Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2018

SOUNDTRACK: VÄSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #720 (March 23, 2018).

Back in 2012 I had my first exposure to the nyckelharpa at Scanfest.  And now, nearly six years later Väsen (who did not play at Scanfest that year) have brought the nyckelharpa to Tiny Desk (and the blurb’s description is hilarious).

Väsen came to the Tiny Desk with just three instruments, but all together it was a 30-string sonic blast of 12-string guitar, viola and nyckelharpa (a fiddle with keys — think 15th century keytar).  Guitarist Roger Tallroth, violist Mikael Marin and nyckelharpist Olov Johansson have been a touring troupe for more than 25 years with 18 albums filled with adventure, amusement and virtuosity. They span the wide emotional range of Swedish folk music, equally haunting and celebratory. There are some similarities to Irish jigs, reels and waltzes that I’m more familiar with, but this music is more ear-bending, with more surprises than I’m used to in traditional string band folk music.

The band plays three instrumentals (all of their songs are instrumental) from their new album Brewed.

It’s fascinating how much these songs sound like Irish jigs and reels (fiddle and guitar after all).  There’s a looseness to them that makes them fun and enjoyable–perfect for drinking and dancing.  Especially a song called “IPA-Gubben” which means, “The old IPA man.”  On introducsing the song Olov points to Mikael and says “this is the old IPA man, he brought this tune as a birthday present when he turned 50.”

It’s possible that the nyckelharpa is quieter than the viol as it’s not always unique sounding amid the music.  But there are a few times when the nyckelharpa is playing a melody that stands out and you can really watch and hear Johansson shine–I had no idea the instrument could be played that quickly either.

Not to take anything away form the other two.  The viol plays some incredibly fast runs and melodies and the guitar while primarily used for chords, also adds in some fast runs.

“Väsenvalsen” was composed by Mikael.  It is the first ever Väsen waltz.  The song starts slowly and then dramatically takes off with some wonderfully fast (and very Irish-sounding lead lines on both viol and nyckelharpa.  I love in the middle when the nyckelharpa plays a harmony melody over the top of the viol so you can hear both instruments clearly.  It has a lovely ending with the nyckelharpa playing high notes to end the song.

“Sommarpolska” means “summer polka.”  It was written by Roger and has a  lovely melody that grows and subsides as the instruments ebb and flow.  It’s a joyful dance song and a wonderful concluding piece.

[READ: January 31, 2018] “Two Women”

In typical Amos Oz fashion, this was a rather short story.  It was translated by Sondra Silverston.

Osnat wakes before her alarm and passes the apartment occupied by Boaz and Ariella.  She thinks about what happened two months ago as if it had happened to strangers many years ago.

But it was only two months ago Boaz told Osnat he’d been having an affair with Ariella.  So he’s leaving her and moving in with Ariella (who lives in the same building).  Their affair began one day when Boaz came to fix a broken tap.  Boaz prepared for a huge confrontation, but as he started to ramp up his argument, she cut him off: “Go.  Just go.” (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: March 30, 2018] Darlingside

Sarah and I saw Darlingside just three months ago at SOPAC.  I was surprised that they were coming back to the area just a couple months later (even if by the area I mean two cities which are 90 miles apart).  Even my son, who doesn’t always seem to pay attention to what we do said “Didn’t you just see them?”

The reason I was so intrigued to see them again so soon was three-fold.

  1. Their new album wasn’t out yet when we saw them in December.  Now it was and I assumed they’d play more from it.
  2. SOPAC was a quiet, sit down, well-behaved place and I was curious to see if they performed differently in a bar/club.
  3. They are amazing, so why not?

Really the big question for me was the second one.  What would they be like in a noisy club.  Well, they still sounded amazing and just like Darlingside.  They didn’t really change their game that I noticed.  And in fact, the crowd changed for them.  While there was some chatter, the crowd was there to hear them, and we knew what we’d be getting, so we were quiet when we should be (with some exceptions).

The biggest difference was between songs, when people went pretty wild, and the guys responded appropriately–not getting wild themselves, but ramping up their own outgoingness.

The guys have a stage patter in place.  After a couple of songs, one of them will step up to the mic (they only ever use one mic which is magical because it picks up every breath and utterance) and addresses everyone with a story.

After playing two new songs (including using their Septavox, on “Eschaton” which adds a small element of electronics to their otherwise acoustic set).  In SOPAC they talked about this gadget, here they did not.  It was their first time to address us.

Cellist/guitarist Harris came up and was just so full of smiles and goodwill that it really set the mood for the night.  (He raised him arms and shouted Yes!).  He told us that last night they tried “Philadelphia Vanilla Ice Cream” for the first time. Which he was not even aware of this being a thing before then [nor was I].  He tried to describe it and the crowd responded appropriately (with someone shouting “Phanilla.”

And then they he told us that “Go Back” is based on Back to the Future II, which I did know.

They played some flawless songs from Birds Say (they do actually have quite a number of releases even if they focus on the two newest ones).  The harmonies on “White Horses” (and , honestly every song) are just breathtaking.

David, who plays bass and an underrated kick drum spoke about opening act Twain.  All of the bands whom Twain opens for seem to really like his music or at least him.  So he raved about Twain for a bit and then joked about how much fun it is to substitute the word “twain” for other words in sentences.  I can’t help but wonder if we are missing something.  There was also some talk about toilet paper, with David being shocked that not everyone folds it into a perfect square.

The crowd enjoyed the new songs and showed great appreciation for the old songs.  I was amazed at how great all of the songs sounded, but especially the really soaring ones like “My Gal, My Guy.”  And when the smaller more fun songs like “Harrison Ford” began, there was thunderous applause.

It was also cool when Harris sat at cello for “The Ancestor” but you could still hear his vocal contributions even some three feet from the mic.

Guitarist/banjoist Don told us that he had signed up to donate blood marrow and that we could too (I could not, as the requirements are surprisingly strict).  That wasn’t the usual fun banter, but it was perfectly in line with them as decent human beings.  And I say that unironically.  The four of them seem like the nicest guys in the world.  (And when we met them it all seemed genuine).

The band doesn’t “do a lot on stage.”  They switch positions a bunch depending on who needs to be doing what.  I always enjoy seeing Auyon on the mandolin like on “Whipoorwill.” But mostly they huddle around that amazing microphone and sing like four-part-harmonious angels.  I’m amazed that the bass doesn’t clatter against things–they must all be very well used to playing in small spaces.

Auyon is a crowd favorite.  So when he got up to speak there was thunderous applause and he acknowledged it by saying it was appreciated but over the top.  He often introduces the band and he did so tonight by discussing what was on their rider.

They’ve had a rider for a long time, bu only recently are venues starting to look at them.  He says its difficult to make one because what you want when you are sitting on your couch at home making up a rider is not necessarily what you want the night of a show.

He says they try not to be wasteful.  Don overheard the guys at Union Transfer discussing the requests, saying that tit’s all healthy stuff and very very specific.  The phrases” lack of imagination and daring” were thrown around as was the word “restrained” but not in a positive way.

 

He told us that Harris does push ups to stay in shape.  But he is worried that he apparently massive chest will ruin his writs making him unable to play, so he doesn’t really do them, after all.

When he introduced Don, and the crowd roared, Don pumped his arms trying to get the crowd louder which made everyone on stage laugh.  Auyon deadpanned that the first time at a Darlingside show that anyone has done that motion–we don’t even pick things up.  Don confesses, “It felt really bad too.  I’m never going to do it again.”

Auyon told us that Don orders half beers.  He’ll ask to split a beer, which is something no bartender respects.

When he introduced himself, the crowd went over the top with applause which led him to say that he believed that we were just messing with him now.  He said, “I usually have the other half of the beer because I only want half, too.”

There is really nothing like hearing them singing the gorgeous “Good For You.”

I was thrilled when they played their new song “The Best of the Best of Times” which Harris introduced by saying they were writing it in England during Brexit and they thought things would be better at home.  And then look what happened.  We are a long way from the best of the best of times, indeed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for an encore.  I mean they’d played pretty much everything I wanted to hear.  The set list wasn’t too differet from at SOPAC.  It may have even been exactly the same songs, just in a different order.  I don’t know what will happen when they do another new album and start having to remove songs from the set list, I need my 7 songs from Birds Say!

The first encore was “Orion” a new song (someone shouted for their cover of 1979 which I REALLY wanted to hear, too, but they didn’t play it.

They ended with their sorta rocker (and suitable show ender) “Blow the House Down” which has a raging (for them) guitar solo and some wild violin.

They hung out after the show to meet people, but it was time for us to leave, so we didn’t say hi.  We’d chatted with them just a few months ago.

Amazingly, they will be back in the Philly area two more times before the end of the summer.  May 18 at the Kimmel Center opening for  Brandi Carlisle and then July 29 at XPN Festival.

Setlist
Singularity [EX]
Eschaton [EX]
Go Back [Birds]
White Horses [Birds]
My Gal, My Guy [Birds]
Hold Your Head Up High [EX]
Extralife [EX]
The Ancestor [Birds]
Harrison Ford [Birds]
Whippoorwill [ep]
Futures [EX]
Good For You [Birds]
Best of the Best Times [EX]
The God of Loss [Birds]

Encore:
Orion [EX]
Blow the House Down [Pilot]

What didn’t they play?
From Birds Say: Clay & Cast Iron; Birds Say; Water Rose; Do You Ever Live; She’s All Around; Volcano Sky
From Extra Life: Old Friend; Lindisfarne; The Rabbit and the Pointed Gun; Indian Orchard Road; Rita Hayworth

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: March 31, 2018] Twain

Twain has become something of a punchline for my friends and I, because we all really disliked his set opening for Kishi Bashi.

What was bizarre was how much Kishi Bashi raved about him that night.  Then recently, Twain played SXSW and the NPR review of SXSW raved about him as well.

They said this:

 Twain’s vast, searching music conjures the cosmic folk of Tim Buckley: A welcoming, wandering rumination on life, the afterlife, loneliness and “the beauties of this earthly world,” “Solar Pilgrim” feels at once human and otherworldly. The latest project to feature singer Mt. Davidson — he’s worked with The Low Anthem, Spirit Family Reunion and others — Twain makes the kind of music that, had it been made 50 years ago, would be a cherished cult item today.

The recording they included was kind of interesting and I imagine that if he had a full band he might be more enjoyable–Darlingside said that he had had a full band on earlier shows.  They also raved about him quite a bit, even joking that it was fun to say his name–Twain–as a nonsense syllable when you had nothing else to say. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (March 30 2007).

This was the very last Rheostatics show ever.   Well, for eight years.  But it was supposed to be the very last one.  They had been a band for nigh on 20 years and they needed to call it quits.  So they managed to get a final gig at Massey Hall which sold out pretty quickly.

And we’re lucky enough to have a recording (or several) of it.

The show opened with a tribute song by Dave Bookman/Steve Stanley.  Throughout the song there is consistently off rhyming–the word Rheostatic does not actually rhyme with things like attack it.  I also absolutely don’t get the line about thinking The Bends is better than OK Computer (which it isn’t, but what does that have to do with anything).

So after their folk song, the band comes out.  Martin’s voice hasn’t been fixed yet (that is such a bummer–what a disappointment for him and the show that his voice couldn’t soar–although his guitar sure can).

26 Songs were played (27 including Alomar)
From the poll that was taken here are the top 26 songs as voted.   Those in bold were played (17 of the 26 played were in the top 26 voted):
1. Saskatchewan (51) 
2. California Dreamline (50) 
3. Northern Wish (48) 
4. Dope Fiends and Boozehounds (48) 
5. Self-Serve Gas Station (47) 
6. A Mid Winter Night’s Dream (46)
7. Record Body Count (45) 
8. Horses (39) 
9. P.I.N. (37) 
10. King of the Past (36) 
11. Aliens (31) 
12. Shaved Head (29) 
13. Claire (27)
14. Satan Is the Whistler (27)
15. Legal Age Life at Variety Store (25) 
16. Four Little Songs (23)
17. In This Town (21)
18. Christopher (21) 
19. Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too (20)
20. Take Me In Your Hand (19)
21. Junction Foil Ball (18)
22. Feed Yourself (18) 
23. Bad Time To Be Poor (17)
24. Queer (17) [surprised they didn’t play this]
25. Making Progress (17)
26. Introducing Happiness (16) [surprised they didn’t play this]

I want to interject that I am shocked that Stolen Car, Michael Jackson, RDA and Bad Time to Be Poor weren’t in the Top 25. Songs that weren’t voted on but were played were:

Me & Stupid; Mumbletypeg; It; Easy To Be With You; My First Rock Show; We Went West; When Winter Comes; Stolen Car; RDA

They open with “Saskatchewan.” Martin sound rough but is pretty game to sing what he can.  “Me and Stupid” absolutely rocks.

They don’t talk much (yet) although Tim says that “Bad Time to Be Poor” is from the dark days of Ontario about ten years ago.  He also says that they were going to put an intermission in between two sets but we wanted to play as much as possible so we nixed it.

Martin confesses, “I’ve got a little bit of a bug so I don’t have the high stuff in my voice.  Doctors can’t fix it.  So sing along with it, especially the falsetto.”  They start “P.I.N.” and there’s a terrible guitar moment where someone is way off but it’s quickly fixed.”

Dave introduces “Mumbletypeg,” I’d like to send this out to my parents.”  Martin: “Me too.”  Tim: “Me three.”  Once again, the opening guitar or bass if way off but again fixed quickly.

“It” is kind of a surprise.  It sounds good as does “Christopher,” which Martin says was written for his friend Chris Hamilton.

When they play “King of the Past” Dave tells Martin to “do an extra long one” for the solo.

They call up Don Kerr and Dave Clark (our old friends) to the stage for “Northern Wish.”  Dave Clark on drums (and maybe percussion) and Don Kerr on a prominent and excellent cello.  Martin sounds pretty good on this song and the whole thing si really lovely. So lovely that Dave has them do the end section one extra time.  Thanks to “Clarkie and Kerr.”

Clark mentions Dave’s dad who signed the form when they were 15 to allow us to play in bars–I think there was a two-four in it for him (which we couldn’t buy).  We should thank Dave Clark’s mom Maude because they played at her house every day.  We were really loud and uh…bad.  During mellow time.  “My mom certainly knew it was mellow time for some of us.”

Ford Pier gets introduced for “Easy to Be with You,” which sounds great.  “You aren’t leaving are you, Ford?  Last time we were on stage together, some D.O.A. broke out.”

Dave sings “My First Rock Show” and The Imponderables act out the story of Dave getting rescued by Joe Jackson (I can’t believe there is no video for that!).  Tim Vesley was on drums.  Dave jokes, it was like a dream and you were there and you were there.   When Dave gets to the “Massey Hall” line, he repeats it over and over, letting the fact that they are there really sink in.

Timmy’s gonna tell a story about us touring back and forth across this country.  Tim sings a wonderful “We Went West” with some great guitar accompaniment.  Tim says there’s lot of great places we’ve played.  This place isn’t bad.

Dave: “Hats off to everyone who came from out of town.  Thanks very much.”

Ford gets to be profound  Massey Hall– hallowed cathedral.  The birthplace of music. Where the first note was sounded out.  The dawn of creation….  I grew up in Edmonton.  This place is okay. Now, if  we were playing at the Jubilee Auditorium….

Then Dave talks about some of the history of Massey Hall

Dave: Massey Hall, a long time ago, soldiers sat in these seats and waited to be shipped out to WWI.  Hitler’s cousin came her and warned people about the Nazis.  Charlie Parker played here and Bon Scott.

Tim: We played the Walker Theater in Winnipeg opening for Barenaked Ladies and our van broke in Brandon.  The taxi cost $220 and we made it just in time to get to the side of the stage.  We’d never placed a place that big (not as nice as this though).

Dave: So general recap: it’s going okay?

Martin makes a joke about Dave “writing books about how I smell.”  Dave: People love that shit.

Martin says that Ford is gonna help me with this tune.  It wasn’t intentional that the intro should sound anything like Bob & Doug McKenzie’s Great White North call (it does and doesn’t).  Martin tries it but can’t hit the notes.  The audience does it for him.  Martin: I’ve never done rock stage shit before.  Dave: last change, Martin, go for it.  Martin: I might as well enjoy it.  Ford is going to sing it because this is what it sounds like when i do it (bad).  Martin has some guitar fun in the middle of the song

“Feed Yourself” is suitably intense–Dave really gets into that middle section: “look inside his head!”

Then some humor:

Dave:  I plan to take Rheostatics Revisited on the road–with a bunch of younger guys.
Tim: I got Rheostatics We Hardly Knew Ye on the casino circuit.
Mike: I’ll be work shopping some young boy bands.
Martin: I’m taking up pet massage (Mike: receiving or giving) Martin laughs: giving, I train pets to massage people.
Dave: We’ve been playing with Ford for 2 years now.  I think Ford’s been studying us very deeply learning all of four secrets.
Ford: Yes, in 20 years I’m going break up.

There’s a really pretty “Making Progress” with some lovely accompaniment.  It’s followed by a terrific moody “Shaved Head,” but it sucks when he can’t hit the “it’s such a happy thing to cry.”

Dave: “we’re entering the shank part of the evening as Levon Helm used to say–never knew what it meant, but it seems appropriate.”
Martin: “I’ve carefully maintained not getting to know hoe to play our own songs for about 20 years it’s a delicate process: you want to know it enough but not too much.”

They talk about Martin’s hat. Martin does not wear a hat to cover male pattern baldness.   Martin: my hat is my good luck charm.  I keep fiddling with it so I try not to think about things.   Dave: “If you’re thinking about your hat you’re not thinking about bad stuff.”

martin says that they planned to name their third album Rheostatics Cut Their heads Off and Go Swimming.  They made a pact that when we play for the last time, I would cut off Tim’s hand and he would cut off mine.  But how does the last guy do the last hand?

Someone shouts “50 bucks for your hand.”  Dave: “How much if he autographs it? … oh wait.”

So Dave, you wrote this frankenmonster [When Winter Comes] so talk about it.  I’m looking forward to playing it personally and Dave’s going to explain it to you.  Dave doesn;t explain it but he says the first part was written in  the interior of British Columbia.  The middle was written at King and Parliament intersection.  The final part was written at the Isaac Hostel in Dublin Ireland coz I missed my girlfriend.  Tim: That’s where we broke up the first time.

As they start the song, Martin says, “this is the fake ending of the show, lets rock.”

Evidently there was snow falling during the song as one person wrote: “Also, the fake snow falling in ‘When Winter Comes‘ was gorgeous and will be imprinted in my brain forever.”

They come back for the encore.  Tim says, “This song is in the key of D, it’s one of our favorites.  (Dave: can we get those police back?).  Martin: “I’ll dedicate this song [“Self Serve Gas Station”] to my parents.  This song isn’t all that true.  And to my sister who is seeing us for the first time tonight.  (Save: so it’s her fault).

Martin sings his heart out on “California Dreamline” but just can’t get the notes.

They invite Wolf Island’s Chris Brown to the stage.  We’re going to dedicate this song to Claire who is siting in the balcony.  She’s 7 years old.  “Claire” runs to almost 9 minutes with some great solos from all parties, including a great keyboard solo from I assume Chris Brown.

They play a ripping, intense version of “Horses.”  Despite acknowledging the kids in the audience, Dave doesn’t hold back.  Send this out to Stephen Harper and his minority government behaving like a majority government:

 theft and lies and deceit and pain and crime and hate and intolerance and cheating.  And he hasn’t even done anything yet.  But were gonna be ready and strong.  We’re gonna be mighty, small, and fierce.  Teeth bared, eyes open fists clenched, feet rooted to the ground.  This is our ground.  These are our roots

“Stolen Car” ends with Martin repeating the first line and Dave asking and then what happened?  So Martin speed reads the plot of the song to a blur as it segues into “RDA” with a chanted chorus of Super Furry Animals, “They don’t give a fuck about anybody else.”  As they near the end, Dave asks, “Are you ready Timmy?  Are you ready Marty?  Are you ready Fordy?  Are your ready Michael?” before they conclude… in America!

The final song of the encore is “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”  We’d like to invite the ensemble up for this next number.  Don and Dave and Chris…  let’s all do it together.  The drummers get a special drum solo with some fun keys from Ford.  The percussion solo segues seamlessly into “Alomar” before returning to “Dope Fiends.”  This song featured Chris Brown on keys and Dave Clark and Don Kerr on hand drums.

They leave but it’s not over yet.  They come out for a final encore, where they apparently sit down on the edge of the stage and joke with each other “how come you’re not famous?”  “How much money do you have?”  They plays some acoustic guitars (can you hear us alright?).

Dave: Ford, what can we do to get the top balcony singing?
Ford: This is Dave Clark’s thing, he’ll have good advice.
Clark directs the audience.  Top balcony, this half goes “oom” the other half goes “oom oom.  Middle balcony, hum through the nose–that’s not loud enough so hum out loud.  The bottom group, half goes ahhh and the other half goes whoooo.  They do a pretty decent participation throughout the whole of “Legal Age Life.”

And then there’s one last song.  Dave gets a little choked up.

I don’t get emotional about this until I start talking to people who are into the band.  People coming with old friends who grew up singing Rheos’ songs; people forming bands, lost in the wilderness and singing Uncle Henry to themselves….

And then they play a sweet acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” a sweet send off to Martin, for sure.  And as one person commenting on the show wrote:

Martin’s expression at the end of ‘Record Body Count‘ when he realized that there was a human pyramid behind him was priceless.

There is a clip of the human pyramid online, and it’s really pretty impressive.

The final word goes to Darrin Cappe, who runs the Rheostatics Live site

This show was the biggest they have played on their own to date, and the fans have flown from all over North America, from Florida to San Diego and from Halifax to Victoria to see them. What a pleasure and a treasure it was to have been there. I truly feel that those lucky enough to have been there were witness to a significant piece of Canadian Music History. One of those events where years from now when people talk about it you can say in the words of Dave Bidini “Oh Yeah, I Was There!” ” Darrin Cappe, Toronto ON

Shortly after the concert CBC Radio aired an edited one-hour version of the show.  The sound is excellent.  They play havoc with the set list, having it rather our of order, and having it end with the main body of the show.  But it’s a nice, clean-sounding, digestible one hour highlight reel.

01. Introduction   1:27
02. Interview with Andy Craig   1:44
03. Saskatchewan   8:04
04. Me and Stupid   4:02
05. DJ   0:11
06. Bad Time To Be Poor   4:17
07. King Of The Past   6:27
08. Northern Wish   6:34
09. We Went West   5:24
10. banter   1:09
11. Making Progress   5:18
12. Claire   7:09
13. DJ   0:22
14. When Winter Comes   10:05
15. Outro   0:49

There’s a slideshow of pictures at the bottom of this post.  And Pete Nema has some photos from the show online.   There’s also a couple of non soundboard recordings.  The one from Desmond Howl is especially interesting because you can hear a lot more of the crowd reactions–they were really into the show (which doesn’t quite come across in the soundboard version).

It was great run from a great band.  I was pretty psyched to be able to see them when they reunited seven years later.  My bucket list now includes seeing them play a proper show–two hours plus, with Martin’s voice in great form.  We’ll see what the summer allows!

[READ: January 13, 2018] “Munich, 1938”

I saw this longish story and the title and thought I would not like it at all.  I was pleasant surprised at how engrossed I became in this story.

It started out as I feared with the British Prime Minister and his delegation heading to a conference with Hitler and Mussolini.  We are focused on Hugh Legat, Chamberlain’s private secretary (but apparently not a very high ranking one).  He was asked to stay at the hotel to get an office running for the Prime Minister when he returned. We learn that Legat has an ulterior motive for being in Munich, although I’m not entirely certain that this excerpt reveals what that is.  It might, but I’m not sure.

The story is a bit bogged in details, but that’s as befits a novel, which this is and excerpt from.  So the early part is a little tough going with so many characters–most of whom we will not meet in this excerpt.

Then we meet Paul Hartmann. Hartmann is also at the conference.  We know even less about him except that he has a gun in one pocket and a letter in the other.  He has a message for the British delegation, but there is no way he can get it to them without being spotted.

The conference ends for lunch.  The delegates do not look pleased.  This made Hartmann happy that maybe the conference would fail. (more…)

Read Full Post »

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (March 29, 2007).

Visit this link for all kinds of information about this show (labelled Good)–interviews, blog posts, photos (and even links to myspace!)

So this is the final show before the band;s final show (before they reunited).  Martin’s voice is still out, but he tries valiantly.

The Horseshoe Tavern show opened with a lengthy intro of Dave mucking about on acoustic guitar.  He announces Tim Vesely on the bass and joining us tonight Mr Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That intro segues into “Easy to Be with You,” and this proves to be one of my favorite version of the song.  They are having such a lot of fun with it the “do dah do dah” is terrific and big and I love that the “…to Harmelodia” line is done entirely on the synth.  And while we’re at it that Martin Tielli on the guitar and hat.

Martin: “welcome to our penultimate show.”
Dave: “now I know what ‘penultimate’ means.
Mike: “Hot?”
Dave: “I always that it meant better than the best.”

Martin takes lead on “Aliens (1988).”  He doesn’t sound great but he valiantly tries his best–whispering when he needs to.  As has become customary, Tim plays the “Artenings Made of Gold” riff during the middle section of the song and then they sing it at the end.  When he whispers it sounds good–although not as good as his real voice.  Ford asks what an artening is “I’ve been wondering this for am awfully long time and I think I have a right to know.”  Martin whispers: “a simple precious object.”  Tim: “we’ve narrowed down that they’re made of gold.”  Ford: “as opposed to artenings made of dung I suppose.”  Dave: “No there are those.”

“This next song is from our Bahamian period… hanging with the Baja Boys … and Ozzy.”  Tim says, “This is the song about our cats at home.  They’re still around Alfalfa and Wolfman.”  A great version of “Introducing Happiness.”

Martin says “Christopher” is about growing up in Ontario. I wrote it when I was quite young.  There’s a cool jamming solo in the middle that Tim gets in on as well.

At the end of “King of the Past” Tim says, “nice song, Dave…  Martin: One of the many songs that Dave writes and others sing.  Tim: And finish for him–i wrote the third verse (try to make sense of it).  Dave: “That’s what a band is all about… a musical soccer team.”

“I’ve been cursed with a problem that a lot of people have been…”  Dave: “Being Italian?”  Tim: “Listening to too much Marianne Faithfull.”  Martin: “I never know what’s going to come out of my mouth.”  Tim continues: “This song pretty much sings itself.”  Dave: “We’ve got the Hitmaker 2000.”

Martin plays “P.I.N.” and says, “I’ll do the rock and roll thing and ask for help for you to sing along.”

“Mumbletypeg” opens with Dave saying, “have you heard the news, there’s going to be good rocking tonight.   We’re going to bring back all of the 80s catch phrases because we lived through it.  We suffered through … a few good moments in a sea of piano key ties.   Tim starts “calling out the chords” –give me a C minor.  Tim “That’s it.  That’s enough.  Two C minors are pretty good.”  Dave: “Whatever you want, Tim. G?  A7?  D?  I know all the chords.”  Tim: “How about some handclaps….  No I don’t like the handclaps.  I liked the C minor better… wait C minor with handclaps.  Mike: “I feel like Tyler Stewart back here–keep going Ty! Dave: “You don’t have enough splash cymbals to pull of the Tyler Stewart.”  The song sounds great.

“Pornography” is sent out to all our american friends.  And then as Martin plays “In This Town” he says, help me out i haven’t played this in a year.  What’s the verse everyone?”  Everyone happily sings along.

Dave: “So we’re breaking up and it feels alright.  We’re all going to be a mess tomorrow.  When are we going to have a big stage cry?”  Mike: “Are you going to play the note that makes everybody weep?”

He’s not, instead they play a lovely “Loving Arms.”

And then Paul Linklater “The Scribbled Out Man” will play with them.  Mike says, “You guys got a nice drummer (It’s Don Kerr).  Tim: “And so do we.”  Mike: “I’m not threatened.”

Ford asks how many people have been in the Rheostatics.  Dave: “define ‘in.'”  Does Seth the Magician count?  He wasn’t into us.”  Then some solid advice: approach with caution when playing with magicians.  Dave: “I gotta be careful that Mysterium doesn’t put a curse on me.  Then more words of wisdom from Geddy Lee: “always take your wallet on stage.”  Tim: “And I’ve not lost a dollar since I’ve been in this band.”

Martin tells a story about that one time the woman with the short skirt and the diaper was dancing at the Town Pump.  People were pointing at her and after the show she and a guy with a harmonica and a neck beard were going through our coats on my amp.  She was wise to the Geddy Lee advice.  Dave: “It actually was Geddy Lee.”  Martin: she was doing splits on stage really hard in her adult diapers–the diapers must have been for cushioning not pee pee. Luckily we never have any money so martin didn’t lose anything.”

Martin: I went to see Colin Hay… some people after they finish… they go on tour and sing their songs and they spend about half an hour talking about how I wrote a fucking song.  (Dave: I think you’re selling Colin Hay a little short”).  And the guy from The Kinks and they’re brilliant and I love them but get off the stage already.  Dave: “Colin Hay talked about being drunk at the US Festival  — he was wearing a brown suit and decided to shit his pants rather than using the porta porty.”

Dave: “That’s where I’m headed story and song isn’t it inevitable.”  Mike: “Live and incontinent.”

I wrote [“The Ballad Of Wendel Clark”] about being a skinny effeminate Etobiocokian kid, angry in my basement and I didn’t like the guys who liked hockey at the time (Tim: at the time?).  “Hey, I got into the playoffs last year.”  The song features the bridge from Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “Bridge Came Tumbling Down”).  There’s a wild picking solo from Paul Linklater (sounds nothing like Martin’s playing).  Paul’s first band was called Gig Vest from Justice, Manitoba, they totally blew us away and we’ve been fans of Paul’s ever since.  Tim: “but we mostly prefer the early funnier stuff.”

“Song of Flight” sounds gorgeous and segues nicely into a wonky and fun version of “Song of the Garden.”   They play a noisy weird jam. Dave: “take it up to A.  they start playing “Radios In Motion” by XTC (they keep chanting “new science” which leads to Ford singing “She Blinded With Science” and playing weird chords.
Dave starts off “Queer” by singing the chorus of “Big Leagues” by Tom Cochrane.

They send “Queer” out to Hawksley Workman.  After a few verses it segues to a slow “Saskatchewan” which eventually leads back to the conclusion of “Queer.”

Somebody yells and insanely long “yeah” it lasts about 8 seconds as Dave starts singing “The List.”  I assume it’s an early version.  It’s followed by another acoustic song “My First Rock Show”  When he gets to the Massey Hall line, he starts a “Massey Hall” chant.

Hey Ford, what was your first rock concert  Ford: D.O.A. (that’s too good) my first larger show at an arena the first one my parents knew I was gong to was Big Country in Munich in 1984.  Big Country were kind of the ELO of new wave.  For D.O.A., I had to sneak out because I was young.  Dave:  Do you have a D.O.A. song you can do for us?  It’s only fitting.  Tim Vesely was born to play D.O.A. drums.  Ford starts “The Enemy.”  Then says, they used to give me money to do that.  It’s a fun interlude: “Wonder if Martin has done his cigarette yet.”

For the first encore they play “We Went West” with some input from the other guys-backing vocals and Dave saying “I remember that.”  The songs seems to rock harder by the end.  “Joey 2” is solid and uneventful but his voice is pretty much gone for “Self Serve Gas Station.”  He whispers some of the moments but his voice is lost on “the morning time has come!”

“Michael Jackson” is pretty quiet (with Tim singing “abc,123”).  Finally Dave asks Tim: “Do you like the rock?”  Tim: “I don’t know I like the classical, I like the jazz.”  Dave: “Martin’s got the rock, Timmy’s got the roll.  Mikey’s got the funk.  Fordy’s got the roll”  Tim:  “I don’t feel it…. I’m starting to feel it…. I still don’t feel it.”  An extended ending started by Tim on bass with Martin adding solos.

Then a quick run through the “Green Sprouts Theme” with Tim calmly saying “from the ground” but then screaming, take it to the bridge!”

They came back out again for “Legal Age Life” w/ Peter Elkas and Ben Gunning from Local Rabbits (and no Martin who was having a beer and a chat at the back of the bar for this encore).  Four fans sings verses.   They all try to jump to the chorus too soon, but they sound good.  Then it’s time for a guitar solo or a bass solo we’ll have one of our guests–the shaggy guy or the clean cut guy (clean cut!)  The guy plays the solo.  Then the shaggy guy plays a solo.  And then the segue into “Record Body Count” which Ben or Peter sings.

Then they talk about the weirdest fans:

  • the girl Julia who brought a stuffed chicken to all our gigs
  • Kai the Ass Dancer guy with irreverence sweatband who did creative dance to our early days
  • the guy with a Riverdance headband who did creative dance to our early songs.
  • the gypsy from Dawson City

“Oh, there’s Martin.”  They call him up from the crowd, it’s pretty neat watching from the crowd.  Tim: “make sure you know the words.”  There’s talk of Padre Pio and bilocation.  They send “Stolen Car” out to John Tielli. Martin: “he’s my brother….I mean literally.”

They apparently ended the show with an acoustic “Northern Wish,” although there’s no recording of it.

[READ: January 6, 2018] “Take Me”

I have only read one other piece from Lispector and it was peculiar, but I liked it.

This one was peculiar but I did not like it at all.  I’m willing to accept that since it was an excerpt from the novel The Chandelier, it was less clear than it could have been.  But no, this was just an unpleasant read.

It begins with Virginia looking in the mirror . The entire story is in her head.  She knows she looks lovely and she wonders “who will buy me?  I want someone to buy me so much.  I want someone to buy me so much that…that…that…I’ll kill myself.”

Then she goes out on the town, kills a dog (seriously) and asks a disgusting man to take her. He gets all excited and then she stepped on his face and spat on him. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKSOCCER MOMMY-“Wildflowers” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 26, 2018).

I was supposed to see Soccer Mommy open for Phoebe Bridgers.  But I got sick on the way to the show and missed the whole thing.  Boo!  Since then I’ve been hearing more and more about Soccer Mommy.

This song, “Wildflowers” reminds me a lot of folkie alt songs from the 1990s.  There’s something about the kind of slackerish delivery of her vocals.

Our South X Lullaby with Soccer Mommy took us … to my favorite store in all of Austin, Texas: Uncommon Objects, a self-described “one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk” or “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.”

The song from the Switzerland-born, Nashville-raised artist’s album Clean which was released earlier this month is, as I hear it, about finding your place in the world — to discover who you are and to blossom.

“Wildflowers don’t grow in the city
I dreamt the sidewalk broke in two
The earth was calling to me”

I also like the way her chords are largely unexpected.  She plays a lot of chords high on the neck (but without a capo).  The melody that she plays (while playing the chords, which is cool) is also nicely compelling.

I don’t know if she is all folkie, but I’d like to check out more by her and now I’m even more bummed that I didn’t make the show.

There are 24 different antique sellers under the single, Uncommon Objects roof, and for Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, we found the perfect setting for her song “Wildflowers.” It was, in fact, filled with objects related to blooming flowers.

[READ: January 9, 2018] “The Year of the Frog”

This story was by turns confusing, infuriating, too long and then really interesting.

It begins with the narrator, a young girl, describing their horse, Sweet Macho.  The horse was a former racehorse who carried himself with ceremony.  Their mother’s boyfriend, known inexplicably as The Frog, is delighted.  Horses?  Why didn’t you say you had horses?  The narrator chuckles because the other animal, Gert, isn’t really a horse, she’s a Shetland Pony.

They had a real father but all they knew about him was “he’d been a son of a bitch, he’d worked in the fields and he’d once screamed like a woman when a bee got in the house.”

Their mother was an excellent horsewoman.  However, she had no time for the horses because she took care of three rich widows–she kept their gloomy houses clean.  Thus, neither creature had been ridden in years.  When he asks to ride, she says forget it Sweet Macho would throw you in a second. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: CORNELIUS-Tiny Desk Concert #718 (March 19, 2018).

I was familiar with an artist known as Cornelius, but I guess I didn’t really know anything about him, because this blurb came as a total surprise:

As Cornelius, Keigo Oyamada has stretched his vision across frenzied indie rock, lush ’60s-style pop, psychedelic funk and glitched electronics, all deconstructed and reassembled like a neon cubist-pop sculpture. After a little more than two decades, no one can really imitate his complex cool.

Sporting a pair of sunglasses (always), Oyamada recently brought his band from Japan to the Tiny Desk on a rare U.S. tour, including his longtime collaborator and Pizzicato Five session musician Hiroshisa Horie, drummer Yuko Araki (Mi-Gu, Cibo Mato’s live band) and synthesist Yumiko Matsumura (Buffalo Daughter). They’re all musicians who tease and poke at music’s fringe territory, but still know how to make a song buzz and pop with gleeful curiosity.

So I guess I know Cornelius from Pizzicato Five.  But I was not prepared for the trippy synthy music that this band created.

Cornelius performs three very different songs from last year’s Mellow Waves. There’s the robotic groove of “Helix/Spiral,” which repeats and mutates the same phrase and melodic fragments in a delicate and strange dance.

“Helix/Spiral” is all synth with his vocals auto-tuned into robotic sounds.  The lyrics are mostly him speaking those two words over and over (which I thought was saying Alex Spy-lo, but that is clearly me not understanding his accent.  The synths are great.  One is doing cool trippy backing sounds while the main riff is a disjointed melody that begins confusing and ends as an earworm.

“In a Dream” is a star-swept landscape that invites the subconscious to search for meaning, its keyboard flourishes and light acoustic strums so breezy you could almost call it a kind of retro-futuristic yacht rock.

I love the full synth sound (and swirling bass of “In a Dream”).  I believe he is singing in Japanese.  The chorus of the song is so incredibly catchy in an almost light folk sort of way.

But set closer “If You’re Here” is the real marvel to behold live, as the band performs at different tempos, gradually solving a polyrhythmic puzzle of a slow jam. The song also features one of my favorite guitar solos in recent memory — it’s unflashy, but twists, spits and resolves in the most unexpected ways.

“If You’re Here” is a longer song–nearly 7 minutes–with a kind of slow building feel.  Those electric guitar solos from Cornelius himself are very cool indeed.  There’s a lengthy instrumental coda at the end which is very trippy and cool.

I really enjoyed this set and every new listen brought in something new.

[READ: January 9, 2018] “The Send-Off”

This is an excerpt from a novel called Inhumaines which has just come out in English (translated by Camille Bromley).

The previous piece that I read from Claudel was pretty surreal.  This one is as well.

It begins

Last night, Roger Turpon, from dispatching, invited us to his suicide.  There were twenty of us.  Family and friends only.

Turpon has been talking about killing himself for a while now, but boy “A suicidal person is tiresome.”

Finally Dupond helped him out by calling him a coward, saying he won’t do it.  They stood in the parking lot in mid-autumn with leaves blowing all around them.  “It was lovely.”

Three days later they received the invitation: Mr and Mrs Turpon are delighted to invite you to Roger’s suicide this Saturday. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »