Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Counting Down, 100 Shows Announced

Time flies when you are as busy as I've been. The little, virtual office seems to be popping all the time. Since I last posted we've got the Tour posters back from the printer, and mailed them all over Canada. I think most, if not all the venues and presenters should have them by now. The live CD, "Big Road Blues" has been mastered and packaged— you'll be able to get a copy of this CBC produced recording at any of our shows. Silverbirch Productions in Toronto was a really big help in gracefully (and quickly) finding and resolving our various problems.

We've also nailed down a bunch of details with Long & McQuade. We'll be presenting complimentary guitar workshops in many locations across Canada. Check the updated Tour Schedule, or the Long & McQuade website to see where and when. These are mostly smaller towns and cities, as we felt these would be more fun.

The schedule has had some adds and some drops. More adds than drops, I'm glad to say, and we've still got calls coming in and dates pending. Better late than never, eh? We've crossed the 100 show margin some time ago, and yesterday the first press releases went out announcing all the dates. Richard Flohil is promoting the gala, tour launch at Hugh's Room, Toronto. It's a bit strange for me to actually have a publicist working on a show date. But, gosh, Richard Flohil is one of the very best. I could get used to this.

Here's the front end of yesterday's press release—

For Immediate Release: August 25, 2009

Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean Announce 100 Shows

Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean are pleased to report that their National Steel “Century” Blues Tour has grown to a record breaking, 100+ back to back shows spanning 9 provinces and 2 territories. Riding high on the roots revival, the veteran bluesmen are to launch their epic tour at Hugh’s Room, Toronto, on Wednesday, September 9th.

The most comprehensive Canadian blues-roots tour ever mounted, the Century is setting new benchmarks for independent artists. “I think it’s the biggest tour anybody has done in this country,” says Doc MacLean, who claims to run the whole enterprise out of a virtual office consisting of “a laptop, a cell phone and a guitar case.”

Operating without arts funding, the Tour is absorbing the costs of bringing the blues to remote rural locations and the far north. “It’s something Big Dave and I feel very strongly about,” explains Doc, “a national tour should be national— not just a string of big cities on a highway.” Building on the “blues coming to your town!” theme, Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean have partnered with music retailer and educator Long and McQuade to offer complimentary, blues guitar workshops and masterclasses at locations across Canada.

To commemorate the Tour, Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean are releasing a special, live CD, “Big Road Blues.” The limited pressing, recorded and produced by Catherine McLelland for CBC’s “Canada Live,” will only be available at Century Blues Tour shows.

Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean thrilled sold out halls from Halifax to Vancouver Island on their original Big Road Blues Tour. Back by popular demand, don’t miss this opportunity to hear them interact again, up close and personal in this epic, all acoustic songs and stories presentation. Loaded with new songs and old favourites, the Century Tour promises to be a classic, "must see" event.

The Century Tour launches at Hugh’s Room, Toronto, on Wednesday, September 9th.


I'll update the sidebar in a day or so! Hope everybody is having a great summer. Dave and I are counting down to launch. I'm playing some shows around Prince Edward County, ON, this week. Once the tour launches I'll be reporting on our adventures daily with pics as we go.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Canada Council Refuses Funding

Sour grapes! Well it's official: The peer assessment committee for the Music Touring Grants program has completed it's deliberations and we've been informed us that our application was not successful. This decision is "a result of a comparative analysis process, the number of requests submitted to the competition and the budget available for this program."

"Committee members were asked to evaluate each application and to make funding recommendations based on the assessment criteria published in the program information sheet and application guidelines."

Yes, I'm a little disappointed. If a tour like this one can't get funding, who can? But, gosh, I'm so curious now... who are my peers? You know, the other musicians who are out year after year doing actual National tours of 40- 100 shows at a time, in virtually every area of Canada? I haven't seen any evidence that anybody is doing tours that come remotely close to the Century Tour in terms of scope and organization— over 100 back to back shows across Canada, urban and rural, large and small. And it's not just some wild proposal— this is the 4th year that this Tour has gone out in this form. After 38 years of Touring I know what I'm doing. We're not exactly low profile artists either. Anyway, I hope some deserving, actually working artists ended up with the money, and I hope the jury was composed of people with similar backgrounds. Clearly there are other touring shows working hard to make a go of it.

This year I'll be personally subsidizing the Tour's Northern leg to Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Dawson City. That was the real reason I applied to the Music Touring Grants program in the first place. Obviously the jury felt there were other tours, more worthy of funding— so I will watch and see what I can learn from the successful applicants.

Maybe the refusal comes down to the "assessment criteria." Technical. Maybe we weren't technically good enough. There's a big emphasis on "signed contracts," old fashioned ink documents that people used to fax and courier back and forth. I asked around, and a sampling of the venues kindly provided these for me in the 11th hour. But I've got a Tour BOOK here, with emailed confirmations of terms. These would serve, and do serve, as legal contracts. My legal advisor is good with them, and I am, too. The truth of the matter, for small shows and small venues, is that it is not usually worth while to litigate breach of contract problems. What? You're going to contest $500 in small claims, in Blankville, at great personal time and expense, halfway across the country? It mainly comes down to good will, good reputation, and clear communications between the parties. When you've got 100 shows, a sampling of representative contracts from all parts of the country should suffice for a preliminary assessment. That's what we provided. And I have written confirmations of terms for every show and appearance. We live in a digital age now. Printed, it's 300- 500 pages. Or maybe they were good with all that... who knows?

Ah, well. I'm really glad that we have the Canada Council, and I've appreciated the opportunity to apply for funding. Now I'll be watching carefully to learn who my peers really are, whose Tours they have decided to fund, and what the actual scope of these Tours might be. I'll share this information here, and perhaps those of us who care will learn from it. And I'll try it again. If you don't ask, you won't get.

But right now tickets are going on sale in different places across Canada for the Century Blues Tour! Soon we'll be playing your town! Funding would of been nice, but Dave and I have never had it so we won't miss it. Put the coffee pot on for us, would ya?