Genre-lize

Sunday morning is coming down. It’s freezing rain in The Hampton. It’s snowing in Fredtown. I’m depressed cause rehearsal has been cancelled. I thought about getting stressed because it’s one less chance to run the tunes that are so rusty but really, we’re going to be alright. It won’t take more than a few shows to knock the dust off the tunes and find our groove. I’m mostly bummed because i was looking forward to playing music today.

Instead I’m listening to some great stuff. Ever heard of KEXP out of Seattle? If you haven’t you want to check out their YOUTUBE page. It is FULL of killer live performances from just about everybody. Listening to Jason Isbell and Shovels & Rope this am has got me strolling the dark hallways of my brain. I’ve been thinking lately about my music career and what i’m doing over the next few years. I recently started working with an old friend who is going to attempt to help me “deal” with the business of music. This help couldn’t come at a better time as I’ve been burning out lately. I don’t mean with writing and performing music or touring. I LOVE doing those things. They are my whole raison d’etre so to speak. It’s the other side that has been wearing me down. Booking the tours, dealing with the alphabet societies, playing the game. It drains you if you’re not one of those people who gets off on it.

  Anyhow, something that has been on my mind lately is genre. You know…”what do they sound like?”…what pigeon hole do they go in? americana, blues, blues/rock, singer songwriter (what the fuck is that anyway?), pop, pop/rock, metal, death metal, black metal, jazz, bebop, funk, acid jazz, country, alt country, twang (what the fuck is that anyway?) etc etc etc. It’s overwhelming. I seem to live in the “blues and blues/rock” genres. I guess that’s ok but I also hate it. I’m told genres are necessary and helpful. It helps people know what kind of music you play and whether or not they will/should like you. That is ridiculous! You know how I know when i like a band or music? I LISTEN TO IT!!!! When did it become that you could only write or perform one kind of music? Why do people throw a fit when their fav artist “changes” their style? PEOPLE! a musician or songwriters STYLE is to MAKE MUSIC!!!!! Don’t ya think?

There are many artists I’ve listened to for their entire careers. Take Neil Young for example. I freaking LOVE Neil Young. There is much of his music that is as important to me as air, food and water. However, there is also music he has made at points in his career that I would rather never hear again. For example, the TRANS album. Not my fav album in Neils cannon. However, when you hear transformer man on the MTV Unplugged album, it’s killer. a GOOD SONG. It’s just the way it goes. Some artists have a constant theme or style in their entire career (nothing wrong with that either) but some artists like to do whatever they feel moved to do at that time. Two examples: Colin James and Alvin Youngblood Hart. Say what you want about Colin James. Like him or hate him. Doesn’t matter. What I LOVE about Colin is this: He has seemingly done whatever he likes at the time. Be it a pop album, an acoustic blues album, a SWING album (or three). Alvin Hart is the same thing. Alvin came on the scene as a savior of acoustic blues. MAN can he kill the straight natural blues. You know what though? Alvin is also a rocker at heart. He nails any classic rock tune from the 70’s, or his own rocknroll originals with his band Muscle Theory, right on the money and with as much conviction as the delta blues he plays.

I love to write songs. It’s such a mystery to me. I don’t know “how” to do it or where they come from. I’m always grateful when one comes to me. Working a song up with my band is one of the most amazing, gratifying experiences in life for me. It is the best feeling. I go home and listen to our shitty demos over and over again. And you know what? I never think when writing or working up  a tune with the band “oh my god, this isn’t a blues tune”. You know why? Because I’m more concerned about writing a good song. I don’t give a shit what “genre” it fits into. That’s for other people to decide. I would never NOT want to perform a song I wrote because it doesn’t fit the genre I’ve been put into. I certainly wouldn’t want to NOT write a song because it didn’t fit into what people expect of me musically. I just want to write good songs. That’s all. You don’t have to like them all. That’s ok. Hell it’s not even expected. As I mentioned, it’s rare I love every bit of output from an artists career.

Recently I had a conversation with someone about music. Theirs and mine. They gave me the impression that I wouldn’t like their music because it wasn’t rocknroll or blues. This made me angry. All they seemed to think that I wanted to discuss was blues music. No. I like to talk about MUSIC. Or when I say to my peers I’d be happy to record on their album and they say “oh well it’s not really a blues song”, as though that’s all I’m capable of. I grew up on Neil Diamond, Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams, Twisted Sister, Platinum Blonde, Poison, Cory Hart, Cinderella, Guns N Roses, The Cult, Howlin Wolf, Albert King, Stevie Ray, Metallica, Megadeth, KISS, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, The Beastie Boys, Grandmaster Flash, Muddy Waters, The Allman Brothers Band, U2, Bon Jovi, The Doors, Deep Purple, Pantera, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, John denver and so much more. Every single one of these and more have had influence on me as a person and musician. How I play and write songs is a result of listening to ALL of these styles. I love all kinds of music and only want to serve the song I’m playing at the time in the best, most suitable way possible.

I see a lot of grumblings on the internet about who is and isn’t getting gigs or what is and isn’t “real”. It really breaks my heart. I know I have been and will be guilty of falling into that trap too like everyone else but I’m making efforts NOT TO DO THAT ANYMORE. We all like what we like. If you don’t like something then that’s cool. Don’t like it. Do you need to publicly bash or make fun of it though? I don’t think so. No one is perfect. People all do their own things. And as I’ve said before, we’re ALL hypocrites. So lets get over hating on shit and judging and pigeon holing and saying “they don’t deserve this or that” and get back to loving music. Not Hating it.

As Dave Grohl once said, “NO GUILTY PLEASURES”. Get out there and listen to stuff you haven’t heard before. Find new bands to get excited about. Love it whether your friends do or don’t. Get out of your comfort zone!

This Spring Tour I’m about to embark on, with my trusty rhythm section, you can expect to hear some blues, some rock, some country, some pop, some classic rock, some folk and who knows what else. We might play some blues in the style of rocknroll. we might play some rocknroll in a blues style. perhaps we’ll rock up some folk? perhaps we’ll folk up some rock. All I know is we’re going to play our songs and songs we love, from our hearts each night, as we always have. You’re going to like or you’re not. Either is ok by me. See ya at the Music show.

Ross

Seasons Change and So do I

Hello there everyone!

Well as one of my favourite teenage-years- bands, CINDERELLA, would say, It’s been a long cold winter!!! Seriously. Every year winter sucks but this year, on my solo tour, I noticed people have actually been beat down by winter in a way that is right in their psyche! Lot’s of people ready for Spring. Myself included. Well, let me tell ya…SPRING IS COMING!!! How do I know? Well there are a few things that happen each year that signal it for me. one of which is the end of my solo tour and the gear shift into Band mode. As soon as I start thinking about Ross Neilsen Band’s spring tour i KNOW it’s right around the corner.

This past Saturday I finished a 15 000km solo tour of Canada. I played ALL DAY on PEI. I had a matinee in the afternoon with Got Blues? at The Factory in Charlottetown. A really good afternoon crowd and I had a ball playing with a band. Only got me fired up to Rock it with my own rhythm section. Saturday evening a performed at a house concert out in York. Again, killer crowd and SO. Much. Fun! Alas, that was the last show on my annual winter solo tour. I want to say a huge thanks to all the folks who came out to shows, who let me crash at their place, who booked me into their bar or home, who fed me and showed me kindness. A couple weeks ago I celebrate seven years as a full time musician. How could I ever do that without all the help I get every day?! So many special peeps out there that make my life so much easier/possible. Love to all y’all!

The solo tour was filled with nothing but good times (and nice weather believe it or not!) all over. As per usual. It’s hard to pick one thing that tops it all as there are so many fun nights…like hanging with Sean Burns in Winnipeg…

or reuniting with Shawn Worden in Lethbridge after two years…

Having a night off in Edmonton to see Paul Reddick, Greg Cockerill and our pals MonkeyJunk

….seeing old friends, making new ones. it’s ALL a highlight…There was one show, that stood out though, which would have to be opening for one of my favourite bands ever in a wicked rocknroll room in Toronto. I did a quick opener for North Mississippi Allstars earlier this month at Lee’s Palace. What. A. Time. I had a blast and was received warmly. The band called me up to jam later in their set. Blew my mind to be on a stage performing with a band I’ve listened to so much over the years. I can’t even describe how that feels. Meant so much to me.

Did someone say BAND??!?!?!?!? I love playing solo but I also REALLY love to RAWK OUT. Tomorrow I officially switch gears into “band mode”. I’m so stoked to fire up the band and get wood shedding. We’ll be rehearsing hard over the next couple weeks so we can sound good for our spring tour. The Spring band dates are posted right HERE if you want to see what’s going on. There are lots more shows coming down the pipes so stay tuned to the tour date page to know when we’ll be around you’re neck of the woods. We’re really stoked to get back out across the nation and rawking your town! There will be a couple new tunes in the sets this tour. Both originals and covers. First gigs are THIS WEEKEND at the Red Herring in St Andrews. Our home in the east. Looking forward to getting back down there to rock some tunes by the bay of Fundy!

In other news I’ll be playing the game a little bit, very briefly, on PEI April 3rd, the day before RNB tour starts. My album, The Shack Up Sessions, has been nominated for best blues recording at the ECMA’s (East Coast Music Association/awards) and I got a showcase to support the nomination with as well. Of course I’m conflicted about this, as always, but I’m going over to swing away for 8 or 12 hours and see where the chips fall. Wish me luck. I play Gahan house Thursday April 3rd at 7pm and then at the Globe for the Blues showcase at 10.20pm. Hope to see you there supporting!

Stay in touch this summer. We’ve got a couple of exciting irons in the fire and, as always, are looking forward to the future. More importantly, we’re looking forward to seeing YOU again at a show in your town!

Stay tuned. Big Love.

Ross

PS….Just before I go I want to mention it was almost a year ago that we lost, east coast rocker, Jay Smith, to mental illness. Jay was a powerful figure on the east coast rock scene and if there was any doubt of that, the fundraiser for his family only weeks after his death proved it. What a turnout of support. One thing I would personally like to see come of this, though, is more people talking about it. I think even MORE good could possibly come from this if we all tried to raise a bit of awareness.  Jay’s death was a tragedy, as suicide always is. Perhaps being a little more open about things like this behind or in front of closed doors, with your friends, strangers or family, whatever…just keep talking about it. We can find strength in the most seemingly hopeless places and light in the darkest of rooms.  We gotta help one another survive.

PPS….i took a lot of pics on my trip as per usual. head on over to my instagram and check em out. here are two of my favs.

Food, the vote, last minute shows.

What a weekend. So much driving. Lots of play too though. Got to do some fun sows with Chris Colepaugh and his Crew on Friday and Saturday. Loved it! so nice to play with this guy. He really is the best kept secret around here. He has been rocking it for well over ten years and it shows. He is a total pro with one helluva live show. If you haven’t seen it you just HAVE too. Plain and simple. I also did a few solo sets in Halifax at Saltscapes Expo. There were fun too. I love promoting NB and had a ball playing for the folks there. thanks to Harvest and the province for including me. I got some crazy good hot sauce from Amiel’s Island Fire, caught up with the Hot Lollies and reconnected with old friends form Treat shoppe by the Sea. Oh, and drank some Propeller Pilsner (YUM) and tried Bacon Jam for the first (not last) time. Life Changing!!!!

Man, what a weird day today. Vote day in Canada. I’ve been enjoying talking with friends who share different views on the election today. Hard to argue with a few of ’em who don’t want to cast a ballot. I personally think everyone should. Even if you spoil it. Thing is though, I find most people cast a ballot and then think their duty is done. Then the politician goes on the screw up and peeps bitch about it around the kitchen table. You know what folks, here is what I think….The actual casting of the ballot is an integral but TINY part of the process. The real important part is the follow up. Hold those people you vote for accountable. In our complacent society people seem fine to just be disappointed. Those folks you vote for are working FOR you though. Which means YOU can hold them accountable. Instead of crying around the campfire about johnny politic screwing up “the system” why not call his office and ask to have a chit chat. Email him, write a letter. Friggin’ harass that guy. Cause that is well within your rights. Call him out on his short comings. That’s OUR job. We need to do this. Death to complacency and re-birth to accountability. I refuse to lie down and say “well that’s just how it is” or “some new asshole is gonna do that same thing”. Let’s all try and start holding these jokers responsible for a change? Wouldn’t that be a switch? Fingers crossed it’s not Harper we’ll have to hold responsible.

Osama. Wow. I woke up to that news. Weird. I don’t get it. Overboard with the body? hmmmm. The dog seems to be getting wagged a touch here. I saw a pic of a bunch of fire fighters watching a news ticker saying Osama was dead. Fist pumps in the air etc. The caption said “closure”. Really? just like that? I’m not from NYC and certainly not a fire fighter but is this news really all it took for closure? i don’t want to sem disrespectful to those folks who were there and worked the scene cause i have nothing but respect for them but is anyone doubting the validity of it all? It’s all very odd. Celebration of the death of a death dealer. It’s strange to me. Just out of the blue like that too.

On a lighter note I want to mention that in my ECMA post I forgot about the very best thing that whole week. The Bastards and I went to Claddagh Oyster House to eat. You see my old pal Paul is the chef there. Let me tell you this, BEST DINNER EVER! I didn’t get a pic of the first course but it was pork belly braised in a guinness sauce. Yeah. I know. That was the first course. of SEVEN!! Pics don’t do it justice but check it….

Lobster Gnocchi!!!


Oysters. Raw, Rockefeller and Bruscetta (i think)


Fancy Mussels!


Beef Tenderloin and fancy mashed!!!


Southern Fried Chicken. This may have been my fav. INCREDIBLE


Pork Tenderloin

It was just ridiculous. the whole thing. The service was great and the food knocked us out! thanks so much to Paul and his team. Way beyond top shelf guys!

Ok, so last but not least I just added to short notice gigs. This THURSDAY may 5th I’m performing solo at The Shiretown Pub in Hampton NB. This is a nice, brand new pub and I’m looking forward to playing there. I booked the same room for Saturday May 21st only with The Bastards. $5 for Thursday and $10 for Saturday. Please help spread the word! Hope to see you there!

Ross

PS…it’s fiddlehead season. Yes!!!

And They’re Off….

Hey all,

Well, what a weekend! We released our new live cd “Live at The Acoustic Grill” at The Playhouse in Fredericton on Saturday and what an amazing time. Thanks so much To Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, 105FM The Fox, and of course The Playhouse Staff and Crew.I don’t know when I’ve had so much fun. The folks that came out were such a great, responsive crowd. It really was a dream for us to have the release there. Thank, you all who helped make it happen! Click HERE to watch a couple video’s from the night

Here’s a pic for now….

Well, there is no downtime in the life of the Bastards. We’re shifting gear from Acoustics, Suits & Ties to Straight up, loud, dirty, blues rawknroll. We’re off to Charlottetown PEI on Thursday AM to rock the island. The East coast Music Conference is on and not only are we up for Best Blues Recording of the year but we are gonna be busy with showcases. I thought i’d send out a little post to let anyone who might be over there know where they can come shake em on down while on the island.

*All time listed are Latenight the day listed/early morning of the next day
Thursday April 14th The Alibi Lounge midnight-ish (late thurs/early fri) 77 University Avenue Charlottetown, PE – (902) 629-1651
Thursday April 14th Late night Molson Stage Delta Hotel 1.10am-1.40am

Friday April 14th MIAN’s Showcase Murphy’s Community Centre 11pm (200 Richmond St)
Friday April 14th Partnered Blues Showcase at The Haviland Club 12am (2 Haviland St)

Saturday April 15th Swamp Showcase at The Globe Restaurant 4pm (132 Richmond st)
Saturday April 15th Molson Canadian Rock Stage Delta Hotel 10.30pm -10.50pm
Saturday April 15th ECMA Member’s Lounge Delta Hotel 12.45am

So there you have it.If you’re gonna be in Charlottetown this weekend there is no excuse to not be able to catch one show!!!

Ive also posted the bulk of our summer Canadian tour HERE so check that out too! Looking forward to rocking with y’all again!