It was a lot of fun playing the Conway Muse on Saturday Night during this holiday long weekend.
The Muse is an eclectic venue that features original music and has hosted a lot of great blues and roots acts, most recently Karen Lovely and Margaret Wilder. Situated in rural Conway, WA just south of the tulip fields that envelope the Skagit Valley and on the banks of the Skagit River, the Muse was an old dairy barn from the 1900’s that has been converted into a two level arts/music venue. It’s got a warm and welcoming vibe, a funky atmosphere complete with lights and a soundman (Kevin). The boys in the band, Kelly Van Camp (drums and harmonica) and Rob Mitchell (bass) did a great job holding down the rhythm. I look forward to returning to the Muse.
There’s nothing like good blues therapy and we had a great session last Sunday at Guilt & Company. Guilt & Company is hidden away in a corner basement location in Gastown, Vancouver, but when you walk in there’s a great vibe with warm wooden furniture in a cavernous room and a big sparkling stage outlined with rough hewn logs and stone. I always love a stage where I can set up my three guitars, Fender amp and pedal board and still have space to walk around without tripping. Guilt & Company not only has a great stage, but a helpful sound tech and attentive and friendly staff. The room’s big enough that I got to really wail on some slide guitar and the audience seemed to dig it. We had a blast playing there on Sunday night.
Sitting home on this snow day got me to thinking about music and why we all make so much effort to create music and play music when most of us won’t even come close to a financial return on our investment of time, energy, touring, practice. I recently attended a music industry event in which the keynote speaker told the university crowd that if you’re willing to make music despite the fact that most musicians struggle to make a living and that being on the road is a hard life, then you’re probably ready.
On that note, the new CD, Lovestruck Blues is now mastered and awaiting final design followed by pressing. I’m planning to release the CD in May 2014 with some shows booked in Vancouver, BC and in Washington. I’ll be posting the details soon so please check back.
December was a busy month. I’ve been finishing the final mixes for my upcoming CD in the studio.
But I did take some time for performances in Washington and Vancouver, BC. Among the highlights, was a benefit for hurricane victims in the Phillipines: Reach Across the Water at the Silver Reef Casino with Andy “Badd Dog” Koch.
Janice Cleven Gage, host of the Blues Note at KSVR 91.7FM, invited me to play at the Washington Blues Society Christmas Party at the fabulous Conway Muse. I had a lot of fun playing and listening to some great local talent.
My pre-Christmas performance at the FanClub in Vancouver, BC on Dec. 21st was really special. I invited my daughter to join me on stage to sing harmonies on a couple of my original songs. I’m looking forward to more live shows in the New Year, CD release parties and some touring too.
Happy New Year everyone and please support live music!
It’s been a busy fall. I’ve been in the recording studio finishing up the final touches on my new album. We’ve finished all the overdubs with brilliant harmony vocals from Vancouver R & B singer, Cecile Larochelle , and some bluesy harp work from Keith Bennett. It was a great experience recording with my opera singing daughter, Michelle, as a harmony vocalist on two of my songs.
The new CD features 9 original songs and one a co-write with my former band mate and award winning songwriter, Lynna Goldhar-Smith.
With all the tracks recorded, the engineer and I have been working long hours on final mixes. This album has truly been an international effort with great players and engineers from the U.S. and Canada.
Special Thanks to Tommy and Polly, former Seattle based rhythm section for Too Slim and the Taildraggers and Conrad Uno from Egg Studios.
I’m looking forward to scheduling some CD release shows in the New Year.
So stay tuned.
Summer in the City at Lion’s Park in POCO was a blast. I had the great opportunity to kick off their summer concert series and played a bunch of my newest songs from my upcoming album with my blues trio.
My daughter, Michelle, an opera/musical theatre performer agreed to join me for a few songs and it was so fun having her up there.
Now it’s back to the studio in Vancouver where I am busily doing guitar and vocal overdubs, with bed tracks finished and ready to go. Check back in for more news and updates on shows.
Jill Newman and her blues band kick off the summer concert in the park series with a selection of original blues and roots tunes from Jill’s upcoming album, Lovestruck Blues.
all ages welcome
For Directions or more information- click here http://www.portcoquitlam.ca/leighsquare go to Programs, and then Events
When I first started writing songs as an angst-filled teenager living on Vancouver Island, I thought that putting together a poem and then adding music was how songs are written. And in some cases, that may be true. But many writers create the music and lyrics at the same time or find an instrumental, rhythmic or lyrical hook and some cool chords and then struggle to find words that fit.
Legend has it that Robert Plant composed most of the lyrics for Stairway to Heaven to Jimmy Page’s classic music as he sat for an evening at Headley Grange in Hampshire England. But for every song written in which the writer was so inspired or connected to the muse that the lyrics poured out in almost perfectly usable form, many songwriters struggle and strain for days, weeks or even years to find just the right words to express what’s inside of them. Ideas don’t always come when we call them, but rather at inopportune times when we’re thinking about something else.
Like the other day when I had brought my old dog along for a car ride to the store (she loves car rides) and the hook I’d been searching for popped into my head. I had forgotten my cell phone and the only paper was my driver’s registration, so I scribbled the words in as small print as I could read to capture the idea before it found someone else.
I recently read a quote about ideas by Leonardo da Vinci that really stuck with me: “…It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which if you consider them well, you may find really marvellous ideas.”
Welcome to my new website. I thought it was time to have a website that better reflects the blues oriented music that I play. I’ve been busy over the past year writing songs in preparation for a new blues CD and I plan to hit the studio sometime early this year to start recording. I’ve been playing some of my new songs live at gigs and getting good feedback so I’m looking forward to the next step in the recording process.
Stay tuned and check back in for updates. More MP3’s, downloads and YouTube clips will be coming soon as well as a new FaceBook Page.
Like anyone who’s been on the planet for a number of years, I’ve had my share of the blues. But this has been a really good year for me. I got married to the love of my life after having gotten it wrong so many times before. My friends and family are all healthy and happy or heading in that direction and even my trusty old Labrador dog is still holding it together after 13 years as my best friend. I’ve connected with a number of really great musicians in the lower mainland and Washington state and I’m working on songs for a new blues oriented CD. Now, I know that everything is in flux and the only thing guaranteed is that things will change, but for now things are good, really good. And that brings me to my current dilemma. How do I write a good, kick ass blues song about being happy? Is it possible and even if it is will it have the impact, the gut wrenching pull of a love gone bad or of betrayal and revenge?
When I penned songs for my debut CD, Fragile Walls, I was feeling frankly miserable, in an unsatisfying relationship which was doomed to fail. Writing about the blues and about feeling lonely was easy because I could relate to the pain. I was living it and it was honest for me to write about it.
So what about now? Like most of us, I still have my share of the blues from time to time and I remember those experiences. But at this moment, I feel mostly happy and filled with gratitude. And that is the most prominent emotion in my world. It’s no surprise that my most recent writing is about themes such as “having everything I need” or waxing poetic about my baby’s “way with words”. All true, but I struggle with whether anyone wants to hear about them.
Is the blues the forum for this type of sentiment? Maybe it’s just about finding a really “lid popping”, cool Freddie King style blues riff and the words won’t even matter. It’s the raw guitar sound and the groove that makes folks want to listen.
I plan to continue writing and playing my way through this dilemma and if my luck holds out, I’ll have some happy blues songs ready to record soon.