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 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Clinton’s Tavern Toronto ON (October 20, 1990).

From the Rheostatics Live website:

Very good sounding show though a bit hot in places. I had to stitch it together from 2 tapes and a messed up order but I think I got it right. Interesting that back in 1990, before even Melville was recorded, they were playing such a large selection of songs from Whale Music and even Introducing Happiness plus a bunch of songs that didn’t end up on any album such as Fluffy, Seems Like, Woodstuck, Memorial Day etc. One of the only times they played all three Joey related songs in succession. Louis Melville guests as well as Jim Hughes of 13 Engines. I don’t believe this is the full show as they talk about to going into Edmund Fitzgerald but the tape ends.

I had planned to post about these Rheostatics live shows in order, but I’d somehow missed this one.  Interestingly though, they play a bunch of songs that they would not record for several years–some of them are early incarnations of songs, too.

As the Daves introduce the band, the phrase one fell swoop comes up.  And Bidini says that they are One Fell Swoop.  Then Clark says we are One Swell Poop.   Bidini continues: The Holmgren Brotehrs, Dave and Dave.  That’s Frosty Flake on bass and Ken “The Rat” Linseman on the rat pedal.  I gather that Bidini has a mustache (there’s a Freddy Mercury joke later in the show), but he says “The mods called me a rich kid on the street because of his mustache.  They called me dude too.  Which isn’t modish or contemporary.

After some noise and static Dave says the first song was supposed to start with a technological flourish of some kind.  It’s “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too” [Introducing Happiness] and it is sung by Dave and Dave (!)  It sounds so strange and there’s no middle section at all.  Midway through they call out Lewis Melville from Guelph Ontario to play the guitar.

They play they crazy noisy staccato intro to “When Winter Comes” [Melville] and the song rocks out.  At the end Bidini says it is three songs rolled into one: Big Bear’s Birthday, When Winter Comes and Victoria.  They play “Northern Wish” [Melville] and “Woodstuck.”  Dave introduces “Seems Like” as written about a guy Martin met in Dublin who told the band they had no vision.  It includes the line:  “a sentimental flower child bawls me out for lacking vision…fuck you, dude.”

Then they introduce a song “about a great hockey player gone bad its called “Beer” [Would eventually be “Beerbash” on Whale Music].

Bidini says they are really the tragedy corner here–that was depressing so is this one (“Soul Glue”) [Whale Music] Tim says, “I thought you meant we were sucking.”  There’s no Benjamin Hayward in the lyrics.  And during the part about the police, someone chants “911 is a joke.”

Clark gives a bizarro story as an introduction to “Ditch Pigs”: he and Martin got into fisticuffs punch up in the Rockies.  They stole policeman’s peanut butter and smeared it on each other and then fell into a ditch.  None of that is true, someone points out.

Marty’s got a case of the bombastic flu–the four week flu.  And so they play “Martin’s First Day of School” [never released] although they claim it is from their forthcoming album Rheostatics Cut Their Head Off and Go Swimming or form their triple CD retrospective Smelling a Dog on a Sunny Day.

They play “Memorial Day” which is also kind of a downer [never recorded].  And then a fun introduction to “Who” [Whale Music]:

Just back from Neil Young’s ranch in Topanga Canyon Mr Jim Hughes of 13 Engines.   Then comes “Chanson les Ruelles” [Melville], “Sickening Song” [Whale Music] with lots of accordion that segues into “What’s Going On” [also Whale Music] with a nice solo at the end by Martin.

This leads into “Fluffy,” the only time it’s available live here.  Martin hits some absurd high notes–I wonder if they ever intended to record it.  Dave introduces a song called “Dealin at the 7-11” which would of course be Legal Age Life at Variety Store [Whale].  Then comes two songs from Melville: “Christopher” and “Horses.”  “Horses” starts acoustic ad kind of slow, but it gets really loud with some interesting guitar solo sounds and a few changed lines.

Clark says after a minute (my-noot) break they will be back momentarily.

When they come back Dave Bidini congratulates the Cincinnati Reds for winning the world series “Big Bad Jose Canceco arriving there on the hook, you got what you deserve, you big asshole.”  Yipes.  Clark diffuses this but apologizing to all hockey fans for the baseball season hanging on so long.  Long live hockey!  Death to the fat mans’ sport.  They Clark explains that they have challenged the Leafs to a fun game against their Rock and Roll Hacker Jets: Dave Tim and Dave on the front line and Rick “whomp um” Wamsley in goal.

Someone shouts that Judy quit her job.  They seem excited and then when martin sings “Record Body Count” he sings–“Judy pulled herself to her feet.”  Then they play “Joey 2” and “Joey 3.”  It’s followed by great versions of Saskatchewan” & “Dope Fiends.”

There’s a fun green sprouts theme (with someone singing loudly and out of key) and then a surprising “Rain Rain Rain” [Whale] described as a quiet version with Clark cracking up at the end for unknown reasons.  There’ s cool version of “Aliens” [Melville].   And then one of the last versions of “Good on the Uptake.”  It’s really long with some hearty jamming.

We find out that it is almost 1AM, and then there’s a nice version of “Lyin’s Wrong” [Melville].  Dave gasps and says “Martin transformed into a gay librarian right before my eyes.”  It’s clear that they are planning to play more songs.  Indeed it seems like they have many more songs to go.  Bidini says he’d love to play Edmund Fitzgerald tonight and then the tape cuts off.

For such an old tape, the sound quality is quite good and the song selection is really fascinating since they had barely released any of the songs.

[READ: August 17, 2016] “A Sigh and a Salute”

This is the second essay about an artist that Spiegelman had written for Harper’s in 2016.  I wonder if it will become a regular thing?

This essay is about Si Lewen, an artist of whom I’ve never heard.  It is actually from the introduction to Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey.

Spiegelman says he has one of Si Lewen’s “Ghosts” hanging in his studio.  Lewen began the series of Ghosts in 2008 and has made over 200.

Spiegelman gives Lewen’s complex history: Born in Poland in 1918, his family moved to Berlin as World War I ended.  They were trying to escape Polish antisemitism and found the German version. When Hitler became Chancellor, Si Lewen aged 14, decided to leave Germany.  He and his brother left the family behind and went to Paris.  There was some luck on his side.  Si’s uncle in America had organized a fund-raiser for Admiral Byrd’s expedition to the South Pole.  Byrd’s brother, a Senator, arranged for Si’s entire family to get Visas in America in 1935.  But even America wasn’t great for Si.  In 1936, while sitting in Central Park after visiting the Met, a policeman upon hearing his accent grabbed him, rowed him out to the island in the center of the lake, bludgeoned and robbed him.  What the holy fuck? Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 4] (February 28, 1994).

Second annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-March 1 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. Rare performances of Symphony, Green Xmas, Floating, Woodstuck, Halloween Eyes and a cover of Blondie’s Heart Of Glass. This is show 4/5.

Sounds like people are sitting and then there s a request for people to stand up to make more room, but what about the people who can’t see…?  Let them fight it out I guess.

Most of this show is pretty clear with the exception of a few moments of wobbly tape.  Also notable is that most of the songs seem to be played a little bit more slowly than usual.  This makes them much easier to hear–and makes most of the lyrics really clear.

The tape is wavery through “In This Town.”  As an introduction to “Introducing Happiness,” Martin says “I think our next record is going to be a happy record…we didn’t have any idea how it was going to sound but…  [someone mentions where they are going to record it]: “how could it not be happy.”  It segues segues into “One More Colour” and Clark says that should dispel all rumors about any antipathy between Rheostatics and Jane Siberry–we are going to cover one of her most excellent songs on our new record.

Once again for “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos,” they ask “fancy beginning or simple?”  Some people shout fancy!  Then a few for simple!  And then someone shouts “Angular.”  Martin says “This sing is angular.”  It’ sa fast burst of music and then comes a slow and kind of moody “Michael Jackson.”

Starting “Fishtailin'” Martin says, “I remembered to put my capo on this time.”  Bidini says, “the capo is like the condom of the guitar.  I don’t know how or why but it is.”  Someone in the audience shouts, “it prevents you from having another key.”  To laughter and confusion.  Martin then says, “For this one we gotta start by snapping on what they call the one.”  Tim jokes, “If you’re really good we’ll fly you down to Compass Point so you can record the snaps on the album.”  They stop after a verse (everyone likes Tim’s falsetto) and no one seems to know what happened.  Then they start again and all is well

Dave says “Me and Stupid” is a song about “fishing for fun and misadventure.”

Earlier in the night Dave and Dave were “fighting,” and Bidini said he was “Danny Bonaduce” and Clark was “Donny Osmond.”  [I had no idea that this was a real “event” that happened in January 1994].  At one point he says he will have to go through Tim to fight Clark–that must make Tim Susan Dey.  Tim: “At least I still got a career.”  There’s a long version of “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” and Martin repeats the first verse entirely.

“Claire” sounds good–slightly experimental–like many of the other songs this night.  “Floating” has an interesting opening with a cool bass line–this is probably the best recording of the song.  “Full Moon Over Russia” is suitably wacky with some really extra crazy nonsense singing and playing–lines about Colgate and teeth and litter and whatnot.  There’s some really jazzy section and Dave says, “I guess that’s why the kids love the jazz sound.”

“Green Christmas” opens with some whistling–“there should definitely be whistling on our happy pop album.”  There’s an interesting bass throb to open “Alomar” which segues into the opening pretty guitar of “Artenings Made of Gold/Cephallus Worm–they loudly sing the “what did martin pull out of cat’s ass in Italy”many times.  Every part has an extended section including a kind of ska groove during Uncle Henry.”  In the middle they ask for “some of that nifty audience participation stuff”  Tim says, “Get them to do something silly.”  There’s some howling “kind of Halloweenish,” which gets them to sing a verse of   “devils got horns devils got a tail 666 you’re a sitting duck ahoooooo.”  This is from a thing called “Halloween Eyes (666 gonna fuck you up!)” that seems to have been recorded once in 2001.  Martin jokes that the next time they’ll sing: “don’t look at me with those Halloween eyes / don’t tempt me with those pumpkin pies.”

Clark says “Uncle Henry” and “Halloween Eyes” just prove what you can do with a lot of… weed.  Sorry, I mean happiness.   Bidini says, “Someone is spontaneously combusting because we played this not on Halloween.”

Dave tells a story about smoking substances in the back of the van (audience member: “but that’s illegal!” and then says “I told Don Maclean I’d always call it marijuana perfume.”

“It’s the cleanest version of “Symphony” I’ve heard yet.  It is slower than the others.  As is “Jesus.”  “Jesus” is so slow that Martin speaks one of the middle verses.

They give a shout out to Kevin Hearn (and other musicians) who is hanging around and watching–it seemed like they called him up at one point but I don’t think so.

They have a ton of fun with “When Winter Comes”– a really lengthy opening in which they tease each other (what can I do to please you, Tim?).  Unfortunately this is where the tape gets all wobbly and warped so you can’t hear it very clearly.   The whole song is ten minutes long.  It’s wild and crazy sloppy with another song squeezed in by Bidini.  But the crowd is insane for the chorus.

The next few songs are really slow and moody.  They sound very different and interesting.  But that pace seems to mess everyone up a bit.  During “California Dreamline,” Martin misses the fast guitar solo during the “dolphins” line.  And in the really slow “Palomar” it seem like Tim can’t sing the chorus that slowly.

Clark asks if everyone is enjoying themselves and a fan shouts “Green Sprouts always enjoy themselves.”  Bidini notes, “but not too much… they always have just the right amount of fun.”  He says that they’re going to be on Much Music to debut the video for “Shaved Head,” which they also play really slow and really moody.

For the encore they start with their weird sorta half-assed version of “Heart of Glass” that segues into their new wavey “Crescent Moon.”  Martin says “we’re taking requests,” and someone immediately shouts “Woodstuck.”  “Done!”  Someone else shouts “and let’s hear it for the Trans Canada Soul Patrol.”  They throw in the “Mommy’s alright” line from “Surrender” during the song.

Lots of requests for the last song, someone shouts “I Fought the Law,” but they decide to do “The Battle of Wendell Clark” which I haven’t heard in a long time and which they segue into “The Good Old Hockey Game.”  It’s dedicated to the Olympic team who brought home silver.

As they finish, Clark says you can shuffle out to the shuffling sounds of the Shufflestatics.

Shave an a haircut, goodnight.

[READ: January 18, 2017] “Cold Fish”

This is a story of a couple who has gone to Key West.  They are engaged, but this is not a wedding-related trip, just a vacation that Neil wanted to do.  Mara can’t think of a reason not to go to Key West, so she decides that she just wants to get drunk and get a tan.

Mara orders dessert–key lime pie–and Neil who doesn’t like desserts, seems sad when she says it’s not the best pie she’s ever had (as advertised on the door).

Neil is always looking around for someone to take their picture.  In the photos Mara looks put-upon.

She calls her sister from the hotel that evening and tells her about watching a Jane Fonda movie.  Later her sister tells her not to call back unless they’ve eloped. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Matinee Day 3] (February 27, 1994).

Second annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-March 1 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. Rare performances of Green Xmas, Floating and one of the earliest Desert Island Discs. This is the all ages Sunday afternoon show 3/5.

Sadly there was to be no celebratory party for the Canadian hockey team who lost the final match and took silver (they’d have to wait until 2002).

They’re going to play a lot of new songs and some old songs.  So they start with “Crescent Moon” from Greatest Hits (it’s so synthy!).  Midway through they seem to mess up and Dave says, “We know the new ones well we just don’t know the old ones very well.”

As the start “Green Xmas,” Dave Clark says, “I love Christmas Time so much so that I love playing this song even though it’s not Christmas.”  When the song is over there’s lots of talk about gum–I assume someone had some in the audience: Black Cat, Ton o Gum or Bubbalicious.  He asks what kind and they start talking about Dubble Bubble and how so many bad things happened to Pud (He could never win).  He contends that Ziggy ripped him off.

They get an organized snap going for Fishtailin’.  They play a verse and then hold it, Dave says “We usually play this song in A, Martin.”  However we will employ “capo technology.”

Clark says he enjoys playing that song because it reminds him of …Dave.  And all the good times they had…before the bad stuff happened (ha).  Clark describes how he met Dave when they were kids.  Bidini says he doesn’t remember the meeting and jokes “did you steal something off of me?”  Clark says Bidini’s aunt and uncle got the first in ground pool in the area and that’s where they met.  Bidini asks what he thought of him.  After shouting “Doofus,” Clark says, I thought “he would become a well kempt perhaps overspoken person.”  Bidini says he remembers being in his Delta 88 going for a drivers test in 1981 and picking up Clark and thinking “he has lips as big as mine–we can be square together.”

It’s a good segue into “Me and Stupid” (which they make family-friendly by singing “messed up” instead of fucked up).  For the fish chant at the end “pike, trout, bass, smelt,” Dave says they are the “four fish of the apocalypse.”

Dave apologizes that he “spit on you from afar but luckily I hit one of the Wooden Stars and I think that will bring me good luck in 1994.”  The Wooden Stars are the band that’s playing during the break.

Once again Tim says that “Introducing Happiness” is about having cats–not birthing cats, just discovering them.”

Clark says that they are “one of the laziest bands in rock.”  Bidini says they have inherited the mantle from Valdy.  Then he says I thought you meant “laid back.”   Clark says “I didn’t say lamest.”  But Bidini says that Valdy once paid The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos $1500 to open for them at the Port Credit Arena.  Clark says he wasn’t talking about Valdy, he wrote the Four Seasons.  Tim says he also sells really cheap groceries (I assume he’s joking about Aldi).

For “In This Town,” Martin asks for “Lots of reverb on the intro.”  Bidini says it’s like they’re in a cave.  Then there’s a great “Michael Jackson, ” followed by a rocking “RDA.”  A sloppy intro to “Soul Glue” is fixed and then the song starts for good.  Midway through Bidini tells them to do it nice and breezy, like Valdy would do it, and they make it very smooth.  “Zero angst, Tim.”  The gentle ending segues nicely into “Self Serve Gas Station.”

Clark tries to wax eloquent about the loss of sun, but he can’t get the words out.  So they encourage the kids to dance, which it sounds like they do.

They play the mellow “Row,” which features a really great solo from Martin in the middle.  After a discussion of new wave, they play the rapid, rather odd “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos.”   They play “Floating” again–one of those songs that has never gotten official release.  It’s pretty cool with a few different parts that complicate the song.

They ask, “Any teenagers in the audience?  I heard that teenagers don’t like to be called teenagers what do they like to be called?”  Someone shouts “Young adults.”  They play “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too.”

They ask that the lights to go up and they play a song/game called “Desert Island Picks.”  You say three albums you’d take with you if you were stranded on a desert island (in this case New Providence Island).  They walk around singing the folk song and then some people come up: it is really fun and very funny, a great good time is had by all.  They even bring up a little kid and he sings his three favorite things in the world.  When they ask another kid what school she goes to, she says  “uh…what?”  And someone shouts “Must be U of T!”

Someone had picked three Beatles albums, and Martin says “This is from our next album Let It Be…”  He sings “Jo Jo was a…” before beginning “Take Me in Your Hand” properly.  Then they play a lovely version of “Claire” and then a noisy messy sloppy verse of Neil Young’s “Farmer John,” which morphs into the crazy trilogy “Artenings Made of Gold/Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry.”

Clark asks if they should play longer or shorter, and longer wins.  But he must take a five-minute bathroom break.  So Martin plays a gentle acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” which the crowd loves.   Then, “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” is introduced as “Saskatchewan Part 2”.  And then (despite some apparent crying from children) they play “Horses” (the moaning child actually sounds like a pretty good fit for this intense song).  There’s even a kid who sings the “Holy Mackinaw, Joe” part.  At the end, there’s kids doing the whole ending with them.

And then it’s a couple of covers: Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour” and a rocking rendition of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”  They leave the stage and there is a truly wild and rowdy encore cheer (banging things and lots of screaming).

Dave gives away a prize–nightgowns (?) from Sire Records–which Clark says he doesn’t want because he’s ashamed of being on a major label.  I’d love to see those.

It leads to a cool trippy version of “Dope Fiends,” and the end guitar section segues perfectly in to “Earth Monstrous Hummingbirds,” a version which doesn’t ever get really weird but which still sounds fantastic.

I can’t get over how cool it is that Rheostatics played matinee shows like this.  The show lasted over 2 hours, tickets were $6 and it was all kind-friendly.  That’s pretty awesome.

[READ: January 17, 2017] “The Curse”

This is an excerpt from Marías’ recent nonfiction book To Begin at the Beginning. It is a reflection on the art of writing fiction.

This brief section looks at how he writes; he doesn’t know how things are going to turn out when he begins–that would be boring for him.  And if he was bored, it would reflect in his writing and then his readers would be bored.

Just as we do what we do when we’re twenty without knowing that when we reach forty we may wish we had done something else, and just as when we’re forty we have no alternative but to abide by what we did when we were twenty, we can’t erase or amend anything, so I write what I write on page 5 of a novel with no idea if this will prove to have been a good idea when I reach page 200, and far from writing a second or third version, adapting page 5 to what I later find out will appear on page 200, I don’t change a word, I stand by what I wrote at the very beginning — tentatively and intuitively, accidentally or capriciously. Except that, unlike life — which is why life tends to be such a bad novelist — I try to ensure that what had no meaning at the beginning does have meaning at the end. I force myself to make necessary what was random and even superfluous, so that ultimately it’s neither random nor superfluous.

He cites an example.  When Marías’ Cuban great-grandfather was still a young man, he refused to help a beggar. The beggar put a curse on him: “You and your eldest son will both die before you are fifty, far from your homeland and without a grave.”  He wrote about this curse in his book Dark Back of Time. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 2] (February 26, 1994).

Second annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 1 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. Rare performances of Poor Mouth, Green Xmas, Floating, Symphony and a crazy mash up encore of Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry/Greens Sprouts Theme/Soul Glue. The band also noted working titles for the album included Revenge, You Are A Treasure, Skookum, Twaddling and Art If You Squint.

The quality of this recording is better than night 1

The show starts with Dave Clark asking, “Does anyone know the sound that sled dogs make when they bark?  They go Hi! Hi!, because they bark so much they don’t have voices anymore.  Bidini says “Dave knows this because he was once a sled dog.”  Tim chimes in, “we also met a llama at Exotic (erotic?) cat world in Orono, Ontario.  He said hi, hi.  Then it spit on you–because he liked you.

Then Martin says “Dave Bidini fresh from reading erotic poetry.”  (In last night’s show he said he would be reading erotic poetry).  Dave says, “I’ll read some more to you if you’re good… or bad if you know what I mean.”

They begin the night with “Poor Mouth” a rare song that I don’t really know but it sounds familiar.  It’s a slow song with some noisy sections.

Before Introducing Happiness, Clark asks, “How many people here have cats?  Be proud, Walk tall.”  Then Tim jokes, “This is a new song about cats.  Actually this is a new song.  They’re all new songs tonight.”  An All New Revue!  Clark: All New Revue Screw You!

For Fishtailin’, Clark says This song is not about Cats, nor about Dogs.  This one is about Birds, but nobody got it–it just went over there heads. Bidini: “What Catskills dive did you hear that joke in, it’s an old bad joke?” Clark” “You just killed the flow of the gig.”  The song opens with some finger napping and after a verse Martin says he likes the snapping and Dave says he likes Tim’s falsetto singing.

The begin “Michael Jackson” and Dave asks, “Where’s the Michigan table tonight?  Welcome!  Sorry to hear about Michael Jackson and stuff.”  Then he segues, Dave Clark is the only person I know who when I told him Nancy Kerrigan won the silver he went alright!  Clark responds, “Dave, it’s so hip to hate Led Zeppelin these days, that’s what the kids said in high school but I still loved them.”

After the song, Clark shouts out “Tim Mech all the way from the Mechheads….  a smattering of applause… if they only knew.”  In This Town has kind of goofy opening, as does “Me and Stupid.”  It opens with some crazy lurching almost seasick-sounding sounds.  Martin says that’s track one on our next record.  During “Stupid” in the quiet middle Dave states, “

Middle if song “Something is about to happen.  Two shores away a man is hammering in the sky.  Perhaps he will fall…”  The end of the song the band chants “pike trout bass smelt.”

So Bidini asks about smelt: How many smelt can you eat at one sitting?  I once ate 115.  Clark: “I’ve never eaten smelt in my life.”  Bidini, “I’ve got the bones in a jar.  Clark: Did you shat them out?  Bidini: No!  It is a nona food–an Italian grandmother delicacy.  Then he tells the story: “I went fishing with my dad and we chucked the giant net into the Credit River listening to AM radio with excellently bad Canadian radio from the 70s.  Martin says, “I’ve known you all this time we’ve been together 8 years or whatever?.  Bidini, “I’m glad we’re talking about this now.” Clark: “you should join that Iron John program.”

It’s a pretty complex introduction to “Oneilly’s Strange Dream.”

After the song, Clark says, “I saw Mark Hamill on that Conan the Barbarian show and he was kind of a sexist pig.”  Bidini: “Same with the Howard Stern guy.”  Martin jokes, We’re taking it even further than Vegas were recording in Tahoe.

Then Dave asks, “Acoustic guitar or electric guitar for this song? (Electric wins in landslide).  “Electric it is!”  Every decision you inch us towards will have a profound impact on our musical lives.  Be responsible.”

Dave then gives a lengthy introduction to “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos.”  He says it was originally a song that Tim and Martin sang when I got married two years ago at my wedding (at the bowling alley?).  Someone asks, “Did you marry the girl that you met when you went back to your old horse riding school?”  Clark asks: Bugsy Malone?  Dave says “Bugsy Bidini, you got it.”  I write the song and sang it and Tim said enh?  then Tim said “I’ll sing it” and now he sings it. It’s about an old band that was famous in Toronto (well, not really famous but were excellent) in the middle to the end of the 80s and this is about them.  Before starting he mumbles, the beginning is tricky and then asks, “Tricky beginning or not?”  Tricky!  we need to practice it once, we’ll do it really quietly so they can’t hear.  It’s funny how short the song is after all of that.

“Full Moon Over Russia” is pretty quiet, and then there’s a wild middle section during the “I don’t care, I don’t care” part.  Dave says do you care, and Martin shouts, “Don’t do that I hate that.” Then there’s a nonsense jazz breakdown.

During the banter Clark asks, are they calling the CIS Russia now?  Bidini says “It’s not the CIS”  Clark: “CIS, CSI,  C-sis?”  returning to the Olympics: Clark responds “My favorite Olympian is Ross Perot.  Martin asks “Dave what are you suffering from?”   “I’ve got Olympic fever.  I get the chills every day around 1 o’clock if I don’t watch channel 9.  The all white network, Jesus Christ.”

And then they have some fun with the Canadian sportscaster Rod Black:

But Dave how did you really feel about that performance in the last song it didn’t measure up to your expectations, did it?” …. “I guess you’ll just have to go home and face all the people who pinned their hopes and dreams on your performance.”

Martin starts “One More Colour” and then says, “This is another song that I have anxiety starting.”  Dave announces, “You can share in that anxiety?  How much did it cost you to get in?”

Opening “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too,” Dave says “This is for Robert Lawson who came by and gave us a tape of the National Anthem.”  (Not sure what that means).  And then they take a five-minute break.

After the break, Bidini welcomes everyone and invites them down into the “promecium” (the pit).  Clark corrects: “proscenium” a fan shouts “paramecium,” “Prometheus?”

These five days are dedicated to the Green Sprouts Music Club.  You can write to us and we can be friends.  And then they a play a song that I’ve never heard before called “Margaret Atwood.”  This appears to be the only recording of it, which is a shame because it’s pretty interesting with a catchy chorus and some wild guitar wailing.

Dave tells a story about Tim Ecclestone getting another player into a fight with a bruiser from Philly.  And then they play “Green Xmas.”  Clark says, “It can be Christmas any day you want.”  Bidini says, “that’s kind of your motto: every day is Christmas.”  Martin sings a short improv “Every Day is Like Christmas.”

Introducing “Floating” which was never recorded, Dave says “This is a song about taking acid and being 30000 feet above sea level, something we’re all very familiar with, I’m sure.”  This recording is much better than last night’s and it really lets you get a better sense of how interesting this song is.

Someone shouts out “Ditch Pigs.”  The band discusses it and requests and how this is not in the program but they never do it, so Clark agrees.  But Martin forgets the words and no one else can remember them.  He asks someone Do you have the song cued up?  And someone plays a recording of “Dancing Queen” (!).  They get through the end of the song and then immediately start up “The Royal Albert.”

Martin says that “Symphony” is a new song composed of many parts.  Bidini says that he’s going to relax back there behind the drums–that’s what you do back here, right?  It’s a really pretty song, but the recording gets a little muddy here, sadly.

Bidini asks Clark about his microphone which leads to a discussion about Gil Moore, the drummer from Triumph.  Gil Moore would get blind drunk, play really poorly and sing his ass off but he could only hear himself in the monitors and no one could hear him in the big giant rock stadium.  Clark concludes: “You know what they say igna…” someone: “breeds bad rock” someone else: “breeds Triumph.”  Shhh.  Martin comments, Rik Emmet’s a nice guy, right?  Bidini: “Rik Emmet’s a great guy.”

Then someone compliments Dave on his suit.  He says Gordie Johnson (of the band Big Sugar) lent Dave his suit  (and lent him his hot bum too).  Then you hear someone playing Blondie’s “Call Me” (!).  The crowd gets quiet so they tell them to say something.  Someone shouts various things and then “Legal Age Life,” which they agree to play.  It’s an acoustic jam pretty far from the recording, but a lot of fun.  In the middle of it things stop.  Then someone scream “hurry up” and Clark creates a vulgar erotic story that involved having sex with the man.  And then they resume he song.  It’s followed by “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds.”

In introducing the band, Clark mentions “Timothy Warren Vesely)–there had been a contest in a previous show to see if anyone could guess his middle name).  Someone requests “Memorial Day” and Bidini says, “We don’t do that anymore.  We’re waiting for John Cougar to do that song.”  They play a delicate “Take Me in Your Hand” instead.

Bidini mentions the Big hockey game at 9:15 in the morning tomorrow  Canada hasn’t won a gold medal in Olympic Hockey since 1952.

Then they start talking album names, like the ones mentioned above.  One other one is : Rheostastics Talk Too Much.

And then Tim gets two songs “Row” with the slide guitar and “Claire” (announced as a song by Desmond Howl).  “Claire” is wonderful with a noisy drum section in the middle.

Despite the requests for “Torque Torque,” the encore is another romping fun sloppy Cheap Trick song “I Want You to Want Me” ( I think Clark is singing?).  And then the crazy medley mentioned above: “Cephallus Worm” a weird enough song to begin with which segues into “Uncle Henry.”  Before it ends they begin a wild “Green Sprouts Theme.”  Someone asks how would Bruce do it?  Who cares?  And then they jump start “Soul Glue” but after just one verse they launch back into the frenetic ending of Green Sprouts and before that can end, they play the final verse of Uncle Henry in a pretentious operatic style.

Be here tomorrow when the Wooden Stars are there.  It’s out matinee show.  It’s only six bucks tomorrow.  Tea and biscuits and no profanity, bring the kids.

SIX BUCKS??

[READ: July 18, 2017] “The Main Attraction”

I’m never exactly sure what criteria are used to get someone into Harper’s.  Especially the short (typically excerpted) fiction in the beginning of the magazine.

It is usually an established author, very often in translation.  But the statement about this entry is particularly noteworthy: “Bennett’s first novel Pond was published in July and this is from a manuscript in progress.”  Wow, that’s seems to set the bar a little low, and yet I really enjoyed this strange excerpt.

Anyhow, this excerpt is fascinating for a few reasons.

It opens with this odd bit:

The idea of going out to dinner came about very suddenly–I wanted schnitzel–after having had absolutely no feelings at all toward it going out to eat schnitzel suddenly seemed vital, inescapable, in fact, as if preordained.

Continue Reading »

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 1] (February 25, 1994).

The next four shows are four of the five nights from the Second Annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 1, 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. This first night featured 24 songs never previously released and a few that were played live very very rarely including Joey III, Floating, Fluffy, Green Xmas (which would appear years later as The Music Room on Harmelodia) and Symphony. Some of the audio on the beginning of each side of the tape is a bit warped and thus has a bit of a flange like effect for a few minutes.

That flange is very noticeable on “Jesus Was Once a Teenager, Too,” but it all settles down for “Tim Vesely going electric” on “Introducing Happiness.”  Bidini jokes that this is going to be their “up with life” album.

Introducing “One More Colour,” Dave Clark says, “Our next diddy is by a friend of ours who we last played with in Guelph.”  They follow it up with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” and “Full Moon Over Russia.”  After this song they ask the audience which chord they like better during one section–the minor chord wins.

They introduce “Fishtailin'” as a song about “love and life and living and loving.”  But an even better introduction comes for “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds” in which Bidini says it’s a song about the missing link.  Mankind was just walking around on earth drooling a lot.  And then all of a sudden they were up flying kites and making hotcakes and colorizing films and making Top 40 Radio.  Some say aliens impregnated cro-magnon man.  Dave thinks they came down for just two days and made everything happen.

Before the next song, Clark asks, “Dave what’s the best time of the year?”  Bidini says “Spring time: spring training starts.  Clark says I find around September 23rd (Bidini says, that’s coz baseball’s ending) because it’s 21 degrees–my favorite temperature.  Bidini: “yeah well spring’s better.”

There’s some banter about rehearsal space.  Clark says the band that used the microphones after them left them smelling like cheese.  Tim: “and by coincidence the band is called “Cheesemike.”  Then Clark tells a story about them being on Lunch TV, with his friends calling up saying “hey man, what are you doing on lunch TV,” and I said, “what the fuck are you doing watching it?”  Martin is annoyed because he stepped all over his introduction to a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand.”

They ask if there are any complaints so far.  Has everyone who has written the band gotten a reply?  Then Tim requests that Martin sing a verse of “Fluffy” which has only been played one other time on the live bootlegs (back in 1990).  The verse about champagne  Champagne?  Martinis, sorry.  It’s incredible falsetto, but Martin stops the song and says it sucked.  The last time they did that song a dark cloud came over Saskatoon.  Martin gives himself credit for writing one of the sickest songs ever.

Then they do one of the “not sickest” songs ever written: “Claire.”  Whale Music the film is locking down on Tuesday.  Clark jokes “Lee Majors is in it!”–he isn’t.  And then a great version of “Me and Stupid” before they take a break.

Paul McCloud “and his two little clouds” played in between sets.

They come back and At the conclusion of “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” Dave says that song is where Jethro Tull meets Rush.  Someone shouts, “What corner?”  Dave replies, “The corner of Bloor and Symington” (voted as the worst intersection in 2012).  At the end of “In This Town” Clark asks “who’s got Olympic fever? I do!”  Bidini asks, “Who’s your favorite Olympian?” Clark mentions a sportscaster….  Bidini says, “Dave hasn’t watched one second of the Olympics clearly, or he would have said Myriam Bédard.

Then there’s “Floating” a song I don’t know at all.  It’s a slow building Bidini song with a bouncy refrain of “up in the air” and a really noisy middle section.  After that he asks, “Didn’t everyone on the Finnish national hockey team look like Great Bob Scott?”  Clark says, “It’s funny you should mention that.  If I was gonna write a song for anybody it would be for Kevin Hearn, my favorite clown.  Of course none of you know who Kevin Hearn is… (ironic that they opened for BNL the previous year)

We had an idea one night that we would do a sequel to Melville–continue the stories from the album.  They only have two, this one “Onielly’s Strange Dream: is one of them.  It starts out very pretty with a recognizable guitar riff, but midway through the tape must change or something, it gets really loud and flangy.  It’s okay, it’s virtually impossible to forget the words on record.  It’s virtually impossible to forget the words “chicken Jimmy kept em alive,” To which Martin mumbles, “yea well he did.  It’s not funny.”

“Symphony” is also new to me.  On the song Bidini plays drums.  Martin stops the songs after a few verses and Dave complains that Clark was so jealous that Dave was playing drums that he forgot to turn the snare on.  And then Martin says it was way fast.  There’s some cool riffs and a line about no one takes solos in this band.  I’d like to hear that one more clearly.

Before the next song, Bidini says, I don’t play guitars on this, thank the lord.  Then there’s some drummer jokes:

Drums is a promotion actually–a drummer told me that.
Clark yells, “If Laura Lynn’s in the audience shame on you for cutting on drummers–they’re the foundation of any band.”
Bidini: “What did she say? How do you know a drummer’s at your door?  The knock speeds up and gets louder.  Coz if she did, that would be okay.”
Clark says, “Of course the most schooled musicians sit behind the tubs.”

The slow and country sounding “Row,” gets the dramatic introduction, “This is a song… Tim wrote.”  Then comes a rocking “Triangles on the Wall.”

Before “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice,” Clark asks, “Just acoustic guitar and voice?”  But no, “Full band.” Clark jokes, “We’ll attempt a song we don’t know.”  At the end Clark asks, “Was that cannibolically inspired?”  “Alomar” is always a fun treat especially when followed by a wild and raucous “PROD.”  At the end Tim asks, “I wonder if Steven Page had a song, “We are the people’s republic of Steven Page, how would it go?”  And they give it a shot.

They then launch into the lurching “The Royal Albert” the other song that’ s a sequel (“Joey Part II”) which ends with the guys all singing what sounds like “soooey.”  After this song, Dave says, “We’ll take some requests because we’ve run out of new material. [Much shouting] Okay we’ll do them all.”

They start with “Record Body Count” which ends with a fugue vocal of everyone singing “Joey stepped up on a block of ice,” which is pretty cool.  It’s followed by the unrecorded “Joey III” (all three parts together, just out of sequence).  “Joey III” contains the “do you believe it” refrain from “Christopher,” which is a little odd, but which works.  This segues into a slow “Self Serve Gas Station” that eventually rocks out.

They end the set with some covers: a short, sloppy but fun version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (sung by Martin) and a pretty rocking version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” (sung by Dave) which segues into a blast of “RDA.”

Despite the slightly muddy sound, this is a great set, especially if you like Introducing Happiness.

[READ: January 18, 2017]: “In This One”

I don’t really have a sense for what Stephen Dixon is doing in his writings.  He really likes to play with convention as a way of telling a fairly conventional story.

So, in this one, Dixon uses the phrase “in this one” in nearly every sentence.

It starts out “In this one he’ll have only one daughter and no other child.  In this one he’ll be divorced and his ex-wife will live in California…”

The character being discussed is a writer, “in this one he’ll have finished a novel a month or so ago after working on it for more than three years.”

In this one, his daughter tries to set him up with a coworker but neither finds the other interesting.

It sounds like Dixon is trying to write a new story–trying to create a character based on other characters.  But as the story proceeds it seems like this story is far more self-reflective.  In this one he meets a woman and he’s off to bed with her. But he warns her that it has been a long time and he hopes he’s able to get started. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Penguin Club, Ottawa ON, (March 13, 1993).

This is the only show from 1993 on Rheostatics Live and it is a really good one.  The sound quality is excellent and there’s a fantastic selection of songs.  The author of the show is listed as the CBC, and at the end of the show Dave mentions the CBC, so I’m assuming this was broadcast on the radio.

They open with “Who” the beginning of which is cut off, but only a little.

Martin says he wishes people could move closer because he can’t see them–move your tables up.  And then he sings a beautiful, mellow “Northern Wish.”  The guitars are gentle and echoing and the backing vocals are truly wonderful.  As the song ends a complicated clapping rhythm begins, which can only mean the introduction to “Rain Rain Rain” a song I feel they don’t play that much and which is really fun to hear–that wild guitar riff combined with those lyrics–“I’m feeling really down.”

“Soul Glue” opens with some great guitar sounds from Martin and with Tim playing the main riff on the bass.  “Greensprouts” has a rollicking wild middle section and is quite fun.  There’s a quiet section of the song as Dave Clark “brushes it up.”  During the quiet Dave Bidini says “if you know how it goes you can just start singing” and soon you can hear people shouting it in the back.

For “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson, Dave introduces it: “This is a love letter to Michael Jackson.  Honest.”  There’s a “Sweet Child of Mine” intro (even way back then).  Bidini says, “If Axl Rose wrote a letter to Michael Jackson, wouldn’t the world be a better place?”  It’s a rocking version that segues right into “RDA.”

Then there’s a few oddball songs in a row, like the one Martin says is “Only Beginning, The Sickening Song.”  This is played on accordion and has a great heavy riff (this one isn’t played too often either).  It’s followed by the decidedly weird and jazzy “Full Moon Over Russia.”

Bidini would like to dedicate this night to “our four Juno nominations.”  Tim Vesely for home gardening and would-e fashion plate posturing.  Clark chimes in: “Dave Bidini for best athletic supporter.”  Martin Tielli for most bizarre bone structure (up against Gowan… a real tight race) and Dave Clark for spreading garlic soup to the peoples republic of Ireland.  Later, Dave thanks Gowan, who is Lawrence Gowan, formerly of Rhinegold currently the singer and keyboardist of Styx.

Martin introduces “Record Body Count” as “this is an interesting song.”  It’s followed by their cover of Jane Sibbery’s “One More Colour.”

They give a little talk about the Green Sprouts music fan club.  But first Clark jokes, “We’re about to embark on a song that requires a lot of tuning, it’s a kind of Indian raga.”  Then Bidini says, “You can buy a sticker for a dollar… or maybe we’ll give you one (they only cost us a nickle to make). I don’t care if you buy anything, just write to us.”

Palomar sounds great on a an echoed (12 string?) guitar.  And then “King of the Past” opens with some strange guitar tuning and then it settles into beautiful version of the song.

“Self Serve” lopes along, and when he gets to the line, “What went wrong with Martin, is he dumb?” (someone shouts NO!) and you hear Clark go (enh?).  It’s followed by stellar versions of “California Dreamline” and “Horses.”  Martin makes some great sound effects and Bidini shouts a refrain of “are you bitter?”  As the song nears its end Bidini asks, “Does someone want to be on CBC radio singing the last verse of “Horses” by the Rheostatics?”  And someone (unnamed) does.

After the encore there’s  great verse version of “Queer” with fantastic harmonies.  Dave Clark takes a drum solo at the end of Queer which segues into a spritely version of “Alomar” that segues back to the end of “Queer.”  He ends it by singing
I hope you enjoy my new box set” a line from Barenaked Ladies.

“Edmund Fitzgeraldd” is a slow menacing version with great effects from Martin’s guitar.  During the middle of the ending chord, someone sings “I wish I was back home in Derry,” the Christy Moore song.  The song slowly fades out and they end the whole show with the lullaby “You Are Very Star,” a sweet song with whistling and everything and the saying Good night, everybody.

It’s one of the best recordings around.

[READ: December 26, 2016] “The Pet”

This is a very short piece (translated by Rachel Careau) from a collection of short fiction.

The story focuses very specifically on one thing–a spider in the narrator’s room, but I love the fascinating almost throwaway backstory to it.

One evening in August, as I was going to bed in the northeast room, which I had decided finally to use–the connecting wall of the other apartment had been broken through two years earlier…

Now this story is four paragraphs long, and half of the first is dedicated to that.  I found that fascinating. Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: July 15, 2017] Kings X

My friend Sean and I were planning on making it three years in a row seeing King’s X, but he had last minute other plans (which I hope were wonderful).

It was interesting seeing them again (this is 4 times in four years! and three years at Sellersville).  Usually I can’t get good pictures at Sellersville, but either it was brighter, or my new phone is better in the dark.  Either way the photos were much better.

My friend Charles is a huge fan of the band and he warned me the dUg’s voice wasn’t sounding so great.  I thought that last time around, so I was prepared for the worst.  But he sounded okay.  As another friend said, he is 66 years old.  The only real drag about that is that his voice was so amazing that’s it’s a shame he’s lost that instrument’s full range.

But the band itself sounds great and since everyone in the audience is a huge fan, we did a lot of the singing for dUg, anyway.

Continue Reading »

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