Sunday, 31 August 2008

It's Been Crazy Busy!


So busy that I wasn't really aware that I hadn't been on my blog in a while.

Below is the column I wrote about hanging out with Gord Bamford.

And Gord Said . . .Tales From Riverside Jam 2008-08-05

Gord Bamford had finished meeting his fans. It seemed like every person at Riverside Jam wanted to meet him. I was in the beer tent with Tami, waiting for my interview with Gord, watching Lorrie Morgan, trying hard to give her show the attention her talent deserves.

The line around the Y101 tent was growing short. I knew I had to get my bootie backstage if I still wanted to talk to Gord and his band. I told Tami I was going, gave the rest of my beer to a friend and went backstage, flashing my all-access pass at the security guard.

Just in time, Gord rose from the fan table and motioned for me to follow him. Yeah, Gord Bamford wanted me to follow him.

Wait? Where was Tami? The professed world’s-biggest-Gord-Bamford-fan was nowhere to be found!

I went in without her.

Hanging out with a major country star is different than I thought it would be. The first thing Gord asked is if I wanted a beer. Who am I to say no to a CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) nominee?

We sat at a classroom table as the rest of the band grabbed food and beverages and sat around the table as well, chatting about how the show went, how it sounded, what everyone thought of one another’s performances. I learned that having the right sound man on the boards is like having your own pitcher at the home run derby. I learned that this group of performers are just like the rest of us, and that they fit in just fine in Lanark County.

There’s Sue Levesque, the bass guitar player and the only female member of the band (girl power!). She told about one of their ‘wine drinking’ nights and naked fishing or something like that (that’s all I’m allowed to print). When I asked Gord if he would tell me the funniest thing that’s ever happened to him on the road, the whole group burst into laughter as they took turns telling a story of the night before, when steel guitarist Jeff Bradshaw almost lost his pants while trying to squeeze through a window of their locked cottage (Sue had the keys in her pocket and was miles away).

Gord and I talked about music. His die-hard favourites are Chris Ledoux, George Strait and Merle Haggard. The things he finds most surreal about his career are that more and more people keep buying his music and showing up at his concerts. “It’s surreal when you see a fan singing your words back to you,” he said.

I asked if he was proud of all the award nominations he’s received. “Sure, you can’t help but be proud, but I’m not in this for the awards or politics. I just really love the music and will write and sing as long as they let me.”

Sue rolled her eyes and laughed as she told me about the teenagers screaming his name. The whole band laughed. Apparently, they know Gord better than legions of screaming girls.

My missing pal Tami showed up, breathless and big-eyed as she entered the room. Drummer Mark Branconnier immediately poured a beer and ordered her to drink up.

She asked if she could gush for just one minute. “I was so excited when Joyce offered me this pass. The first thing I said was ‘Oh my gosh, I get to meet Gord Bamford’. I love your music so much. I’ve been such a fan for a long time.”

Gord smiled and thanked her. He looked at me and said, “Now that’s surreal.” We all shared another laugh, and it felt like hanging out with friends.

We cracked more jokes, shared more stories and waxed sarcastic (totally my kind of people). Drummer Mark said some crazy words about being on the road by 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

All part of the business, nobody groaned at the ridiculous hour. Sue sighed and cemented the thought in my mind that she’s cool when she said: “There better be a Timmy’s we can stop at on the way.”

After an hour, photos, hugs and handshakes, Tami and I wandered back out into the rain to watch the rest of Lorrie Morgan’s show.

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like meeting Ms. Morgan or Mark Chesnutt. If they were all as cool and friendly and real as Gord Bamford and his band, I don’t know if there would be a newspaper big enough to gush about it.

But sadly, access was denied, even with the ironic ‘all-access’ pass I was wearing. I was only close enough to Mark Chesnutt to say ‘have a good show’ and get a quick handshake and thank you (along with a dozen other well-wishers). That’s okay for Chesnutt though. He sings enough of my favourite songs to speak to me through his music.

I thought of one thing later that night, as Mick Armitage and his band played on.

Gord Bamford? He’s now my pal, and that’s bumped Chesnutt down a notch or two.

See you next year at Riverside Jam!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

VistaPrint - Canada The Easy Design and Print Solution. . .

Running a company that uses graphic design and branding as a way to help businesses get an image out into the public, I am very aware of how costly it can be to brand a company.

It is also costly to buy all the promotional materials needed to advertise a business. Last year, I spent close to $200 on 1,000 business cards from a local vendor. I am all about supporting the local folks, but when I learned that VistaPrint offered 500 business cards free, I had to take a look.

What I found was a very simple to use Website with so many different options for my business that I immediately bookmarked the page and made a point to go back later.

When my work-day was finished, I logged back on to VistaPrint and built a short profile. I surveyed their vast selection of pre-designed business cards that are indeed, FREE. Of course you have to pay for the shipping, but the cost is nominal, and definitely worth the few bucks you'll pay as opposed to the hundreds you'd pay elsewhere.

I spent a good half hour searching their inventory for anything I could possibly need to promote or brand my company. There was nothing I couldn't find. Their site is even kind enough to make suggestions about items I hadn't thought of.

My first order with them ended up costing me $80 (in up-grades, taxes and shipping).

Here's what I received for that $80:

  1. 1,000 business cards in the design of my choice (uploaded from my computer)
  2. Personalized Pre-Inked Return Address Stamp
  3. Personalized Note pad
  4. Personalized Post it note pad
  5. Business logo'd (uploaded from my PC) regular sized post-cards
  6. Oversized post-cards same as above, just bigger
  7. Two small car magnets that are a giant version of my business card. Slap them on the car door and I'm good to go!
  8. 10 Personalized Note cards with envelopes - I use them as thank you's.

I've used VistaPrint since that first time, and will likely use them as my primary printing source. I have recommended VistaPrint to many clients and friends that are running small businesses.

VistaPrint is worth every penny. Their shipping is fast, their prices more than reasonable (quite inexpensive), and they will save you money.

custom ink stamp

Friday, 15 August 2008

If You Ever Went Away - John Michael Montgomery Video

Hi friends-

My long-time friend Monty Devita is a ridiculously talented guitar player and song writer. When he finally got his act together and got to Nashville from California, things started happening for him.

Below is the new John Michael Montgomery video, If You Ever Went Away. Monty is the bass player in the band scenes - he's the tall good-lookin' one, rockin' his geeeTAR.

I shrieked like a freak when I saw him on the screen. This is HUGE.

And for those of you who know me and wonder at the connection, Monty is Kathy Weatherwax's brother, and used to be the boyfriend of another long-time friend of mine - Jeanita.

While Jeanita dated Monty,  I tagged along with her to all of his musical gigs, most of which involved Silver Creek, the band he played in a gazillion years ago - man, those were some good times, my friend. Don't care if I was a groupie by definition. I made some lifelong friends during that time.

Enjoy the video - I am beyond excited for Monty, and also a big fan of John Michael - it's good to hear some new stuff from him.

YouTube - If You Ever Went Away

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Good Lord - Ain't this the sad truth?


However, if a hot cowboy say these things to a nice girl,  well then he's just a pig, isn't he?

Sigh, we just can't win. Long live the cowboy, the one we all know and love and hang our romantic dreams on.


Saturday, 9 August 2008

Riverside Jam 2008, Oh What a Weekend!

This column was published in The Mississippi Weekender on Friday, August 8, 2008.

Ironically, Peter had a story publish on the front page, and my stories and pictures from Riverside Jam are all through the paper. It's pretty cool. Copies are being sent to California VIPS, or I can send on upon request.

The Canadian Edition (front page story) garnered my first autograph request. Too funny, and oh-so-surreal.

Gotta love fame in a small town.

Enjoy! - Be sure to scroll down for more stories, posts and pictures. Leave me a comment, dammit! I know you're reading! What do you think? What do you want me to write about?


I could hardly believe my luck, but the evidence was laying around my neck.

Riverside Jam, 2008 All Access.

Sweet, fancy Moses, what fun I was going to have with my camera while I was backstage. Look out, country music stars, the paparazzi in Carleton Place is on the loose!

I’ve loved country music since I was a teenager (which, of course, wasn’t that long ago), so I was really looking forward to the 5th annual music festival presented by the Diamond Foundation. The scheduled talent was phenomenal, and I couldn’t wait to scream and stomp my feet with the rest of the crowds as we swayed to the notes flowing from instruments played so many amazing musicians, including Gord Bamford, Tommy Cash, Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt.

Though the rain threatened at all times, garbage bag-wearing-umbrella-toting music lovers had already set their lawn chairs up in prime spots in front of the stage. Anticipation buzzed through the air.

Y101 introduced Ambush, and the Jam officially started.

There’s something about Ambush. They are so much fun to watch, to dance to. Maybe that’s why they’ve garnered a Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) nod with an award nomination for Group or Duo of the year. And to most of us, they seem like friends.

Jason Blaine came after Ambush, a Pembroke man who has the recognition of his music peers as a talent on the rise. The only disappointment felt by most was that his handlers didn’t allow photos with the fans as they waited in line to meet him. However, Jason is cool. If you ever do get a chance to meet him, be sure to ask him how he came up with the song “My First Car”. It will remind you of your clutch-popping days for sure.

When I asked Blaine what his favourite part of playing a Riverside Jam type of venue was, he replied “Folks in small towns don’t just listen to country music, they live it. Those are my kind of people.” That’s why you’re our kind of people too, Mr. Blaine.

The skies opened up and the rain began falling hard and fast as Brad Johner took the stage. His pop-country sound revved the crowd until many were standing and dancing along with the music, rain be darned. Soon everyone was soaked.

Me? Of course I wasn’t prepared for any of it. My umbrella was too small, my camera bag NOT rain-proof. I forgot to charge the battery in the camera and I had no pen to take notes. Intrepid reporter, indeed.

Good thing the beer tent and the Mick Armitage band were close by to keep the good time going when the big stage was finished, or I might have been really angry with myself.

On Saturday, I asked a few concert-goers if the rain bothered them. Wiping a layer of wet off of the brim of his cowboy hat, one cowboy grinned and said “What rain?” Gotta love the constitution of country music lovers and rednecks.

Saturday night, after the supper break, my friend Tami Walls (who’d scored the other all-access pass because Peter was afraid all that country music would kill him) and I entered the back stage gate (because we could).

And who was standing right in front of us, waiting to start his show?

Gord Bamford.

So I walked right up and asked if I could have a few minutes after the show. He agreed with a big smile. Tami almost fainted.

Yeah, baby.

Gord Bamford and his band kicked up some high energy with their performance. The crowd was instantly involved and Gord was honoured with first standing ovation of the weekend. Gord and the band brought it to Lanark County and left the crowd dizzy from demanding more. Maybe that’s why they’ve garnered 15 CCMA award nominations this year.

As Lorrie played on, Bamford stayed after his show to meet his fans. The line was long and wound around the hundreds of lawn chairs back towards the beer tent. Gord stayed until he’d said hello to every last one of them and posed for as many pictures as his fans wanted.

Tami and I watched Lorrie Morgan take the stage and sing so many of our favourite songs in her sweet, sultry voice. But I kept my eye on the Y101 tent. The minute Gord said hello and goodbye to the last fan in line, it was my turn.

I was going to interview Gord Bamford.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Jammin’ by the Riverside, 2008

 Hi readers! most of you know that I was lucky enough to be given the features assignment for the 5th Annual Riverside Jam. This is the first article that appears in the Carleton Place Canadian. I will scan and post when I have the hard copy tomorrow. There are three articles in total.

This one is 'general overview'. All photos are taken by me.


Riverside Jam 2008 023

I could hardly believe my luck, but the evidence was hanging around my neck.

All Access. Riverside Jam 2008

A lover of country music since I was a teenager, I was really looking forward to the 5th annual music festival presented by the Diamond Foundation. The line-up of talent was phenomenal, and I couldn’t wait to scream and stomp my feet with the rest of the crowds as we swayed to the talented notes flowing from their instruments

Ambush took the stage and brought an energetic show we are all used to seeing from them by now. Their talent and energy makes even the most proprietary of feet start moving. You just can’t help but dance to Ambush. Maybe that’s why they’ve garnered a Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) nod with an award nomination for Group or Duo of the year.

Jason Blaine came after Ambush, a Pembroke man that has a CD and the recognition of his music peers as a man to watch. His voice is smooth and his lyrics catching. If you ever get a chance to meet him as I did, be sure to ask him how he came up with the song “My First Car”. But point your camera fast, because Blaine is a busy man and rarely stands still.

Brad Johner took the stage after Blaine. His pop-country sound revved the crowd until many were standing and dancing along with the music. It didn’t matter that the rain kept falling. We were wet, we were singing and dancing. We were having fun.

Saturday brought much of the same as far as weather goes. When asked if the rain bothered them, several concert-goers responded at once with “What rain?” Gotta love the constitution of country music lovers.

Local talent, the Mississippi Girls could indeed bring a tear to a glass eye with their perfect harmony. Along with so much more local talent, we should be so proud of our Canadian songsters. Canada truly rocks the country vibe.

Saturday night brought The Good Brothers, Gord Bamford and Lorrie Morgan. It was obvious that the fans choice was Gord Bamford (15 CCMA nominations this year). Even over Lorrie Morgan’s classic songs and sultry voice, Gord brought it to Lanark County and left the crowd dizzy from demanding more.

Sunday, the highlights were billed as The Bowes Brothers, Tommy Cash and Mark Chesnutt. But again, our local talent leaves its mark, from Johnny Spinks and Coolwater to Greg Hanna, you could barely catch your breath before more wonderful music hit your ears.

Tommy Cash did his brother Johnny proud. Mark Chesnutt sang his heart out and joked with the crowd, singing one after the other of his multitude of chart-topping hits. We sang along, loving every minute of it.

It’s a great thing that the Mick Armitage Band stayed around until 1:00 a.m. every night to allow us to continue our partying ways. When in Lanark County . . .

 Riverside Jam 2008 029

Monday, 4 August 2008

Is it Possible to Take Too Many Pictures?

By no means is this all I have to say about Riverside Jam, but Sunday night was completely bewildering.

First, I ended up hanging out, watching Mark Chesnutt then meeting Mark and the band by myself, my pal happier to hang in the beer tent?

Hey, all access means beer tent too.

Second, for some reason, a couple of staff members backstage decided to make my night uncomfortable.

When I asked whom I should speak to about possibly getting a couple of minutes with Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt, I was told with much condescension that I should have contacted this guy three weeks ago.

Bummer. He said he couldn't promise anything but he would see what he could do.

I admit I wasn't very hopeful. I thanked him and left it at that, but he informed me that basically, my 'all access' pass meant nothing, and he could revoke it any time he wanted.

Huh? What'd I say that merited that from mister-too-big-for-his-responsibilities?

I was a little ticked off but knew that even though I'd missed Lorrie (apparently, not only did I have to check with him three weeks earlier - a volunteer with Riverside Jam and a very important engineer for the musical gigs) but I should have foregone my kick-ass interview with Gord Bamford to even hope for one minute with Lorrie Morgan.

Fast forward - tonight I take advantage of my pass and use it to continue (done the same Friday and Saturday) to take pictures in front of the stage, at interesting corner angles, etc.

Next thing I know I'm accused of being bitchy and being asked nicely, ONE time only to move from where I was, because really, how many pictures do I need for the paper?


I was told it was a highly restricted area, to which I apologized profusely. I almost wasn't allowed to get my stuff from the fence line.

At the end of the show a group of women went into the 'highly restricted area' to dance.

When I pointed out to the volunteer complainer that his restricted area was being abused again, I thought his head would explode.

I have to admit, I would have enjoyed it immensely.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Welcome to - Video

Welcome to - Video

Gord Bamford Rules!

Spent most of last night at Riverside Jam hanging out with Gord Bamford, 15 time Canadian Country Music Association nominee (with his bands talents recognized as well) and his band after they performed. It was amazing - what country performers are supposed to like. Lovin' the music', loving the people and taking it all with a grain of salt.

Songs by Gord Bamford that you'll LOVE:

Blame it on that Red Dress

Went for One, Stayed 'til Two

Come Over Here. . . that song is country hot!

So many others - download (legally, please) now!

So much more to talk about - Lorrie Morgan went from limo to stage to limo again. . . kind of sad.

What's with self-important handlers, anyway? Don't they KNOW that it's the fans that make the music?

But oh yeah, I loved the time spent with Gord and the band. . . wait til I tell you what Gord said. . .


IMG_3465   IMG_3466

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Slightly Disappointed in the Talent . . .

So last night was the first night at Riverside Jam 2008.

The music was awesome, all of it. It was so cool to hear Ambush talk about how they've won awards for their music and video. They're still a great party band.

Yummy looking paddlers for the olympic team Canada were presented on stage.

Rain fell, then fell some more, then really fell, then fell.

Interviewed one performer after his show, before the rain really fell. Was totally let down. His handlers were a little full of self-importance, and the entertainer was quite bewildered. The Mrs. hovered nearby. I asked one question:

So, what's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while you were on tour, on stage, on the road, during your career, what?

He had nothing. Two minutes of awkward silence while I tried to get him to answer any other question. Nothing.

Kind of boring.

I won't name him because I LOVED his music. But apparently, this man's life is so ordered that nothing ever happens to him that's out of the ordinary.

A little sad, don'tcha think?

Tonight - Lorrie Morgan!

While the rain falls.

More details to come, of course.


Because. . . pointless stories are my thing.