Segarini: Xpriming CMW, Liver Damage, and a Bobcast Update

BobThe annual Canadian Music Week rollercoaster ride has finally looped its last de loop, the cars have all been packed away, and the lights turned out and the tent folded until the carnival sets up again next year. As of this writing, there have been no reports of serious casualties, no reported marriages or pregnancies, and so far, no signings of fresh faced bands from hither, thither, and yon to a gung-ho label/management/agent ready to unleash them on an unsuspecting world. There was, however, enough music, parties, and open bars to kill Keith Richards, most soccer hooligans, and myriad hockey dads.

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They are still counting the cell phones, laptops, gloves, scarves, and credit cards in the hotel’s Lost and Found department….and somewhere…a lonely, forgotten and abandoned backpack weeps quietly.

CMW CrowdWhere last year’s vibe bordered on giddy, this year there was a more focused, serious mood permeating the hallways and gathering places. Not gloomy or negative by any means, but the industry side seemed to be making an effort to catch up to the reality of the new playing field, and the musicians (younger, but in many ways, far more savvy when it comes to the massive changes that have been affecting the business over the last decade) seemed more invested in making the best of the opportunities afforded them by this now 31 year old institution’s platforms and the accessibility that comes with having so many movers and shakers from all over the world under one roof.

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The Gauntlet….

Last year was the only year I can remember when the weather wasn’t god-awful for this clambake. You could actually go outside for a smoke and not go back into the hotel with icicles hanging from your mustache, snot bubbles peeking out of your nostrils, or walking pneumonia. This year, though nowhere near as bad as some, was ruined for me by “The Wind”.

I hate the wind.

coldplayThe wind can make a barely tolerable temperature brutally harsh. It makes misplacing a coat or scarf, or gloves almost a given…and the amount of toques made it look like Coldplay had been cloned and set free to roam the streets to create a diversion while the REAL Coldplay went bowling or had lunch at McDonald’s. Come to think of it, there were so many 20-somethings with beards, mustaches, goatees, etc, all in parkas, and hoodies, and toques, that I could not tell if I was in a room with 15 different bands, or just one huge band with 15 drummers and a LOT of guitar players.

In order to get to the only bar in the Marriott, this year’s host hotel (Ask Cam Carpenter…the Lobby Bar at the Harbour Castle, and the Library Bar at the Royal York were sorely missed this year) you have to traverse the space containing a few chairs, and the hotel registration and check-in counter, then walk past the fireplace driven Lobby lounge area and into the large atrium at the back of the building that houses a ring of banquets, tables and chairs, and a long, curved, sit-down bar. Thank God for the barstools here, most venues having removed them to accommodate more people.

Seymour steinWalking from the front door to the bar is a gauntlet. A trip that would normally take 20 seconds if CMW wasn’t on site, can take up to an hour because you will invariably run into either people you know, people you WANT to know, or people who want to know YOU. In just one such walk, I encountered David Macmillan (ex-head of Eagle Rock Entertainment and now managing some stellar acts) Sire Records  co-founder Seymour Stein, and Richard Gottehrer, an American songwriter, record producer and record label executive. Gottehrer’s first number 1 record as a songwriter Richard Gottehrerand producer was “My Boyfriend’s Back” followed by other hits like “Hang On Sloopy” and “I Want Candy,” (he was also one of the Strangeloves), eventually leading to the formation of Sire Records in 1966 with Seymour Stein. His career continued as producer for acts such as Blondie, The Go-Go’s, Dr. Feelgood, and Richard Hell, and In 1997, Gotthrer co-founded The Orchard, an independent music and video distribution company, with long-time partner Scott Cohen. Walking the gauntlet was at times, verrry rewarding.

My Boyfriend’s Back

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The Lobby Bar….

The lobby bar turned out to be pretty cool. It was large, spacious, and totally workable. There were attentive bartenders and decent prices. I was surprised. There was also a nice little stage for acoustic acts set up at one end, and on Saturday, Xprime got up and did this….

Xprime

For the rest of the day, Xprime performed this beautiful snippet of the Four Freshman classic everywhere we went. Hallways, elevators, bathrooms in hospitality suites, and on staircases that the hotel security staff even blocked for us a couple of times so people could film them with phones and cameras. Guerilla music shock and awe…lots of fun resulting in lots of business cards for the lads.

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Joe Mavety, an old friend back from England (a great guitarist and writer, he wrote “Broken English” for Marianne Faithful) bought me a pint, and we cruised the lobby bar and spent some time with Greg Godovitz, Gary Muth, and Cam Carpenter.  Of course, that first trip there, after running into Joe, I could not get this wonderful piece of music he had written out of my head. It still has teeth all these decades later.

Marianne Fathfull

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1000 Bands…900 too many?

Even Santa Clause or the Flash couldn’t visit 60 venues in 6 days and see all 1000 artists that were on display. Try as we might, we were lucky to see a dozen or so. Kind of sad for the bands that came here to get some attention from the movers and shakers, and doubly frustrating for the fans who were hard pressed to find their heroes and other bands they wanted to check out for the first time. The CMW guidebook and schedule was very handy, but the size of a small town phone book. Reduced to a thick digest-sized handbook, the lettering was so small I went cross-eyed trying to distinguish between 3s and 8s, and 5s and 6s. There also didn’t seem to be much thought given to where an artist played or at what time. There were moments, however, when venue and artist were perfectly matched. Lee Harvey Osmond’s show at The Great Hall with Harlan Pepper stood as a perfect pairing of place and people. My only complaint was the 5 flights of stairs I had to climb to get to the dressing room. At one point, I actually considered making base camp at the 3rd landing and trying for the summit in the morning. The bands did make up for the stairs though, and both Tom Wilson and Harlan Pepper put on the kind of show you wished you would have been at if you missed it.

Lee Harvey Osmond

Harlan Pepper

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Phoenix and MercedesOver at the El Mocambo, with renovations to return the upstairs showroom to its glory days about half way completed thanks to new owner, the Cadillac Lounge’s Sam Grosso, the former downstairs tavern lived up to its current reputation of a good venue for emerging alt and rock and roll bands by featuring the highly entertaining and energetic trio known as Courage My Love. Breaking in their new bass player, twin 19 year old sisters, Phoenix and Mercedes put on a show that Mercedes and Phoenixwas tight, tuneful, and full of energy. The new bass player fit right in and sounded like he had been a part of the band for years. Still in my top ten of local bands I believe are destined for international stardom, Courage My Love continues to evolve and mature, their writing improving with every recording…and man, can they kick ass.

Courage My Love

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Navigating  Czehoski’s to see Stacey Kaniuk was like walking through a Tokyo subway car. Long and narrow, the Queen Street club was completely Stace 2stuffed with music fans and bordered on being claustrophobic. I was reminded of being trapped in an elevator with the entire cast and crew of Glee. As soon as Stace hit the stage, though, the scary thought fled from my head and her music rushed in like the Pacific Ocean. Cool, refreshing, and powerful, all at the same time. To look at this stunning redhead is one reason to pay attention to her, but when she starts to sing, you realize that this cute-as-a-button cupcake affectionado has a voice that is as Stacepowerful and as sweet/tart as a river of spiced dark chocolate. When she sang with Xprime on a Bobcast a week later, she literally caused the audience to hold their breath. You can find the performances in Episode 2 of the Bobcast in the links at the bottom of this page.

Stacey Kaniuk

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Steve & Tanya AnthonyWe finally ran into CMW head honcho Neil Dixon and Steve Anthony’s beautiful and talented wife, Tanya at the Kool Haus, where we were catching up with a band we played on SIRIUS satellite radio before anyone else, and who went on to become major players and hit makers, Marianas Trench. As I have pointed out before, there are times when terrestrial radio does get it right. This is still my favourite Marianas Trench track.

Marianas Trench

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And finally, another band to keep an eye on is The Joy Arson. Brand new, they are just starting to play live, and nailed it with a 3 am set at Cherry Cola’s. They delivered to a packed house, tight players with a good groove rhythm section, and a lead singer that can deliver the material, which is original and well played. I was impressed…and at 3 in the morning, that is something.

The Joy Arson

There were lots of other bands we heard a few songs from, but a lot of artists we missed because we just couldn’t be in 3 places at once. It was very frustrating at times. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for others. Still…what a great week of music.

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Two Highlights….

The Annual Dinner at Rancho Relaxo with Greg Simpson

This year, the gang around the big table by the bar was a little bigger than usual. Greg, CBC radio music director, Julian Tuck, singer songwriter Donna Creighton, mentor/musician Tom Jackson, CMW manager Earl Whitlaw, a couple of guys whose names escape me right now (curse you, seniors moments), the somewhat irascible and my fellow cantankerous curmudgeon, Dos EquisRichard Flohil, myself and Xprime. Donnie Blais’s primo Mexican restaurant has been the scene of some great dinners, but this one bordered on Algonquin Round Table greatness. When quick wit and fine food meet, I am one happy Amigo. The Dos Equis and Jack Daniels didn’t hurt, either. Everything on the menu is great, but lately I am partial to the garlic soup and the Carne Asada, medium rare. 300 College Street, just west of Spadina.

The Annual Delta Hotels & Resorts Present The Tiki Lounge

tiki lounge posterAs usual, this event was held in the showroom at The Rivoli. Presented every year by Delta Hotel and Resorts and fine folks at Music Nova Scotia, this is an invitation only acoustic show that runs before the public is admitted for the electric sets later in the evening. This year, the private party featured Jennah Barry, Willie Stratton, Gabrielle Papillon, Dylan Guthro, Carleton Stone, Paper Beat Scissors and Old Man Luedecke, as well as the absolute best of east coast delicasies, including spicy seared scallops, raw oysters, lobster rolls, chowder, and delicious finger sandwiches, prepared by the fine folks from Stuart Joliffe’s team at Delta Hotels & Resorts. Heaven. Thanks to Cameron Carpenter and Mike Campbell, this musical fest and feast remains my favourite event during Canadian Music Week.

This Just In…

Just received word that CMW 2014 will be held in May!  The poster explains it better than I can….and I couldn’t be happier about it.

cmw poster

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The Bobcast Update

Bobcast Poster1Episode 4 is recording this Monday, April 8th at Cherry Cola’s, 200 Bathurst Street just north of Queen Street West. Our guests are Eric Alper and John Donabie, and our musical guest is…ME! Doors are at 8:00. Please join Cherish Stevenson, and the Bobcast cast and crew Monday night.

Bobcast Episode One With Greg Simpson, Colin Brunton, and musical guest Tom Wilson

Bobcast Episode Two With Doug Thompson, David Hazan, and musical guest Stacey Kaniuk

Xprime: Inspiration live on The Bobcast

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Segarini’s regular column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” 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 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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2 Responses to “Segarini: Xpriming CMW, Liver Damage, and a Bobcast Update”

  1. I know that there is always a revolving door when it comes to bands and I’m sure Phoenix and Mercedes had no trouble finding a replacement bass player, but David was a member of the band from the onset and I always worry that such moves may damage the flow of if not the music itself. Not that I have no faith in the girls. I’m sure they will weather the storm. But to me, the Stones were never quite the same after Brian Jones even though the music was as good or better on different planes. I look forward to the new lineup and music to come, but Courage My Love will forever be Phoenix, Mercedes and David to me. Courage My Love II, let’s see what you have.

  2. ’bout 72f in Stockton today. Warm sun on the patio. No gunfire. Nice day

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