Canadian Musician’s Katlyn Fledderus caught up with Halifax-based singer-songwriter Ben Caplan at Canadian Music Week 2013. Caplan discusses being an artist entrepreneur and having his own mobile app as well as his use of social media. Caplan also addresses the role the Audio Blood label as played in his career and and his upcoming Australian tour.
CANADIAN MUSICIAN BLOG
I didn’t recognize the title I was typing into the YouTube search bar, nor did I recognize the pretty young face that popped up in several thumbnails when the page finally loaded (the Delta’s “high-speed” internet is a bit of a misnomer). When I clicked the first thumbnail in the results for what I’d been asked to search, “Boys With Girlfriends Official Lyric Video,” however, I knew the tune. Right away. I couldn’t (still can’t) tell you how. I’m not big on commercial radio, nor do I watch a lot of television, but I knew that song. In fact, I quite liked it. Frankly, it’s a hit.
Why was I searching the tune? Well, leading up to the 2013 edition of the Vancouver Island Music Business Conference (VIMBC), happening May 15-20 in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, organizer Susie McGregor (she’s rad) called me and told me the story of how a young artist, all of 14 at the time, met with Midas-touched songwriter/producer Brian Howes at the first-ever VIMBC a few years prior and, thanks to a professional relationship that’s spanned years and probably seen dozens of songs written, re-written, and re-written again, the two had recently hit metaphorical (and probably soon-to-be-literal) gold with the single “Boys With Girlfriends.” It was a bona fide tangible success story that’s solely the result of a driven young artist doing what it takes to make a career in music.
We at Canadian Musician are always trying to inform artists of the benefits of attending – and working – an event like VIMBC or its bigger brothers in CMW, NXNE, SXSW, BreakOut West, and so on. Having the opportunity to speak with two talented people who could offer up the story of EXACTLY how this can pay off would be some kind of vindication – a sort of proof to the theory.
Andrew here, checking in courtesy of BC Ferries’ free WiFi. I’ve been out in Vancouver for the last few days and am now en-route to Victoria for the Vancouver Island Music Business Conference (VIMBC). Should be another great edition, as there are some real heavyweights out this year.
Anyhow, up until today’s ferry trip, I’ve been wandering around Yaletown and Gastown in Vancouver and dropping in to meet a bunch of people and see some sights – The Warehouse Studios, the Vancouver Musicians’ Association, UBC, and the famous Commodore Ballroom. This city as a whole is amazing, both geographically and culturally. Looking out the window of my rented condo, 22 stories up, I can see everything from the library to BC Place to the harbour to the mountains. Simply breathtaking. And everyone is incredible polite. Nobody gets off the bus without thanking the driver. The service everywhere you go is top shelf. Very much like PEI in that regard.
By Travis Miles
It’s a rainy morning on the Atlantic, we are in the belly of the ship, in the van, waiting to exit the ferry and be rid of the financial burden of Newfoundland. A curious smell has manifested itself from the last three days of having eight dudes living in one vessel, and we laugh about it as we slowly pull back onto the mainland.
It’s Tuesday May 14, and we play Charlottetown, PEI tonight. The six days since my last update have been busy as hell, and expensive to boot. Last Thursday we played a waterfront bar in Sydney, Nova Scotia called Governor’s. It was one of our our best eastern shows to date, and after getting back to our place of rest in Waterford (as mentioned in the previous post) we went to sleep at 4 a.m., only to wake up at 7:30 a.m. to catch the ferry to Newfoundland.
With tired eyes, and hopeful smiles we left our Chevy Astro behind in Waterford, and hopped in Fire Next Time’s 15 passenger beast in order to cut ferry and fuel costs for our three day, four show, Newfoundland leg of the tour. That night — after a six hour dull, grey, foggy boat ride and a two hour drive of the same vein — we played in Cornerbrook at a bar called the Whitehorse Lounge. It was a fun show, and financially the most successful of the Newfoundland stint, but the crowd seemed to be there for the barstools and not the live music, which was slightly disheartening.
After the show the bar owner thankfully put us up at his house in town, where I enjoyed another short sleep on the floor in my sleeping bag, and awoke to his dog Taylor’s playful eyes and wretched breath two inches away from my face. Within five minutes of this, I was in the van and we were all on our way to St. John’s, which was a nine our trek from Cornerbrook.
We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and parked a block away from CBTG’s — the venue where we would play that night and twice the next day. Having slept most of the ride, me and a few of the other boys got out to walk about town in the dreadful Saturday wind and rain. We didn’t load our gear in until past eight, and the show wasn’t scheduled to start until nearly 11, so we took the bartender Davey up on his continuos offer of free beer.
“Now that’s the Newfoundland hospitality I have heard so much about,” I thought to myself as he slid a Black Horse lager my way.
Despite being less financially prosperous, the show that night was much better than Friday’s in Cornerbrook. Most of those who attended were seriously interested in our music, and we befriended many people. The free beers slid to my end of the bar all night, and into the early morning when both us (The Penske File) and Fire Next Time became honorary Newfoundlanders via a “Schreech in” ceremony. The venue owner and staff were super cool and made us feel right at home. We stumbled thirty minutes uphill to a new friend’s house after the “Schreech in”. It was daylight by the time we arrived.
The next morning — or afternoon I should say – we woke up at 2 p.m. to a pancake breakfast, and hustled out the door, as our all ages matinee show started at 3 p.m. Upon arriving at CBTGs things were looking good. There were plenty of kids at the show and the first band was excellent. Unfortunately by the time we played there were only six people left watching us besides the bar staff and the boys in Fire Next Time. This was a huge bummer for both bands, and the whole Newfoundland trip was begin to look grim.
Despite this feeling, and the looming realization that we would lose hundreds of dollars due to the stint, we drove out of town 30 minutes to Cape Spear. The most eastern point of Canada, Cape Spear was ominously beautiful and overall unexpected. We arrived in the sight’s parking lot just as the sun was descending behind the mountains that graced the distant shoreline to our left. A thick layer of fog rose above our heads, but did not quite reach the mountains’ peak. We stood transfixed at the edge of a cliff much smaller than the mountains to our left, and looking down we saw the water’s edge. As furious topaz waves crashed upon cascading rocks a silence fell over us. In that moment we were the most eastern people in all of Canada, and as the waves washed over the rocks they washed away all our practical concerns, and it was understood that the whole trip — despite being a financial bust — was worth it.
The range of “hidden sounds” the guitar can produce is incredibly vast. In this video, guitarist, clinician, and author Jeff Gunn shares a lesson on “Exploring Percussion on Guitar,” based on the third installment of his series, Hidden Sounds: Discover Your Own Method on Guitar, out now via Mayfair Music.
Let’s be clear up front. This isn’t “real,” but that doesn’t matter. When the kid throws up the horns at the end, I’m sold. And as a side note, Rocksmith is actually pretty cool.
By Travis Miles
Checking in from a friend’s mother’s house in New Waterford, Nova Scotia — a small town just outside of Sydney. Located right alongside the Atlantic ocean, the air is cold, but the smiles are warm. After a much appreciated home cooked meal I am sitting in a homey basement with seven road worn friends. All is quiet excluding the dull blow of the old dehumidifier sitting in the room’s corner, and the relative silence seems to be welcomed by all.
The past five days have been a lot of fun despite the dismal turnouts in Ottawa, Quebec City, and Moncton. Being our first time playing Quebec City and Moncton, and picking up a last minute show in Ottawa, the turnouts haven’t come as a surprise and spirits seem to still be sky high at both The Penske File and Fire Next Time camps (our vans).
All the venues, promoters and the few people who have come out to watch have been interested and hospitable. We have made many new friends, and have had some wonderful experiences.
We drove straight through the night Friday from Ottawa to Quebec City and spent all day Saturday exploring the city — which is so unique to Canada and is ripe with architectural and cultural charisma. We made some new friends and fans at our show that night, and were fortunate enough to be offered their place to stay for the night. The next day, we were on the road again and after a long day of driving we parked for the night in a Walmart lot in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Walmart parking lots are good for this because no one will ever bother you and any necessary road supplies are available to you readily in morning.
That day (monday) we had a show cancel and decided to find a beach to hang out at, play some baseball and have a couple drinks. We managed to find a place just outside of Moncton and upon exiting the van it was unspoken yet understood by all that the beach would be a phenomenal place to post up for the night. And what a night it was, ending with an inebriated smile and me in my sleeping bag on the beach looking up at the stars and silently thanking the night for its potent beauty.
The next day (tuesday), I woke up sandy to the sunrise and we played at Plan B in Moncton, which was a really cool venue. We played to the bar staff and a few others, and were put up for the night in the apartment above the venue. Feeling very much at home, we talked feverishly, played dice, and sang songs. I passed out on a pull out couch in the apartment’s living room an hour after the sun rose, and awoke with a headache. We cleaned the apartment and left Moncton for our present home in New Waterford in the late afternoon.
Tomorrow we have a show in Sydney, Nova Scotia, at Governors and have been told that it will be a good one. For now, though, it’s time to catch up on some sleep.
PEI’s Meaghan Blanchard has achieved a great deal in just two years, from performing for the Duke and Duchess of York during their highly-publicized visit to her home province to performing 47 shows in 15 days at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver to recording her latest full-length, “She’s Gonna Fly,” with in Athens, GA with John Keane (R.E.M., B52s, Indigo Girls).
By Travis Miles
I woke up in a panic this morning. Utter confusion jolted my body upright as my eyelids rose off my eyes. This happens a lot on tour, waking up in a moment of ignorant mayhem. “Where am I? What city is this?”
This is all common, for the first minute after slumber on someone’s couch, floor, or in the van. This morning — May 3rd — I awoke in Pickering, Ont., and it slowly came back to me — as it always does — “Oh right I’m in Dave’s house, he’s cooking us breakfast. Sweet.”
So, I woke up chatted with all the boys, drank two coffees with rum, ate a very much appreciated breakfast, and me and the guys took off.
Now, as the sun sits high in the sky, the sounds of The Clash echo out of a brazen Chevy Astro. The gas tank is full, and the road ahead is a long one. As indicated in previous posts, my name is Travis Miles. I sing and play guitar in Punk/ Folk Rock band The Penske File and I am a correspondent and a freelance writer for Canadian Musician magazine and blog. In coherence with an upcoming Indie Insider series for Canadian Musician magazine entitled In the Van and On the Road, I will be updating my first hand accounts of playing in a touring band across Canada.
The first week of our two month Canadian tour is behind us, and the long drives are ahead. The horizon’s magnetic pull will dictate the following posts. Every day a new city to be in, a new venue to play at, connections to be made, fun to be had, and inevitable mishaps to endure.
We are on the road with our new friends in Fire Next Time (Edmonton), and have spent the first week buzzing around our homeland of Southern Ontario. Every show has been within an hour of the last and has been stellar. We kicked the trip off in Hamilton last friday at the Casbah to a packed house in celebration of our debut full length album, A Restless Symphony. Since then we have enjoyed shows in Brantford, St. Catharines, Waterdown, and Toronto. But that is all in the past, and we are on the edge of constructive summer — both as a band, and in our minds.
We are rolling down the highway 401 east to Ottawa. With many new markets to hit, excitement and wanderlust seep through the cracked window and wash over my tired eyes. We have never toured the Canadian east past Montreal before, and some of us have never been.
The next six weeks will take us through Quebec, the quintet of Atlantic provinces, northern Ontario, the plains of the prairies, and the mountains of the west. With fingers crossed, minds focused, and hearts rattling we edge closer to tonight’s show, and the best 35 minutes of everyday. So much goes into a tour, but we do it for one main reason, to play our music as much as possible, as many places as possible, as often as possible.
As I reach to the radio’s dial to turn up the music, a warm feeling rushes over me. So I roll the window all the way down to stick my head out, and let the rushing highway air cleanse my unkempt hair. I think it’s safe to say the road bug is starting to kick in.