James Bonding

You know it’s my urge to be remade as James Bond. And K is doing her best to shape me. Turns out I’m not alone. In a rare Sunday blog, I give you:

Like Minded Men

Twitter: @shpak60

Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 11:05 am  Comments Off on James Bonding  
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Party Doll

Off today to learn how to make an entrance, work a room and, by the sound of it, just generally be a star. I wonder how much I need to learn in this regard.

Being a fringe member of the Canadian Music Industry for most of my adult life, I have acquired all sorts of fringe behaviour. Way back in the old days, the Juno Awards weren’t quite the glamorous event they are now. In time-honoured Canadian fashion, it was essentially some guys getting together for some beers. The awards ceremony itself was kind of low key and the glamour was to be had at the after parties.

These were sometimes industry events and sometimes private parties. In those days there was always a chance you could throw a Juno Party and your buddy Doug could get Rush or April Wine to show up, because we were kind of deficient in the star trappings department in Canada.

So my little take in this, not having anything at the time in terms of product or skills marketable in the business, was a foray into the world of the after parties, ostensibly to network, but effectively the only agenda that was developed was the one that got me into playing music in the first place – that of meeting girls.

Rock-Star-BuddyWe had it down to a sweet science, me and my Rock Star Buddy. That was our private code. When we stepped out to the after parties we were Rock Star Buddies. We’d get the scoop on the various parties being held then we’d decide on the ones that were about the 75th percentile. The really ritzy ones would have too many big names, but the other end would be too desperate. In those settings we’d be either lost or ratted out as the phonies we were.

Entrances, well, ours would have been different than the ones I’m sure Kathryn will teach. See, we didn’t have invitations exactly. We’d kind of slide in. If we picked the Right Party, being spotted while making a discreet entrance was actually a good thing. People at the Right Party would have a little bit of an expectation that Somebody Famous would show. So in would walk the Rock Star Buddies, fake Ray-Bans in place. I am reasonably certain Corey Hart got the idea for his hit from us, or others like us. But probably us.

Our attire was Rock Star Shabby – decadently torn jeans in an era before everybody’s grandmother was wearing them, paired with an expensive but casual top. In my case I had a favoured sweater, as illustrated.

Now, having been noticed sneaking in, we would procure beverages then seek a well-lit corner somewhat apart from the rest of the crowd. Seems counter-intuitive to networking, doesn’t it? To make it worse, we would bend toward each other in whispered and secret conversation, oblivious to the room. If we were at the Right Party, the room was not oblivious to us. We had the vibe, we had the look. It’s just that no one could place us, quite so because we were, really, nobodies unless you happened to be in a bar in New Liskeard in April. It’s not hard to be a star in a bar in New Liskeard in April.

Soon a Cute Young Thing would wander over:

“Hi! Are you guys famous?”

We planned for this question despite the obvious, if we were famous would you have to ask? Our method of dealing with it was that the Rock Star Buddies would look at each other with surprise, each acquire a slow smirk, and in that moment one of us would tip his head slightly toward the asker. This was our method of calling ChipandDale3dibs, though we did it backwards. The head tipper would be offering dibs to the other, a sort of rock n roll Chip N’ Dale. After you, no, after you. Only on one occasion did we have a double tip, and our charade fell apart.

Once the Dibs Tip was transacted, the Tippee would then turn toward the asker and slowly remove the sunglasses and make eye contact. I liked to add a little bit of left eyebrow at this point also.

(slight chuckle) “No. No, we’re not famous.”

Conducted correctly, the effect was the same as saying, “Of course we’re famous, and aren’t you just so cute and naïve not to know this,” and the evening was off to a fine start. Usually Cute Young Thing would know someone to introduce to the Other Rock Star buddy, or we would enact the scene again during a CYT powder room visit. Only on one occasion did we need to resort to a second party to produce the desired result.

Hmm… perhaps I understand now why my career didn’t take off.

Kathryn, maybe I’m ready for this class now.

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 12:13 am  Comments Off on Party Doll  
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The Playboy Life, Part 2

Integral to The Playboy Life is music, and for me, that’s jazz. Now, to clarify, The Playboy Life is not my entire life. The rest of me often gets tired of jazz. It’s an intellectual music and I am functionally an idiot, so I retreat to the comfort of more conventional tunes that rarely stray outside 4/4 unless it’s a waltz. I joke that I can’t count past 4, therefore I don’t play jazz.

Of course, like Rock, Jazz is not just any one thing. I love a good spray of Dixieland, a la Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, and Sinatra sings with such ease I hate him. Too smooth. But if you want to pour maple syrup on your ears and hear lyrics and melody seamlessly welded together, none top Frank. Mmm… maple syrup…

There is, though, good reason why Kind of Blue is largely recognized as the greatest selling jazz recording in history. And its beauty is like walking into a huge cathedral or synagogue or Wrigley Field. It might not be your choice of religion, but it’s easy to see a shrine when you see one. Such is Miles Davis’s 1959 album.

He was breaking away from both jazz standards and the forms of bebop and hard bop he’d been exploring, into modal jazz, with improvisation built around particular scales. Now to my buddy Saxmanic that makes some sort of sense, but to me it’s finger snapping cool while going blahblahblah over the details. There are 12 bar blues cycles in some of the tunes which probably lends an accessibility through the more advanced layers, so us dummies can like it.

I know. I’ll never be this cool.

But here’s what it boils down to in my vision of The Playboy Life: It’s after midnight, candles are lit, it’s a cool night outside, the martinis (or their more palatable replacements) are drunk and things are winding down. The needle is lowered into the groove (The Playboy Life pre-dates CD’s) and the sassy brass So What issues forth and a little cocoon of warmth envelopes the room. It’s a bubble that Bruce Cockburn succinctly described as a “suddenly compact universe of skin and breath and hair,” and that’s it exactly. This is music for Digging at its finest and how better to Dig The One You’re With than alongside the intimate horns of Davis and Coltrane? This is not cold brass. This is music for lovers, baby. Viagra for the ears.

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on The Playboy Life, Part 2  
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