Notes From The Road, March 6, 2018
What a time that was... I took the ferry over on Thursday and drove about twenty minutes to Brentwood Bay. It's a pretty town located on the Saanich Penninsula, right near Butchart Gardens. The first stop on this latest Island tour was The Brentwood Bay Empourium. It's a medium sized licensed coffee shop. Just under 20 people had bought $20 tickets and they started arriving about half an hour before show time. As I started to play I thought I recognized my former boss in my previous incarnation, working at Global TV as a newsroom video editor. Sure enough it was Ian Haysom, along with his wife Beth and two friends.
I played two 45-minute sets, told stories along the way and had a fine time. As I've said many times, house concerts, theatre settings - any gig where there's an attentive listening audience is what I (hell, and any songwriter) like the very best. I've got a rock band and that's fun too, but it's a different kind of connection. More viseral.
That night, I stayed with my friend in Oak Bay, Maureen C. We stayed up way too late drinking wine and playing our favorite finds on Youtube. She turned me on to Cat Empire, and I introduced her to Selah Sue and Triggerfinger doing "Mercy".
Friday, I drove up to Nanaimo and met up with Kendall Patrick and her band for the gig at The Corner Lounge. We set up early then went back to Nico Rhodes house (keyboard player and chef deluxe) for dinner and dessert.
Kendall lives in Nanaimo and writes catchy songs in the Ani DiFranco mode. (She's got a line about "Harry Styles makes me feel like a cougar", which I love).
The gig got going shortly after 9PM. I started off solo to a handful of bar regulars who were mostly indifferent. Except for this one woman at the bar who turned around to listen and stayed that way. More people started arriving. I invited Kendall and the band to join me, as planned. We did half a dozen of my songs, then a few covers. I turned it over to Kendall and the boys (Caleb Burness on drums, Nico Rhodes on keys.
By 11PM it was my turn to come back and blast through a whole lot of cover tunes. By now the small bar was packed. Brian, the owner, worked the door. The dance floor was hopping. We played Stones, Etta James, CCR, Chuck Berry, Springsteen, non-stop to 1AM. Along with an encore or two. Then we hit Mambo's for some late night pizza and laughs.
Saturday I got some late breakfast then met Bill L. at the dock to take me across to Protection Island. This was my fourth time playing on P.I. People get around on golf carts and everybody waves.
I soundchecked in Moira L's living room along with her 5-year old grand daughter and her stuffed animals. Debbie, a long time friend of Moira's was staying there and she made a delicious dinner. Then people started arriving around 7PM. Much like Brentwood Bay, I playd two sets, did my songs, played a couple of sing-a-longs and just had a fabulous time.
After a pancake breakfast (that I made), Bill took me back to Nanaimo - just a ten minute ride by power boat - and I drove the hour or so it takes to get to Port Alberni. This was for an early evening concert (sold out by the way) with the elementary choir from Ecole Alberni. The choir director, Madame Megan Reddick and I had never met before Sunday, but we had worked out the details online.
We did a one-hour rehearsal and the kids were gold. Hearing their angelic voices singing my words and my melodies blew me away. The concert went well. A big surprise was that I sold a lot of CDs afterwards. I figured the audience (proud parents and grandparents mostly) was there for kids not me, and the CDs would just sit there. But it was the kids who wanted a memento of the night, as it turned out, and what parent could refuse? So that was a bonus.
As I've said before, this is what I would be doing if I only had limited time left - which I guess I do, come to think of it! Writing songs, and playing them for an appreciative audience. Thanks to John C. Maureen C, Kelly N., Brian B., Kendall, Caleb and Nico. And to Moira L, Deborah S., Char, Megan, and all the kids from Ecole Alberni for making this trip such a good one.
Vancouver Island, Four Dates To Tell You About, February 13, 2018
Just finished a busy weekend. Two dates on Vancouver Island - a rock and roll dance party at Char's Landing in Port Alberni, followed by a concert the next night in Duncan at the Chapel at Providence Farm. But wait, these shows were followed by a three-hour kids' show on Monday at the Family Day event at the Roundhouse Community Centre here in Vancouver. You gotta admit I'm versatile, if nothing else!
Time to regroup, with the rest of February having only one band show on the schedule, an overnight visit to Nanaimo to rehearse with Kendall Patrick's band, and then a short family visit to Los Angeles before heading back to the Island at the start of March. This time I'll do a solo show at The Brentwood Bay Empourium on March 1st, then Friday night in downtown Nanaimo at the Corner Lounge with Kendall Patrick and her trio (Nico Rhodes/piano, Caleb Burness/drums). We'll do separate sets but join forces with a rocking set (or two) to finish off the evening. Saturday I'll be returning to Protection Island (accessible only by a walk-on ferry if you don't have your own boat) for a house concert.
Starting this Van Island tour solo in Brentwood Bay. But wrapping up in Port Alberni with a 40-voice kidsŐ choir! https://t.co/gbzbPllYnz pic.twitter.com/nRawIe35ds— John Pippus (@JohnPippusMusic) February 13, 2018
The tour wraps up in Port Alberni with a special early evening concert. I'll be performing with the choir from Ecole Alberni Elemtary School under the direction of Megan Reddick. The kids are learning some of my songs, I'll do some solo, and they'll do a couple on their own as well.
Ticket info, start times and all that good stuff on my "shows" page.
Facebook Event for Chapel Show, January 16, 2018
The Chapel at Providence Farm, January 16, 2018
There's this 100-seat venue on a farm just outside of Duncan, BC. (For you out-of-towners, Duncan is midway between Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island). I'm going to be playing there in just under a month (details on my "shows" page) with Marq DeSouza backing me on guitar and vocals. And just for fun, we're adding cajon to the mix. (A cajon is that little box you sit on and tap with your hands, traditionally played by hippies on the beach). Drums were Marq's first instrument and although he had never played cajon until last week, he's a natural.
So we'll do a harp-and-cajon number, and he'll back me on several tunes with the cajon and a 'porch step', which is an amplified foot stomper.
This is a theatre-style venue, so I get to play my original, story songs. The quieter ones and the songs where hearing the lyrics makes a difference (as opposed to the gigs where the job is to keep the dance floor humming and the bar sales rockin'). If you're in the area - or have friends who live over that way - well, you know what to do. Check out gig and TICKET INFO here.
What Else Would I Be Doing?, January 15, 2018
Last night I was playing at the ANAF Legion in North Vancouver. It was a typical legion gig. The bartender, Lisa ("You want to remember my name? Think of the Mona Lisa! Well what if I end up calling you Lisa!") is friendlier than most and certainly not a "seen it all, know it all" type. Real sweet in fact. A customer even got her up dancing on "Long Train Running" and you NEVER see a bartender dancing. But anyway, other than that, it's your standard Legion gig. Mix of patrons, usual military stuff on the walls that I never mess with, announcements for meat draws, cigarette smokers complete with heavy coughs in their glory (but restricted to outside only of course. This being 2018 after all). It's like going back in time.
And while I find myself saying sometimes, all cool like, to other musicians, "Well it's just a legion gig" and they respond with "Hey a gig's a gig", the fact is I can have just as good a time here as I do in a solo acoustic gig where the audience sits in chairs and listens critically to my original songs.
Yesterday morning was when Hawaii thought it was under missile attack and the stories of families panicked and scared really made you think. So between two songs, I forget which ones, and while I was retuning, I said to the forty or so souls in the place, "You know, if we suddenly got word that we had 40 minutes before a a missile was going to hit, I wouldn't want to be doing anything other than what I'm doing right now - making music with friends" and I meant it. Well ok there are a few other situations I can imagine being in that would be just as rewarding, but you get the point.
Not every musician feels this way. Carrying off a four-hour gig in a bar, playing mostly covers, is not for everyone. And I've got it down to where I do band gigs like this only a couple of times a month. I've had more than a few sidemen quit on me, all citing the late hours, the drunks, the travel time, or the lonely spouse as reasons for opting for the Netflix life. Not judging, maybe it'll be me one day, but I'm saying I like doing what I'm doing, the way I'm doing it. I like getting to the gig, wherever it is, and setting up my growing pile of gear, making sure it's sounding decent. I like talking to friends who come out to the gigs and talking to regulars. And of course playing. Looking for those nights, sets, songs, moments in songs, where it all flows. Where, collectively, you find the pulse, the groove or the meaning in the music.
Two Ends of The Musical Spectrum, January 10, 2018
I love it when this happens. I don't have just one sound or one stage persona and this two-date tour coming up on Vancouver Island early next month is a good case in point. On Friday Feb. 9th, I'll be playing my fourth Rock n Roll Dance Party at Char's Landing in Port Alberni. Classic rock, soulful RnB, swamp rock a la CCR, all that good stuff that gets you moving. This version of the John Pippus Band will include Marq DeSouza (guitar and vocals)and Port Alberni's John Dryden (bass) and Sean Keough (drums). The mission is to keep the dance floor hopping.
And then the next night, Saturday Feb. 10th, I head down to Duncan to play at The Chapel at Providence Farm. This venue is all about the songs. The audience gets to hear the stories behind the songs, and I get to do tunes from my catalogue that need a theatre setting. I'll be joined by Marq DeSouza on second guitar and percussion.
The Story of "Le Cadre Photo", January 9, 2018
About eleven years ago I wrote a song called "Blurry Photograph". As I was writing it, I was picturing a world weary,love sick and jilted protagonist sitting in a Paris bistro on a rainy afternoon spilling out his heart to his notebook while sipping on a "petit cafe". Or maybe absinthe. Anyway...Good song. Got recorded. Posted to Myspace (I did mention this was awhile ago). One day, it was listened to, by happenstance, by a young woman living in Paris (!) and she sent me a note saying she liked it.
We corresponded and eventually made a plan for me to send her the instrumental track where she would write the lyrics in French and record her vocql. Which she did. Her name is Chrystelle Nammour. We called it "Le Cadre Photo". Here it is:
Chrystelle has a Lebanese background and you can hear that middle eastern half tone thing in her delivery. I really think she nailed it. I can't tell you what the lyrics say, but I suppose they're similar to my English version, which you can find HERE.
Why am I telling you this? Because I'll be performing with a youth choir in March and they're French Immersion students. So I'm looking for a song that would be suitable for their teacher to sing. I hope she'll do "Le Cadre Photo"!
Looking Back, Looking Forward, January 8, 2018
Looking back at 2017 I did 51 shows. Eight were solo, six were duo or solo gigs, seven were kids shows (that I do at the Roundhouse Community Centre on Saturday mornings - great fun!), and thirty shows were with the band.
I played three times on Vancouver Island, doing a few shows on each visit. The band played three birthday parties. I played three shows with Beaver T. in November. Peggy and Brice joined me and Wes at a Music BC event as the demo band for how to soundcheck at a live gig.
The last show with Peg and Brice was at the end of July. After that, I went through a couple of personnel changes, ending up with the debut of the current line-up at the Libra Room on Dec. 29th. Going into 2018, joining me in the new line-up are: Marq DeSouza (guitar/vocals), Jean Savoie (bass/vocals) and Wes Skakun (drums).
In February I released a five-song EP, "Weapons Of Emotion", produced by Brice Tabish. In June, I retired from 11 years of booking and hosting the Friday Music Nights at Trees Coffee House, passing the torch to Marq DeSouza.
I also started hosting occasional house concerts, working with SideDoor who book the acts for me.
Looking ahead to 2018, I've got several gigs booked with the new band, several solo and duo gigs booked too, around Vancouver and on the Island. In the fall, I'll once again board the VIA rail train and play three sets each day for the passengers in exchange for "room and board". I'll be travelling to Toronto with my fellow Sarnia Boy, David Puzak, where we'll do some shows, writing, and recording before heading back, solo, to Vancouver on the train.
It's always fun playing the cover gigs (mixed in with as many originals as I feel I can add to the mix without losing the sometimes distracted bar crowd), but the solo concerts for listening audiences are always the most magical and musically rewarding. The adventure continues. Sign up on my "Connect" page to get my newsletter so you'll know the latest from here.
Playing In a Band, December 14, 2017
It's a good feeling to work with like-minded players, getting better at what we do, working on a cohesive sound. The latest line-up joining me in the band are three talented and genuinely nice guys. Wes Skakun on drums has been with me for a couple of years now. Marq DeSouza has been a friend and colleague for several years, but only recently joined the band, first playing bass before switching over to second guitar and vocals. The latest add is Jean Savoie on bass and vocals. Besides playing bass, he's also been the manager of the bass dept. at Long and McQuade for 14 years. Like I say, it's a good group to hang with. Our first show is at the Libra Room on Commercial Dr. on Dec. 29th. Followed the next night in Port Coquitlam, then New Year's Eve at Carnegie Centre at Main and Hastings.
Details are posted on the "shows" page. I hope you'll catch us in action.
New Release: "Crush The Fear". November 19, 2017
Sarnia Boys latest release is here. Add it to the growing list of anti-Trump songs. Political songs are alive and well. Every movement needs anthems and we're putting this one forward. David Puzak is my fellow Sarnia Boy and this is our fourth release.
Covers or Originals? November 6, 2017
I'm not Bruno Mars. Or Bruce Springsteen. With the exception of certain gigs (coffee houses, house concerts, some festivals) the audiences I play for don't want to hear a night of originals. Bar gigs call for a healthy mix of familiar tunes with some originals sprinkled in there surreptiously. That's the only way to keep the customers (and the bookers) satisfied and coming back for more.
I like playing popular covers but not ALL the time and not to the exclusion of my own music. I've got four albums released, a few EPs, several singles and videos. I've invested my money, time, and talent in writing and capturing these songs. I get radio play, worldwide for my original music and that never gets old. I'm proud of the songwriting talent I've been given and have nurtured and developed over the years.
So I'm being more selective, choosing gigs where there's a listening audience who will appreciate my original songs. That keeps the element of 'fun' in the mix. There will always be exceptions - I'm not being precious about it. New Year's Eve is one example. We're booked to play at Carnegie Centre and I know they'll want to dance and hear songs they know. Another example is a band gig this weekend. We're playing our third "Rock n' Roll Dance Party" at Char's Landing in Port Alberni. Sure, I'll throw in a handful of originals, but mostly the goal is to keep the dance floor occupied and the way to do that is with familiar, uptempo favorites.
The next night though, I'll be doing a second gig at Char's. This time sharing the bill with Port Alberni songwriter, Chase Spencer. I'll be playing solo, all originals, to a listening audience. But even if I could only do these type of gigs I'd miss the dancing fun. So go figure. It's a balancing act I guess.
Autumn Round up, October 21, 2017
It's show day. Got a gig at The Arms Pub out in the 'burbs tonight. Band gig. Getting my gear sorted out, trying new settings, checking cords. Very satisfying for some reason. Similar to doing basic html coding. One litle key stroke can alter the whole look.
We'll be back there on Saturday Dec. 30th and then we're playing the next night - New Year's Eve - at Carnegie Centre. This is an alcohol-free venue right in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Hastings and Main. I've played there several times in recent years, and it's always a good experience. Lots of stories, lots of heart down there. Plus the stage, P.A. (with soundman), and lighting are all top grade.
Playing solo/acoustic next Friday at a church in Lynn Valley. These gigs where the audience is there to listen are my favorite. I get to do my quieter, story songs.
Details for the above shows, and more, are on my "shows" page.
Good article posted here about Trees Coffee House's Music Nights. I booked and hosted there for eleven years, as most of you know. In June I passed it on to Marq DeSouza and it carries on in good hands. Marq also is playing bass and singing back up in my current band line-up. And he's also an excellent singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Life is good, feeling like everything's in balance.
What's New, September 19, 2017
There's some band changes. Peg Wilson (bass) and Brice Tabish (guitar/vocals) are solidly booked on weekends with Las Divas, so I've had to recruit some new players. I debuted a new line up last weekend at the Re-Opening of The Libra Room. Mike Dewey on second guitar and vocals, Marq DeSouza on bass. And Wes Skakun (drums) has been with me for the last year so he knows the tunes. For a new band, it went really well. Thirty five songs, covers and originals with no train wrecks.
My former bandmate, Beaver T. (guitar/vocals) is coming back to town for a week of shows in early November. I'll join him for a few shows, working with his rhythm section. Plus he'll join me at The Libra Room on Thursday Nov. 1st. See my "shows" page for details. Any of you who have seen Beaver T. know what a phenomenal player he is.
There's another short tour coming up on Vancouver Island in November plus a few solo/acoustic shows. I expect there'll be more shows with Peg and Brice too, when we can find a date(s) that work for us. Change can be a good thing.
Summer Break, August 7, 2017
I've been taking some time off this summer to enjoy family time and recharge my creative batteries. Here I am with my grandson picking blueberries.
A couple of gigs here and there, some co-writing sessions, and a bit of recording, but mostly finding ways to enjoy the summer. Coming up in September is a four-date tour on Vancouver Island. Two solo gigs and two band gigs. Details on my "shows" page.
"Save Me" Getting Airplay on Over 40 Stations, July 2, 2017
We recorded an R&B original, "Save Me" for a five-song video and audio project. Really happy to see it continuing to get radio play. The latest airplay is on DJ Brant Zwicker's one-hour syndicated blues show "At The Crossroads". The track was recorded and produced by Brice Tabish.
"At The Crossroads" is heard in New Orleans on WXDR; St. Louis, Missouri on the Radio Arts Foundation at 107.3FM; Angelica, New York on WRAQ FM; and St. Leo, Florida on WLSL FM.
In Canada you can hear the show on 24 stations in BC, Alberta, New Brunswick, Yukon, and North West Territories. Also a dozen or so internet radio stations in Europe and North America.
And you can hear "Save Me" on my music page and see a live video recording on my YouTube channel. Click on the links on the right.
Three New Videos, June 22, 2017
I've got three new live video recordings on Youtube. Recorded by George Faulkner. Here's one of the three, "My First Mistake" a dystopian folk blues, that is particularly relevant in this Trumpian Age we are living in.
Check out the others on my Youtube channel!
Here's What's New. June 17, 2017
It's been awhile since I've updated the "News" Page so I thought I should check in. I was in Portugal for three weeks, on holiday, from mid May to early June. A week in Lisbon, then took the train up to Porto, spent a few days there, then went inland, along the Douro River, again by train. This is wine country, terraced hillsides, lots of olive trees. really scenic. The last week we were in the Algarve, the southern most region with white sand beaches that go on for miles. Lots of history here too of course. It was a very relaxing and interesting time. I highly recommend Portugal.
I played a duo gig this morning at the Roundhouse Community Centre. This gig, being on a Saturday morning always involves a young audience. Everything from Twinkle Twinkle to Twist and Shout. It's a great way to start a weekend, shaking your sillies out.
On Tuesday, I'll be shooting a couple of videos of solo songs, just for fun, and something to show to bookers. Rehearsing midweek with the band for a Friday gig. And as always, I'll have one ear open for any new song ideas that come my way.
After eleven years of booking and hosting the Friday Music Nights at Trees Organic Coffee House, I've decided to retire. Marq DeSouza is taking over the business. To mark the end of an era, I'll be playing there on the last Friday of this month. Some musical friends who were there with me at the beginning will be joining me. Hope you'll join us.
We're In The TOP 10! April 8, 2017
"We Don't Need No Dance Floor" -- co-written by John Pippus, Mario Vaira, and Rachel Suter -- has been chosen as a TOP 10 finalist in a Canada-wide songwriting contest in the "live video performance" category . The Canadian Songwriting Competition (CSC) is sponsored by SOCAN, Canadian Musician Magazine, Royal Bank of Canada, The Noize Faktory, and others.
Popular voting continues until April 23rd at the CSC's Facebook page. To vote, LOG IN to Facebook, then go to:
SCROLL DOWN, and "like" your favourite video - which I hope will be Live Performance FINALIST #6!.
The video for "We Don't Need No Dance Floor" was shot and edited by Weird Geometry's Andrew Del Monte. The audio was recorded and mixed by Brice Tabish.
Three-Date Island Tour, April 6, 2017
The John Pippus Band is playing three dates on Vancouver Island in early May. Looking forward to seeing our Island friends again, and making new friends too. Getting out of town is always a blast.
First up, at The Copper Owl on Thursday May 4th. Opening for one of my all-time favourite bluesmen, Bill Johnson and his blues band. Advance tickets here.
The next night, Friday May 5th we'll be at Roy's Towne Pub in Royston. It's close enough to Brice Tabish's hometown of Campbell River that we're expecting quite a contingent to show up there. It's a pub gig. No cover, just good times. More details on this night, and the others, on my "Shows" page.
We wrap up the tour with a bang in Port Alberni at Char's Landing on Saturday May 6th. I've played here several times over the years, but always as a solo singer/songwriter. This time is different. It's going to be a full-on rock and roll dance party. Here's the Facebook Event with the details. Char's Landing is well known on the Canadian music circuit. It's a 100-year old converted church with amazing acoustics. I've had so many magical performances there. I'm really looking forward to bringing my band this time, rolling up the rug, and kicking it with our classic rock and R&B repertoire. Port Alberni's Jenna Audrey is going to join us on some tunes as well.
By the way, that photo? It's not that unusual to see our bass player, Peg Wilson, in that position. After all, she was one of the coaches for the Women's Olympic Team some years ago.
The EP is Out! March 15, 2017
"Weapons Of Emotion" is the latest EP. You can stream and download at the usual sites: Spotify, iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, Google Play. Also at Bandcamp where you can order the CD as well as stream and download.
John Pippus Band at The Fairview, March 1, 2017
We'll be playing all-original songs at the upcoming show at The Fairview Pub. See "Shows" page for details. Pay-what-you-can. Singer/songwriter Yaa-Hemaa plays an opening set at 8:30PM. The Fairview has an excellent stage, sound system, dance floor. Come celebrate the First Day of Spring!
Here's a video that Yaa-Hemaa made. A moving tribute to foreign domestic workers.
New 5-Song Video Album, "Weapons Of Emotion", February 14, 2017
It's here! "Weapons Of Emotion" is the name of my latest video album. Recorded at Pandora's Box Studio with Brice Tabish (guitar), Peg Wilson (bass), and Wes Skakun (drums). Video by Andrew Del Monte at www.weirdgeometry.com. Brice recorded and mixed the sound. Look (and listen) on my Youtube Channel. I'm really proud of what we all accomplished here. Please SHARE far and wide!
I'll be releasing all five songs, audio only on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and the usual suspects in the coming days. Also it will be available for streaming on Spotify soon. Meanwhile, here's the first cut from the album:
Dipping My Toes in Lake Spotify, January 17, 2017
I'm getting ready to release a five-song EP (see post below). And I want to have it get noticed on Spotify. I'm giving myself a crash course in this streaming platform. It's where all the cool kids are. Downloading and - heheh - CDs are fading in the rear view mirror.
Here's something I learned. Canadians stream more songs in a single day than are downloaded in an entire year, (the year in question being 2015). Something else. Once you get 250 followers you become a "verified artist" and that, apparently, is a good thing. Here's where you come in. If you've got your Spotify page open, please click on this button and follow me on Spotify:
Thanks! And now that you're following me on Spotify, you'll be the first to know when the as-yet-untitled EP is ready for streaming.
New Video: "To Be True", November 28, 2016
During my week in Ontario, debuting SARNIA BOYS in Windsor, Sarnia, and Toronto we took some time to video another original tune, "To Be True". Dave Puzak and I were joined by Running Red Light's bassist, Jeff Carter, (and honorary Sarnia Boy). Here it is:
We've got more new songs in the works. Meanwhile, check out a couple of our lyric videos on our Sarnia Boys Video Page. And sign up on our mailing list while you're there!
Sarnia Boys News, November 3, 2016
My new long distance project, Sarnia Boys, is so much fun! David Puzak and I have been writing and recording and getting ready for our live performance debut in - where else - Sarnia Ontario on Nov. 18th. And followed the next night in Toronto at C'est What?. We met when we toured together, Dave with Toronto's Running Red Lights, and me opening solo/acoustic on the tours.
Our second single is called "Are We Falling Apart". Dave wrote and recorded the bed tracks, and I wrote the words and melody, based on what he sent me. Have a look at this lyric video for the song:
The lyric video was made from an artist I found on a site called Fiverr.com. This site offers all sorts of services, from logo design, to editing copy, and a lot more. Check it out for a low cost way to market your product, whatever it might be.
New Band, New Single, August 24, 2016
I've been doing some online collaborating with a guitarist/producer friend in Toronto, David Puzak. We met a few years back when we toured together. He's in a Toronto-based band called Running Red Lights. He's been sending me music ideas and instrumental tracks and then I've been writing the lyrics and recording the vocal. We've got four or five songs in the works, the first one is finished. It's called "I Found You Out".
Visit the new Sarnia Boys site for more info. We're playing a few dates in Toronto, and of course Sarnia in mid November.
Last Night, August 5, 2016
I played at a venue in Vancouver's historic area, Gastown, last night. At a place called Guilt and Co. I was opening for a young singer/songwriter from Nashville/Seattle named James Ross. My set was fine. I used my foot stomp pedal for the first time. I find I can keep time best with the stomper when I'm doing fingerpicking tunes. The alternating thumb picking helps to lock in my foot tapping.
The only down side was that the headliner's car was broken into in the parking garage where they had parked. The thief (probably drug addicted, probably battling mental health issues - based on the stats anyway) smashed the rear window and grabbed a back pack that had two lap tops in it, some cash, and other stuff worth about $5,000. It's hard enough being a touring musician without having this kind of stuff happen.
Holy Validation! July 2, 2016
Out of the blue this Facebook message arrived last night: Hi John - Mike Kappus here. I represented JJ Cale for 30 years and now help with his estate. I wanted to let you know that we (including Cale's wife) enjoyed your version of Cale's "Call Me The Breeze" so we have today posted it on Cale's official Facebook page - Wanted to make you aware and Thanks!
Of course I'm blown away. The "shares" and "likes" are through the roof. You always hear about the music biz being cold and heartless, but every once in a while something like this happens and it sure feels good. Besides his work with Cale, Mike Kappus managed John Lee Hooker for many years, he handles Don Van Vliet's (aka Captain Beefheart) estate, and has worked with everyone from Charlie Watts to Van Morrison to Bonnie Raitt and on and on.
Three Island Gigs Coming Up! June 13, 2016
I'll be playing two nights at The Blue Marlin in Port Alberni with my four-piece band, the last weekend in June (see my "shows" page for details). It'll be a mix of classic rock and blues covers, and originals too. All dance floor-friendly. And then the next day, Sunday June 26th, for a complete change of pace, I'll be playing a solo/acoustic garden concert, also in Port Alberni. This is a benefit for a local arts project and will be at the home of the late artist Robert Aller. I've written a song for the occasion to commemorate his life as "an artist, a teacher, and a man".
Dutch Tour Wrap Up, April 25th, 2016
I've been back from the Netherlands for just over a week now and I'll still buzzed from the warm reception I received. Three weeks of shows in a range of venues, from blues bars to afternoon concerts and everything in between. My Dutch band with Pim Bouwens on percussion and Rick Brobbel on bass was such a treat to play with. This was my third trip over there and each time it just gets better.
Here's a video from the last show in Veghel. This was an old converted factory that is now a cultural centre. It was a large venue, packed, and the crowd was ready for a good time .
New Single Now on iTunes, March 25, 2016
Rust Magazine Promos "Whiskey", March 14, 2016
Based in Gainsville, Georgia, Rust Magazine has been a big supporter of my music over the years. Now, they've kindly posted a short write up on their site.
Also blues DJs around the world are picking up on the single. Airplay in England, Holland, Denmark, Australia, and here in Canada so far!
"Whiskey" Available on CDBaby, March 12, 2016
You can buy the new "Digital 45RPM" on CDBaby now. $4.99 for the A Side "Bring Me Some Whiskey" and the B side "Stop Breaking Down".
It's also on my music page at Bandcamp and coming soon to iTunes, Amazon, and more. You can buy the limited edition USB stick (that is shaped like a mini-45RPM record) only at Bandcamp.
New Single Released Today: "Bring Me Some Whiskey", March 11, 2016
It's hard, it's not easy. Getting heard that is. Everybody and their dog, it seems, is busy unleashing new songs out into the digital world. And I'm no different. So you have to spend time on your marketing, come up with creative ideas - a story - to go along with your release.
To that end, today I'm releasing two songs, digital only, but on the World's Smallest 45 RPM. It's really a USB drive, designed (by me) to look like a 45 RPM record. The stick contains:"Bring Me Some Whiskey" a blues original, and "Stop Breaking Down" my version of a Robert Johnson classic. Also the cover art, liner notes, and lyric. I recorded both songs with Michael Schau at Axis Productions Studio in Gastown.
Already I've had airplay on blues shows in England (thanks Cliff), The Netherlands (thanks Jan), Australia (G'day Irene) and on Nanaimo's CHLY (thanks Brad). And lots more to come with radio promoter Bryon Tosoff letting more blues DJs around the world know the songs are available. Click HERE to listen to the two tracks and get your own limited edition World's Smallest Digital 45. Lots of work, but hell, it's fun.
"Bring Me Some Whiskey" New Video Posted, February 13, 2016
I wrote a song called "Bring Me Some Whiskey" not long ago and recorded a live version at Char's Landing in January. It's on my "video" page. As with most of my songs, particularly the blues tunes, I found a groove and then added some words that fit. In this case I found (ok, stole) the groove from Keith Richards in an interview I saw online. The whole interview is fabulous, Keith is his usual ebullient, roguish self. Towards the end he rips off the low string on this acoustic guitar the interviewer has with him, tunes to his famous open G tuning, and then noodles around a bit. It's in the noodling that I heard the part that inspired me to complete a groove. If you go to the 14 minute mark you can see what I'm talking about.
The video for "Bring Me Some Whiskey" was shot and edited by Jenny Fortin of Yellow Rose Media. It was shot at Char's Landing in Port Alberni, the day after I played a concert there. Have a look at my take on Keef's riff and tell me what you think.
Dutch Tour Coming Up! February 5,2016
Getting excited for my upcoming tour to The Netherlands. Leaving at the end of March for three weeks of shows. See my "shows" page for when and where.
This will be my third tour there in four years. Direct flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam. I'll be staying, as always, in Dordrecht, about an hour's drive south of Amsterdam. My b and b is only $25 euros a night. Basic but all I need. There's a park nearby where I can run in the mornings. The centre of town is a fifteen minute walk away. The Saturday morning market in the main square is always a highlight. Looking forward to hanging with my Dutch friends. They know how to hang.
"I'm A Runner" on Charity Compilation CD, February 1, 2016
I recorded a song called "I'm A Runner" back in '08 with Winston Hauschild producing. It's all about my passion for running (duh). Recently I submitted the tune for a compilation CD being produced and sponsored by the charity Music Heals. They are holding an 8KM run and giving the album to anyone who donates to the cause. "I'm A Runner" was selected and is in some fine company. Other tracks are by Delhi2Dublin, Bend Sinister, Derrival, and more. Check out the album and more about Music Heals here. Donate $5 or more and get the album!
Live Recordings from Steel Audrey Concert, Dec. 30, 2015
If you look down a couple of entries you'll see the details of the Steel Audrey CD Release I was part of in October at St. James Hall. It was a memorable evening, with family and friends coming together to celebrate Derek Kehler's life and talent. The concert was recorded and my two contributions (both written by Derek) are here. "Fears Of My Father" was performed solo and was followed, with the band, by a rocking version of "Beat Up Old Hobo" . The band included: Matt Rogers, from the blues duo "Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer", Scott Smith from The Reckoners (guitar), Eric Neilsen (bass), and Liam MacDonald (drums).
Three Days at Afterlife Studios, November 27, 2015
I've just finished three 10-hour days at Afterlife Studios recording the bed tracks for nine original songs. We'll go back in about a month for another three-day session to overdub lead vocals, lead guitar parts, also mandolin and 12-string guitar and various percussive instruments. It's sounding good so far, to say the least. The songs - to my surprise, I didn't realize I was such a romantic - are all about love. Good, bad, and otherwise. Leaving, coming together, all kinds of love. The genres range from swampy ZZ Top style to Fleetwood Mac harmonies (all in the same song!) to a waltz-tempo country tune, and the rest are in the pop/folk catagory. I expect the release will be out in February. We'll have a preview track or two before then.
I'm also excited about another recording project I've started with Michael Schau at his Axis Music Studio in Gastown. This might end up as an EP or maybe a full album. We've got two tracks recorded so far. This collection of songs, is just me and Michael, imagining we're sitting on a porch somewhere in Louisiana, passing a jug of whiskey, and playing the blues - and recording the results. We've got an original called "Bring Me Some Whiskey" done and a version of Robert Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down". The final product will be released, when it's done.
Coming Up! Three Shows on The Island, November 8, 2015
I'm heading over to Vancouver Island this Friday for three dates. I'll be joined by Beaver T. (guitar/vocals). We start out on Friday night at The Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island (a short passenger ferry ride from Nanaimo), then Saturday night in Port Alberni at Char's Landing - my third visit to this converted old church with wonderful acoustics - and finish up on Sunday night at Jack's Rainforest Inn in Tofino out on the wild west coast.
More details on my "shows" page and links to each venue. If you're in the 'hood, or have Island friends who would like our music, you know what to do!
Steel Audrey's CD Release, October 20, 2015
Two nights ago I was one of a dozen or so Vancouver singer/songwriters playing at Steel Audrey's CD Release. Steel Audrey was Derek Kehler's performing name. He died in a camping accident, along with his girlfriend, in June of this year. I knew him for eight or nine years. We played together and ran into each other at various songwriter evenings. He was a warm, gentle, and honest guy. He was only in his early 30s when he died.
Derek recorded an album but it was not released at the time of his death. His family and friends undertook to complete the project and raised enough money to see it through. This Release Party was also a way for a lot of us to have one more coming together to remember our friend and colleague. I was asked to play two of his songs, so I chose "Fears Of My Father" and "Beat Up Old Hobo", from his previously-released EP. I'd heard him play these songs many times and I loved them both.
Derek's parents, sister, and aunts came out from Manitoba for the event. It was an honour to play Derek's songs for them and the good-sized crowd who filled the hall. By learning the songs, I was given new insight to what an excellent lyricist he was. And his subtle use of seemingly simple chord patterns. In the above photo, I'm playing a rocking version of "Beat Up Old Hobo". That's Matt Rogers, from the blues duo "Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer" on the right playing electric banjo. We were also joined by Scott Smith (guitar), Eric Neilsen (bass), and Liam MacDonald (drums) on this tune.
I also performed "Fears Of My Father", solo. This is a slow 3/4 tune that starts "Kiss of my lover be soft and be sweet...". The evening was one of those nights when you are happy and proud to be a performing songwriter. As I told the audience - and in particular Derek's family - I'll be playing these songs now wherever I perform and telling future listeners about my friend and his life. That's one way his memory and work will live on.
Peggy Wilson on Bass, September 17, 2015
Peggy Wilson has been playing bass with me for a year now. I really appreciate the way she holds down the bottom end - very precise, she plays just enough notes. Not too many and never too few. She keeps it interesting without overdoing it. Peggy has a huge network of friends too, she's the band's unofficial Social Networking Queen. She's learned a ton of my original songs during this past year and together we've learned a lot of danceable covers. It's been a fun ride so far. I'm looking forward to many more gigs with Peggy.
I'm On TV! September 3, 2015
This four-minute segment has been or steady repeat on our local cable channel since it first aired on Tuesday night. It's a tightly edited montage of a solo live performance video, an interview, and a previously-produced band video. Have a look:
The complete version of "Son's House" is below.
TV Spot and Busy Week Ahead!, August 31, 2015
It's Monday night now, as I write this. It's my Saturday. Tomorrow, Tuesday, is my "day of rest". Then a busy week kicks in. A pre-taped TV appearance, an outdoor festival, two nights at a posh hotel lounge gig in Whistler, and our regular-as-rain weekly Wednesday gig at Caffe Roma on Commercial Drive.
Last week I met up with Paul McClellan, a producer/videographer/editor from Shaw TV (our local cable station) to shoot a live performance and interview for a weekly current affairs show he works on called Go! West Coast TV. Here is the song we taped:
"Son's House" is a song I wrote in tribute to Eddie "Son" House. I went to Rochester, NY, a few years ago and wrote about my visit to the neighbourhood where he lived for three decades, and about the man and his music in general. Paul did an excellent job on sound, picture, and editing. Super impressed with his work ethic and manner too. Big thanks to Paul and Shaw TV for the opportunity to get my music to a wider audience.
So that's on TV tomorrow night, and then repeated ad infinitum. Then on Wednesday the band convenes at Caffe Roma, now into our ninth month of our weekly residency. Thursday is a duo gig at The Sylvia Hotel on beautiful English Bay. Friday, I'm hosting at Trees Coffee House as usual. I've been doing this gig for 9 1/2 years(!), hosting, and sometimes playing, solo/acoustic. Then on Saturday afternoon the band plays at Harrison Hot Springs (about an hour's drive East of downtown) playing a 45 minute set at an annual event called "Bands On The Beach". Thinking about what to play. Some country, some covers, and of course some originals. But 45 minutes is not a lot of time to stretch out. So we'll see. Maybe I'll decide once we get there and suss out the vibe.
On Sunday, another duo gig. This time at (ahem) the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. A two-night stand, playing in the Mallard Lounge. Looking forward to hanging out in Whistler for a couple of days. Thinking about what to wear. Jeans and t-shirt might get me barred. We'll be breaking out the new, Aussie-made foot stomper for some added oomph.
Newspaper Mention, August 11, 2015
Tom Harrison at The Vancouver Province newspaper has been a big supporter of my music since I started releasing albums. His weekly round up in the daily newspaper is a great place to find out what's happening on the local scene. Today's column talks about my 3-song EP, "The Hindenburg Affair". Read the column here. Tom says, in part: "... [there is] a slight change of direction to a laid-back, Bob Dylanish and countrified blues. Shows a band gelling". Speaking of recording, we're planning on heading in to the studio next month. I'm not committing to an album, even though I have enough new songs to go that route, but in an age of singles and Youtube, it just might be a series of single releases. We'll see.
Why We Do This, July 14, 2015
We were playing at a particularly picturesque setting last night. On a wharf on the Fraser River out in Maple Ridge (about an hour's drive east of downtown Vancouver). It was a warm Monday evening. As we played the sun was setting, small boats went past on the river and our Bose P.A. system was doing a fine job of amplifying our sound. (Our wonderful P.A. deserves a blog entry all its own!). There was a crowd of about 100 or so, sitting on the wharf in their lawn chairs enjoying the music.
As we were playing, I was able to take in the scenery and just enjoy the moment of being there and sharing our songs. It's at times like this when I'm reminded why we put up with all the hard work, frustrations, etc. that goes hand in hand with performing in a band. It's doubly satisfying seeing my son Jake, (my drummer for 4 1/2 years), having a great time as well.
Speaking of memorable gigs, the photo (taken by Brook Thompson) was shot backstage at The Genesis Theater recently. It was another gig where we had an ideal setting to play our music. We've got a few more outdoor festivals coming up this summer (see the "shows" page), and I'm looking forward to more magical times.
Interview, June 4, 2015
Here's an interview I did with the blogger at Trees Coffee House, where I've been hosting their music nights for nine(!) years. I talk about how I go about booking the talent, my own songwriting path and this 'n that. Have a read!
And take a look at my 'shows' page. Lots coming up this summer, including some outdoor festivals.
Whole Lotta Theme Song, March 31, 2015
Radio Play Update, March 23, 2015
With the help of radio promoter Bryon Tosoff, we've been getting a lot of downloads from radio stations around the world, all picking up on the new EP, "The Hindenburg Affair". Stations in the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, and several European countries will be playing tracks in the coming days and weeks. Making music is one thing, but getting it heard is also part of the equation.
U.S. Music Site Likes The New EP, March 20, 2015
Rustzine, an Atlanta. Georgia music magazine has just reviewed the new EP, "The Hindenburg Affair". The article is posted here. Rustzine has been a long time supporter of my music, and I'm really grateful for that.
Rustzine says: "We've been big fans of this Vancouver bluesman and his friends for years now and they've just released The Hindenburg Affair a name-your-price EP. Since we last visited with John about his album Howl At The Moon, bassist Peggy Wilson has joined John and son Jacob Pippus, and this three-song EP showcases more great blues and good times. John Pippus has always been a crowd-pleaser and we play his music at our live RUST events and at parties frequently. So if you're looking for some classic blues with a fresh vibe, check out The Hindenburg Affair!
"We Are All Vulnerable and Insecure..." An Interview, March 19, 2015
At a recent show where I was performing solo, I met Christine Bissonette, a young 20-something actor who also runs a website called "Creative Life". One feature of the site is in-depth Q and A's with people involved in the performing arts. She asks good questions, recording the conversation, and later transcribing and editing it, along with adding related links. On the morning we met, at a Yaletown coffee bar, we were both in slightly grumpy moods, but some caffeine and soul baring soon cleared that up and we got along like two long-lost friends.
You can read the interview here. It's long! And wide ranging. I talk about my greatest failure, greatest success, dealing with doubt, my definition of "happiness" and a whole lot more. Twelve questions in all. Looking at the answers now (much different than when you are just blabbering away) in cold, hard black print, I think I come off OK. That's a relief (or maybe it was just Christine's kind editing at work). And, on top of that, I have a new friend who knows a whole lot about me that I hadn't really thought about before.
New EP: "The Hindenburg Affair", March 15, 2015
You can get our new, three-song EP called "The Hindenburg Affair" on my music page . Have a listen! And order a CD or download. You can read about the making of the EP there too. The three songs are the soundtracks to a video shoot we did in November.
Friday Music Nights at Trees Coffee House, March 2, 2015
"Secret World", Feb. 16, 2015
Here is the third video we shot in November at The Hindenburg Nightclub here in Vancouver. "Secret World" is a song I wrote a couple of years ago. It's got one of the saddest lines I've ever written: "Even though I can't have you / I want you anyway". My guitar is in a C tuning:
Along with "Burn" and "Call Me The Breeze", these three songs comprise a video EP we're calling "The Hindenburg Affair". Check it out on the youtube channel (link via my 'connect' page). Coming soon, a limited run audio-only EP to sell at shows and to send to radio DJs.
The John Pippus Band Update, Feb. 6, 2015
There is a lot happening. We're working on new material and planning a studio album. A lot of gigs are coming up (see the "shows" page for details) and we continue to grow our weekly residency at Caffe Roma on Wednesday nights. It's turning in to quite a scene with musical guests being featured each week. Summer festivals and a couple of tours are in the works as well.
"Burn" Jan. 15, 2015
This song is a co-write with Aynsley Leonard. It's an uptempo, country blues in double drop D tuning. It started, as a I recall, with the basic riff and then Aynsley came up with the first line, "You broke a wine glass over my head...". Right there we had a whole situtation ready to be filled in with details. Was it a fight? What was going on? The next few lines came quickly after that and we had a low-rent motel scene between two sketchy lovers caught in a dysfunctional relationship. One of my favorite topics for some reason! I kept playing the riff and Ayns kept coming up with lines. It seems to me she wrote most of the lyrics and i would just nudge it along here and there as we got stuck.