That Christmas my father and Dan helped find me my first guitar, that I loving refer to as ‘the toaster’ as it became named after ‘The Brave Little Toaster’. For years after I received classical guitar lessons from a great teacher named Dave S. Dave also played a key role in helping me develop, because he taught me the importance of putting time in to the things that you love. It’s fair to say that I am still not the greatest when it comes to diligently practicing my trade but Dave was the first person who taught me the real importance of sticking to a routine of practice, especially when you have goals in place. I remember one evening during my lesson I had mentioned to Dave that I was a huge Beatles fan and I would love to learn how to play “Blackbird” as I thought of it as a song for my father and I. I will never forget when he told me that I was not at a high enough level technically to learn the song, “The level of that song is here,” as he motioned to his shoulders, “Your playing level is here,” as his second hand fell to his waist. The feeling of rage and determination that Dave sparked inside of me that day is something that I have never allowed to burn out and fade away. This is the drive that make me play through exploding blisters and carpal tunnel! This is the drive that gives me the energy to perform on those night I’d rather be in bed and for this, Dave, I thank you!
Even though classical guitar was my first love, after several years I began to find it getting a little stuffy and found it was time for a change. Enter Nick. When I was 17, I moved out of my parents house and into a trashy little 2 bedroom apartment with some friends (2 guys and a couch guy…. One of those guys was Nick, our lead guitarist). Nick had just picked up some of his gear from a friends house, and it was currently occupying our living area. I came home that evening and stared at the pile of gear with distaste, I remember being annoyed by space it took up but that all changed when I picked up the bass guitar. Among the gear was a good sized Crate bass amp and fender jazz style bass, that soon became mine. I had mentioned my interest, but never having played anything but classical I didn’t have a clue where to start. Nick did, he quickly taught me all the bass lines I could absorb. We stayed up literally all night and my morning I was nailing the bass line from “Mama Said” by Lenny Kravitz and some Rage Against The Machine wasn’t far behind. That night my love of music and performing evolved and I found my true calling as a bassist. I also began to explore and let go with my playing and writing and for this I want to thank you Nick. For always being there to jam with and being able to put up with my incredibly difficult learning style.
After a few years of honing my skills on bass, and playing in a few failed bands, Backline Revival was born. Though it took us a little bit of time to find the right mix, we've got the right people involved now and it couldn't be more right! My fellow band members regularly with their talent and hard work. We've gained incredible sound guys, engineers and roadies, who’s dedication is much appreciated, especially considering the cruel things they endure from us. Our manager is one in a million, with undying and unwavering support, a firm hand to keep us in line but most importantly a brilliant knack for keeping our heads and hearts in the right places. And our fantastic booking agent Candice Lubick, for always having our backs and laying down some kick ass flute. Thanks a bunch to all of you. You keep me going and make me a better player and person and together I think we can tear this scene apart!!
Lastly as I continue to grow and improve as a person and musician, there will be many more people to thank I am sure, so there's bound to be a follow up post :)
Perhaps it’s because I have noticed myself growing a lot lately as an artist but I have become extremely appreciative of the many people and occurrences that have helped shape and develop the person/artist I am becoming and the career I can see unfolding. I’d like to use this blog as an opportunity to give a big thanks and a few shout outs to some of the people that have, and continue to make me who I am :).
I guess the best place to start would be with my family. If it wasn’t for their undying support, love and inspiration, I would probably be stuck in an unsatisfying career, popping out kids for a husband I barely like... (lol). But lucky for me, both of my parents have always been incredibly supportive and even claimed to have known that I was going to turn out be the ‘wild child’ I’ve become.
My exposure to music began at a very young age, when I was little my father and I began a tradition we’ve kept over the year. We would sit on the third floor of my family’s house and spend hours listening to different records, from the old blues classics of Willie Dixon, Coco Taylor and Frigid Pink to albums like M.J.’s Thriller, and I loved every minute of it! This started an affair that has carried on ever since and I have no intentions of breaking up with music anytime soon. In fact it was during one of these listening sessions that I discovered my love for The Beatles, as I frequently asked for my father to play ‘The White Album’ over and over. As a young girl one of my fondest memories is of the day my parents bought me my first piece of vinyl. We were in Toronto visiting my Nana, when we stopped into a shop and like every child does, I found what I wanted and quickly ran up to my mom, “Mom!!! Mom!!! Can I get this?”. She looked over the album, a mix of old kids classics like ‘Kookie’s Comb’ and ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away’ and agreed with a shrug. I couldn’t wait! I rushed into my Nana’s apartment yelling for my father to come see what I had scored. He glanced and nodded with approval and did a wonderful job of pretending to be just as excited to rediscover these familiar songs. To My Family – Thank You for making me feel confident enough to be myself.
Another person who was instrumental in me becoming me was a family friend and neighbour, Dan. He lived across the street from my family with his wife and daughter, and was the first person that would play and teach me how to play guitar. I remember it was in the summer, and I must have been about 9-10 years old. While playing out front, I noticed Dan and his wife sitting on their front porch. As I had many times before, I approached them and asked if Dan could play some guitar for me. Who could turn down an adorable 10 year old? He obliged and I sat in awe. After a few times through ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Dan asked me something that changed my life from that day forward, “Do you want to learn how to play something?” The words came quicker than any thoughts, “YA!” He quick showed me how to play everyone’s first guitar song, “Smoke on the Water” and as I thirsted for more, “Peter Gun” was soon to follow. To Dan – Thank You for inspiring me and helping me discover my outlet.
Bands – Bands, as touched on before, need to maintain a united and professional approach when dealing with booking agents and/or bar owners. Bars have been able to gouge musician wages for so long because we allow them to. If there were less bands undercutting each other, bars would have to pay us a decent wage. There is a reason why there are things like SOCAN standards for live shows. While I do believe that there are exceptions to every rule, as there are many circumstances where a $7 door charge is unjustified, if you are charging less than the SOCAN standard you will not be eligible for any performance royalties. Bands also need to remember that people are there to see a show!! No one wants to watch a handful of friends play instruments on a stage, they want to see you perform. Make sure that your shows are high energy and full of great stage presence. Each show is your opportunity to sell yourself, your product and you need to be sure that your providing the best show you can every night. But it doesn’t end there, you still need to make sure that you are promoting every event to the fullest extent. Your crowd draw and/or the bar consumption of your crowd are two ways to measure your band equity, depending on the method of payment for the gig. Lastly networking with other bands is crucial. The better working relationship you have with other local bands, the more likely they are to ask you to open for them at one of their shows. Just remember to stay professional and make sure to build a good relationship with the promoters as well as other bands. Fans – This is probably the most important of the 3 factors in creating a scene because let’s be honest, if there were no fans we would never make a dime. Bands are constantly looking for new Fans, Bars want Bands to bring in Fans and Fans want to be able to go to a good Bar and see a great Band. We cannot expect the change in a scene to begin with fans because it’s not up to them to provide the show…they will find other ways to entertain themselves. We the Bands need to take the first steps by stepping up the level of shows we are providing and demanding reasonable compensation that accurately reflects the products/services we are providing. Once we take this step it will just be a matter of time before the Fans show up. If you build it, they will come! I know it seems like a far off distant dream to some of you, and to others a remedial task that should be relatively simple but I prefer to think of it as something that is both necessary and attainable. Let’s make a change to this scene and start to make London the musical melting pot it should be.
Just last year Backline Revival set out to records our debut album "For the Love of it..." and with all the tracks completed and our first EP released we set out to start booking gigs!! With our moral high and our heads in the clouds, we were dreaming of touring across Canada, packing and playing the best venues along the way but it wasn’t long before the reality of gig-ing in Canada set in. From my experience it seems that there has been a change in the relationship between bands and bars. There is a giant void in London, where there once stood a great music scene. Now I am no scene kid, and I am just as guilty as the next musician in this town when it comes to going out to other shows and supporting other local acts but I can at least recognize the need to improve and make an effort to better my ways. In my opinion you need to have 3 things working in cooperation in order to have a successful and nurturing music scene; Bars, Bands & Fans. Bars – First things first you need to have suitable venues. By this I mean a venue that has a reasonable P.A. and a sober and competent sound guy. So often we find ourselves at the mercy of an intoxicated young man who has no formal training and believes that everything sounds best when it’s turned as loud as it can possibly go. Also I’ve seen a number of venues that offer little to no incentive for a band to want to play there. Perhaps this is because people have lost the appreciation for the services musicians provide but Bar owners or Booking agents need to realize that this is our chosen careers, not our hobbies. You would never ask a chef to come out to your restaurant and work a 6 hours shift for $50, so why do you feel it’s appropriate to ask me to do the same? But the blame cannot be placed entirely on the bars. While it is their responsibility to provide an adequate venue, it is up to our fellow musicians to maintain a united professional front when it comes to conducting business. A side note for bars – If you are asking for a deposit on your bar for the evening, I am expecting you to promote the event and if you are asking for a cut of my merchandise sales, I will be inflating the price of my products to balance any potential revenue loss.
Somewhat disappointed that I fell in love with something unattainable yet again…. (I never did get to marry A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys) I walked back to “John’s” after heavy persuasion from Nick to at least inquire about the price of the previous Stingray I had seen. The second time around was a little better, but I still received condescending answers to legitimate questions. Not only was the service inferior but I found it more than disappointing that a store as large and successful as “John’s” was unable to provide an amp comparable to my own, to play basses through. The choice was obvious and my loyalty has since been unwavering, as The London Guitar Shop went above and beyond, even working out a price that was within my range. The next day I was the proud owner of my very own Music Man J
I suppose the moral of the story is this - music stores beware!! You operate in a city that is home to many a talented female musicians. No I am not just here with my boyfriend, that guys is actually my band mate. I am the one making a purchase. And no, my breasts and other lady parts do not make me inept. I am fully aware of what a limiter/compressor is for, that is why I asked you for one. I did not come into your store to be treated like a second class citizen. No you are not better than me and you would do well to start treating all of your customers, regardless of gender, orientation or appearance, with the same courtesy and respect you would hope to be treated with.
On a more positive note, this experience has cemented the loyalty I have to The Guitar Shop. Their store is great, with lots to choose from and although they are not a Gibson dealer they do take items on consignment so you never know what treasures you’ll find. Hopefully this will bring some awareness to douchey music store employees and if not, hey it was nice to get that out J Comment and send me your music store experiences, whether it was an atrocious outing or the most amazing customer service experience ever, I’d love to hear it!! Also if you have any suggestions on improving my blog, send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org RE: BLR Bassist Blog
Well here it is, the first entry. I must apologize now, as I am incredibly new at this whole blogging thing but I figure it can’t be much different than when I rant and rave around a sticky bar booth with a few friends and a few beers. There we are sitting in a dark bar downtown, discussing what great venues we’ve found or what recent problems we’ve encountered on the road. Sharing experiences, knowledge and holding hands while we wade our ways through the murky waters of the London music scene. But wait… what is this I am hearing? It seems that no one among my current peer group is experiencing the same kind of treatment, or lack there of, while shopping in local music stores. If you are a man in the London music scene, I am sorry because you might not be able to relate with this as much as your female counter parts but gender aside try to imagine yourself in my shoes in this recent shopping experience.
It was about a year ago but I remember it clear as day… I was so excited to buy a new guitar and play some of the models I had been eyeing for quite some time. I had asked my guitarist, Nick to come with me and in no time we were headed down to the first store. With cash in hand, I walked in the store we will call “John’s” and made my way to the bass guitar section. A few minutes passed as I casually strolled back and forth through the section looking for a bass I might be interested in. I found a couple, a used Ernie Ball Music Man Sting Ray and a Fender Jazz Road Worn. Neither were accessible (on the top hanger, and just out of my reach) so I patiently began to wait. With no one in the guitar section, I started to wonder over to the front counter but it seems that the store had recently evacuated and neglected to inform us as there was literally no staff members visible from the front counter either!!!(Except for the Rentals department that was on the phone the entire time) Huh….well back over to the guitar section I go. It was at this point that I looked over at Nick and asked if he could see me, and after ensuring I wasn’t invisible I actually spotted the first employee in the store!!! There he was, emerging from the acoustic guitar room. He looked up. We made eye contact….. yet still he strolled right past the drum room into a nearby office and began to talk to another employee. This frustration lasted for a over a half an hour, and at the 45 minute mark I walked out with a huff. Now I’d like to say that this was my first time being treated like this in a music store but unfortunately I have experienced this in nearly every guitar/music store in London, not to mention several times in this particular establishment. My day of bass shopping however, was not a total let down. After several hours and a few stores later, I found the equivalent of a soul-mate in my 30th anniversary Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray at the London Guitar Shop/Bell-Air Music. The staff promptly asked me how I was doing and what they could do for me before I even crossed onto the guitar side of the store, it was almost as if I were being treated like a customer. It took a matter of seconds for me to fall in love with the Music Man but it was slightly out of my reach financially.
Everythings sent off for our Canada Music Festival application, we find out if we got selected soon, and we've gotten some nominations for London Music Awards which is absolutely inspiring, we find out about that in january sometime.... We had an acoustic rehearsal last night and thats about ready, so were gonna start playing acoustic shows by the end of november. We'll be going busking soon to. This is a tight unit and we're ready light up some venue's, whatever the size.