2017 Fall Tour Recap

What a tour! The #AllergyRoadTrip tour is done. 50 shows in 30 days…

I love doing tour recaps after the dust settles, because it’s great to reflect on such an incredibly busy time, and finally let all of the special moments sink in.

When I’m on tour, every day feels like a marathon. Early morning drives, performances (sometimes 4 x day), more driving, finding safe dinner, then checking into new accommodation. People ask me where I will be tomorrow, and it’s common for me to stare blankly back at them and respond “I’m not there yet!”. It’s not that I don’t have a plan (I meticulously plan every route and detail ahead of time), it’s just too overwhelming to think beyond the next few hours! I simply hop into my car and follow along the plan I weeks earlier I inputted into my GPS.

Thanksgiving Rock!

Thanksgiving Jams!

There’s something very freeing about going on tour. I check-out of all of my other work commitments so I can truly focus and immerse myself with performances. When I’m off stage, I simply enjoy soaking up the moments, the new people, and places that I just may never encounter again. I feel so lucky and try hard at not taking any of it for granted!

My fall 2017 tour started the best way possible – with a big ol’ family Thanksgiving in Canada with my relatives. Gobble gobble! I then had a few shows around Toronto and my hometown of Kingston, ON. Thankfully, the new material/songs that I worked hard on during my “offseason” went over well.

AAFA Concert

Yeehaw! Cowboy Kyle rockin’ a Halloween themed AAFA concert in New England.

Then it was time to head down to the U.S! I always get excited to cross the border – it never gets old for me. Especially after all of the work in applying for a temporary U.S. work visa, there’s a sense of anticipation after the long paperwork process. The drive over the thousand Islands and down through Northern New York is stunning.

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Raising food allergy awareness on the news in West Virginia!

Many of the weeks I spent cross-crossing the same highways from New York, to Boston, to Long Island, to New Jersey, back to Boston….and repeat! My tour manager (aka me!) does not deserve a raise! I have some amazing friends that I got to see along the way, with special highlights including Sleepy Hollow, NY around Halloween, a bonfire in Boston, lounging in Maryland, Mexican lunch in West Virginia, and a super fun soccer shoot-out in PA! All of these folks all know who they are and hopefully know how much I feel eternally grateful to them! Dinners, coffees, hanging out, shooting hoops with good people make the days extra special.


There was one week that I veered away from the north east and headed over to IMG_1477Pittsburgh, down to West Virginia and all the way down to Charlotte, NC! I had a very special show at the FARE Charlotte Walk where I was accompanied by a band of inspiring young people who I once performed for years and years ago. Check out our live version of “Paint my Pumpkin Teal”.

I missed my little one back home and fully realize that being away 4 weeks is my limit. Even that is tough…it seemed manageable compared to the 5.5 weeks away in May.

Home from TouringOnce I got home, she came running with a HUGE smile and look of almost disbelief!  The moment instantly made me feel at home. It’s a random life our family lives, but it’s one that works and gives us neat opportunities, amazing friendships and a lifetime of memories. Hopefully the next tour will be with the whole fam! My daughter is starting to dig the harmonica…the next Partridge family perhaps?

I’ll do it all over again during the next tour in California this February! Get in touch for details and availability.

Interviewed on Allergy Blog Awards UK

Fun time chatting it up and sharing stories and tips in this 27 minute long interview. Since this is my first post in over a month, I don’t think I’ll be winning a blogging award anytime soon! Sticking to songwriting!

Listen Here: http://allergyblogawardsuk.co.uk/kyle-dine-his-allergic-reaction-wake-up-call-allergy-music-for-children/

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First Show of 2016

Kyle Jan 7

Today marked the first day “back to school” for me as I had my first food allergy school assembly of 2016.

People sometimes ask me if I get nervous before I perform. Mostly never…except the very first gig. It’s the one show where I get nervous that I’ll be rusty, that I might have a piece of A/V equipment fail, or a new puppet bit might bomb.

I’m happy to report that today, all of those nerves were quickly erased as the students got completely engaged in the performance. They had excellent questions and were smiling throughout the songs and puppet bits. To me, if a show has that perfect balance of education and entertainment, I leave feeling like I’ve done what I set out to do.

I have added a new puppet into the mix: Professor Peeps who covers the basics of hand washing with kids. EpiMan, EpiMan Jr. and Chef Allergie are still in the mix. I had to temporarily retire the Q Sader and the AllerGeneral due to the recent auto-injector recalls. That’s showbiz for ya…in the allergy education world!

1 down…50+ to go!

Filming has Started!

Hey Friends!

Lights, camera, action! Our video is truly coming to life this week as filming has started in the Chicago suburbs. It’s a long way from home for me, but I just knew this production company would give me the best results possible. After everything so far, I couldn’t be happier with the whole team!

Check out the set design! Two incredible people (both named Bob!) have put together a masterpiece!

The set consists of 4 areas: The Kitchen, The Classroom, The Music Room, and The Lounge

The set consists of 4 areas: The Kitchen, The Classroom, The Music Room, and The Lounge

The filming went great on Day 1! I loved working with such talented puppeteers who brought my puppets to life!

Bob the puppeteer (and amazing guy!) with Chef Allergie.

Bob the puppeteer (and amazing guy!) with Chef Allergie.

The filming was filled with fun, but we crammed in so much in one day. It was a neat experience to be on camera and I can’t wait to go through the rest of the scripts on day 2 and 3.

Rocking out recording the song "Cool Bracelet"

Rocking out recording the song “Cool Bracelet”

The one thought that kept coming to mind throughout the shoot, is that this project is a dream come true. We are going to educate SO many about food allergies with this resource. Thank you so much for being a part of this adventure!

Kyle Studying Script

New Holiday Song – “Nut Free Christmas”

It’s been two years since I’ve done a Christmas video. I figured it was time to do another since it really is my favourite time of the year, and have had the urge to do a song with my puppets ever since reading the Jim Henson biography (what an inspiring guy!).

He's no Bing Crosby, but it was a pleasure duetting with EpiMan!

He’s no Bing Crosby, but it was a pleasure duetting with EpiMan!

There is truly one musician who can get me into the Christmas spirit like no other year after year. Elvis. If you don’t have his Christmas CD, get it. It might be the best Christmas mix I’ve ever heard on one CD. There are songs like “Santa Claus is Back in Town” that can get your Xmas party rocking, “Here Comes Santa Claus” that is the grooviest dinner music, and “Silent Night” that can give you chills.

My personal favourite, “Blue Christmas” is pure Elvis at his best in my opinion. I really don’t think any cover version of this song will ever come close to being as good.

So what did I go out and do? Cover “Blue Christmas”! However, I gave it a twist. I did use the original music to sing over, but made a parody that the allergy community would appreciate titled “Nut Free Christmas” with my pal EpiMan.

I wanted to create a fun little reminder for family members to be mindful of allergies during the holiday season. I hope you share it with your family and friends and have an overall “allergy free” Christmas this year.

Lyrics

Nut-Free Christmas

I won’t have a blue Christmas without you
It’ll be so cool, eating without you
Every Christmas you appear, but that’s gonna change this year
Let’s start a new tradition Where you’re not here with me

And when the party guests start knockin’
They’ll find some new treats in their stockin’
You’ll be doin’ alright, you won’t miss them for one night
Cuz I want, a nut and peanut free Christmas

[EpiMan Talking Bit] Family, friends, this year, I have one Christmas wish…on top of world peace, and a meet and greet with Batman…I’m asking you to be mindful of others allergies. You know what allergic reindeer say “If you have nuts to serve, first check with the herd.” Christmas time is about togetherness, where we can laugh, sing and talk, and…feed the nutcracker a sock…haha

You’ll be doin’ alright, you won’t miss them for one night
Cuz I want a nut, and peanut free Christmas
Cuz I want a nut…a nut free Christmas

[Banter at the end] Who roasts nuts on an open fire anyways? Isn’t that a safety concern?

 

Song Stories “Smellephant The Allergic Elephant”

Smellephant

Out of all of my “song stories”, this is one of the most needed as I get questioned about it the most…”where did the song Smellephant the Allergic Elephant come from?”. Easy – it started from a rotten paper maché elephant head….

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

The birth of Smellephant! A giant paper mache elephant head!

Let me back track a little!

Back in 2005, I was working at a summer camp in northern Ontario and was selected for the ultimate and most prestigious job a camp staff member could have – “World Games Captain”. My friend Lisa and I were captains of Team India and we were in charge of not only leading 200 campers, but creating a full opening and closing ceremony presentation among other random things (including a coordinated Bollywood dance!)

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Our secret weapon…a homemade Indian elephant that we created out of paper maché called Smellephant. It was a life-size elephant head  that we put onto a wooden frame including a canoe yolk so people could hoist Smellephant up on their shoulders. Our big closing involved ME riding Smellephant! In other words – Kyle hanging on for his life on a wooden frame while a bunch of canoe trippers tried to portage him around a slippery hill! It was hilarious and epic at the same time. It all ended smoothly and India ended up winning World Games that summer.

At the end of camp that summer, the offseason staff got in touch with me regarding Smellephant’s head. They found the poor guy in a corner of the theatre and he was now completely rotten and filled with mould.  They could smell him throughout the theatre and asked if it was okay to toss him. I thought it was a poetic that his short life would come to such a smelly end. Poor smelly smelly Smellephant.

In order to make him a bit more immortal, I decided to feature his character in a song! The messaging was simple – elephants eat nuts, Smellephant cannot, and he must find other things to eat. The song itself is very fun and does not go very deep into what allergies are all about. With all of my songs, I like to have some really silly ones that kids can just enjoy without thinking too deeply into it, and wave their “arm trunk” around freely!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

Kyle Dine taking a ride on Smellephant!

It’s a random story, it’s a random song, but it’s one of my faves and I hope your family enjoys it that much more knowing that Smellephant was born out of creativity and always lived up to his smelly name! 😉
Smellephant the Allergic Elephant

There once was an elephant
Whose name was Smellephant
Whose trunk was always stuffed up
He ate so many peanuts that he figured that one got stuck

Kyle playing the sitar!

Kyle playing the sitar!

He hoped it’s not an allergy
So asked a good old pal to see
If anything was stuck in that trunk
But everybody knows that ol’ Smellephant is allergic to nuts

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time
But until then…. Oh Smellephant, oh Smellephant You gotta blow your nose!

The elephants they all agreed
That Smellephant should take the lead
And try something else like worms
Because everybody knows that when you sneeze you’re spreading germs

They wanted to get rid of ya’ And kick you out of India
But Smellephant said “hey wait!”
I’ll trade you all my nuts If you trade me all your grapes

Oh Smellephant, you’ve got to cut nuts from your diet If you try it, well I know you’ll feel alright
Oh Smellephant, you know you can’t deny it That those nuts will make you sick every time

Now there’s not an issue Because there’s lots of tissue And Smellephant has never felt better
But it’s hard to stick to gum when peanuts taste so yum!
When you’re dancing in the moonlight, you don’t want to say gesundheit!
When you’re trying on your clothes, you don’t want to blow your nose!
Because everybody knows that all you have to say is no thanks, I have allergies

Life Off the Road

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I’ve now been “off” the road for a few weeks now and still trying to digest everything that’s happened to me over the past 3 months. I always look forward to getting home so much, that I completely switch gears once I’m off the road. I always have good intentions of doing some big tour recap afterwards, but I really have a hard time revisiting the tour once it’s done. I look forward so much to having a summer with family and friends, and look forward to the next tour in the fall. I guess I’m a pretty forward looking guy!

I have stories and memories to last a life time, and have been jotting them down as I go. As for now, I’m happy to chill with my pets, catch up on work, and spend much needed time with the people I’ve been apart from for too long. And yes…I am avoiding driving as much as possible!

Who wouldn't want to live in a car this packed for 2.5 months?? ;)

Who wouldn’t want to live in a car this packed for 2.5 months?? 😉

The Calm Before the Show

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Before every show begins, I love the quiet time before hundreds of students pile into the gym. It’s a chance for me to do a sound check, test out new songs or banter and relax.

However the best part is just jamming. The acoustics of an empty gymnasium can be amazing. This is the time I play my favorite songs, write new ones and just be creative. After this I am charged up and ready to entertain!

The P2 Visa Process

NYC

This might go on record as being the most “un-fun” blog post that I have ever written. However, I feel diving into the process of applying for a U.S. temporary work visa is important for a few reasons:

1) I hope other musicians can find this post and use it as a resource. I remember being quite lost when I started looking into the logistics of being a foreign musician wanting to perform in the U.S.

2) To provide a helpful resource to those who book my performances and would like to know more about the legal side.

3) To provide an explanation of why I sometimes have to say “no” to gigs. Not because I don’t want to perform, but because it’s illegal for me to do so because it wasn’t part of my visa application.

Introduction

I am a Canadian musician specializing in children’s music. I have a very cool niche educating children about food allergies. I perform primarily in schools and also for support groups and community events. I would say that:

  • 90% of my performance requests come from the U.S.
  • 10% of my performance requests come from Canada

Thus, it is very important to me that I hop “on the road” to the U.S. two times a year and tour. However, the planning that goes behind each tour is HUGE and starts about 6-8 months in advance.

All of the information below is specific for a Canadian musician and I cannot speak for the process of other nationalities.  Also note that this is only for ONE musician. It gets more complicated when you have others on board such as crew, lighting, band members etc.

The P2 Visa

Foreign musicians require a Class P2′ non-immigrant work permit which can ONLY be obtained through the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM). They will file it on your behalf to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. However you need to get yourself organized in order to apply for the P2.

Timeline

It should take under 45 days for a “petition to obtain a P2” to get approved. Thus you need to work backwards to figure out when you need to have your package ready to send. E.g. My first show in the U.S. is on May 8th, therefore I mailed my package to the CFM in mid-March just to be safe. Your P2 will cover you from the day of your first gig (or day before) until your last gig (or day after). You can stay for long periods of time given you have at least one gig per month.

What’s Needed to Apply:

Union Membership

I remember getting my first “union card” at age 24 and feeling like I really made it! My name is on a piece of official looking paper saying I am a musician! There are a few other benefits including a great magazine, instrument insurance, but I really only use mine to be eligible to work in the U.S.  Yearly membership seems to be $140 and up. Locals can be found on the AFM website.

Contracts

Kyle Dine Contract

My standard contract

I’ll start off by saying that I don’t like contracts. I am a man of my word and I don’t care much for “putting it in writing”. However, “my word” does not fly when proving that I have shows in the U.S.

You must provide a contract on letterhead for every single show that confirms all of the key details. The CFM provides a generic contract template on their website. I decided to create my own using the same fields so I could make it easier to navigate.

THIS is the longest part of the process as it involves many parties. Often people will be ready to book you but cannot confirm details like venue or performance times. Thus it’s a good idea to get your contracts out the door early and give a deadline of when you need them by. If you are getting close to the deadline and still have not received a contract, send a reminder email. You don’t want to lose a gig because you were unable to get the proper paperwork in time.

All of your contracts must be sent with your package. At that time you are not allowed to add more U.S. shows. You can only perform the shows that are under your P2 Visa. Therefore I occasionally have to say “no” to gigs because they are past the deadline. I wish it wasn’t so, but I don’t take risks when it comes to the border. Being blacklisted because you tried to sneak in another show is just not worth it in the long run.

Fees

  • $100 to the CFM
  • $325 to the Department of Homeland Security ($1,225 for premium processing…pays to be organized)

Passport

This is a no-brainer for travelling abroad, but a scan of the biometric page also must be included in your application.

Point of Entry

You need to know the exact name of the border crossing or airport that you will be entering the U.S. from.

I’ve got my letter of an approved petition for a P2! Now what?

First off, don’t lose it! Buy a shiny page cover from Staples! Bring it with you when you go to the border. You will need to get your actual P2 visa at that point. If you go by car, you’ll have to go inside their building. If you go via plane, you can get it as you go through customs (much quicker experience!).

 

For more information visit the immigration page of the Canadian Federation of Musician’s website. It has a great checklist of everything you need as well as all of the downloadable paperwork.

 

Is it a lot of work just to put on a children’s concert? Yes.
Is it all completely worth it? Absolutely!