Archived entries for News

PWYC spending habits

I believe it’s important for artists and art lovers to reflect strongly upon our spending habits in Pay What You Can (PWYC) situations.

Thus, I frequently ask myself:

Do I go out and spend $12 on a meal and espresso, and feel I can’t afford to pay a $7 /PWYC cover (or buy a $12 album)? I think it’s safe to say that most of us relate to this experience. To me, it points to an economic/value imbalance where I  unequally supporting venues and restaurants over artists. If I’m paying much more for food/drink at the venue to than to the artists, then I am implicitly putting much more value on the service the venue is providing, than on the work of the artists.

I love espresso, I love eating food, I love venues and I love music. I don’t want to choose one over the other. Venues are a necessity.  Art is a necessity.  They are also interdependent.

Ultimately, this has lead me to another question: in PWYC situations, how can I equally support artists and the venue they’re performing at?

In PWYC situations I have decided on a more or less equal split. If I have $10, I pay $5 to the artists and buy $5 worth of food and/or drink. This also means that if I am at a show, have $10 and am dying for a $7 beer, then maybe I can’t afford either. (For me, it can also points to a implicit belief that I value beer more than the music…) I can either cough up an extra $4, or buy a half-pint.

The following possibilities manifest: Perhaps I can afford an espresso out, make a nice meal at home, and pay cover. Or, I can make coffee at home, have a small meal at the venue and pay cover.  OR! Coffee and food at home, a beer at the venue, and paying cover.

This reflects the surface of my beliefs and ethics surrounding PWYC cover charges.

What is your view? Perhaps you have a different split, for different reasons?



B-Side Graphics

Hey –

Today I want to do a quick shout-out to B-Side Graphics. As many of you know, when Joel Kerr and I made It’s a Free Country, the beautiful cover was illustrated by Dave Cooper. However, what you may not know, is the back of the album cover was designed by a fellow named Jamie Breiwick, a phenomenal trumpet player and graphic designer in Milwaukee, Wi.

Jamie and I met on the internet about a year and a half ago. He bought my CD, then I bought his, then he bought mine, and then I bought his. Basically we passed the same twenty bucks across the border for a year. His trumpet playing and music is unreal. Check it out below.


Shortly after we met, Jamie announced that he was starting a design company called B-Side Graphics, and Joel and I were looking for someone to design the back of the album. Jamie was just building his portfolio, but I could tell right away that his work was that of an artist. As a designer, he truly understands historical jazz record design, and matches it will his own creativity and design skills. Furthermore, not only is his professional demeanour flexible and easygoing (especially given that sometimes I’m a pain to work with!), AND his work keeps getting better. (I will add, too, that I feel the same way about his trumpet playing – gets the history, has tons of skill, brings his artistry too it, and is better and better everytime I hear him.)
So, with this in mind, I wholeheartedly recommend Jamie’s work. Below are just a few of his recent posters. Check out his website and more of his work at




Festival of New Trumpet Canada
I am honoured to be part of the Festival of New Trumpet Canada this year. On Wednesday January 29th the line-up will be unveiled at Resonance Café in Montreal, and Joel Kerr and I will be playing a short set with music from our album It’s a Free Country.  See the full programming for the evening here:

The program will be unveiled at 8pm, with music starting promptly at 9pm. $10-$15 cover charge will help us to cover the travel and accommodation costs for our nearly 50 artists. Members of the press who would like to be on the guest-list please write to

mercredi le 29 janvier
Résonance Café 5175a ave du Parc
8pm Unveiling
9pm-12am Music

The Festival of New Trumpet Music Canada is modeled after the highly successful FONTMusic festival in New York. 14 of Canada’s most creative and innovative trumpeters will assemble for 4 nights in March right here in Montreal. The festival includes sounds from the worlds of jazz, improvisation, electro-acoustic, and contemporary composition with influences from around the globe. Join us on the 29th to discover all that we have in store for you!

My albums of the year

So, everyone is doing their top albums of the year.  I’m not sure I really listened to more than 10 albums this year (for real), but I can tell you the two albums I’ve listening to 3-10 times a week since I got them this year.

Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti: Sexmob Plays Fellini

Tim Berne’s Bloodcount: Unwound

I don’t want to make this post about myself, but I’d like to give some context as to show how much I love these albums. I can really only afford to buy 1-3 albums a month, if that. I don’t steal any albums or don’t really stream music from places like Rdio, Grooveshark, etc. I occasionally borrow old and/or out of print albums from friends, especially if they deem them to be extremely important. Sometimes I get music from the library. As such, my music collection is small.  Very small.  There are 40 CDs in my bookshelf right now and about 30 vinyl, and maybe about 20 digital albums I listen to regularly.  Because of this, and because my listening time is not unlimited, in order for something make it into my regular listening, it has to be something extremely special.

This year, I have had on repeat two things: Sexmob Plays Fellini and Bloodcount’s Unwound (3CD boxset). The Sexmob album came out in March, and The Bloodcount albums came out around 1994. The latter came to me as one of those “you haven’t heard this? You will love it, borrow it from me, I think it’s out of print” moments. (I have since found that it has been re-printed, and will get it as soon as I save enough,) Both albums bear immense and intense repeated listening. They are the two albums that I consistently go back and listen to.

Comparing them or saying which I like better would be like comparing apples and oranges, and so I won’t. Instead will tell you that I love them for completely different reasons. Moreso, I feel like it would be pointless to give a rundown of all the qualities I enjoy in these albums. This is art that’s too good for my feeble words.

What I will say about the Sexmob album is that it is a masterfully arranged, executed, recorded and mastered album. It’s a work of art, and feels like magic. Everything is in its place and more. I have the vinyl and it’s phenomenal.

(Buy it from the label here)

As for Bloodcount’s Unwound, there is kind of a “you have to hear it to believe it” quality to their music. They’re live recordings, some of which were done on minidisc in the club in which they were playing. It’s an incredible tour de force to listen to these tracks, and sometimes I wonder what band has a right to sound so incredible live. This is music that’s contending for a place in history.

(Buy it here, I will soon)

I really really really hope that these recommendations mean something to you and that you find a way to buy this music, and listen to it. Maybe you have some extra christmas money? These artists deserve that you buy their albums. Steven Bernstein recently said in an interview that he didn’t think Sexmob would ever make another record – because there’s such limited financial support (from consumers and gov’t and economy etc..) in the States. Tim Berne has said that he has to make twice as many albums a year to make the same amount of money than ten years ago. His reasoning is that people aren’t buying like they used to (they’re downloading and streaming) and many assume that because he’s recognized that he must be making money.

This music is worth the money. Drink 3 less beers out this week, and maybe one less latté out.

Word up word up.




I’m off to KlezKanada for the week! Expect to new posts until next week.

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