mike mccormick

music, comedy, stuff

Community Orchestra

I went to see a performance by the Kanata Symphony Orchestra last weekend for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to see if there might be any potential for them performing the Arrogant Worms Symphony show. Second, i was curious what level they were at and whether it might be something I wanted to participate in down the road. I really love any chance I get to play the trombone.

Turns out that I think the answer to both questions are “no”. For me, I’d forgotten that most symphonic works are more interesting for strings. Not to say the brass parts aren’t important, it just seems like the brass have big loud entries which sound great but long passages where they sit around. Face it, if I’m going to drive an hour for rehearsal I want action! I think I might be better suited to a concert band or if I could get in a Jazz or Big Band.

As for them (or similar orchestras) doing the Arrogant Worms show, I think that is also unlikely. Mostly because of the rehearsal; I think if people to participate in this kind of orchestra they want to play some of the great works, not the hysterical works of a novelty band. I might be wrong and I’m also sure that every group has a different personality and a different vision. Perhaps I need to do more research. I also have no knowledge of youth orchestras; might have better luck finding players who already like our band.

Keep trying.

ReReboot

Trying out a new theme and maybe using the site a little differently. The good news for me is that I now have internet at home. I have boldly entered the last decade! Feels pretty good.

The Worms album “Space” is out there hopefully being enjoyed by hundreds of fans. We had a little tour of Alberta in March and have some dates here and there in the next few months. Looks like we’ll be busiest next Christmas season. Why? I have no friggin idea.

I’m better armed for multimedia now. My recording gear has improved, I have a nice camera for photos and video and of course there’s that internet thing. Still don’t know what to make of it all. Still don’t fully understand what to do with YouTube. It’s great to get stuff out there and have people enjoy it but unless I’ve got something else to sell why would I give it away; especially if it’s not finished?

Trevor Strong of the Worms has a much better grasp of it. He’s found a site, similar to Kickstarter or IndiGogo where people basically sponsor you to make whatever. So he’s asking for donations to make comedy videos. Cool idea.

I’m leaning to a more traditional route these days. I’ve had a bit of success writing and arranging some pieces for the choir I’m in. There has always been interest in Arrogant Worms music either for piano or guitar but in some cases choral groups as well. Once again comes down to finding a way of getting it out there. For us it might be simpler as there are easy online distributors for our various products. Just need the actual product!

That’s where I’m at.

Here I Am!

I am alive and well just not exactly bloggin’ a lot. I’ll let you know what I’m up to right now.

Arrogant Worms are just about completed out

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first album of new material in many years. It’ll be called “Space” and has several tunes written by myself. Biggest fun for me was that I got to play trombone on 4 tracks, including the red plastic one. Used the really good, metal one for the tracks that required nice sound. I also got to arrange the horn section for 2 tracks, “Yoga Pants” which is a surf rock kind of sound and “I Sweat a Lot” which is a full on R&B tune with horns and such.

Recording and scoring. I’ve been doing quite a bit of this lately. My daughter plays in the junior band at her middle school and I arranged the Worms tune “I am Cow” for them. They seem happy; I haven’t heard it yet but I’m really looking forward to it. I also sing in the Arnprior Community Choir and have arranged 2 tunes for them, “Excursion Around the Bay” and “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. The latter has been the most challenging as I’ve never tried to score a piano part before.

I’m still running a monthly open mike at the Neat Cafe in Burnstown. Our last one was one of the more interesting, we had our first solo fiddle player and he was really good as well we had a guest appearance by the band “July Talk” who are presently staying in the area working on their next recording. Other than that the solo performing has been pretty sparse; it’s not something I’m really pushing until after we get the Worms CD out there.

So I’m still writing and hoping to make a solo recording. I’ve learned a fair amount about the Reaper software and now have purchased a much better microphone. So there are no real excuses not to go ahead with it. Just need the material now. I’ll try and do a better job of putting up tunes here as I go. It’s still a bit tedious for me, I have no internet at home and often when I’m out and about I have limited time to work on the website. I haven’t created a good system for writing blog posts offline and then uploading them later. Quite frankly, I still have very little idea of how best to use this website. But we’ll keep trying. For those of you who have tried to follow, thanks. I shall try to do more for you.

Neat Cafe, the medium and the message

My beloved Neat Cafe has been running into some problems lately with zoning bylaws and the township they reside in. To try and summarize, the Neat Cafe (www.neatfood.com ) is in Burnstown, Ontario in McNab-Braeside township in Renfrew County. That’s a mouthful  It’s a fancy coffee shop that has taken over a building which was once the schoolhouse in the area, so it’s an older building with 2 rooms. Not terribly well insulated or serviced so they’ve had to keep working on the building adn site as the business grew. They began presenting shows in what was the schoolroom and through some sound decisions, hard work and community support, the venue has become a real landmark in the Canadian music scene. David Francey www.davidfrancey.com mentioned it as one of his favourite venues in a recent issue of Westjet magazine and many other performers have been through and love the venue for the atmosphere, the intimacy and the way they are treated by the owners and staff.

 

To accommodate the shows, the owners needed to expand the room, add another exit, expand the washroom and septic facilities; all while trying to keep the main business running. So after some thought and planning, they came up with some renovations. The plan was approved by the township and the renovations began. Once completed however, they required the work to be inspected and approved by the township. The inspector, a different person from the one who approved the plan, feels that the plans (and thus the work completed) are not up to code and that there are issues which need to be addressed. The Neat feels that they did work that had already been approved and are being bullied by the township. In the meantime, their liquor license has expired and it cannot be renewed until they receive the updated capacity numbers from the township, which they will not provide until the renovations are to the present standard.

 

Lawyers have been hired, there have been heated exchanges and in the meantime, the Neat is trying to run a business which involves putting on shows; many of which have already been contracted and deposits paid. So they need a resolution (and a liquor license).

 

Last week there was a town council meeting and the Neat asked its patrons to express their feelings to the township. This seemed to have a positive result; a private meeting between the parties led to a short term compromise and many views were aired at the council meeting. However, the story was also picked up by the Ottawa Citizen and initially it was focused on the area support for the venue, the follow up story laid some of the blame on the LCBO (Liquor License Board of Ontario) for not renewing the license. This was a story that the Neat did not want out their because it was false and put some blame on a party who all along had been supportive and communicative.

 

So where’s it at now? The Neat is still operating but their present liquor license is still at a far lower capacity that the actual number of people who can fit in the building so they have to have tight controls on who has a drink and where. They are still on the hook for many upcoming shows (including an Arrogant Worms show in December) and not having the right license affects their ability to break even on the shows, let alone turn a profit. Word is out amongst agents and some artists who are already wondering if they may lose a venue and should they book a show their in the future if it won’t happen. Though my personal feeling is that the township is in the wrong here, I’ll assume that the dispute is because people are trying to do their jobs in the best way possible; the township doesn’t want to have there be a fire at the Cafe on a full evening and find that people were injured or killed because they allowed too many people to in a building that didn’t have the right facilities.

 

But the last part is the media. I felt all along that the dispute needed to be aired; if nothing else to add some public pressure to the parties to resolve the issues. The cafe didn’t want to add to their problems by having the wrong message get out and have another issue to deal with. However, by not controlling the issue, the wrong story got out anyways. As my publicist friend Heather Kitching ( www.heatherkitching.com )said, “That’s why you have to take charge of the message.” It doesn’t mean they had to hire a full time publicity person to inundate area media with message; but if the Cafe had sent out some releases with their side of the story, had the owners been made available to talk to the media, the township might have been forced to respond sooner. Maybe we all would know why there is an issue there in the first place because it really seems that a few balls have been dropped along the way.

 

Like in Sunday’s TiCats, Alouettes game. Come on boys, catch the frikkin ball! Go TiCats! Oskee Wee Wee.

Spam Spam Spam

Wow, if nothing else my site seems to be on the map of websites trying to sell me replica NFL jerseys and swell new boots. Who knew? If someone actually posted a comment and is hoping for a response i apologize, somehow I have to wade through the torrents of crap first. Delete delete delete…

Soundcheck tonight. I had decided that I would not try out brand new tunes until I had at least memorized them. However, I have a Hallowe’en song I just finished to I’ll try it. Piano works better if I’m foggy on the lyrics, easier to sit and read.

ARGGGHHH!

I’m sorry. I really suck at this. I’m kind of thinking that with the long delays between posts I need to try a reboot. They reboot ailing TV franchises, I shall try and reboot my ailing website. I seem to have gotten on a couple swell spam email lists so I’ve been getting tons of comments on how I can get replica NFL jerseys and I think some nice shoes. Super.

So here’s what’s going on. The Worms are recording a new album. I’ve got a few songs in the mix there and best of all, i get to play my red trombone on a couple of tracks.  I’m still doing my monthly Open Mike at the Neat cafe but have really been finding that trying to write and perform a new song isn’t working for me; I’m too poor at reading new lyrics so now I’m going to try and have the song ready a month in advance and have it memorized. We’ll see if that makes a difference. I’m still singing in the Arnprior Community Choir and hope to contribute an arrangement of an Arrogant Worms song for the spring concert. Some friends and I tried a Dixieland band last Christmas and we’re going to get it going again this fall. I play trombone and have done the arrangements for that group.

Not a lot of solo performances to speak of; I’ll be on a local telethon on Sunday, October 20th and will be doing a bit for the PGI Literacy group the following week. Then things get quiet. Though I have joined the local curling club. Rock on!

oops, again

Just terrible. I mean I try to keep this going and do well for a while and then it’s like I dropped off the face of the earth for a while. My bad. Okay, here’s some highlights.

Sandbox #2

Our 2nd songwriter’s circle featured Wendell Ferguson and Suzie Vinnick. For these shows I was figuring that mostly we’d feature acts from the area (so they could go home after) but Suzie and Wendell were on a small tour and had a day free so it seemed too good to pass up. Didn’t get a great turnout this time though which was a bit of a drag but it was a really good night. DSCN0390

Aren’t we a handsome lot?

It was an interesting mix of styles; Wendell’s a country guy, a tremendous picker on the guitar and loves puns and wordplay. I’m less of a punner, more into rock at heart and seem to like shocking people into laughing. Suzie has a soulful blues voice and can captivate a crowd with her singing and is no slouch on her guitar as well. I don’t think we really talked about the process much, instead it just became a show.

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch creatively. Not many new songs are coming out lately, getting several started at least and I’m not exactly thrilled with the quality. This coupled with a real lack of work for the Arrogant Worms, a loss of momentum for both the Soundcheck and Sandbox series of shows is adding to my general bummidness. That’s right bummidness. I’m kind of bummed. I feel like I need something good to happen again and hopefully that will be this week.

Rankin Inlet

Over the years, the Arrogant Worms have participated in many literacy events. I think I’ve blogged before that we find it difficult to do certain charity events; our smartass comedy style doesn’t always flow into a pitch for money to cure horrible diseases. However, literacy is a positive step for so many people and fits into what we do; plus we really like the people involved. So a couple of weeks ago I got an email from them asking if I was available this week to go to Rankin Inlet. Well, one thing I am these days is available. So this morning I’m typing from a hotel room in Winnipeg, awaiting this morning’s flight to Rankin Inlet. This will be my first trip to anywhere in Nunavut and really my first look at a truly remote community. The Worms played Whitehorse a few times but it’s a very well serviced city so other than the travel it doesn’t really have the feel of being isolated.

It should be interesting. It’ll be a bit of a system shock though; spring in my part of the country has been pretty late in coming this year but just this past week it started getting hot. Well according to the Weather Network, it’s presently minus 9 with some light snow. Different.

I’ll be with Connie Kaldor, Mike Stevens and Russell DeCarle, who have all done these trips before so have a good idea what to expect. I’m the newbie. As far as I know, I’ll be expected to go into a couple of schools, sing a couple of songs and maybe talk about songwriting a bit. There are a couple of group performances as well so we shall see! I brought my camera.

Soundcheck 13

After a month off due to weather concerns, we got back at it last evening. A really good night. Only 5 performers this time with a real country theme but everyone was really strong. So afterwards, i suggested that maybe we should stick around a jam a bit. Well, many stayed around though it was less a jam than a continuation of the performance. However, for me it was a real blast. Sometimes, one forgets how much fun it is to just play music. I really do like just playing my guitar and having other people sing.

I’ll be posting some photos on the facebook page “Soundcheck at the Neat”. I was going to do it right now but I forgot my list of people’s names and, well, i forget everybody. I did at least take the photos; I’m calling that a solid start!.

Telemiracle

I’m being a bad blogger again. Bad blogger. Bad!

The Worms just did the annual Telemiracle in Saskatoon this past weekend. It’s a pretty amazing telethon, they raised nearly 6 million bucks in a province with 1 million people. It comes from everything from bake sales to bequests from people to whom this charity was special.

For us, there were 2 highlights. One was getting to sing the Saskatchewan Pirate song with Brad Johner; a country artist who was had a lot of success with the tune. Second was meeting Bob from Sesame Street. He was exactly as I’d expected, a warm gentle soul who genuinely cares about you.IMG005-001

When he asked about the origin of the band’s name he then proceeded to tell us a Worm related story. Oscar the Grouch has a pet worm named “Slimy” who actually got to travel in the space shuttle. this, when Tony Bennett was a guest on the show he sang, “Slimy to the Moon”.

Sometimes winter sucks

We lost our first Soundcheck last evening. It snowed and snowed and the plows were barely getting through so we were pretty convinced nobody would come. Still, it’s a drag. We had just launched a facebook page so I don’t think too many people would have used it to see about the show. We did our best.IMG_00000027