Hello again from Sunny Port Credit in Ontario !
I said last week that I'd continue on the story of Blues & Roots Radi and how taking advice and accepting help played a role. There are quite a few people who have given valuable advice to us freely, none more so than Richard Flohil, he is a bit of a legend in Canada and beyond and I found out just how far his reputation stretched whilst in Australia earlier this year where we attended the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Victoria, about a four hour drive west of Melbourne, having been invited by the festival committee to do some Live broadcasts and interviews we got the chance to sit with the legendary Dobe Newton ( The Bushwackers ) and Richard while they regaled us with stories of the music business in Canada and Australia over many years, fascinating stuff !
FMO October 2017 is in Mississauga
The reason I mention Richard is because he was extremely kind when we were first starting out on our journey, we met for lunch a few times in Toronto and had chats, advice and a few pints, one day he said to us " Have you ever thought about attending Folk Music Ontario ? " , we had never heard of it, he continued " well, I think you'd like it, meet me in Niagara Falls at the hotel, let me know you are coming and I'll show you around for a bit and give you a taste of what happens " as it turned out he was on the board of directors.
Folk Music Ontario we know now is a fantastic conference that has been going on yearly and it's in it's 31st year in 2017 always falling on my birthday weekend.
The conference is the key event for Ontario’s folk, roots, and traditional music community. Over four days and three nights in October 2017, over 700 delegates will:
Quite the event !
We met Richard in the reception area of the hotel where he gave us a whirlwind guided tour of key things to do and see, where showcases would be happening, and introduced us to Loreena McKennitt ... I know, I just about fell on my back at that point !
It was probably the key weekend for us deciding what we were going to do, we found that the array of talent was beyond belief, artists we had never heard of before, music and genres that leapt from every room and corridor .... we walked through the hotel foyer to witness Ariana Gillis her father David Gillis and a few jammers playing acoustic to the reception staff and hotel guests as they passed on by !
Our mind was made up, we wanted to help showcase the amazing talent that did not have a voice on mainstream radio, we had a vision of being ' The Voice Of The Independent Artist ' but we had no idea of how we were going to achieve that, we had started a small promotions company and were toying with the idea of a concert of some kind, our minds raced from that day forward.
Building a solid reputation with the artists was the thing that was at the forefront of our minds, without their support and acceptance there would be no point, so we decided that each year we would take up Richards advice and become members and be involved at Folk Music Ontario, find out more of who these artists were, where they came from and it lead from one thing to another.
It's crazy to think now after such a short period of time that we have two stations broadcasting independent artists, the BRR Essential channel with all the exclusive shows from around the world playing independent artists goes from strength to strength notching up more than a million listeners this year so far and the addition of the BRR Discover channel has helped compliment that greatly.
I started my own radio show over five years ago, preceding the station by one year, and that was the first foray into the radio world, internet radio that is, ' The Hoose Radio Show ' has gained a lot of listeners since the early days and has been at the forefront of the BRR schedule, and internet radio has come a long way also gaining much respect and Blues and Roots Radio I am happy to say are at the forefront, I decided to do many interviews from the conference each year to get to know some of the artists better, and them to get to know who we were, we have done special hour long shows on the artists performing and also new releases that are given to us over the course of the weekend. I'll explain what happens as far as that is concerned ....
Each year at the conference member radio stations, radio presenters, festival directors, promoters and organizations are invited to have a ' Dropbox ' , this is situated in a secure room all weekend long and artists attending the conference are invited to drop off any of their CD's and bio's as away of introduction.
It's a fantastic way to get to hear artists whose showcases we might have missed, or to hear the finished sound as all showcases after the official ones are performed acoustic with no amps or microphones.
But here is the thing, the first full on conference we attended our dropbox had over 100 CD's in it, and it took a long time for me to get to some artists who I had never met yet whose music was incredible. Always in the back of my mind I have been trying to work out a way of being able to play as much of this music as possible straight after the conference and being able to justify the good will shown by the artists in trusting us with their music, most of it brand new releases. You can count up 6 conferences and that is a lot of music.
So with all the years of planning and ideas that come off the back of original introductions and advice and thoughts on how we could help showcase as many artists as possibe we have to flip forward to September 1st 2017 when we launched our brand new channel on the Blues and Roots Radio platform BRR Discover.
The whole idea behind this channel was to give the new music a bigger voice, so interspersed with some fantastic syndicated shows that are well known to BRR listeners we created playlists for genres of music, we now have the Roots Hour, Blues Hour, Celtic Hour, Folk Hour and the Discover Show. They have been well received and we now are in the position to add another playlist or two to the schedule.
So from November 1st we will be adding a playlist that is dedicated to music discovered at Folk Music Ontario, a two hour show will air tracks from various artists and genres, airing daily on the weekly schedule multiple times to cover time zones in Canada / USA, Europe and Australia.
The seed of an idea that came six years ago and that we are now able to implement has given us a great thrill and we have plans to roll that out to other conferences worldwide, say for example NERFA ( North East Folk Alliance ) and more are a possibility. I am also extremely pleased to say that the very first music organization that we became members of anywhere in the world is the one we have chosen to roll this out for, as a way of thanks to the organization but more importantly as a way for the music that is generously made available to us by the artists to be heard by as wide an audience as possible daily on the station !
The conference this year begins on October 19th and we look forward to meeting old friends and new..... just some of the artists who will be attending are Cara Luft who I have been a long term admirer of as a solo artist but even more so now she plays at some festivals and gigs as part of the duo ' The Small Glories ' with JD Edwards.
Chris Ronald from Vancouver who has just released his brand new album ' Fragments '
From the east coast we have Ian Sherwood who has a brand new album ' Bring The light ' due for release.
and Murder Murder from Northern Ontario who have just released a new album and are on a tour currently promoting ' Wicked Lines & Veins '
a mention for an incredible artist from King City just outside Toronto, Jon Brooks will be there too
And finally a new duo out of Toronto who are being mentored by Samantha Martin and who Richard Flohil is helping to get the word out on are Moscow Apartments ... look out for them, they'll be playing a lot of festivals very soon !
With help from our friends and listening to well placed advice at key moments on our path we have arrived at having a new platform for the very people we had the vision of being able to help in whatever small way we could all those years ago.
Accepting help and advice from the right people with years of experience is something I have done all my life, my late Father was my mentor, advisor, teacher and friend, since moving to Canada I have always looked upon Richard as that same person to listen to with open ears and heart, there are many in the industry who can say that about him, a well loved and respected man of integrity, he pushed me in the right direction that is for sure and look what happened ! .... I am very happy to call him friend.
More next week on shows we added to the station from around the world and some of the media partnerships we have formed over the years that we continue to nurture and grow.
Have a great week ahead !