Segarini: Canadian Music Week – Risking Your Liver for Rock and Roll

Well, for the first time in living memory, the weather for Canadian Music Week does not include a snowstorm, monsoon, or a downpour of frogs. We may get a little rain, but what’s a little rain when you won’t catch pneumonia going outside for a smoke. In fact the only really serious cloud hanging over anybody’s head at CMW this year will be the good folks at Astral waiting to see if they will be disconnected by Bell before the end of the year.

Thanks to the weather, the gloom should be kept at a minimum, the bars should do a landslide business, and the 700 plus Indie bands that are playing can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that soon, there will be one less corporation around to ignore their records. Now that Corus honcho Dave Farough has gone on record (in Macleans Magazine, no less) saying that “It’s not radio’s job to break new music”, those of us that weren’t aware of this particular piece of news can quit wondering when the new Research Turtles track will hit the airwaves and go back to cruising the internet for new music and forgotten oldies like we have been doing for the last 20 years or so,

To be fair, (and here at DBAWIS, ‘Fair’ is our middle name), some radio stations haven’t received Mr. Farough’s memo and still pop a new one on us once in a while, or a deep track from a classic act, or (don’t faint) a tune from a local artist. I don’t know if the people responsible for that are in for a stern warning for trying to break new music (“it’s not radio’s job”), or if they’re just downright raging against the machine. Whatever the reason, God Bless them for the much appreciated rays of sunshine that peek out between the dark clouds of Auto-Tuned clones, angry yelling non-singing, bling wearing, scions of fashion, pretend-edgy Arcade Fire-lings, and sacrificial lambs like Adele and…hmph…there is no ‘and’ currently, just Lana del Rey, and she already doesn’t count.

I am always truly thrilled to hear a record like Rival SonsPressure and Time on the radio dial, and thankful that there are those stations (and/or music directors) who keep their ears to the ground. I guess with just one person riding herd on several stations (called a ‘cluster’ by those in the know) instead of just one, it would be hard to keep everyone in line all the time. Yay.

There is no denying the still formidable power of radio when it comes to music, but it is perplexing to me that they no longer use that power to feed fresh music to the masses. Instead, they seem to use it to exclude the potential content of radio 5, 10, or even 20 years from now. Maybe they know that they may be out of the music business entirely by then.

Mega Music Industry blogger Bob Lefsetz will be in attendance again this year, and he is a must-see at CMW if you can find the panel(s) he’s on. A man I would love to have a drink or dinner with. We did play ‘Spot the Hooker’ out in front of the Harbour Castle Hotel one year. A lawyer and music fan, Lefsetz has a no-holds-barred approach to his take on every facet of the industry, from radio and record companies to agents, managers, ticket sellers, and concert promoters. He is an astute and charming observer whose statements can sometimes be downright mean-spirited but are almost always on the money. His insightful rants are always a pleasure to find in my inbox, even though I don’t always agree with him. When I have an axe to grind, I am rewarded with being labeled unemployable and a troublemaker. When Lefsetz tees off, he gets free tickets, backstage passes, junkets, an Apple laptop or a fruit basket. He was even befriended by Kid Rock after pretty much calling him an asshole. Kid Rock would have beat me up (if he read me, if I called him an asshole, and if he is an asshole). I really need to work on my people skills.

And am I the only one who finds it ironic that this year’s 30th edition of CMW is labeled ‘Slacker CMW’? Slacker of course, is the Internet equivalent of a prodigious record collection you can access and listen to for free, or spend a few bucks and control exactly what you hear and on demand at that. I happen to love Slacker and have been using it for years. With the free version, you just type in an artist or song and press play, and Slacker delivers a stream of music based on your request, basically, a personalized radio station. Much more intuitive than Pandora, Slacker even carries all of MY records. Now that’s going deep. Spotify, which we don’t even get here in Canada, has the same kind of cult following that Apple does, but is primarily a tattletale, announcing to the world what you listen to when you use it. Who wants their friends to know that you just have to hear an REO Speedwagon track or Mr. Roboto once in a while?

Meanwhile, over on the Record Company side of things, the Majors will be out in force and are very much involved (along with radio) in discovering and financing many Indie act hopefuls. Even though the stations themselves rarely play the majority of these acts, and the Majors rarely sign them (although they are distributing more and more Indie Labels that DO sign these new acts) their commitment to aid and financially assist these kids is to be lauded.  I hereby laud them.

The Indie Labels will be out in full force, checking out the bands and promoting their artists. Some of these labels and the people who run them will be the future leaders of the Record Industry.

There are a lot of great people in the music business. I’ve known some of them for 3 or 4 decades, and they are the same, happy, invested folks they were when I first met them. These are the people whose great humour and love of what they do keeps the industries from spinning completely out of control. One of the great joys of CMW is spending time with them, exchanging stories, and catching up. To do serious time in this business is to forge the kind of friendships you make in the Marines or in professional sports. Lifetime buddies with the same battle scars and experiences as you, just less bullet wounds and groin pulls than the Marines or professional sports, unless you’re Biggie Smalls or Tupac.

Music Industry discussions are a thirsty business, and one of the great benefits afforded by the beautiful Fairmont Royal York Hotel is the existence of not one but two lobby bars. The larger of the 2 (Epic) is generally the gathering place between shows and panels for the radio industry and radio guys as well as the younger, visiting musicians. It can be raucous and party-like a great deal of the time, yet quiet when there are shows or popular panels in progress. The other bar (The Library Bar) is a bit more intimate and subdued, and home to some fine acoustic performances every night. Incidentally, all the participating venues for CMW’s Canadian Music Fest are licensed until 4:00 am for the 4 days of live shows, some 700 artists and 70 venues. Have your liver put its affairs in order.

There are also a series of Comedy shows and a Film Festival included in Canadian Music Week’s lineup this year. Details for all the CMW events can be found at the link below.

Many thanks to Neil Dixon and Joanne Smale for letting me in the front door again, and congratulations to Neil and his staff for a fun-filled, successful 30 years of Canadian Music Weeks.

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All the information and details for the events of this year’s Canadian Music week, including panel and Award Show times and places, the venues and show times, and links to the Artist’s websites, music, and videos, can be found on CMWs home page, here.

If you are looking to buy me a pint of Keith’s or any other libation, you will probably find me in one of the two Lobby bars from about 3:00 pm until the shows start, or in Greg Simpson’s suite trying to sneak $8 beers out of his mini-bar. After dark, I will be headquartered at Cherry Cola’s, 200 Bathurst North of Queen, usually at the far end of the bar.

I love Cherry’s, it’s owners, and the staff, and the club itself is situated within walking distance of most of the shows I want to take in. Aside from their own great line-up of artsts, Cherry’s is handy to Czehoski’s, The Bovine, The Velvet Underground, Tattoo Rock Parlour, The Hideout, Cameron House, Horseshoe and Rivoli. For the other venues, grab an all-day or weekly TTC pass and allow time for waiting for the buses and streetcars, which are apparently scheduled by a narcoleptic Wal-Mart Greeter and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Cherry Cola’s CMW Schedule

Just a Few Personal Picks

First, the ladies….

Courage My Love: This one contains a Lad as well. Thursday, March 22nd. The S.L Feldman & Associates Showcase! Courage My Love is onstage at 9:20pm SHARP. The Hideout.

Chloe Charles: Soon On a Snowflake Wed, March 21 – 10:00pm, Czehoski, Sat, Mar 24 – 10:30pm, The Library Bar, Royal York Hotel      

Stacey Kaniuk: It’s a Man’s World Czehoski’s, Thursday, March 22nd. 10:00 pm

Ali Milner: Wednesday, March 21st, 9:00 pm, The Rivoli 

Alanna Clarke: http://www.alannaclarke.com/ Wednesday, March 21st, The Gladstone, 9:00 pm  

Carly Rae Jepsen: Call Me, Maybe Friday, March 23rd, Masonic Temple. Ms. Jepsen is being touted by none other than The Beiber himself. Radio friendly pop music that somehow seems more organic than most, even the Auto-Tune is set on stun instead of kill. She’s also as cute as a kitty and probably has two sets of wildly proud grandparents.

And now, the Lads….

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings with Harlan Pepper: Massey Hall, Wednesday, March 21st. This one includes a few Ladies, as well…Great roots/country/folk with Tom Wilson, Colin Linden, and Stephen Fearing. Among the guests, Serena Ryder, Holly Cole, Amy Helm, and Mary Margaret O’Hara.

David Celia: The Cameron House, Friday, March 23rd, 6:00 until 8:00 pm

Poor Young Things: Blame It On The Good Times Friday the 23rd and Saturday, the 24th. Opening for their mentors, The Trews, at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the CNE grounds.

Andrew Cole: The Drake Underground Thursday, March 22nd, 10:00 pm

Jumple: Thursday, the 22nd at Siesta Nouveau with Nikki Fierce, MILK, The Vanguards and Slaves to the Groove. Show starts at 6 pm. and Friday the 23rd at the White Swan with CTRL + ALT + DANCE starts at 9 pm

For more suggestions and a great Guide for Newbies, Check out Cameron Carpenter’s column on CMW here.

See you there.

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Segarini’s column appears every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, andnominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late GreatMovies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now sadly gone), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

One Response to “Segarini: Canadian Music Week – Risking Your Liver for Rock and Roll”

  1. Hi, Oh my!
    …no snowstorm, monsoon…..I’m actually enjoying the frog song.
    I guess I need an education…I love music,and for those of us that are just listeners…where there’s a will they’re s a way! We manage to get what we need…old and new. 🙂

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