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

image0

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

Terry McLeish Show

The show in Pembroke went really well I thought. It’s the first full set of original material I’ve done so that was interesting. I had brought everything I thought I needed, except shoes. Just had my good Renfrew winter boots with me. Now I probably could have got away with it but it felt kind of stupid so I went down the hall from the venue (which was in a mall) to the Zellers (going out of business!) and bought some new shoes. They’re skateboard shoes!

I brought my camera and got the sound guy to record some of the show with the camera sitting on a rail. I have created a YouTube account (mikemccormickmusic) and am in the process of uploading the video for “Hunting Season” even as I type this. It is very exciting. Though I’m not sure if it’s working. It says it’s processing.

I had fun with the “Eg a lif” Icelandic stuff as well. Played the Icelandic song after singing I am Cow. I am thinking of writing some new lyrics to the exact melody of the Icelandic song.