REFLECTIONS AND RANTS

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

It is a pleasure to be here — only a few miles away from the mythical crossroads — for an event that honours the blues, America’s most significant contribution to world culture.

To hear a keynote from a British-born Canadian with a funny accent is just the smallest indication of the way this music has crossed borders, crossed continents, and crossed cultures. Never take for granted, and always celebrate, the fact that there are blues societies in Tokyo and Toronto, blues bands in Finland and France, blues enthusiasts in Bombay as well as Brooklyn, in Sydney and Saigon, in Tasmania and Timbuktu.

[click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

A wonderfully talented young singer from Western Canada e-mailed me. She asked:

• What would a full publicist/artist relationship entail?

Ah, responding to something as open ended as this is a bit like getting Einstein to explain the Theory of Relativity in four minutes. (Not, obviously, that I think I’m Einstein!)

But here was my response:

[click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

Featuring (this week):

Billy Connolly, CTV, Ivan Fecan, Michael Cohl, The Rolling Stones, Randy Newman, Jadea Kelly

When Billy Connolly, the Scottish comedian, comes on stage he usually begins by saying something like this: “Now… the hardest thing about standing here and talking to you is this: Where the fuck do I start?”

I know what he means.

[click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

“This Song is Your Song: The Story of Bonnie Dobson’s ‘Morning Dew'”

Written, produced and hosted by Kevin CourrierSound Design by John Corcelli The hour-long documentary, “This Song is Your Song: The Story of Bonnie Dobson’s ‘Morning Dew,’” is about Bonnie Dobson, a Canadian singer/songwriter, who wrote the timeless anti-war song, “Morning Dew”back in 1962.

Over the next forty years, her song went on to be covered by hundreds of artists (from Jeff Beck to Canada’s own Serena Ryder), but many would come to forget that Bonnie Dobson was its author.  “Morning Dew” was inspired by film director Stanley Kramer’s On The Beach, the story of survivors of a nuclear fallout who make their way to Australia. Dobson, who was deeply affected by the story, wrote the song as her way of expressing the dark mood of the picture and the times she lived in. She called the song “Morning Dew” and it debuted at the Toronto Mariposa Folk Festival.  [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

THIS WEEK: Michael Wrycraft, Hunter S. Thompson, Francis Rossi & Status Quo, John Doyle, TIFF, Ron Hynes, Beast, Hawksley Workman, Corin Raymond, Robyn Dell’Unto, Nana Mouskouri and more…

A motto for the music business

Lots of people, including my pal graphics designer Michael Wrycraft, use the infamous Hunter S. Thompson quote as an e-mail signature. You know the one: [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

THIS WEEK: Steve Goodman, Ron Proulx, David Baxter, CIMA, Arts & Crafts, J.D. Shore, Mary Gauthier, Downchild, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Fats Domino, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and more….

The pot of gold at the end of the movie

Music industry lore abounds about the riches that accrue when music is used in TV and film. But the best story of all was told me by Al Bunetta, who manages the publishing of the late Steve Goodman (as well as the on-going career of John Prine).

Goodman’s best-known song is “The City of New Orleans,” a huge hit for Arlo Guthrie back in 1972 — and arguably the best train song ever written. Many years after Steve succumbed to leukemia in 1984, an ad agency wanted to use the song exclusively for a year in print, radio and TV.

That was the good news, Bunetta told Nancy Goodman, the singer’s widow. The bad news? The campaign was for a laxative product. Nancy laughed, knowing that constipation was one of the side effects of the disease that took her husband. “Al,” she said, “Don’t you remember how Steve used to say that if he could have one good dump, he’d live for ever? See what you can get…”  [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

Stories Flohil tells: Even more true tales from 60 years of musi

THIS WEEK: Ed McCurdy, Chuck Berry, Ed Glinert, Bob Dylan, Andrea Ramolo and other independent women, Rob Ford (maybe Toronto’s next mayor), Bob Mersereau, Nigel Best, Andrea England, surprising new books to read, The Beatles, Dave Gunning, Kendel Carson, and Soko a French artist you’ve probably never heard of…

Old, difficult and in the way

Someone asked me last night who were the most difficult people I’ve ever had to deal with.

Right up there was the late Ed McCurdy, the folk artist who wrote the wonderful song “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream” (which Serena Ryder covered more recently). I’d hired him for the 30th annual Mariposa Folk Festival — Jeez, was that really 20 years ago? — as one of the four acts still alive who had played the very first one.

McCurdy was old, grumpy and demanding,  and  made numerous demands that kept the volunteers hopping. “Oh God, he’s an irascible old fart,” I moaned.

Later that day, he came up to me. “Young man,” he said in a stentorian voice. “I hear that you’ve been calling me an irascible old fart.”  Blushing, stammering and stuttering, I apologized.

“No need for that,” he said grandly. “I AM an irascible old fart. And I LIKE that description. I shall use it again!”  [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

Richard Flohil’s weekly collection of true stories, tall tales, memories and bloody-minded opinions.

THIS WEEK: Mostly about Solomon Burke

The passing of a giant

Yesterday, as his plane landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Solomon Burke died suddenly. He was 70, and the last of the great soul voices of all time left us. He was part singer, part preacher, part over-the-top carney, and a full-on showman all the time. Dr. Burke — as his band members called him — named himself the King of Rock and Soul, and he carried himself, always, with regal dignity. [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

This week, it’s all folk all the time as Richard Flohil spends three days (and three very late nights) at a folk music convention. And what IS “folk” these days — apart from a four-letter word beginning with F?

Meet Joni Mitchell, Ray Danniels, Steven Page, Mitch Podolak, Gord Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, k.d. lang, Ani diFranco, Peter Yarrow, Oscar Brand, Colleen Peterson, David Baxter, The Breakmen, and Loreena McKennitt

FOLK FESTIVALS: THE HIDDEN PLACES FROM WHICH CANADIAN ARTISTS EMERGE

Question: What do you get when you put 900 folkies in one hotel?

Answer: A good time, more music that you can possibly digest, and a bit of controversy…

Say “folk festival” to the average music biz person, and they turn pale. The can hear it — and see it — in their mind’s eye. Happy bluegrass banjo music, fiddles playing jigs and reels, introspective young women examine the fluff in their navels as they channel the spirit of Joni Mitchell. Oh, and those barefoot Birkenstock girls looning away at the side of the stage, arms waving, twirling like helicopters, and reinventing dance moves not seen since shepherds stopped tending their flocks and decided to have a party.  [click to continue…]

(Originally published on February 28, 2011)

Songwriter, performer, rancher, and irascible and charming in turn, Ian Tyson writes a tell-most autobiography and aims for the best-seller lists. Richard Flohil has known Ian Tyson for longer than most, has yet to ride a horse, and admires the grumpy old man for simply being himself.

WRITE A BOOK, TELL YOUR TRUTH

AND THEN HIT THE PUBLICITY ROUNDS

It’s been Ian Tyson’s big week in the Big Smoke.  Honoured at the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Big piece in the Toronto Star by Greg Quill. An even bigger piece in theGlobe and Mail — on the sports pages, yet — by Stephen Brunt. Big coverage in theNational Post. A Nick Patch story on the Canadian Press wire. A Sunday morning interview on CBC by Michael Enright. A shot on Canada AM[click to continue…]