Saturday, July 25, 2009

Session 1 Vancouver League of Rock

On July 22 Vancouver's chapter of the League of Rock launch at the Yale and I saw nothing but smiling faces all night long!

Founder Terry Moshenberg flew out from Toronto for the draft event and put us all into our bands! Terry brought his partner Topher Stott and it was such a pleasure to meet Topher finally and have a chance to jam with him as he is a monster talent! Also out to support and help kick off the event were Kyle Shannon (New York LOR chapter head) and two of our our highly respected coaches Tal Bachman and Shaun Verreault so it really was an exciting night!

Speeches were made and contests were won, and then Terry got down to the business of the draft event!

I was put in a band with Nando and Steve and we started talking about songs right away. We all seemed to like the same sort of music so we really got off to a great start!
Some of the other bands.......
Yeah baby!

Everyone seemed just as happy as we were with the way the draft went!

Once we all had a chance to meet the people in our bands, some of us got up onstage to jam. There were some really groovy moments where people gelled together musically and it was fantastic to see and hear!
I can't wait to see how this all progresses!

I got up with my band members and sang/played a few tunes!

I love these little cards that were on the table, our beer sponsors.
I met the fine folks at TREE brewing and they are good people who make fantastic beer, we are delighted to have them join with us!!

It was a cool night, I wasn't the only one wearing a smile!

We all (the members) went home and started our email exchanges discussing and deciding our songs to have ready for the next week. Our band was short a bass player still, and I had always wanted to try bass but never had anywhere to really give it a go, so I contacted my band members and asked them if they would tolerate having a beginner bass player.

Thankfully they both agreed wholeheartedly so I rented a bass, took a lesson from friend and LOR chapter head Rob Boshaw, and spent the next few days cramming for the first session.

I am quite thrilled to announce that session one rocked!

(that is, no one asked me to quit trying to play the bass)
I love it, I am totally embracing this experience.

Thursday, July 23, 2009



As mentioned previously, one of my gigs is with Mooncoin Productions in their show called Abba-cadabra which is a musical journey through the music of,... well, Abba. I love the job and the people involved with it but I didn't apply for the gig because I am an Abba fan, in fact, I was not drawn to Abba's music as a child and I didn't have any of their records so I never really listened to the words of the songs.

Having said that however, the melodies were certainly in my head just by virtue of the fact they seemed to be played everywhere all of the time, so preparing for this job was basically a lyrics exercise for me.

Once again, I have to note how funny it is that things arrive into our lives to help us right when we need them, we just need to be open to them. As I listened and learned, I realized how timely and helpful the lyrics were for me and it occurred to me that if I had learned these songs as a kid I would have missed the messages.

The lyrics from 'I have a Dream' in particular were really powerful for me, they even helped me get through some tough stuff by reminding me that failure can be a reason to learn about yourself and move forward.

I know the world is not all sunshine and rainbows people, I know that. Crap happens to me just like it does to you. I don't really think there is magic determining everything around me but I do choose to hope there is something to this energy we all seem to tap into collectively. I can't describe it, and I don't know that we can even conceptualize it fully, I just like to think that it is a nice thing sometimes, to dream the impossible.

I have a dream
a song to sing
to help me cope
with anything
if you see the wonder
of a fairy tale
you can take the future
even if you fail
I believe in angels
something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
and I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream
I have a dream


Friday, July 17, 2009

League of Rock, the buzz gets louder!

The message is getting out there that the League of Rock is coming to Vancouver!

People are telling ME about it now. They say they saw it on television, in a paper, online or they heard it on the radio, and people are starting to get it. Now they want to join up. I don't blame them, it's going to be a lot of fun!

To say I was excited when I first wrote on my blog about the LOR is understating things and as the story unfolds I continue to be amazed and thrilled by all the developments.

Founder Terry Moshenberg flew in from Toronto last week for a media tour to let Vancouver know that LOR is 'going global' and that Vancouver will be one of the original chapters in a worldwide League where real everyday people 'the unsung hero's of rock' really truly DO get the opportunity to live out their dreams of playing in a band.

So far with leagues already running or starting up in Toronto, New York, and Chicago, Vancouver is keeping some impressive company. League-wide there continues to be amazing opportunities for members to play at some very impressive events. Take for example the Toronto chapter, they recently sent 5 bands to represent the LOR and played at the Grey Cup festival. I don't care who you are...... a doctor, construction worker, teacher or rock star, that is just SWEET with a capital S and goes to show this league is the real deal.

I do love it, what members will gain from being in this kind of environment is immeasurable and working in a team with others under the guidance of the coaches will be an experience like no other.

I find it interesting that Terry calls his quest for members a search for the 'unsung hero's of rock', while at the same time engaging one of Canada's greatest unsung hero's in music Tal Bachman, as the figurehead coach for the Vancouver chapter of the League of Rock.

Tal Bachman, is of course already well known worldwide and holds various musical kudos and honors including 2 Junos, but I really think he deserves even more recognition for his talent and ability. He writes, plays and produces or co-produces all of his own material, and if you haven't heard or listened beyond "She's so high" you are really missing out on some incredibly tasty well written music.

I've been a fan since his first album and I currently follow Tal's blog and facebook page so for me jamming with our new coach the other day while doing the media tour was a lifetime highlight. Tal seems to be able to play any song that you throw at him (which is a huge treat for any singer or player) and as we all called out names of tunes and discussed what to jam (everything from Beatles to Zepplin) you could hear Tal quietly noodling on his guitar little solos played note for note from the songs being talked about. Crazy. Equally impressive was when he felt like playing a song on another instrument, he would just walk over and play it. Put those skills together with a really genuinely nice person and really, you got a great coach. It is clear he will be able to help any player on every level. We are fortunate, our coach is not only a rock solid talented musician with a wide scope of experience, but he is the sort of kind and empowering human who is willing to reach down and lift people up in their own quest to grow and make music.

And the great news is this, Tal is not the only one. All of the coaches Terry and Topher have found to come work with, inspire and help out at the League of Rock are people who are filled with as much internal 'human good' as they are extraordinary talent. These are people who get it that musicians of all levels can flourish in a friendly community where people push each other by inspiring them and by sharing what they know, its a place to learn from each other by focusing on learning to listen to everyone else as much as to yourself.

So part of the reason for my post today is that I have just found out who some of the other incredible coaches are going to be and I am EXCITED all over again. I must tell you about some of them and give you some links so you can go check them out!!

Right away I noticed that Shari Ulrich is going to be a coach and I am SO thrilled to see her name on this list. Shari is of keen interest to me because I have seen her Bluebird North series a few times here in Vancouver and it is always outstanding. Watching her sing and play live is impressive because she is enormously talented and plays a multitude of instruments with full possession of each one. You really pick up on her warm sincere energy as it truly fills the room. I love that she does so much for musicians and the songwriting community and being new to songwriting myself, I can't wait to meet her and see what I will learn from her. Yay Shari!

I also spotted Craig Northey , Doug Elliott and Pat Steward from the Odds on the list and once again for you rockers out there, this is something to get hugely excited about. These guys are supremely talented and highly regarded and I can imagine they will bring with them them their incredible repertoire of knowledge and experience, I can't wait!

Of course there is Terry's partner in the League of Rock, Topher Stott who will be making the trip from Toronto to share his vast wealth of experience. Topher has studied in private lessons with Andy Newmark, Joey Baron and Joe Morello. As a performer, Topher has specialized in drumset and percussion/hand drums as a hired gun with a variety of artists in the fields of rock, folk, jazz, world music, funk, pop and improvisation including Karen Durrant, Laurel James, Janet Whiteway, Phillip Sayce, Jeff Healey, Stop Die, Andrea Florian, Bruce Gordon. As a leader, Topher runs the Squawking Heads, a deep ambient groove project, and co leads both the Tiny Specks (Garage jazz) and The True Hot fo' Gandhi (live Jungle/Funk) with Adam Faux. I'm so looking forward to meeting Topher too this week, the jam is going to ROCK!

Some of Vancouver's top working musicians/writers/producers Mick Dalla Vee, Marc LaFrance, and Brent Howard, make up a band called Cease and Desist. Cease and Desist tours worldwide on concert stages as themselves and they also work as Randy Bachman's band when he is on the road. I consider myself very lucky to have been working this year with Mick in his studio (Millennia Sound design) on my original music and I would highly recommend him to songwriters like myself who want to flesh out their tunes into fully produced songs. Marc LaFrance you may notice, is the drummer in the jam session video I posted above. He was one of the pro coaches in there helping out on media tour day, and he is one hell of an awesome solid drummer who can sing like no body's business, in fact during our jam he sang AC/DC and it sounded like the record, awesome!

And also I noted Shaun Verreault , Verreault is best known as the virtuosic singer/guitarist/song-writer for blues-rockers and Canadian live favourites Wide Mouth Mason (currently at work on their 7th album together while also enjoying a lack of musical monogamy). Meaning he has his own fantastic projects on the go too! I am looking forward to meeting all of these wonderful coaches!

There are more equally impressive people on the list and I would go on, but I think you get the picture, there is really something cool going down here. I want you to pay attention, and don't be afraid to come be a part of it. It's just real people rocking out, and if you want to come and just observe, I invite you to the Yale in Downtown Vancouver on Wednesday July 22nd, to see the draft event and be a part of the jam!