A Muse's Muse Interview with guitarist/singer/songwriter & founding member of Triumph, Rik Emmett
conducted by: Jodi Krangle
"RIK EMMETT is one of Canada's most respected musicians: a virtuoso guitarist & singer/songwriter with an award-winning, multi-gold and platinum history that earned him a spot in the Canadian Rock Hall of Fame. He currently owns and runs OPEN HOUSE Records, and has established an ambitious catalogue of guitar-based original music of all styles. Rik is also an experienced, articulate clinician, educator, adjudicator, consultant, cartoonist, columnist and author. For four years, http://www.rikemmett.com/ has been one of the most successful pioneering independent ventures on the internet, where you can get up-to-date, comprehensive information on his career."
He also gives one hell of a good interview. How does an extremely popular performer keep it all together? Here's some insight into Rik's writing process, how he deals with criticism, how he finds time to write, how he uses today's technologies to get ahead, and how he manages to keep his family life intact through it all. How does he keep himself sane in this insane business? Read on to find out.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your musical influences? How did you get into songwriting?
I had been a singer in the school and church choirs ever since I was 8 or 9. At around the age of 11 (1964), the boys from our neighbourhood used to gather 'round the old Seabreeze record player, and lip-sync to Beatles 45's as we strummed tennis rackets. Then my granddad gave me an old catalogue acoustic guitar - one that had palm trees and a hula girl stenciled on the front. After I'd learned to play a C and an A minor first position chord, I wrote a song. Now, in retrospect, I can see that the whole thing - the ambition of wanting to be popular & accepted, the competitive/performance aspect of 'play' (the physical/mental challenge), the control-freak psychology of trying to understand and explain the universe by creating tiny little controllable bits of it in music/songs/stories/paintings - led to singing and guitar-playing and songwriting being all wrapped up in one relatively natural, organic kind of pursuit. I was naturally left-handed (dextrosinistral, actually - things of strength southpaw, fine motor control - writing, holding a fork - right-handed), and began to learn to play in the standard right-handed way, which gave me some natural advantages for left-hand fingerings over contemporaries. Having early advantages led to having early successes, and plenty of positive reinforcement. So I'd play my ditty for my mom, and she'd say, "You're amazing. You're fantastic." Which gave me the kind of courage to think that someday I could get the critics in newspapers to say the same kind of things. 'Defining' moments are hard to pinpoint, because I think the process becomes one of accumulation - putting together basement bands that played at private parties: being the singer/songwriter that everyone at high school remembered from the talent nights and assemblies: sitting at a campfire on Wasaga Beach, or at a YMCA 'coffeehouse' night, playing Paul Simon and James Taylor songs, then throwing in some original songs and guitar pieces and having people react with strong acceptance: these were the kinds of things that gave the thought of 'career' some momentum. In phase two of 'career' development, I was jobbing, playing in wedding & bar mitzvah bands, or C-lounge country bands, and being exposed to covering that eclectic mix of classic standard kinds of popular songs, soaking up influences. And even in phase three, when I was wearing spandex and makeup, playing blazing hard rock solos and taking musical talents in a more obvious 'show-biz' direction, earning bigger paychecks and building a larger reputation, the thing that was still the most satisfying aspect of self-expression was to sit down with an acoustic, create, write, then sing & play something that I wrote myself. Even the anthems that filled arenas for Triumph can be boiled down to simple acoustic folk songs, which is how they started life anyway. I know that my career 'reputation' is probably more one of 'guitarist' - but the truth is, I'm one of those dreaded multiple-slash kinds of people - guitarist/singer/songwriter (add producer/arranger/recording artist into that mix), and it's all just one big ball of wax.
Question: Sounds like it's been one crazy ride! You talk a great deal about positive reinforcement as being a guiding influence in your musical career. Criticism must have been hard to deal with - especially later on in your career when you became better known and more people felt they had the right to criticize. How did you deal with it? Any tips for helping new performer/songwriters handle that sort of thing? How did you deal with it in the beginning of your career as opposed to now? What are the differences? If you can think of a particular incident that you learned from, feel free to talk about it (no need to name names).
I have never been particularly good with criticism, unless I have a lot of respect for the source. Even then, I can be an extremely defensive person, and quick to jump to emotional conclusions and quickly launch counterattacks - which is a tendency I try to control, with mixed results.
Actually, I feel the opposite way about criticism than you suggest - age has brought some mellowing. I won't presume to call it 'wisdom', but experience has taught me to have more acceptance of stupidity, mean-spiritedness, pettiness, smallness - more of an understanding that the human being can often be a short-sighted, self-serving, nasty bit of business, and folks will often kick these characteristics into action if they think it might help them build their own notoriety, or propagate their own beliefs. So, now it's easier to let certain kinds of things go (i.e. 'criticism' that holds either no, or unrelated, values), because I can now see it for what it is. And I can accept that I'm just as human (just as bad, or maybe good) as the next person, and full of shortcomings and frailties. Occasionally, my wife will tell me I'm getting cynical, but I honestly think it's just realistic - pragmatic. When I was younger, I would often fire up letters to critics who enjoyed missing the points, or who had their own agendas, or who were only looking to see if they could draw some blood (or release some hot air) by being a sharp little prick. In the early years, amongst other missives, I wrote editorial letters to publications like Kerrang in England, Rolling Stone in the U.S., daily newspapers in Canada - and occasionally got printed, and often had my sanity, or career-building vision, heavily questioned. But even any resulting brouhaha or bad blood didn't have any major impact on career development. Career development is all about the momentum of much larger forces - bigger machines - and the pure chance of timing, and somehow capturing the public's cultural zeitgeist.
Nowadays, I think it's easier for artists to see criticism for what it is: just another very small facet of publicity, and almost insignificant to the public value of a song, or a film, or a book. I think certain kinds of popular 'art' are more dependent on good reviews, but think about it... Have bad reviews hurt the successful popularity of Celine Dion, Kenny G, boy bands and teen divas, slasher or gross-out movies that truly suck (on purpose!), Harlequin romance novels, McDonalds cuisine??? Our culture is full of stuff that critics almost universally loathe, and it doesn't make a whit of difference. Everybody but everybody, including critics, have high AND low common denominators, good and bad hair (or attitude) days. Besides - in the course of my career lifetime, I've seen daily newspapers reduced to almost insignificant market share due to people's lack of interest & lack of time for reading, the advent of CNN style cable TV and the aspects of media 'convergence' that are influencing our cultural lives: a lot of those magazine publications that I wrote to are either out of business, or reduced to fanzines that run pictures of almost-naked starlets on their covers in order to try and attract advertising revenue based on magazine stand distribution numbers. It's all a show-biz numbers game, and 'critics' are the tiniest of pawns in it. Tinier and more insignificant than lowly 'songwriters' and 'artists', even. So I smile at the memory of that young man who cared so intensely.
Which brings us to criticism within one's creative process, and .367 - one of the secrets of life. .367 is the lifetime batting average of Ty Cobb, the most successful hitter in baseball history. He only managed to get a hit LESS than four times out of ten. And he was the best in the history of the world. Should I get all bent out of shape if I don't succeed, either artistically or commercially, in my own chosen field of endeavor, even half the time? Erring is human and forgiving is divine. Everyone needs forgiveness, more often than not. Critics lack this kind of compassion. But a creative writer must have an interesting combination of skills: their own focussed control & intensity, coupled with a kind of free spirited approach. Good hitters step up to the plate and TURN OFF the chatter in their head, and the boos or cheers of the crowd around them - they simply focus on their task, and use their best instincts. This is something that experience has taught me. It didn't hurt to have role models like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Loreena McKennit - people that stuck to their own agenda, focussed on their own strengths.
Another thing that aging & experience has taught me: collaboration, and the introduction of other people's opinions (i.e. criticisms) into my own process: does it make my work that much better? Does it improve my 'batting average'? In my humble experience - no, not necessarily. Maybe I should have had more faith in my own instincts from a much earlier time in my life. I lacked confidence in my own judgment, and allowed myself to be 'molded' within collaborative situations. This did not harm my own commercial career, necessarily, but I think it did a great deal to stunt my artistic growth, especially as a writer. I do better 'Rik Emmett' work when I create alone: when I collaborate, I contribute towards something else, but it isn't necessarily 'me' anymore. Who knows my own work better than me? Who can judge its validity better than me? And, since the creative life that one chooses is a journey of self-discovery, invention and reinvention that never ends 'til you draw your last breath, who's to judge that the worst piece of dreck that you've ever managed to spew out wasn't necessary in your own creative life process? I'm not talking about commercial career success, here - I'm talking about being the best writer/musician you can be. Does this sound egotistical? So be it. I can live with that criticism, because it seems so distant from the truth of artistic process, for anyone who really understands a true artistic process. This is MY truth I'm describing - and it might not work for someone else. But I once did a TV show with Bruce Cockburn, and he told me that he realized as a teenager that he didn't want to be in a rock band, and have to subject his own creations to the tyranny of a democracy. And I now have great admiration for his ability to know himself that well as a teenager - to have a clear vision of his own path.
Here's yet another take on the question. Who's been harder on me, and my work, than me myself & I? It's a cliché, but it's true: I'm awfully hard on myself. I'm never satisfied. I find it hard to deal with praise, sometimes. I deflect it: I devalue it. Sometimes I accept it politely while internally, I'm immediately dismissing it. I don't like to sit around and bask in old accomplishments - generally, I'm very uncomfortable listening to old recordings I've made. I am always interested in the NEXT song I'm working on: the next project coming down the pipe. Now - I think aging has helped mellow this somewhat - or perhaps I'm getting a little better at doing what satisfies the batting-average ambition in my own soul. But, the point is, if you can get comfortable with yourself as the only critic that really matters, and keep your 'mojo' working along, you may find yourself doing much more satisfying work. (Mojo - from Muddy Waters to Austin Powers. Anyone care to critique THAT?)
Plus, of course, creativity is an act of positive faith in something: it has to follow its own set of values. The voice of a critic can become something that, instead of helping to shape the building of a better mousetrap, only succeeds in halting R & D on the project: or destroys the integrity of the faith that allowed the production to keep moving forward. Criticism CAN be constructive, when it serves to try and focus on the values that the work establishes for itself. But, often, a creative act is one that requires one person's vision: one person's execution: one person's focus.
How often have 'critics' been right about my work, when they dismissed it, or trashed it? My career has outlasted many 'writing' careers of critics who predicted my own career toilet-flush. The business has made fools out of anybody who predicted that rock & roll was dead: that 'punk' was the definitive answer: that 'grunge' freed anybody from any commercial kind of anything. A 'swing' era has now come and gone twice. 'Disco' apparently didn't suck bad enough the first time around to prevent it from making a nostalgic comeback for the viewers of VH-1 & MuchMore Music. Longevity has given me a perspective, and probably lent my own work a kind of authority now that I simply couldn't have had in my twenties or thirties - especially because 'influential' critics at the time were never going to give it to someone like me - someone who wasn't from some kind of anointed circle, or part of the first wave (the Boomers born in the 1940's). Even now, I am amazed at the reverence shown for old Doors, old Roxy Music band members, old Velvet Underground and Blondie band members who I had a hard time finding values in during their FIRST go-round. (See? Even I can be a little prick of a critic. ;-) )
Critics who champion a songwriter like John Prine or Bob Dylan often haven't got a clue when it comes to recognizing the sublime genius of Rodgers & Hart: critics who believe that Becker & Fagan of Steely Dan are the best songwriters in the business are never going to fully acknowledge the value of Snoop Dogg: these kinds of cultural gaps are easily recognizable to even the casual 'fan'. So what should that reconfirm in any young writer's mind? You follow your own muse: you find your own truths. Don't blindly accept a 'critic's' opinion on anything: don't even blindly follow your heroes. Keep your eyes wide open as you blaze and follow your own path, and stay the course. Clichés, every one - but they became that because they're true so often.
Question: Your career has taken a lot of twists and turns since it began. Now that the internet is here to stay, where do you think that will take you? How are you using it to your advantage? There's been a lot of talk about how freeing the Internet can be to independent artists - but have things really changed that much? You've been on both sides of the fence now. What do you think?
The Internet provided a real opportunity for me, but that's because I was who I was. It would be much harder for someone who had never established any mainstream notoriety. My website came into being because of fan support, and a small but loyal 'cult' fan base who fortunately seem to continue to believe in providing a modern-day kind of patronage. It also functions like a small boutique - instant access and communication between Rik and his posse, and his fans & interested followers.
I think the Internet generally provides an initial charge of excitement to people when they first come on line - they can't believe the feeling of access to things, the freedom of roaming around and finding a whole new digital universe at their fingertips, especially things that they have passion about. And I think this translates into some impulse buying: also, historically, I think it made for some impulse investing, dot.com start-up fever, technology-sector inflation, and then a great big huge crash that sucked the life out of stock markets everywhere. Reality has now set in. The wired world is a reality - but it comes at a high cost, and maybe it doesn't necessarily pay out like Vegas slot machines, the way many people thought it would. Computers are fantastic tools, but they can also be tremendous pains in the butt when they don't work like they're supposed to. And they can be incredible time-consuming things, without necessarily a huge immediate dividend. They have learning curves that are like climbing Mount Everest. So - website/Internet savviness requires a certain amount of woodshedding - or a reliance on savvy team members.
A website needs to be a carefully tended and evolving environment: it needs care & feeding, and it needs to remain current and vital. Just like a grocery store, the 'product' needs to be restocked, fresh, and frequently, if you want to have happy, satisfied return customers. One of the huge problems that faces someone like me who decides to become their own label, their own producer, their own general manager, recording only original music (so that I can control all of my own publishing, and not worry about mechanical licenses & royalties to other writers), with their own website: it requires a lot of management, and it requires a regular influx of new material to keep the small boutique nature-of-the-beast a viable ongoing profitable venture. And there's the rub. Where do you find the time to be writing & recording high quality fresh stuff?
You know the old business saying: everybody wants three things - they want their stuff fast, they want it to be high quality, and they want it cheap. But all three things at one time hardly ever exists. You can have any combination of TWO of those three things - but never all three at once.
So - it's a small business. You can't really do things that are tremendously expensive (i.e. high budget recording projects, with big-name talent costs, expensive producers & engineers, etc.). So "cheap" is one of the mandatory things. High quality? Hell, yes - absolutely. Holding on to a high concept, or a high aesthetic, or a deep spiritual content, is one of the main reasons that a loyal fan base believes in you in the first place. So that's a given, too. Which means that "fast" is not an option. Restocking the Internet boutique shelves with fresh content and brand new product becomes a very difficult challenge for the small-business music entrepreneur.
Now - Sam Reid and I did a "fast" Xmas project over a year ago - but that was because we were recording traditional Christmas music from the public domain, and it was intentionally a very simple duo recording project. Familiarity with that catalogue of tunes goes right back into one's childhood, and made arranging and performing the material a breeze.
Even then, he and I had our own convoluted personal schedules we were trying to work around - and this kind of thing continues to be a problem for me today. I can't stop my life and just disappear into the studio. I need visibility, and cash flow: I need to be playing gigs and working on the website and doing PR I need to be available for my family. And I need a lot of time to write challenging material, and to work on my chops, to expand my musical vocabulary, even as I begin to notice small physical things about getting older - e.g. my vocal range is changing: my harmonic imagination is pushing me into places that my technique cannot adequately cover sometimes. I wish I had time for lessons with a great teacher. I wish I had some time to just work on my chops. I wish I had more time to be self-indulgent, and just write. But the phone keeps ringing. People need to ask something - to get a decision. The paperwork piles up. A small business means banking, PST, GST, corporate and personal income tax returns, never mind all the stuff that's necessary with regular bookkeeping, accountants, contracts, manufacturing & restocking of inventory, etc.
The biggest challenge of independence is time management, hands down, no doubt about it. It's prioritizing, and learning how to settle. It also requires a lot of patience, and a lot of faith in yourself, and your team, because sometimes faith is the only fuel you've got to go on for a while. (It's a very similar feeling to when one is first starting out on a career. There is no big machine that has decided to take you on and provide momentum for you. You have to generate all of your own momentum, and follow up anything positive with more elbow grease.) Everything is career development, and (sorry for all the baseball analogies in my answers, but I love the game a lot) there are very very few home runs...One is constantly playing 'small' ball: beating out infield bleeders, laying down bunts, using an out to move the runner over, etc. It is very satisfying, though, when you manage to win a few games.
Question: Time is always a problem for you, I'm sure. How do you find the time to write songs? Do you set aside a certain time of the day for this or only write when something in particular inspires you?
I try to make time to write songs. But it's not easy. It's often easier to procrastinate about it, esp. if there isn't any kind of pressing deadline for a release date or something. There are always moments when inspiration jumps up and bites my songwriter's butt, and I rush to the studio's (cheap old-fashioned ghetto blaster) tape deck, or the notebook, and capture a chunk of something that might prove to be useful later. But my process is one, generally speaking, of accumulating a lot of these inspirational moments, and then fighting the daily routine of prioritizing family demands, business demands (things like, for example, doing promotion & publicity, and answering skill-testing, mind-probing, self-revealing soul-searching questions for interviewers ;-) ), personal health & hygiene, meals, and sleep, with the need to sit down and start organizing and rewriting the accumulated songwriting inspiration bits into some kind of meaningful, cohesive structures.
I am the kind of writer who, if he waited solely for inspiration to deliver finished masters with no rewrites, would have very little indeed to show for a lifetime of writing. On very rare occasions, a good song might arrive almost whole. Much more often, the inspiration for the IDEA of a song arrives, and I know full well that a song is waiting within that idea, but, like a sculptor staring at a giant block of marble, I know the sculpture is waiting in there - it's just gonna take a helluva lot of chipping and scraping, and walking around it and looking at it from different angles, in order to realize the final piece. Sometimes the final piece will require some surgery, and the grafting & fusion of other elements from other places, in order to realize the piece and make it work.
Question: Do you have any advice for other songwriters who are also very busy and need to find time?
In my mind, there is no truly satisfying answer to this question for someone who is married with children. You have made your priority commitment and you must fulfill it, with a full heart and to the very best of your human abilities. You will have to sacrifice something, sometime, and songwriting (creative music-making in all its forms) will almost always have to tie for second with your business - the ability to put food on the table, a roof over everybody's head, and new shoes for the kids every now & then. Coming in a distant third will be your own health and meals. Skip a workout? Yep. Skip a shower/shave/shampoo? Yeah - gotta find some time to get into the studio....
I can't begin to describe how many times I have emerged from the basement studio to find a cold dinner plate wrapped in Saran waiting for the guy who didn't make it to the table on time. This never wins me any points with the person who prepared that meal. My kids are used to Dad disappearing for chunks of their lives - the guy who was on the road touring, who wasn't at the table come spring & summer & most autumns, four nights out of seven kind-of-thing. And they're old enough now to not really give a sh*t anyway. But, if they ever get a chance to go on Jerry Springer later in life, they will most certainly blame me for every negative personality or character flaw that they possess. Jerry will bring me on later, and in tears, I will confess that yes, I was truly a selfish, one-dimensional bastard who often acted like an absentee landlord. ;-)
In our survey, 'Sleep' finally arrives, slotted in at number four. It is the one area that you can cheat like hell for short periods of extra time - for relatively brief spurts. Eventually, it all catches up with you, and everything goes to crap - your judgment & performance as a family member, as a songwriter, as a breadwinner. So it's a question of balance, kids (surprise surprise) and you'll just have to make do the best you can figure out how, for yourself, by yourself. It won't be perfect - sometimes it will be messy and a strain for everybody all round. I also personally think that a career in music is tougher now than it ever was - more competition and narrower commercial/industrial typecasting demographic beancounting playlisting. So I would recommend to every songwriter out there to lower their expectations and not drive themselves crazy about having a "successful" career. Have a successful life, first, and then do enough songwriting to fulfill your artistic heart's content.
Besides - what are the alternatives? You can have lots of time to pursue your art, and the business of selling your art, but ask Loreena McKennitt if it enriched her personal life. Ask Annie DeFranco. Unmarried with no children - ask Jennifer Lopez how she's coping with career and personal life (and if she's getting enough sleep). Ask Celine Dion or Sarah MacLachlan why they pulled back on the whole art/business side of things. I intentionally chose women as examples because they face the added pressure of the biological clock, but the emotional/physical dynamic is roughly the same for men. They just have a bigger, longer window of opportunity for making choices about family as priority.
I have met, and know, some people who are entirely comfortable putting their music ahead of everything - putting their career ahead of a family choice. I have met & know some people who don't even really have a choice - a life of art, (or business, or both), to the practical exclusion of all else, has actually claimed them and they are practically powerless. These are rare birds - exotic. If you are one of these, you will know it, because you will read everything I've written above and it will seem like a bizarre dialect of Swahili to you.
Question: Any particular techniques you use when your life is really busy and you're finding it tough to fit the songwriting in?
Try not to feel too guilty about not fitting the songwriting in. Don't beat yourself up over having the right priorities. Making music, songwriting, these are practically chronic diseases anyway. They will eventually find a way to rise up and overwhelm you at some point, and when they take hold of you like that, and you get lost in the fever,....hell, that's when you'll do your best work anyway. (At least, that's how it will feel!)
And if someone really loves you, they'll understand - and they'll leave a dinner plate wrapped in Saran so you can stick it in the microwave.
And maybe the kids won't go on Springer. Maybe the oldest one will end up conducting the local high school junior stage band through an arrangement of one of your tunes at her final Music Night, with one of your other younger kids playing trumpet, and still another on clarinet. You'll be sitting beside your wife & son, with your mom & dad there too. And maybe your heart will fill to bursting, and yes, you'll be fighting back tears. Because you know, deep down, that you're a selfish one-dimensional bastard who doesn't deserve anything as wonderful as a Mr. Holland's Opus kind of moment like that.
And then you'll go home and make a few notes - maybe try to write a song about that feeling.....
Question: What's in store for you in the future, Rik? Can you tell us a little about your latest projects, where people can pick up your music, or hear you live, etc.?
Folks who are interested can always get up-to-date info at http://www.rikemmett.com/ - and they can go as in-depth as they like, as there are many features there that cover all the aspects of my career, past, present and future. You can order or buy product there, even some stuff only available through download: or you can order through 1-800-563-7234: or you can go into your local music retail store and (hopefully) find EMI-distributed product somewhere under "E". Ask one of the kids who works there where the "Old Farts Miscellaneous" section is (you know the courteous sales staff music aficianando-type - the one with tiny metal dumbbells through his face in a few locations, tattoos on his jugular veins, and his giant baggy pants falling down so far that he can do broadband JOE BOXER advertising, even as he decries the G8 summit for commercially industrializing the planet ---- Actually, that kind of kid is now SO last year). If they have anything resembling an Old Farts Miscellaneous Section at all, it will probably be filled with unsold rap artists from four months ago, anyway. ;-)
Currently, I'm working in my studio, recording a large body of already-written material that will form itself into at least one singer/songwriter-ish CD, targeted for a fall release. I also have a fair number of instrumental tracks, both solo guitar pieces and quartet or quintet things. Depending on how it all works out, I might do a combination of things on one CD, or keep things separate and release two different CDs. Or, I might choose to put a few instrumentals on with the songer/songwriter material, if they compliment the grouping, and save some of the other things as MP3 download cuts from the "E-Shoppe" section of the gift shop on my website. I won't know what to do until I'm finished and can assess what I've got.
This will be very emotional music, I hope, with a fair bit of depth and range, in that it reflects a past few years that saw a teenage goddaughter of mine die tragically, my mom lose a drawn-out battle with cancer, and my own fairly serious reconstructive knee surgery and rehabilitation - plenty of grist for the writerly contemplation-of-mortality and "why are we here?" kind of mill. Despite the heaviness, I think I've managed to come up with some things that are very much a positive celebration of the gift of life - an affirmation. But, obviously, this will be for listeners to decide. Anyhow - combine this soul-searching with a continuing fascination for Latin rhythms, world music textures, and a conscious attempt to keep this project grounded as a solo, getting-back-to-acoustic kinds of 'roots' approach, and the framework is pretty clearly established. I'll just have to see how close to it I can stick...
Gigs-wise, I often have little weekend excursions booked for solo gigs out of town (solo is a bit of a misnomer, as I'm often accompanied by road manager/front-of-house soundman/keyboard player Marty Anderson), which continue the tradition of "Network" shows - a concept whereby folks can use the website & email to establish themselves as a local promoter and book a Rik Emmett show in their neck of the woods, if they have the inclination.
I also have regular, mainstream bookings that occur from time to time, including a band gig at the CNE on Monday Aug. 20 on a bill with Robert Michaels.
I enjoyed a huge thrill a few weeks ago, playing at the inaugural Niagara Guitar Festival at the Tralf nightclub in Buffalo, when George Benson came by the club after his own concert gig and got up on stage to jam with me during my encore.
I also just spent two days sitting in as a featured guest performer and lecturer at the National Guitar Summer Workshop that runs at Appleby College in Oakville Ontario every summer - I worked with David Sinclair's class (a lovely gentleman, guitarist from Sarah Maclachlan's band) and I got to perform the other night on stage with the phenomenal Canadian guitarist, Don Ross, who was also a featured guest there. I have some family time booked off for August, and my wife & I will keenly follow the exploits of my son's Peewee baseball team in its quest for a provincial (and maybe even a national) championship: both of my 16 yr.old twin daughters have got their G-1 licenses now, and I'm contemplating how I will [a] survive the driving lessons with my nervous system intact, and [b] ever manage to afford the insurance: I'm serving another year in the Executive of the Songwriter's Association of Canada, this year as a Vice-president alongside Blair Packham and under Stan Meissner's Presidency - my fourth year on the Board. And, finally, I will again be spending my Wednesday afternoons from September through April at Humber College's Lakeshore Campus, teaching a music business Career Development course.
I consider myself a very fortunate person, all in all, and, as far as my future goes, I only hope to be able to continue to do what I have been able to do so far - cobble together a creative career that allows me the pleasure of writing, recording, performing, collaborating with other talented musicians and writers - teaching, and maybe even attempt to evolve some of my talents into writing some prose, short stories, some essays, maybe some poetry...
I just spent a week in New York City, celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary with my incredible wife, spending more money in a week than I ever thought I'd ever make in a year. It was incredible, and she deserved every minute of it - she has earned it. I, on the other hand, feel guilty as hell, but I'd still like to do it again - in a heartbeat. I'd love to catch more sunsets, eat romantic dinners, and walk more beaches with my wife: watch good baseball games, catch some really funny comedians, tell a few good stories and jokes of my own, listen to great musicians like Pat Metheny and great songwriter/performers like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and those Steely Dan guys. I want to rent videos that make you laugh and cry - share those kind of kisses that make your toes curl. I want to be able to continue to celebrate the gift of my life by getting up on stage, and singing and playing my heart out in my own crazy way.
For more information on Rik, visit his web site and read his biography.