Some Thoughts Regarding 2 Weeks of Sobriety.

June 11, 2018

Back on Tuesday May 29th, Good Enough LIVE Karaoke played a private event out at Pin-up Arcade Bar in Waterloo. We had an 8-night run of shows ahead of us, and I thought “Maybe I’ll take a week off of drinking and see how I feel”. There was no specific catalyst, other than struggling mentally in certain ways, generally feeling like shit for a long while and it occurred to me this might help.

Other than a month-long streak 10 years ago, I can’t remember the last time I intentionally took time off from drinking alcohol. I rarely drink at home, pretty much never drink during the day, but alcohol has been readily available and often cheap or free for me most evenings for years now. Worth noting for the sake of transparency in the story that I have been smoking weed pretty much whenever for a long time.

I identified as straight-edge, or at least a non-drinker up until late-summer of 2000 (while interning at Tooth & Nail Records in Seattle), when I was a couple months shy of 22 years old. Back then I’d have 1 beer, immediately get silly and drunk for an hour or 2, and then suddenly sober up shortly after. When I worked for Princess Cruises for the duration of 2004, beers were $1 in the crew-bar, and shots were 50 cents and I’d guess I consumed 10 to 12 drinks per night on average? When I moved to Toronto to work for VICE in January 2005, I was trying to meet people and see what was going on in the city so I used to go out as many nights a week as I could to anything I could get on the guest-list for. I’d go to art shows, media launches, concerts, whatever. I’d go to a media event launch for vacuum cleaners if there was a guest-list and open bar. After Parts & Labour opened in summer 2010, I became the sound-tech there and worked 5 to 7 nights a week for the following 3.5 years and had an open bar tab. Since Good Enough LIVE Karaoke started 4.5 years ago, we always get drink tickets, usually 4 to 6 per band member, and we’re often playing 3 to 5 or even 6 nights a week. These circumstances I’m listing are some of the main places I’ve gotten cheap or free alcohol over the years, it’s not a complete list, and then there’s all the casual stuff in between, like house parties and get togethers, shows I attend, band practices, going for dinner or drinks with friends…and because many of these nights I’d just have 2 or 3 drinks, so wasn’t usually getting drunk, or maybe not even getting a buzz from it, it seemed like nothing to me.

After 2 days of not drinking, and everyday since then for these past 2 weeks I’ve been getting up at 9am (give-or-take an hour) without an alarm. The repetitive angry thoughts and negative memories I’ve had cycling through my head for a longggg time started to wane and disappear within a couple days, and I’ve able to focus on what’s in front of me and what’s ahead of me. I haven’t been smoking weed for the past 2 weeks either, and I’m not craving it.

I had a couple of tall-cans at I show I attended this past Friday evening on June 8th, and 1 pint of beer (immediately followed by 5 pints of water) yesterday afternoon…but I think I’m just going to avoid alcohol altogether for the next while. I’m not putting a time-line on it, or necessarily committing to quitting permanently, but I don’t like the way alcohol makes me feel right now, and I enjoy this new thing about getting up at a reasonable time in the morning without an alarm and having the entire day to get stuff done, and thinking clearly and easily. I can talk to people and have a conversation, even strangers, much more easily these past couple weeks. It’s bizarre, but I feel sober how I was trying to feel consuming drugs and alcohol.

I’m not saying all this because I’m anti-drinking or straight-edge now or whatever. My full-time job is managing and playing in Good Enough LIVE Karaoke, and bar sales and liquid courage are major components of what drives our business. I feel quite comfortable being on stage for 3 or 4 hours and having drunk people come up and sing songs with us even if I’m sober. I love what we do for a living! I think (or hope?) most people are able to moderate their alcohol consumption within their lifestyle just fine. I’ve got nothing to brag about because it’s not like I’m 6 months or a year sober. It’s only been 2 weeks and I’ve been downright shocked to see what not having a single drink for as few as 2 or 3 days in a row was able to do for me, and I though hey, maybe if I say all this in a place other people can see it, if it helps 1 other person, that could be a good thing?

Here’s a picture of me from last week, drinking a smoothie from a pineapple.
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#GoodEnough500

February 15, 2018

Good Enough LIVE Karaoke are playing our 30th and 31st shows of 2018 tonight!

I’ll be playing keys and guitar at the Dakota Tavern from 10pm to 1am with Danny Gorman on guitar, Del Cowsill on bass, and Doug MacGregor on drums. Out in Mississauga at the Lionheart British Pub it’ll be Will Gooch on guitar, Mihoko Koga on keys and guitar, Mike Small on bass and Braeden Craig on drums. Yes! That’s 2 versions of Good Enough LIVE Karaoke playing in 1 night!
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We added another 50 songs to our repertoire 2 weeks ago, bringing our total song-list up to 350 songs, and we added another 20 songs for our Valentines Day show at Supermarket last night:

Al Green – Let’s Stay Together*
Bee-Gees – How Deep Is Your Love?
Ben E. King – Stand By Me*
Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
Cure – Friday I’m In Love*
Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me*
Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender*
Extreme – More Than Words
Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy
Fleedwood Mac – Landslide*
London Beat – I’ve Been Thinking About You*
Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman*
Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody*
Roxette – It Must’ve Been Love
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
Spin Doctors – Two Princes*
Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now*
Troggs – With A Girl Like You
Urge Overkill / Neil Diamond – Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon*
Whitney Houston – I Will Alway Love You

We played 12 of the 20 songs (indicated with a *) last night and they all went well, so we’ll be offering the Valentines list at the Dakota tonight too! I did not share this 20-song list with Del Cowsill yet and he’s playing bass tonight (Mike Small was on bass at Supermarket last night), but he knows how to play most Top 10 hits from the early 60’s to late 90’s so it’s probably fine.

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We’d hit a wall, and our repertoire had been stuck at around 300 songs for the past 2 years, while we solidified the line-up of musicians in the band (currently sitting at 14 members) strengthened our chops and worked on the songs we had, but after playing 178 shows last year and averaging 20 shows-per-month since August 2017, it’s feeling like the time is now to rapidly add a bunch more songs to our list. Our goal is to have 500 songs on our list by the beginning of May. #goodenough500

It’s Been Awhile

October 12, 2017

2017 has a been a banner year for Good Enough LIVE Karaoke! We’ll be celebrating our 4-year anniversary in early December, and I expect we’ll have played 175 shows from beginning of January to end of December this year. We’re at 131 shows for the year right now.

In honour of our upcoming 4 year anniversary I’ve put together this collection of photos that track the bands history together.

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Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun

March 22, 2017

We tried an experiment a couple weeks ago. On March 10th, Maurie Kaufman, Danny Gorman and Mike Small and I had a Good Enough LIVE Karaoke show at Doogie’s in Guelph, which we often do on Fridays the past 6 months, but I was also approached to help round out a 2nd annual David Bowie Tribute called Stardust To BlackStar II at the Garrison scheduled for the same night.

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I don’t like turning down gigs, or saying no to Shaun Bowring, so I made some calls and enlisted longtime GELK vets Del Cowsill, Craig Mailman and Eric Woolston who’ve each played over 100 shows with me over the past 3 years, + more recent recruit Ruhee Dewji (she’s only played about 10 shows so far) on sax and keys, + brand new recruit (and Mike Small’s roommate) Jeff Dixon on guitar to play the Bowie tribute. We were asked to pull together 15 to 20 Bowie songs for members of the audience to sing on fairly short notice, but the crew I assembled pulled it together!! It was the first GELK show in the history of the band that I didn’t play, BUT it was still me who coordinated it, and I had confidence in my players that they’d pull it off. All reports that I heard back were that it went over really well.

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A month from now on April 22nd, we’re taking it a step further, playing 2 full-repertoire GELK shows at once. Jesse, Mike, Maurie and I will be playing a student union awards show after party at the University of Waterloo, while Del, Craig, Fraser McEvoy, Danny and Ruhee play the Gladstone Hotel. We’ll have 2 bands each billed as Good Enough LIVE Karaoke playing in 2 different cities at once! After breaking in so many musicians to accommodate the number of shows I keep booking, to work around everyone’s availability and interest, I now have enough members to form 2 full bands each with a very very solid lineup! I’m curious to see where this new development will take us.

In case anyone asks, the current official membership of Good Enough LIVE Karaoke is:

  1. Tim McCready – keys, guitar
  2. Jesse Bellon – guitar
  3. Craig Mailman – bass
  4. Fraser McEvoy – drums
  5. Maurie Kaufman – guitar, drums
  6. Del Cowsill – bass, guitar, drums
  7. Eric Woolston – drums
  8. Danny Gorman – guitar
  9. Mike Small – bass
  10. Ruhee Dewji – saxophone, flute, keys

I like to imagine us as the Wu-Tang Clan of live karaoke bands. It’s like an exclusive club or gang as much as it is a band. I reserve the right to sub in additional players when needed, but the 10 of us listed are the core group of musicians I draw on when I’m scheduling gigs. I feel very fortunate to have them all in my life.

Tears Dry On Their Own

March 20, 2017

Good Enough LIVE Karaoke are performing a tribute show on Wednesday to Amy Winehouse’s album Back To Black. It’s not actually a live karaoke night because Michelle Treacy is singing the whole album, but whatever, read the fine print. I’m not going to have a bunch of wildly different names for the same band just because we’re doing something different here and there. My events are always about the details.

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Craig, Jesse, Fraser and I have done a learned a number of albums over the past 2 or 3 years, each performed live only once each. We’ve done Minor Threat – First Two 7″‘s, Minor Threat – Out Of Step, Descendents – Milo Goes To College, Buck 65 – Neverlove, Pearl Jam – Ten, Nirvana – Nevermind, Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill, and THIS time we’re doing Amy Winehouse – Back To Black featuring Michelle Treacy on vocals! We’ve also added Patric McGroarty on trumpet, Ruhee Dewji on baritone sax and flute, and Maurie on guitar.

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I was interviewed in the current issue of NOW Magazine, currently on the street around Toronto! Hooray I’m famous now, for something other than throwing house parties!!

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Yes I’m Changing

February 5, 2017

I’ve decided to add lite weight training to my routine, to go along with my daily 5km runs, so I set up my weight bench in the spare bedroom upstairs.

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Good Enough LIVE Karaoke played at Doogie’s in Guelph on Friday night, and to a sold out crowd at Junction City Music Hall on Saturday night which was our 12th show of 2017!

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Next Friday we’re up at Heartwood Concert Hall in Owen Sound for the 3rd time, and playing a private party at a curling club in Sarnia on Saturday Feb 11th.

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It feels like playing 3 or 4 hours a night (2 or 3x a week) ain’t no thang anymore. + “What song are we playing next?” OR “Hmm, that’s not on our song-list is it? You guys heard it before? Whatever, let’s wing it” It’s what we do. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Now if I can just add 2 or 3 hours/day of practicing and reviewing songs on keys and guitar then we’ll really be in business.