The Barstool Prophets: Now and Then 

 When I was a teenager, I was a lucky kid who was given the opportunity to play in a rock band with my older cousins, Kuzzin. I remember the summer we got to play a set as part of Kanata's annual "WileyPalooza" - a summer music festival at Wiley's sports bar. Our set was early in the day and a series of other rock bands played all day leading up to the main event which was a night time slot featuring the headlining act, a band called "The Barstool Prophets." Their tunes were on the radio at the time and they had a good buzz going.

While all the opening bands played at Wiley's during the day, the Prophets were scheduled to go on in what was at the time a newly built and unfurnished warehouse across the street (which is now a Lone Star restaurant and grocery store). I remember feeling so special that I had a all access pass to the event.

As evening set in, the rowdy and anxious crowd made their way across the street and into the warehouse to gather in front of the stage where the mics, guitars and monitors were placed and ready, like weapons of rock. I remember how cool it was to be watching for the first time a live rock show from backstage.

When the Prophets took the stage, things heated up quickly with excitement and cheering. There are images that stick out in my head from that show. I remember Graham singing and playing in the front - he was so intense and electrifying. I remember looking down at Glen's bare feet and wondering if he ever got a sliver while playing bass. I could also see from my perspective the people in the front row dancing and jumping up and down to the music.

This crowd had been drinking at Wiley's all day so they were good and primed before the show even started. There was a lot of moshing or at least pushing and shoving going on right in front of the guitar player. Although the stage was elevated, it wasn't high enough to stop a few Paloozers from falling into the guitar players pedal rig. He wasn't impressed with that and I still remember him angrily stating over the mic, "I thought I told you mother#@*ers not to mess with my sh@t goddamnit!"

it was intense for a moment but the band kept on rocking and I thought to myself - this is cool! Here I am, underage, backstage, a little bit of rage and a whole lot of rock n roll! It was experiences like this one that made me want to continue playing music live because the thrill and excitement of a live show is at the very heart and soul of why performers continue their pursuit.

This Friday, the Barstool Prophets reunite here in Ottawa at Maverick's on Rideau Street. The lucky kid from Kanata is now grown up with a kid of his own, and he is lucky enough to open the show for the boys, playing a set featuring his own material. I am as excited now, as I was a long time ago and can't wait for this show!

Playing at the 1st Ottawa Polo Invitational Tournament 

Playing music, that is, not polo!

One thing I love about being a musician is being asking to perform at fun / interesting / odd events, and this was the first time I've been asked to play at a polo tournament! This past Saturday, I headed out to the 1st Ottawa Polo Invitational Tournament, and set up my piano under a large tent, on grass, to the right of the bar.  There were tables with nice tableclothes, china plates and wineglasses, and once the match (game?) began, I could see the players straight ahead of me, racing around on their horses and whacking the little white ball up field, then switching, and back down field.  The players often changed their horses between "chukkers," the 7 minute periods.

My job was to play some music after the first match, which was between 2 local teams, men vs. women, while the teams switched.  Next up were teams from Toronto and Montreal, and after they were done I played another longer set while everyone had dinner catered by Lone Star. It was a great event - funds raised went to a local youth initiaive, D.I.F.D, everyone was relaxed and seemed to enjoy soaking up the sun, watching the polo games, and eating the food.  Hopefully, they enjoyed the music as well! It was definitely a different atmosphere than I'm used to, but I had a great time.

Backstage at the Cornwall Lift-off 

The second festival of the summer for me was the Lift-off in Cornwall. I play a show or two in Cornwall most months, at Schnitzels and have also played at La Maison, and the crowds that come out are usually very appreciate and fun, so I was anticipating getting on the big stage. Fast forward to the day of the lift-off, and it was hot. Sweltering, sweating, meltingly hot, but as soon as we drove into Cornwall and towards Lamoureux Park, then pulled into the backstage area, a few backstage hands found us and helped myself, Garney (bass) and Steph (drums) with our gear, setting it into the designated area backstage. They were volunteers but really helped everything move forward like clockwork and helped the event organizers with keeping the backstage area very organized.

The Cornwall Lift-off featured some great acts over the 3 days in July, including Burton Cummings on Friday, and the headliner on Saturday was Mariana’s Trench. I was second up on Saturday, after a great local band called Elly May, and we took the stage around 6:15pm, to play a set with just my trio, but it was another chance to showcase some of the songs off my new album. I felt very comfortable on stage, and the crowd was a great one, clapping along and enjoying one of the best things you can do in the summer - hanging out, being outside, on the dry grass, enjoying the summer sun on your face and listening to some live, original music.

As my set finished, a bunch of interestingly-shaped hot air balloon were launched, robots, trains, multi-colored traditional balloons, a cat head - they drifted lazily through the air, catching the slight breeze.

Despite the intense heat I think everyone had a great time. I got a local videographer to take some footage and he did a great job, really capturing the sound, the climate, and the day itself. Check it out!

Inside the Barney Danson Theatre - RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2012 

I’ve played the Ottawa Bluesfest for 4 of the last 5 years, and there really isn’t a bigger or better opportunity for a local artist to showcase their music alongside some big acts. This year, I was scheduled to play inside the Barney Danson Theatre, which suited my new music perfectly - it’s definitely aimed at a listening crowd, rather than dancing one, and I find that a lot of Bluesfest-goers will slip inside the theater to escape the heat and check out the music. Having a bigger band this year (myself on piano and vocals, Steph on drums, Garney on bass, Todd playing guitar, and also Mike on cello and Steve rounding it out with keyboards) meant a bit more organization getting everyone packed up into cars, and parked on site, getting guest passes, loading in gear, and bringing over merch to the sales tent. But as usual, we made it with time to spare. The theatre has a nice green room to hang out in, and the change over between artists (move one act out, move the next on in and get soundchecked) is very tight, only about 15 minutes. It was a bit of a scramble, but as soon as we were done and the audience piled in, I felt relaxed and eager to share some of my new songs with the crowd in the great venue.

The sound was great - reverberating through the dim room, the lights on stage varying brightly, and I felt strong, pushing my voice and played with everything I had. It took a lot of hard work to craft and create and record my new songs, and there is nothing I like better than to play then out loud for people who are listening. The place was pretty jammed, and I spotted familiar faces, as well as some new found friends all the way from New Zealand.

The set was a quick 45 minutes and went by too fast. I could have played on and on, but after it wrapped up I went out to say hello to everyone, and thank them for coming out to watch my show. Then it was a quick teardown and pack everything back up into the cars, before grabbing some food in the main stage catering tent.

The rest of the evening was pleasant, and a nice wind down for the adrenaline after playing my show. We stuck around to catch Seal on one stage, and an awe-inspiring set by Norah Jones, the night’s headliner, as well.

I always look forward to playing the Ottawa Bluesfest, and I was really happy with the turnout at my show this year. Plus, my band couldn’t have played better, making me sound better - playing with a group of well-rehearsed and very professional musicians is a great bonus and I felt very lucky to have them backing me up and filling out the sound of my songs.

This video was shot on the during my show - the last song on my album, called "Following the Full Moonlight" and it was inspired by some of those late nights, drivign home after a gig and feeling like the only person out ther on the road, and in the world.  It has a hypnotic, intimate feel, and I performed it solo. I hope you enjoy!

Bluesfest Interview in the Digital Lounge 

The day before my Bluesfest performance this year, I was asked to stop by the Ottawa Citizen’s Digital Lounge on the Bluefest grounds, and do an interview with Lynn Saxburg, a great music reporter for the paper. It was a bit tricky fitting it into my schedule, but I ended up running over to the grounds after playing a wedding ceremony at the Rockcliffe Pavillion on Saturday afternoon, with my keyboard in tow. The interview was great; Lynn went over a few points about my new album with my off camera to prep, and we sat down and filmed first a song - I played “You Run” from my new album, and then we chatted about the album itself. The setup in the tent was cool, with a vintagey looking couch, palm frond like plants, and a bar stocked with water - it was another hot summer day. I set my keyboard up on the coffee table and was good to go. A few people walking around stopped by to listen, and ask where at the festival I'd be playing, so it was great to get in a bit of promotion that way too.

Making And Somehow I Fell Upon This Place was a bit of a tumultuous time for me, and it took a few years of ups and downs before I was able to work with a producer that inspired me and helped shape my songs into a way that I was happy with. The album has a theme of darkness running to light, and I’m really happy and proud of how it turned out in the end.

Here’s the video clip of You Run (live in the Digital Lounge):

And here is the interview:

Thanks as always, for watching, and reading!

"And Somehow I Fell Upon This Place" - My CD Release  

After months of preparation, paperwork, hours logged in the recording studio getting each note just right, everything came together this weekend. The CDs were in my hands, I had a few dozen Tyler Kealey t-shirts made up, the venue and sound man was booked, and my band was rehearsed and ready. CD release weekend!

It started off on Saturday really, as I headed down to CD Warehouse on Merivale road in Ottawa. We were booked for an in store appearance to promote my new album, and while setting up my keyboard and microphone, I noticed that the strains of one of my songs “You Run,” was playing overhead in the store’s music mix. I have to admit - it was pretty great to hear. Even better was the stand of my CDs by the front door - totally done, packaged and priced and just waiting for a new home.

We played for about an hour, as stragglers stopped in (some bringing lawn chairs into the store) and it was a nice little warm up for myself, my drummer Steph, bass player Garney, and cellist Mike.

Sunday was the day of my actual CD release gig, and we had to get the equipment loaded in and set up pretty early so that Butch, an excellent Ottawa sound guy that I always like to work with, could get it all checked and ready. In addition to Steph, Garney, Mike and myself, the full band for the evening also included Steve on additional keyboards, and Todd on guitar so there was a lot of setup involved.

After figuring out the best configuration for the space with the staff at the Velvet Room, we started moving tables, chairs, writing out set lists, and deciding where to sell the CDs from. Then we sound checked for a while, adjusting monitor levels and the volume of the instruments and the microphones to make sure everyone on stage could hear each other properly, and also that the sound in the room would be great for the audience’s ears. I had a discussion with Butch about the sound, just deciding on a few small things to make the live sound mimic the songs on the album in some ways. Then the guys went home, and I headed into the restaurant downstairs to grab some food and try to relax a bit before people started to arrive.

The show was scheduled to start around 8pm with Graham Greer, the former frontman for The Barstool Prophets, and he did a great opening set. He’s a great guitar player and singer, as well as a really engaging and funny guy who knows how to work a crowd. People kept filtering in as he played, and I was happy to see friends, family, and fans all together in one room. My band took the stage around 9pm, and right away launched into “Come and Goes,” the first song on my new album, an upbeat song about how inspiration comes and goes and can be hard to capture right at the right moment before you lose it.

I have to say though, playing through these new songs, with a full band backing me up, was pretty inspiring in itself, and also very gratifying to see and hear the audience's response. The place was packed all the way to the back, but every person was there to show support and was truly listening which meant a lot to me. I loved every minute of the show - it was really a magical feeling playing, I felt so comfortable and the air was just electric.

Thanks to everyone who came out, picked up a CD and / or a shirt, and especially for contributing to making the night memorable with your presence and attention. It was a great night that I won’t forget for awhile.

Song from my new album: Raincoat 

I was at my sister in law's apartment in Toronto when I started writing this song. They have a digital piano that I was practicing on. I was in the process of working out some lyrics for an unfinished tune that I was writing, but then I took a break from that and started improvising on some chord changes just for fun.

After a few minutes I had stumbled onto a sequence of chords that I really liked, making their way down the scale and then ascending back up, and it sounded unique enough to me that I thought it would be a great template for a good song.

Emotionally, I thought it had a very consoling and soothing sound to it and in this case the sound of the music was the inspiration for the lyrics.

The main theme of this song is based on unconditional love. It’s about someone who will do anything and be anything for you in times of need. I threw in a little TV show reference that I took from my childhood as well.

Listen for it on the Music page and see if you recognize it!

Tyler Kealey Raincoat

New Track: It's Out There 

Of all the songs on this album, this one changed in so many ways. From its infancy as a demo, to its final creation, this song underwent changes melodically, emotionally and lyrically - even the title!

When I first had the idea for this song it was called "In Love" and the overall tone was comedic. The words originally described the feeling of being in love like feeling ill (sweaty hands, a dizzy feeling etc.) which I thought would be a funny juxtaposition for the overused theme of love. Darryl liked the idea of the juxtaposition but suggested that the song go in a darker and more frightening mood rather than comedic.

At first the idea of changing the song so much scared me little which seems funny now because I really love how it turned out. With a slower tempo, some effects on the vocals and a creepy string arrangement, I believe we accomplished our goal on this song. I actually scrapped all of the lyrics I had for this one and re-wrote them to fit the new theme.

Now the song has some characteristics that make it its own. The effect on the drums that Darryl added was a genius move. When I hear it, I can’t help but think of Voldemort talking in Parseltongue (for the Harry Potter fans), and I love how the strings added to the haunting vibe.  Check it out if you like, on my Music Page and let me know what you think.

Song from my upcoming album: I Know You 

This song has changed so much from what it was as a demo to what it turned out to be on the recording. When I first wrote the song it was in 6/8 time and I had no intention of putting much more instrumentation on it other than electric piano and vocals.

It is loosely based around my grandmother who is 97 years old and who is going through the stages of dementia where she is not sure who the people are who come to visit her in her home. Sometimes she has this look in her eyes that makes me think she recognizes our faces but can't quite place where she knows us from.

Recording this song presented some creative ideas. When I decided to have the song in 4/4 time, Steph had to come up with a drum part that would suit the song in it's new time signature. He definitely stepped up to the plate on the creative side! He found an old african drum that was hanging around the studio and somehow rigged it into his drum kit to use as a snare drum sound. The bridge for this song takes a psychedelic journey away from the choruses and verses so we needed something very different sounding again. Sure enough, Steph or as I like to call him: Macgyver) rose to the challenge. This time he made his own bass drum out of a plastic tool kit duct taped to a cement block . He then attached a pair of toy cymbals that were hanging around the studio belonging to Darryl's 2 year old daughter and attached them to his cymbal stand. I thought Steph was losing it but we recorded all this stuff and it worked! As you will hear on this record, Steph was very instrumental in coming up with unique drum sounds. Super creative ideas!

I also had a special guest sing on this one. As if she wasn't doing enough for me in helping me make this album, my wife Melanie stepped up to the mic and delivered some angelic background vocals that put the final touch on this song! Check out I Know You and tell me what you think.


The Barstool Prophets: Now and Then
From WileyPalooza in 98 to opening the show in 2013.

Playing at the 1st Ottawa Polo Invitational Tournament
Kind of a different event for me, playing music and watching a polo match at the same time.

Backstage at the Cornwall Lift-off
Adventures playing a great festival in Cornwall, Ontario this summer.

Inside the Barney Danson Theatre - RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2012
I played an intimate, indoor show at the 2012 Ottawa Bluesfest this year - perfect venue for my new songs.

Bluesfest Interview in the Digital Lounge
Quick interview with Lynn Saxburg of the Ottawa Citizen in the Digital lounge, pre-Bluesfest.

"And Somehow I Fell Upon This Place" - My CD Release
I released my new CD on June 24th - great show, great crowd, very happy to officially share my new songs!

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