April 10, 2018

The Pitch: Does it Need to Be "Ful-O-Pep?"

This National Steel Blues Tour, now in it's 13th consecutive year. Who would of thought? No place too large, too small, too grand or too humble. It's played all parts of all ten Canadian provinces multiple times- and a couple of territories to boot. It's played twenty-five American states, and much of South Africa. It brings the Blues to places where artists with agents, managers, and even labels- will never be seen. Some places with more dogs than people. The Tour plays big places, too, but this is more than an ongoing adventure of over 1000 shows, over 1000 days spent driving, over 1000 load ins, sound checks, set lists, emails. More. Much more.

How many stories? How many cold rooms, broken hearts, nights spent sleeping in cars behind some prairie juke joint? How many wrecks? Windows smashed out by rocks? Narrow escapes with death on this blues highway? Hunter Thompson might of said that the music business also has it's down side. But not being in the music business, I can't say. I tell songs and sing stories, and play the blues. So let me pour another glass of red, and tune up my trusty National. This won't last forever, you know. But the Blues Highway has still got it's arms open wide. And I can still drive.

This year's "CanAfrica Blues" theme features my good friend Albert Frost. How cool is that? I met this West Cape, South Africa based artist during my Zulu Skies Tour in 2016. Since then, we've had a ball performing at some of Africa's best theatres and festivals. This is a guy who counts Lonnie Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, and Ali Farka Toure (who he actually played with) among his top musical influences. He does rock, folk, jazz, traditional west African, and blues. He's a real blues guy. But he's not terribly concerned about genre. Or confined by it. Music is a language that comes of stories, and in Frost's Africa there is no shortage of stories. South Africa has long been a unique musical cauldron, and Albert's art reflects this. This year, he's my guest on my Blues Highway across North America. CanAfrica Blues. I'm thrilled to have him along.

I've had a lot of truly great guitar players work with me over the years, but I can't say I've enjoyed a player as much as Albert since... maybe since Colin Linden. While Albert Frost enhances what I do tremendously, I'm more looking forward to introducing him and his music to North American audiences. His singing, songwriting and performance guarantee that he'll be back- on his own. Or with a band. In bigger venues. Maybe I'll get to open for him! Anyway, we're going to have fun!

Canadians don't know how lucky they are to be able to witness Albert Frost in some of the small venues we're booking on this coast to coast Tour. Elsewhere in the world the venues are often bigger- much bigger. The National Steel "CanAfrica" Blues Tour is now over half sold. But I'd definitely like to increase our weaning weights as soon as possible. Maybe if I sugar coat the pitch we'll have the remaining dates filled in no time! Hey, venue folks- book now if you haven't already. The suspense is killing me, and the motor is running. Who's full of pep now?

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