As Twenty-Eleven draws to a close I am reflecting upon the changes to my life both personally and professionally over the past few years. 2011 was both a year of incredible opportunities and joy as well as profound loss. Here are some of the highlights.
January 14th saw me share the stage at the Atlantic Brand Confabulation with legendary KISS front man Gene Simmons. For photos from the event click here. “Breaking News for $1000 Alex - Nearly 10 million YouTubers saw Dave Carroll's clip called this 'friendly skies' airline 'breaks guitars.'" On February 16th United Breaks Guitars & I were featured as a question during the IBM Challenge week on Jeopardy. The IBM Super computer Watson answered correctly with "What is United Airlines?"
Sons of Maxwell performed a sold out show on March 4th with Symphony Nova Scotia. Having a professional symphony support our original tunes was a career highlight and several of those arrangements were a big hit with new fans. On March 19th we joined the cause for the Trevor Titus Fundraiser in Saint John, organized by Ambir Solutions.
Sadly, Don and I also lost our grandmother Doreen Daley this past March. She was featured in the UBG2 video and diagnosed with Cancer shortly afterward. I wrote a song about her life around this same time last year, and the song will be featured on my upcoming solo album and in my book. I presented the recorded version to Doreen while she was still able to appreciate it. I recommend that everyone follow through with ideas like that while there’s still time.
Sons of Maxwell had the good fortune of escaping winter early and heading over, with our friends from CAA Atlantic, to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in April. We enjoyed an action packed week of performances at the Ocean Blue Resort. An Everyday Hero named Kyle Stewart, was awarded a free trip with the band for his dedication to serving as a First Responder. His mother Georgine Malone-Stewart submitted an entry story to my 911Song.com website entitled, My Hero, My Son .
I may have found a new calling in kids music! This past summer, while potty training my son Flynn, I created some support material in the way of a song called 'We Pee In The Toilet.' I'm happy to report that he loved the song and in the first two days, he had a near perfect success! In retrospect, we should have made it a more comprehensive 'bathroom experience' song. We celebrated with 30 second 'Pee Parties' when he completed a #1, but it took be a while before we threw any 'Barshitsvas' his way.”
I was also kept very busy on the public speaking front, being hired to speak and perform this past year in Prague, Melbourne, Florida, New York, Glasgow and London among others. I also spoke and performed at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. While I was in Australia, I had an interesting experience with a cab driver while on the way to Bondi Beach. While discussing world politics and social justice the cab driver mentioned something about "that guy with the guitar and the airline..." When he clarified the cabbie was referring to United Breaks Guitars, I said "I’m that guy" and the cabbie almost took a heart attack with excitement! In September I part of ABC 20/20's Generation YouTube special, celebrating 20 of YouTube's Greatest Hits as well as a CBC Documentary called Customer (Dis)service.
In October Mike, Chris, Julian and I embarked on tour of Russia which included the cities of Norilsk (Siberia), Moscow and St. Petersburg. While most of the audiences could only speak Russian the music seemed to transcend the language barrier and response was extremely enthusiastic. The United Breaks Guitars story was also popular in Russia and one of the highlights of the trip was a well attended press conference given at Russia’s impressive main information bureau in Moscow. The experience was so good that the band looks forward to returning to Russia again.
Meanwhile through 2011, my brother Don has been enjoying his career as a full time Halifax Fire Fighter and is now at the first class level. He’s been on some harrowing calls this last year and may have even been involved in an emergency childbirth (but he’s not allowed to talk about that so we won’t mention it here). Needless to say family and friends are proud of him.
Sons of Maxwell rounded out the year with another set of sold out Christmas shows in our hometown of Timmins, Ontario as well as shows in Truro and Halifax. Following this year’s Holiday tour we have decided to head back into the studio in 2012 and record another Christmas CD. We have been adding new arrangements to some of your favourite classics since the release of Instant Christmas and, by next year, we’ll have those to share on disc or by download.
After all that excitement I look forward to other new adventures in 2012. On January 6th I'm scheduled appear on CBC Marketplace's season premiere. My book, 'United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media,' will be published in May by Hay House Publishing. I will also be releasing a second solo album around the same time and look forward to promoting the album with a concert tour (shows to be announced). Performance gigs and speaking opportunities will see me continue my travels abroad to Australia, South America, The Middle East, Mexico and Europe as well as across North America. Sons of Maxwell will also will also return to Timmins in August to perform at the city's Centennial Celebrations. Stay tuned to my tour dates page for new additions and shows.
I wish you all a very safe, healthy and prosperous Christmas & New Year!