The Jungle Book (Carousel Theatre) wraps up today, and with it ends a run of the past seven months working 6 days per week. (Not counting an awesome 10 day ski trip in March). I managed to squeeze in a showcase, some school performances, and a CD release concert with Will Stroet somewhere in there too. Lots of travel, lots of gigs (often two or even three per day). It was very enjoyable to work so hard on such great shows. Now it’s time for a well-deserved break. I have just one short tour in May, another in July, but other than that… time to do some home improvement projects and enjoy more time with my family. Also time to consider a future with less time devoted to performing. There are no more theatre contracts in my immediate future, and my enthusiasm to hustle for gigs is somewhat more diminished than it was in past years.
The Red Rock Diner tour went very well. I have done a LOT of driving over the years, but that tour was my first chance to drive a Dodge Sprinter. I want one of those for every tour! I had two days off and then directly into rehearsals for James and the Giant Peach, playing 10 shows a week at Waterfront Theatre all through December and into the start of January. Then 10 days off before going out on the road to tape the second season of Galala. Galala est un émission de télé pour les jeunes francophones. Je suis un des musiciens que accompagnent les jeunes talents à chaque épisode. Onze épisodes tout autour du Canada, une tournée de presque 60 jours, de Halifax à Vancouver, puis de retour en Ontario pour le denier épisode. Ouph! We leave tomorrow.
Today begins rehearsals for the re-mount of Red Rock Diner (The Arts Club Theatre Company). We will be touring this show around the lower mainland of British Columbia, over to Vancouver Island, up to the Okanagan and finally the Kootenays. A perfect excuse to bring out my 1963 Ludwigs with the beautiful white marine pearl finish. Oh, and my amazing white leather shoes. Rock ‘n roll!
The summer was less busy than usual, I was relaxing because starting in October I will be working 6 days a week in theatre shows. I subbed in with Pandora and the Locksmiths for a few gigs, playing some burlesque tunes, sassy blues and motown. Then it was a tap dance extravaganza, featuring one of the top dancers on the scene, Jason Samuel Smith from NYC. That was a fun and challenging gig. (I also learned some tap dancing moves myself!) Recording session in Calgary with James Lamb. Performed with Jeff Gladstone at opening night for Bard on the Beach. Did a 10-day tour with Will Stroet in Ontario, including Hillside Festival in Guelph. Played a couple gigs with Zachary Stevenson, including an odd event with the band Hedley for an LPGA golf tournament. But the best part of the summer was lots of holiday time with my family. Time at the cabin, some camping, and we did our first overnight kayaking trip!
Spring in Vancouver and lots of recording sessions. Tracked some various jazz, showtunes, and a Hungarian dance number in 11/8 for an upcoming theatre show called “The Scarlet Queen of Mercy” (Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret). It’s a musical, but the music is pre-recorded minus the vocals. Got to work with my former bandmates Martin Reisle and Jack Garton, and got to work with producer Steven Drake for the first time. Cool guy. Then it was off to Invermere for the weekend to play a gig with James Lamb. Then some gigs with Jeff Gladstone back in Vancouver. A recording session with Simon Kendall and Andre Lachance. My first actual jazz gig in years, playing again with Andre and Jillian Lebeck as part of a documentary film premier. Then got an awesome chance to lend my drums to Guy Nwogang and work as his drum tech, and chauffeur Salif Keita around town!! What a treat that was. Reunited with the Pink Flamingo band led by Blue Morris to once again peform at the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival. Recorded with the band Illitteraty at Monarch Studios. And now perfomring in another theatre show, this time “Hell of a Girl” with Ryan and Jeff Gladstone as part of the rEvolver Festival at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
I am currently on a cross-Canada tour with the Francophone television show “Galala.” It is a youth-oriented talent and variety show, think American Idol but with various talents (not just singing) and less brouhaha. I play in the house band with Steve Charles and Emilyn Stam. We make a great trio! Those two are so talented, they make my job easy. Just before embarking on this 2-month drive across the country, I did 6-weeks of the Carousel Theater production of “James and the Giant Peach.” Although it was a kids show, the music was totally brand new, very difficult and very fun. Laurence Mollerup on bass and Steven Greenfield piano/MD made the trio, and the cast of the show was downright awesome! After a long drive across northern Ontario in -40 degree weather, I’m looking forward to returning to Vancouver for the spring!
It’s been a quiet fall for me, time to recover from a very busy summer and devote more time to getting my body healthy and fit. Years of neglect from touring means these old bones need a bit of work. But a steady regimen of squash (the sport and the vegetable) has me feeling re-energized. After “Red Rock Diner” ended it’s long run, I had a few corporate events and more recently some gigs with Jeff Gladstone, Illiteratty, and Orkestar Slivovica (subbing in on the tapan drum – an amazing new discovery and challenge). In a few weeks I start work on “James and the Giant Peach” with Carousel Theatre. That will run until early January, then I go directly to a cross-Canada tour for the TV show “Galala” on TV5 until March.
For the first time in a long time I am not touring this summer. Instead, I get to be in Vancouver for the entire summer, performing every day in a musical theatre show called “Red Rock Diner” at the Arts Club on Granville Island. Here is an interview I did on the French CBC when the show opened a few weeks ago.
Radio-Canada Interview with Todd Biffard
March went by quickly. In the middle of the month I caught the H1N1 flu (aka swine flu), which kept me in bed for 10 days. Even now, more than 4 weeks later, I am not fully recovered. I did have to survive a 10 day tour of the USA while I was sick, and then the day after returning home played a very interesting CD release show for Jeff Gladstone. This coming weekend will be a recording session with Illiteratty, and then it’s back to the USA for shows with Maria in the Shower. May will again be busy with tours of the USA with Maria in the Shower, and then end the month with Jeff Gladstone in Alberta.
I`ve been very busy since the start of the year. I had about a dozen gigs in January, with at least 5 different artists. February began with a gig in Calgary, then off to Kelowna for a ski holiday with my kids. Now I`m back in Vancouver and working on some demo recordings with Jeff Gladstone, Scott Perrie, and Magpie Ulysses. I`m also looking for a new bike. My trusty steed since 1993 has a bunch of issues, and I`m tired of the poor braking power of those old cantilever brakes. So, it`s time to move up to the world of hydraulic disc brakes. Keeping my eye out on Craigslist, which is one of my favourite things to do anyway. Though usually I`m just on the prowl for vintage snare drums.