It’s been a while I know, and there’s actually been a lot going on. On September 7th I flew from Saint John to Toronto, where I was met by my cousin Bonnie. We drove to Barrie (about an hour north of Toronto) and I spent a couple of days with her, getting caught up on news and enjoying some lovely Ontario weather.
On Friday the 9th I met up with my young friend Taylor Abram (also a Barrie resident) and we drove to Hamilton where the Canadian Country Music Association’s annual conference was held this year. In spite of the complaints we constantly hear about the decline in music sales resulting in everyone being penniless, the conference showed no signs of deprivation or under attendance. Taylor and I had a nice hotel room but it was 20 minutes away in Burlington. It seems the hotels in Hamilton sold out fast.
I haven’t been to a CCMA conference since the event was held here in Saint John in 2006. I know the drill but I’m a little rusty in dealing with it . . . and believe it or not I ain’t getting any younger. It’s a mosaic of showcases, seminars, luncheons and dinners, open mikes, songwriting rounds, label parties, and so forth . . . the chances to schmooze your butt off are countless but you wind up with a raw throat from trying to talk above the music and you can, by small increments, walk for miles over the course of a day. In short it’s exhausting, but also exhilerating.
I met up with dozens of friends and colleagues from the past, all of whom seemed happy to see me up and around and complimented me on how healthy I look . . . which admittedly I never tire of hearing. Not just Canadians either. There was a Nashville contingent milling about and I got reacquainted with David Ross (Music Row magazine), Jeff Walker (Aristo Media) and Denny Carr from Open Road. Equally important, I met several young singers and songwriters and preached the gospel of Skype co-writing to one and all. Let’s hope that bears some fruit. I’ve already co-written one song online this week with the ever-talented Adam Gregory (an Edmontonian living in Nashville) and I think we’ve got ourselves a good one.
The CCMAs culminate in the Monday evening Awards Show, followed by the post-Awards party which is always a hot event. By the time that was done Taylor and I (it was his first CCMA) were ready to bid goodbye to Hamilton and the festivities. Tuesday morning we heading back up Highway 400 another hour beyond Barrie to tiny Brechin, Ontario. My good friend Jim Hopson lives there in a beautiful waterside home in which he’s installed his state-of-the-art Lake Effect recording studio. Taylor works for Jim as an engineer and overall aide-de-camp, besides being a talented singer-songwriter in his own right.
I stayed there till Friday co-writing with Taylor and several other gifted Ontarians . . . Colin Amey, James Barker and my lovely new friend Amelia Marcus. A good productive few days. Then on the 16th Taylor drove me into Toronto where I caught a flight back to Saint John.
Meanwhile Maggie had been busy doing her thing . . . which as you all must know by now is guiding tours around Saint John, standing at the front of a bus armed with a microphone and a dazzling United Empire Loyalist costume. She has now been out on four separate occasions doing two tours per outing so she’s gone from being a quaking neophyte to an old hand. By all reports she’s doing wonderfully; comments are encouraging and the tips are generous. Unfortunately this work will stop at the end of October not to resume till June, but we’ll squirrel away what acorns we can gratefully.
For your visual gratification, I’m attaching a photo of Maggie in full regalia. Now wouldn’t you want this charming creature to guide YOUR Saint John tour?
And on the health front . . . chemo #34 is under my belt and I’m doing fine. I’ve had another CT scan and should be able to comment on the results next time.