NEW ALBUM PREVIEW

Woot. Woot.

Very excited about the recordings for my new album to be released this year. It will feature 12 new songs, most of which I’ve played at live shows this past year. I want to thank the amazing musicians who helped guide me through the rivers of creativity – Don Kerr, Rob Isabella, James McKenty and Chris Banks.

Check out the link here to catch a sample of the new material.

Check the shows page for upcoming gigs. Thanks for reading, see you soon !

Craig

HOLIDAY VIBES/2014

Here is a pic from my recent gig at Village Vinyl Music Emporium and Cafe.

IMG_2787

Amazing gig. One of the best I’ve played all year. I want to thank the owners, Keith and Karyn, for their hospitality and generosity. If you are in the market for some vinyl, check them out, one of the best collections in the city. http://villagevinyl.ca/

This week I head into the studio to wrap up recording a new album. It’s been a year of writing, recording, re-recording, re-mixing, overdubbing, and at times, over-thinking. But, I’m really happy with the results and can’t wait to play it for you in 2015.

The new year also promises some new gigs – see the shows section for future dates!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a great new year.

Cheers. Craig

Vinyl, coffee and music …

Excited about playing Village Vinyl Music Emporium & Cafe this Sunday for their weekly “Sunday Sessions”. The music starts at 2pm. It’s a chill, relaxed vibe where you can grab a coffee, browse for vinyl and hear some great original songwriters from Toronto.

Address is 2925 Lakeshore Blvd., West. Etobicoke.

Village-Vinyl-Screenshot1

I’ll be playing tune from 2013’s “Everything Will Pass” album, plus new tunes from an album I’m working on for release in 2015. Check out a new track right here called “Until the end of time”, plus others from the EWP album.

Hope to see you there!

New album, gigs …

Happy to announce that I have an upcoming gig at The Village Vinyl Music Emporium + Cafe on Sunday December 7th. Check them out here – http://villagevinyl.ca/

freetimeslive

I’ll be playing songs from the 2013 release of “Everything Will Pass”, plus playing some brand new material I’ve been writing and recording.

Getting geared up to release the new album in 2014. It’s been a year of discovery when it comes to my writing process and how I want to release these new songs. I’ve been lucky to share in this creative journey with some talented people like Don Kerr, James McKenty, Rob Isabella, Chris Banks and others. Looking forward to seeing you at some shows in the future! In the meantime here’s a link to my earlier release, and a pic of Don, Rob and I in the studio — http://craigrobertson1.bandcamp.com/album/everything-will-pass

020

Birds

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I have a gig, a Mother’s Day brunch at The West Hill Wine Bar. As I play my guitar and sing my songs, I’ll be thinking of my Mom, Donna Robertson. She inspired me, maybe more than anyone else.

IMG_0001

She was born in Toronto, 1941. Went to High School at Northern Secondary where she marched with the majorettes twirling her baton, which she could still do with precision later in life. She honed her skill at administration while in school and landed a job at IBM. I know why she got the job — she could type faster than anyone I’ve ever met. My Mom could do it blindfolded, whizzing by on those old typewriters, banging the keys and having a conversation while at it. With NO mistakes. I always found that amazing. (as I type this, I use two fingers and often go back and correct hundreds of errors and the thought of having a conversation is, well, forget about it …)

I was pretty much into music from a very young age, taking piano and guitar lessons before I was ten. My Mom thought it was a great idea to play and encouraged it. I remember the first song I ever wrote when I was twelve. It was called “I Love You’, and the first person I played it for was my Mom. She loved it, of course.

I remember the day Elvis died. My Mom and I were listening to the old gigantic stereo when the news came on. She was devastated, started to cry. She loved the ‘King’, and even saw him in concert at Maple Leaf Gardens back in the day. My Mom was notorious for randomly breaking out into song, and Elvis tunes were often her songs of choice (or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’).

I remember her reaching to the heavens when she listened to gospel music. She loved that music and I think it was her way of getting closer to the spiritual world. She seemed to be closer to God when she listened to gospel.

I remember a moment in high school that blew me away …I played lots of music in my teens –  school bands, out late jamming, and often arriving a bit late to school. A teacher phoned my Mom one day and explained that even though my marks were fine, I was late to class often and she was concerned. My Mom told her ‘music is very important to my son, if he chooses to sleep an extra 15 minutes because he plays music with his friends and his marks are fine, I’m ok with that’. And that what that. The teacher was blown away, as was I.

IMG_0004

I remember so much, as my Mom was many things;

She was terrified of birds. Absolutely horrified. She would run away screaming if a bird flew near her. We always thought it was hilarious. She loved her friends, some lifelong. She loved to swim and could be seen laying on a floatie for hours in a pool. She loved to scrapbook, documenting life how she saw it. She enjoyed time alone, with her thoughts and dreams (something I can totally relate to). She loved grape juice and 7-Up. Loved beaches (she collected sand from beaches all over the world), loved the ocean, loved her garden and loved dark stormy days. My Mom also loved old black and white movies and could be found staying up until 5am watching them. She loved talking on the phone. Loved to sleep. She loved her family.

IMG_0002

My Mom passed away five years ago in September of 2009. Not a day goes by I don’t think of her, she was a special lady. And whenever I see the ocean, feel the sand, see a bird, or see her in my dreams, it’s nice. It’s comforting.

As I’m playing my gig this Mother’s day, I know she would be extremely proud of me. So I’ll play a little Elvis for her. I’ll play a little gospel for her. And I’ll try not to shed a tear.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there. Be good.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Craig

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

It’s A Dream (The Making of an album …)

A new album is almost finished, but the last few pieces have been the hardest to complete …

006 (2)
The recording process began in February of 2013 at The Narrows Recording Studios in Buckhorn, Ontario, just north of Peterborough. It’s a small, one-room cottage-style house set on a hill overlooking a forest with coyote howls in the air, the night sky as dark as your closed-eyes and a solitude that lends itself to making music. With uber-engineer James McKenty at the wheel (James engineered the new Blue Rodeo album and has worked with Matt Barber, Cuff the Duke, The Sadies and more), I knew I was in good hands and set out to record a handful of tunes. I ended up being my own band, playing drums, guitars, synth and bass, with McKenty adding some guitar touches. After two weekends, I ended up with four songs that sound killer.

As I let those tunes sit for close to a year and bide their time in my CD player, I wanted to record more material. I had been in touch with Don Kerr (owner of Rooster Studios in Toronto), so we set up some recording time in December. His studio is a handmade hub of creativity and love, with old doors used as a drum booth, hanging curtains as sound barriers and a natural reverberation in the space that lends itself to an honest sound. I love that place, the walls drip with creative vibes.

I went in guns-a-blazing with close to twenty songs that we banged out over a week’s time, LIVE off the floor, very few overdubs. No tricks, no auto-tuning vocals, no chopping up parts of songs to make one final cut. Music played by humans. Some of the mistakes made for the BEST takes! Very lucky and grateful to have such great musicians on the project including Don’s magical drumming (Ron Sexsmith, The Rheostatics, Communism; his musicianship is hard to beat), Rob Isabella’s lyrical guitar-playing (Rob and I have been doing gigs together for years, his playing is GOLD), and Chris Banks on stellar bass (a jazzman at heart, his soul and concentration to music is crazy good). They took the songs to a new level and the musical experience was unrivaled.

So now I sit with all these tunes, and continue to write more songs, write write write write …I recently went back to see James McKenty to fix a few things from previous recordings and to lay down a few more tracks, one of which will be on the new album. I’m also going back into Don Kerr’s studio to finalize a few more tunes. By then, I will have enough recorded material for TWO albums.

Lately I’ve been finding my creative well swimming with ideas. That’s not a bad thing, as it gives me more flexibility to decide what the album can be. It’s nice to have that option.

Part of the process is artwork. I’ve narrowed down a few album cover ideas …(please post and let me know your favourite picture for a possible album cover!)

IMG_0005
No idea who these people are. My grandmother, Isabella Robertson, took this picture eons ago. I love the natural poses, the hairdos, the clothes, the beer and her glare. So much character in this pic.
077
This pic was taken in Nova Scotia in 2013. It’s so alive, yet so alone.
???????
Mars? Nope. My wife Crystal looking out to the Bay of Fundy.

A pleasure to have you here reading this. Thanks for being a part of this album-making journey. I’ll post some tunes shortly.

See you next time.

Craig

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

 

Down By The River

I just finished reading a great bio about one of the giants in music.

johnny_cash_617_409

There’s a new book about Johnny Cash called “The Life”, written by Robert Hilburn. I’m generally skeptical about bios because they can seem glossy and edited. I find them to be advertisements, rather than a true glimpse into what the subject was really like. This book does the opposite. It reveals the warts, the worries, the anxiety, the fear, the mistakes, the redemption. It makes you connect with Johnny Cash as the man he was, with no gloss, no edits. It gets under his, and your, skin.

He was imperfect – infidelities, drugs, jail time, missed concert dates, a distant father, troubled friendships, troubled business. But he was also a man of great caring and kindness, of deep faith and conviction. He hated confrontation, but always pushed to do things his way; made mistakes as an artist, but always persevered with more work; loved the ones in his life with all his heart, but hurt them along the way.

Here is a man who layed down some of the greatest tracks of all time – Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, Hurt – but he still felt lost and alone, in a constant state of doubt and worry about himself as an artist, himself as a human and even about money. In between the lines of the book, you can feel this pain, sense his trepidation and delve into the mental state of Johnny Cash:  a paradox in many ways, in a constant state of finding and re-creating himself.

This is what I found so invigorating about the story, his growth as a person, as an artist and his evolution of being. It’s bloody inspiring and downright cool.

His life reads like one of his songs, marching like a freight train carrying a load. It’s well worth the journey.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Tonight’s the Night

Been some time since I last posted. As we ring in 2014, there is much to write about, so much to be grateful for …

craig-light

2013 was a year of change in my life, and with it, a year that saw many rewards;

Among them, is a relationship with someone I could have never dreamed of meeting, my wife Crystal. We celebrated out first anniversary this year and she truly is my inspiration and my rock, for her I am grateful.

Music, music and more music. This year saw the release of an album I worked super hard at to release. I also started recoding a new album featuring music I have never believed in more. Plus, I played over sixty live gigs, the most ever in one calendar year. To those who have come to a live show, for those who have enjoyed my music, to those who have supported and encouraged, and to those I have had the fortune to play with, I am grateful.

Teaching has become a bigger passion. When I graduated high school some eons ago, I wanted to become a teacher. It never panned out. But thanks to a 20-year broadcasting career, and some cool folks at Durham College and Seneca College, I’ve been able to do something I always wanted to accomplish. To those who made it happen, to the students who made it so fulfilling, I am grateful.

Neighbours and friends and family. Going through life can have it’s stresses and this year had it’s trying moments to be sure. But without the support of friends, neighbours and family, it would have been tougher to sled through. So to those who invited us in, to those who emailed and sent their thoughts, to those who called and to those who popped by to say ‘hi’, I am grateful.

I’ve never been one to see a new year as a new start. I’ve always thought that each day is a new start, a renewal of possibility. For each new day, I am grateful.

In closing, to you who is reading this, I wish a happy and healthy new year. May it bring everything you wish for.

Thanks for reading.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Music Arcade

I recently came across some new music treasures

arcade-fire-reflektor-leak

There is no denying the new Arcade Fire. The song ‘Reflektor’ is killer. Love this band for the fact they always surprise and never disappoint. Can’t wait for the full album release on October 29th!

RM-Hubbert

RM Hubbert is a Scottish songwriter/guitarist who recently won accolades for his last album called ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’. I discovered the album by fluke — searching for music in Scotland, I came across a story where this album won the Scottish Album of the Year for 2012. Half the tunes are instrumental featuring his flamenco-influenced guitar style, the other songs highlight guest vocalists who sing songs about lost love and escaping life via a rental car. Killer.

rfulks

Robbie Fulks. This guy is a REAL country singer, not this new country bullshit. In fact he wrote a song called ‘Fuck This Town’, his way of dissing everything about Nashville, that appeared a few albums ago. This guy sings honest, raw, heartfelt songs in the tradition of old-school country. Throw in his unique modern sound and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind gem of an album called “Gone Away Backward”. Love his sound.

Ásgeir_Trausti

Asgeir Trausti. I discovered this via the soundman at The Drake in Toronto who had it playing in between sets. An Icelandic singer whose sound reminds me of a cross between Elliott Smith and Radiohead. He sings in Icelandic, but it doesn’t matter. The tunes are so beautiful, his voice so unique and the album as a whole, so amazing. The album is not available in Canada, so I’ve been listening via streaming sites. Check it out, well worth it.

Michael_Kiwanuka-Home_Again_b

Michael Kiwanuka. Soul influenced folk. Simple songs, sung beautifully and 70’s-era production style. His music is very honest and real. Killer.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (or Zeppelin, burgers and the blues …)

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted …

734256_326441217468638_949689079_n

It’s been a whirlwind this summer and, like most people, I’ve been busy ::

Gigging, rehearsing, writing new songs, co-writing, teaching, meetings (I start a new teaching gig this fall), more meetings, basement renos, more meetings, and, oh yeah, I caught this little virus called the ‘summertime blues’.

You see, the blues has been my friend for years now.  It comes, it goes, sometimes it stays for quite a while, other times leaving after a few days. Sometimes there is a trigger (stress, doubt), sometimes not. Sometimes it just happens. I wake up and boom – I FEEL LIKE SHIT. I can be a real pain in the ass to be around and often I don’t feel like being around anyone, so I isolate myself. If I have to be somewhere, I go, but that can be a stress. I put on my ‘It’s so great to be here face’, and grin through it. In reality I’d rather be at home.

There are times when the ‘blues’ get to me so much that I don’t know what to do until I realize that I’ve bottled it up inside my little head, which makes it worse. So I have to talk about it to get some relief. I never used to talk about my troubles, didn’t think anyone cared, didn’t want to bother anyone with my self doubt or my worries about hurting people’s feelings or my neurotic decision making. We ALL have our down time, and we all have our own way of relief whether it be exercise, meditation, a good TV show, movies, etc etc .. Along the way I discovered that talking about life’s stresses puts me in a better state of mind.

Other relief methods include a good old-fashioned walk, HAMBURGERS, Kronenburg and listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” cranked up in your car with the window rolled down with passers-by glaring at you and YOU DON’T CARE. Zeppelin is freeing. LOUD Zeppelin is downright theraputic.

So maybe there is a cure for the ‘summertime blues’. Maybe Eddie Cochran never heard the ripping guitar on “The Ocean” or the rippling keyboard on ‘No Quarter’ or the roaring drums on ‘The Crunge’ or the soaring vocals on ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’. Or maybe he just never tasted a delicious homemade BBQ’ed burger.

Happy summer everyone (or what’s bloody well left of it ...)

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca