It's old news now, because my life is so disorganized and chaotic that I can never manage to blog about things when they're going on, but last week was CMJ week in New York City, CMJ standing for, oh, I don't know, College Music Journalism or something like that? It's an annual dealie where thousands of writers, PR flacks, label honchos, scam artists and quite a few musicians convene in lower Manhattan for purposes of getting off their faces and running deals past, through and around each other.
I never participated in it during my years in the "industry" (perhaps you can infer why from the comments above, and it was a source of some chagrin when my successors at Lookout Records started laying out the big bucks not only to attend, but to put on major showcases. To be fair, though, many of the kids growing up in New York during that time (late 90s/early 00s) have very fond memories of those CMJ shows, and frankly, if I hadn't been such a grumpy puss, I probably could have come along and enjoyed them,too.
But as it was, I never attended a CMJ event until this year, and then only because various friends of mine were in attendance, in certain cases friends that I wouldn't be likely to see again until, well, at least next year. Foremost among them was Mr. Grant Lawrence, former (and perhaps future; there's increasing talk of a reunion) frontman for Vancouver's mighty Smugglers and present CBC radio personality. Grant was in outstanding form as he regaled anyone within earshot with amazing tales of people, places and the music business, all of which had at least some elements of truth to them, but which were equally well seasoned with a rather substantial dollop of fanciful invention. As they should be, Grant being a firm adherent to the "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" school of thought.
Celebrity has clearly been doing Grant some good. Once the oldest-looking 25 year old in Western Canada or at least from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast, Grant has somehow magically been transformed into one of the youngest looking 30-whatever-he-is-nows you're likely to meet. How exactly this has been accomplished remains a mystery to me, though I hope it doesn't involve the CBC's rather generous surgical benefits program.
Anyway, it was great to see Grant once more and be inspired by close communion with someone who lives so close to the beating, throbbing heart of rock and roll. I also found time to call in at the Weston acoustic show, where three members (sans drummer) dragged bales of hay, cowboy hats, chimes and a rain stick up onto the Mercury Lounge stage for an hour and a half of campfire-style singalongs and coruscating comedy, much of it courtesy of Dave Weston and the inadvertent humor of a rather intoxicated (or just plain loony) female audience member.
This was on Day 1 of CMJ; two days later I met up with Grant again at the Mint Records showcase, and by then I was all CMJ'd out. Anyway, if you noticed an unusual increase in the number of dark-clad hipsters and their limo-driven paymasters on the streets of New York City last week, now you know what was up. And you can safely forget all about it, until next year at the very least