MP3 Brian Gladstone - Alive & Picking
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Featuring the Smoking Guitars of Brian Gladstone and Tony Quarrington
8 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Bluegrass, FOLK: Modern Folk
ALIVE & PICKING - BRIAN GLADSTONE
CD Review by Diane Wells
This dizzying, dazzling display of country-flavoured, almost funky, folk music is a superb live recording of well-chosen tracks from his debut and follow-up CDs, Back to the Dirt and Psychedelic Pholk Psongs - I'd forgotten how wonderfully Canadian his music is!
Along with stellar recording artists Tony Quarrington and Maureen Brown, Mr. Gladstone (the aptly nicknamed Asphalt Cowboy) has upped his profile again with the addition of long-time North American musical icon Allan Soberman, featured on tastefully subtle bass. Brian's sweet-voiced sister, Bonnie, has progressively acquired a large measure of self-confidence in her harmonies, which is no small feat, keeping up with Brian's own unique rapid-fire vocal patois.
I'm sure there will be people who feel the 8-song EP/CD was just too short to cover the best of the 34 songs Brian has previously recorded. In the meantime, though, they can console themselves with the studio versions on Back to the Dirt and Psychedelic Psolk Psongs while anxiously awaiting the upcoming CD of new material!
Hopefully he will be showcasing some of it at his second annual Toronto Winter Folkfest, of which he is the director and founder.
Robert Digioia (Maestro Fresh Wes, Chocolate Bunnies from Hell, Kim Mitchell, etc.), who also produced Back to the Dirt and Psychedelic Pfolk Psongs for Brian, handled the final mix of Alive & Picking, recorded by Reels on Wheels.
Reviewed by Diane Wells ("Rockin' the Blues from Canada")
ALIVE & PICKING - BRIAN GLADSTONE
CD Review by Diane Wells
'Grassroots Musical Renaissance Man'
About the author: Gary 17 is the publisher and editor of TO-NITE MAGAZINE, and https://www.tradebit.com which has been covering the music scene in the Greater Toronto Area since 1992. He is also the organizer of the annual SpringRise Celebration concerts held each spring in Toronto since 1989.
Written By Gary 17 At a time in history when it*s difficult enough to be a standout in any one field, Brian Gladstone is proving to be a kind of Renaissance Man by excelling in four very different aspects of the music business.
Not only is he a brilliant songwriter/guitarist whose songs on two albums have received critical acclaim around the globe, he is also a foremost designer of musical technical components through his own engineering company, appears to be an event organizer with a Midas touch and has established himself as a role model for the self-producing, self-promoting musician/songwriter.
"The music is the hub of the wheel," he explains. "the motivation for all my activities. All the other activities are merely a vehicle to get the music out there. It's my way to create my own scene, creating innovative channels to get my music heard as all the regular channels were grid-locked."
When Gladstone launched his Back To The Dirt album on an unsuspecting world in 1999, few had heard of the quirky but soulful songwriter. He*d mostly contented himself with occasionally appearing at open stages or doing opening sets at friends* gigs and concentrating on writing his tunes, which cover subjects as diverse as freeway traffic jams, life*s hopeless losers and the need to preserve the wolverine.
Aside from his sometimes sardonic, often intense and occasionally playfully witty lyrics, his songs stand out also for his masterful guitar picking and interesting changes and melodies. He's been compared to Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Phil Ohs and other masters of complicated simplicity, but, like these antecedents, he*s also irrefutably and resolutely an original.
The writing and recording of Back To The Dirt was taking place while Gladstone was also busy building his Plitron Manufacturing Inc. manufacturing company, which single-handedly revolutionized the type of power transformers being used in high-end audio equipment and are rated the best by several high-profile sound system manufacturers.
Gladstone*s high-tech dissertations and accompanying mathematical equations on Plitron*s website explaining why he basically reinvented what*s known as the toroidal, donut-shaped, non-laminated transformer, are probably incomprehensible to the layman. But the way even in this technical writing that he combines passion and precision is eerily evocative also of the idiosyncratic but highly focused approach he takes to both lyric writing and to blending and bending various musical genres.
Back To The Dirt was profiled on the cover of Toronto magazine to-nite and https://www.tradebit.com shortly after it was released but could easily have met the same sad fate of withering into obscurity that befalls many albums written about glowingly in such grassroots publications except for one thing: Gladstone*s dogged determination to disseminate the album all around the world.
Not content to sit back and wait for radio and reviewers to discover him, Gladstone trained his focus on designing and constructing his own distribution and promotion machine. He spent countless hours, trolling each evening over the internet, researching industry publications, sending emails and letters, making phone calls and asking for leads from others in the business to determine where he should send copies of the record in order to get reviews and airplay. It worked!
"I think an important factor in any success is that I believe so strongly in what I'm doing, it becomes a passion. I'm driven -- almost obsessed -- when I get into a project."
*That drive quickly resulted in Gladstone receiving airplay and favourable reviews across North America and even a major profile in the European edition of U.N. Magazine. The release and resulting press coverage also secured him a distribution deal with award-winning independent label Comstock Records of Fountain Hills Arizona, headed up by Frank Fara, a 20-year veteran of the Country music industry who was voted *Country Music Personality of the Year* for 1999. The album was added to their global radio pipeline marketplace, further extending its reach and Gladstone*s visibility.
In 2000 Gladstone was the subject of a feature profile in the International County Music Association*s newsletter, did a feature interview with California*s HHGI Magazine, was prominently profiled in The Nail Online magazine, CanEHdian Music magazine and many other local publications. In early 2001 he was feature artist in Germany*s Country Home magazine, was added to prestigious Canadian Musician Magazine*s list of Canadian musicians who are known world-wide, and was written about or reviewed in numerous other music magazines.
Guitar-9 Magazine selected Brian as *Undiscovered Artist of the Month*, Feb 2000. Brian was contacted by Colonel Bobby Patterson, President of the ICMA (International Country Music Association) that his tune *Car Song* has received 50,000 plays in two years.
*Meanwhile, in keeping with the Back To The Dirt philosophy, Gladstone had begun organizing annual concerts for Earth Day featuring many outstanding artists from Toronto*s local Folk music scene. The events, held for four years consecutively, not only raised cash for the non-profit Earth Day Canada organization, they also helped to forge a sense of community among the participants, That was to prove instrumental in Gladstone*s biggest event production thus far, the highly successful first annual Winterfolk Festival held in Toronto in early 2003.
Frustrated at not being able to secure more reasonable paying, high profile gigs at which the music is the focus instead of aural wallpaper, Gladstone simply created his own concert shows and Folk festival in order to showcase not only his own music but also that others of his acquaintance on the talent rich Toronto and Ontario scene.
"If opportunity isn't knocking, then you need to build a door. I realized that the best way to get to play a festival was to create one. And I recognized there were many musicians in the same category," Gladstone recalls.
But long before that landmark achievement, Gladstone was to make another even more scintillating mark with his own music upon the release of his second album, Psychedelic Folk Songs, in September of 2001.
Building on the artistic and business success of Back To The Dirt, Gladstone was able to deliver copies of Psychedelic Pholk Psongs to many campus and community radio DJs and music publication reviewers who were already familiar with and impressed by his work.
What resulted was an almost immediate landslide of praise for the new disc. Songs from the album have been played on stations on every continent and early in 2003 the album was re-mastered and re-released in a second and now third pressing.
Shortly after release, Joe Vincent selected *Psychedelic Pholk Psongs* album of the week on JRRI Radio Ireland, and broadcast around the world, but later was also listed on the Top 100 Albums of 2001. Gladstone was the guest artist on a one hour radio special in France, shortly before the album was listed on five major European charts based on radio play including Spain, France, Italy, and Germany.
Psychedelic Pholk Psongs was signed to Silverwolf Records, Vermont (label of Josh White Jr, Odetta, Kingston Trio, etc.) for North American promotion, distribution, and airplay.
Other honors include an Honours Lifetime membership in Country DJ Association of Belgium, presented in person by president Mia Heylen on her trip to Canada in 2002. Brian was honored by Colonel Buster Doss, founder of Stardust Records, as the artist of the Month in August 2002. In the same month, the album was awarded FIVE STARS by the ICMA (International Country Music Association).
*There*s also been, of course, a whole raft of new interviews and reviews, some, such as a July 2002 interview with Folkwax Magazine, concentrating on the self-made methods that Gladstone used in order to get the international distribution and exposure that has given him the international prominence he enjoys today.
His stature in his hometown of Toronto - which normally ignores its home-grown geniuses until they sell millions of records in the U.S. - is on the rise too. These days he's playing premier venues such as HughRoom*s, Healeys, and Silver Dollar and is a feature at outdoor public concerts like Metropolitan United Church, Mel Lastman Square, as well as festivals including Winterfolk, Mariposa in the City, Live From the Rock and more - all to appreciative and large crowds.
"The energy and focus tends to attract other artists and press, I suppose," he says of raft of media and industry attention he's received.
His Winterfolk Festival will be back in 2004 and will be held in conjunction with other local cultural events as part of the City of Toronto*s new Wintercity Week. Winterfolk II, like the original, will feature over 100 performers over three days and prove a point of coalescing for participants and fans alike.
It also appears that another Gladstone event initiative, the Folk Singers For Peace one-day concert he organized and put on at the city*s Mel Lastman Square last June 28, will also become an annual event - featuring some of Canada*s premier Folk names from today and yesterday.
It seems that whatever projects Gladstone turns his incisive mind and prodigious work ethic to, the result is not only success but conspicuous, one-of-a-kind achievement.
With a new live album being released in October 2003 called Alive & Picking, a new studio disc in the works for release in 2004, the continued success of his design and manufacturing company, enthusiastic community support for the events he organizes and his ability to balance all these activities, Brian Gladstone does indeed appear to be a Grassroots Musical Renaissance Man well prepared to thrive in the 21st century.
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