Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Eat Yer Words

Life was getting peachy again. I had a new love interest in my life, and Black Belt Jones was moving forward once again. We had come up with quite a bit of new material, and after several jams we were ready to hit the stage once again. As if the timing couldn't be better, a new bar had opened in Brampton called "London Bridge" and it was ran by a fellow named Billy, the same man who was responsible for Tremors & BackTrax, the two former Brampton bars that embraced live music. As much as it was great playing at The Ivy Bridge, it was greater to have another local place to gig. 

We were also ready to hit the studio once again and create our second demo tape. This time we wouldn't be doing it ourselves, as we enlisted the help of Pooh's brother Steve, AKA Knuckles, the same man who recorded the Wiggaz demo. I was quite stoked to be working with Steve again, this time however we would be recording at "The Geon" which was the nickname for "the dungeon". The dungeon was the basement of the Donohoe residence which Steve  occupied, while Mama D, Pooh, and youngest brother "Erk" inhabited the other two floors of the house. What was even more exciting to me was the fact that our second demo would be recorded on an 8 track recorder, as opposed to a 4 track like we used on our first demo. It was a great time recording with Knuckles, it was a very laid back environment and we really had no time restraints. 

Before long we were ready to release our second demo tape entitled "Eat Yer Words". Once again yours truly took care of the cover art, liner notes, and inserts. Each one was lovingly hand cut and folded by us and we took care of the dubbing as well once again. We had a new tape to sell, but we decided we needed free merchandise for our fans as well, which led to a plethora of sticker designs, Black Belt Jones matches and rolling papers, as well as our very own BBJ "pogs" a new game for kids that was sweeping the nation.

We also added some new blood to the band. On bongos and percussion we now had "Jus-Tone" who's real name was Justin. I had met him through Paul's circle of friends and took a shining to him instantly. He was a very peaceful and happy person, somewhat hippy-ish with funk and soul to him. He was a perfect fit. 

Our second edition was Derek Begley, who I lovingly deemed as "D-Rek" as he was a big muscular jock... minus the dumb jock mentality which I loathed. I had met Derek through Scott & Pino, although Pauly knew him from back in the high school days. Derek had recently returned from an Australian vacation, and he brought back with him an instrument from the Aussie natives known as a didjeridoo. Between the bass, guitars, drum machines and samplers, we now had two more dynamics added to our sound, which also gave us a bit more of a visual on stage for the audience.

It wasn't long before opportunity knocked and we were offered a spot at CMW, Canadian Music Week, an annual event that catered to any music lovers taste, with various bands playing at various venues for a 7 day stretch. BBJ ended up getting put on a bill with Choclair, who was a local rapper that was blowing up and receiving somewhat of a mainstream push. 

When CMW arrived I was pretty stoked that we'd get exposure to his fanbase, but was more so stoked at the fact he would now know the name and sounds of Black Belt Jones. Needless to say I was quite disappointed when he left the venue after his performance without even sticking around to check out our set. I found it highly disrespectful and distasteful of him, and from that point forward decided I would never support him or his art.

We had been gigging quite frequently, and once again it was becoming a thankless job. As much as I loved bringing music and happiness to people, it got rather taxing with all the traveling, lugging of gear, extra late nights and not really seeing any money for our hard work. Something had to give...

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Jenny 2.0

Day by day I was coping more with the passing of my close friend Jay Poole but deep inside I knew it was an internal scar that would never fully heal. They say that time heals everything, but even now 20 years after the fact I can honestly tell you that old saying doesn't hold true. 

Paul and I were continuing to plug away at his new sampler and it was both fun and very therapeutic. We had already came up with some pretty banging songs so far and it seemed that every new song we created was better than the previous.

I had eased up on the sauce quite a bit, but there was one good thing that came from my extensive alcohol binges. I had met a new love interest. Her name was Jenny and I had actually gone to high school with her. She was a girl I'd always admired from a far, but we were from two different worlds which I assumed was a recipe for disaster. 

Five years after graduating I had seen her one night at a bar in Brampton while on one of my benders. When I got home that night (or early morning) I decided to look her up in the white pages and gave her a drunken call at 3am in the morning. Surprisingly she answered. The conversation was brief, but I informed her she had a secret admirer. I left it at that.

I seemed to continue on with these intoxicated phone calls every time I was inebriated. Her curiosity was growing more with each call, but her patience was wearing thin as well. Eventually I mustered up the courage to tell her who I was, which I assumed would mark the end of our late night phone conversations. Much to my surprise she was still very flattered now that the cat was out of the bag.

We made plans to meet up a few days later and the rest was history. I now had a new girlfriend. Valentine's was just around the corner, and since I was never a fan of the holiday I decided not to get her a gift. The relationship was also very new so I assumed it was too early for gifts. Needless to say I felt like a complete asshole when Jenny showed up at my place with an extensive gift basket full of my favourite candies and even a carton of John Players Special cigarettes, which I had started smoking after Jay passed away. JPS were now known as "Jay Poole Specials" in my world and I started smoking them to honour my fallen brother. Every time I looked at that pack my thoughts were with him. 

It was quite obvious that I had landed a very thoughtful woman and I couldn't of been happier, especially after Tara turned her back on me in my darkest hours when I really needed a friend. Jen's generosities didn't stop there either, she was constantly doing nice things for me, picking up thoughtful gifts, and carting me around in her car to visit friends and partake in social activities & outings. I had even met her family, she had met mine, and it wasn't long before I was sitting down with hers for Sunday dinners. 

I had fully emerged from my dark place now. Between making new music with Paul and having someone to love in my life, my internal light was shining very bright. 1996 had started off as the worst year of my life to date, but I planned on grabbing it by the horns, owning it, and making it one of the best...