Killer Tunes Episode 41: 09-10-16 Harvest Episode Part Two!

Hey friends,

In this week’s episode we feature more performers that will grace the stages at Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in beautiful downtown Fredericton THIS WEEK!!!! Tunes from Drive By Truckers, Justin Townes Earle, Matt Andersen, Amy Helm, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Robert Cray and more!!!

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Killer Tunes Episode Sixteen: 03-19-16

Ladies and gents, step right up and jam this in your earholes. Episode sixteen recently aired on 95.7 The Wolf FM. Some Killer Tunes from The Fabulous T-birds, Tragically Hip, 54-40, Amy Winehouse, Otis Redding and more.

Do it!   Killer Tunes 03-19-16 website mp3

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Harvest: bigger and better

I don’t know how they do it. Every single year they blow my mind a little more. I can never get in all the shows I want because there are Just.Too.Many.Great.Shows. This year I had to sacrifice a couple acts I knew I would see someplace down the road.  Since I only had the one show this year I got to see A LOT of shows. What a treat. here’s a some highlights:

Wednesday. My plan was to take it easy Wednesday and ease into it but when my best friend texted to say he had a “go out” pass from the wife I knew my plans had changed! Had to go check out my home boy Matt Andersen play with Halifax’s funkiest dudes, The Mellotones with The Wood Brothers Opening up. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show. I’ve seen Matt a bazillion times. So I’m always curious how a new line up will translate. I know folks love Matt best when he’s solo but I really dig this. Nice playing and suited him well. I had a real nice moment midway through the show just absorbing it all. My pal, superstar to be, in the jam packed Blues tent. People going OFF on a Wednesday night. Real proud! The Wood brothers were great as well. Started a little mellow for my needs but they had me halfway through the set. Probably the best three piece version of Ophelia ever! Of course you can’t be out on a Wednesday and not visit the Wilser Room for some Reggae. Dub Antennae sounded as good as ever and was a nice way to wind it down.

Thursday: I was pretty pumped to see Lee Fields. If you saw Charles Bradley a few years back then this is in the same Dap Tone vein. Killer, Killer, Killer. What a powerful singer. Seriously tight band and one of the finest bassists I’ve ever seen. Only downside was not enough people there to witness it. I’m sure he’ll be back another year. After Lee it was the good Doctor his’self. Dr. John has been a musical hero to me forever. A living icon that embodies the very spirit and soul of an entire genre of music. Mac sounded and looked as phonky as ever. I must say though, for me personally, I prefer his old band, The lower 911. This new band gets it done but isn’t fully my cup of tea. After Dr. John, I hit up Wilser Room again to catch a bit of local Dead cover band, Just a Little Light, before I returned to the Blues tent to see Robert Randolph. Man, am I ever glad I went back to the tent. If you live under a rock and didn’t hear, late in Randolph’s set he started offering a guitar to a few people in the crowd. I thought to myself “that’d be cool”. By the time I thought that Robert had someone up and I thought “oh well”. The first guy he had up there didn’t last long before he got the boot. When that happened I stood up from my seat in the bleachers and decided to go for it. By the time I had my gut against the barricade Robert had a second guy up there. I still wasn’t giving up. I asked the gal to my left to hold my beer while I went and played Robert Randolph’s guitar and then I informed the security guy that I was gonna jump the fence and go play that guitar. He said I had to wait and get Robert’s attention. I said no. He was kind enough to allow me to walk around the barricade and stand right below Robert Randolph where I stared at him until he made eye contact. Then I made it clear that I wanted to play that guitar. He said “ok” and I jumped over the subs and onstage to remove my coat and get my hands on the guitar. Soon as I had electricity I went right for the throat. I knew if I pussy footed around I’d get booted off the stage. He turned around and gave me a big smile and nod indicating I was safe. So I rocked the next 5-10 minutes out with him and his band. Super fun and mind blowing to say the least. Here’s a pic my good pal Rob Pinnock snapped of the moment:
After the mind blowing show from RR and The Family Band I went back to Wilser’s Room to sit in with Just a Little Light and play a Dead tune. What a crazy fun night. Definitely on of my top Harvest Moments ever!

Friday: I woke up pinching myself and looking at mulitple photos from the night before. STILL can’t believe it hapened. Super surreal! Friday afternoon I caught some good blues in Officer’s Square from Shirly Jackson‘s band where her guitarist, Dylan, put on a clinic in tone! Saw a little bit of Bharath and his Rhythm four. For old school Chicago blues it doesn’t get any better than these guys. After I checked in to my Hotel I went back across town to meet up with my Mom as we had a date to see John Hammond. We did a little bit of Ruthie Fosters show in the Mojo tent first and then after a quick interview with my pal, Chris Kirby, we hit up the Playhouse. Sadly I had to sacrifice seeing Blackberry Smoke for John Hammond as they were on at exactly the same time. I’ve missed four or five Hammond perfomances in the past year or two so I NEEDED to see him. Man I’m I glad I did. Rick Fines opened up and killed as he always does. Rick has been a great influence on me and it’s always a treat to get a lesson from his live shows. The John came out. He delivered exactly what I expected. His voice is as soulful as ever and he absolutely destroyed his guitars. It was an incredibly inspiring performance from a true master of the blues. Post John Hammond, I ventured back to the Blues tent to see Blues Traveler. Not a show I expected to enjoy due to my aversion to harmonica but they killed it. They also seemed to have a really, REALLY good time doing it. Top shelf performance for a Friday night headliner. The afterburner Friday was the New Orleans based, The Revivalists. I missed these guys last year so made a point this year. Glad I did. Great vibe. Killer singer/frontman and everyone in the band was laying it down. What a party! After their show I went back to my hotel to get a nights rest. After all, I had “work” to do Saturday.

Saturday: I slept in. Woodshedded a few tunes in the afternoon to prep for our Blues by Invite show at the Hoodoo. After getting prepped I went over to load in and sound check. We had a killer tech crew in the tent so I was super comfortable already. Shortly after sound check I got word that our show was sold out!

With the Instigators and the Perpetrators on the bill I was real happy. Both are killer trios with two of my favourite badass guitarists and I was real happy a lot of peeps would be there to see them live.  Since I had a few hours before I needed to return to the Hoodoo I ran down the street to catch 45mins of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. I’ve been a Robinson fan since day one. One of Rock’s finest frontmen and vocalists ever. Period. This band is super groovy and brings that San Fran vibe hard. Neal Casal on lead guitar doesn’t hurt either!!! After seing as much as I could I went on back down to rock the hoodoo. We had a great time. Morgan Davis, Jay Nowicki, Chris Kirby, Keith Hallett and Peter Rioux all sat in with us. Super grateful so many people came out to support and REALLY thankful to the other musicians for sitting in with us to make so much fun for everyone. Here’s a pic of my and Newfoundland heartthrob, Chris Kirby, singing back ups on some Neil Young that Jay Nowicki from the Perpetrators was dishing out. Photo by Ryan Barton:

After our show I ditched my van and ran back to the blues tent for Galactic. One of the finest displays of musicality and showmanship I’ve ever witnessed. Easily one of my all time favourite Harvest shows. They repeatedly blew my mind. Their new singer, Maggie Koerner is DEADLY. The duet she did with the front man from the Revivalists was nothing short of perfect. Absolutely stunned me. Everyone I spoke with was on the same page. We witnessed musical greatness. Thank you HARVEST!!! NOTE: I awoke the next day with feeling a little ill in the AM. Pretty sure I got pregnant during Galactic’s set. It was THAT good.

After my brain stopped dripping out of my ear from Galactic, I went to an undisclosed location with some undisclosed Harvest volunteers to drink some undisclosed bevvies and wind down. Amidst the haze and fun, I had another Harvest moment. There were many volunteers there. Instead of talking about anything but work it was quite the opposite. These folks, after a grueling five days (not counting the work put in pre harvest) were not hating on anything. They were in fact, already brainstorming about how to make next year better. I was blown away. These are VOLUNTEERS people. Do you know how incredible that is? That people in this community have been inspired to take ownership of this festival, for zero money, and make it something that takes up their time throughout the year and they want, NEED to do this?! They work so hard. Put so much into it. I love it. I love them and I love this festival.

People often ask me, “What does Harvest mean to you”? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s hard to put into words and I always fall short. It would be like saying what does you heart mean to you? or what does oxygen mean to you? Why is your family important to you? You know? questions like that. W all know in our heart and soul what it means but that’s the part of our existence where human language fails and you just KNOW something. This is how I feel about Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in beautiful Downtown Fredericton, NB. BIG LOVE.

Oh, and ummmm….Next year….25th anniversary…start getting excited, now.

It’s Harvest time. Finally.

Before I get into the meat of this post I want to say quickly that we just returned from what I think was our most successful tour of Ontario. It was short but sweet. Played some new venues, including a LAKE!!!!!

We had to get boated in…you know, cause it’s an island….

We got to hang with some old friends and I got to jam with someone I’ve been waiting to play with for a couple years….Donna Grantis.

If you don’t know of Donna, she is a Toronto based axe slinger and man can she play. She is Shakura S’aida’s main geetar gal and also fronts her own rocking trio which is poised to release a brand new kick axe instrumental record very soon. Keep an ear out for it. It’s all Led Zepp meets Hendrix kinda goodness!

Ok, so….lots of people wait all year for Christmas to come. My Christmas isn’t in December though…Mine is in September. Every year during the third week of September, Fredericton New Brunswick is transformed into a world class meeting grounds for Blues players and Blues Fans alike. I have been coming to Harvest Jazz and Blues for nearly two decades. I remember watching Big Sugar play, when they were still riding on 500 lbs (amazing album), in the parking lot downtown that is now called the tannery. I remember seeing Duke Robillard, Pinetop Perkins, Jon Cleary, Dr. John, Buddy Guy and so many others I’d have to rent more webspace to post them all. I’ve seen it grow from fledgling festival to world class. The past five years alone has seen Harvest jump to a world stage bringing in acts you’d see at any other festival. ANYWHERE. Over the years as a patron I’ve had many memories I’ll cherish forever (many i can’t remember too!) and over the last decade or so I’ve slowly been growing my musical self as well. In 2005 I won The rising star award at Harvest and began my real journey into my true career. Over the past six years Harvest has supported me time and time again, showing me that they believe in what I do by putting me, and me with The Bastards, on bills with Buddy Guy, Joel Plaskett, (almost Gregg Allman), and now Levon Helm and Jonny Lang. This kind of support means a lot to me and to be able to do shows of this level in our hometown means even more. You may recall in 2010, that Harvest sent The Bastards and I, to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge. That was the year our Brother Matt Andersen won the solo/duo category!

It was amazing to watch Matt in the finals in the beautiful Orpheum Theatre and even more amazing to watch the look on peoples faces as he destroyed the room with only three songs.

Well I’m honoured, again, to say that I will be competing with a few other acts on Saturday Sept 17th at The Barracks stage from 2-4pm to try and once again win a trip Back to Beale street to compete in the IBC. This time, though I’ll be going as a solo performer. Although I started my real music career as a solo performer over the years the Bastards have taken my focus as we’ve worked hard to travel the nation doing what we do. I’ve never stopped performing solo though, and I still do a winter solo tour every year. I’m nervous and honoured to be making this attempt to get Back to Beale all by my lonesome. So, here’s the kicker….as with all music contests these days, 50% of the vote is judged at the performance, and 50% is of course…ONLINE VOTING….booo, hissssss, I know, I know. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was pestering you for Taylor guitar contest votes? Well I’m gonna ask once more, friends that you help me Back to Beale and vote as often and with as many email addy’s that you can. This Monday voting begins on the CBC website. Rest assured you can visit this very site and there will be a link to the CBC page. I know it’s a pain in the ass but I’m only asking because I love what I do and I know some of you out there enjoy it too and are willing to help at the drop of a hat. So I encourage you, tell your friends, post on your facebook, tweet, text, talk about it! I’m humbly asking for your help but I’m going to be honest here… I Want To Win. I believe I can with your help. What do you say?

Stay tuned for the link and voting details. I’ll post them as soon as I have them. MUCH thanks in advance. Y’all rawk! Hope to see you at the Barracks this Saturday from 2-4pm, or at any of the Harvest events for that matter! What a week to be alive!!!!

MB

At The Helm

Hello minions!

Well as I type I’m over looking the lovely Davidson Lake. I’ve been out here on a mini “vacation”. It sure makes doing agent work easier and almost bearable. I’ve been coming here my whole life and it never wears off for me. recently I came out to do a painting I was asked to submit for the Brush of Hope Kideny Foundation fundraiser. They ask non artist to paint something for auction. I hadn’t painted in about 25 years. I used to paint with my mom, who is an artist. Needless to say I got some much needed coaching form moms. It was an honour to be asked and fun to do it! They’ll auction all the pieces off on ebay near the end of October I believe. Here’s the piece. I called it “No, No, No”.

So let’s see….What’s goin’ on?

Last week we had a killer run of festivals in Quebec and NB. We did the opening show at The Donnacona Blues Festival where we had nothing short of an awesome time. Played to a real great crowd and then had some more fun afterward at The Totem bar where an acoustic mysteriously appeared and I was convinced (jack daniels) to do a short solo set. Much fun was had. The next day we drove to Levis, Quebec where we played to a very appreciative crowd of what seemed like a thousand peeps! Awesome fun! Then on Saturday we hit the Dooryard Arts Fest in Woodstock NB to rock my old stomping grounds of Carleton County. What a great time it was and it’s nice to see the festival there really being supported by the community. We had a fun Jam with Newfoundlands Chris Kirby too! I handed him the guitar I usually keep in open “D” tuning and although I had thought I tuned it all up, one string was a full tone down. I tell ya, you’d never know. Kirby rocked anyhow. No flies on the boy!
Here’s a pic from Donnacona:

And here’s a video from the same night. I think this one is our version of BB’s “Thrill is Gone”

This weekend we head up to Perth Andover for the Larlee Creek Hullabaloo. One only need check the line up to know what kind of awesome Festival is up the Saint John River. Matt Andersen, Dave Gunning, Thom Swift, Carmen Townsend, Chris Colepaugh and MORE!!!! Gonna be a gooder. Bound to be some jams too! Saturday well wake up too early and no doubt be fuzzy headed for our drive to Charlottetown. We’ll be playing Hunter’s Ale House for the first time and really, really look forward to it. I know there will be some friends in town for the Charlottetown Jazz and Blues Fest so we’re hoping for some of them to pop in.

Recently I’ve been in conversation with the fellows from a new Fredericton based company called Timbre Collective. These cats build custom pedal boards, flight cases and more. After some emailing and discussion I’m very happy to say that I will be entering a sponsorship with the lads to endorse their cool products. My new board is being constructed as we speak and I hope to have it in time for Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. These cats have their research down and are great about giving you whatever you think your board needs. I look forward to working with them. Here’s one of their prototypes

Did someone say Harvest Fest??? Well here’s two amazing bits of info for you to look forward to…ONE: we are currently reviewing the mixes for our new live album “What You Need Vol 2”. You may remember Vol 1 was recorded at Harvest during our Dolan’s run a few years ago and it’s on the site here for free download now. We recorded VOL 2 at Blues on Whyte on this past spring tour. It’s part of our fan series which means if you want this baby you gotta get to a show to buy it. It’s sounding good and features a lot of the rocking stuff from Redemption. We hope to have it for sale during Harvest and we hope you dig it!

TWO: Unless you live in a cave you may have heard that Gregg Allman had to cancel his Harvest shows due to respiratory infection. Obviously, being a huge fan, I was devastated by this news as I was scheduled to open the second show. Well The Festival Musical Director, no stranger to last minute cancellations after last years, did it again. In no easy task of replacing the rocknroll hall of famer, he upped the ante huge. He got TWO rocknroll hall of famers. Mr. Buddy Guy, who I had the pleasure of sharing the bill with a few years back and Mr. Levon Helm, back beat and vocalist for legendary group THE BAND. What a roller coaster for me. Heart broken right back to elated. I can’t explain how stoked am to open for Levon and The Family Band. The Band has been an amazing influence on me in my life and I can’t even believe I’m on this bill. Again, HUGE thanks to Harvest. So excited.

In between this weekends shows an Harvest we’ll pile into Ruby for what could very well be her last tour (if I can devise a plan to get a new van). We head out to Ontario on the 25th of this month with a quick stop at Pub St. Alexandre in Quebec City on the 25th before we dive into Ontario for a week. Check the tour page and find out where we’ll be next. We hope to see you Ontario folks out at the show!

FREDERICTON PEEPS: If you can’t wait till harvest we’re doing a free outdoor concert on my birthday, Aug 23rd, at Officers Square. Show time is 7pm. When we get home form Ontario we’ll play the KV Valley Jazz fest and then drive right up to Florenceville to rawk the Dooly’s there. Haven’t been up that way for quite sometime so it should be a bash!

So there it is peeps. Our schedule for the next little bit. You folks out west can look forward (or escape) a return trip in October and November too!

On a side note I’m listening to some Taj Mahal right now. Y’all know he’ll be at Harvest Fest too right? Oh it’s gonna be a gooder!

Stay good,

Ross