Lesson 16- Know When It’s Time To Leave
In 2003 I became a rock machine.
I ran into the bass player of my first band, The Tuna-Melts, Ken Corke, who said, "I have something for you that I think you'll like. Come by my place tomorrow. You won't regret it."
So the next day I went by his place and he gave me my first set of bass organ pedals. For those that don't know what this is, it's basically the bottom of an organ that plays bass notes. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.
my foot bass pedals from Ken (photo by Bowman-C)
At this point, I had been doing the one-man band for about seven years. And at that point I was then touring Canada, back and forth for about a year and a half straight. I was really well rehearsed and ready to take it to the next level and those bass pedals allowed me to do it. By playing the pedals with my left foot, I was able to basically play what a three piece rock band could. Drums, guitar (or keyboard), bass and vocals all at the same time.
I went to my friends, Grave and Kreeg’s house and practiced for a few days. I was able to do it well enough that I took it to Ottawa to start my tour opening for excellent songwriter and pal, Matthew Barber. When I brought it on stage the band gathered around to see what I had and when the pedals were put through the PA, the low-end, bass sound surprised everyone, including me.
This changed my show entirely. I could go head to head with other acts that I simply couldn't have before because of the full sound I could make. I carried on touring and really got the show down with my new instrument and wrote some proper rock songs.
I felt like a new man, or a new act at least. I remember seeing my pal Ian Blurton at a show and telling him, "I've got bass pedals now. I can really rock. Let me open for C'mon. You'll see."
If I'd stuck around, I'm sure he would have sorted me out.
I decided to follow the likes of Peaches, Buck 65, Chilly Gonzales and Feist and many other, ‘under-appreciated’ Canadian talents and move to Europe. My city of choice would be England; home of my favourite band, The Beatles and launching pad for North American acts like Jimi Hendrix and Paul Simon..
The problem I found in Toronto was that I had already made my first impression nearly ten years earlier. Artists were always open-minded and understood how I'd grown but Toronto's music industry were a little less convinced. Most wouldn't even come see me because they already had. I was old news.
London was to be a fresh start, where no one knew me and no one had seen the hard work and effort I had put in, for better and worse.
I'm reminded of having a walk home with a friend, who also happened to be in music management and expressing that I really wanted to stay in Toronto but I'd felt that everyone had already made up their minds about me. Secretly, I'd hoped that he would turn around and say, "I know how great you are, C.A. Let me help you out."
Of course, that didn't happen. He suggested, "I think London will be a good move for you".
Before I left, my dear sister, rock star side-kick and friend to all, Julie Fader organised a farewell gig, "Farewell, Mayor McCa". This was the second time she had done this: about twenty acts performed my songs for me. This time a few more out-of towners performed including the aforementioned Matt Barber, Finger Eleven, Warsaw Pack, Luther Wright And The Wrongs and so many other artists that it’s still difficult to get my head around it.
At the end of the night I was once again handed an envelope of cash made from the show to help me on my way. I’ve tried to find an eloquent way to describe the way it made me feel and the closest I could come to it allowed me to become more confident songwriter....and person. I was ready for London.
Three days before I was to fly away from my homeland, I did my last show in Toronto at my favourite venue, The Horseshoe Tavern. Along with my set, I had a, ‘garage sale’ in which I tried to sell a bit more of the random stuff that I couldn’t take with me.
While out postering, I ran into my friend and one of the few industry folks who’d always shown his support; Dave a Bookman. Bookie invited me onto Live In Toronto for a song, a chat about my move and to promote my show. After the interview, Bookie wished me luck.
“I just hope I don’t come back, two weeks after I arrive.” I said.
He looked me in the eyes and wisely responded, “If that’s what happens, it’ll just be another part of your story.”