JAIMIE VERNON: THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER
Apparently, it was Canada Music Week this week. As you read this there are dozens of bands taking the stage all around Toronto hoping to attract the attention of the music industry. Sadly, music industry people don’t go to bars featuring virtual unknowns at 1AM on a Monday thru any-day-of-the-week. They’re at the lounge in the Marriott Downtown Eaton’s Centre Hotel trolling for a gig and/or drowning their sorrows in what continues to be the capsizing of the S.S. Musonic.
Ironically, the conference is booming. Top name speakers telling you one hundred different ways that the business model has changed but not really knowing what to do about it, 350 live acts all performing simultaneously, the revitalization of the original trade show…and now COMEDY!
I received several calls this week asking me if I was going down to the event – including DBAWIS’ Bob Segarini who was launching his first podcast called the BOBcast. I now work 12 hour days (including a 3 hour commute) and am up at 4.30 every morning so being out past 9PM most nights is zomb-possible. With the exception of Bob’s launch, I do not miss CMW. I stepped away from the industry in 2010 and I have survived. Some of the people I miss. But, the schmooze? The Game? The Hustle? Not at all. The last CMW I attended was either in 2008 or 2009. And it smelled of flop sweat and career death. 60-year-old industry lifers with 1973 corduroy jackets (complete with leather elbow patches), badly dyed Roy Orbison hair, bulbous alcohol induced red noses and nicotine stains on their finger tips all ‘working the room’. The circus was in town and the snake oil salesmen were right behind the next curtain trying to sign (or get signed) the bearded lady – cause apparently she and her band sound like Miss Piggy meets Florence & The Machine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yib_BWh_PJA
It was just sad. Kenny Rogers was right. You really do have to know when to fold them (or when to not wear that badger hair-piece on your head). With the demise of everything I learned and adopted in my 25 years as a record weasel, I am no longer able to carry on a coherent or relevant conversation about music’s place in the New Age of Desperation. So many others never got the memo. Surviving in the music industry, like any of the arts, requires some critical self-awareness. Alas, you’ve got senior citizens trying to tell 20-somethings how to become stars. The conversation needs a turn-around. The kids are smarter than you. They caused the collapse of the Old Music Testament, remember? They don’t need your advice. Just your capital. Stop trying to write cheques your irrelevant mouth can’t cash. They see through the schmooze, the game, the hustle. They will laugh at you when you leave the room. As the teen pop sensation daughter of a friend of mine frequently asks: what’s with the Old Guy Rock? The student has become the teacher.
In a healthy way, this is good news. The new music generation is once again rebelling – against everything that came before. Why in the world would they listen to anyone over the age of 30 – when you (and that includes me as a record label weasel) fucked the industry up so badly? We, the Douchebag Generation, cannot be trusted with the keys to the mansion/medicine cabinet/Maseroti.
I expect that the kids – who are smarter than anyone’s willing to give them credit for – will take music, formats, and distribution into a whole new direction; following through with the promise of unlimited access to content and new, non-traditional, art forms. No longer will the phrase “I don’t hear the hit” be uttered from the mouths of anyone.
And while we’re on the subject…how about laying off Justin Bieber? He’s not making music for you. You’re not his audience. So why, on God’s green earth, are you spending all your time obsessing over him sucking? It’s like a 50 year old having a hate on for My Little Pony. You’re not the target audience. Your opinion is invalid because you’re as old as fuck. And that scares the crap out of you, doesn’t it? Soon you will be dead and Bieber will still be counting his millions and snorting cocaine off the ass of Selena Gomez’ replacement while being serviced by a former A & R man who still can’t find work.
PS – if you don’t know who Selena Gomez is…then you’ve just proven my point.
Meanwhile, there are still artists who are heaving into their twilight with as much grace as they can muster in a world obsessed with youth and yoga pants. This week I received a great new CD from Bob Menzies of Toronto. I must admit that I didn’t know what to expect from a guy who has been a world traveler doing the work of Everyman and finally settling down in his prime to produce a fantastic debut album nearly a year in the production – but a lifetime in the writing.
Generally, I don’t go much for Dylanesque artists, but Bob (Menzies) has shaken me out of my dislike for the Mumbling One by not only articulating with a strong and confident voice, but writing songs that are relatable and accessible to any listener. Menzies also delivers the tunes with a slight country edge as slide guitars permeate many tracks. The disc is heartfelt and stand-out tracks include “Hey Now Joe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1QAZa4lNcU, “Bitter Wind” (which should be sent to radio pronto!), “Crazy Town” (about Menzies’ experience working in a mine), and “Happy Birthday My Friend”. Bonus points for including his biography in the CD booklet itself and great production by Studio 92 guru Mark Nakamura and Brett MacMillan.
Currently working the comeback trail is session and live drummer Eddie Zeeman – he of Cats Can Fly and Caramel fame. Eddie’s been a go-to drummer for three decades but few know he’s a fuck of a singer too. His latest project is a 4-song EP called ‘Guilty Pleasures – Volume 1’ featuring work-ups of “Baba O’Reilly” and Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio” among them. The CD drops Monday, March 25th. Hit Eddie up on Facebook to find out how you might get your hands on it/hear it: https://www.facebook.com/eddie.zeeman
Carol Medina has been a successful pop diva since the 1990’s – some may recall her EuroDance hit “Tell Me You Love Me” from 1995 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNZOBOUIq-8 . She continues her association with writer James Collins and producer David Pickles with her latest radio single “Are You Messin’ Around”. Check it out and get it from iTunes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTl9ULjjv4s
A new Canadian music magazine has launched and is being spear-headed by former Bullseye Records staffer and ex-The First Time member Stacey Washington called ‘Canada In Tune’. The inaugural launch with last week and features articles about Anvil, The Trews, Klaatu, Bif Naked and other mixed Canadian music nuts. It also features yours truly hocking my Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia. Best thing about the magazine is that it’s online as a flip-page format which means you won’t get ink all over your hands. http://canadaintune.uberflip.com/i/112190
Friends of the Vernon blog, Kris & Dee, tell me their follow-up to last year’s ‘Still Here Inside’ called ‘Bloom’ comes out on Tuesday. There’s some teasers on YouTube for the album here: https://www.youtube.com/user/weRkrisanddee and be sure to follow the ladies at http://www.krisanddee.com
I am gearing up to launch my music book series ‘Life’s a Canadian Rock’ shortly with the initial release centred around my first band Swindled. It’ll be an insider’s look at a musical suburban kid that goes rogue on the cusp of the 2nd Wave of Punk in Toronto. Excerpts ran on DBAWIS and my Facebook wall in 2011 and 2012. I’ll be posting a link to where you can purchase it (cheaply) soon. The follow-up book will be centred around my second major act, Moving Targetz, and you’ll be able to read it as I write it here starting next Saturday on DBAWIS.
Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA
Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.
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Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com