November 2016 - Commitments & Promises

November 18: Remember in April when I had a contest for the video launch for my song, Goodbye. A winner was picked out of a hat and the prize was a song written for them and about them. Click on >> Video to see the result.  Well, shortly after I interviewed Angela's loved ones and finally, the song was written and recorded. A promise is a promise. Seven months after I pulled Angela's name out of the hat, I saw her loved ones and shared the song. From their reactions, I know they approve. I am always grateful when folks tell me of their appreciation for my work. But this time around, I was deeply touched. Their reactions were stronger than words and I am beyond grateful. To witness them in such an intimate moment is a gift that I will always treasure. The song will be part of Carolyn Fe Blues Collective's 4th album. Angela - always loved and never forgotten.

Today, we lost Sharon Jones. She was a warrior, fought cancer long and hard. Fuck Cancer! This month is like a mirror image of the beginning of 2016. We lost so many artists just in November: Leonard Cohen, Bob Walsh, Mose Allison, Leon Russell, Victor Bailey, Robert Vaughn, Janet Wright...and those are the ones that I know of. There's a changing of the guards happening. My heart is heavy.

November 14:  I am fully aware that the marketing machine is there to make the products, services and people the best that they are with a lot help from adjectives. However, when someone is deemed a “master” and in reality there was nothing masterful about what that person did – I have to bite my tongue and walk away. I was recently witness to such a “master” – I read the description and it peaked my interest. It was a well written description of the amazing musical and stage techniques this person pulls out during performances…THE absolute show-person, A True Master! Ok, I am being extremely vague about the identity on purpose.  I sat in the room, anxious and excited…looking forward to learning something from this “master” - anything. The artist came out on stage, shirt stained with what looked like mustard drippings from a quickly eaten hot dog; jeans that look like they can stand on their own. Yet – I do not judge the book by its cover. The band starts and the artist chimes in with their instrument…a cover song done note for note; and so it goes for the whole of the first set – 45 minutes of cover songs, one after another done note for note with no personalised touch (and no – this was not a tribute show). Still I think maybe the first set is a warm up for the audience, to settle in and get familiar, but it became obvious that the room is getting antsy.  Midway through the second set, still waiting and none of the “mastery” was shared on stage; another series of cover songs. A few audience members walk out. I tried my best to hang on as long as I can but sadly, I wasn’t able to see the mastery in the beer swiggin’, mustard stained, dirty jean-ed player...and I walk out heavy-hearted. There are lots of musicians out there trying to make a living and depend on the cover charge. I had paid my $10 and walked out halfway through the second set, disappointed but at peace in the knowledge that this artist is doing what it takes to get out there.  Master? Maybe not. Courageous? Indeed. Talented? Well…it’s a subjective point of view when I say, I’ve seen much, much better.  A few blocks down I hear something that catches my attention, I look at the sign that says “pay what you can”. I take my seat and am blown away by the artistry and creativity of the band – they were simply dressed but there was an obvious colour scheme to their stage clothes. They played original toe-tapping material that hit home, then to get a connection with the small crowd they performed a couple of recognizable cover songs. I say “recognizable” because they made it their own so much that it was original in itself. Masterful! What started out as a room of empty tables, ended up a standing room only show wherein I recognized lots of faces from the audience members in the previous master player’s show from a few blocks up. By the time the hat came to me, I had no hesitation in dropping a $20 and I see that the hat had been graced with nothing less than $20s. All in all, it was a good night out, knowing I was able to support 2 very, very different bands.

November 6:  There are jobs and there are jobs. I want to continue about that "coming out of the sinkhole" feeling. Last night I had a great time at the House of Jazz with my band and a guest from Ottawa. I wanted to mention how I missed that energy we had on stage. I had, what I will call, my substitute stage husbands with me Stephano (bass) and Gabriel (drums) because my stage hubbies are off doing what has to be done out of the country. I also had a guest with me, Al G Wood (I spin his tunes on my radio show >> Unsung and On The Side). Al and I have been trying to get together for years and finally it happened last night. We had folks from Spain, France, Japan, Washington DC, Ottawa, Chicago, Kinshasa! We got them up on their feet dancing, howling, hooting and hollering! The >> House of Jazz was rocking! Don't get me wrong, we always have that effect when we play but for me...how can I say this...ummm....it's not that I saw the light at the end of the sinkhole...I actually was right there, at the light...and it felt so good to be solid on my feet again.

And here's another thing that helped. Earlier this week, I has the honor to be asked to coach bands for >> The League of Rock! They had 1st showcase at McKibbin's West Island, alongside >> Boogie Cindy of Boogie Wonder Band! I really like the concept of The League of Rock. They take weekend warrior musicians out of their basements, group them into bands (where nobody knows each other) and by the end of the 10-week workshop with coaching from industry pros, they gain the experience that every band goes through on stage/rehearsal rooms/off stage.  As well, what I really like about this is that folks who have chosen other careers and had to put their rock star dreams aside have the chance to feel what it's like to be on stage. Check out photos front and backstage by >> James St Laurent

Pushing through with commitments and promises has it's payday. Grateful much? Hell, YEAH! 

November 5: To forge ahead regardless of what obstructions life has decided to throw in your path is a tough act. I look back and see the ups and downs - lots of downs - that I've travailed this past year. I'm still pushing against a push but there were moments when I thought there was no way out of this seemingly deep sink hole but here I am.  I am not claiming 100% triumph but looking back at it now, that was a big hole I had to climb out of!  (I have a small smirk on my face)

Who would have thought that I would have a syndicated radio show >> Unsung and On The Side which has been gaining a strong listenership. Then there is the song that I've written for Angela, the winner of the contest I help in April of this year for the launch of my video >> Goodbye - remember? To see the announcement of the winner, click here >> Video. It is done; complete, written, recorded and ready to share with the family.  It will be on the next album as it was a promise to the winner. As far as the next album is concerned - I'm back at it, writing new material with my new band mates. I am committed to bringing out the album. I am committed to fulfilling the promises I've made, even though it may take a long time...and I wipe the sweat off my forehead.