The Thaw Before The Spring
From January to September, the light lasts a little longer each day.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I hate you - I love you
Running has always balanced well the line between love and hate for me.
It's a beast I have never grasped because as soon as you leave it for a
while, you feel like you could leave it forever - alone in a cave. But as
soon as you decide to wake it up, it lets you know how long you've gone
without it and that maintaining a relationship after such a long hiatus
is going to be a major undertaking. But then, just when you're ready
to leave it alone again, you remember the reasons why. On the perfect
day with the most picturesque cloud structure and the right music,
you feel in sync with your surroundings. You forget the beastliness
and see the heart of it.
It sucks so much.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Build Your Boat
Do you have a lifelong project that has always plagued you?
Does it keep you up nights when you should be catching z's?
Chances are, it's supposed to plague you. Chances are, it's
supposed to interrupt your sleep - because chances are, you
are supposed to undertake the dang project.
For me, it's been a kids/sci-fi book that I've mapped out every
which way from sunday in my mind but have only ever spent
minimal time with on paper. I need to flesh it out. I need
to let it breathe and live.
But that's the biggest one - I have little projects that are
all on low boil in the background of the idea stove - but
surely, they all mean something, too.
We don't know how much time we have.
Build your boat.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Let's Get Lucky
This film still stands the test of relevance and truth.
A landmark in cinematic achievement.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I used to play piano in a Blues Club in Georgia. This was, of course,
a long time ago and in a different life time. My bones were much
less creaky and my skin less flappy and veiny. But man, I loved
that piano. Dewberry Jones used to say 'Jim, you can make that
thing hum-ding like a crystal spring'. Dewberry and the Bed Birds
used to rip that joint up, man. Dew had a sound comin' from the
heart of that smokey rickenbacker that could un-freeze the veins
of the coldest non-believer. I shared the stage with many greats;
Turk Vernon, J.J. Goober, TJ Loveshine, Captain Funk and the
Chunky Railroad Gang, Misty Starlight, Henry 'George' Wilton
and French Freddie.
But no one...and I mean NO one...could sing the way that Alberta
Airie could sing on friday night, man. Her voice was a freight train
of golden chills that would wake you up in the darkest night singing
gospel music. We played together for 7 years in the Dew Drop
Den. For about 2 years straight, we packed the place out. The
only thing you could see would be the smokey backstage light
shootin' down on you like an angel eye from heaven. But the
thing was her set never got good until about after the third
intermission. I would be on my 25th cigarette of the night,
sweat comin' out of every orifice of my body - even off my
tongue, it seemed. That blues joint was so packed to the gills
that no one could see, move or even breathe - but it didn't
matter. All eyes were on Alberta. She would sit on the piano
like a mermaid on an ocean shore stone, man. She
inspired. She enamored. She shined. She hummed. She
One time, some player from Rollin' Stone Magazine came
down to the club and wanted to take her picture and do
a write up but this player made the mistake of smackin' old
Alberta on the hind end. POW! She cold-cocked that sucker
in the lip and made him smash into 2 tables. She had spirit.
No one could break it.
And it's not like she wasn't beautiful to boot - she was a
sight, man. You'd go home and have her embroidered
under your eyelids.
Dew used to say we had a chemistry that was 'beyond the
bubble of this bumblin' tumblin' world'. We would be playin'
and the slightest key change or melodic adjustment would
happen in the slightest body shift or hand gesture from her.
She once told me that she dug playin' with me more than
anyone - but she was nice to a lot of folks. Dew once said
'Man, if I ain't met a hundred cats who want to be beside
Alberta, I met a million. You are one lucky duck.'
Ha. Old Dew. Too bad he passed on. Lung cancer.
I'm glad you found this old painting, Jake. A lot of
memories in this painting. Keep playing your guitar. It's
important to remember what it's all about.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
It seems that there is a new trend happening everywhere I turn -
Christmas sweater parties. People try and find the ugliest sweater
possible and wear it to a social outing.
Call me old-fashioned, but my friends and I were doing this 10
years ago except instead of Christmas sweaters, we were into
pheasant sweaters. We would try and find the biggest, baddest
most well-knit bird-image sweater we could and then wear them
It's funny how trends seem to go in cycles.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Bought The Shirt - Doin' It Saturday
Last week, I had the chance to see a performing act that I've
become endeared to over the past 4 or 5 years - Apostle
Of Hustle. Andrew Whiteman and his trusty sidekick drummer
Dean hit Peterborough last week and rocked the Montreal
House with a latin-infused rock fury. It was almost easy to
forget that Andrew is the lead guitarist of Broken Social
Scene (who sells out massive crowds anywhere) as it was
a very sparse crowd in attendance. My friend Derrick and I
sipped a few suds and watched Andrew and Dean do their
thang as a newly transformed two-piece from the original
3. Right from the get-go, you could tell that these two were
in a trance and so focused on the performance that they
could have been playing to an empty room or a crowd of
thousands. They did their thang. They lit up the stage with
a presence and a sound that was so full, you'd have sworn
there was a band of 6 people up there blasting.
Recently having interviewed Andrew here, I got a guest
listing (well - a partial one that was once again saved by the
drummer), and had a grand old time in the borough of Pete.
Andrew was very chill and talked afterwards for a while
about gear, songwriting, Emily Haines, Broken Social,
bad interviews and lots of interesting topics. Derrick
also had a good time and fired a lot of q's in Andrew's
direction about bands, music, (as Derrick is a member
of 'The Gentlemen Husbands') and oodles of random crap.
All in all, The Apostle once again set the bar high.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Road Stories - Part 2
After a pretty low-key evening, the night was about to be set to
'whirlwind' status and I didn't even know it. I had spent the
bulk of the day enjoying free wireless access in a hotel and
sipping on a few 2 dollar cans from the LCBO (I also ordered
Topper's Pizza for dinner as I had remembered it being
decent from the days of Laurentian - it still was pretty
dang good). The time had come to meet the band in the
lobby. I met the drummer, the bassist and the tour manager
down there (Steve, Brent and Ian). They were talking about
Brent's intestinal/gas issues as Steve asked him 'How is your
ass?'. Brent didn't say much. 'Better, I guess.' Ian played with
his iphone as they waited for the other dudes to come down.
The lobby of the hotel was pretty small and I remember
thinking 'How would they handle a massive group in here, like
a soccer team or something' as the hotel, itself, was a fairly
big. Soon, the rest of the band showed up (Murray, Chris
and Dave) and we piled in the van and headed to the venue.
First off, I remember thinking 'these guys are loud' as they
would either try and grab, fart on or yell in each other's ears.
It was dark out and Sudbury looked a lot different at night -
much more bleak. When we pulled up to the venue (the grand
theatre - an old cinema-style theatre with a bulbed vertical
marquee sign out front), Ian noted 'I'll run inside and find
another door for you guys to come in' so I slid down a side
street and all of us waited for Ian to appear out the side of
A few minutes passed and the guys starting getting antsy.
I asked the other guys 'Where do you think Ian went'. Steve
the drummer chimed in 'Oh, he's probably just inside the
venue - pushing his way through our fat demographic'. This
made many of the guys chuckle, including me. Tension was
broken. Finally, Ian's curly head popped out of a side door
as he looked all over in every direction except where we
were. The band members hopped out of the van remarking
that he was a 'reet' (retard) and headed in.
I parked the van and since I really had no other plans dans
le Sudbury on a terrible tuesday night, I went to the show.
I couldn't believe how many people were there on a tuesday
night. Almost a thousand. It was a sold out show sponsored
by local radio. I ordered a beer at the bar and slid among
the Sudburians in the middle of Tara Oram's set. She
actually had a very decent voice (and turned out to be quite
Doc Walker took the stage and the place went into a fit
of pandemonium. Girls were grabbing their faces like in
old Beatles videos. It was nuts. Later on that night, I
learned that John (a guy who was playing guitar with Tara
Oram) was on the side of the stage where the crowd
couldn't see him and had stripped down completely naked
and was flossing his buttcrack with his own belt. Tara
also got in on the action (and apparently got partially
naked) as this was a game the two bands had played with
each other all tour to try and get reactions from each
After the show, there was a little rigamarole from the
local radio station that was sponsoring the event (KICX)
and some presentations to different band-members.
I hung out backstage with Steve (the drummer) and
chatted briefly as the band had a few cases of free beer
behind the stage area.
I wandered around and couldn't believe how much room
was actually backstage. After what seemed to take forever,
the band finally got their gear out to the van (which
wasn't much considering everything was back-lined), we
hit the hotel for an apparent 'post-show-wrap' that I
was invited to. Back at the hotel, I barely got to my room
as a few musicians from other bands (Tara's and
another guy named Steve Lee Olsen) saw me in the
hallway and yelled out 'PARTYYYY! WOOOO' and I
waved geekily. The post-show-wrap was being held in
the hotel bar. I headed down and saw all of the bands
and a few record executives at a long table. As funny as
it was, I felt a weird connection with the Doc Walker
guys and got a huge, loud, drunken 'HEEEEEEYYYY'
when they saw me - I felt like Norm from cheers walking
in. The bar was very low-lit and very low-ceiling-ed.
I talked with a bunch of the band members and a few
executives (who all had a massive amount of free drinks
on their long table) as they bought me a beer. I quickly
learned that the label that Doc Walker is on (Open
Road) is involved with distributing Taylor Swift's music
in Canada. Ridiculous! I couldn't believe that I had never
heard of them before this trip. As the evening progressed,
I found myself sitting at different seats and talking with
many different folks at the 'wrap'. Oddly enough, the
bar supplied tables with popcorn. Popcorn at a bar.
Anyways, most the night was kinda blurry (not due to
drinking) and it passed by quick. A guy named Ron (who
apparently runs Open Road records) and another guy
who runs the KICX radio station kept the drinks flowin'
for the guys. It was a steady stream of comp beverages
for all to slurp. A few odd creature-like ladies were
stalking the band from the bar area and nothing really
materialized there. A few highlights from the rest of
the night were:
-Steve the drummer (who is a hilarious man) convinced
me 100% that he is Hugh Dillon's brother
-John (the Tara Oram guitarist) convinced me he was
born in 1971 when in reality he is 26.
-Brianne (who works for the label) told me that she
helped get a song from the label on CSI or some big
-Some random girl from the radio station asked me
if had known the band for years because we all seemed
so tight (I had known them for 6 hours)
I hit the sack in the crusty hotel sheets...and realized...
I liked this.
All of it.
It was good.
More to come.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Well - the Cowboys snuck a fast one past the ailing Redskins
by the skin of their teeth. What is happening with this team?
Ever since their first game of the season performance,
they have gone WAY downhill offensively and their defense
has become very swiss-cheese-esque. How will the season
Speaking of season, the weather has really turned itself
into a downright, mean and dirty tailspin of cold and drab.
I'm pretty sure about 8 people in Ontario went outside today.
Bring it on.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Puff The Magic Nugget
Funny that if this band were to tour today, they would probably
make a killing.
Is anyone ever truly 'in their time'?
Friday, November 20, 2009
She sang rock and roll with the devil
Last night, it was a pleasure and a rock refreshment to see a master
at work. Matt Mays has re-invented himself with a new band and
the results were brilliant. Hashing out some old tunes (including
'City Of Lakes' from the first self-title album), Mister Mays was
in fine form. I'll be writing a full review here in a few days.
The weeks seem to speed by as the winter comes on. The weather
in Port Hope is definitely a tad balmier than the Ottawa realms
but that's all part of the deal of Southwestern Ontario. Lake
effect. You know. Blah blah blah. Some days I feel like I get
nothing done working from home and other days, I'm on the
computer from 9 am til 2:30 am. It's weird.
Right now, I'm re-listening to 'When The Angels Make Contact'
while drinking coffee with Sarah. It's a good day (but not for
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
With the Christmas season approaching, I find myself a bigger
and bigger sucker for sentimental nostalgic type crap.
Take this morning for example. Sarah and I were out of coffee
and so seeing that Tim's is the only close option, I peeled over
to the drive thru (very enviro-friendly, I know) and ordered
two large double doubles - and wouldn't ya know it, they were
served in their new blue-ish holiday cups. I instantly felt
What is wrong with me?
I also find that this time o' year makes me want to watch the
-The Family Stone
I have some work ahead of me.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
REO Speedwagon and how the west was won
And I can't fight this feeling anymore.
I remember when my brother first got an REO Speedwagon cassette.
My cool Aunt Ruth who had a funky apartment in Ottawa gave it
to Adam to borrow. At that time, Ruth was dating a guy named 'Yon'.
Yon was sort of a hipster and had longer hair. We once went to their
apartment and had a barbeque out back of the apartment, on a
rickety steel fire escape. The bbq was one of those tiny, round
Ruth was always into rock music - much to her mother's (my
grandmother's) dismay. After Adam borrowed the tape, he had
to spend a night or two (for whatever reason) at my grandma's
house on Linden Terrace. Adam was staying in the orange flowered
wallpaper spare room with the little white wind-up clock. As he
left his things in the room, Grandma came by the room later and
found the Speedwagon tape in his duffle bag. It had a picture of
a bare-leg-exposed lady on the cover in white lights. I believe
my grandma asked Adam why he listened to music with pictures
of harlots on the cover, or something like that. Adam cried.
*The above story was somewhat fictionalized for comedic value.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Road Stories - Part 1
As promised, I wanted to dialogue the tour with Doc Walker
in a little more detail so that everyone reading could feel a
bit of a connection with the stories of the road. A friend
recently wrote to me in an email 'I want more road stories,
Matty - lay them out on the blog. That's where the mystique
is - That's where the vision is - on the road and on the stage.'
The highway leading from Toronto to Sudbury (the 400 which
becomes 69) stretched out like a black ribbon with white dots
down the centre. The actual highway heads true north for
about 100 and some km's in the middle making it deadly for
wind conditions. I had to keep two hands on the steering
wheel of the big tan van I was driving. Without any music on
this trip (except for a few flicks of bad northern top 40
radio stations), I held true to the course; Sudbury.
As I pulled into the town, my memory bank was flooded with
emotions of wonder, amazement and a little bit of anxiety.
It's hard to believe I spent a full year in that city when I was
19. As hwy 69 turns into Regent St and takes you right into
the downtown hub, you feel like you're entering a town
that is stuck in the 90's (oddly enough, the 90's is when I
was last there - 96 to be precise). After speaking with the
friendly tour manager (who told me to leisurely check in
to the hotel and then head over to the venue 'whenever'),
I pulled off Paris St. into a part of the town that I somewhat
remember - the crags. Train tracks run underneath Paris
but it's hard to believe that trains operate on it because
the look of it is very dirty and decrepit. Burned out railroad
cars sit abandoned. A salvation army depot fronts on to the
tracks and houses many who look like they have seen
better days. Toothless laughter. Cigarette stained fingers.
Young girls up to no good.
I checked into the hotel in decent spirits and went up to
the counter of the quality inn. 'Uh hi - I'm just checking in.
There should be a block of rooms for a band - they're called...
oh man...' And just like that, I completely blanked on the
name of the band. The girl behind the counter was friendly
enough to figure out who I was referring to: 'I have a room
here under DW Driver? Would that be you?' I remembered.
'YES! Doc Walker. That's what they're called'. I shook my
head. The girl looked straight back at me a little excited:
'Ooooh! Doc Walker is the band, eh? That's cool!' I guess
she had heard of them. She got me to sign a form saying I
wouldn't destroy the room and gave me my key.
The elevator to the upstairs rooms seemed a little burnt and
most of the floor number lights did not illuminate. There
were only 4 floors. I headed to room 308 and crashed.
More to come.
"I want more road stories
matty lay them out on
the blog. That's where
the mystique is. That's
were the vision is. On
the road on the stage."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Kecker's Mid-Season Predictions Tally
So how close am I? A while back, I picked a bunch of teams and
said they would do well. Here were my original calls on Sept.
My picks for the year in terms of teams to watch:
Vikings (obviously - Favre + Adrian Peterson = playoffs)
Cardinals (I know they sucked last night but Warner is the magic
Bengals (yes - the freaking Bengals. Carson Palmer is here to
help those ugly looking zubaz helmet-heads)
Cowboys (I'm a little biased but if their defense and o-line show
up, Romo will wake up and lighten the running load)
Patriots (Brady is back - nuff said)
Jets (This team has beaten the best of the league already - oh
and rookie QB Mark Sanchez is pretty much flawless - oh and
Here's the current reality:
(Favre can still throw 65+ yards in the air in one
lunge and Peterson is 2nd in the NFL with 917 rushing yards -
but this was kind of a no brainer pick)
(Winning 5 of their last 6 games, Warner may be old but
he's no slouch with receivers like Fitzgerald, Hightower
and Boldin grabbing his pinpoint throws. I'm pretty happy
with this call.)
(I don't think ANYone could have called this. Leading the
AFC are the Colts, the Patriots and...the BENGALS? Palmer
is staying healthy and their big D led by sackmaster
Antwan Odom is shutting down big teams. This is my
proudest call yet.)
(Eesh. I'm kinda torn here because I'm a lifer Cowboys fan
but Romo is becoming a little flaky and they lost what
should have been an easy game to the lackluster Packers
today. It will be interesting to see how they fare against
some harder teams in the next few weeks.)
(Losing a 35-34 heartbreaker and dealbreaker to the Colts
tonight, Brady is still back and hungry for a title. No one
can defend Randy Moss with any measure of success. They
can't be counted out.)
(Alright - I admit it. I jumped on the Mark Sanchez
bandwagon way too fast. Rex who? No one cares about
this team anymore. At best, they can finish the year at
maybe 9-7 but they would have to catch fire to even
break .500 - dumb call on my part. I guess I was just
very excited that they beat the Giants.)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Little Rock Show
That picture is about the actual size of the venue we played in
tonight. No matter, though - it was rocked for all ages to
come. The night flowed well (despite a few botches by the
people running the event) and we had well over 50 guests
attending in a 70 person capacity venue. The acoustic
Graven set was something I had only done once before but
it felt and sounded great. Brendan Lorimer lent his sweet
guitar tones in assistance while Ben Gresik lent some banjo
and percussion and even Alex Mundy threw her vocal and
keyboard hat into the ring of collaboration. Even my friend
Aaron lent his voice to a few tracks. All in all, the acoustic
set was beautiful and sounded like liquid gold coming back
through the monitors. The electric stuff was okay - and it
worked - but it was nowhere near my usual standard. Lots
of screw-ups. That's also because this was one of those day
before/day of practice shows. Whatever, eh?
All's fair in love and rock.
It was also nice having my friend Tyrone (who has worked
forever at promoting his own Silver Speakers stuff and
basically running/hosting the GravenRecords website all
on his own) play with Graven for a few tracks with his
T'was a good night. More impromptu shows to come, for
Friday, November 13, 2009
KTown Bound And Down
Heading for the big smoke of Kingston to get away with Sarah
and play a little rock show at the Artel on Saturday night. It
should be good. Maybe not, though - maybe it will suck.
I guess you really never know.
The 401 leaves perpetual bags under the eyes of my
consciousness. It is a creative space and a horrendous hound
of boredom all wrapped into one.
I get a lot of good ideas on the 401.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Sometimes, it would be nice to just be like John Candy in
Summer Rental and wreak havoc on a small beach community
in Maine and cause disaster at every turn while enjoying
I need a break and I need some things to come together
in the next while in order to make the booking doable.
Otherwise, I may be finding a street corner to poop on.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It's a dance not many understand but one that requires all of
the dancer. There is no holding back - no lolly-gagging.
You are either all in or all out. No half-assing.
It's all about the lines and the symmetry that forms from
the flow of the body and the tending to that shape with a
needle-eye for detail.
The bodies move like feathers across a stage - but all the
while, the feathery shapes have pain and back alignment
problems. So much pain to make a beautiful shape.
That's the discipline.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Whatever happened to these guys? Apparently, they had a
best of album. I never knew any other songs beyond 'Manic
Monday'. Odd that they actually made music. It's hard to
see through the 80's and early 90's to see which bands
actually made music and which ones had 6 hits per album
that were all ghost-written by producers.
Here's my question: If you are going to be a professional
musician, shouldn't you AT LEAST create the songs yourself?
Just a thought.
This week, I'm trying to get back into the flow of booking.
It's rough and rugged and I feel totally aloof. Venues have
cancelled dates that were set in stone months ago. Artists
get pissed at me.
It's good fun.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
The Whistling Wind
The nightwinds fly like unleashed dogs searching for meat.
Hungry and howling.
Catastrophe flows in and out of sequence.
Planets align. Mercury rises. Effigy hangs.
Scarecrows rouse in the rustling crops.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Saturday Rollerskating Jams
Saturdays used to be easy days for me. I can recall playing
hours of Nintendo with my best friend Brian. That summer,
he, Stu and myself were trying to finish Super Mario 3. It
was good times and easy hours being killed. It's funny -
you used to look forward to an opportunity to kill many
hours. Now, it's like you have to squeeze every morsel out
of every moment.
Everything has to mean something.
Friday, November 06, 2009
A Long Winter's Nap
That's a snapshot of me taken last night by Sarah. She was fixing
some nanaimo bars in the kitchen while I sat with a glass of
Jameson by the fire.
I'm wiped out. Spent. Done. Biscuits. Yarded. Fudged. Fuel-less.
Funneled. Cake Pied. I didn't think I would have much fun
travelling around northern Ontario with a Country Band...but
I sure as poop did. In all honesty, I know this band isn't anything
legendary - and it's not like we went from Tokyo to New York
to Australia or anything...but it was a ride.
It actually was a bit of a surreal setting. I spent three solid days
with the same dudes in a van, in hotels and behind stages. I
can probably name the names of their wives just from their
conversations. The jokes rolled out in a pace that was
unforgiving and side-splitting. The gas rolled out of arses
in cyclical disgust (which was something I was told called
It sorta reminded me of the film 'Almost Famous' where the
girl at the end of film (who was a friend of Kate Hudson's
character Penny) who was a groupie for the band talks about
'the ride having to end somewhere'. That's kinda how I feel.
I know it's kinda lame - but it's the truth.
I feel like I'm back in a different world now. Detached.
Anyways - meet the boys (from left to right): Chris, Brent, Stephen,
Murray and Dave (and some wanna-be Blues Brothers dudes in
Thursday, November 05, 2009
It's settled. Another year of baseball has gone down in the books.
Another year of buying and selling players like so much chattel.
Hideki Matsui is freaking talented...but after this many years in
the majors, it's kind of hard to figure out why the dude can't
speak a lick of English.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Right now, I am in Orillia. The band is playing at Casino Rama.
They are playing to a room of 1,800 people. It's sold out.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Back In The Bury
After all these years.
Wouldn't ya know it - Sudbury is still standing.
So basically, yesterday, a friend of mine (who I've been doing some
bookings for) called me and told me he runs a side artist-driving
and that he had to do a driving stint up north but that due to a few
big -paying shows coming up, he couldn't make it. Due to my fairly
open schedule, I was able to help Jeremy out (and make some decent
coin, as well, with free hotel rooms to boot) and so here I am -
I am driving this band around the next few days. They are called
Life is interesting. Stay posted for more treats from the road.
Monday, November 02, 2009
On The Road Again
Looks like I'm taking a bit of a road trip tomorrow for a part time job.
More info to come if and when I do it.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Helping The Cause
I love the fact that it has become popular to dislike the Yankees.
It only makes me love them more.
Andy Petite has proved that he is more than just a big league pitcher-
he is a competitor and a true ball player. Last night, in a game where
he struggled early against the Phillies, he came to the plate with 2
outs and a runner on base. Petite, being from the American League,
has been to the plate as a batter only 11 times in his career.
What happens next? Petite connects for a base hit and drives in the
tying run. The Yanks went on from there and romped the Phils 8 to
5 but I love Andy Petite for his well-rounded performance.
Sure - he throws a lot of junk and gets batters to swing and has lost
much zip on his fastball over the years, but he has experience.
Joe Girardi has faith in him. Even after letting in 3 runs early, he
left him in the game. He's seasoned. He knows what to do in the
That's what everyone seems to be forgetting in this ever-so-popular-
anti-Yankee-pro-Philly campaign - the Yanks have been here before
...and they know what to do.