Sunday, June 29, 2014


If you have read these blogs, you know that I have clinical depression and am taking medication to provide mental balance.

(By the way, I share my situation publicly, hoping that my story will provide hope for others.  One third of the population will have depression at some time in their life.)

A month ago, my doctor suggested we experiment and reduce the meds by 25% for two weeks, and if that went well, by another 25% - leaving me with 50%.  The first two weeks went reasonably well but the last two weeks have not been pleasant - for me or others.

I've been easily irritated. At the time I feel I'm justified - "If people wouldn't be so stupid and mean!"  Maybe it's true, but the irritation has been triggering quite quickly.

Despite the sunny days of summer, and a week's vacation, I've felt low and gloomy. And while I know I am blessed with a great job, and a ministry with tremendous evidence of impact, and a great house, and wife and kids, and hobbies - despite all of that, for the last two weeks I (sometimes) could not find joy in any of it.  Logic and reason are one thing, but getting the brain to believe it is something else. And that's where the meds help balance the gloom.

Somewhat funny was the day I bailed on my dentist appointment. That morning I had a major panic attack and 24 hours I exaggerated the outcome of the tooth extraction.  The panic was so bad I actually got up from the chair, quite emotionally - and went home. Needless to say, all the anxiety immediately disappeared.

Since Friday, my wife had been begging me, "Please go back on full meds!"  So, I have.

It's now Day 2 of full meds - everything is good. I haven't killed anyone.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Going to the dentist doesn't bother me. Over the years I've had so much dental work done that almost nothing frightens me.
Not actual size.

I am a bit suspicious about the dentist's attitude toward wisdom teeth. Almost everyone I know who has had their wisdom teeth removed, has been told "we have to take all four".  Why?  I have to wonder if the dentists get a commission on wisdom teeth!  They got one of mine - that's it.

When I look at my daughter's teeth, (or her husband's teeth if the whiteness doesn't blind me), they have great teeth. White. Straight.  Conversely, my Dad's teeth were a mess, with mine somewhere between the two.  It seems like the younger generation is blessed with nice teeth, or better fluoride or better care.

Ok, and here's the deal.  The crown on my 37 tooth (bottom molar) busted at the base. There's no tooth to re-attach the crown so it can be extracted, or put in an expensive post to rebuild the tooth. But my regular dentist suggests it be pulled by a specialist. (My wisdom tooth behind it is also gone, thanks.)

So with much anxiety, I went to the appointment Friday. The specialist dentist didn't even look at the xray and determined in less than five seconds, "That's easy - I can do that". But you'll burn out the tooth on the opposite side twice as fast. We should do a post."  I'm getting ready for the anesthetic. Uh huh.

More anxiety. Panic. Oh, I mentioned in a previous blog I'm on 50% of my depression meds, right? Ok. To be honest, the moment was overwhelming.

I thought what would my Dad do?  Easy answer.  He'd say, "If it's not bothering you, leave it". So, with dread and anxiety I said "thanks anyway" and left.  Ya - I got up and went home.

I still have my busted 37 tooth. And it's not bothering me. Thanks Dad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Doing shows with Anthem For Today is more fun that I should be allowed to have. The show itself is always awesome. And you wouldn't think it would be since it's the same set list each night. That's right - we don't change the set list once it's established. We rock it out for nearly a year.


Bobby in green, setting up lighting scenes
for each song. Charles on the right,
soundchecking two hours before show time.
I know this is probably considered grunt work, but I love (love love love) taping the set list to stage for each of the guys. I also love taping down the cables. As "the stage tech" or roadie, that's my job. It's probably not what you might expect me to enjoy, since my day-job is managing a radio station, which focuses on formulating budgets and marketing and hiring and problem-solving. I love doing that for LIFE. But taping down set lists and cables takes no thinking and I still see the fruit of my work.

Ah...but there's a technique to taping stuff to the stage. Pay close attention. You don't just rip off a piece of duct tape and slap it down. Oh no.  Our guitarist G.I. has five cables - don't ask me what they all do. And G.I. tutored me as to how he wanted them taped. "You gotta line them up 1-2-3-4-5 - all side by side, in a straight line, not overtop of each other." It actually looks quite tidy when it's done.

Ok - enough about the cables. I don't want to give away my trade secrets.


The Travel Agenda for the North Bay
show on June 13.

This is probably my favourite part of being a manager because it's critical to having a smooth day.

The Travel Agenda is emailed to each musician and crew member a week in advance. It's one sheet that tells them the details of the gig - location, address, distance. It's also a "minute by minute" schedule of events starting with our rendezvous in Barrie, departure time, lunch location on the way, arrival time, soundcheck time, dinner time, show time, devotions and return home time.

Google maps has become my best friend. From that, I can plot out the distance to the show and choose specific stops along the way where we can stretch and eat. It's all timed out, step by step, with allowance for traffic issues, re-fuelling and soundcheck problems.


The best book I read in Geography
Here's the back story. The band doesn't even know this. When I was in Grade 13, in a boring Geography class, taught by an alcoholic teacher who was rarely on time, I read a book called "Billion Dollar Babies" written by Bob Greene. He was a columnist with the Chicago Sun Times and he wrote this book as his journal of a Spring tour with Alice Cooper in 1973. I was quickly enthralled in the behind-the-scenes detail of what it took to organize a concert tour. It wasn't just about rock stars and a stage show - there was a whole other unexpected story about marketing, and hiring a road crew, and signing contracts, and making contacts with media, and planning out the day for the musicians and problem-solving.

Dare I say, that book changed my life.

Aside from learning the backstory of touring, it also grew me from being a very shy, 18 year old, introverted student to becoming selectively extroverted and somewhat of a visionary for planning.

I think the book affected my thinking from that point on, and for Anthem For Today, it was the seed of becoming a manager.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I think it's a guy-thing. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only guy who does this. When I get home from work, I like wearing the same clothes a few days in a row.

Maybe it's coz I'm lazy and I leave the after-work clothes out on the dresser. Maybe it's coz it suits my mood and my mood hasn't changed.
Brett's Easview Hoodie - fits great.

At bedtime - oh...wait.  You may want to stop reading now. But I bet you don't.

When I'm going to bed, I'll wear the same bed-clothes for, not just a few days, or a week, but well over a week. Yes I change my underwear - come on, I'm not like that!  But the bed-shirt and shorts, or track pants - I'll wear night after night.

There have been occasions, even recently, when I wear the same bed-shirt for a week, and then I wear it to work! Well, provided it's not all wrinkled and it's a give away to the staff. So far, nobody's caught on.

There's more. (Are you still reading?)  My favourite hoodie used to be my son's from Eastview Secondary School in Barrie.  I love this blue "music" hoodie with the yellow Wildcat paw so much, that I keep it downstairs in the living room, always accessible, and when it's cool at night I'll pull it on, clean or not.  And it's probably not. Yup, at home, it's the only hoodie I wear.

Why am I sharing the intimate details of my clothes?  A better question is, why are you so interested?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I've blogged a lot about LIFE 100.3. Now I'm blogging about my other passion and that is the band I manage -   Anthem For Today, from my perspective as the Band Manager. 

From my position, I probably know more about each AFT show than the guys who stand on the stage.

When it's "SHOWDAY", my world changes. Virtually every responsibility that is non-AFT goes on ice for the day while I focus on the upcoming performance.

I start by texting the band and crew.  "Hey guys, guess what day it is?  It's  S-H-O-W-D-A-Y!" I'm like a ten year old kid at Christmas!  I can't wait to see the guys and get the cars on the road. This is practically a weekly routine and every week I brim with excitement!

Prior to SHOWDAY, I've spoken with the promoter several times, I've researched the history of the venue or the promoter, or both, mapped it out, created a budget and hired the road crew.

The band is unaware of the work behind the scenes, which is fine - that's why they hired me.

I guess that's why my AFT memories are about everything except the music set.  (Well, ok - the music set is pretty important to me too!)

Ok, let's pick up the story at Overflow.


The Overflow Youth Conference in Waterloo was an event I had been trying to book for more than a year. In my pursuit I had self-hyped Overflow as the event that would establish our worth, both to ourselves and to the Christian conference market. When the invitation from the promoter came, it was the case of being a very squeaky wheel.

To avoid any mistake, we arrived at the show, very early.  I introduced myself to "Bob" the head sound guy for the conference only to be told that he would not be mixing for us - it would be someone else. What?!  This was our long-awaited performance!  We wanted the best guy!  And that was Bob!  (I even brought bribe money just in case.)  Unfortunately, Bob was booked at the main stage and another soundman had been assigned to the tent stage where we were performing.

Oh boy.  Panic set in! Oh crap!  It was the first surprise of the day.

Evan Duran, who tagged along with us an as extra helper, saw my dilemma and quickly offered to mix for our set. Evan had done FOH sound for us before and had done a great job.

"Evan," I said.  "I don’t want to put this pressure on you - at Overflow of all places!" But he insisted it was ok. He wanted to help. Evan was briefed on the board and took over. And he was great.

As Evan familiarized himself with the sound board, the rest of us were ready to load in our gear. To stay on schedule, we were given ten minutes to load-in our backline gear - the drums, amps, all of it.  Thankfully, the main P.A. was provided by the conference so all we need to bring was our backline. The show went as scheduled and the sound tech gave us an extra five minutes on stage.

The boys did a fabulous 6-song set to a small audience.

After our set, there was ten minutes to get our gear off and the next act to load-in. "Let's go!"  I’ve never seen AFT move so fast. All our gear was off-stage in four minutes! Amazing!


I recall another great event. We were booked for the Awaken Youth Conference in Timmins. The promoter for the event was a pastor in Kapuskasing, who worked about 2 hours away. This wasn’t his church, but he had supervision of the entire event.

We pulled in right on time, to the minute. The promoter "Jason" was ready for us. When I say ready, I mean, he took the time to check our contract-rider on the day of the show. I know that because I saw the contract on a table in the lobby. It was obvious that he had been looking it over, making sure everything we needed was prepared.

We brought full production - lights and sound. A church crew was there to load us in. The dressing room was perfect. They fed us. The local tech guy was accommodating beyond belief. And fed us! Lots!

The musicians use batteries for their wireless guitars and in-ear monitor system and it's common for batteries to die, in the middle of a show. We always carry a dozen spares, but our supply was low.

"Jason, we need batteries badly. Where can I buy some?" Jason sent his runner to buy us a few dozen batteries - and he paid for them!

It is my view that when we come to do a show, we are the guests. Yes, we are the entertainers and have a show to do but I also believe it's considerate to submit to the authority of the host. It's their venue - we are the guests. That means we try to be flexible to last minute problems when they arise.

Jason, as the host of the Timmins event, had the same work ethic. He wanted to take care of his guests and he made every accommodation he could to make us feel comfortable and happy.

If only every promoter was like this.

Before joining AFT, my experience with small church promoters in the past was like this:  They try to do as little for the band as they can. Like, "What, I have to feed the band?  Who do they think they are - Van Halen?!"  So, they feed the band fast food after the band has driven five hours to the show. The band would often get paid crappy money, because the promoter says, "You’re getting exposure instead of money." (Ok, so that still happens most of the time.)  Promoters would toss bands in a closet as a dressing room, and interrupt the band during the meal, or prayer time or walk in when they’re changing their pants. (That still happens, too!)  In the past, most promoters were disrespectful of bands, and yet, they expected the bands to entertain as professionals. This is the routine of inexperienced small church promoters.

As the manager for AFT, I have pledged to avoid those kinds of promoters and do double-checks before arriving at the venue to avoid any miscommunication, or what we call, "getting jerked around."  We have not had bad experiences as those I described above, well, maybe twice.

Jason, our guy in Timmins, was the best promoter, pouring our hospitality, stuffing us with awesome food, assigning people to help us and genuinely working in the best interest of the conference.

All of us left Timmins the next morning feeling like rock stars. Happy smiles on everyone. Lovin' the life of SHOWDAY!

Friday, June 6, 2014


This was published last December but here it is again, for those of you who missed it.

It starts with the craving. But, not for water. That’s too plain. Not orange pop. Not root beer or soda. Even the bubbles from 7Up, won’t do it.

It’s Coke.

In my mind's eye I see red.  That glorious red logo! 

From the second my hand squeezes the ice cold can, I know what’s coming. In just a few seconds, those bubbles are going to erupt inside my body!

I crack open the can. First, it’s the click of the metal breaking the seal. Then, the tear of the tab opening and quietly the fizz begins to foam.

I can’t wait. The can goes from the table to my lips in a micro-second. I take the first gulp, as big as I can, sucking back a massive amount of liquid. I hold it in my mouth for about ten seconds. The cold bubbles extinguish through my mouth like a kayaker skimming over dangerous rapids. The bubbles tickle the roof of my mouth. I let them settle around my teeth, over my tongue, around my tongue. There is no space this delicious delight hasn’t touched! The fizz continues to explode up into the roof of my mouth!

Doctors say it takes 45 minutes before the hormone stimulates my brain, but the doctors are wrong. Watch me. It takes no more than five seconds for stimulation.

Ahhhh....the burn moves into my eyes. My tear ducts squirt. There’s nothing else on my mind except savouring every bubble.

Now, the swallow. Mmmm, baby! The cold fizz screams from the back of my mouth, down my throat and the gratification burns.

Soon, the bubbles and fizz are settling down in my mouth. My eyes are bloodshot like a hippie at Woodstock and the first glorious belch is going to signify absolute satisfaction.

Ahhhh.....COKE IS IT!  Coke adds life to everything nice. Things go better with Coca Cola! Even Santa Claus loves his Coke!

Recently, in a restaurant a table-server offered me a (gasp!) Pepsi! I’m almost positive he’s lost his salvation. "Sir, would you like ice in your Coke?" Huh - and water it down? Are you mental?! I might as well order a Pepsi for crying out loud!

The carefully perfected ingredients of Coke kill every migraine that throbbed behind my temples. Every headache is gone from this carbonated chemo superhero!

I know, I know. You’ve heard that cops wash the blood off the road with Coke. Coke removes stains from clothes. And you can clean the rust of chrome and the rust off a nail. What other food group has so many uses?!

Does Coke contribute to my insomnia? Probably, but anything that tastes this good is worth staying up for! What if my liver is converting all that sugar into fat? Well, the mirror doesn’t lie - so far so good! Is it dissolving my internal organs? Probably, but what isn’t? Listen, if cigarettes haven’t killed Keith Richards yet, and he’s 70, I know I have at least another 15 years of soft drink pleasure.

Mmmm - Coke is SO good. I swear, it must contain each of the four major food groups! I mean, really! Anything that tastes this good has GOT to be good for you!

What? There’s cocaine in it? (I’m not even going to go there!)

I estimate, I’ve been drinking an average of three Cokes a day since I was a mid-teen, and therefore I am closing in on 45,000 cans. Now it really gets exciting! Soon I’ll chug down my 50,000th captivating can of Coke! Whoa - this calls for a celebration! A festival! I think I see red flags!

Praise God for Dr. Pemberton who invented Coke in Atlanta! I think Atlanta is my favourite city!

Oh, "I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company - it’s the real thing!"

And when I die, I would like each pallbearer to crack open a can of coke and spray it over my grave until the earth bleeds in the dark fizz!

Coke - I love you.