or composed by Canadian artists and on creating opportunities for the presentation of Canadian music. Up to $10,000 is available for artists’ fees, rehearsal and coaching fees, as well as production, promotional and administrative costs related to one concert production or special rehearsal project, up to $25,000 for two or more concerts. The deadline is 1 October.

The Grants to Individual Musicians program offers professional musicians in non-classical music an opportunity to pursue their own personal and creative development. Grants can be used to work with a coach/master/teacher in any music tradition; to compose or develop new repertoire, to arrange, or to research new forms of music that will be used in the composition of new works; to change the direction of the musician’s career or for artistic renewal; for some types of collaborative projects. A studio in Paris, with living accommodation is also available at moderate cost to a Canadian musician. Grants for Individual Musicians provide fixed amounts of $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the needs of the artist. There is one annual deadline, May 1, 1998.

Travel Grants can be used to travel on an occasion important to the musician’s career at the invitation of a national or international host organization; to deliver a paper on Canadian music at an important national or international meeting or to participate in international competitions. Travel Grants provide fixed amounts of $500 or $1,000, depending on the needs of the artists. Requests may be submitted any time before 31 March 1998 but should be made as far in advance as possible. The grants can be retroactive as long as the application has been postmarked before the trip has been initiated. For information about any of these Canada Council programs Rene Lavoie, Music Section Officer, toll-free at 1-800-263-5588, ext. 4073, or (613) 566-4414, ext. 4073. The fax number is (613) 566-4409, e-mail: rene.lavoie@canadacouncil.

Folk Alliance: Early registration to attend the 1998 Annual Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, Tennessee (February 12-15) is available to Folk Alliance members for $238 by October 1. Non-members pay $270. The price goes up significantly after December 15, so penny-counting performers should contact the FA now if interested, tel: (202) 835-3655, fax (202) 835-3656, e-mail fa@folk.org.

Ontario Arts Council Conferences: Vital Links: Enriching Communities Through Art and Art Through Communities: A one-time conference for artists and arts organizations,which, through performances, presentations, displays, workshops and discussion group sessions, will address understanding communities, the role of art in the creative expression and development of communities, issues of funding and accessibility, etc. It runs September 25 – 28 at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

Ontario Contact is an annual showcase opportunity for touring artists, offering performances, workshops and a marketing area where performing artists who wish to tour can display their promotional material, and meet potential presenters interested in inviting touring artists to their communities. It takes place October 16 – 18 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Glenn Gould Studio and Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto. For more information on Vital Links or Ontario Contact, call the Arts Development Group at (416) 969-7420, or toll free in Ontario 1-800-387-0058.

Showcase Opportunities: The TBS will be partnering with Music Alliance Projects to stage a seminar on selecting, applying for and performing at various showcases – stay tuned for details for this event, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, October 19, at the Harris Institute. In the meantime, take note that two Toronto-based conferences have announced their 1998 dates. Canadian Music Week (March 5-8, 1998) is accepting submissions until December 1, 1997. Contact them at tel: (416) 695-9236, fax (416) 695-9239, e-mail: cmw@ican.net, web site: www.cmw.net. North by Northeast will be held June 11 to 13 1998. Check their website (www.nxne.com), e-mail (inquire@nxne.com), phone 416-469-0986 or fax: 416-469-0576 for showcase application forms, available mid-October (submission period November 3 to February 2).

The Body Electric / Guitar̩volution Рa new vision of the electric guitar: A world premiere event, The Body Electric / Guitar̩volution is a 20 concerts festival of new music for the electric guitar that will be happening in 6 cities across North America, with Toronto as the centre of attention. Events and programs presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of this festival include:

Thursday, September 25, 8 pm, Jackman Hall

John Somebody

French composer / bassist Kasper Toeplitz combines his experiences in the underground Parisian rock scene with his passion for complex structures to create a highly personal fascinating and highly personal musical language.

Kasper Toeplitz (France) and Jean-Maurice Payeur (Canada – USA) . Tickets: $10/$5 for AGO members, students, seniors, and unemployed. Available in advance at 979-6608 or at the night of the concert (use McCaul St. doors). Seating limited.

Saturday, September 27, 12 noon – 2 pm, Jackman Hall

Special video screening

Two videos, created by the Smithsonian Institute and WNVC in Washington, D.C., taken from their highly successful 1996 exposition on the history of the electric guitar.

Saturday, September 27, 3 pm – 5 pm, Jackman Hall

A new vision of the electric guitar

A panel of distinguished artists and journalists from North America and Europe discuss the social, cultural and musical issues around the idea of contemporary classical (new music) for the electric guitar.

Sunday, September 28, 3 pm, Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School

New Music Concerts

Toronto’s premier new music ensemble presents a programme of works for electric guitar from around the world for electric guitar.

Thursday, September 25, 1997 – Sunday, January 4, 1998, Shell Orientation Centre and Labatt Visitor’s Lounge

Guitart

The electric guitar is an instrument that is still evolving. This exhibit showcases some of the evolutionary mutants inspired by dreams of new sounds. Can instruments with 50 strings or one 200 foot long string be called guitars? What if it was made from a tennis racquet or machine gun? How would you design an instrument for a voyage into orbit around the planet? What would they sound like?

– Derek Andrews, Brian Blain, Barbara Isherwood, Lily Sazz