Good News Toronto – Celebrating Heros reports on Brian Gladstone
Good News Toronto celebrates the multitude of inspirational people who live in Toronto with the goal of motivating all of us to continue to make this city rich in everyday heroes.
Martin C. Winer (www.martincwiner.com)
Brian Gladstone Transforms his Career to Seek his Musical Roots
Brian Gladstone was a well respected Electrical Engineer but when his ‘Roots’ music grounding called him to return he could not resist. Brian Gladstone was an accomplished, self taught, Electrical Engineer specializing in the design of electrical transformers. However, the power coursed through Brian’s veins was grounded in the acoustic tones of ‘Roots’ music. The Roots genre is the musical root which holds Folk, Blues and other soulful types of music as branches. Electricity is well known for returning to the earth. After a lifetime of stringing through the high tension world of engineering, he felt he had built up enough musical potential to return to his roots. His debut album “Back to the Dirt”, produced appropriately in his basement studio, was released in 1999. Within 3 years of its release, the album had achieved international radio play and critical acclaim. Brian credits his success to a positively charged resolve and says that, despite some predictable moments of self doubt, “it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t succeed.”
Over the next few years, Brian added 3 albums to his discography. However, as with many music careers, he was not able to add equally to his bank account. From a purely financial perspective Brian says “you’d have to be crazy to pursue a career in roots music.” Whereas electricity follows the path of least resistance, Brian chose to forgo a lucrative career trading financial reward for spiritual fulfillment. His choice seems obvious when watching him play; one sees the deep seated contentment of someone existing in the place they were meant to be. A transformer is a device which can channel and greatly amplify electrical potential energy flowing through it. At the same time he was having personal successes in having his music amplified over radio waves, he established a non profit foundation: “Artists for Better World” which is a non political cadre of musicians dedicated to promoting change through music. Brian’s motto for the group is “We can use our voice to change the world; there is magic in our words.” The organization has produced seven CD’s of socially conscious music including “Protest Songs” volumes I and II. Constantly seeking young and fresh Roots talent, Brian’s organization works to amplify and conduct the genre towards wider appreciation.
A centerpiece of Brian’s community work is his running of the Winterfolk Festival. This is a largely free festival with 6 stages spotlighting local and emerging Roots talent. Running in its 8th year, this year the festival will run from Feb 12 – 15 with family oriented entertainment centered around the Broadview and Danforth area. This years festival will feature over 100 artists including Juno Award talent such as Julian Fauth, Al Lerman (of Fathead), Bob Snider and Danny Marks. The festival was also the first festival for the now acclaimed artists Serena Ryder and the band ‘Dala’. Brian grew up in Toronto, specifically North York, during the 60’s at a time when counterculture and culture were virtually synonymous. His generation he says “is witness to the power of youth and music to bring about change”. Toronto has a very proud Roots history with the Yorkville area in the 60’s being a hub for Roots artists. The Riverboat club, amongst others, hosted legends such as Joni Mitchell, Phil Oaks, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot and Jerry Jeff Walker. Brian’s music grows distinctly out of that era with continuing allegiance to Toronto. Brian offers a lyrical lament on his first album which will connect with Torontonians both musically and in its message: “I got stuck behind an 18 hour line of nuts and screws… Well there ain’t much that you can do when you’ve got the Don Valley Blues.” Fortunately the only jams in Brian’s career are musical ones where he continues to promote local music, write, record and tour.