Brooklyn and Halifax, Nova Scotia!


Next stop on the East Coast Tour . . . . . Brooklyn?

It seems most on the East Coast don’t even know where Brooklyn is.  I mentioned I was playing a house concert there to a few people in Moncton and received puzzled looks.  It’s a very small town, far off the beaten path, about 40 minutes from Halifax.  Problem is:  Google Maps thinks it is in Enfield.  That’s right, Google Maps is pulling an Apple Maps and trying to put people in the middle of the ocean. Well, kind of. I had to triple check directions, and they were more than a little confusing.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever get there.  I found by putting in the postal code that it gave more accurate directions that I could combine with the host’s directions and hopefully end up where I was supposed to.  Google calculated the time as about 3 hours, 7 minutes to get there.  I had plenty of time, right?

So, I stopped for breakfast and lunch in Moncton before heading out.  While sitting in Starbucks for breakfast, I noticed what looked like a familiar face a few tables down.  Paul Milner?  Couldn’t be.  Paul was a producer and engineer (and genuinely nice guy) that I worked with in the 90s for a few recordings.  I hadn’t seen him in about 15 years, and the last I heard he was working at some studio in the U.S.  So, I figured he was also living in the U.S.  What the hell was he doing in Moncton??  I looked up info on him online, and couldn’t find any information on his location.  He was busy talking to someone, so I thought I would approach him to ask just before I left.  Next time I looked up, he was gone.

So I messaged Paul through Facebook and it turned out, it was him!  He lives in PEI now and he offered to put me up and find me a gig there!  Unfortunately it was for a night I couldn’t make it.  And that was the second gig in PEI I had to turn down because of my schedule.  Damn!

So I gradually found my way to the highway, and I left with plenty of time (3.5 hours) to get to the house concert about an hour early to setup.  Right?  NO.

It turned out, not only did Google Maps have the location initially wrong, the travel time was wrong too.  3.5 hours later, I STILL WASN’T THERE.  I was looking for “Exit 4” for half an hour.  It was a really long stretch of highway.  I was basically flying all the way there, thinking I was going to be late for the show.  I eventually got there 40 minutes before the performance, which really wasn’t ideal.  But I was there.


My host was Gloria, a lovely lady who runs a “healing centre” called “Flap Your Wings Empowerment Oasis”.  They offer services such as Reiki, Theta healing and “spine cleansing”, which sounds mildly horrifying (but I’m sure it’s wonderful).   Gloria was a very welcoming host, as were the hundreds of mosquitoes in the area, who made a quick lunch of my knee (how do you end up with three bites in the same place??).  I quickly doused myself with mosquito repellent and went to set up.


Gloria, Donny and me.

Flap Your Wings is a nice old house with a fairly big living room, which is where I set up.  It turned out to be another small audience (6, if you include the host), but I knew that it would probably be small in advance.  They were very friendly, and I made good friends with Donny, an elderly gentleman who had recently had a stroke and had difficulty walking and speaking (he had lost much of the use of the right side of his body).  He shouted out “Good!” at the end of every song with a big smile on his face.  That made my night.


Gloria put me up for the night at her house next door, and even offered to let me stay longer.  That was extremely nice of her.  But I had just booked a hotel in Dartmouth for the two nights I was off (I was panicking that I wouldn’t have a place to stay, and would have to pay last-minute prices on a hotel).  So, after a nice breakfast and after Gloria and Winnie (her best friend and resident house concert cook) sent me with a nice care package of delicious home-made sandwiches and banana bread, I headed off.


Avondale Wharf, Avondale.

My plan was to do some sight-seeing on my way down to Dartmouth, but one wrong turn on the highway and I accidentally ended up in Halifax instead of where I had planned to go.  I did see a beautiful little town called Avondale, which had a pretty little wharf with the reddest sand you have ever seen (except, perhaps, in PEI!).



It also had a really gorgeous church just down the road.


So, what do you do when you arrive in Halifax at 3 pm in the afternoon with nothing to do?  Well, you go sight-seeing in Halifax!  So, I drove around the city trying desperately not to get lost (but did, several times – DAMN YOU GOOGLE!!).




Halifax Public Gardens, Spring Garden St.

Found my way downtown to the Rockbottom Pub (which I am playing Saturday), found the all-important coffee shops (Second Cup!  YES!).  And eventually found my way to Dartmouth over the INCREDIBLY slow MacDonald toll bridge.  It’s bad enough when it’s rush hour in Halifax . . . why do you have to stop for tolls too on your way across the two busiest bridges in Halifax???


There is also a toll portion of the highway between Moncton and Halifax.  I understand that they need money to maintain them, but surely there could be a better way than slowing everyone down to a crawl.  407, people!  Check it out!  Yes, the fees are way too high, but the cameras work a lot better than toll booths.

It turned out that the Rockbottom Pub had an open mic night on Thursdays.  So I decided to go down to promote my Saturday show.  People were really friendly – I met another touring musician from B.C., Michael Averill, who I spent a good deal of time chatting with on the pros and cons of touring, and how to save money on accommodations (apparently, in 3 years, he has never had to pay for a hotel.  And he’s done a LOT of touring around Canada).

The bar was pretty loud, so I didn’t get a lot of “listeners” for my set, but it was a good experience and I got some positive comments afterwards.  The highlight for me was seeing a local Halifax reggae band. Yes, you read that right.  REGGAE.  Three older gentlemen, one of which had a cowbell, two cymbals and a tambourine permanently attached to his djembe.  Very cool.  And they were quite good!

I headed back to the hotel to prepare for a couple really intensive days of shows (two in one day!!) and to get some sleep.  Next up, Wolfville!  (awoooooooooooooo!)  🙂



Quebec and New Brunswick, here we come! (or, mon français est très mal . . .)


Mon July 15, 2013

10:00 am – left early with the best intentions of getting to Quebec City by approx. 7 pm, but we all know about best intentions . . .

Loading the car was tricky, as I had a full PA, keyboard, stand, laptop, cooler, luggage, cables galore, and of course everything had to be double and triple-checked.  Almost left without my chargers!!  No room for a chair or bench, so I will hopefully be able to use something on the road.

I realized I needed posters and some promotion for my shows and I hadn’t had time to print any up.  So I left early to stop and print some of them.  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long, and I was able to get back on the road fairly quickly.

3:00 pm – got to Kingston – and then I realized I was going to hit Montreal in rush hour.  No way around it, crossed my fingers, and . . . sat in glacially slow traffic for an hour.  Geez, Montreal, why do your highways have to be so hard to follow? Thank God for Google.  Although, it would help if you had the correct names for the highways.  Some of them have changed, you know.  Just sayin’.


Loving the new ON ROUTE stops – last time I took the highway they were all closed, under construction.  Really good job, though.  Reduced waste from water, electricity, all environmentally friendly-like.  And WI-FI!  But . . . couldn’t you have something besides Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza?  Really?


There is 10 km of construction for every 1 km of clear highway from Montreal to Quebec City.  I’m not kidding.  Half the time you are driving in one lane, *on the shoulder of the highway*!!  Do you guys really need to repair the *whole damn thing* at once???

7:00 pm – stopped for dinner at a McDonalds between Montreal and QC.  My painful French is met with their painful English.  Hilariousness results.  Got to dig out those Grade 9 French texts again . . .

9:00 pm – FINALLY arrived in Quebec City.  Then . . . . got lost for about half an hour.  WHY DOES EVERY TURN END UP ON A HIGHWAY???  THAT YOU CAN’T GET OFF FROM???

9:30 pm – checked in at the hotel . . . and crashed.  Nice warm bath to relax my aching back from 8 hours plus of driving, and then bedtime.

NEWS ALERT: Guess what? Nova Scotia is an hour ahead of Toronto.  Good thing I realized this THE NIGHT BEFORE MY GIG IN MONCTON.  Clocks ahead one hour before bed.  Going to be leaving EARLY – 8 more driving hours on the road and I have to be there by 8 pm.

Tues July 16, 2013

8:00 am – had a truly awful continental breakfast at the hotel before heading out at 8 am (really 9 am Nova Scotia time!) – how the hell do you mangle “un café, s’il vous plait, merci”??  I guess I needed the café before ordering.

Checked Google Maps to make sure I could find my way out of the hotel without a half hour detour, and I was off to Moncton.


CONSTRUCTION AGAIN!!!  Geez, guys, is this a Quebec make-work project or something?  Basically on and off every 5 km to the New Brunswick border.

Yes, New Brunswick has crappy, bumpy highways.  But at least there is no construction!!!

Interesting New Brunswick notes:  everyone speaks French here first!  Bit of a shock.  Big French community here, everyone is bilingual.

The speed on the highway here is 110.  110!!!  Ontario, do you hear that??

1:00 pm – stopped in Edmunston, NB for lunch, and back on the road to Moncton!


Slight detour to try out the Iron Throne.  😛

6:00 pm – arrived in Moncton ahead of time (yay!  No construction!!).


6:05 pm – got lost again trying to find the club (thanks crappy Google Maps) and honestly didn’t know where the hell I was.  Ended up getting back on the highway, retracing my steps about 50 km and starting all over again.


7:00 pm – Finally found PLAN B!  Lucky for me, as I was supposed to be starting at 9 pm (I had 10 pm on my schedule!!).  No problem. Quick stage setup and sound check, and then . . . BASHED MY HEAD ON A SPEAKER.  Really hard.

I was already dizzy from a long day of driving.  Smashing your skull doesn’t help that very much.  I actually have a welt there, even after icing it.  Apparently this is just an initiation ritual at Plan B.  It is hanging at perfect head height at the corner of the stage just as you walk off.  Some advice guys:  POST A SIGN.  PLEASE.

9:30 pm – it was a slow night, but the people who drifted in and out were very supportive and appreciative.  Took some requests (Elton John, Supertramp), but people seemed genuinely interested in hearing original material.  That’s a nice change!  Had a nice chat with a couple of guys from Moncton.  One of them bought me a beer, the other joined my mailing list and promised to bring down more people if I came back again.

Plan B provided accommodations upstairs from the club, which was a nice touch.  No A/C though, on one of the hottest days of the summer, in a room with no circulation or windows.  In an apartment shared with four other sweaty musicians!  Everyone was friendly, though, and I made some new fans, some new friends, and came away with a great impression of East Coast generosity.  Thanks, guys, and I hope to see you again!

Next up:  Nova Scotia!


Lots of excitement for 2013!


Well, it’s been a while since I posted, but there are so many exciting things coming up that I just had to provide an update.

It’s now a NEW YEAR, so it’s time for lots of new things!!  How about a couple of great shows to start with!


Saturday April 13th at Habits,

and a huge one at Musideum on Wednesday, May 22.

Both will be with a full band, and the Musideum show is going to be featuring a beautiful Bechstein grand piano (fifth member of the band, perhaps?), and it will also be filmed and recorded live!  I’ll also be introducing a very special guest – the lovely and talented Holly Cheng on violin!

But wait!  That’s not all!  😉


I have four brand new songs that I will be showcasing along with material from my most recent album “Great Expectations”!  I have been a very busy, busy little songwriter the last couple of months . . . those who know me well can tell you it often takes me 6 months to finish a song.  So this is a big deal for me!

And last, but certainly not least . . .


I’m going on an East Coast tour!  Yes, plans are already underway with a great amount of help from a wonderful East Coast songwriter by the name of Jenny MacDonald.  Jenny has been a terrific help with setting up a series of shows in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for me, and the details will be coming very soon!  In the meantime, don’t forget to check out her CMW show at the Cameron House on March 22nd (7 pm).  She really deserves the support!

You can read about the new shows at my website here:

And I will be posting some new videos featuring some of the new songs soon!  You can always check out my latest videos here:

Thanks, as always, for your wonderful support, and I hope to see you all at my upcoming shows in Toronto or out east!




“Great Expectations” is now out!

Thanks so much to everyone for coming out to the CD Release at C’est What!

It was a fantastic show with a *lot* of talented performers and a wonderful audience!

Here’s a little sample:

The CD is now officially released!  Available at all CD retailers as well as all of the regular websites!  Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!  Would love to have some feedback.

All the best,



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s been a busy holiday season and it’s starting with a busy 2012!  The CD is now 95% done (just waiting on the final mix!), and the promotional plan is just starting to come together.  Things are looking good for a spring/early summer CD release!

I’m making sure this is being done properly this time ’round, and I’m currently looking for promotion and distribution while finalizing the artwork and manufacturing.  It’s an exciting time, and there’s a heck of a lot to do!  This is uncharted territory for me, as the last two recordings I made were never released or marketed properly.  This was for good reason, as they sucked. 😉

Seriously, I was not 100% happy with the final product, so nothing happened with it.  It was a learning experience.  🙂

This time, though, it’s full steam ahead.  Pulling out all of the stops!  I have had some fantastic tracking with Harrison Fine and Jason LaPrade, some wonderful musical performances from too many musicians to mention, playing a great variety of instruments.  There’s a string quartet, a vocal choir, a real 9 foot Yamaha CF III Grand, Rhodes and Hammond organ, killer bass and drums, and a lot of love.  Add some killer editing and mixing from Mark Zubek, simmer, and voila!  One finished EP (almost)!

It’s been a long process, that actually started with bed tracks for two of the songs at Humber College in 2007.  So I am immensely happy that the recording phase is finally coming to a close, and I can get it out there!

Please help get the word out if you like the music, and there is an album trailer here for your listening pleasure:

Stay tuned for a video trailer, and a definite CD release date to be announced soon!

All the best for 2012!




Almost at the finish line . . .

Hey folks,

Just a quick update inbetween major studio sessions!

Finished most of the tracking now for most of the songs on the EP.  There’s going to be a surprise cover song in there now – a last minute frenzied arrangement of a famous 80s song (think of a successful Australian band from that time period and you might guess it!) that has come together beautifully, complete with a string quartet.  Many thanks to the talented Soohyun Nam and Roslyn Green on cello & violin!

Most of it was recorded at Jason LaPrade’s new studio (Crystal Clear Productions), with bed tracks recorded at Point Blank Productions with Harrison Fine.  The majority of the tracks are now at Studio Z with the incomparable Mark Zubek doing final editing, mixing and mastering duties.

Because of the late completion date, we’re going to set a battle plan to release the whole thing in early 2012, so it doesn’t get lost in the Christmas rush!  This will also leave time to get some really good artwork, design and fabrication, as well as time to plan an awesome CD release.

Stay tuned for more updates!  Coming soon – a “trailer” for the new EP, featuring clips of some of the new songs!!




EP Construction time . . .


Construction has started!

It’s taken about 4 or 5 years to get to this point, but I’m finally putting the finishing touches on the EP!

If you’ve been keeping score, you know that I have 3 singles already done (Eye For An Eye, No More Hellos and Cavalry).  But I wanted more than that for a finished album.  So I’m heading back into the studio at the end of September to record 3 more, two of which (at least) will also make it to the EP.  I’m excited because I have two brand new songs, in addition to the older material, and a cover song as well.

I’m currently rehearsing with two other top-notch musicians, Aaron Spink (drums) and Alex St. Kitts (bass).  Both of them have played with me on and off for my live shows over the last couple of years, and things are sounding really good!

Here’s the battle plan:

End of September – bed tracks at Point Blank productions with Harrison Fine

Overdubs and vocals at Point Blank/Crystal Clear Sound with Harrison and Jason La Prade

Final mixing with Mark Zubek at Studio Z.

Not sure where to get the CDs pressed yet, and I’m trying to organize some graphic design/artwork as well.

Crossing my fingers that I can pull it all off inbetween work, sleep and life in general! 🙂

Until next time,

j.a.g. out!