012602 Don Ross/Bob Wiseman, Ottawa, ON

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On January 26th, 2002 I furthered my burgeoning career as an young, ambitious, and increasingly cocky concert promoter with a show starring acoustic guitar pyrotechnition Don Ross and featuring a soul-melting opening set from the ever-great Bob Wiseman.  

As near as I can tell, this was the third of four annual Don Ross headlining concerts that I booked into Carleton University’s Alumni Theatre and the second time the I had secured Bob Wiseman for the opening slot.  Safe and lazy: yes, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?  And man, it wasn’t broke.  In addition to consistently selling tons of tickets and providing unheard-of profits for this young barely-working musician, the shows also put good money straight into the pockets of hard-working musicians that I admired and brought stellar music to hundreds of eager music consuming connoisseurs, all of whom seemed to leave the theatre happy, every time.  It was basically win-win squared, doubled, stretched with Silly Putty and folded in half.

I see from the stub that I had by this time graduated from rudimentary hand-copied passes to Ticketmaster’s professionally printed tickets; a service that enables TicketBastard to skim money from tickets they aren’t even selling.  Backstage I had amped things up too: no longer was the artists’ dinner merely a bottle of water and a bag of Doritos.  No way, José!  By now I was dropping $30+ on real-live deli trays and vegetable plates from Loblaws.  Sure it was no Spinal Tap, but I was trying, if only barely.

I also see that I was still operating under the Avalo banner which – as I’ve explained before – is an abbreviated version of Avalokiteshvara, a Buddhist bodhisattva who is bound to descend to Earth and help anyone who repeats his name enough times.  I had selected Avalo as the title of my production company out of sheer strategy (every time I answered the phone I would be repeating the helpful bodhisattva’s name…) and it seemed to have worked like a charm.  I eventually changed the company name to “Somkid”, a purposely misleading moniker that means “hope” and was in fact the name of a person I had known in Thailand.  Soon enough the whole booking operation fell apart.

What’s in a name? they ask.  Harrumph.

Anyway, it was a fantastic show of course; how could it have been anything else?  Bob tore my emotions to pieces with a set that was 10% pianistic impossibillium, 20% hilarious spoken-word anecdotes of heartbreak and sorrow, 70% polished nuggets of singer-songwriter brilliance and 100% live music paradise.  For his part, Don Ross mesmerized the crowd with mantra-like stories told while he twisted twisted and twisted his poor, abused guitar’s machine heads into yet another completely unique and utterly unheard-of open tuning, from which he would wrench one of a dozen or more four-minute tonal perfections hidden beneath dazzling displays of fingerstyle wizardry.

Not bad for $18 ($20 at the door).

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