July 20, 2017

Last Chance To See

As many of you already know, I'm soon heading out on my annual adventure to make music. A friend of mine asked me yesterday why I'm calling the tour in August and September "Last Chance To See." The reason for the title is that this tour will probably be the last time I head out as a road warrior. Fellow musicians will understand it but it's becoming increasingly difficult to organize a tour as an independent musician. Venues are closing, only hiring local artists, prefer bands to solo performers, all kinds of reasons. Couple that with hitting a milestone birthday next year, which will mean a sizeable jump to the cost of health care insurance, and an increase in the cost of a P-2 Visa to cross the border into the US.

Don't get me wrong - I love being out on the road, playing for an appreciative audience, meeting people and talking music and guitars (and capos). It's been a little over 16 years since I first stepped out on the stage at Don's Coffee House after many years of not playing. Since that fateful day (for which I still have the Don's Coffee House Newsletter), I've played countless songs, run up myriad kilometers on a succession of vehicles and seen the inside of a lot of all-day breakfast joints. I will miss it but as Billy Joel said, "It's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes."

What I will miss most of all is the interaction with so many people, some of whom have become close friends. Other travelling musicians (and our hosts) know that there is comfort in having places on the road where you can lay your head, have a shower in the morning, eat a home-cooked meal and maybe a glass of wine, and enjoy conversation on a range of topics. For example, I learned a lot about Rwanda from one of my hosts who had been there to dig into the stories behind the headlines.

So if you're close to any of the places I'll be playing in August and September, please join us and help support live music. Some of the gigs will be solo, some of them are song swaps where I'll be sharing the stage with other musicians. Much of what we do is fun but we're also trying to earn a living at it so we appreciate that you pay the cover or throw a few bucks in the donation jar and also support the venues who continue to present live music in increasingly difficult conditions.

So where is the Last Chance To See?

August 2, Crow Town Gallery, Lubec, ME (Song Swap)
August 3, Welshpool Hall, Campobello, NB (Song Swap)
August 5, Fireside Restaurant, Campobello, NB
August 6, The Puffin Room, Lubec, ME (also being live streamed)
September 7, Riverdale Park, MD (Song Swap)
September 12, Natick, MA
September 13, Maynard, MA (Song Swap)
Sept 15, Orleans, MA
Sept 16, Norfolk, MA
Sept 17, Hopkinton, MA
Sept 22, Hopewell Junction, NY
Sept 23 Hyde Park, NY (Afternoon Workshop and Evening Concert)

More detail on locations and times are available on my website, bobardern.ca.

October 22, 2016

New Music and More

It's the middle of October and we've been very busy (and uncharacteristically quiet ).  We made it home from the July/August/September tour, turned around quickly and back on the road for the next place to see.

We put around 13,000 kms on the van between the end of July and the middle of September.   We had three festival weekends in a row:   Fog Fest on Campobello Island, NB followed by Live From The Rock in Red Rock, ON and rounded out with Trout Forest in Ear Falls, ON.    After "The Trout," we headed off down into the US for a few weeks playing some smaller rooms in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  It was a great honour for me to wind up the tour by opening the 2016/2017 season at Old Lynn Concerts, in Lynn, PA.

Shortly after we arrived home, we took off to Iceland for a week for a little R&R and to help my cousin's wife celebrate a milestone birthday.  Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place and if we're Facebook friends, you may already have seen a few pictures.

Now we're home again and back to work, we've been back in the Otitis Media studio with David Findlay.  We've been working on new compositions and with the whirlwind of travelling finished, we sat down and completed a couple of new pieces.   One is a mellow, relaxation piece which Dave says is the next Spa Channel™ hit.  It's called Marigot Bay in honour of some time spent in St. Lucia enjoying a little winter warmth and sunshine.  The second is an upbeat song with a celtic flair called Is It Reel? which is a backward glance to Flea's Reel (which is actually not a reel) from Wires Rosewood & Roots.

Like many musicians nowadays, we are exploring our options for the release of the new music.  Sales of physical CDs are on the decline as people are using other technologies to listen to music so the idea of a 12-song album with a physical CD for sale is coming increasingly under pressure.  As yet with only two songs recorded we are a little bit away from having to make a decision but as we develop more tunes, we will be looking at various options for making the music available to our audience.

The other activity we've been undertaking in the last week or so is a makeover of bobardern.ca.  The new website is a cleaner version that should load a little quicker.  The mobile version uses less graphical content to save your data plan if you're not accessing the site over WiFi.   The site is essentially an electronic press kit, where you can watch videos, listen to all our music, and obtain bios and pictures for your own use.  We also have links to some of the radio stations that are playing our music and if you're a radio host and you want us to add your station to the list, drop us an email.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the shows on the tour and thank you for your continued support of Nova Scotian New Age music.   According to the Guardian newspaper, New Age and Instrumental music is being recognized as "cool" and those of us who have been playing it for a while can't agree more.

Cheers, Bob

July 22, 2016

Setting off on Tour

A few days from now, I'll be heading out on the road for a seven week tour of Maine, New Brunswick, Ontario, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania (along with transit through points in between).

The tour starts in on July 29 in Lubec, ME at the Puffin Room, crosses over the bridge to Campobello Island for Campobello Fogfest (July 30), then up to Northwestern Ontario for Live From The Rock (Aug 5/6/7) followed by Trout Forest Music Festival (Aug 12/13/14).  From Ontario, I cross into Wisconsin and Minnesota for dates in Appleton (Aug 17), Eau Claire (Aug 18), Madison (Aug 20), and St. Paul (Aug 21).

Norfolk, MA is next up on Aug 26 with a double bill featuring a song swap with Debra Cowan - my Local 1000 Musicians Union sister.  The next afternoon, I'll be live on Root 'n' Branch, hosted by Russ Smith on WUMD 89.3 FM in Dartmouth, MA. No trip to Massachusetts would be complete without a stop into Abundant Haven in Hopkinton and that's where I'll be in the evening of Aug 27 after the radio appearance. 

Labour Day weekend sees me in Roanoke, VA (Sept 2) and Chapel Hill, PA (suburban Harrisburg - Sept 3) and then the following weekend (Sept 10) the tour winds up by kicking off the 2016/2017 season of The Old Lynn Concert series in Lynn, PA.

In between these dates, there will be some travel time and I'm hoping to find some open mics along the way to pop in an strut and fret my hour (or at least a couple of songs).  And if you're somewhere close to the route and were wondering what it would be like to host a Bob house concert, please get in touch.

You can find more details including locations and contact information at bobardern.ca/giglistings.html and if you want the schedule in a simple table that you can copy or print, you can find it in PDF format here.

I'm looking forward to heading out on this tripWe'll be visiting some places we haven't been to for several years and others that are new territory.  It will be great to connect with some old friends and to make some new ones as well.  In particular sharing the stages with other musicians at the festivals will be a treat.

Best wishes as you travel down your own musical journey - hope to see you out along the road.

Cheers, Bob

Find Bob on Facebook. . .

May 25, 2016

Three Weeks On The Road And An Award

May is almost over and it's been alternating busy and lazy.   As regular readers will know, we went down to New Orleans early in the month to attend the 12th Annual Zone Music Reporter Awards.  Zone Music Reporter is the industry source for many genres of music including Instrumental, New Age, World, Ambient, Electronic, Solo Piano, Relaxation and  others.  They track radio play and publish a monthly album chart and a yearly top 100 chart.

Each year ZMR puts on an Awards show to recognize the best in 13 categories of music as voted for by member station DJs and Program Hosts.   The festivities include a Meet & Greet the night before the show, which is held in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  The evening was a great opportunity to catch up with people from far-flung places that we communicate with electronically most of the time.

If you've been reading this blog, you will already know that Eight Winds was a nominee for Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic and we are thrilled that it won.  The competition for my category in particular and all the categories in general this year was pretty strong so to have been chosen the best is an incredible honour.  Many, many thanks to all the DJs that voted for Eight Winds and for all the hosts that play my music in particular and the genre of instrumental music in general.

After the Show, we headed off into the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle for a few days R&R.  Given that it snowed two days before we left, it was lovely to enjoy the hot weather and dip our feet into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  We discovered several State Parks and National Forest campgrounds that were peaceful places to relax and recharge - most of them were internet-free zones pretty much forcing us to turn off the electronic connections for a while.

After the break, we headed to Montreat, NC for our first time attending SERFA's annual conference (South East Regional Folk Alliance).  We've been to the North East Region (NERFA) a couple of times and were looking to extend our reach into the south.  SERFA is three days of workshops and seminars during the day followed by evening and night of live music, jams, song circles and showcases.    It's not as big as NERFA, making it a little easier to meet people and have conversations and share the business and the playing of being an independent musician.

As soon as SERFA was done, we hit the road to come home with brief stops to visit friends along the way.  We're now back in Lunenburg, with a task list to work our way through including all of the advance work for the next tour, which starts in Lubec, ME on July 29, runs through several festivals in New Brunswick and Ontario,  a series of coffehouses and house concerts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Virgina, winding up in Lynn, PA on September 10.    We are still adding a few more dates to the tour and we'll let you know more details as they become available.

In the meantime, thanks for giving us a listen and we wish you well on wherever your musical journey takes you.  Hope to see you out there soon.

Cheers, Bob


March 7, 2016

Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic Nomination

Winter's last blast (at least I hope it's the last) hit Lunenburg just as we were coming home from a couple of weeks in St. Lucia.  Still, it's sunny today and Environment Canada is calling for a warmer than normal spring.  YAY!

One of the ways Canadians escape the cold is to head south and we'll be doing just that come May.   We've just learned that Eight Winds has been nominated for Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic in the Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) 2015 Awards.   It came as quite a surprise because the CD has only been out for a short time.  It broke into the ZMR chart in November at number 41 and has since risen to number 17 in the January charts.   Eight Winds made it on to the shortlist for the award by getting into the November chart and we were very pleasantly suprised to hear from ZMR that it is one of 5 nominees for the award.

Thanks are due to David Findlay for his excellent job of production and to Duncan Woodcock for co-writing three of the songs and lending his finger-style playing to the tracks on the CD.  The competition will be stiff - the other nominees are also great albums.  Of course it's an honour to be nominated and it would be an even greater moment on the musical journey if we should win. 

Also, a great vote of thanks is due to all the radio program hosts who have been featuring Eight Winds on their shows and who chose the CD in the initial round of voting.   The winners of all the categories will be announced at the ZMR Awards Presentation and Show at the Joy Theater in New Orleans on May 7.  We were planning on going to NOLA for the show and already had our hotel reservation when the nominees were announced so now it's going to be both entertaining and nail-bitingly nerve-wracking in equal amounts.  It will be great to connect in real life with people we met a few years ago (when Wires Rosewood & Roots was nominated) and to meet more of the people who support New Age and Instrumental Music on radio.

In related news, reviewer extraordinaire Bill Binkelman has had a chance to review Eight Winds and put up his thoughts in Binkelman's Corner.  To read Bill's thoughts on the CD, pop over to ZMR.

Now we're off to the grocery store to restock the fridge which is empty after two weeks away.  More to come in the near future about our musical journey.

Cheers, Bob


December 31, 2015

A 2015 Retrospective and Some 2016 Plans

It's New Year's Eve in Lunenburg and time to have a quick look back at 2015 and to let you know about some of the things coming up in 2016.  We had a green Christmas but the snow started falling a few days ago and now we're in the white wonderland that is Nova Scotia in the winter.

We are celebrating a number of successes from this year and looking to build on them for 2016.   2015 started with Craftsman being ranked at #15 on the Zone Music Reporter top 100 albums of 2014 after peaking at #2 on the monthly charts.  Thanks to Ed and Stacey Bonk of LAZZ Promotions for their efforts in support of the CD.

I was off on my travels in May for a tour through New England, playing coffee shops, house concerts, and a couple of festivals from Maine to Rhode Island.  

The big news was the release of Eight Winds in the latter part of the year.  The CD went out in early November and we're very pleased that it has been receiving airplay and very positive feedback.   The production of a CD is a team effort and many thanks are due to everyone who contributed to the recording and manufacturing:
  • Lisa Buchanan of Focus Gallery in Shelburne, NS provided photographs;
  • David Findlay produced the project, mixed and mastered it and played on a number of the tracks;
  • Alex Hickey helped with artwork layout and converted it to InDesign for production;
  • Duncan Woodcock co-wrote three of the songs and played on those duets.
Of course, a huge debt of gratitude goes to all the program hosts who play it, all the loyal fans who have bought it or streamed it on-line and everyone who has come out to a perfomance to hear me play live.

The other major high for me was that I was invited to play at the Lancaster (UK) Music Festival in October.   The LMF was my first major festival in Britain and it was a great pleasure to participate.  The LMF organizers estimate that around 60,000 people attended festival events over the weekend.  They didn't all come and see my performances <smile> but it was great to meet everyone who did come out and support live music.  I also found time to hear some of the 200 or so other musicians, which is a fringe benefit to playing at festivals.

Work is now underway to make 2016 another great year of music.  The music gods are continuing to treat me well and sending ideas for new compositions.  One of the reviewers of Eight Winds asked me where the ideas for my music come from and I had to answer that I honestly don't know.  Melody lines come in to my head and I tinker away at them until I have a cohesive piece.  Sometimes it takes a very short time, sometimes it takes weeks before it all comes together and I do understand the process I go through;  I just don't totally understand how the ideas get there.

Live performances will be a big part of 2016 as well.  I'm very pleased to announce that I have been booked for a couple of festivals in North Western Ontario in the summer and plans are taking shape for a return to Nova Scotia through the Midwestern US and the North East as well.  So far I have a confirmed date at a monthly concert series, and we're working on details for three house concerts.   More to come once things are confirmed.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016.  Hope to see you out on the road somewhere and we wish you all joy wherever the journey takes you.

Cheers, Bob


October 1, 2015

Eight Winds Available Online

Eight Winds Released

We are extremely pleased to announce that Eight Winds is now available online.  It has been a while in the production;  I started composing almost as soon as Craftsman was released and a couple of the songs date back to the 1970's.

Eight Winds comprises 11 guitar instrumentals with a bonus re-arrangment of one of the 11.  Eight of them are Bob originals and, a special treat for me, three are duets co-written by my long-time friend Duncan Woodcock.  In case you haven't seen some of the earlier blog entries,  Duncan and I met in school back when dinosaurs were still the dominant life forms.   When I first started learning to play guitar, Duncan showed me how to play finger-style and that way of playing has stuck with me ever since.

We have always been attuned musically and back in the 1970's we co-wrote two guitar instrumentals but never had good recordings of them.  This past May, Duncan came to Lunenburg on vacation and we had the perfect opportunity to record them.  They are good enough pieces to include them on the album and with Duncan's approval and active participation, Eight Winds includes the two songs.   While he was here, we composed a third piece and it too is on the CD.

As with the previous instrumental albums, Eight Winds owes a great deal to David Findlay of Otitis Media in Lunenburg.  Multi-instrumentalist Dave adds his considerable musical talents to the CD and is responsible for mixing, mastering and overall production.    For more information on the album and the process that went into the production, please read the feature article written by Michael Diamond of Music and Media Focus.  You can find the article here.

Listen Online

You can listen to Eight Winds online at my website.  You can also listen and purchase the CD direct from Bandcamp. The album is also available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby if you prefer those outlets. 

Leaving For Lancaster 

I was Leaving for Lunenburg on Come From Away but now I'm packing my bags to leave for the UK. I have been invited to perform at the Lancaster Music Festival October 8-12.  They have booked me in for 6 performances throughout the weekend.  Duncan lives in Lancaster and I'm very pleased that he will be joining me on stage throughout the festival.

Full details of dates, times and locations are available on the Shows page of my website.  All of the festival venues are in the heart of Lancaster and complete details of performers, venues and much more information are available on the festival website.

While I am in the UK, I also have the great pleasure of performing an opening set for one of my musical heroes, Wizz Jones.  Wizz is playing at the Folk - Blues and Beyond Club in Hope, Derbyshire on October 15 and it will be a great honour for me to share the stage with one of the masters of English folk music.  Details on the club website.

That's all for now.  Hope you enjoy the new music and I hope you can make it out to one of the shows.

Cheers, Bob