It's time for that featured track thing again. This week's offering from Hearsay Is 20/20 is the sixth song on the album, titled He Could. Give it a spin HERE!
Some of the melody was salvaged from a tune I wrote when I was 16, and at that time it bore a bit of a resemblance to The Beatles' I Don't Want To Spoil The Party, with a similar country/rockabilly feel. That was swapped out after I heard Green Day's Poprocks And Coke come up on one of my playlists while I was in the middle of doing something exciting like making a sandwich or washing dishes. It's a glamourous life, I tell ya.
The chorus uses a "coulda-shoulda-woulda" lyrical theme, and then each verse expands on that as the song progresses. Sometimes two people are the right combination, but at the wrong time.
Hmmm. Valentine's Day, huh?
That's well-timed, since this week's featured track from Hearsay Is 20/20 is a bit of a break from my somewhat more manic punked-up approach, titled Something Like A Poem. Give it a listen HERE.
Something Like A Poem takes the melody from a song I had kicking around for ages, at that time it was called Someone Once Said. I released it on a cassette album (back when cassettes were necessary rather than hip), and then released an instrumental power-pop version on the first (and thus far only) That Satisfying Crunch! album. You can check that version out here.
The original lyrics were okay, but after adding Someone Once Said to my sets off and on for years, the song just didn't seem all that strong or interesting. So I tucked it away and forgot about it. That is, until one afternoon in 2015 when I was sitting on a streetcar and suddenly the old melody came back with new lyrics. The first verse as you hear it now presented itself in a flash, and I only barely had time to write it all down in the little notebook I had in my jacket pocket before it would have dissipated and been forgotten. Many songwriters over the years have expressed the idea that they don't write songs so much as receive song ideas that are transmitted from somewhere. I totally get that.
I've been told more than once that the melody is very "Beatle-esque", a comparison you'll never hear me play down, and I did my best to pepper the song with a few Costello-inspired turns of phrase ("And when she's novelized, and you only want to get between her covers", etc…).
Next week's song will be faster and louder, I promise.
Right then. Three songs down, here comes number four.
This week's featured track from Hearsay Is 20/20 is a rag-tag ride called It's Her!, which you can feast your ears on HERE!
It was also the fourth song written for the album, and resuscitates a tune that I came up with when I was all of eighteen years old. I wrote lyrics for it back then, but those couplets will never see the light of day, thankfully.
There's a pretty obvious Kinks influence in the "F to G" power chord riff that drives the opening chorus, probably due to the number of Kinks 45s I was accumulating from the record bins at the Towers department store in Owen Sound at the time. I think the verses are probably playing host to the ghost of The Beatles' Anytime At All, and the four chords at the end owe something to the four chords at the end of It Won't Be Long, but backwards.
The lyrics are brand new, and are sort of observing a friend's new found fascination with that special someone. It's hard to tell if the narrator is being supportive or mocking, though. Very likely a bit of both. I took the old Roman adage "We came, we saw, we conquered" and twisted it into "You came, you saw, you concurred". I'm possibly more proud of that line than I should be*. Thank you for indulging me all the same.
*"You string yourself along and tie yourself in knots" ain't half bad either...
This week's featured track from Hearsay Is 20/20 is a wee ditty called The World Of You.
Have a listen HERE!
It was the first one written for the album, although it was originally going to be the theme song for the film Love In The Sixth until the film's director/writer/producer/star Jude Klassen decided to take a different approach. The song was only half finished, but since I was free to do whatever I wanted with it then, I decided to give it a Motown feel, sort of like The Supremes' hit You Can't Hurry Love (or Iggy's Lust For Life… or Costello's Love For Tender… or The Jam's A Town Called Malice… or…). Anyway, that idea ALMOST worked, but not quite. Since I went for as many double entendres and turns of phrase as I could muster lyrically, the faster tempo turned the song into a three minute tongue twister, so I opted for the heavier half time feel you hear now (the Motown approach was later bestowed upon Ingenue Emeritus).
Anyway, enjoy! And if you'd like to hear The World Of You performed live in Toronto this week, there's always…
Wednesday February 1st: Orchard Bar (1174 Bloor West), 9pm to almost 12 midnight.
Thursday February 2nd: Stop, Drop & Roll (300 College), sharing the bill with The Nude Dogs, Generation Hexed, and Johnny Nocash. I'm on first at 10pm
Saturday February 4th: The Dylan Bar (1276 Danforth), 4pm to 7pm-ish
Ciao fer now.
Hearsay Is 20/20 has been doing really well, with airplay in Spain, Sweden, and of course Canada. I'm expecting to get some airplay in Columbia, New Zealand, USA and the UK within the next week or two as well.
The featured track this week is Sort Of Like Danielle, a whole two minutes and three seconds of tuneage. It started life as three separate song bits, all of which were in different keys. I tried lining the pieces up in the same key, but that meant that some parts were either to high or two low for me to sing. So I thought stuff it, the song can just modulate all over the place, because that will be cheaper than singing lessons.
As a result, "Danielle" is in the key of E.
And then F#.
And then G for a bit.
And then back to E where the whole ride starts over again.
Anyway, you can give it a listen (and also buy it if you're so inclined…) on Bandcamp right about HERE.
I was working on it around the time I dove into production on Love In The Sixth, so there are a lot of filmic illusions floating around in the lyrics (you can read those lyrics on the Bandcamp page too, by the way).
Two minutes and three seconds. You better get dancing or you might miss it!
The new album, Hearsay Is 20/20, has arrived! It's currently available in downloadable form from Bandcamp. I'm going to hold off making CDs, or cassettes, or vinyl, since there's enough plastic floating around on the planet right now.
Every week or so, I'm going to highlight a different track from the album, starting today with the lead-off track, Ingenue Emeritus.
Feast your ears HERE!
It's a fast, Motown-ish thing, along the lines of You Can't Hurry Love, or A Town Called Malice (or Lust For Life… or Love For Tender… or…), and it's the album's lead off track as well. The lyrics are a bit of stream-of-consciousness surrealism that came to me rapidly, in the space of a couple of days right before heading into the studio to record Hearsay backin July. I decided I wanted one more song to fill out the album, and the lyric gods smiled on me with lines like…
"Now nobody holds a candle
To the torch you carry to the game,
Cross your heart and hope to dilate
Both her pupils 'cause she feels the same."
And you can dance to it as well, which you Southern Ontarians may want to stay indoors and do as opposed to venturing out into whatever weather mid-January is throwing at us...
Well, well, look who it is checking my website and reading this posting from me. I was just thinking about you a few minutes ago and said to myself "Self, I should post something to let him/her know about that thing that's happening", and now here you are! What a world we live in. A world that contains such modern advancements as AM radio, even.
Speaking of which…
T.C. FOLKPUNK (that would be me) will be appearing on
TUESDAY JULY 12, at 7:00 PM E.S.T.
And as if AM radio wasn't amazing enough, we now have the interwebs! You can also hear the show if you live far away from Toronto (and I'm told some people do)!!
You can even (as the kids say) "download it" from this friendly local fruit stand, but only after the show's host have delivered it.
Well, all this talk of high falutin' technology has inspired me to shovel some fresh coal into my steam-powered geetar amplimifier, buy some fresh moustache wax, and prepare my blunderbuss for the show!
Away with ye!
Col. Barnum Darwin Folkpunk, Esq.
Here's a video courtesy of Billy Zee, part of his ongoing series of interviews titled Musicians In Bars Getting Beer (take THAT, Seinfeld!). You'll notice it's close up. Like, VERY close up.
Fortunately I shaved that morning.
And plucked my eyebrows.
And trimmed my nose hair.
By the way, you'll also notice that Billy employed his patented "Wobble-Vision" effect, so you the viewer will feel like you've been having beers all afternoon on the patio as well.
Okay, so here's how last night's one-hour gig during the snowstorm of the year unfolded:
00:00 to 00:15- The only mic cable they have at the venue is about five feet long, so I'm positioned right next to the mixing board. Weird, but I can deal. Voice is shaky (I'd had the flu all weekend), but holding up okay under the circumstances. My friend, producer Harrison Fine, is there at the front table for moral support.
00:16 - I realize that the 20-something guy sitting at the table next to Harrison (and who has seemed oblivious to the fact that there's live music) is wearing flip-flops. I'm not kidding. This starts me giggling, which starts me coughing.
00:20 - Harrison types the words "FLIP FLOPS!" in giant letters on his smart phone screen and holds it up so I can see it just as I'm about to do the quiet part of a slow song. More coughing ensues. So much for the quiet song.
00:28 - Mr. Flip-Flops has been reading a hard cover book, the paper sleeve for which has been lying on his table. As he prepares to leave, he FOLDS THE PAPER COVER REPEATEDLY UNTIL IT'S A TINY SQUARE OF PAPER, which he then stuffs between the pages of the book. He walks past me in an attempt to exit through a door that is blocked by a rather large coffee table. I stop my song to turn around behind me and tell him the exit is the other way. He leaves and I start a fresh round of giggling/hacking.
00:38 - My voice is almost gone, so I knock back a Jameson's and play Absolutely Sweet Marie. Harrison has typed the word "COUGH!" on his smart phone screen, which is amusing yet unhelpful.
00:49 - Suddenly, my vocal chords fix themselves and I cruise through the end of the gig. I credit the Jameson's. And proper footwear.
Big news from the Love in the Sixth camp this week: our soundtrack is now available on iTunes!
As some of you know, the film has a bit of a politically charged theme running through it, thanks largely to the main character's activist pre-teen daughter, Kat. One of Kat's main concerns is the implementation of the controversial Bill C-51, and coincidentally our MPs are currently considering having a proper, open, public consultation on that very bill.
So in keeping with that theme, here are some relevant Love in the Sixth music links, highlighting a song titled Beautiful Human, in which Kat expresses her concerns and frustrations through a musical conversation with her mom, Dani.
The song is one of six which I co-wrote with the film's writer-director-producer-star, Jude Klassen. We'll have some other big announcements in the not-too-distant future, but until then, feel free to hum along:
Love in the Sixth soundtrack on iTunes
Beautiful Human on Bandcamp (with lyrics!)
And if you REALLY want to get involved, sign this petition asking your MP to support the calls for an open public consultation on Bill C-51:
Our story so far: Mild mannered folk-punk and would be raconteur T.C. is recruited to take his first crack at acting, while also being enlisted to write as many catchy songs as possible, all in the service of Love in the Sixth, a new indie Canadian unromantic musical comedy feature film. After many months of indulging in both aforementioned career activities, our hero finds himself (along with many fellow cast members) at the world premiere of "LITS" at the Whistler Film Festival in Whistler B.C. on Friday December 4th.
Days before the premiere, the first rumblings of recognition were heard, as Reel West Magazine published the production diary of the film's producer/writer/director, Jude Klassen.
During a luncheon on the opening day, festival programmer extraordinaire Paul Gratton announces to the celebs and cinephiles in attendance that "Love in the Sixth was made for only five thousand dollars, but it looks like a million bucks!". Costars T.C. and Jude don't expect such recognition so early in the game, and look at each other in surprised awe, and agree that "that was cool".
At the theatre on premiere night, much red carpet paparazzifying ensues.
And as a special treat for the audience lined up in the lobby to see the film, the cast give their loyal following a bit of song and dance. But mostly song.
Much mayhem and positive critical response ensues, as the film goes on to become the buzz worthy, quirky underdog of the festival. The two days following the premiere are a blur of late night parties, early morning brunch shmooze fests, hot tubs and saunas, and vain attempts to try to finish writing a song for the next album. That, combined with smoked salmon burgers and jet lag, pretty much makes the trip complete.
Upon arriving back in Toronto, the cast's triumphant return is made all the more triumphanter when they're treated to a hefty endorsement on CTV News Channel, from resident film reviewer Jason Gorber (at the three minute mark).
Our hero then spends the next few days blogging, emailing and trying to count his lucky stars with help of a very large calculator.
Thanks for tuning in, this ends our broadcast day…
The film I've been working on for the past while, Love in the Sixth, will premiere at The Whistler Film Festival in December. That's one festival which we really hoped we'd get into, so we're drunk with joy at our good fortune. Between starring in the film, writing most of the music, and co-producing it, I've hardly had time to come up for air. We did it though, and the next chapter of this crazy adventure is about to commence. To all of you who offered verbal encouragement from day one, thank you. And to my fellow cast and crew, you guys were (and continue to be) the best bunch of collaborators I could have hoped for. Now strap yourselves in, we're going for a ride!
Awhile ago, I mentioned that I'd been working on a film, the working title of which was Mancation Nation. Just to recap, in April of last year I met a certain Judith Klassen at a party, and once it was established that I was a working singer-songwriter, she asked if I'd be interested in contributing a couple of songs to an indie film she was planning to write, produce, direct and star in.
Just before filming began, she asked if I'd be interested in playing a small role in the film, and shortly after that, the role was re-written so that my character was suddenly the male lead. And then it was decided that the film would be a musical of sorts, which required a pile of new songs.
After a few months of on-again, off-again filming, today we shot the final scene for the film, now titled Love In The Sixth. The title is inspired by Elizabeth Kolbert's book, The Sixth Extinction, and we're billing the film as "an enviromantic musical comedy".
I'm not sure exactly what to compare it to. It's sort of Terry Gilliam-esque, although there are tongue-in-cheek nods to everything from The Hunger Games to The Rutles thrown into the mix.
We've set up a Facebook page for the film, and if you want to follow along on our crazy post-production journey, we'd love to have you along for the ride. Here's the url:
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
Last week I was interviewed on Song Talk Radio, which is beamed out to the world via The Scope at Ryerson. The interview/performance lasted an hour, but it flew by quickly. Much of that would be down to the hosts Phil, Neel, Bruce and Janice and their ability to keep things interesting and entertaining. Anyway, here's a link to the episode on their site:
There's a video of two of the song performances, and below that a Soundcloud link to audio of the complete show.
Just some quick news and then you can get back to eating your fiftieth turkey sandwich (or tofurkey, if you prefer…).
First up, a nice little interview that was conducted by Amanda Hather for Canadian Beats:
Secondly, in anticipation of the day Facebook becomes a distant MySpace-ish memory, I've started a T.C. Folkpunk page on a new social networking site, Ello. You can look at it here:
Right now it's an invitation-only site, but if any of you want to get on board, let me know, I can send you just such an invitation.
And finally, here's wishing you a Happy New Year, and best of luck in 2015. As is the case with any year, 2014 had its ups and downs, but its ups were fantastic, and I'm pretty certain years from now I'll look back on 2014 and marvel at what a fun ride it was.
Take care of yourselves!
I've decided to turn my upcoming gig into what will serve as a release party for my new album, Lamest Fast Words. Details as set out below:
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 27 at
RELISH BAR AND GRILL, 2152 Danforth Avenue, Toronto.
7:00 to 9:00pm
Please notice the early time slot. This is very important, since you'll want to be there when the album is released and everybody runs around the room trying to catch it.
Karaoke starts at 10:00, if you're interested. I'm thinking of starting a pool and taking bets on how often "Delilah" is sung. Actually, "sung" might not be the most accurate choice of verb, but you get the idea.
Okay, it's official announcement time.
My new album, Lamest Fast Words, is now available from the following friendly online sources:
"But wait, there's more!", as they used to say in those old TV commercials for Ronco products.
My friend, album artwork designer, and fellow folkpunk soldier Frank Makak has already recorded a cover version of one of the songs from Lamest Fast Words, entitled For The Lucky Ones, and it's available here:
While you're there, check out some of Frank's other music too. I think my favourite Makak song is Montreal To Wellington, but Walk Away Leader is great as well. Hmm, actually A Murderer On 5th Street is also excellent…
Anyway, enjoy! And feel free to tell your friends, and share on your fave social network!
The new album will be entitled "Lamest Fast Words", it's mixed and ready to be mastered, then manufactured, which means it'll be here in November.
So for those of you keeping score, it took two hours to record, and six months to mix.
Music is weird that way sometimes.
On the off chance that anybody has been asking themselves what ever became of me, here's some quick news.
First, I've been working like mad on an indie film for the past few weeks. I met the writer/director/ producer, Judith Klassen, at a party back in April. Initially, she asked if I'd be interested in contributing a song or two for the film, which was in pre-production at the time. Twist my rubber arm, so to speak.
Shortly thereafter, it was suggested that maybe I could play one of the smaller roles, which soon became a bigger role. Then more songs were needed. Then my character was re-written to become one of the main characters. Then Judith and I started collaborating on even more music for the film.
Fast forward to now, and this film (currently titled Mancation Nation) has turned into one of the best jobs ever. All of the people involved get along famously, the scripts are great, and there's an spontaneous energy that comes with the guerrilla approach to film making that we've adopted. We're aiming for an early 2015 release, rest assured I'll tell you when it's time. Until then, those of you on Faceboot can follow along here:
In other news, I've FINALLY uploaded some simple videos to YouTube. Nothing fancy, but I've arranged two playlists, one for each of my previous albums. Here are the urls:
"…every cloud has a sulphur lining…"
You can listen to both albums absolutely free, meaning no money will be directed to the artist.
Wait a minute… Um, on second thought…
After some consideration, I've deleted "Lo-Fi Hi-Jinx" from the catalogue. When I initially released it, I sort of had it in the back of my mind that it might only be a temporarily available type thing anyway, and repeated listens (plus having to drop two songs from the final product due to technical glitches) only reenforced the idea. Fear not though, the songs are being re-recorded under more ideal circumstances in a studio setting, and will resurface shortly in shiny new versions.
The next T.C. Folkpunk gig will be a fundraiser for these folks:
I became aware of Jake and Natalie (and their fundraiser) through a mutual friend, and after watching the video posted on the above url, I decided to help them out. So, for the month of October all MP3 sales of T.C. Folkpunk music at CD Baby will be donated to the cause, and you can make such a purchase at either of the following:
Please note that only purchases made through CD Baby will be donated. Other outlets such as iTunes and Amazon often take months to process, and the cut off for the fundraiser is the end of December.
And then there's the gig:
SUNDAY OCTOBER 20th
at GRINDER COFFEE
126 Main Street, Toronto
There will be a donation jar at the show, and all proceeds from sales of CDs and download cards will be added to the final contribution as well.
As the video says, there are 4 million orphans in the DRC. We can't save them all but we can bring two of them home. Thanks in advance for your help, Folkpunkateers!
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 26th,
THE PRESS CLUB (850 Dundas Street West, Toronto)
opening for GARAGE BABY !
This is one gig I've REALLY been looking forward to, and that's largely attributable to the group for whom I'm opening. Garage Baby are a quartet of swaggering "been-there-done-that" rock'n'roll mercenaries. They collectively have over a century of ass-kicking experience under their belts, and that would go a long way to explaining why they could crush just about any band of twenty-somethings roaming the hipster hell of the local music scene. These guys seamlessly manage to combine a take-no-prisoners intensity with a fuck-you who-cares attitude, and the result is pure punk perfection.
There's no substitute for experience.
See you there!
Very briefly, my latest mini-album is available on CD Baby right about here:
It was recorded in May at one of my favourite Toronto venues, C'est What, which also happens to be the club at which I'd most like to host a release party. As a result, it's pretty much exactly the way I'd sound playing at such an event. Therefore, I'm skipping the whole "booking a release party" step and calling it the official recording of my album release party which happened while the album in question was being recorded, and which is only audible now that the album is available, therefore becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you'd still like to catch me in an actual gig situation (which would be sort of like listening to the new album, but a bit more three-dimensional on the visuals), there are a couple of options in the near future:
Monday, September 16th,
7:00pm to 10:00pm,
Maple Leaf House,
2749 Lakeshore Blvd West, Toronto
-I'll be back in the banquet room, along with a group fellow scribes, all of whom will be taking part in The Loose Leaf Poets and Writers event. Notice the early timing of the event. Also adding some musical flourishes to the night will be the super talented Adam Faux.
I'll also be at The Press Club on Thursday the 26th, opening for the mighty Garage Baby, but I'll remind you about that later…
You may remember I played a gig at C'est What back in May, the theme of which was a sort of "recording party". The idea was that the audience members could bring their own recording gear, capture the show and then do as they pleased with the end result. Well, it sort of worked out, although not as I envisioned. None of the audience actually brought any such gear with them, but the sound engineer at C'est What, Adam Faux, recorded the show through the mixing board, and the tracks sound good enough to release. Or at least that's what I've been encouraged to do by a few folks who've heard the recording.
So, some time in the next month or so I'll unleash my first live album. Considering how many gigs I've played over the years, it's kinda funny I've never released a live recording before now. Anyway, as per my usual modus operandi, it will be a short but sweet seven song collection. Every song was captured in a single take, no overdubs or pitch correction or any of the other crap that's taking the fun out of music these days. The album will be titled "Lo-Fi Hi-Jinx", and will initially be available only as a download and only from CD Baby.
And in other news, I'm back on Facebook with a musician page. I know, I know, I've gone off on a rant about Facebook in the past, and I'm still suspect of some of their policies, but it seems to be the best way to stay connected with certain people. Here's a url for ya:
My next gig will take place next Sunday, June 30th at Grinder. That's right, the Sunday of the long weekend. Consequently, you absolutely should not come to this gig. You should be out of the city enjoying the bugs, traffic jams, idiots on their Sea-Doos at 5am, and all the other things that make a cottage more than just a thing they named a type of cheese after.
Okay, granted, Grinder has the best Americano I've ever tasted, and the sandwiches are really nice, and the staff are great, and they almost always have cool artwork on the walls, but hey, you could experience that stuff any day of the week. Like when you're back in town from the cottage, for example. Or before you go to the cottage, for example. Or both, for example.
Anyway, you better not show up. If you do, I won't greet you with the usual "thanks for coming to my gig" pleasantries. I'll probably look at you like you're nuts and ask you what the hell you're doing there.
Yup, you go off and have a great time. I'll just be standing alone in the corner of Grinder, playing my old Rickenbacker 310 through my old Traynor TS-15 and marvelling at how great they sound together.
Especially when there's no audience there to drown them out.
Have a nice time.
Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.
It's gig time, as detailed below:
SUNDAY MAY 19th,
at C'EST WHAT, 67 Front Street East, Toronto.
also appearing: Mr. B (aka Mike Bennett)
This isn't really a gig in the usual sense. It's what I've dubbed a "recording party". Basically I'll be playing some songs that I've never recorded, nor have any plans to record. It's possible that I'll play these songs once at the recording party, and then move on to writing new songs which will be played in public only once at the next recording party. Anybody who wants to have copies of these songs is encouraged to come to C'est What and bring whatever recording media you have at your disposal.
Got an app for your iPhone that puts Abbey Road studios in your pocket? Bring it!
Got an old 4-track cassette recorder and a cheap microphone? Bring it!
Got one of those Edison wax cylinder recording doo-dads from a hundred years ago? Bring it, but get it insured first, it's probably worth something.
When I first picked up a guitar way back in the 20th century, my goal was to simply write a bunch of great songs and play them. But the industry changed and every indie artist ended up having to be a manager, and/or booking agent, and/or record producer, and/or recording engineer, and/or record label CEO, and/or promoter, and/or CD warehouse manager (the warehouse being one's living room)… And juggling all of those things meant there was no spare time for actually making music.
A year ago I walked away from the music thing and wrote a kids' book, effectively putting music out of my mind for the first time since I was twelve years old. I didn't touch any of my guitars for months, (aside from a couple of little appearances) and even sold off all but two of them. After I finished writing the book and sent it off to the publishers, I suddenly felt like writing some songs again. With a fresh perspective, I realized that I did not, however, feel like wearing any of the other music biz hats I'd been wearing for so long. Anyway, to make a long story ever so slightly shorter, congratulations, you've all been promoted to the role of recording engineer, and/or record producer. The recording session will take place on Sunday May 19th. See you there.
By the way, after you've recorded the show, you're welcome to do whatever you want with the finished product. Upload it to Soundcloud, stick it on iTunes and try selling it (HA! good luck with THAT one!), send MP3s to radio stations, whatever. Oh, look, you've just been promoted to promoter as well as indie label CEO. Congratulations.
I gave Pelle Almqvist a subway token so he could get to the Air Canada Centre for tonight's show and not have to spend rush hour stuck in a taxi.
Right then, down to business. Some of you may have been saying to yourselves "What ever became of T.C. Folkpunk? It's been almost a year since he sent me an email and I'm feeling morose as a result". Others may have been saying "Who is this T.C. Folkpunk, and how drunk did I have to get to sign up for his emails anyway?". And still others among you may have said "I distinctly remember ordering the fries, not onion rings, what gives?".
Well I'm here to answer those questions. And when I say "those questions", I mean "just the first one".
I had a gig booked for last March, and one night in February I was rehearsing away, working the vocal chords, memorizing lyrics, building the finger muscles up, and all the other regular maintenance that goes along with this music stuff. But after about ten minutes I just stopped in the middle of a song, looked down at my guitar and thought "Bugger this, I've done it, it's boring, I'm gonna do something else with my life". So I put the guitar away, walked over to the computer and began writing a book I'd dreamt up a while ago. After a few weeks I finally finished the first book, and started writing a second one. I didn't even look at my guitars for months on end, I was completely immersed in the writing process.
Fast forward to late July when I happened to pick up a Rickenbacker 650 in a local music shop, and thought to myself, "whoa, nice guitar, it almost makes me sound like I know what I'm doing", so I bought it. At first I thought I'd just have it to play at home for fun, since my musician days were behind me. Then after a few weeks I decided it would be nice to have an amp to plug the new guitar into, so I bought a little Vox AC4.
Anyway, to make a long story epic, I'm sort of back in the music game, although my mindset is less "I'm-a-musician-who-does-a-bit-of-writing", and more "I'm-a-writer-who-plays-a-bit-of-music". I'm fairly irreverent about the music biz now that I've stepped back from it for a while, but the music itself seems to have benefited as a result, so that's nice.
And for those of you who'd like to hear the results (and see the new guitar and amp because they're just too cool), here's your chance:
T.C. FOLKPUNK (that's me, still),
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23rd,
1:30pm (until 3:30 or my voice gives out, whichever comes first)
at GRINDER (best Americano ever!),
126 MAIN STREET, TORONTO (south of Gerrard Street)
Thanks for reading, nice to see you again. By the way, have you lost weight? And I love what you've done with your hair, it's so... hirsute.
The festive season is upon us, and to make the shopping a little easier for those wonderful people who buy gifts of the "independent music" variety, I've dropped the price of all sorts of Folkpunk goodies at CD Baby for the next few weeks.
CDs are now a mere $7.00 each (plus shipping), full album downloads are a mere $4.00, and individual song downloads are now 89 cents, which is a bit less expensive than at iTunes. Since CD Baby are located in Portland Oregon, prices are in US currency.
Here are the necessary urls (each album has its own page):
"...every cloud has a sulphur lining...":
That Satisfying Crunch! (my instrumental power pop project):
And as they say on TV commercials, "But wait, THERE'S MORE!" I also have a limited number of download cards for the "T.C. Folkpunk" album, which one could stick inside a Christmas card to send to a friend if one were so inclined. And they're only $2.00 each for anybody on this here email list, so if you're interested, let me know and we'll figure out how to get some cards to you.
As for gigs, I don't have anything booked until next spring, when I'll be returning to the UK (or at least that's the plan). Sometime around my birthday in March I'll probably have a "Send This Lad To Liverpool" fundraiser/birthday bash or something, so I'll keep you posted on that.
So have yourselves great holidaze, and a safe winter, and we'll see ya soon!
Well, it's gig time again, and this will probably be the last one for a while. Impending family circumstances pretty much guarantee that I'll be out of action (as far as gigs in Toronto bars at least) for months or possibly years starting next month. So here's one more chance to catch me here in Hogtown in a licensed establishment before the new mayor (cue banjo music from Deliverance) sells off the sidewalks and streetlights to placate the whining taxpayers who can't afford their property tax bills because they're paying a mortgage on a house that they bought for three times what it's probably worth, and five times what they can realistically afford. Kudos to them for "getting in the market" though.
Anyway, the gig:
THURSDAY JULY 28th,
MITZI'S SISTER, 1554 Queen St. W.
The show starts at 10pm, and for everybody who told me over the years how much they'd like to see me do some songs with a band, here's your big chance. I'll be sharing the bill with Normal For Once, and we've actually (gasp) rehearsed some special surprises. And then, as if that weren't enough, rumour has it that the Legendary Dirtbikers will join in the festivities too.
So, an election is upon us here in Canada. For those of you who know me, you won't be surprised to learn that my political leanings are somewhat to the left, and for that reason alone I'd be unlikely to support Stephen Harper's Conservatives. But this time around there's more to it than just my tendency to tilt somewhat away from the right. This time it's not a case of voting for the lesser of the available evils, but rather it's about stopping the Conservatives in their slimy tracks.
Unlike the average Canadian "Johnny Lunchbucket", I actually pay attention to politics and its players between election campaigns. All of the decisions made between elections are the ones that will actually have an impact on my life, so it would seem obvious that keeping abreast of what's happening on Parliament Hill is a good idea. Regrettably, too many of our fellow countrymen are prone to the "we-elected-you-now-go-do-whatever-it-is-you-do-and-don't-bug-us-for-at-least-another-two-years-because-I-want-to-watch-the-Don-Cherry" attitude that the majority seem to think is an acceptable frame of mind. And because so many of us have been in that very frame of mind for the past half decade, we're now in a bigger mess than most of us realize.
First off, we have the curious promise from the Tories that they'll build more prisons, even though crime rates have statistically been in decline. So why would they blow billions on such an undertaking? Is is because they're planning to make more things illegal? And will more of those illegal things be punishable with jail sentences? How about the next time you try to exercise your right to free speech by protesting the G20 circus when it comes to town? What will that get you? Five years? Ten, maybe? Harper is also proposing to end funding to political parties based on the number of votes a party receives in an election. Currently, a political party gets a "per vote subsidy" of $1.75 for each vote they receive. The Green Party for example managed to put nearly $2 million into their coffers as a result of their strong showing in the 2008 election, money that's no doubt proved vital for them to remain in the game. But those subsidies mean that the other parties (the dreaded Not Conservative Parties) are able to more effectively launch their campaigns when elections roll around, which might lead to those other Not Conservative Parties getting lots of votes and thereby endanger the chances of the Harper Government being in power forever. Can't have that now, can we?
I also can't understand how Stephen Harper could call this election "unnecessary". It's a minority government, and minority governments are supposed to call elections after roughly two years in office. It's been two years and six months, Stephen. Sorry, you'll have to pretend you like democracy for a bit longer. Tommy Banks is a senator from Alberta who originally had ties to the Progressive Conservatives (not to be confused with the Regressive ones we have now), and entered his career as a senator on the recommendation of Prime Minister Chretien in 2000. He recently wrote an amazing piece that neatly sums up most of the things that I could rail on about, but he drives it home with such honesty and panache that I'll simply give you a link to the original article: http://alberta.liberal.ca/fr/the-choice-your-choice/ Yes, it's more than a dozen paragraphs in length, but I guarantee you that those paragraphs will be among the most important paragraphs you'll read this year. Please, please, PLEASE give it a read. I don't think we'll like what we're left with if we have to undergo another two or (even worse) four years of Uneven Stephen and his merry band of liars. Just sayin'
Liverpool has recharged my musical batteries again, and I didn't even have to travel there for it to do so. Last night I saw the best band I've ever seen in a bar. They're called The Targets and they're amazing. I even found their website for you:
They were absolutely incredible on every level. Near the end of their set they covered The Clash song "White Riot", and they topped The Clash. I never thought I'd ever say that about any band, but it happened. I've been catching live music for years around Toronto, and nothing has ever come close to what I witnessed last night. There must be something in the water of the Mersey.
So, we've established that the new T.C. Folkpunk album is available through CD Baby here:
And it's also available on iTunes (although I don't know what the url would be, so you'll have to search). But did you know you can walk into honest to goodness retail outlets right here in Hogtown and purchase a copy which you can hold in your hands and caress and do other stuff that I don't want to know about? It's true.
First there's Beach City Music which is located at 2146 Queen Street East in an area which is either called The Beaches or The Beach, but really should be called The Kennel. Now I'll warn you, when you walk into Beach City Music, you'll see what looks like a huge selection of other CDs and LPs for sale, but THIS IS JUST A RUSE. Most of those jewel cases and LP sleeves are empty, and just there for decoration. The staff will deny it of course, but when you ask if you can open up every CD and LP in the store to verify their claim, they'll refuse your request. AS IF THEY'RE HIDING SOMETHING.
And if you like shopping for music in a coffee shop (which many seem to these days), you can also pick up a copy at Grinder, which is located at 126 Main Street, just south of Gerrard. And the Americano is damn fine too!
And now, a rant:
So Don Cherry has an issue with "pinkos" huh? And I guess that being a right wing type, he would lump any sort of cultural organization that's funded with taxpayers' money under the category of "socialist". Organizations like, oh I dunno, the CBC for example. So I guess he'll be quitting his cushy job at CBC, right?. You know, the publicly funded broadcaster that the right wing would like to see privatized? The same publicly funded broadcaster that pays him more than any private broadcaster has offered him for his one-night-a-week, eight-months-a-year gig up to this point. He's a self proclaimed "straight shooter" (hasn't pointed the gun at himself yet though), so it would be hypocritical of him to stay on at the CBC, right?
I think it's time to put up or shut up, Don.
Preferably the latter.
Season's Greedies everybody!
Well, it's now December 1st, and you know what that means? That's right, only twenty-five more days of Christmas music, and then we're safe until next year at this time. It also means that you should be purchasing little goodies to give to the independent music lovers on your Xmas list. You don't want to get anything too ostentatious though. Nothing says "I'm desperate for you to be my friend for the next 364 days" like a gift whose middle name is Flamboyant.
No, what you want is something that's small enough that it'll fit into a cardboard sleeve. Something that can be enjoyed and shared with friends repeatedly. Something like one of these:
It's either that, or one of these: http://www.canadapost.ca/shopper/items/548197/Hung-for-the-Holidays-by-99923963820
Really, who would you trust to supply you with the kind of music that makes the perfect gift, CD Baby (purveyors of the finest independent music on the whole freaking planet) or Canada Post (purveyors of, wait a minute, Canada Post sells music now ?!? Oh man, that can't be good...).
There have been rumours swirling around that other music is available for sale this festive season, but the research team here at Folkpunk HQ assures me that those rumours are unfounded. So the future of music is in your hands people, choose wisely.
By the way, William Hung underwent a massive makeover and is now Susan Boyle. Part of the makeover went well. The other part, not so much.
Merrily Yours, Santa Folkpunk
Having a toddler has increased my (over)exposure to the world of Winnie The Pooh. I tried my best to tune it out whenever our little guy was "bingeing on the bear", but after being repeatedly subjected to the videos and books, I began to notice a few subtle personality traits in the main characters, and I think I may have uncovered some dirt by reading between the lines. I'm sure the folks at D*sney have done their best to maintain the coverup, but I love a good conspiracy, and I think this one's massive.
First off, I've determined that Winnie the Pooh himself is an alcoholic. He talks about "honey" the same way other alcoholics refer to their "medicine". I don't think he drinks just anything though, I'm pretty sure he's hooked on mead. Those "pots of honey" he has stashed in his closet haven't been sitting there because he forgot about them as he claims (although memory loss is certainly a side effect of his condition). No sir, that honey is fermenting. And the "rumbly" in his "tumbly" is actually his liver acting up.
Next we have Eeyore. Research has led me to conclude that the manic depressive donkey was at one time destined to take the spotlight in his own star vehicle, but on the eve of his leap into the Very Big Time, he was involved in some sort of Fatty Arbuckle type sex scandal. To their credit, the D*sney Corporation kept him on, but under the condition that he remain a support player, thereby dashing any hopes Eeyore had of taking his career to the next level. His resentment is turned inward, resulting in his pathological self-loathing.
And then there's Piglet. Skittish, nervous, afraid of his own shadow. I'm guessing that he may have been on the receiving end of whatever Eeyore got up to.
Owl is nowhere to be found in our collection of videos and books. He's not even mentioned by the other characters in his absence, as if he never existed. However, after placing a few phone calls, I have reason to believe he left D*sney, signed with Warners, and is currently reading some scripts in the hopes of having a new product on the screens by next summer.
Rabbit is a Scientologist.
Tigger's persona is characterized by an overabundance of energy, and the inability to stop talking. Since he sounds like he has a stuffy nose and the timbre of his voice also has a ring of deviated septum, the obvious conclusion is that Tigger is a coke head. Rumours abound that he prefers to snort the stuff off of Kanga's derriere.
The D*sney corporation carries a lot of political clout, and as a result they're able to convince certain law enforcement authorities to look the other way under certain circumstances. How else can one explain the obvious flouting of child labour laws in their employment of Roo.
Gopher is a jerk. No big scandals, but he's forever taking the other characters' parking spots in the D*sney lot, and according to rumour he leaves the toilet seat up on purpose.
And finally, Christopher Robin is actually Dan Quayle. He was found late one night wandering aimlessly around D*sneyland after the park had closed, muttering something about "you say potato, I say potatoe, let's call the whole thing off", and the corporation decided to put him to work.
I can't wait for Oliver Stone to get his mitts on this one...
Spring is sprung, The grass is riz, I got a new name, 'Cause that's showbiz.
Welcome to my first pseudonymous rant thingy. And what's a performer with a pseudonym if he doesn't have somewhere to perform? Nothing I say, nothing! So for the first time in two years and five months, I'll be performing in public in Toronto.
T.C. FOLKPUNK (that's now me)
FRIDAY APRIL 24th at
RENAISSSANCE CAFE 1938 DANFORTH AVE (block and a half west of Woodbine)
$5 COVER, SHOW STARTS at 9pm,
I'M ON FIRST, DON'T BE LATE!
You should try to come to this one, because at my present rate the next time I play in Hogtown will be September of 2011. I'll be appearing at the last instalment of Flammable Fridays at the Renaissance Cafe. I say "last instalment" because the Renny will be closing its doors permanently in May. Its owner, Randy, tried to make a go of it, but operating a live music venue in Toronto is not unlike operating an outdoor skating rink in the jungles of the Amazon, in that it's something in which the natives have little or no interest. Anyway, they have great micro brewery type ales and lagers (and possibly even Pilsners!) on tap, and Randy will probably be anxious to empty the kegs before locking up for the last time, so bring your thirst for micro brews, and your thirst for live music.
I'll also treat the night as the Unofficial Release Party for the debut CD by That Satisfying Crunch! (my instrumental project), of which there are only 40 or so copies remaining. I won't be playing with a band, and I won't be playing instrumental songs from that CD, hence the "Unofficial" part of "Unofficial Release Party". I will however play a bunch of new tunes from the upcoming new Folkpunk album, which has already begun production, and I'll have some Crunch! CDs on hand of course.
And finally, one last quick observation. Housing sales are down, auto sales are down, but the malls and retail stores (from what I've seen anyway) are packed with shoppers. Maybe this isn't a recession, maybe this is the general public subconsciously declaring that the prices of houses and cars have been artificially inflated for too long, and we're not interested in being gouged anymore. Just a theory.
My birthday is coming up next week. I have no problem getting older, in spite of being involved in a fickle thing like the music biz. In fact the worst part about my birthday for me is that it falls in the same week as St. Patrick's Day. Having played a few St. Patty's gigs in the past, I can only assume that the day was invented for all those amateur drinkers who didn't learn their lesson last New Year's eve.
Anyway, as a result, I've gotten into the habit of waiting a couple of days until all the tacky little cardboard shamrocks and goofy green foam top hats have been put in storage for another year before I venture out for a birthday pint or three. For years I've been meaning to get a tshirt made with Oliver Cromwell's portrait and the words, "Beer shouldn't be green, Putz!" emblazoned upon it, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
So, instead of drinking in a licensed establishment where I'd risk being accosted by someone wearing a "Kiss Me I'm Irish" logo somewhere about their person, I decided to celebrate my birthday a few days early by adopting a new name for this here solo act of mine. Henceforth, I'm going under the moniker T.C. Folkpunk. Since my nickname has been "TC" since high school, and my website is "folkpunk.com", it seems like a good idea. There's also another Timothy Cameron who's in an R&B group called Silk, and a Google search turns up both of us, so this move should eradicate a bit of confusion. I hope...
Well folks, we're halfway there. Of the original one hundred copies of That Satisfying Crunch!'s first disc, only fifty remain up for adoption, either at CD Baby or here at Crunchquarters. To those who've treated themselves to a copy of my latest opus, a million thanks. Or fifty thanks at least. Anyhoo, after these remaining fifty are gone, this little project will substantially reduce its carbon footprint to almost zero by being available in MP3 form only.
Speaking of which, the album in question, entitled (cleverly enough) "Album #1", is now available at iTunes. It'll be interesting to see where iTunes sells the first downloads, although my money's already on Spain. I say that because a powerpop themed radio show in Madrid has played both "The Age Of Nefarious" AND "Someone Once Said" over the past couple of weeks. The show is called Plastico Elastico and it airs on FM station Onda Madrid, which is sort of like their version of Q107... I think... Anyway, the show's host, Pacopepe Gil, has become a fan of "the Crunch". On the off chance that I ever end up touring over there (hey, ya never know), I already picked up an English-Spanish dictionary for 99 cents at Canadian Tire, although since it claims the word "prostituta" is Spanish for "nurse", I think I may donate it to Goodwill.
Even setting aside such little victories as the airplay in Spain, I have to say I'm really digging this instro powerpop band thing more and more. In hindsight, I think I needed a break from stuffing myself under the already over-crowded umbrella of singer-songwriters. The term "singer-songwriter" itself is kinda getting on my nerves anyway. It's beginning to feel like there's some big cookie cutter in the sky that cranks out white males armed with beat up acoustics, dressed in battered jeans and gingham shirts, all of whom end up on CBC's Sunday Report, earnestly strumming away while the end credits roll. Some of them are good, but it seems there's an unquestioning, narrow minded market developing for the majority of second rate Neil Youngs (or fourth rate Dylans) among their ranks, a market which I've noticed is largely comprised of urban dwellers who are infatuated with the notion of the rural "salt of the Earth" stereotype, the God-fearing, hard working farmers, truck drivers and Marlboro Men, out on the lonesome prairie with only their moustaches for company. Yeah, well I've lived in small towns, and for the most part they're like Scarberia without the LRT, and I got the hell out as fast as my Converse high tops would carry me, because one thing that I realized about the salt of the Earth is that it can leave a bad after taste.
Hmm, it would seem that just because I'm not writing lyrics doesn't mean I'll stop ranting. Funny that.
While reading an online article about indie band promotion last week, I temporarily lost my mind and took the article's advice that I set up a Facebook page for my "band". So I surfed over to Faceplant, and began the process of building up a profile for That Satisfying Crunch!, starting with uploading the album cover as the band image. Next step was to type out the song titles and the length of each song. Then there was a bit of band member info to be submitted. I think there was something involving choosing the genre of music in there at some point. Finally I arrived at the part where it was time to upload actual songs. That was when Facebook informed me that in order to prove that I was the copyright owner of the music being uploaded, I'd have to provide them with my driver's license and/or passport information.
Excuse me? You want what?!?!
And with a quick click of the mouse, I cancelled the entire idea and closed my Faceplant account before I ever finished creating it. Maybe Facebook's offices don't have windows, and as a result the people running the joint are in need of oxygen or something, but the last thing I'm going to do with private information like my passport or driver's license is naively hand it over to those lunkheads, so they can get hacked and next thing I know I'm getting bills in the mail for overdue payments on credit cards I don't even have.
You can certainly see their logic though, because as we all know, people who go around pirating music don't drive cars or go on vacation (he said sarcastically...). The sad part is that there are probably millions of struggling musicians out there who are hopelessly naive about things like hacking and identity theft, and have already signed up. Or even worse, they know the risk involved in giving Facebook that info, but are so desperate to get noticed they're willing to gamble that Facebook will remain an impenetrable fortress, gallantly guarding all that is true and good in the world (he said even more sarcastically...).
Actually, if you've got a couple of minutes to kill, check this out: http://www.albumoftheday.com/facebook/ Impossible as it may sound, MySpace looks almost cuddly by comparison, don't it?
Until next time Folk-Crunchers!
Timothy Cameron, or "Julian Freyes", as I'm known to Facebook ("Rusty Shackleford" was already taken).
I'll make this quick. My instrumental, jangly, power pop project, That Satisfying Crunch!, now has CDs for sale at CD Baby. Just in time for Chrismahannakwanzadan. Makes a great gift. It slices, it dices, it Julian Freyes (whoever he was). Actually I should Google that name and see what comes up. Wait right there, I'll be right back. (sound of crunchy, jangly instrumental music in the background)
Nope, Google came up with nothing for Julian Freyes. I'm kinda surprised actually.
Anyhoo, in an effort to keep the carbon footprint of this project as small as possible, there are only 100 copies of this album in existence. Once they're gone, that's it, it's all MP3s after that. In the spirit of the Very Limited Run mentality however, I signed and numbered each copy.
So to sum up:
1. That Satisfying Crunch!'s new debut CD, appropriately entitled "Album #1" makes a great gift.
2. Julian Freyes makes a great pseudonym.
Normally I'd post a separate blog entry for each of those two announcements, but there's a recession on, and I've had to cut back on certain consonants. I guess I should do some sort of listening party or release party or something, so I'll keep you posted if and when that happens. Maybe I'll even (gasp!) play a set. Stranger things have happened.
PS- Yay! Obama!
The gig at L'Inspecteur Epingle was amazing. Best audience I've had in at least a decade. Sorry Toronto, but you've been out-classed. The Montrealers' reaction to, and appreciation of the arts in general is miles ahead of the Anglo portion of our little nation. Before the show, I was comparing notes with Matt Lipscombe, and between the two of us we came up with typical reactions to musicians from across the country, which I'll share with you now:
Them: So what do you do for a living?
Us: I'm a musician.
Them: Really? Have you played with anybody famous?
Them: So what do you do for a living?
Us: I'm a musician.
Them: That's nice, but what do you do for a living?
Them: So what do you do for a living?
Us: I'm a musician.
Them: That's fantastique! Where can I get your CD? When's your next gig?!
Another thing that struck me as unique about the gig was the audience's willingness to contribute to the cause when it came time to "pass the hat". Toronto gigs have taught me to dread the passing of the hat. I'm accustomed to most of the punters trying not to make eye contact, or if they do make eye contact, it's with a look of "oh no, he's coming this way and he wants money, which I don't want to give him even though I really enjoyed the show and why couldn't everybody except me work for free and life is so unfair". By contrast, when it came my turn to walk around with the hat at L'Inspecteur Epingle, I had people across the room calling "Timothy! Ici!" while waving a five dollar bill in the air. There's a back room at the pub which houses a billiards table, but it's sort of separate from the front room where the music happens, so I didn't wander back there with the tip hat, thinking that the pool players weren't really part of the music crowd. About twenty minutes after I finished though, an elderly gentleman came from the back room looking for me. He couldn't speak a word of English, but he managed to convey to me that he liked my music, and asked where the tip hat was, because he wanted to drop in a few dollars. Imagine that, somebody came looking for me to give me money for playing music. I thought I was in Oz for a second.
Toronto might be the nation's financial hub, but Montreal has all the riches. Not surprisingly, I'd like to play Montreal again (and again). I'm thinking I'll only play Toronto if Frank Makak will do the show with me. Bonus points if he brings a crowd with him.
Speaking of Frank Makak, I highly recommend his new CD "A Cause Without A Devil". And like Billy Bragg, Frank is one of those performers who just stands there alone with his Telecaster and makes the job look easy. His website is located somewhere around: http://www.frankmakak.com So go to Frank's website or his MySpace page, pretend you're from Montreal and are willing to spend a bit of cash on somebody's artistic endeavour and buy his CD. It's time we Ontarians learned to recognize the value of something rather than just the price of something. Besides, I had to go all the way to Montreal to get a copy, so you're getting off easy.
Hi there, I'll make this brief, since I'm at a loss for a rant at the moment. I know, hard to believe isn't it? I mean, you'd think with the Olympics going on right now I'd at least go to the trouble of drawing a comparison between the Olympics and the music industry, right? And then I might go on to mention that they both generate billions of dollars, but apparently not for the individuals who are the main attraction, namely the athletes/performers. And then maybe I'd take a moment to point out that certain members of the IOC seem to have yachts and mansions that rival those of the big music moguls, and how the individuals actually putting on the show are working their asses off to make these lumps even richer, in return for either the "prestige" of a little chunk of metal on a string, or the "prestige" of playing somewhere like CBGB, and having the honour of peeing in the same urinal that Johnny Thunders slept in back in '78.
You'd think I'd bring that up, wouldn't you? But no.
Instead I'm just going to tell you about a gig I'm playing in Montreal next month. Montreal hosted the Olympics, you know. Not that I'd ever make a disparaging remark about the Olympics or anything. Nope, not me. I also wouldn't point out the PetroCan commercials that end with the phrase "visit PetroCan for your chance to cheer our athletes in person". You'll have to wait until those athletes get back from the games of course, and resume their jobs at the pumps... Yessir, you'll be glad to know that I'm not going to say a word about the Olympics, nor will I point out how they had to resort to Computer Generated Imagery to make the opening ceremonies look better, since the smog in Beijing was hampering the visual appeal of the fireworks.
Smog and athletes. It's a winning combination, people!
Anyway, here are the gig details in big honking capital letters, which science has proven are easier to remember than the usual mixture of lower case and capitals:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (that would still be me),
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 13,
at L'INSPECTEUR EPINGLE, 4051 ST-HUBERT (at Duluth) MONTREAL, QC
And yes, I realize that Montreal is a five hour drive from Toronto, but when you consider that back when I was playing gigs in Toronto every month or so, you'd probably spend at least half an hour getting to those gigs. Since I haven't played live in almost two years, I've saved you an average of twelve hours getting to the gigs which I would have played (but didn't because I was saving you travel time). So even if you drive all the way to Montreal, you're still saving precious "getting to a folkpunk gig" hours. It's win-win!!
This is no ordinary gig either. It's a CD release party for my friend Frank Makak's new CD, "A Cause Without A Devil". If you've never been to a CD release party, you should definitely come to this one. It's really something to witness firsthand the moment the CD is released, and it runs around the room and people try to catch it.
Also appearing (and running around after that pesky CD) will be Matt Lipscombe, formerly of 90's indie band Me, Mom And Morgentaler. Did I mention the Lollapalympics? No? Whew, that's good. I was afraid I might start ranting or something.
Timothy Cameron (whose initials are the same as "Team Canada", which is good because I have to support our athletes, otherwise I'm being a curmudgeon...)
Okay I admit it. I temporarily lost my mind and submitted an entry to CBC's Hockey Anthem Challenge contest. Not to worry though, I emailed them and had it removed after a few days. The song's entitled "The Age Of Nefarious", although I temporarily renamed it "The Wrath Of Grapes" for the contest, which appealed to fans of Don Cherry while the entry was posted. It was interesting while my participation lasted, and I'd like to make some suggestions to CBC.
First, stop calling it an anthem. It's a theme song. Bit of a difference. Second, get somebody to return that copy of "Happy Gilmour" to Blockbuster, you're ten years overdue on the rental, and the late fees are a waste of tax dollars. Third, change the name of the contest to "Logan Aube's Fifteen Minutes of Fame Sideshow". Logan Aube, if you haven't heard, is a twenty-something sound artist who entered a piece in CBC's contest, which, although cool in an abstract way, probably doesn't have a hope of winning, since it's made up of sound effects such as cats meowing, sheep bleating, babies crying and what may be a volley of machine gun fire. The only thing missing is an element that we in the music biz refer to as a "melody". You may remember melodies. They were those things that you hummed or whistled. Some of us still use them.
Anyway, I have nothing against Logan's entry, and as I say it's kinda cool in an abstract way. You can even dance to it, although that might best be attempted in a manner reminiscent of Shields and Yarnell. Even more interesting though, is the aftermath of Logan's piece being uploaded. Like many others who've entered the contest, Logan told some of his friends to go and vote for his entry. You can rate an entry on a scale of 1 to 5, and not surprisingly all of his friends seem to have voted 5 out of 5 for his ditty. Interestingly, Logan seems to have a few thousand "friends", which must be murder when it comes time to send out Valentines cards every year. He announced his entry on various web forums and in chat rooms, and started a grass roots mobilization of an army of "Loganites".
This is where the contest starts to morph into a fiasco. Not only are the Loganites voting 5 out of 5 for his entry, they're also voting 1 out of 5 for every other entry, and by their sheer numbers making it appear that there's only one song/soundscape even in the running. One can also leave comments on each entry, and the Loganites have risen to that challenge as well, lauding his contribution with (I hope) tongue-in-cheek praise, pontificating on and on about his entry being the greatest thing to ever happen to music. They've also left disparaging comments on the pages of other entries, some even going so far as to accuse the catchier tunes of being bad classic rock and suggesting that the baby boomers know nothing about experimental music. For those particular Loganites I have two words: "Number nine....number nine....number nine...."
So the contest is now out of control, and CBC have only themselves to blame. The previous theme, which was used from 1968 until this year was written by a certain Dolores Claman. Since the song was initially considered to be a jingle rather than a theme song, she was paid a one time fee of $800 for her efforts. Years later she finally began to receive performance royalties for each broadcast, and everything seemed fine until CBC began selling the song as a ringtone and apparently not paying her a royalty for each sale, contrary to normal business practice in the world that exists outside the walls of Our National Treasure. Needless to say, Dolores was unhappy at this development, and commenced legal action against CBC in 2004. The CBC responded this past June by offering to buy the song outright from Ms. Claman for the sum of $850,000. That may sound like a lot of moula, but when one considers the revenue the network could generate from the song, it's conceivable that they could make that money back in less than five years. By the way, the lowest paid players in the NHL make $450,000 per season, and more than 200 players in the league make upwards of a million bucks per season.
Not surprisingly, Dolores turned down CBC's offer, countering with an asking price of $2 million, equivalent to the annual salaries of two mid-level hockey players you probably can't name. The prize for the new theme is all of $100,000, which would appear to be chump change for CBC, and as an added bonus whoever wins will suddenly fall under the category of "self employed artist earning more than $30,000 a year" in the eyes of Revenue Canada. That means the winner (and I use the term loosely) will have to register for a GST number, and spend the rest of their lives submitting quarterly returns to the folks in Ottawa. It's like income tax times ten.
Good luck Logan!
The previous theme now has a new home over at TSN, which is owned by CTV, and the folks at CTV apparently had no qualms about paying whatever price Dolores Claman was asking. Either that or she cut them a deal because she loves Corner Gas. As for CBC, they'll probably continue to muddle through in their unique "Air Canada with video cameras" sort of way, and maybe even pay a team of consultants a quarter million to sort the contest out. Kinda makes your eyes well up with national pride, don't it?
Hey folks! So I'm working on an instrumental rock album, with drums, bass, the whole she-bang. I'll wait here for a moment while some of you do double takes at your computer monitor.
Okay, here's the story about this little project, and I'll try to be as brief as possible. In early 2006, my friend Bruce was playing in the house band with the Blue Man Group. He and a couple of other Blue Man peeps decided to form an instrumental band called Experiment In Terror, and they played a weekly house gig for a few months. Unlike a lot of instrumental bands, they weren't strictly surf and/or rockabilly, but rather a mish-mash of whatever they felt like playing, while still being predominantly guitar-driven. They were fantastic. A few months later, during the summer of '06, I had my own house gig at Castro's as you may recall. You also might remember that I had some sort of lung/throat irritation that went on for most of the summer, making each gig an endurance test (for myself AND the audience!). I remember envying the guys in Experiment In Terror, since they could still do their gigs regardless of colds or allergies or a dose of SARS or whatever the hell I was fighting. By the way, a neti pot turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. Or rather, it was what the doctor would have ordered if the makers of neti pots were in the habit of treating doctors to golf vacations the way the pharmaceutical companies do, but that's another rant...
My aforementioned friend Bruce loaned me a bass in early 2007, since he didn't want to lug it with him to Florida, which is where the Blue Man organization was nice enough to relocate him when the Toronto version of Blue Man Group was boycotted to death by some petty political bullshit. That too is another rant.
Anyway, I now had the ability to record bass parts. We own a Mac. Apple computers come with a recording program called Garageband, and it's waaaaay cool. The drum loops are incredibly realistic, in fact I've listened to major label bands on the radio a few times recently, and recognized some of the drum sounds as being the same as the ones Garageband provides. And recording directly into the computer means that I can work on guitar parts any time, day or night, since solid body electric guitars don't make much noise without some sort of amplification, in fact they're quiet enough that I can record a guitar part and the only really audible sound is coming through my headphones. Also, I have at least 200 songs with no lyrics, and parenthood has severely restricted my lyric-writing opportunities. Not that I'm complaining, I'd much rather play with our toddler than wrack my noodle trying to come up with a rhyme for "antidisestablishmentarianism" or whatever.
Last autumn we moved to within a couple of blocks of Glenn Gould's childhood home. There's a historical plaque in front of the house that gives a brief recap of his career, including his refusal to perform live for the last couple of decades of his life, since he felt that the recording studio produced superior sonic results over the concert stage. Walking past that plaque three or four times a week to pick up groceries was the final kick in the arse that the universe served up. Anyway, if you want to check out this new project, which has been christened That Satisfying Crunch!, I've set up a MySpace page, complete with audio of the first five completed songs. It would be somewhere around here: http://www.myspace.com/thatsatisfyingcrunch And for those of you who still want your folkpunk fix, fear not, there's another album of that stuff slowly coming together too.
Last year I bailed out of MySpace. I was getting "friend" requests from people who were just MySpace whores, trying to collect as many "friends" as possible, and I didn't care for MySpace's connection to Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News empire (that right wing bastion of mock journalism that gives jobs to twits like Geraldo Rivera). Plus it was always slow to load on our computer. Ironically, having not learned my lesson, I then joined Facebook, and proceeded to get vampire bites and requests pestering me to take the "What Kind Of Salad Dressing Are You?" quiz. That wore thin even quicker than MySpace.
A friend of ours (jewellery designer extraordinaire Susie Love) convinced me that maybe MySpace wasn't such a bad idea after all, since it was one more place for people to stumble across my folkpunkery, and she'd certainly been getting attention through her own MySpace page. So I took a deep breath and opened up shop on MySpace once again. Fast forward to this past January when I received a "friend request" from a Montreal-based, folkpunk-ish singer-songwriter (enough hyphens for ya there?) by the name of Frank Makak. He plays both solo and with his band, The Makaks. Frank and his crew have become big fans of my musical noodlings, to the point that last week I got an email from Frank with some sort of mystery MP3 attached to it. I opened the file, the song started playing, and my jaw made a loud banging sound as it hit the floor. Turns out his band has recorded one of my songs, "Land Of Lukewarm". I was ecstatic, and more than slightly verklempt, so to speak.
Anyway, Frank has given me permission to post their version of the song on my Noises page. And if you want to check out Frank's music as well, go to: http://www.myspace.com/frankmakakmusic.
When I returned to Toronto (the city of my birth) from the hinterlands of small town Ontario in 1990, I began what would be a four year run as a full time working musician. By 1994 however, the gigs were paying less and less, and had become a bit less plentiful, so to supplement my income I took a part time job at Cosmo Music out in the wilds of Scarberia. According to local legend, the name Cosmo is an abbreviation of COSt MOre, by the way. Anyway, they were assholes to work for, so I promptly quit one day, and realizing that I had to do something to top up the rent money, I flipped through the Help Wanted ads in the back of Now magazine.
There was an add for a tele-fundraising company by the name of Goyeau Communications, looking for callers. I contacted them and set up an interview for the following week. When I arrived at Goyeau's offices at Yonge and Gloucester (which is about as "downtown" as you can get in Toronto), I was greeted by the office manager, Daryl, and one of the supervisors, a tall wiry fella named John O'Keefe. They interviewed me, and offered me the job, which I accepted. On my first day there, I met my future wife, and over the next few months I soaked up the atmosphere that was created by a room full of would-be artists and liberal-thinking types that made up my gang of co-workers. It was during breaks between calls that I jotted down the lyrics for "She Dates Creeps", "American Dream" and a few other future Folkpunk gems. So you could say I have fond memories of working there.
The supervisors, including John, also put in shifts dialing would-be contributors to worthy causes such as Amnesty International, or Kids Help Phone. It was then that I realized that John O'Keefe was probably one of the funniest people I'd ever worked with. If he was speaking to somebody who was stonewalling, he'd keep hitting his phone's mute button during the conversation, so the person on the other end wouldn't hear him berating them for two seconds before John carried on with his sentence. It got the point that he could spout out a complete sentence, peppered with phrases worthy of Lewis Black on a good day, all the while clicking the mute button on and off like he was sending a telegram by Morse code. To anybody sitting near him, it was all we could do to not burst out into hysterical laughter while we ourselves were speaking to a potential donor.
Also around this time a band called The Presidents of the United States had a hit on the radio entitled "Lump", and John and I would catch each other humming it at work. We had a running gag about how "you know, the kids today, they got their skateboards, and they got their Doc Martens, but they love their Lump."Goyeau Communications folded in early 1996, and we all went our separate ways, but a lot of us would sort of keep in touch through other co-workers, or grab a quick pint if we ran in to each other somewhere. I hadn't seen John in at least a couple of years, but always meant to get in touch with him at some point.
Last weekend, John went out with some friends for a couple of drinks, not too far from where Goyeau had been located. As he was leaving the pub and walking up Yonge Street to catch the subway home (typical John, he was a supporter of things like public transit and bike lanes) he passed by a strip club, and was shot in the head by some useless little fuck from the suburbs who had just been tossed out of the strip club by the club's bouncer. The aforementioned useless little fuck decided that shooting the bouncer would be a good idea, but he missed and hit John instead. John died almost instantly, leaving his nine year old son to sort out just how fucked up this city and the rest of the world really are.
When Mel Lastman was mayor of this dump, he used to prattle on that Toronto is a "world class city", although how a world class city ended up with a dope like Lastman for a mayor is beyond me. Maybe he meant "THIRD world class city". In order to live anywhere decent in this rat's nest you now have to fork over about $400,000, just for the privilege of having idiots shoot your friends while your friends are minding their own business. The air quality gets worse by the minute, the condos downtown which started to sprout up uncontrolled while Lastman was mayor (I believe one of his sons is a condo developer, handily enough) have increased the population density to the point that gridlock and over-crowded public transit is the norm, and in spite of all of it there are still a few bozos who think Toronto is a wonderful place to be. Well, maybe back when John O'Keefe and Goyeau Communications were around, but not anymore.
So that, boys and girls, is why I cancelled my upcoming gig at Bread And Circus. I didn't really have it in me to stand in front of a microphone and be an entertaining performing flea for yourselves and a bunch of drunks from Kensington Market. Not now, and probably not anytime soon. Sorry. What a fucked up world.
...AND PLAY A GIG!! That's right folks, for the first time in over a year I will once again venture out into the wilderness of clubland and abuse my Telecaster and vocal chords for your enjoyment. Here's the pertinent info:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (still me, after all these years)
SATURDAY JANUARY 19th
at BREAD AND CIRCUS 193 Baldwin Avenue, Toronto
Show starts at 8pm (so don't show up at 10pm and wonder where I am...)
Appearing with Ottawa-based singer-songwriter John Allaire, and soon-to-be local legend Kim Jarrett,
Cover will be approximately $7.04, including GST...
Over the past few months I've had a number of folks ask me when I'm playing next, so I'm working on the assumption that enough of you want to see me play live that you may actually leave the comfort of your sofa (or chesterfield if you prefer) to venture down to Kensington Market in a couple of weeks. Hell, I'M going out that night, and I'll be dragging a guitar and knapsack full of harmonicas and cables with me, so don't complain. I decided to make an exception to my rule of pretty much avoiding playing in bars at this time for two reasons: firstly, John Allaire is great. Secondly, the name of the venue is Bread and Circus, which is close enough to "Bread And Circuses" from my last CD that it seemed like something resembling fate. I also realized that 2007 was my first full calendar year without a gig since about 1982! I figured one night out wouldn't hurt.
In other news, I've redesigned the website, and put the guestbook back up under the heading "Your Turn". Feel free to say something. Anyway, thanks for reading, hope to see you on the 19th. Unlike some other acts, I won't be pestering you with emails every couple of days about the gig. You're all big boys and girls now, it's up to you to figure out how a pen and calendar work. Besides, I'll be too busy re-learning my lyrics.
All of them.
Geez, I'm a wordy bastard, aren't I?
An Open Letter To Meteorologists:
You're not fooling us, you know. We're onto your game. Like that nonsense about "long range forecasts", which we all know is a marketing ploy to get us to tune into whatever newscast you work for. Listen, I have a relative who for years worked as a commercial airline pilot. If anybody needs to know what the weather will be like for the next week, you'd better believe it's the guy who has to fly a few tons of jet airliner through the stuff. And yet after years of watching Five Day Forecasts on the evening news, he's come to the conclusion that your (shall we say) "gift of prophecy" is really only good for the next twelve hours, and beyond that you're (shall we say) "being creative".
And another thing. What is with this whole game of Blame The Weatherman on the news? You know what I mean, that sort of would-be humourous exchange that happens between you and the anchorman whenever there's bad weather on the horizon which usually goes something like:
Anchorman: "Well, Jim, it looks like we're not going to have a very nice weekend, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Weatherman: (forced chuckle) "Ha ha Steve, yes well what can I say, I do what I can, but sometimes the weather doesn't come along exactly the way I'd ordered it. Ha ha." (forced chuckle again).
When in fact the exchange SHOULD unfold something like:
Anchorman: "Well, Jim, it looks like we're not going to have a very nice weekend, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Weatherman: "Look you bubble-headed prat, once you learn how to pronounce the word Zimbabwe properly, then you'll have earned the right to get cute and flippant during the newscast, but until then go piss up a tree and by the way your fly is open, you vacuous twit."
Now THAT'S a newscast I'd watch...
And now, possibly in preparation for the kinds of books I'll be reading to our son when he's a bit older, I'd like to present a rant in the style of those old "Dick And Jane" books from eons ago:
Consumers in North America have been buying Chinese-made toys and other crap for decades, because it's cheap.
Oil has traditionally always been bought/sold/traded in US Dollars.
China bought oil from Iran, and paid for it in Euros.
The American government doesn't want oil to be bought/sold/traded in Euros.
The American government began conducting safety tests on Chinese made toys recently, and guess what? The toys aren't safe all of a sudden.
China is about to host the biggest circus of all, The Olympics.
Most places that host the Olympics lose money on the deal.
The North American media has also recently informed us that a lot of the food in China is bad.
People who go to the Olympics want to eat occasionally, but not if the food is bad. People may not go to China to see the Olympics if the food is bad.
China may lose lots of money on the Olympics if people don't go there because the food is bad.
China may lose lots of money if the American and Canadian governments stop the importing of Chinese-made toys and other crap because they aren't safe all of a sudden.
China shouldn't have bought oil from Iran with Euros.
Bad China, bad.
Sorry I'm a bit late posting out a communique this month, we've spent the last two weeks moving. Incredibly, two adults and a baby managed to accumulate enough stuff to fill a cube van once, a pickup truck six times, a station wagon twice, a mini-van once, and a Mazda Protege four times. There were so many boxes here in the new place, that for a few days I wasn't sure what the floor looked like.
Turns out it's parquet. Sweet.
Anyway, as you may know, those of us residing in the province of Ontario (known to the rest of the nation as the province of Those Bastards), are currently in the throes of a provincial election campaign. So far, the incumbent Liberal Party and their leader, Dalton McGuinty are maintaining a comfy lead. In fact, the campaign has basically been a case of "As-long-as-Dalton-doesn't-get-caught-having-sex-with-a-platypus-on-a-park-bench-while-sticking-a-carrot-up-his-nose-he's-fine". As a result, the other parties seem a bit desperate to try to shoot him down. One of the NDP's attack ads reminds us that during Dalton's time in office, hydro rates have increased an average of 40% or something like that. That may be true, although if memory serves me correctly, Ontario's hydro was privatized by the Conservatives under the remnants of Mike Harris and his cronies, just before the election that finally sent them packing four years ago. The NDP are also quick to remind us that they're concerned about the environment. I guess that's why their lawn signs appear to be massive chunks of non-recyclable corrugated plastic this time around.
As for John Tory, he used to run Rogers. You remember them, they're that company that never shows up to connect your cable when they say they will, and you've taken the day off work because you can't wait to catch the Pet Network's next episode of America's Next Top Mongrel (with Tyra Barks). 'Nuff said. I suspect I'll vote Green again. And now if you'll excuse me, I have some boxes to unpack. Lots of them. Way too many...
Since this weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana closing her account at Gucci, so to speak, I thought the following Toggles anecdote from the Folkpunk archives might be somewhat timely. The Toggles, as you may recall, was a '60s British Invasion tribute band featuring Rob Kay on guitar, Jim Clark on drums, and yours truly on bass. We first got together in '96, and by the summer of '97, we'd built up enough of a following that we were playing just about every weekend somewhere in the Toronto area. One of our regular haunts was a pub called Feathers. We'd always go over really well there, since a large portion of their clientele were originally from the UK, and were exactly the right age to remember the stuff that we played. It was probably our favourite venue on our circuit, since the audience would sing along with even our more obscure numbers.
On Saturday, August 30, 1997 we started another evening at Feathers in fine form and everything was going swimmingly, although halfway through our first set I noticed that one by one the televisions in the bar were all switching over to CNN. We couldn't really see any of the screens from where we were playing, so I didn't know what would inspire the bar to switch over from the Bulgarian badminton playoffs, or whatever had been on the tube beforehand. We finished off the set and began our usual between-set circulation through the bar to say hi to friends and loved ones who'd come out to see us. That was when I glanced up at one of the TVs and saw the caption across the bottom of the screen that read "Princess Diana Injured". Now keep in mind that Diana was apt to make headlines every time she caught a cold, and this was, after all, CNN, the same network that dubbed the O.J. Simpson trial the "Trial Of The Century" (memo to Ted Turner: can you say "Nuremburg"?), so my reaction was more than a bit cynical. Since the volume was turned down on all the TVs while the bar blasted the house stereo, none of us could hear what the talking heads on the screens were saying. I snidely commented that Diana had probably sprained her ankle while skiing or something, and CNN was having a slow news day.
After recharging our pint glasses, we headed back to the "stage" (i.e. the corner of the room next to the dart boards) and launched into the second set, blissfully unaware that our night was about to turn into the Weirdest Gig Ever.
While we were in the midst of our second set, the caption along the bottom of the TV screens was updated to "Princess Diana Seriously Injured", and the entire bar suddenly got very quiet. Or more specifically, very quiet except for the three guys in the corner cranking out "What's New Pussycat" at full volume, oblivious to what was going on, since, as I said, we couldn't really see any of the televisions from where we were plugged in. About half of the folks in the audience began finishing their drinks and slowly filing out of the pub, no doubt to head home and phone their families back in England. Keep in mind that a majority of the regulars at Feathers probably owned tea sets commemorating Charles' and Diana's wedding, so this was turning into something heavy to say the least.
We got through the second set, and once again mingled with our peeps during the break. About five minutes before we were planning to start our third and final set, the caption on the bottom of the TV screens was changed to "Princess Diana Dead". The bar staff finally turned off the stereo and cranked up the volume on the televisions, the atmosphere in the bar fell to about three notches below "Miserable" on the Happy Meter, and three Toggles looked at each other as if to say "Oh crap, now what do we do?".
After a quick consultation with the bar manager it was decided that we'd try to lift the spirits of the troops by launching into our peppy, poppy, happy-go-lucky repertoire and finish off the night. We took to the "stage", tuned up, plugged in and began the first song on the set list, a Beatles number entitled "One After 909", which included such lines as "my baby says she's DRIVING on the one after 909", and "come on baby don't be cold as ice". All in all, a somewhat unfortunate choice of lyrics considering the content of the breaking news. During Rob's guitar solo, I looked out into what was left of the crowd, and realized that our plan to cheer everybody up had mostly failed, and in some cases even earned us a dirty look here and there (the nerve of us colonials, acting happy in the face of tragedy...). Most of the audience were watching television instead of the band, and about half of them had tears streaming down their cheeks by this point.Yup, they were actually crying.That pretty much did it for us. We half-heartedly played a couple more songs (we skipped "Drive My Car", in case you were wondering) and then bailed on the whole idea, unplugged our gear and sat down to finish off our pints.
A few minutes later, as I was standing at the bar waiting to get paid for our hard day's night's work (this was back when bars in Toronto actually paid bands, a radical concept by today's standards...) one of the regulars, a Scottish fellow named Al, was standing next to me, glued to CNN. By this point the media were starting to point the finger at the paparazzi as the cause of the car crash that killed Diana, and Al shook his fist at the TV and cursed "Those God-damned pavarotti", in his thick Glaswegian accent. For a moment I pictured a herd of bearded opera singers chasing Diana around Paris. And then my mind sort of went one step further and I pictured the opera singers wearing Shriners' hats and riding mini bikes (hey, if you're going to visit Abstract Land you might as well get your money's worth).
And suddenly the surreal nature of the whole evening hit me, and I got a momentary case of the giggles. I put up a monumental struggle to avoid laughing out loud in the midst of the mourners, but the whole thing was just beyond bizarre, and I spent the next moments back at our table with head bowed in faux sadness and my pint glass strategically placed in front of my mouth to camouflage my dopey grin. I gave Rob and Jim their share of the lucre, and we packed up and left.
And now the epilogue: When we attempted to land another gig at Feathers, we were told that the bar hadn't made much money on our August 30th gig, and they'd call us when they had an opening. Which of course they never did.
Greetings. First, a quick bit of music news: "She Dates Creeps" was downloaded 201 times in July. That's up from 122 in June. I have no idea why so many people have suddenly latched onto the song, but there's no way you'll hear me complaining about it.
So a few months ago I started getting calls from some fax machine. At first I didn't think too much about it, and would simply hang up as soon as the offending machine started squealing in my ear. After a couple of weeks though, the calls increased to one or two a day. That was bad enough, but the part that REALLY pissed me off was how, after hanging up and waiting half a minute or so, the fax machine would still be there, trying to send crap through to somebody (me) who can't remember the last time he (I) even owned a bloody fax machine. So I guess if I suddenly needed to call 911, I'd have to patiently wait until the jerk-off trying to sell me a half price vacation was finished tying up the phone line. I started hitting *69 after each call, and discovered that the calls were originating from not one, but FOUR different numbers. I contacted Bell Canada about it, and the good news is that they were very nice and promised me that the calls would stop within three days. The bad news is that that was over a month ago, and the calls are still happening.
I've called Bell a couple more times, and each time they've been very polite. And very useless. And they probably wonder why so many people are giving up their land lines and just using their cell phones. Twits. In the larger picture though, you really have to wonder about the type of business that would even still send junk faxes in the year 2007. I mean, faxes were the way to go ten years ago maybe, but anybody who tries to promote their business by junk fax now is a bit of a joke. Maybe they only just stopped sending out flocks of messenger pigeons last year or something. Anyway, there's your rant for the month. Enjoy the rest of August. Remember your sunscreen. Don't eat too much before riding the Tilt-A-Whirl at the CNE. Joe Strummer would have turned 55 on the 21st. Etcetera...
I'm amazed to report that She Dates Creeps was downloaded 122 times in June! In fact, various songs from both of my CDs totalled 602 downloads last month. That's without me playing gigs or promoting the CDs or anything. Apparently I've gone viral or something... Wow, am I ever glad I'm not stuck on some major label where I'd be ignored.
Speaking of which (warning: rant ahead), a friend of mine recently did a set at Reverb for one of the umpteen "new music nights" that happen around Toronto. This particular shindig was a bit different though, in that there were three "judges" making notes on each performer, and then discussing their observations with the performer after that performer's mini-set. One of the judges was from an indie thrash metal label, and the other two were A&R weasels from major labels. I know EMI was one of the majors represented, but I forget the other, not that it matters, they're all pretty much interchangeable. Anyway, since my friend's style is a unique sort of fusion of pop, jazz and world music, the guy from the thrash metal label wasn't able to offer anything in the way of career advancement. He did say he really liked her music though, and was just generally really encouraging. His demeanour was in sharp contrast to the major label lunkheads however, who suggested that my friend should show more skin, and should watch a lot of MTV so she can pattern herself more along the lines of the pop tartlets whose videos make MTV the culturally enriching experience that it is. And the major labels wonder why they're in trouble. Talk about having your head up your ass...
I think many would agree that the majors have worked tirelessly to bring about their own inevitable demise, and that their policy throughout the 1990s of conning the public into repeatedly paying upwards of twenty smackers for CDs that only held two decent songs each has a lot to do with their current predicament. But that's only part of the picture. Music in a digital form is sort of like Frankenstein's monster, and the major labels have unwittingly cast themselves in the role of Dr. Frankenstein. In a twist on the original story though, this time the monster was in need of foster parents, and we were the suckers who got stuck with that particular gig. Think about it, the "monster" was born around 1982 (when CDs first hit the market), we started the adoption process in the late 80s (when we were conned into believing that we should replace every one of our vinyl LPs with its CD equivalent) and by the time the monster turned 18 in 2000, it was old enough to leave home and go out into the big world and wreak havoc on its creators (Napster).
In hindsight, a lot of audiophiles now feel that vinyl LPs actually sounded really good, much less bright and brittle sounding than CDs, and one can't help but think that if we'd been allowed to stay with our tried and true analog musical formats, the majors might not be in the trouble they're in. Looks good on them, eh? Perhaps the term "A&R" stands for "Artless & Repetitive". Okay, I'll stop there. Thanks for tuning in!
Well, Folkpunkateers, after much reflection, I've decided that I'm probably finished playing in bars and pubs, at least for the foreseeable future. At the moment, I couldn't care less about another gig in some mediocre little watering hole here in Hogtown, where half the beer in the fridge has gone skunky, and the music is battling with ESPN for everybody's attention. You guys deserve better, and frankly, so do I.
Really, why should I bother cranking out She Dates Creeps for the millionth time to a bunch of alcoholics who aren't even there to listen to me anyway? For the applause? Screw that, my ego doesn't need to hear it that badly, and applause isn't paying the bills. Don't get me wrong, I'm not turning into a complete hermit or anything, I'll still gladly do festivals, house concerts, private parties and whatever else pays the artist what they're worth, but bars for me now fall under "been there, done that".
The scene is pretty much dead now compared to the early 1990s when I started this whole charade anyway, and for those of you who would argue that the local music scene is just as vibrant and important as it ever was, I have three words for you: "Weekend At Bernie's" You know, that movie from the late 80s in which two guys have to pretend their boss is still alive in order to enjoy a big weekend party he promised to have at his beach house, and they go so far as to dress his corpse up for the big bash so nobody will suspect anything? For me, the music scene in Toronto resembles Bernie. They're even starting to smell the same.
So in lieu of being a performing flea, I've decided to concentrate on the cyber/digital/virtual realm a bit more. Other art forms such as paintings, sculptures, books, poetry, movies and most TV shows are more what you might call "passive" art forms. They're created long before their audience experiences them, and music has had that potential since the advent of recording technology, but until the internet came along recorded music's only real outlet for public exposure was radio, which left the artists at the mercy of station programmers. Well, no more kiddies, technology has levelled the playing field, and I'd be goofy not to take advantage of it. I now get over a hundred visits to my website on a daily basis. Germany, England, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and Japan seem particularly interested in what I'm up to, and I've been selling lots of MP3s in those exotic locales as a result.
Even cooler than the downloads though, I recently received an email from a teacher in Germany who's conducting a course on American society and how it's viewed by the outside world, and she asked for permission to use my song American Dream as part of the course. So there ya go, my lyrics are now been used for scholarly purposes on another continent. Amazing. By the way, according to my monthly website "traffic reports" Canada has yet to generate the most visitors to Folkpunk in any given month, and I've been getting those reports for almost two years now. It's a bit ironic, but typically Canadian I suppose.
So to sum up: internet good, bars bad. I can now begin working on Sgt. Folkpunk's Only Darts Club Man or whatever...
Okay, two quick pieces of news for you loyal Folkpunkateers:
First, for those of you wondering when my next public appearance will be, I'm currently appearing here in Toronto on a billboard near Yonge and Lakeshore. It's for something to do with CBC, although I forget what that is at the moment. But they paid me. Lots. Think of it as your tax dollars at work. I haven't actually seen the billboard yet but I've heard about it. I'm portraying a musician, which as it turns out is much more profitable than actually BEING a musician. Who knew?
Secondly, for those of you who prefer cocooning in front of your computer with actual visuals and sounds (because let's face it, the best way to enjoy live music is when it's being replayed on a screen...), you can now watch YouTube snippets from a gig I did back in April at Renaissance Cafe. Here are the urls for two songs:
Enjoy! Oh, and for those of you who watch CTV's Instant Star (and really, who doesn't?) sometime in the near-ish future you'll be able to see me in a few scenes, once again making more money pretending to be in the music biz than than I make being in the music biz. I'm sensing a trend here...
So, uh, I guess that's it. Happy belated ChrismaHannaKwanzaDan, and Newy Ear. Oh, and one more thing. I think we should start calling this year "Twenty-O-Seven" instead of "Two Thousand And Seven", for two reasons. First, Twenty-O-Seven kinda sounds like a cop show from the 70s, and secondly because Prince never said he was gonna party like it was One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine. So there.
What's that you say ? You'll have your usual ? Okay:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (ici)
CASTRO'S LOUNGE (2116 "E" Queen Street East, Toronto, which is pronounced "Trahna" so it rhymes with "piranha", but I digress...)
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 21st 9pm to 11pm, with possible time off for good behaviour.
NO COVER (but there's a tip jug which gets passed around and anybody who can't throw in at least a twoonie is really cheap, and doesn't deserve beer and live music.)
After twenty-three weeks, the Folkpunk Tuesday thing at Castro's will be winding up (or is it "winding down") next week, on November 28th. After that, I'll be retiring to the laboratory deep in the catacombs beneath stately Folkpunk Manor to begin work on my next secret project, which I hope to unleash on the unsuspecting masses sometime around February or March. Or maybe April. And when I say "laboratory deep in the catacombs beneath stately Folkpunk Manor", I mean the living room. I can't divulge the exact nature of the project, but it may or may not involve go-go dancers. Depends on the size constraints of the living room. And the size constraints of the go-go dancers.
Anyway, I may surface here or there for the occasional bit of "folkpunking" in the meantime. Or I may just sit at home with my pregnant wife and watch our DVD of a fireplace. I'm not kidding, it's just a video of a fireplace that goes on and on indefinitely. I think we've managed to have it on for almost two hours and it's showed no sign of letting up. That's one hell of a log. So after tonight you have one more chance to catch me in action as a "one-man Green Day" (as I was once described) in the Beaches, and then they turn the neighbourhood back into a retirement community for dogs, or whatever it is they're going for.
You've been warned.
Hey, I didn't spam you last week, since I'm assuming you pretty much get the idea by now, but just in case:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (me already)
CASTRO'S LOUNGE (2116-E Queen Street East, Toronto)
TUESDAY (pick one) 9pm to 11pm
NO cover charge.
Okay, that business is out of the way, now for a rant. And this time I'm REALLY pissed. The Harper government's new "Clean Air Act" isn't so much a case of "too little too late", but more a case of "fuck all, and possibly never". The idea that our government is doing us a big favour by endeavouring to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 is laughable. In a very few number of years, hindsight may indicate that we should have cut them by 100%, and done so by the year 2009. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose bragged about how former PM Brian Mulroney had given her kudos, and that must be good, since he's the one that environmentalists all agree was Canada's greenest prime minister, and he was a Tory as well, and golly isn't it great that we have a Tory government again to save us all, blah-blah-blah.
Except Mulroney was the leader of the PROGRESSIVE Conservatives, and now we just have the Conservatives.
Which brings up another point, if they're the Conservative party, what the hell are they conserving anyway? Certainly not the environment, apparently. And in case you'd forgotten, yes, this is the same Conservative government that has given Stockwell Day the role of Minister of Public Safety, which entails being heavily involved with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (aka CSIS... aka James Bond for hosers...) among other things. And yes, this is the same Stockwell Day who literally believes that the earth was created 6,000 years ago. So, since we're all fucked anyway, let's drink up.
And maybe stop paying taxes or something.
Hey, And again:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (ici)
at CASTRO'S LOUNGE 2116 "E" Queen Street East, Toronto
EVERY FREAKIN' TUESDAY (including this one coming up)
9pm to 11pm
So hockey season has started again. Oh joy. As you may have seen, the media were tripping all over themselves earlier in the week because Stephen Harper attended the Ottawa-Toronto game in Ottawa, and was seen cheering when the Maple Laughs scored a goal. Well, that's nice. I guess as long as the media are reporting on SOMETHING that's vaguely related to Parliament Hill, then we can all sit back and feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they're doing their job. Extra bonus points for tying hockey into the story, too.
Honestly, it seems like the news outlets are playing a game whereby the object is to take a story, and see how many degrees of separation are between the story and the NHL. "NEWS FLASH: President of Pakistan Rumoured To Be Closeted Habs Fan...film at 11:00..." If there was anything to be learned from the NHL strike that took place last year (or was it the year before?...I wasn't really paying attention...) it was the fact that the sport itself wasn't in danger as a result of the strike. It was still being played by people who play the game because they like it, not because their agent negotiated a seven figure deal. I actually heard some insinuations that hockey would never recover from the strike, which I thought was a hilarious notion. Imagine if McDonald's went out of business (no really, imagine it, it's a nice place to be for a moment). Would everybody start wringing their hands because the demise of the restaurant industry was upon us? Not likely.
And that brings me to another thing I've realized recently: The NHL is to hockey what McDonald's is to dining. Think about it. They're both big corporate machines with obscenely large advertising and promotional budgets at their disposal. They both have CEOs and General Managers, and for all I know the NHL even has shareholders. I always bust a gut when I see grown men painting blue maple leaves (that's how it's spelled you know: "Leaves") on their faces. It's really no different than painting a Xerox or Microsoft logo on your forehead. Imagine all the television sets in sports bars being tuned to the stock exchange, and the commentator getting himself in a lather thusly: "Nike's up to $45...now $46...this could be it folks...another shift like the one we saw in the first period and it could be all over for Adidas this season...another wind up and...YES !! YES!!! NIKE HAS HIT $50!!! IT'S ALL OVER!!!". And then imagine complete traffic gridlock at Yonge and Bloor because a bunch of hosers are riding around in their pickup trucks, leaning out the windows screaming "Nike Rules! Adidas Is For Fools!" or whatever. They could even have the "swooshstika" tattooed on their butts, which (in the spirit of the festivities) they could display for all the world to see.
Only another nine months to go. Yippee.
Here's the weekly gig news which many of you have come to expect. You know the drill...
TUESDAY AUGUST 29th:
Timothy Cameron (with me portraying the role of me) at Castro's Lounge, 2116 Queen Street East (still) 9pm to 11pm. with special guest Michael Proudfoot.
Bruce Gary passed away yesterday at the age of 54. He was the drummer for The Knack. You know, "My Sharona"? That thundering, incessant, primal, tribal drum pattern that opened the song which pretty much sealed my fate as a musician. When I was a kid, I sort of knew I wanted to be a musician, but at the time the airwaves were clogged with disco and shlocky 70s soft rock, most of which I despised. Thanks to the efforts of my aunt Eva and my best friend at the time, Chris Patchett, I'd been exposed to a steady stream of Beatles, Rolling Stones and all the great stuff that had happened during the Great Pop Music Renaissance of the mid 1960s. Disco might have been okay to dance to, but beyond that it couldn't touch the stuff that I was raised on.
I'd started battling an ancient acoustic that I'd begged my parents to buy me (for the princely sum of $25 if memory serves), and I'd begun writing songs that had more in common with my (supposedly) passe heroes than what was actually in style at the time. Musically I was an outsider. Most of my classmates thought my musical tastes were anywhere from quaint to laughable, but I didn't care. I knew what I liked.
And then one day in the fall of 1979, I heard it. That same driving, relentless, almost maddening drum pattern came roaring out of my radio, hit me square between the eyes and pinned me to the wall. It would have been one of the FM stations (either CHUM or Q107) that I was tuned into, because "My Sharona" was followed by three or four more songs from The Knack's debut album (FM radio used to do that sort of thing). It was like somebody turned on all the lights.
Some hacks accused The Knack of being Beatle-ish almost to the point of being derivative, but for those of us who were sick and tired of the then twenty-something Baby Boomers telling us that we'd missed it all, this was our revenge. And when I picked up my copy of Get The Knack (which I still have), there they were on the back cover, decked out in white shirts, skinny ties, drainpipe trousers and Cuban-heeled boots, and a voice inside my head said, "this is it".
Twenty-seven years later the album still stands on the musicianship alone. The Knack were incredibly tight, and Bruce Gary's ability to walk a fine line between the manic attack of Keith Moon and the straight-ahead drive of Ringo Starr is nothing short of miraculous. For those of you who have a copy of Get The Knack, go play it right now and listen to the drums, you'll see what I mean. For those of you who don't have the album in your collection, haul yourself over to iTunes or wherever and prepare yourself for a lesson on How To Play Rock 101.
Two gigs coming up this week to tell you about. But first, a rant from our sponsors:
Last week as I was leaving my apartment building, the superintendent caught up with me and informed me that a bunch of the storage lockers in the basement had been broken into overnight, and that mine was one of them.
Anyway, I headed to the locker room to survey the damage and sure enough, most of the contents of the locker were dumped out onto the floor. Nothing seemed to be missing, or if anything WAS missing, I've long since forgotten I owned it, so same diff. Among the flotsam (and even jetsam) strewn about there were a couple of boxes of my CD, "...every cloud has a sulphur lining..." that had been torn open. I counted their contents, and was relieved to find that all of the CDs were still there. Then after that moment of blissful relief, I suddenly got slightly pissed off.
The nerve of those amateurs, I thought, not thinking that my CD was worth stealing!
So I'm considering making up a sign to stick on the locker with a quote from a review I got in the UK (courtesy of Russell Barker). I imagine the sign will look something like: "VALUABLE COMPACT DISCS ENCLOSED! PLEASE DO NOT STEAL! HERE'S WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING: 'Timothy Cameron's seven track mini-album is bristling with the bile and invective of Billy Bragg's early albums. Add to that the intensity of the Clash and puns from the school of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and you have a very entertaining ride indeed.' RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO MUSICALLY ENHANCE YOUR EXISTENCE ILLEGALLY"
In other words, I want to turn into a major label. You know, the way they hype an album as the greatest thing since Sgt. Pepper, and then wonder why everybody wants to steal it? Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, there are two gigs coming up in the next week:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (me)
SUNDAY JULY 30, (8pm-ish?)
at DRAGONFLY, 1279 Queen Street WEST at Brock (across from the Cadillac Lounge, and a little bit west).
I'll be appearing as one of a handful of featured performers, one of whom will be Trip Phoenix. He's cool. And then...
TIMOTHY CAMERON (moi)
TUESDAY AUGUST 1st (9pm)
at CASTRO'S LOUNGE 2116 Queen Street EAST at Wineva
with special guest JON BROOKS
Don't go breaking my...uh, padlock.
They should outlaw the fucking things. Is there any other indication of just how lazy people can become? As I type this, the superintendent of the apartment building across the street is standing out in front of his building, using one of the nasty little gadgets, blowing leaves (or grass or whatever) off of an area that's maybe the size of a two or three bedroom apartment in his building. He's been at it for about twenty minutes now, and he's not making much progress. He is, however, making a LOT of noise and adding to the burned-off fossil fuels in the air. Good thing, too, I was afraid we were gonna run out of burned-off fossil fuels in the air. I mean, Christ-on-a-bike, I could run out there with a feather duster and do the job in half the time it's taking this chunderhead.
I'm surprised he doesn't also have a special rolling tripod to save him the extreme physical exertion of actually having to hold the bloody thing. I suspect we've found the source of his middle age spread.
His spare tire.
His "Molson Muscle", if you will.
Yes folks, it's finally happened: the push broom is now considered to be Hard Labour. Anyway, in an effort to balance the universe, I will be compensating for his laziness by folkpunking my ass off at Castro's on Tuesday. Also along for a workout will be the energetic (and clever) Jeff Stone. Here are the deets:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (me)
TUESDAY JULY 25 (9pm)
CASTRO'S LOUNGE 2116 Queen Street EAST (not west, EAST...in the Beaches... aka the Beach... aka World Unto Itself With Dog Poop On The Sidewalk...) with special guest JEFF STONE.
See ya there!
You know that cold that's been going around? The one that gets into your chest and just kinda stays there for weeks on end? The one that's probably no worse than any colds that went around years ago, but maybe our environment is screwed up to the point that a lot of us probably have weakened immune systems and don't even know it, so the simple act of taking a deep breath outside on a hot day can take ten years off your life, that cold? Well I'm one of the many who have been battling that same bug for almost two weeks now.
The first week was okay, but this past week was murder. Last Tuesday's show at Castro's was saved in large part by fellow singer-songwriter Vaughn Passmore (who hasn't caught this thing....yet...) being able to play a longer set, and also by a massive intake of Fisherman's Friend. Man, I was going through those things like Bogart went through cigarettes. Except I was coughing more than he ever did. And for those of you who are curious, yes it is possible to play harmonica with a Fisherman's Friend on the go, but just to be safe make sure somebody in the audience knows the Heimlich.
Anyway, I'm getting better, and at my present rate of recovery I figure I'll have shaken this thing by, oh, let's say 2008 some time.
In spite of all this, the show must indeed go on. And on that note:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (again with capital letters already...)
TUESDAY JULY 18th (9pm-ish)
at CASTRO'S LOUNGE (2116 Queen Street West, here in Smogtown)
with special guest JENNIFER FOSTER
Jennifer Foster (or "J-Fo" as she sometimes calls herself) is a great singer-songwriter and has a killer voice. She's recorded and/or toured and/or worked with the likes of The Pursuit Of Happiness, Melanie Doane, Sarah Slean, The Rheostatics, and a slew of others.
Anyway, see you at Castro's.
Hi y'all, The Folkpunk Tuesday thing appears to be a virtual juggernaut which is practically unstoppable, not unlike a snowball which becomes an avalanche and threatens a small peaceful village on Christmas Eve (or something).
Anyway, once again I will be appearing at Castro's this Tuesday (July 11), this time with special guest singer-songwriter Vaughn Passmore. For those of you who aren't sure where Castro's is located on Tuesdays, it's at 2116 Queen Street East, not far from where it's located the rest of the week.
And for those of you with short attention spans, here's the easy-to-digest version of this gig announcement (the Arrowroot cookie version, so to speak):
TIMOTHY CAMERON (that's me, in capital letters),
at CASTRO'S LOUNGE (did I mention 2116 Queen Street East?)
on TUESDAY JULY 11th
with special guest VAUGHN PASSMORE (also in capitals)
And for those of you with VERY short attention spans, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that you're sitting in front of a computer.
The response to the first "Folkpunk Tuesday" at Castro's was great. In fact I kept having this recurring dream after I got home and fell asleep after the gig. In the dream I'm being driven through Ottawa in a limousine, and the limo pulls up outside Parliament Hill. Don't ask me why I'm on Parliament Hill, dreams are far-fetched at the best of times. Maybe I'm there to convert Stockwell Day into a member of Mensa.
Anyway, in the dream I hop out of the limo and I'm about to walk into the Parliament buildings when I'm suddenly surrounded by journalists, most of whom seem to be intent on finding out just who the hell I think I am playing solo singer-songwriter gigs with an electric guitar instead of the folk-Nazi-approved acoustic guitar approach. One journalist in particular (Tim Ralfe of CBC) begins an exchange with me that goes on for a few moments, and then ends like so:
Cameron: Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see folk singers with electric guitars. All I can say is, go on and bleed, but it is more important to keep folkpunk in the society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of ...
Ralfe: At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?
Cameron: Just watch me.
Did I mention "far-fetched"? Anyway, haul yourself out to Castro's this Tuesday for a dose of me and a dose of Clark Institute. I may wear a rose in my lapel. I might even do a pirouette behind the queen… Adieu!
PS- Happy Canada Day...
Hi ya, After a successful gig at Manhattan's in Guelph back in January, they've asked me back for another night of this thing called folkpunk at their predominantly jazz-oriented venue. Go figure.Anyway, here are the "deets" (for my "peeps"):
TIMOTHY CAMERON (that would be me)
at MANHATTAN'S (951 Gordon Street in Guelph)
on THURSDAY APRIL 13th from 8:00pm to Midnight-ish
If you know anybody in the GGA (Greater Guelph Area), feel free to forward this email to them. In fact, why not organize a car pool from wherever you are. Charter a bus, even. There's lots of parking, so what's stopping you ? Huh?! As an added bonus, the following day is Good Friday and the kick off of the whole Easter shebang, when hundreds if not dozens of people around the world celebrate that moment when Jesus arose from the cave, saw his shadow and predicted four more weeks of winter in Bethlehem.
Or something like that.
I'm not a theologian, so some of the finer details are a bit sketchy. Anyway, the point is that unless you're being crucified, you probably have Friday off, so it's not like you're out on a school night. Y'know? Failing that, I suppose I'll play another gig in Toronto one of these days. Probably. Until then, go easy on the Mini-Eggs, okay?
Well, spring has sprung and that can only mean one thing: it's time for a seasonal folkpunk gig. The next one (in Toronto at least) will likely be in the summer. Here are the "deets":
TIMOTHY CAMERON (me)
at RENAISSANCE CAFE (1938 Danforth Avenue, west of Woodbine)
WEDNESDAY APRIL 5
show starts around 8:30 PM-ish (doors open at 8pm)
Also on the bill are Jeff Stone, Signe Miranda, Brad McGoey and Tristan M.R., and the cover is a measly 5 bucks. Renaissance has lots of microbrewery beers on tap and some very nice gourmet coffees too.
Finally, in lieu of a rant I'm going to forward something to all of you that was sent to me by my friend Sean Bray. I heartily encourage you to forward it to your friends as well, since there's a quick poll you can take at the end if you follow the link. See ya!
"National Geographic has just put out its latest issue and there is a big article on nuclear energy's 'comeback' and like other recent articles you may have seen, suggesting that Nuclear is the green alternative. A quote from the article by Charles Petit: 'Scratch a nuclear engineer these days and you'll likely find, under the buttoned-down exterior, a raving green activist' and, 'Climate change, for many, trumps any fear of nuclear energy.'
"Those of us who haven't bought into the great 'green' nuclear propaganda machine know that nuclear is not the answer to our problems. However articles like these are being quietly seeded in magazines all over the world right now (eg there was one in Wired in November 2005) and they are having a serious impact. People are starting to believe.
"Like any good propaganda machine, the stories mix in enough fear to motivate people to be receptive to a solution that may be more dangerous than the problem. Kinda like the Patriot Act and the War. Only this little marketing ploy is seeding misinformation that will get us into opening a Pandora's box we can't shut. Here's a quote that wasn't in the article (from Dr. Helen Caldicott): 'Plutonium 239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans, is so toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogrnic. More than 200kg is made annually in each 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant. Plutonium is handled like iron in the body, and is therefore stored in the liver, where it causes liver cancer, and in the bone, where it can induce bone cancer and blood malignancies. On inhalation it causes lung cancer....Plutonium lasts for 500,000 years, living on to induce cancer and genetic diseases in future generations...'
"Anyway- you all know how serious this is- I am just asking you to help stem the propaganda tide. If you can- write to National Geographic. Include some facts if you can. Opinons are fine though. Maybe one of us will get printed.(addresses below) At the very least, participate in their online poll- let's see if we can change the numbers, cause I just did the poll and the 'yes' vote is winning right now. Go to: http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0604/feature2/index.html and click on 'Poll' on the left side of the page. National Geographic Magazine PO Box 98199 Washington, DC 20090-8199 or at least email: email@example.com they ask that you include name, address and daytime phone. Peace and Health to all."
Hey folks(punks), Three things to report here at Folkpunk Manor:
First, I'll be a guest on CIUT-FM's Acoustic Workshop this coming Monday (February 20th). The show runs from 7:00 to 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) and can be heard at http://www.ciut.fm Or you can listen in on something called a radio, which is like a television (remember those?) without the visuals.
Secondly, in keeping with my resolution to only play Toronto bars once per season, it's time for my Winter 2006 gig. Next Thursday (February 23rd) I'll be appearing at The Now Lounge, located at 189 Church Street, near Dundas. Also on the bill, direct from the God Blessed United States Of America Which Is (Are?) Blessed By God will be Nathan Caswell (who's really from Thunder Bay). The cover is a measly $5, so quit whining already. Show starts at 9-ish.
And finally, this whole Dick-Cheney-shooting-a-guy-thing has (predictably) qualified for "Gate" status. You know how, ever since Watergate, everything that seems the slightest bit questionable within the US government gets called "(Fill-in-the-blank)-Gate". We've had Iran-Gate (Reagan), Monica-Gate (Clinton), Tuna-Gate (Mulroney). Well now the whole Cheney fiasco has been dubbed Quail-Gate. But I think it's time we put the whole "Gate" wordplay thing aside, and I propose a new catchphrase to sum up what took place last weekend when the Veep was shooting birds and, uh, missed: CHAPPAQUI-DUCK.
Again, the gigs: Monday February 20: CIUT-FM, 7pm Thursday February 23: Now Lounge, 9pm
See ya, Timothy-Gate
Yup, the subject line pretty much says it all. You can now download any or all of the songs from Never Mind The Hyperbolics and/or "...every cloud has a sulphur lining..." through Apple's iTunes store. No longer will a typical conversation at one of my gigs go something like this:
Punter: "Hey, that song of yours, 'She Dates Creeps', is that on your new CD ?"
Me; "Uh, no, sorry that's on the old one and I didn't bring any copies with me tonight."
Punter: "You heartless bastard!"
Now a typical conversation at one of my gigs will be more along the lines of:
Punter: "Hey, that song of yours, 'She Dates Creeps', is that on your new CD ?"
Me: "No, but you can now download it off of iTunes and never have to leave the house to see live music ever again !"
Punter: "What? I can't hear you over the squealing feedback from the microphone which is being caused by the hearing impaired sound man who doesn't seem to be doing a very good job because he is (as previously stated) somewhat hearing impaired... you heartless bastard." Etcetera.
Anyway, just letting you know.
Hey! This Friday (December 2nd) I'll be appearing at Grafitti's (170 Baldwin) as part of the monthly Songwriters Unite showcase. Also on the bill are Howard Gladestone, Nancy Dutra, Tressa (aka Slim), Lila Rose, Tanya Philopovitch, Susan Hutcheson, and of course the host Russell Leon. Show starts at 9pm, and there's no cover.
So I was reading one of those free newspapers that one can pick up in the subway (a "McNewspaper" if you will) and noticed an article on the TTC's plans to spend an untold amount of money on remaking some stations into "cultural attractions". The article included a conceptual drawing of what Museum Station will look like, with the support columns on the platform transformed into ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and mini Greek columns and such. Three of the TTC's downtown subway stations will get the make-over, transforming them into "works of art". It was an interesting enough article, as were many of the other articles in the McPaper, all of which I had plenty of time to read as I stood waiting for a train that took forever to arrive and when it did finally arrive it was packed to the point that the doors closed on me as I tried squeezing on board. This was at 7:30pm, so rush hour was long since past, and this was the third time in the space of a week that I got to spend an excess amount of time waiting for a train that was full to capacity when it finally showed up. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the TTC is being run by Air Canada. How else can you explain a transit system that values its own beautification over something like, oh I dunno, GETTING ITS PAYING CUSTOMERS TO THEIR DESTINATION. Jeezuz.
Hey ya, Here's some gig news from me to you:
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 27th, I'll be at CADILLAC LOUNGE (1296 Queen Street West) somewhere between 4pm and 7pm as part of Songwriters Expo along with Neil Exall, Mike Hopkins, and Marion Arthur.
There'll be a draw for CDs by the performers too.
And then: FRIDAY DECEMBER 2nd, I'll show up at GRAFFITI'S (170 Baldwin Avenue) 8pm-ish as part of Songwriters Unite along with many other songwriters, none of whom I can name at the moment because I never thought to get the names before I started typing this email to you.
And if you have friends and family in Guelph, tell them about this one. Or even enemies: THURSDAY JANUARY 12th, I'm folkpunking at MANHATTAN'S (951 Gordon Street, Guelph) from 8pm to 11pm all folkpunk, all night. For the third time this year I'll be hauling out some originals that I haven't played since the 1990's. I've been told by people who've been to Manhattan's that it's a nice place and the pizza is amazing.
Okay, and finally this little tidbit from CBC News' website. Seems that Toronto MP Dan McTeague wants 50 Cent barred from entering Canada to perform concerts scheduled for December, adding that the rapper promotes gun violence, a message that Torontonians don't need to hear in light of the recent shootings in the city. "I think it's time we send a message of our own to those who glorify violence that their gratuitous violence and movies are not welcome in our country," McTeague said. "We need to do a better job at protecting Canadians from people whose message runs counter to all of our efforts of trying to curb gun violence." Oh really? Then perhaps Mr. McTeague could explain why 50 Cent's new film Get Rich Or Die Tryin' was shot (no pun intended) right here in good ol' Hogtown, and not once did the MP raise his voice in protest during the production. Oh wait, of course, they were probably filming during parliament's summer vacation. How silly of me.
Yes folks, the ECB (election campaign bullsh*t) is about to start hitting the fan. You've been warned.
Hey! I've got a gig. Again. Yay...
TIMOTHY CAMERON (over here)
SUNDAY OCTOBER 30th THE RIVOLI (334 Queen Street West) 7:00pm
The event is the monthly Whipped Sundaes thingy, and I'll be part of the songwriters circle, which gets under way at 8:30. This month's Whipped Sundae has a Hallowe'en theme, so feel free to dress up. I'll be disguised as Jerry Leger, and he'll be disguised as me, see if you can tell the difference!
Okay, secondly, the still amazing news about my CD on MP3Tunes: I'm still #1 on the Angry Folk charts!
"Reality TV", huh? I don't know where the term came from. I mean really, hands up anybody who regularly happens to be on a desert island hoping to win a million bucks. And how many of you normally compete with 30 other members of your gender for the attentions of one total stranger? Ever tried to break into show biz by having Donald Trump fire you? No? Didn't think so. We've had reality TV for decades already. It's called the news, and even that's just barely real most of the time. And most of the "contestants" on reality TV shows are indeed professional actors trying to get noticed in an industry that already has a glut of mediocre talent. In which case, The Price Is Right is more real than Survivor, because the contestants are average shmoes grabbed from an audience full of people who got sidetracked on the way to Disneyland. The producers of reality TV shows should just admit that the whole thing is staged and scripted, and make use of that fact. I can see it now: "The Bachelorette: Special Victims Unit".
Hi folks, Sorry to keep doing this to you, but the gig Sunday at the Danforth Music Testicle...er, I mean Festival, has been utterly and completely cancelled. They double booked their own festival. Not bad huh? I mean, who's running this thing, Air Canada? Jeezuz.
I took a stroll along Danforth on Friday to check things out at the other venues, and here's some of what I observed:
One place had decided at the last minute not to be part of the festival so they could host a private party instead. Wise. The next venue I passed by featured a bunch of musicians on the front patio, which is nice exept instead of, oh I dunno, playing music let's say, they were standing around scratching their heads wondering how to get the PA system working. Two hours after they should have started playing.
The next gig was a tiny little cafe that had a band in the front window with Marshall stacks ("big honkin' guitar amps" in other words) cranked up loud enough that the vocals were totally drowned out. Next was a band playing in front of (I'm not kidding) McDonald's, and they had a bunch of their gear set up on the garbage pails. Ick.
And finally there was a band who were playing on the roof of a restaurant, which is sort of cool in a Let It Be kinda way, but it appeared that they'd hauled all their gear up on this one rickety ladder that was propped up beside the "stage". Let's hope they enjoyed the exhaust from the kitchen.
So anyway, I'm not doing the Danforth Music Festival, this year or ever. I am however playing a gig this coming week. Here's the info:
TIMOTHY CAMERON, VAUGHN PASSMORE, CLARK INSTITUTE and JON BROOKS
at HOLY JOE'S THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 8th
It's four singer-songwriters going around in a rotation of quick 25 minute sets, so if you have to work (or go to school) the next morning, you can catch a fair chunk of each of us by 10pm. And trust me, the three artists I'll be sharing the stage with are among the best at their musical craft in the whole city.
Holy Joe's is upstairs at the Big Bop, south east corner of Queen and Bathurst. Find the Reverb Room, and walk through to the door marked (oddly enough) "Holy Joe's". And thank you for reading this far, hope you've enjoyed the review. And feel free to respond and say hi, I like hearing from all of you.
Hey! I know this is kinda short notice, and I apologize for that, but I'm playing one more gig for July and then it looks like I'm off for a month or so. Here's the info:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (over here)
MONDAY JULY 18th at MITZI'S SISTER (1554 Queen Street West)
with CLARK INSTITUTE and JON BROOKS
9-ish start time, no cover, good food.
My fellow performers are both excellent songwriters, for whom I have a great deal of respect, and I'm honoured to be sharing the bill with them. As far as I know, Jon's on first, followed by Clark/Jim, and then me at 10:30 or 11:00...I think. You can check out their websites at http://www.clarkinstitute.com/ and http://www.jonbrooks.ca/
Okay, so while I'm away, here are a couple of handy tips on how not to piss me (and others) off during this crankiness-inducing heatwave: 1. Try not to ride your bike on the sidewalk really fast in a manner that requires me (and others) to leap for safety at the last second. Which part of the word "sideWALK" is escaping you? 2. Contrary to the beliefs of some (including a couple of my neighbours), pigeons are not, repeat NOT on the endangered species list. You can stop feeding the fucking things now.
There, I've saved the world again so my work here is done....
Remember the good old days when "spam" was something that Terry Jones (in drag) would prattle on about to a cafe full of vikings?
You don't ?!?
Anyway, all your worst fears have come true: I have another gig. Care for details ? Well, VOILA (or "walla" as it's spelled in Owen Sound):
TIMOTHY CAMERON (that's me)
GRAFFITI'S (170 Baldwin, in Kensington Market)
FRIDAY JUNE 3rd 9:00 pm, NO cover.
It's part of the Songwriters Unite series, hosted by the lovely and talented Russell Leon. Also on the bill will be guys with names like Kirk, Andrew, Guy, Patrick, Noah, Pierre, and Rex. All good reliable singer-songwriter type names, no ?
So that's it. No rants or stories this time. Want a rant ? Wait for Lewis Black to come on The Daily Show. Want a story ? Go to the library. Want some white-hot folkpunk? Come to Graffiti's. It's that easy.
Hi. Yup, it's gig announcement time again, so here's the dirt. Or rather here's the info (dirt is such a dirty word).
TIMOTHY CAMERON (a.k.a. "me")
at MITZI'S SISTER (1554 Queen Street West)
on MONDAY MAY 30th
The show will start at 9:00pm, there's nary a cover charge and the food is great. And best of all, I'm sharing the bill with one of my fave singer-songwriters, Jennifer Foster, and a fellow named Andrew Haughton. I haven't heard Andrew yet but I've heard good things about him.
So I know that the pro-pit bull lobby is upset over the provincial government's decision to ban the breed, but I'm actually in favour of the ban. However, I don't favour the ban because I believe pit bulls are any more vicious than any other variety of canine. I think they're just dogs, and like any dog a pit bull can have a bad day and snap at somebody. Only difference being that when a chihuahua snaps at you, you're mildly annoyed, because there's only so much damage the jaw muscles on a chihuahua can inflict. I dunno, maybe the answer is not to be "breed specific" in a ban, but "power specific". Maybe somebody should invent some sort of contraption to test the power of the jaw muscles on dogs, and base the ban on that, since the definition of "pit bull" is a bit nebulous, and the ban gets into a grey area when the dog in question is half pit bull, half Sherman tank or whatever. Then again, maybe Queen's Park has another secret motive, and the breed is being banned for reasons of aesthetics as well. I mean really, have you ever looked at a pit bull? They're not the handsomest dogs at the prom. I'm reminded of what Woody Allen once said about a young lady he once encountered: "I don't want to say she was ugly, but facially she resembled Louis Armstrong's voice". I always think of that quote when I see a pit bull. They're kinda like the canine version of Ernest Borgnine (sorry Ernest).
"Could it be another gig?" I hear you asking. See for yourself:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (yup, that's me)
at GRAFFITI'S (170 Baldwin in Kensington Market)
FRIDAY MARCH 4th 9:00 pm-ish
I'm there as part of the Songwriters Unite! showcase. There will be six or seven other songwriters as well, although nobody's told me who they are yet. Maybe it's a big secret. Yeah that must it. They're such huge stars that it's all being kept very hush-hush. So let's assume that Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Ray Davies, Billy Joe Armstrong, Randy Bachman, and uh, I dunno, let's say Cher will all be there.*
So I bought an American Apparel t-shirt a couple of months ago, and if any of you have a Beanie Baby that needs a t-shirt let me know because the bloody thing kept shrinking (although I followed the washing instructions). Twenty-five bucks. They saw me coming. I only really bought it because the company promotes itself as being sweat shop free and all that. Of course when one stops to think about it, there are no sweatshops in the vicinity of Truro, Nova Scotia, home to a certain company by the name of Stanfield's. And their shirts are half the price and THEY DON'T SHRINK IF YOU SO MUCH AS LOOK AT THEM THE WRONG WAY. Yeesh.
Anyway, enough fashion victimization, hope to see you Friday.
*don't quote me on these names...
Hello. Yeah, yeah, I know. It's FOLKPUNK, not fokpunk... Anyway, this Thursday I will be sharing the bill with three of my fave Toronto singer-songwriters. For those of you who like my simple "just the facts ma'am" announcements here ya go:
TIMOTHY CAMERON (that's me)
THURSDAY FEBRUAURY 17th
at HOLY JOE'S 651 Queen Street West (at Bathurst)
8pm start, Pay-What-You-Can.
Before I forget, here are some more specific details on getting to Holy Joe's: It's on the second floor of The Big Bop which is that big ominous building on the southeast corner of Queen and Bathurst. The entrance from Queen Street is the SECOND door east of Bathurst which is also the entrance to The Reverb Room. Go up the black-walled winding staircase (which seems all the more winding when one's lugging an amp and guitar, but I digress...) and at the top of the stairs you'll find yourself at the entrance to The Reverb. If anybody is there collecting a cover for whoever is playing Reverb, simply look them in the eye and (in your best pirate voice) yell at them "Arrrr, I be here for some folkpunkin' so avast ye scurvy dog".
Chances are they'll not ask a second time.
Then you walk straight ahead through the doors and keep going so the bar and washrooms are on your left. Just past the washrooms you'll see a little five or six step mini staircase, beside which is painted in huge letters "Holy Joe's". Go up the mini staircase, through the door and TA-DA you're in...an alcove. But you're really close by this point. If you feel you need for some nicotine after all this spelunking and exploring, turn left to nip out on to the fire escape, otherwise go straight through another door (this is all starting to sound like the opening of Get Smart) and there you are in...another alcove. Look to your right and TA-DA (really) you're in Holy Joe's. If you leave now you should be there by Thursday...
Anyway, this gig came about after having conversations with each of my fellow performers that went something like this:
Fellow Performer: "Hey Tim, we should do a show together sometime."
We're starting at 8pm, each doing a short set, then starting the rotation again at 10pm or so. So for those of you who have to get up early Friday, you can catch each of us and be home in your jammies by 11pm, and for the night owls among you, show up later and you'll still see each of us in action. It's a pay what you can cover, although a minimum of $5 will ensure that we not mutter things about you under our breath. Oh, and we're deciding the running order at the gig, so it'll be a surprise for everybody.
I was going to add some great reviews of the CD which have recently been posted around the web, but this has gone on long enough, so next time.
Hey y'all, I've just returned from the big CD release bash at Holy Joe's, and wanted to thank everybody who made it out. It was a rousing success, and a great launch for my humble "little grey album".
And I'd also like to thank John Terauds and/or whoever it was at The Toronto Star who decided that tonight's show was worthy of some ink. I didn't even know they'd written me up until a friend called to congratulate me just before I left home for the club. It's on page A26 of Thursday's Star in case you feel like rescuing it from your recycling. Here's what Mr. Terauds said: "Punk'd! Accomplished local singer/songwriter Timothy Cameron, whose punk sensibilities come with a distinctly folk political gloss (think Billy Bragg) holds court at Holy Joe's tonight, where he's likely to dip into songs from his polished second album, Every Cloud Has A Sulphur Lining." And they even found a photo of me to stick above the column. How cool is that?
And finally a word about the impending hockey strike. As you may have gathered by now, I'm one of the silent majority who have a sort of take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward the game. I liked hockey back when it was a sport, but once it became a religion I lost interest. Now it almost seems like the CBC (among others) are doing all they can to make it look like this is the end of Canadian culture as we know it. Not surprising, since the "Ceeb" has a vested interest in keeping their ratings up, and televising hockey games is relatively inexpensive what with not having to hire script writers or as many lighting technicians (turn on the halogen floods over the rink and you're pretty much done). Anyway, there is an opportunity for all the other aspects of our culture and entertainment to finally get noticed, and not be buried under the hockey rhetoric that bombards us for nine months of the year. If you're a musician for example, here's your big chance to build an audience that otherwise might never have stumbled across you, since they have their entertainment dollars burning holes in their pockets and are liable to venture into a club for something to do. Play your ass off and show them how cool live music is, and maybe you'll end up with a few converts. And if you're a hockey fan who's looking for a diversion, well I just told all the musicians on this email list to get their shit together, so what are you waiting for? Do I have to do ALL the thinking around here?! Yeesh!
And now if you'll excuse me, I think there's a celebratory bottle of champagne waiting to be inhaled... Later gators, Timothy.