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Monday, November 28, 2011

Jesse Turton

My son, Jesse Turton, was born on July 24, 1976. His mom, Ramona, and I were caretaking a farm with no electricity near Port Lorne on the Bay of Fundy. It was the back-to-land hippy era, and I was loving every minute of it. I used to sing to Jesse in the womb, and he has made music since he was born. He is a stellar talent and I'm lucky to have him playing with me. Make sure you check out his uber-cool website from the link!

Talented—and mighty handsome!

Here we are doing a duet for the Guelph CD release show—"I'd Rather Be With You."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Concert Photos #3


This photo was taken by Simon Bell during the rumba-blues rave-up version of Hound Dog. Friendly smile!

Jeff Bersche as MC. Jeff is an amazing singer in the Great Wooden Trio, and is one of the warmest and funniest guys I've ever met—a natural for the job!

Jude Vadala leading her powerful tune, "Molly," from her recent CD. I got to do a gritty electric slide riff throughout.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Concert Photos #2

Here are some more shots taken by Bruce Shapka at the Guelph Little Theatre.

We're singing "Yes Indeed." Jane is playing her Zydeco accordion part with the stellar harmony section of Tannis Slimmon, Laura Bird, and Katherine Wheatley.

The stage is getting full for the a capella work song, "Pilin' Line." From left: Adam Bowman, me, Laura Bird, Rich Maynard-Langedijk, Joni NehRita, Tannis Slimmon, Jeff Bersche, Mike Driscoll, Katherine Wheatley, Dennis Gaumond, Stu Peterson, Tricia Brubacher, Jan Vanderhorst, Tannis Maynard-Langedijk, and Guy Stefan. Jane and Jesse are in the back, out of sight!

One of the encore songs—We Want Peace—with the whole gang, and the addition of the lovely, multi-talented Heather MacRae second from right.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Concert photos #1

I've now moved from crazy busy to just busy, which means I have time to do things like post photos of the shows. Here are some from the concert at the Guelph Little Theatre, taken by Bruce Shapka.

Adam Bowman, Sam Turton, Jesse Turton, Jane Lewis performing "Hard Task."

Adam, Jesse, Sam, Jane, Tannis Slimmon, and Larry Kurtz performing "Ain't Gonna." Barb Bryce did a great job of stage design—with a fireplace, and my 1971 "teapot" painting from over our home fireplace!

Performing the gospel classic, "I'm On My Way," with Jane, Tannis, and Katherine Wheatley doing three-part harmony call-and-response.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More shows!

Since my last post we've done CD release shows in London and Hamilton, with my other full-band show in Niagara tomorrow evening. 

I've been developing a following in London since first appearing at the Home County Festival. I've played some gigs with Catherine McInnes (Home County's artistic director) and super bass-player Steve Clark, and it takes a while for awareness to build. This time was a tipping point, and the room was almost full. 

Catherine and Steve opened up with five of Catherine's insightful, piano-based songs, and then Jane and I took the stage. Steve stayed on and Catherine played snare drum and added a third harmony. Previous to the gig I send them some charts, and we rehearsed for an hour and a half in the afternoon before the gig. They are consummate pros and it sounded great!

Last Thursday was my first foray into Hamilton, a community that doesn't know me at all. I booked the great Alfie Smith to open and jam with us (Jane and Tricia Brubacher) because his music complements mine and to see if he could introduce his following to me. I had done all the right things—been on radio the Saturday before, had a poster out in time, got a news release to the Hamilton Spectator for which we got a "Best Pick" for that night. 

Not that many people showed up, however, which follows what Alfie said: "Sometimes I've done nothing and the place is packed, and other times done everything and played to no one—I've given up trying to figure it out." 

I don't let that stuff bother me anymore, because the people who come are deserving of a good show, and every person who loves the music is valuable. The folks that came were knocked out and bought CDs. Alfie booked me for a gig with him, Tricia's mother offered us a gig at her house concert series, and the venue owners Judith and Ron want us back for an "Art Crawl" and a regular singalong at their Artword Artbar! So things worked out very well indeed.

Tomorrow night I'm taking the five-piece with Jane, Tannis, Jesse, and Adam to Niagara-on-the-Lake to play for my old hometown crowd at the Old Winery Restaurant. Maybe I'll see you there . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Juno awards and quality of attention

I slept most of the afternoon because Jane and I were working until 3:30 last night and up at 8:30 this morning to finish my submission for the Juno awards.

Judgment and competition are detrimental to the growth and freedom necessary for true expression, but here we are in the music world doing just that with awards programs. Why do I bother submitting? 

Unfortunately, recognition from awards, reviews, and press affects how people pay attention to music. if an artist has some sort of recognition—or buzz—as they say, people become curious, pay attention to the music, and then are more likely to actually experience what the artist is doing. If the same artist, with the same songs does not have that recognition, the same audience is likely to neglect the performance—in spite of its quality—and miss the whole thing.

It's very much about the modern psyche and the inability of many people to slow down and pay attention. So rather than complain about it, I accept it as part of life at the moment, and work at being more attentive myself, and attend to the aspects of my music that develop human connections and recognition. I believe in the quality of my songs and the human virtues that they stand for, so it's worth it to me that I focus on the consciousness of attention. That's the essence of awareness anyway.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home town CD Release success!

Jane and I woke up and got ourselves together. She showered and had her breakfast and coffee. I showered and had my rice milk-yogurt-egg-banana-Greens Plus-blueberry power shake. I was buzzing enough from anticipation that I didn't need coffee.

Jane got to work preparing food for the Green Room at the theatre and for our after-show party back home. Jesse had made hummous, and everything was looking good.

I checked my email and dealt with last minute on-line ticket sales. I posted my last Facebook status update. Then on to ticking items off my list: gathering tools and 2x4s for Pilin' Line percussion; changing the batteries in my Yamaha pick-up; gathering cash for the day's stage, lighting and sound workers; printing out set lists; gathering CDs for prize winners, rehearsing a couple songs with Jane; organizing my guitars and gear; choosing our clothes. Then on to loading the car and finding a place for the teapot painting that would be a focal point for the stage set.

Adam came over, grabbed some drums and loaded Jesse's gear in his car. Off they went for lunch. Jane and I headed to the wonderful neighbourhood café and bakery "With the Grain" and bought some homemade sandwiches to eat at the theatre. They have the most wonderful chalkboard art for their menus and specials, and I just had to compliment the young lady who does them. These people are unsung heroes and we'd all be a bit more happy if we showed our appreciation more directly. Live and love local, I say.

Then off to the Guelph Little Theatre. A great deal of the set for the previous play was still up, so Barb Bryce, my stage specialist, and Jim Hoare, her carpenter/helper took care of that and setting the stage with everything from a fireplace and sofa to plants and lamps, which Jane helped direct. Barb hung my painting over the fireplace and I started to feel AT HOME! 

Jane set up food in the Green Room and got that area ready. It's so amazing to have a partner who takes care of everything so well.

Adam, Jesse, Jane, and I set up our gear, and Sal Noguera and his partner Janet set up all the sound gear and monitors. Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, and Laura Bird arrived and we did a sound check. There were some tech issues, but we eventually got them sorted out. Then it was off home to get our clothes and a few things and head back.

Back at the theatre, we met Val Morse, Kim Logue, Karma Davis, and Heather MacRae, who were taking care of the lobby set-up, door, and CD sales. Then my old school buddy Steve Lambert arrived and we had a too-short chat before I headed backstage to warm up and be a part of the gang in the Green Room.

People started to arrive and the place started buzzin'. We ended up with 153 people in the place, and even though I knew beforehand that the numbers would be respectable, I was happy to know we were at that threshold where individuals start to feel their community.

When the time came, Jeff Bersche got ready to start the night as our MC. He has the gift of being totally natural, serious, and funny. He was the perfect person to introduce us. And the show rolled out from there.

THE HOMESTEAD BAND - Sam Turton, Adam Bowman, Jesse Turton, Jane Lewis, Tannis Slimmon

1. Next Time

2. Ain't Gonna
Larry Kurtz joins the band on harp

3. Oh Suzanna
Adam sits out while Jane, Tannis and I harmonize

4. Molly
Jude Vadala joins us and leads her tune

5. Sinner’s Child
Jude steps down, Katherine Wheatley and Laura Bird join us

6. Yes Indeed
Laura and Katherine continue and Jane plays accordion

7. Storm Blowin’
Jane leads while Laura and Katherine join Tannis on back-up vocals

8. Hound Dog
Laura and Katherine exit, Larry joins us on harp

9. Just A Little Bit
Up come Joni NehRita, Rich Maynard-Langedijk, Jeff Bersche, Tricia Brubacher, Heather MacRae, Guy Stefan, and Dennis Gaumond for the set finale 

I've never signed so many CDs! And I had the challenge of remembering people's names, which I have always been terrible at. But I managed fairly well. Everyone was quite excited about the music, the songs and the show as a whole. It really felt like I had come home in a profound way.


1. Chapter 11 (T’ai)
Sam solos

2. I’d Rather Be With You
Jesse joins in

3. Hard Task
Adam and Jane join

4. Walk With Me
Tannis joins in

5. I’m On My Way
Katherine steps up and sings with Jane and Tannis

6. When It Comes My Time
Laura joins us and leads her tune, Larry Kurtz comes up on harp

7. Hey Hosanna
Tannis leads her tune, while Laura and Katherine add harmonies

8. Pilin’ Line
Joni, Rich, Jeff, Tricia, Heather, Guy, Dennis, Larry, Tannis Maynard-Langedijk, Mike Driscoll, Jan Vanderhorst, and Stu Peterson join us

9. Right Here
We all stay up and sing the final song

Standing ovation and an encore!

10. We Want Peace
We bring everyone on stage for this one

11. Eyes on the Prize
We finish with a rousing version complete with bass, drum, and guitar solos

I could go on about what each tune was like, but it would take too long! Suffice it to say that it was tremendous show of music and community.

There was happy chatting, congratulations, and hugging in the lobby and Green room. A group tear-down and return to our house for snacks, conversation, and jamming. Katherine picked up pizza, others brought snacks and drinks. Folks took out guitars and we had a very laid back jam.Nik brought his mandolin! And it all came around full circle. The thing that got it all going—singing with friends and family in our house—wrapped it all up. What can I say. Love to you all.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sound, lighting, and video

I just finished doing up a stage plot for the Guelph show, and writing up detailed notes for Sal Noguera, the sound man, Brian Pickles the lighting designer, and Brad Mayes, the videographer. It's 1:11 am and I'm beat!

A show like this is a bigger deal than I imagined when I first booked the theatre. The whole damn project is bigger than I imagined! It's taking on a life of its own—I think I'd better get to bed . . .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Last large group vocal rehearsal

Tonight we filled our house with musical friends for the last large group vocal rehearsal before my hometown CD release concert. In essence I just wanted an opportunity for everyone to get familiar with the group singing songs—Just a Little Bit, Pilin' Line, Right Here, We Want Peace, and a possible encore tune, "Eyes On The Prize," a traditional gospel song recently recorded by Mavis Staples and Ry Cooder.

For this, I was less interested in the particulars and more interested that everyone get a general sense of the structures and just have fun. Little errors that fly by in the moment are part of the character of live performance. In recording you would have to listen to those moments over and over—and that could be annoying—but for a live show with a large group it's about literally setting the stage and letting the enthusiasm pour out. With this gang, that's certainly going to happen!

The final rehearsal with the small vocal group—Jane, Tannis, Katherine, and Laura—is Thursday evening, the night before the show!