Music industry lawsuits inspire ‘Actionable’

Live Bait Theatre in conjunction with the good folks who put on the annual Sappyfest Music Festival each summer are teaming up to stage a unique play.

Actionable is a play written by Torontonian Bob Wiseman, which details threats of litigation that he has received from within the entertainment industry from people including Prince, Pepsi Cola and his former record label.

Wiseman’s play is a mixed media performance, incorporating PowerPoint slides, Super 8 film and video and features Bob himself, who will play the accordion and guitar throughout various parts of the play. Actionable will be performed at Live Bait Theatre tomorrow night, with the show getting under way at 9 p.m. Wiseman is no stranger to the entertainment business. An original member of Blue Rodeo, he stayed with the Canadian country-rock band until 1993. He has also produced music by Ron Sexsmith in addition to working with Kids In The Hall member Scott Thompson and has more than 10 solo releases to his credit. Bob says the idea for Actionable came to him after he had concluded a European tour with Feist in 2009.

“We were sitting on her tour bus and on the television was a show that was detailing rap band 2 Live Crew’s various lawsuits back in the 1980s. I shared my experiences in that same regard with everyone and that was when the wheels started to turn in my head,” Bob says.

Bob recounts one specific incident relating to his 1989 solo debut record and specifically, one song from that record: Rock and Tree. Though he does not delve into the nitty gritty and detail exactly who was mentioned in the track that led to the controversy, he says that 2,000 copies of his record were ultimately destroyed by his record company out of fear of litigation being brought upon them.

Approximately two years ago, Bob independently re-released his 1989 debut record In Her Tree, including the track Rock and Tree. Those interested in checking it out can head over to http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bob_Wiseman for a free download.

Two-decade-old controversy aside, Bob does not seem to be about burning bridges as much as he is simply an independent thinker. In fact, his relationship with his former bandmates in Blue Rodeo remains cordial.

“Just the other night I went bowling with Greg (Keelor) and Alannah Myles. I’m not very good at bowling but those guys are hard-core. They have the clothes and the moves.”

Article published in February 16, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript