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Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Thank you all so much for making the Dakota show on Oct. 29th one of the best musical nights I have ever had.  The place was packed with your energy and I only wish I had taken pictures of the audience so I could post them now. I certainly will next time.  This show based on the new album, is really about being ‘In the Nickelodeon’ or a little movie of different life elements and relationships and situations.  My goal that night was to make it all come to life for the first time in the first live performance.

Each song is part of this story. I started the show alone on stage with just me and the piano to do ‘Someday You’ll Dance’, as it gives an intuitive insight into the whole story.


It was so great to do that song alone but to know that I had these great musicians coming up to play with me for the next songs and let me thank them all again for the amazing work they do – John Timmins, John Wojewode and Eric Brown.  To me, my music now is all about the songs and these gentlemen add all the textures that the songs need. There could be more, there could be less, but to my ear and style, I like the simplicity that it has now. Banjo, harmonica, Blues slide guitar, Acoustic guitar, Dobro guitar, accordion, bass, sound effect here and there and vocals with lots of variation in the arrangements.

By the end of the second song which ends with the lines ‘ the world it is so beautiful, don’t let it go down this way’, I am well on my way to setting up the story I want to tell. The rest of the songs followed and each made their statement. I did ‘Daddy Ain’t Dead’ very early in the set which was a bit risky but it really worked well – little description of my sisters and I as adolescents on the old farm, coming home from school and my Mother asking us to go and find ‘Daddy’ in the barn who was not, after all dead, but just really drunk and then sitting on his knee and hearing his perspective of the situation. This is such a fun song, I wish there was a way to get it on country radio or something, but apparently they are as straight in Nashville now as they were 50 years ago.  A friend of mine sent them a great song of hers which was about divorce and they sent her back a rejection saying that this was not something ‘people want to hear about.’

The stage at the Dakota is really cool but has a lot of backlighting which makes it hard to get pictures of whoever is playing.  My photographer decided to take pictures of feet for a while as they were lit up so here are my feet, wearing actually my new dark green sort of cowboy boots, that I actually bought the day before the show. I’m sorry to say that I am a bit of a complusive shopper when under stress and I know I should never go into a store close to a gig date but I broke that rule.  And I’m glad. I love those boots.


Also, here is a nice picture of the feet of John T, keeping rhythm as he plays. He is a modest man and chooses to wear running shoes for this performance.  But they are very good ones.


John Wojewoda is viewed here and everything you can say is in the picture.  John can look like a tough guy but has a gentle heart.  When he played comedic sound effects on ‘Daddy Ain’t dead, holding his tiny viola, I think the visual is worth seeing over and over.  Next time, I am going to get someone to do a live video with sound and we will put it on Youtube. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of the elusive Eric who was there and played beautiful bass lines on some songs and also did back-up vocals. Eric recorded the new album and has a fantastic ear.

I’m not going to go on and on about the songs and why they worked or how they work.  Suffice to say that by the end of the show when the audience was singing along with ‘Nickelodeon’, there was a mood in the room of sheer possibility, of everything good, also of things sad but it doesn’t break you, and of connection with everyone there.  I loved it and everyone and I thought this is the best I can do.  Thank you.

One ot the partners took me back into the office and booked us for Jan. 21st, which is another Thursday night. I was very pleased that she appreciated the show. I would like to make this club sort of a home room for us.  It’ a happening club and I need somewhere to play regularly so I can invite and grow an audience and also showcase.  Now I am pursuing Folk Festivals for the summer gigs as they give you a lot of exposure to media and new audiences. I hope we might get a few.

So now comes the part where you leave the club and pack up all the stuff and carry the piano home.  I usually dread being alone after a gig as good as this one because you can really crash. But wait!  This time I have someone at home waiting for me!  It’s my collie dog!

It was a warm, windy, a bit rainy night and Abby and I walked up and down streets for a long time.  I went through the night and every song in my head many times and just really enjoyed it for once.  I am creating good memories.

Lastly, now I’m back to work.  I am researching traditional songs – Roots music that tell the story too, where I can use lots of banjo and blues guitar and see what we can do and create some new arrangements. We will get something together for the next show.


UPDATE:  NEXT GIG AT THE DAKOTA IS ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 21ST.  SHOW BEGINS RIGHT AT 8:00.  Concert style one long set.  Please put this on your calendars and hope to see you there.

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Album Release Party

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

CD Release Party – Thursday, Oct. 29th
at The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave.
phone 416-850-4579

Show Starts: 9:00 p.m
We will be starting on time as everyone wants an early night so please be there by 8:30

This will be the first live performance of all the songs on ‘In the Nickelodeon’  plus some new ones. Hope to see you there.

CDs will also be available for sale.

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Monday, September 21st, 2009

The Studio

Where we rehearse at my place - a sort of a warehouse space where we don't have to worry about noise.

The rehearsals right now are just with John Timmins and myself so we have guitar, slide guitar on an old Harmony, banjo, and you will see on the floor a little Zoom recording device that is proving to be very useful.  Also if you look carefully to the left of the guitar facing you on the couch you will see one of the many uses of duct tape, if your dog likes to chew. She’s pretty good now – most of that happened when I first got her.

Right now I am into doing something I have never been able to do just with the piano – sort of a blues style with no chord changes, just staying within the root chord, relying completely on feel, rhythm, and interpretation. In the show at The Dakota on Oct. 29th, John T. and I will be doing a song of my own in this style (much learned from Robert Johnson), using the little cigarbox guitar and bottle slide.  There is no piano on this one at all which is really new for me.  John T. is as much of a feel player as I am so we can do it.

Waits and Dylan

Robert Johnson, Waits and Dylan

I am arranging it for both of us to do vocals and it has a real emotional edge to it. It’s oddly complicated within the one root chord feel – it can collapse as soon as any of the key elements go a bit awry. Plus in the same vein we are arranging a hillbilly traditional tune that Dylan covered at one time.

I decided when I started my album a little more than a year ago that the missing link in my music was the banjo and I started hearing banjo lines in my sleep.  The banjo is the most incredibly emotive instrument – whacky, sad, bizarre.  I adore it.  I loved it so much that on my holidays from work I rented one and felt certain that I could play it since I could already hear it so clearly. It took about five minutes to realize that this would not be the case unless I had a similar experience to Robert Johnsons’ where he sold his soul to the devil, disappeared for a while and came back a genius guitar player.

So instead, I found John T. who can play like I wish I could. John uses an open D tuning on the Dyaln tune and there are again no chord changes – all feel and dynamic.  I am arranging this with duo vocals – I think we have a really interesting vocal thing happening.  Don’t think you’ll hear anybody else quite like it and it’s a lot of fun for me as I have always before sung alone.  It’s a real stylistic growth that is adding a lot of interest to things for me. We are also covering a Tom Waits song in an unconventional manner – Tom remains the single most important influence on me – it’s a huge pleasure to cover two of his songs in the next show.

Hope to see you there.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

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Someday You’ll Dance

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

These are the lyrics to track 2 on the album. Listen to it now if you like.

Someday you’ll dance on a different moon with us
and you won’t even need any feet
the Lion and the Ox and the golden-eyed Eagle
and the hurricanes will come to take you home
and nobody really said it he was just a mean old man
but all he really wanted was to live forever
he said I wish I had more money there must be something I can do
somebody I can pay to get me out of this mess
and the king is a liar and everybody knows it
but he has the keys to the liquor store
and he will decide who gets less or more
so when you see him you better smile and say hello
and he found his queen in the guinness book of records
she has the biggest breasts in the world
and she proudly shows them for everyone to see
she says when I eat I lay them on the table
and nobody really said it he was just a mean old man
but all he really wanted was to live forever
someday you’ll dance on a different moon with us
and you won’t even need any feet
the Lion and the Ox and the golden-eyed Eagle
and the hurricanes will come to take you home
and the hurricanes will come to take you home.

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The band

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Today, I’d like to introduce the band and the dog.


Here is John Timmins and John Wojewoda on my roof after a rehearsal. John Timmins has put a lot of time into this project. I approached him originally when I was doing the album just to play a bit of banjo but he has become a partner in all aspects of this show from playing banjo, guitar, singing back-ups, spoons, harmonica, to participating in endless discussions about what we are going to do with this music.  I am also very lucky to have John Wojewoda interested in this  – he adds on his dobro guitar and with his vocals a vibe and a feel that is exactly what I want on this music.  Eric Brown, not seen here, was the engineer of this album and when you come to a live show you will see Eric on bass and vocals.

And this is Abby…

The Dog

John Timmins on the roof. You should never leave a wicker chair outside all winter.


Portrait of the Banjo Wicker

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CD Release at the Dakota

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

October 29th. Details to follow. There will be guests to be announced.

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Welcome to my new site

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Welcome to my site. This is a work in progress as I am sitting here right now with my nephew who is working with me to try to present you with something that will be entertaining and will keep you updated as to what we are doing with this album. I want to say a special hello to my old fans first. It has been 10 years since my last album and I’m hoping that you will be interested in hearing the new one. I love the new one. For any new fans, if you are out there, welcome.

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First Review

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

First Review in Inside Entertainment

First Review in Inside Entertainment

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