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A Conversation With Brian Blain

Brian has been a professional musician for over 40 years. Originally from Quebec he now resides in Toronto and performs there frequently. His folk blues performances always contain a touch of humour in his clever lyrics that endears him to audiences wherever he plays.




Ken Wallis had a chat with Brian Blain about his newest album.


Ken Wallis

There's a brand-new album out right now. It's Brian Blain. And the album is called, I'm Not 50 Anymore. And we're happy to chat with Brian.


Brian Blain

My pleasure Ken


Ken Wallis

Well, first of all, I've got to go to the title of the album and the song, I just love it. I'm Not 50 Anymore. You've injected a lot of humour into it. I love that and I think that's great.


Brian Blain

Well, these times we can use a little bit of lightness. It's been a lot of heavy stuff going on all around us. And I thought, initially when I made this record, I was so focused about the song, the Water Song, and the water crisis, and I really wanted to try to cast a little light from my corner of the world on this worlds global water crisis, which seemed like, horrible, 3 billion people affected. And then, we get hit by an even more prominent crisis in our face as it were. And so, I'm glad I had some more lighthearted material on the album that I can focus on, and I'm Not 50 Anymore, yeah that just came up out of nowhere and I can't even remember, somebody might have said that expression to me. And, with a little notepad, I put something together.


Ken Wallis

What I really like about your album is that it's quite diverse. There are all kinds of different tunes on different themes. You always include a French song, and I know there's a bit of a story behind that. You want to tell our audience about that?


Brian Blain

Well, I'm originally from Quebec, in my early days, all my elementary school was in a one room schoolhouse in French, with Mademoiselle Amir and, a lot of it was a very alternative schooling, when you consider in the 50s . We were doing our classes out in the park, if it was a nice day, and we were going to the potter to do some pottery. And so French for that first part of my life was a big part of it. And then when I went to high school, I switched over, I was now in an English High School, and later on, went to English University. And when I was 19, I left Quebec and came to Hamilton, Ontario. And that was kind of, I feel like I left behind my language. And it, it really was wonderful living in Quebec. And being able to live in those both those cultures, it was almost like you could cross the street. And all of a sudden, you were in a different language, but more than a different language, it was a whole different world. And I had a foot on each side of the street. And then moving to Ontario, less so. But putting a French tune and writing, trying to write French tunes is my way of trying to hold on to that part of my history.


Ken Wallis

And you also include a Tai Chi tune, which is sort of a meditation song.


Brian Blain

Yeah, I've been doing Tai Chi ever since the early 80s, I guess. And I recommend it to anyone, especially over 50 you know, because I'm in a pretty sedentary lifestyle here. And the Tai Chi at least keeps me flexible. And I thank my friend Urmi, long gone now. He was a sailor who learned Tai Chi from a grocer, and then taught it to me. And I've never been to a Tai Chi Class or a group or anything. I've just been doing it on my own. And I probably have a very bad version of it. But it works for me, it keeps everything flexible. And so this 10 minute track, I gotta tell you, it was recorded so long ago. We were making my album, called Overqualified For The Blues. And those were the days I was signed to a record label and we were in a big studio in Montreal, and we had a budget Imagine that. And we had basically finished the album. We had one day left in the studio. And that was the day the president of the record label wanted to come in and be at a session and drop in. And so we really didn't have much to do and it was just me and Michael Jerome Browne in the studio and I said well, let's play something with this, and it just really was quite spontaneous. I made that up and, and we stretched it out. We played for 10 minutes and he then went over-dubbed a couple of instruments - mandolin and some slide. And then it was just this long instrumental. And in those days, you couldn't be putting long tracks on an album. You were limited how much content you could get on that disk and, and so no, that was not going to get on the album. And it got put away. Probably lost, really. But in the last year or so going through some files on hard drives, I found it, I found just the board mix, what you're hearing is just what I left with that day, you know, we never went back and mixed it. We never did anything to it. That was just the last thing we did. And I'm so glad that I was able to put it out. And at a time like this when a little 10 minute instrumental thing did you listen to the whole 10 minutes read straight through, because there is a meditational component to that a I mean, it is a very relaxing kind of thing that you can get into I think even if you're not doing the Tai Chi, it could be a beneficial thing odd to put that at the end of a blues album.


Ken Wallis

I got into it big time. And I was just almost drifting away listening to it. It was great.


Brian Blain

That's the whole idea. We need to drift away a little more.


Ken Wallis

Now I've got to read a quote that I saw on I guess your website and it was talking about you and it said, "now here's something you don't hear every day, a blues man singing the blues about how lousy the blues singing business is these days". So, tell us what do you feel about the state of the music industry right now?


Brian Blain

Oh, man, I don't even want to think about it because we’re really worried now. Everybody was so concerned about the musicians, you know, and then the venues. And now recently, I've seen several emails and discussions about all the people that work behind the scenes, the production people, the roadies, the sound guys, and the tech people. They are hit just as hard as the musicians and the venues. And it's going to be a tough slog. And isn't it odd that the people that were really at the top of the game, the big, the Live Nation and the big people that put on the big shows, they are hit worse than anybody and they will be the last ones to come back. The small venue and the independent artists might be able to kind of ease back in and some are, but it's gonna be a tough slog for the music business. And, you know, I was always a bit of a whiner about this. The first song I ever wrote, well, I can't say the first song I ever wrote, but might have been the sixth or seventh song I ever wrote, was a little talking blues, and was called The Story Of The Magic Pick. And I was thinking of it as a children's song. And it was actually released, back in the 70s on a label called Good Nice. And, even a musical got created by someone that spun it off. I wrote the musical and it was put on stage in Lennoxville a couple of times called The Curse Of The Magic Pick. And that was the beginning of my tendency to whine about the music business, you know, I had a tune called One More Weasel where because I was being a media person myself working for the Blues Society newsletter and other music organizations publications. I would often be at music events and , you'd be there and there's some artists that are showcase and he's trying to make an impression in the room is full of people that he really wants to impress, and none of them are listening to him you know they're all talking amongst themselves at the back of the room. At One More Weasel is a song I wrote like on literally on a napkin in the in the back of the Rivoli in Toronto, and there was a lot of other songs, there's one called Blues Is Hurting. If you go on to YouTube and look up Blues Is Hurting. Pat Carey plays a phenomenal sax solo on that it was recorded at the Silver Dollar. And the TBS put that on a compilation CD as well. And yeah, I could make a whole album of whining songs about how bad it is in the blues business these days. But who thought it would get this bad?


Ken Wallis

Again, the album is I'm not 50 anymore, Brian where can folks get a hold of this.


Brian Blain

It will be up on Bandcamp, brianblain.bandcamp.com. It'll be on Spotify. iTunes and all the other usual places. But I think you'll be able to actually order physical CDs there too. Or you could track me down Brianblain@gmail.com.


Ken Wallis

Well, we wish you the best. And we encourage our listeners to buy physical CDs because the musicians need to have that income coming in.


Brian Blain

Yeah a little cash flow won't hurt. [LAUGH]


Ken Wallis

Well, Brian, thank you so much. And we will keep in touch and hope to see you live one of these days.


Brian Blain

All right, Ken, thank you, keeping the blues alive.



Website: www.brianblain.com



 

 

 

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