Tuesday, October 3, 2017

JERRY LEE LEWIS - AND OTHER STUFF

I'm not a fan. Well, maybe I am, now.

Jerry Lee Lewis is a 50's pop star known for two songs "Great Balls Of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".  Now in his 82nd year, he performs less than a half a dozen shows a year. And one of them was in New York City at B.B. King's Bar and Grill, in Times Square.
In the 50's.


The show lasted 40 minutes. We all stood as he "walked" on stage, looking elderly, white hair, pale face, hunched over, wearing a silver sequined jacket which fit him horribly. Being frail and unstable on his feet he was helped to the piano stool by two stage hands.

As prepared as I thought I was to see a feeble, elderly man, well past his prime, I wasn't. I lost it. It was beyond emotional. He reminded me of my Dad visiting my house, careful and slow to not miss a step as he walked over the threshold at the door.  Many times I thought, "this could be the last time I see my Dad."  And, one day it was.

As Jerry played, he reminded me of that.  I was crying, I'm not kidding.  It was overwhelming to be there. I wondering - is he doing this for the money?  Or because he still loves to perform?  I don't know.

view from my seat
Between his southern drawl and slurred diction, it was hard to understand him. But, he pounded the keys with fervor and that was exciting. The audience cheered!  Well, they cheered for everything!

This particular show was JLL's 82nd birthday.  His wife (7th wife) sat on stage taking pictures on her phone, sometimes getting in the way of the band. A fan went up to the stage with a birthday gift, wrapped in silver, and leaned over the monitor to hand it to Jerry. Jerry leaned forward and I thought - oh no!  He's gonna fall right over. A stage hand intercepted and tried to take the gift, but JLL grabbed it and sat it on the piano. Haha.

"Great Balls Of Fire" played, more or less. The band was average. They didn't perform. They just played, carefully, without enthusiasm. Not because they didn't care but probably because they don't have much energy left.

Then it was "Whole Lotta Shakin'"  - the place went bonkers!  And, I kid you not - at the end, Jerry stood up, kicked the piano stool backwards, flipping it over, just like he did when he was 25!  The place - went nuts!

Then, his assistants came to him, and took him to stage right, where his wife was still rapidly taking photos as if it was his last show.  And then, they brought out a birthday cake with super candles with 18 inch flames shooted high.

Despite, my sad and emotional memory it was incredible!  I was in the second row, just off centre and it was worth every dollar. And this show cost me plenty.

Happy birthday!
It was like being with royalty. A man who gave so much to early rock and roll. He is a pioneer. He kicked man stools over, rocked many fans into a frenzy much like Elvis. He married 7 times, one time to his 13 year old cousin. He's had tax issues and been incarcerated. And who knows what else. But he's a pillar in pop music. And he's still doing it.

I'm so lucky to have been at this show. I was watching history. Gosh, I am lucky.

***********************************

Here are some other highlights of my trip to new York.


Visit to my favourite clothing store - John Varvatos on the Bowery,
former site of CBGB's nightclub.


Awesome hotel gym - Paramount Times Square

My new friend Carlos Montanez, with (legendary DJ) Broadway Bill Lee at CBS-FM.

Movie - about JD Salinger writing "Catcher
In The Rye." Great indie movie.

Mike and me on the subway.

Mike and me on Brooklyn Bridge.

A Coke truck.

Amazing lunch place off Wall Street.

The World Trade Centre.

 






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A YEAR AGO - SUMMER TOUR

The show dates.
 
Facebook reminded me that it was one year ago of a very special family event. My son Brett and his wife Gretyl, began an international tour of with band Handsome and Gretyl. I went on board as the Tour Manager and my wife Janice joined us as the nanny, looking after Brett's kid's while he performed evening shows.

The tour began in Seattle and crossed many states into Canada, returning in Seattle.

We shared the expense of a 31-foot RV that acted as our home for the month, as well as transporting stage gear. We slept on board, cooked and ate, had meetings and enjoyed family time.

I've toured with local bands on weekend dates but not for weeks and weeks and certainly not covering the miles of this H&G Summer Tour.

From Seattle, to L.A., to Nashville and Toronto - and many more cities. A few promoters ended up becoming Facebook friends, following me long after the tour ended.

I learned new things about artist management on this tour - learning is great! Especially when it's music-based.

It's been fun to look back over these photos and I've posted a few of the show highlights and the extra stops along the way.

A day off at a beach near Dallas.

Visiting Southfork Ranch - home of J.R. Ewing.

A sketchy venue but a fun show.

Visiting the life-size ark in Kentucky.

The James Dean crash site memorial in California.

The intersection where James Dean crashed and died.

The Mint - downtown L.A.

Somewhere. Brett driving, me navigating.

The Mint - great venue, great lights, great sound, great show.

Early morning sunrise over Tennessee.

Nashville.

"Just can't keep my eyes open!"

A tour highlight - playing Rock The Lake in Orillia.

Meeting up with my radio friend Tim Cardascia in Sacramento.

Private party in Sacramento.

Seattle - the beginning.

 

Shawnee Ok. Private Party.

Stopping to play in the waterpark.

Toronto.

Placing a bid for an item in Alice Cooper's Phoenix restaurant.

Alice Cooper's Cooper'stown.


Oro Station - private party.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I'M 60 - AND HERE'S WHAT I KNOW

I can’t believe I turned 60 this week. Sixty! It’s old enough to be a grandparent! Old enough for body parts to mess up. And, old enough to look back on 60 years of life's experiences and share some thoughts for those who care.

In no particular order, here are 36 things I've learned. Nearly, one a year!

  1. Stretch your body every day. Stay flexible.
  2. Don’t go into debt. It’s nearly impossible to get out.
  3. You get what you pay for. Stop looking for cheap deals.
  4. Do what you say you’ll do otherwise you’ll be thought of as unreliable.
  5. "Once you give up your dreams, you die." (Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance")
  6. Don’t be late. It’s disrespectful to those waiting for you.
  7. Don’t ever tell anybody everything. Some secrets are not meant to be shared.
  8. If you look after your things they’ll last longer. Mom was right.
  9. Keep your stories short. People are only listening until there’s a squirrel. And there’s always a squirrel.
  10. Never say "never". The last time I said "never" I ended up in Nicaragua.
  11. Great ideas can have bad timing. Sometimes you need to wait.
  12. If you’re wondering if God is involved, look for the fruit.
  13. Best friends are only around until the wind changes direction or your money runs out, whichever comes first.
  14. Some people are eternally unreliable. Keep your distance.
  15. "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end." (Tom Cruise in "Cocktail")
  16. Have a hero to follow.
  17. Someone is watching you. How you act. What you say. Be a hero to someone else.
  18. Don’t get sucked in to nonsense. Especially church nonsense.
  19. You can’t fix everything that goes wrong. Let it go.
  20. You can’t figure everything out. Let God do his job.
  21. People change and the memories remain. Cherish the memories.
  22. Get a dog.
  23. You can think about doing good deeds but unless you do them, you’ve done nothing.
  24. The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.
  25. Hang around with people who are kind. Ditch the people who aren’t good for you.
  26. Car rides are better when someone else is driving.
  27. If you’re sick, get meds, get therapy and pray. It’s a good combination.
  28. The speed limit may be low but ramp speeds never lie.
  29. There’s someone worse off than you. Buy them dinner. Buy them a bed.
  30. There’s someone better off than you. When they offer to help, don’t be too proud to accept.
  31. Surrendering your time and inconveniencing yourself for someone else feels really good.
  32. Save your money for at least one really good bucket list event.
  33. People think you know what you’re talking about when you’re older, even if you don’t.
  34. "There’s never nothing going on." (From "Peaceful Warrior")
  35. Spend more time being grateful for what you have and less time asking for more stuff.
  36. Coke is delicious. Coke brings a smile. It is never insincere, it is never late. It calms me when I’m frustrated and gratifies me when I’m happy. Coke is always a sight for sore eyes. It is always bubbly. Always quenches. It far outweighs the cavities. Coke is always there for me. Coke is it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

O CANADA - CHRISTIAN ARTISTS FOR CANADA 150

This July is Canada's 150th birthday. I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a new version of our national anthem recorded, using the artists who make the music we all love!  And so began the project of recording "O Canada".

For years, I've dreamed of recording the national anthem, in a "we are the world" format, bringing in a dozen well-known artists, and each of them singing a lyric line, backed-up by an all-star chorus of singers.

With this year being the 150th anniversary of Canada, it seemed like the right time.

I contacted Andy Horrocks - the award winning producer. Andy is generally known as "the" producer for Christian music in Canada. I'm not sure how many Covenant Awards he has won as Producer of the Year. Or, how many songs he has produced, but "a bunch" would be modest.

Between Andy and myself, we had contact with nearly all of the most well-known artists in the Canadian Christian music industry.

From there, I handed it over to Andy.

Andy brought in a house band to lay down the music track and then he set-up one day for all of the singers to come to his Kitchener studio to record.

He has a large living room and there, on the floor, lay 25 headsets, positioned where each singer was to stand.

It was a fabulous day, hanging out, with all those talented singers in one room. And those who could not attend, recorded their part in a local studio and sent the track to us.

I was overwhelmed in emotion to see all these people, sing so effortlessly, in a patriot way, and honour Canada at this once-in-a-lifetime event.

After the chorus was sung by the collective band, each lead singer went in the studio to sing their part, all directed by Andy.

We named the group Christian Artists For Canada 150. Thanks to David Wang for producing a video to capture a very memorable event in the making.

"O Canada" is released on iTunes, Spotify and included in a national radio special that airs on most Christian radio stations across Canada on Canada Day!

My thanks to all the singers who caught the vision and sacrificed time to be part of this INCREDIBLE piece of music history.





 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

OUR ANNIVERSARY - MAY 9

Nobody wants to read a long blog but finding just one thought to share out of 36 years of marriage is nearly impossible. But, as a radio guy, I'm used to doing "radio edits" so here is the radio version of what could have been a very long blog.

We've been married for 36 years, as of now - 2017. But our history goes back to Grade 7 where we met at Northmount Junior High School in Willowdale (Toronto). Our homes were less than a mile apart.

I'm not sure when we became girlfriend-boyfriend. It started with Janice making maps of Africa for me for geography class. Her maps were colourful and better than mine and she liked making them, so I turned in her maps for marks. (Ah, confession is so good!)

From Northmount we moved on to high school at Newtonbrook and then when I went to Humber College for radio broadcasting, Janice went to York for a biology-geology combo degree.

She joined me in Kingston in 1979 and we were married in 1981.

Tonight, after dinner at the Keg, we'll pull out our photo albums, of which we have many, and reflect.

"How have you stayed together?" people ask, often. If I could site one specific thing it is the concept of surrender.

Janice likes going out crafting with the girls. I like going to concerts. Sometimes our activities will interfere with dinner time, or the use of a car. Where many spouses will say, "You went out last night, tonight I'm going out!  Or - "I need the car, you'll have to stay home!" we have learned to surrender to each other, without any spite.

Each week we go over our personal calendars and see who's going out, travelling, or what night we have guests. (We have dinner guests every week.) It is easy for us to say, "You take the car, I'll stay home."

We live 20 minutes from Barrie and in the winter we have one car. It requires planning and surrender to figure out who takes the car, who is picking up the other, who is running the errands.


If there is one thing we have figured out, it is surrendering to each other. It's us. It's not her and me. It's us.

It saddens me to see my friends nag each other and talk badly about their spouses - the person they picked to do life with.


Janice and I have grown up together - from kids to adults. We've travelled near and far, relocated to different cities, had kids, lost money, found Jesus, seen many concerts, got depression, got arthritis, buried our dogs, lost our parents, and lost friends. Ya, we've lost many friends. But since grade 7 we've still got each other.

We support each other. We cheer on each other. We have decades of memories and photos for when we forget.

Our marriage journey is a bit like the Sonny and Cher's song "I got you babe."

So, if there's one thing I've learned about marriage, it's surrender.

Happy anniversary, Janzel!