Sunday, March 26, 2006

American Music Legend Buck Owens

The passing of American Music Legend Buck Owens brings back some powerful memories from my Nashville songwriter years not only in relation to my meeting the great Buck Owens himself at one point, but in relation also to so many other legendary artists, musicians and professional songwriters that I met and got to know on Music Row.

Thinking about one photo of me with Chet Atkins and Jethro Burns, I'm asking myself now why I didn't get Buck in the picture with us as he was standing right beside us just out of camera range talking with Harlan Howard as that 1988 photo was being taken. There were in fact many famous music industry people at that particular event [Harlan Howard’s birthday bash] and it might have seemed that I could get Buck's photo any old time whereas Chet was more reclusive by this point so seeing him out and about on Music Row was a rarity.

The big deal was getting my picture taken with Chet Atkins and his also famous brother-in-law Jethro Burns who also happened to be another rare figure around Music Row in those years. Indeed, The Oak Ridge Boys table was set up right beside ours [SBK/Combine] and I didn't get photos of them either because...well...they were around our office and around everywhere on Music Row in those days and for some reason they didn't seem to me like such a big deal at the time.

Certainly not as big a deal as Chet Atkins or Bill Monroe.

Harlan Howard of course wrote several of Buck Owens hit songs including the big smash hit I've Got A Tiger By The Tail. I got to know Harlan during my time in Nashville and I'm very grateful to have had that opportunity at the time since he too has now passed on.

Another legend who I'm sure will feel the loss of Buck Owens at this point in time is Merle Haggard who is currently warming up to go out on tour again with Bob Dylan. Bob and Merle did a tour together last year as well that brought out more than a few famous concert guests along the tour including Buck Owens who hung out backstage with Merle sharing songs and road stories. Buck surprised Bob Dylan with a gift one of his famous red, white and blue American Music guitars.

Bob Dylan
with Merle Haggard and Buck Owens

Buck Owens was a great American music artist.

You don't hear unique individual spirits in music much anymore.

plays a new Kris Kristofferson song for Buck

As Bob Dylan once said: Things Have Changed.

It reminds me of a song title of mine from Grace & Gravity

With deep respect for a true music legend

A Buck Is A Buck

Talking Points: Tom Spaulding pays tribute to Buck at his great music journey website called Caught Up In The Fable. Tom has worked with several artists such as John Fogerty. His Buck Owens piece includes a great video of Buck Owens and Don Rich performing I’ve Got A Tiger by The Tail. Check it out by pressing the play icon in the centre of the video frame below. And don't forget to turn it up!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Music Killers

An edifying article by Michael Geist via Prime recently on who's really killing the music industry in Canada. Here's a hint, it isn't artists & songwriters or independent music publishers. We’re trying to promote music and create real new music business opportunities.

The music killers are the long entrenched copyright monopoly crowd and their accomplices in the mainstream media now undergoing the most serious challenges to their dominance since democracy itself.

Geist: “Moreover, if there is a problem with the Canadian online music market it is not the lack of anti-circumvention legislation but rather the debilitating effect of SOCAN, CMRRA, and the copyright collectives who are demanding at least 40 percent of the gross revenues of such services. As I wrote nearly a year ago, "the true threat to that future [the development of an economically viable download market] does not come from peer-to-peer downloads that is already subject to compensation through the private copying levy but rather from collectives that seem determined to receive a very large share of a very tiny market." The full effect of the collective cash grab is beginning to emerge as some music services have dropped out of Copyright Board proceedings. If the government really wants to address the online music market, addressing the copyright collective problem would be a good place to start.”

Read the whole thing here

It’s time to listen up songwriters and independent music publishers.

The truth will set you free. If you don't recognize where your own best interests and opportunities are, why should the business care.

The business has never cared about anything other than owning your collective rights towards their own interests as a monopoly industry.

We refer to that activity here at FRANKtalk as The Old In Out.

As a copyright creator, why should it be your obligation to fall into line with a rapidly dying structural model while embracing the uncertain life of indentured servitude to that monopoly's exclusive purposes and self-serving regulations for the rest of your mortal days [plus 50 or 70 years depending on your particular legal designation].

Need more proof of their collective desperation…?

Ok…this just in from mi2n

Hey Hey My My

Talking Points: Right Wing Bob references Dylan’s Property Of Jesus at his RWB site today…think I will too…

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lucky LeRoux Is Looking At You

My incredible journey back to my hometown of Charlottetown PEI for our recent Songwriter Summit @ ECMA's events encompassed many nostalgic personal encounters which I never imagined happening at the outset of my trip. Naturally I presumed that I would run into old friends and a few relatives living there and obviously, with 4 days of ECMA events and festivities being held in Charlottetown this year, maybe some long lost acquaintances from around the Maritimes might surprise me. It wouldn't be PEI if that stuff didn't happen.

But I've been living "away" for more than 30 years so the prospects along those lines have diminished now to some degree and while there are still a few people with whom I can connect on a shared memory level of our days in the 70's there, they are getting to be fewer in number and beyond that many are scattered everywhere now and many more long remembered are dead. Too many it seems.

So imagine my surprise [on stage] after playing a song to a packed house at our Friday performance of The Songwriter Summit when a shadowy mysterious figure emerged from the darkness behind the spotlights shrouding our view of the audience to present me with a handwritten note that read "LUCKY LEROUX IS LOOKING AT YOU…!"

Now for those of you who are already familiar with my 1981 album The Comfort Sound Sessions you obviously know that name, but for many others who do not know it, Lucky LeRoux [Lucian Parkin] is a long revered musician/poet whose artistic soul and musical energy captivated me completely in the early 70's back in Charlottetown when I was first coming of age in my own awareness as a young songwriter/artist. Lucian's family had come to PEI from England and his parents both taught and performed music all their lives so the river of music ran very deep within his soul as it still does today.

The remarkable thing is that since writing and recording my song about him more than 25 years ago, I've hardly seen him except for one occasion in Toronto in the late 70's or early 80's when he passed through the Big Smoke on his way to a family wedding in Vancouver.

Other than that, I haven't seen Lucky LeRoux for many long years but of course I've often thought about him many times over the years wondering how he was doing and if he still played and performed. Indeed, that's what the song Lucky LeRoux is really all about. Lucky was a nickname that somebody [probably George Antoniak] hung on Lucian early on and of course his last name was LeRoux for years until he changed it for reasons known only to himself. He is now Lucian Parkin but for those of us who remember the years when we first established our spiritual connections to one another in song and creative music culture in Charlottetown in the very early 1970's, he'll always be known and remembered as Lucian “Lucky” LeRoux.

The shadowy, shrouded figure presenting the surprise note to me from beyond the stage lights turned out to be my long time friend and good friend of Lucian’s, Judy Cheverie. That was the best, Judy. Perhaps the coolest surprise anyone has ever sprung on me…EVER!

It was a wonderful, infinitely memorable reunion and one of the most incredible moments of my life to realize that Lucky was there with you in the audience enjoying our Songwriter Summit event.

Lucian was in town from Boston and was also performing as part of The Red Island Road Review Shows. I got to catch a set of his the next night and he and I also got together over the weekend to catch sets by former Troubadours Bonnie LeClair and Mike Mooney as well.

It was fantastic for all of us being together again after so long and getting to hear each other’s work as mature music artists. Amazing!

It's interesting to note here also that at the same time Lucian LeRoux was playing with George Antoniak in A Moment's Sunlight [later to become Storm], that a few Charlottetown based songwriters were also emerging to some prominence with cuts of their material by recording artists who helped create a real sense among us all that our stuff was happening and would continue to be perpetuated.

Those songwriters included Gene MacLellan whose major hits Snowbird and Put Your Hand In The Hand became international standards and Marty Reno who’s Uncle Dad & Auntie Mom became a hit for Cliff Edwards and The Bells. Also, Tom Gallant, who wrote a song that became a signature tune for George Hamilton IV called Down East Country. In that mix along with all these big icons and emerging influences among us was a local kid who scored a hit on RCA Records with a song called Our Lovin' Times by Canada's top country music group in those years, The Mercey Brothers.

Who was that kid…? Oh yeah, I remember…it was Frank Trainor.

Talking Points: Special thanks once again to Bob at Either Orr for his recent great review of my current CD Grace & Gravity at his blogsite. Very cool to have my work so respected and appreciated by Bob knowing that he is a real music fan and a songwriting aficionado.

Spotlight: In the spirit of some great and timeless music that I’m enjoying right now let me focus this week's spotlight on legendary songwriter Bert Russell Berns whose hits include songs Twist & Shout, Cry Baby, Piece Of My Heart & Here Comes The Night. See Bert Berns link at my Songwriters Gallery. You won't believe the hit songs and monster records this guy wrote and produced. Read his discography.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Gathering Of Songwriters

Having just returned from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, I think it's safe to say that it was not just seals and animal rights that attracted Paul McCartney to my hometown this past week for a visit. Since "Macca" is first and foremost a truly great songwriter, I believe that he simply experienced a soul connection to The Buzz we had created with our Songwriter Summit shows held in association with Close To The Coast and Sandbar Music throughout ECMA Week. Sir Paul probably flew in from Miami Beach BOAC but didn't get to sleep last night because he was unconsciously homing in on all the amazing songs, music, love and high flowing energy produced by our spirits.

All four nights of The Songwriter Summit were completely sold out and the event quickly established itself as the coolest buzz of the ECMA's attracting standing room only crowds, major name ECMA nominees, a few music stars and many international delegates.

I performed and hosted our premiere Songwriters Circle all 4 nights of The Songwriter Summit events and each night was a total blast.

The Songwriter Summit was an idea originally conceived and created with my music business associate Lloyd Doyle of Sandbar Music and is based upon our ongoing mutual desire to establish and promote a sustained professional focus and higher profile on songwriters by spotlighting the diverse music and influences of these wonderful performing songwriters and their culture in the Atlantic region.

Lloyd went to work constructing the architecture of our debut shows and designing the logistics of our events to coincide with the ECMA Showcases and trade show celebrations that were scheduled for Charlottetown this year. It certainly proved to be a major success.

All credit must go to Lloyd Doyle for his masterful implementation in securing the best venue and best talent for The Songwriter Summit drawing the very finest "cream of the crop" songwriters from around Eastern Canada to participate in our shows. Every one of them was amazing in their own energy and creative gifts as songwriters and musicians and a few of them just knocked me out with their talent.

I'll be profiling a number of these performing songwriters in the days and weeks ahead, but for the moment let me mention just a few of these artists who made the deepest impression on me personally.

Remember these names. You'll be hearing them in future.

Carmen Townsend, Rose Cousins, Catherine MacLellan, Jill Barber, Dave Carmichael and Mike Dixon [The Rattlesnakin' Daddies].

And look for rising new 17 year old singer/songwriting talent Meaghan Blanchard to solidly establish her own ground in future.

These talented young songwriter/artist/performers are simply stunning. Each one is also unique in their individual talents.

I was profoundly moved in my experience and appreciation of each one of them as were our appreciative audiences who gathered around us absolutely spellbound and amazed at the array of high quality music and great songs emanating from the Summit stage.

It was my honor and my absolute pleasure to be a part of our Songwriter Summit with such amazingly talented artists and I look forward beyond this fantastic debut event to creating magic on the road with these and other artists as we gather again at The Summit.

Talking Points: I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated in our shows and to all who contributed to the success of our Songwriter Summit events as well as to all of those amazing individuals who made my journey back to my hometown a very special homecoming of love, support, respect and appreciation. Believe me, the feeing is mutual.

Lloyd and Debbie Doyle, Frank Harding, Pat Deighan, Liam Corcoran [Two Hours Traffic], Mitch Schurman, James Phillips, Alicia Penney, Steve MacDougall [Slowcoaster], Carmen Townsend, Kevin Ryan, Meaghan Blanchard, Nikkie, Mike Dixon, Rose Cousins, Dan Currie, Catherine MacLellan, Mark Bragg, Matt Putnam [Nudie & The Turks], Jill Barber, Sherry Ryan, Jenn Grant, John Mullane [In Flight Safety], Dave Charmichael, Kristine Malpica, Chas & Christina, Judy Cheverie, Lucian Parkin [aka Lucky LeRoux] , Rita Watts, Barbara Jabour, Debbie & Alan Buchanan, Deanna and Ken Savage, Bonnie LeClair, Scott Parsons, Mike Mooney, Ellen Driscoll, Maureen Morrison, Ken Zakem, Tabatha MacDonald [Angels Restaurant], Firouz & Aghdasi Mastoureh [Linda's Cafe], George & Ken [Razors Inn], David Currie, Denise LaForte, Kathy & Barry Harrison, Dave Skinner, Paul Milner, Duncan McIntosh, Catherine McKinnon, Roland Beaulieu [PEI Music Awards], Sobers Music, Marie Cameron & Family, George & Dalal Dow, Garry Doyle & Dianne Bradley, Wayne Dunsford, Kevin O'Brien, ECMA Radio, Tim Trainor [Thomas & Elizabeth], Don MacDonald, Roger Bevin and staff [Quality Inn On The Hill], Wes Gallant and the great staff at the Piece A Cake, Chris Roumbanis [our sound tech], Millie Trainor [my mom], Ana Zbona, Judy MacLellan, Sally Cole, The Buzz, The Journal Pioneer, The Guardian, Sandbar & PEI Dept. of Community and Cultural Affairs & The PEI Music Awards Association.

Spotlight: Special thanks to my fellow Islander & friend Linda Durant at The Great Pumpkin for linking FRANKtalk to her wonderful site. Discover The Great Pumpkin in my Scribes & Illuminators sidebar. Thanks as well to Bob at Either Orr for his kind comments regarding my current CD Grace & Gravity. Glad you like it Bob. And speaking of albums, my heartfelt appreciation to my good friend Brett Berns in New York for sending me his personal tribute CD package of his Dad's music called Sloopy II Music Presents The Songs of Bert Russell Berns. Brett's father, Bert Berns, wrote and produced some of the most timeless classic pop/soul songs and hit records in rock music history including Twist and Shout, Piece Of My Heart, Hang On Sloopy, Cry Baby, Under The Boardwalk, Cry To Me, Here Comes The Night, Brown Eyed Girl, Midnight Special and many more amazing big hits. Bert Berns belongs in The Songwriters Hall of Fame & in The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Check out the incredible treasure trove of hit songs and records that Bert Berns wrote and produced and learn more about this musical pop/soul genius and his amazing legacy of contributions to the early years of pop/soul music. Also check out Universal Records compilation CD The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns.

I'm A Spirit Now: According to the news from Charlottetown today, Paul McCartney visited with The Judy MacLean dancers as part of his visitations within the local community. Judy MacLean is an old friend of ours who just happens to be the person who introduced me to my wife Linda 31 years ago. It was exactly 30 years ago that Linda and I took off together from PEI to discover our destiny in the wider world and we are still together today. Thank you Judy and thanks to you Paul McCartney for honoring our friend Judy MacLean. We're sure she'll remember your visit for a lifetime as Linda and I will remember our very first meeting through Judy also for a lifetime and beyond.
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