Monday, June 23, 2008

NXNE Conference Species

I went to the NXNE Music conference last week and observed the different species of music industry people.... yes..different species - highly specialized for specific niches in the environment... I sat in on 4 panel discussions - New Media, Music Festivals, Producers, Promoters - and the panelists were all wildly different from the others, and all so much alike in each group. The New Media/Marketing group were filled with energy and enthusiasm and optimism, the Music Festival directors were so bored to be facing another group of eager young musicians, the Producers were all about the music, and the promoters were sharp eyed capitalists.

The New Media folk were David Usher, a musician who has a very active blog, and Mitch Joel, an online marketer whiz, and Michael McCarty from Emi Music Publishing. They were really great, filled with energy and ideas and incredibly keen on sharing - in fact sharing might have been the key word of the panel - since most of their encouragement was about how to share yourself and your creative process with a fanbase. I'll scrape the info from David Usher who summed up the info on his blog I stumbled out of this panel filled with enthusiasm and excitement about the future of media marketing and connecting with musicians and people who love music - and crashed into the Festival Organizer's Panel, which was a crash course in 'People Who Don't Care and Don't Want to Know Your Name'... but perhaps I'll leave those notes for later... meanwhile this is what David Usher has to say..

At NXNE a lot of musicians were asking the question: What should I do?

Here’s my 20 cents:

1. There are no gatekeepers, don’t wait for that deal. They are few and far between these days. Try and get your music out to as many people as possible. That means building your community on the web. That’s were everyone goes to discover, listen and buy music. So that’s were you need to be.

2. Forget the traditional website. Think about the sites you visit everyday. Do any of them have content that’s 6 months old? No, so…

Move to a blog based platform where your blog is front and center. Use blogging and micro blogging (your Status) to keep your page fresh and always updated. No more old news, old photos, old videos, old tour dates. Make it about what your doing today. Open up your creative process to your audience. It’s a bit frightening at first but once you start it can become addictive. Trust me, this can lead you to being even more creative.

Note: you can get a simple blog page at or blogger, there are lots of free alternatives. You can use them with your own URL. Pay a designer by the hour to help customize the look and feel. I shouldn’t cost a fortune. Because blog platforms are built like social networks, they have a simple backend and you can easily do all the updating of your content yourself.

3.Hub out your blog page.
The idea is to blog and micro blog in one place, and then have that information feed to the rest your social networks automatically through RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Your goal is to have a simple system so you can upload once and get your art/process out to as many places as possible on the web.

Note: Start with Flickr, Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, Ilike, LastFM and Twitter.

Remember. Go where the people are.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weill Inspirations

When I first started working on my CD of the songs of Kurt Weill, I knew I wanted to do the gorgeous Speak Low, but the coaches I saw in New York all advised me to do it as this shlocky uptempo musical theatre thing. And it made me itch - probably because the words are so heartbreaking... I couldn't see myself believing in an interpretation of these words

Speak low when you speak, love
Our summer day withers away too soon, too soon
Speak low when you speak, love
Our moment is swift, like ships adrift,
we're swept apart, too soon

as some bouncy fingersnappin' uptempo thing. So I was delighted to stumble upon a strange recording of the amazing bassist, Charlie Haden, jamming on this song with a recording of Kurt Weill, the man himself, apparently taken from some rehearsal where he was coaching the song. And it's heartbreaking. (ok...the video itself is kind of kitsch...but it was the 80's.... however the song is gorgeous... hell, anything Haden ever did is gorgeous...)

so Stan (my amazing pianist) and I decided to do it as slow as possible and just let all those beautiful words and harmonies just flow out. This is live from the show...

and you can hear the version from the CD here... or here - on Amazon, or itunes..

Edfringe Launches

The Edinburgh Fringe is on-line at last (after a bunch of server problems) with their program for the summer. and Whiskey Bars is up and listed in The Vault venue... God! - one little 40 word listing on the web is going to be so much amazing work for the summer. Luckily we now have the amazing and indomitable Irish playwright Maureen Mcmanus on our side - she's an old friend from when I lived in London and will be in Edinburgh for the first week and giving us a hand doing publicity and keeping our spirits up in the competition with the 2000 or so (Ack!) other shows going on at the same time...

Monday, June 16, 2008

"I lock myself inside a pantry of despair....."

Worked for NXNE music fest at the Kathedral venue... taped a few seconds of all the bands on Saturday night, and a few in the upstairs venues... spot the Gold Lame funk band - what were they thinking!

Bands are

From Toronto
Run With Kitten's
Oh No Forest Fires
Dance Yourself to Death

then from Madrid - FRIDA

Philadelphia's - Adam and Dave's Bloodline

Spain again with - We are Balboa

from Toronto
The Hip Hop/Djembe group - Grand Analog
The fashion challenged - Foxfire
The trying very hard funk band - God Made me Funky

Winnipeg's - The Sons of York

and finally the fabulous toronto neo-punk band Tin Bangs

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lennie the Magnificent

honestly... he was... just amazing... 73 and brimming with charisma and charm and honesty.. it was a totally brave concert... he could have walked out and coasted on his hits and just walked through the evening, but he made it extraordinary...

Friday, June 06, 2008


Why does this kind of freak me out... just checked itunes and and the CD is up there as well... available in whole or by single song download... i guess that something about being a part of the apple empire and actually participating in this 'new economy' is very odd... I had enough trouble with the old economy, much less the new one...

anyway... for those who swing that way - its now searchable, viewable, buyable on

Apple iTunes
Inprodicon (whatever that is...)

Virtual CD Launch Party

At last the digital age. My first CD goes up on sale for downloads at CD Baby. You can just click on a button and the songs will arrive in your computer - no clumsy jewel case, no CD to get scratched - it is all virtual. I feel so light and modern and new... I'm thinking of following the example of Jane Siberry and changing my name, renouncing possessions and travelling the world with nothing but a macbook and a great set of clothes.... but then I'd also feel a bit too much like a character in a William Gibson novel...

anyway, I digress... the songs are available at or just click on

Buy the CD
BREMNER DUTHIE: Bremner Sings Weill
click to order

it features 14 songs from Weill's early works with Brecht to his last unfinished Broadway show: Huck Finn. The pianist is the wonderful Stan Cramer. This CD came out of a collaboration between Stan and Bremner on a show of Kurt Weill’s songs that has since toured across the world. Critics have said…

"Bremner Duthie has a voice of power and inner beauty that commands the whole space..... One feels seduced by the sheer power and beauty of this performance"
-- Musical Stages Magazine: London, England

“And my god, does he ever sing. Bremner's performance is jaw-dropping-my jaw literally dropped-as he not only sings beautifully but actually performs the songs beautifully as well. " --View Magazine, Hamilton , Ontario

"When he sings, his voice is like a big, dark, sultry room --full of emotive and expressive possibilities. Even when Duthie sings in languages other than English, the passion and subtext come startlingly alive." -- The Georgia Straight, Vancouver

“For many of us, our first exposure to Kurt Weill was on Bette Midler's early albums. Since then, such performers as Ute Lemper and Teresa Statas have become great interpreters of his music. Add Bremner Duthie, the star of 'Whiskey Bars' to that list. He delivers a stunning, stirring rendition of "What Keeps a Man Alive?" and his 'Mack the Knife' is done slowly and seductively, because it's a song for a bad boy. – Stephen Lavigne, Minneapolis Web Reviewer

“Bremner Sings Weill is a 15-song collection of some of the best work of German-born composer Kurt Weill, most famous for his collaborations with writer Bertolt Brecht but who also worked with such lyricists as Ira Gershwin and Oscar Hammerstein. Duthie - with fabulous accompaniment by pianist Stan Cramer - savours each word as a succulent morsel. With Duthie's comforting, soothing baritone voice, this is music to satiate the soul.

Thanks to his background in opera, and talent for cabaret and broadway song styles, Duthie "pays close attention to text," as the expression goes. Indeed, he treats every song as a script and each is quite scenic - none more so than his unique and pleasing interpretation of Weill & Brecht's "Mack The Knife". His vocal presentations also range from celebratory ("Bilbao Song") to mischievous ("Apple Jack") to soft and gentle ("Speak Low"), and then immediately to passionate and with gusto for a trio of tunes ("The Song Of The Big Shot", "What Keeps Mankind Alive" and "Alabama Song"). If you're at all interested in the music of Weill, this is a CD to add to your collection. If you're not familiar with his work, this CD would make an excellent primer. Bremner Sings Weill ... he also sings well ... exceedingly well, as a matter of fact."
Robin Chase, Winnipeg Web Reviewer


Mack The Knife
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Three Penny Opera)

(lyrics by Rodger Fernay)

Bilbao Song
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Happy End)

You Gentlemen Who Think You have a Mission
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Three Penny Opera)

Alabama Song
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Mahagonny)

I'm a Stranger Here Myself
(lyrics by Odgen Nash, from One Touch of Venus)

Je ne t'aime pas
(lyrics by Maurice Magre)

Lost in the Stars
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson and Alan Paton, from Lost in the Stars)

My Ship.
(lyrics by Ira Gershwin, from Lady in the Dark)

Speak Low
(lyrics by Ogden Nash, from One Touch of Venus)

The Song of the Big Shot
(lyrics by Bertold Brecht, from Happy End)

Nowhere to Go But Up
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from Knickerbocker Holiday)

Apple Jack (backing vocals: Stan Cramer)
(lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from Huck Finn)

Moon Faced Starry Eyed
(Lyrics by Langston Hughes, from Streetscene)

One Life to Live
(lyrics by Ira Gershwin, from Lady in the Dark)