Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Group of 7’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

julyaugSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, September 6, 2015).

06Sep2015Almost exactly one year ago, my family traveled to Toronto as a mini-vacation.  The impetus was my scoring tickets to see The Rheostatics live for the first for me (and potentially–but not in reality–last) time.

They had called it quits 8 years earlier and were reuniting for the 20th Anniversary of their Group of 7 album–a soundtrack of sorts that was created to celebrate the works of the great Group of 7 artists.  They were scheduled to perform three nights at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

I purchased tickets to the second night assuming that the first night they might be a little rusty and the final night they might be burnt out.  Well, it turns out, that was completely faulty logic.  The final night was outstanding (as this recording shows), not least because it was so much longer!

The quality of this recording is really good.  Dave is in fun form, commenting and joking with the audience.  At the end of “Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day),” the band goes a little nutty with noise and after the jazzy ending, Dave says that “playing fake jazz is way more fun than real jazz” because you gotta know stuff.

They thank everyone during this break.  Dave introduces Martin: “You got Martin Tielli back… look at a him, he’s a good boy.”  Someone shouts, “We miss you!” and Dave responds, “We miss you very much, especially you, sir, with the loud voice.”

As they’ve noted, the break here is because they’re playing the album as if it were two sides.  So do what ever you do between the two sides of records.  “urinate? I guess? or make a sandwich?” Kevin chimes in: “wash some dishes.”  “Look around outside make sure no one is stealing your stuff or inside in case you’re living with a dodgy housemate.”

Later, Dave sends a Hi “to the mother’s lounge up there.”  Tim’s mom and Dave’s mom are there.  Dave quips, “they’re in the mother’s lounge getting hammered.”

Each night there was a new piece of information added to the history oft he Go7 album. This night’s was a thank you to “Winchell Price, an artist friend of Don Kerr’s who did all of the spoken sections on the album.  (It was Don’s decision to add him to the record).  Price was vegan in 1919 totally ahead of the curve.  They are happy to raise the spirit and the ghost of the Go7–and their rebellious form of art when rebelliousness was discouraged in Canadian culture.

Before one of the songs Dave dedicates the night to his kids: “Lorenzo and Cecilia you weren’t here 20 years ago but you’re here now and life is beautiful because of it.”

The encores tonight were many: “Bad Time To Be Poor,” “Green Sprouts Theme,” “Stolen Car,” “Legal Age Life At Variety Store,” “Christopher,” “Claire” and “Horses.”

After a great version of “Bad Time to be Poor,” with cello and acoustic guitar, Dave introduces “The Professor Tim Vesely… now that Neil Peart has retired, Tim can become The Professor.”  Tim retorts, “I prefer the Mad Chap from Mississauga.” Dave: “That’s Don.  You’re from Etobicoke.”  Then they tell us, “Don was the mad chap on tour for… one hour.  Back in his neck beard days.  “I can’t believe we’re about to discuss the neck beard days–an underappreciated era.”

Dave notices someone whistling the Green Sprouts Theme Song, so the band plays it. And then they launch into a great version of “Stolen Car.”  “Legal Age Life,” is a lot of fun, of course, with everyone getting a solo.  And then after the disastrous “Christopher” the previous night, they played a near perfect “Christopher.”

Martin thanks everyone and says it “really meant a lot to us and to me, thanks a lot.” While Dave is thanking everyone involved with the shows, Kevin plays some nice “Oscar wrap up trills.”

Tim rather sheepishly tells everyone they’re going to play “Claire.”  Dave comments, “Tim is warning you that we’re going to do Claire–come on back in everyone.”  It’s a really great version, and I love that just before the solo, Dave says, “Martin, paint us a picture.”

And then they wrap up the night and the whole series with a blistering version of “Horses.”  During the middle section, Dave goes on a major rant about the upcoming election:

We must be free…. Imagine the beauty of October 20  Imagine a country where scientists keep their jobs for believing in science.  Imagine a country where the great first nations of our country don’t have to look over their shoulder at the prison cell behind them.  Imagine a country where the cops take orders from us not from some security company put in power by Stephen Harper, the most evil man in the history of Canada

And the crowd loves it.

But even more fun is that later that they’ll be at the Monarch Tavern.  If I had gone to this show instead of Saturday night’s, I totally would have gone to the Monarch which sounds like it was a blast and half.  The write up from the Rheostatics Live site notes:

After an amazing show Saturday night with some special moments at the end that most would never know occurred, [I wonder if the statute of limitations has run out so we can finally find out what happened that night?] the rheos came out tonight and played the best night of the 4 day GO7 run. GO7 was followed by Bad Time To Be Poor with Hugh Marsh on violin and Don on Cello, and impromptu version of Green Sprouts. Stolen Car, Legal Age Life, a redemptive Christopher and then a 2nd encore of Claire and Horses closed the 4 night run of rheos magic time machine glory at the AGO.

After that, around 12:30AM the band reconvened at The Monarch Tavern to play what was without a doubt the ending true fans were hoping for: a sloppy, magnificent set of hot bar room rheos songs that if it had to be the end was exactly the way they should go out. Song of Flight led into The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part 2 and Bridge Came Tumbling Down. After sorting out the monitor kinks they went into Soul Glue…. Kevin Hearn took them through I’m Waiting For My Man, Ring Of Fire, Monkeybird, and Lou Reed’s Down at the Arcade…. Northern Wish was absolutely slayed by Terra Lightfoot, and then Mike O’Brien did the same with We Went West. Selina Martin killed Dope Fiends and Mary Margaret O’Hara singing RDA….

Of course, I was long asleep by then. But I hope they keep doing little shows like this and one day I’ll get back up to Toronto to see one.

01. One (Kevin’s Waltz)   1:54
02. Two (Earth (Almost))   7:50
03. Three (Boxcar Song (Weiners and Beans))   7:16
04. Four (Landscape And Sky)   0:48
05. Five (Blue Hysteria)   3:40
06. Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day)   8:09
07. Chat   6:20
08. Seven (Northern Wish)   5:17
09. Eight (Snow)   4:10
10. Nine (Biplanes and Bombs)   5:38
11. Ten (Lightning)   8:20
12. Eleven (Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun)   6:10
13. Bad Time To Be Poor   3:48
14. Chat and Thanks   1:46
15. Green Sprouts Theme   0:52
16. Stolen Car   6:01
17. Legal Age Life At Variety Store   5:13
18. Christopher   6:50
19. Claire   5:38
20. Horses   10:05

[READ: August 19, 2016] “Three Tshakapesh Dreams”

After the lighthearted love and lust theme of the summer issue of The Walrus, it was time for a story about drugs and death!  This one is set in Quebec and was translated from the French by Donald Winkler.

A boy, Simon, was found in the Frontenac Library with a needle sticking out of his arm.  Brisebois was the policeman who notified people of the death.  And he notified The Indian who was an undercover cop.  But the Indian said to Breisbois, “Simon may have had his faults but he knew how to shoot up.”

He made Breisbois check the stash.  It turned out to contain coke an almost pure heroin. (more…)

Read Full Post »

julyaugSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, September 5, 2015).

06Sep2015Almost exactly one year ago, my family traveled to Toronto as a mini-vacation.  The impetus was my scoring tickets to see the Rheostatics live for the first for me (and potentially–but not in reality–last) time.

They had called it quits 8 years earlier and were reuniting for the 20th Anniversary of their Group of 7 album–a soundtrack of sorts that was created to celebrate the works of the great Group of 7 artists.  They were scheduled to perform three nights at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

I purchased tickets to the second night assuming that the first night they might be a little rusty and the final night they might be burnt out.  Well, it turns out, that was completely faulty logic.  The first night was pretty great.  The final night was outstanding and my night proved to be the weakest of the three.  Of course, it was still awesome, especially since I didn’t know that it was the weakest at the time).

In terms of recordings, this one is a little less clear than yesterday’s show as well (it was recorded from the upper section of the hall).

The Go7 part of the show was pretty stellar.  You can read my review of the full show here).  During the break after track Six, Dave began talking to us, mostly thanking people and then commenting “we’re totally feeling the love.”  Dave says his dad’s here tonight and he lent us his car for their 1988 tour. (Sorry, dad).

When the Go7 album was over, the band played some bonus tracks.  Last night they played “Claire” and “Horses,” two songs I would have loved to hear.  So when Tim walked up to the mic, I was sure we’d get Claire, but instead, we got “Henry’s Musical Beard,” a one minute song of total what the…?  I can’t imagine when it was ever played before.  But even though i didn’t get the songs I really wanted, I did get some songs that were still awesome: “Bad Time To Be Poor,” “Stolen Car” (amazing!), “Legal Age Life” (much fun), “Christopher” (another favorite), and “Saskatchewan.”

“Bad Time” sounded great–a lovely Tim sung song.  Before “Stolen Car,” Dave described it as a desperation song, there are bad things going on in our country we have chance to change that on Oct 19.  (Hard to believe that our election process was underway at that time as well).  Martin seemed to miss a bit during the song, but was backed up wonderfully by Hugh Marsh on violin.

“Legal Age Life” was a lot of fun.  Before the song began he shouted, “Fuck art, let’s dance.” And dance we did.

Our version of “Christopher” was pretty catastrophic.  Before playing it, Dave introduced it by saying, “Let’s hear it for Saskatchewan.”  But they played “Christopher.”  It has a very cool slow opening, but Martin got really lost during the song.  He repeated lines, forgot words and about half way through, he just ended the song (two minutes shorter than the other ones).  I remember being concerned for him, because he seemed really upset about the performance.

They ended the show with “Saskatchewan” a great song that I love (and we were the only night to get it, so yes, we were lucky indeed).  As I say, at the time, I was so excited to be there and to hear everything.  It is definitely sour grapes to complain about the other nights, and I should just consider myself lucky that I can still hear them.

But between Martin’s stress and Dave’s surprising lack of banter (and, no “Claire” or “Horses”), Saturday was definitely the weakest night of the three.

Amazingly, though, with the various differences, the length of the concert is almost exactly the same length as the first night).

01. One (Kevin’s Waltz)   2:40
02. Two (Earth (Almost))   7:42
03. Three (Boxcar Song (Weiners and Beans))   7:00
04. Four (Landscape And Sky)   0:46
05. Five (Blue Hysteria)   3:55
06. Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day)   8:03
07. Banter   4:05
08. Seven (Northern Wish)   5:09
09. Eight (Snow)   2:05
10. Nine (Biplanes and Bombs)   7:00
11. Ten (Lightning)   8:01
12. Eleven (Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun)   7:53
13. Henry’s Musical Beard   0:57
14. Bad Time To Be Poor   5:31
15. Stolen Car   8:54
16. Legal Age Life   7:05
17. Christopher   4:27
18. Saskatchewan   7:36

[READ: August 19, 2016] “The Shoe Emporium”

The July/August Summer Reading Issue of The Walrus has a theme of “Love and Lust.”  The theme promised to be a bit more upbeat than the darker stories in the last few issues.  Of course the other two stories this month were a little dark, but this one was pretty much just very funny.

It involves a delightfully convoluted romantic triangle of people working at The Shoe Emporium.  And I loved the way the story was structured.

We begin with Steve, a 40-something year old guy working as a shoe salesman (he has a past).  He is helping a customer and she is kind of smitten with him.  Steve is hunky, and has the best features of his Irish-Canadian heritage showing.

And then the story shifts to his boss, Cathy.  Cathy is 20 years younger than him–although she makes less money.  We lean about Cathy because of a high-tech device that measures the heat of people’s feet (to best get their feet to match a shoe).  Cathy had pressed it to her heart to demonstrate.  She was showing this to the other salesman, Marty.  But Steve saw it as well and thought that he could see an imprint of her nipple in the pad.

When Steve saw that, he was instantly turned on.  Mostly because he typically didn’t think much of Cathy before that.  She’s usually angry–justifiably as she is working two jobs and going to school.  But mostly, she really wants to win the top salesman prize–a  trip to Toronto and tickets to the musical Kinky Boots.

Even though he knows she wants to win, Steve is trying his best to beat her even though he doesn’t care about Toronto or the musical.

The two are pretty close in sales and he is doing a great job today.  Across the store, Cathy has a family with a crying child–never a good sign for mega sales.  Especially since the daughter wants an expensive shoe which the mother doesn’t want to buy.

But what of Marty?  Marty also has a fascinating back story.  Until recently, he lived with his grandmother.  She recently passed away (in a shocking fashion).  She was also a marine biologist and there is some amusing talk of sea cucumbers.  His grief was intense and he went to a gay party (he is 100% gay) and took a lot of drugs.  He’s been in a haze since.  And he has recently hooked up with Cathy.  But it had to have been the grief or drugs because Marty is definitely 100% gay (he thinks Steve is pretty hot too).

Cathy knows Marty is gay, but she believes the hookup has changed things–it was pretty great.

As the story comes to a close we get a close up look at that hook up which is steamy and funny, and we see Steve double down on trying to sell an expensive pair of Saucony to a customer who clearly can’t afford them.

I’d love to see more of this story–I really want more of these three.  This has been my favorite Walrus story in a long time.

Read Full Post »

julyaugSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, September 4, 2015).

06Sep2015Almost exactly one year ago, my family traveled to Toronto as a mini-vacation.  The impetus was my scoring tickets to see The Rheostatics live for the first for me (and potentially–but not in reality–last) time.

They had called it quits 8 years earlier and were reuniting for the 20th Anniversary of their Group of 7 album–a soundtrack of sorts that was created to celebrate the works of the great Group of 7 artists.  They were scheduled to perform three nights at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

I purchased tickets to the second night assuming that the first night they might be a little rusty and the final night they might be burnt out.

Well, it turns out that the first night was really strong.  There are two recordings of the show on the Rheostatics Live site.  Obviously the content is the same, but the sound is different in each one.  (The Eric Mac Innis recording is quite muffled and bass heavy so you can’t really hear any of the spoken stuff).

The main content of the show-the music from the Group of 7 album is pretty consistent through all three nights.  It’s mostly the length that varies on a couple of tracks and some little details that change from night to night.  On this night for instance the opening speech that in which the man says “every Canadian” does not repeat like it does on the other nights.  It also seems like “Six (Cello for a Winter’s Day)” doesn’t get quite as crazy and loud before the “jazzy” section comes in.

Before they get to “Northern Wish,” Dave introduces “Northern Wish,” by talking about how he wrote it: “The amazing thing about Canada is that every time you leave the door an incredible impossible journey is waiting for you not far from your house.”

They didn’t play “Ten (Lightning)” the first night, so it’s fun to hear all of the audience whoops and wolf howls during the set.

Dave Bidini is in great banter mode, which is no surprise really.

He first starts talking after track six.  “Nice to see you again, you’ve all age well.”  After welcoming everyone he jokes “Really tonight’s about hooking up.  Last night as a bit of a meat market.”  This causes Martin to ask, incredulously, “you’re kidding.”

Upon introducing the record properly he says that this was “music commissioned 20 years ago–remember 1995?”  Someone shouts “Don’t forget the vinyl, Dave.”  So he jokes, “We’ve only been inactive for 8 years and in that time vinyl has made a resurgence.”

They only performed this album “four times over the course of their speckled career.”  Interesting that they will do it three more over the next three nights.

So that leaves the bonus tracks.  The first night they played four: “Claire,” “Easy To Be With You,” “Christopher” and “Horses.”

Before starting “Claire” there’s a little down time so Dave introduces Kevin Hearn and asks him what his favorite snack is.  Kevin: “Have you heard of ants on a log?”  Dave says his is a Cadbury Crunchy bar which “lasts a half hour if you nurse it.” MT: “What kind of chocolate bar eater are you?”  Then Dave asks, “Shall we go around the horn?” to much laughter.  He speculates, “Tim’s gonna say …”  But Tim says “home-grown carrots” which elicits an “ewww.”  Dave says, Tim you’ve changed so.”

As they start “Claire,” Martin introduces Hugh Marsh on the violin.  He says that at the first concert he ever went to Hugh was playing with Bruce Cockburn and now they are very very very close friends.”  He then mentions their other band, Nick Buzz (which Hugh plays in) and he says Nick Buzz “only played four gigs on our career.”  “Claire” is played wonderfully.  They talk about it being kind of obvious (“interesting because it’s totally obvious”) that they’d play it.  But “Easy to Be with You” a track from Harmelodia is a pretty surprising choice–a popular song sure, but certainly not a huge one.  Before the song, he sings Happy Birthday to him mom: “Happy birthday to Sheila / Happy birthday to my mom / She’s 75 years old  / and she’s standing right there.”  In the middle of the song Bidini comments that Stephen Harper is not the Prime Minster of Harmelodia (indeed, he is not).

Dave asks is anyone under the age of 7 is there.  Kevin says: “My dad’s here.”  Dave asks, “Is he a leap year baby?”  Then Kevin explains that it is his dad who is reading the “Tall White Pine” poem.  Then they ask Don if he has any family there.  Don says “All of them.” Dave says “Don’s four families are here.”

The Jeff Robson recording has some weird digital feedback and static.  It’s mostly during the chatting parts, but it does impact the songs a little.  There’s some static on “Christopher,” but otherwise it sounds pretty good.

Before “Horses”someone asks “who should we vote for?” Dave says “Never listen to a pop star when it comes to politics.  Tomorrow will be political night.”

And “Horses” is a dynamite version, notable mostly for the fact that Bidini doesn’t do a spoken word section in the middle of the song (keeping it unpolitical).

01. One (Kevin’s Waltz)   1:47
02. Two (Earth (Almost))   7:33
03. Three (Boxcar Song (Weiners and Beans))   6:16
04. Four (Landscape And Sky)   0:42
05. Five (Blue Hysteria)   4:33
06. Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day)   6:01
07. Chat   5:40
08. Seven (Northern Wish)   5:35
09. Eight (Snow)   1:18
10. Nine (Biplanes and Bombs)   6:13
11. Ten (Lightning)   6:30
12. Eleven (Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun)   4:50
13. Clarie Intro   1:21
14. Claire   4:47
15. Chat   2:56
16. Easy To Be With You   3:32
17. Chat   3:19
18. Christopher   6:08
19. Horses   8:07

[READ: August 19, 2016] “Never Too Late”

The July/August Summer Reading Issue of The Walrus has a theme of “Love and Lust.”  The theme promised to be a bit more upbeat than the darker stories in the last few issues.

Bev is a man who is long divorced.  He couldn’t provide his wife with children so she left him.  He doesn’t seem very bitter about it and is even still friendly with her as well as her new husband and their children.

Bev owns a farm–he has some horses and cows.  On a cold morning in April, a strange dog appears on his property.  It’s a friendly dog but he wants to get it to its owner so he brings it into town and learns that it belongs to Janice and  “She loses her [dog] at least once a week.”

He goes to Janice’s house and she is very happy that Bev found “Keller.”  He brings the dog upstairs to her place and is surprised to see that she is in an electric wheelchair.  He notices that she is too young to be in it due to age.  And, she’s also very attractive. (more…)

Read Full Post »

julyaugSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, September 3, 2015–surprise show).

06Sep2015Almost exactly one year ago, my family traveled to Toronto as a mini-vacation.  The impetus was my scoring tickets to see The Rheostatics live for the first for me (and potentially–but not in reality–last) time.

They had called it quits 8 years earlier and were reuniting for the 20th Anniversary of their Group of 7 album–a soundtrack of sorts that was created to celebrate the works of the great Group of 7 artists.  They were scheduled to perform three nights at the Art Gallery of Toronto.  The night before their first show, Thursday the 3rd, there was a tribute show and the Rheos made a surprise appearance.

They played half of the Group of 7 album and a few encores.  The sound is a bit muted but is pretty clear.

The opening track, ” One (Kevin’s Waltz)” is played by Kevin Hearn and sounds great.  For the first proper band song, “Two (Earth (Almost))” they sound tight but maybe a little stiff in the bah bahs.  “Three (Boxcar Song (Weiners and Beans))” is a loose song and the band sounds great. Although I cannot believe that people are talking during the song–especially during Martin’s singing of “Five (Blue Hysteria)” the first time Martin has sung in years!

“Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day)” is usually a noisy/jazzy number.  The recording is a little too muffled to hear details, but the song sounds good, especially Martin’s guitar workout at the end. After this, they skip a few songs and go right to the end, with Kevin’s “Eleven (Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun).”  Kevin’s voice sounds a little rough I must say.

And then they take time for a little chat with Dave, in which he says “We used to be the Rheostatics.”  And before returning to the album, he says “We’re here for three more night, try the veal.”

For “Northern Wish,” Don Kerr is on cello Tim is on upright bass, and it sounds great, a really beautiful version.

“You guys bought the cheap tickets, eh?  We’re gonna cheapen up this next song for you.  Martin comments “Let’s get fucking cheap.”  They’ll do one more song.  Dave says The other shows will be longer.  “But they’re fucking sold out–Stubhub, folks.”

Martin thanks Kristine Peters and clonazepam [ a seizure medicine, also called an anti-epileptic drug].  Dave jokes, “that’s Martin’s old band.”

As they play a gorgeous Saskatchewan, Dave notes, that it’s their “First time playing together in 8 years.”  Martin plays a slightly off chord and then comments “It’s been a long time.”  But his guitar sounds amazing throughout.

Before the final song, David says “because we can’t stop playing we’re gonna do one more–we gotta catch the last street car (someone in the audience yells “too late.”)  There are the perennial requests for “Horses” with someone shouting “Holy Mackinaw Joe,” but instead they play “Legal Age Life, with Paul Linklater (who played in the tribute show) to play some guitar.

I’m including the setlists from each night mostly for the duration of the songs–they did some versions longer than others, but were mostly right on time–(and to compare encore selections).

01. One (Kevin’s Waltz)   1:47
02. Two (Earth (Almost))   7:14
03. Three (Boxcar Song (Weiners and Beans))   6:47
04. Four (Landscape And Sky)   0:51
05. Five (Blue Hysteria)   3:43
06. Six (Cello For A Winter’s Day)   6:08
07. Eleven (Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun)   3:32
08. Chat   1:09
09. Seven (Northern Wish)   5:25
10. Encore Chat   2:19
11. Saskatchewan   8:05
12. Encore Chat   1:35
13. Legal Age Life At Variety Store   4:14

[READ: August 19, 2016] “Bye Judy and Good Luck”

The July/August Summer Reading Issue of The Walrus has a theme of “Love and Lust.”  The theme promised to be a bit more upbeat than the darker stories in the last few issues.

This is the story about “Fun-Sized” Judy.  She’s called “Fun-Sized” because of her height: “she’s no more than four-foot eleven, probably twice as wide.”  And, most importantly “None of us would ever fuck her, but we all agree she’s a riot.”

The “none of us” part is interesting because the whole story is written in second person.  as the song progresses it’s unclear if the “we” refers to a group (at times it seems like it) or a single person speaking as a group (which seems more likely at the end).

So despite her unattractiveness, Judy is enjoyed by just about everyone: Judy is a lot of fun, “one of the reasons we love her…. she never knows what she’s thinking.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

walrus huneSOUNDTRACK: Rheostatics Tribute Show (AGO, September 3, 2015).

06Sep2015Almost exactly one year ago, my family traveled to Toronto as a mini-vacation.  The impetus was my scoring tickets to see The Rheostatics live for the first for me (and potentially–but not in reality–last) time.

They had called it quits 8 years earlier and were reuniting for the 20th Anniversary of their Group of 7 album–a soundtrack of sorts that was created to celebrate the works of the great Group of 7 artists.  They were scheduled to perform three nights at the Art Gallery of Toronto.  The night before their first show, Thursday the 3rd, there was a tribute show.

As the Rheostatics live site explains:

Thursday night was sponsored by First Thursdays at the AGO. The theme was Music Inspired by Rheostatics and featured a band of musicians comprised of Paul Linklater (Guitar), Thom Gill (Guitar), Phil Millotson (Drums), Charles James (Bass), and a series of guest vocalists including Laura Barrett (The Hidden Cameras), Terra Lightfoot, Casey Mecija (Ohbijou), Mike O’Brien (Zeus), Chris Cummings, Sandro Perri, plus a special performance by Canadian folk legend Mary Margaret O’Hara.

The site has the show available for download with the caveat: “Sound for both shows is a bit crackly in places and lots of crowd noise.”

So yes, the sound isn’t great (the AGO isn’t meant for concerts, anyhow), but it’s still a fun listen.  Although as a friend of mine once said about tribute albums–they sure do make you appreciate the original band more.

And that’s definitely the case here.  It’s hard to know if the lack of intensity is from the recording or if the band was simply playing more delicate versions of the songs.  The energy is missing on a lot of the versions–or maybe they just couldn’t do what the band can.

They start with “Who,” an unexpected but delightful choice.  Their version is a little slow, as most of the songs seem to be, and they leave off those last two drum snaps, but it’s still a fun thing to hear.  Then the guest vocalists proceed. Terra Lightfoot, daughter of Gordon, sings over a rather slow and somewhat undramatic version of “Northern Wish.”  In the original, I love when they really rock, but that doesn’t ever seem to happen here.

Casey Mecija sings “Claire.”  There are some interesting vocals and I like the way the song seems to start new wavy at first, but it turns a little smooth jazzy by the end.

“We Went West” is sung by Mike O Brien.  It’s quite similar to the original, although I actually like it a little better somehow–the words are a little clearer, I think.  Chris Cummings plays the unexpected Martin Tielli solo song “From the Reel.”  It is quite lovely and his voice is deeper than Martin’s allowing you to hear the words a little better.

Laura Barrett plays “Stolen Car” with amazingly operatic vocals.  It sounds great in the “I’ll be okay!” line but it seems to take a lot of the intensity out of the song because it doesn’t rise and fall like the original.

Mary Margaret O’ Hara comes out to thunderous applause.  MMOH is pretty crazy in general and she walks out and says.  “You people smell…nice.”  I would love to hear a better recording of this version of “Rock Death America” (and would have loved even more to have seen it).  She seems to be channeling her old spirits as she wails the lyrics.  She slips in a chorus or two of “They dont give a fuck about anybody else.”  Then she starts ranting about “the land of the free and the home of the brave amerikkkkkkkkkkkkah.”  It’s intense and I can only imagine how great it was to see.

Then Constellation guitarist Sandro Perri plays a sweet and slow “Take Me in Your Hand” apparently with MMOH (although I don’t hear her).  They play the melody on a penny whistle at the end, which is fun.

And then MMOH stays out to do a kind of long version of “Bad Time to Be Poor” (she seems to be mostly doing backing vocals and keening).  The version is a little too slow for my tastes, but is otherwise cool.

At the end of the set, someone mentions that the Rheos are going to come out and test out a few songs on everyone.  Lucky bastards.

Since the whole family was with me, I wasn’t going to go to this tribute show, although I have to admit it would have been very cool to see MMOH (who I assume I’ll never see) and to get the surprise Rheos show.

[READ: August 19, 2016] “The Rainbow Festival”

The last few stories that I’ve read in The Walrus have been real downers.  And this story had as a summary blurb: “in which a family waits for the joy that never comes”  What the hell The Walrus?

But with such a dour hint, this story wasn’t as miserable as it could have been.  I do wish that that line hadn’t been there though, because it did spoil the truth (which was not the end, but whatever).

This story is about a little boy who grew up in small town which was sometimes very large.  He lived in Malin a town that hosted the Malin Hering-Gutting Festival every June.  And during that festival their small town was overrun with fishermen and tourists.   His mother turned their house in to a B&B and she seemed really happy when the house was full of people.  (Her husband had died on a fishing boat some time ago and their house was way too big for just her and her son). (more…)

Read Full Post »

sicocSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Music Inspired by the Group of 7 (1995).

go7albumIn music there’s always a… key in which the composition is set…  In painting there’s a mother color that goes through all–it holds the painting together…you might call it the signature of the painting.

And thus opens the Rheostatics Group of 7 record.  I had always been vaguely dismissive of the album because it is mostly instrumental and, while good, I just didn’t listen to it that much.  After seeing it live it’s time for a reappraisal.

The disc opens with “One” a lovely minute-long piano introduction.  It’s followed by “Two” which has a series of piano and guitar trills as they set a bucolic mood. Then the drums kick in.  This song starts slowly with some plucked strings (and a sample from Queen Elizabeth).  What I love about this piece is that after the trills, the song seems to build to a very cool cello riff (provided by drummer Don Kerr).  Then there’s a vocal section (of bah bahs) which was really highlighted when they played it live.

The first highlight of this record for me is “Three,” which is known as the Boxcar song.  Someone shouts “All aboard” as the chugging begins and the cello and drums keep an excellent rhythm with Martin’s amazing guitar melody.  “Five” is another waltz with, to my ears, a vaguely Parisian sound.  Martin sings a few verses (and a chorus of “blue hysteria”).  It’s a lovely, delicate piece.

“Six” is a longer piece which centers around a slowly swirling guitar and cellos motif.  It ends with some noisy moments and more rainfall.  Until a noir sounding coda creeps up with piano and upright bass,.

Then comes “Seven” a cello based version of the awesome song “Northern Wish.”  I prefer the original because it is so much more intense, but this quieter version is really interesting and subtle.  “Nine” starts slowly with some gentle acoustic guitars.  But it builds and grows more intense (it has the subtitle “Biplanes and bombs”).  As the song progresses (around 3 minutes) Tielli’s guitar comes in and the backing notes grow a little darker.  The last 15 second are sheer noise and chaos (live they stretched this section out for a while, and it was very cool to see Hugh Marsh makes a lot of noise with his violin).

“Ten” uses some nontraditional instruments including what I assume is a didgeridoo and all kinds of samples.  On stage Tim and Kevin were swinging those tubes that whistle to make the noises).

Eleven is a reprise of track one, Kevin’s Waltz, with the vocals sung by Kevin Hearn.

I have really come to appreciate this album a lot more.  It doesn’t have any of my favorite songs on it, but it is a really amusing collection fo songs.

[READ: August 20, 2015] The Group of Seven and Tom Thompson

I have had this book for a number of years.  I’m not even sure where I got it (in hardback no less).  I know that I purchased it because of the Rheostatics, because I had never heard of the Group of Seven before the band made their record inspired by them.  Since I was going to see the paintings live, I decided to read up about the Group a bit more (I liked the paintings a lot, I just hadn’t read much).

Sadly, the Art Gallery of Ontario wasn’t open for viewing when we went to the concert (which makes sense as it was at night) and we didn’t have another opportunity to go to AGO.  Fortunately, we also went to Casa Loma which had a room full of Go7 paintings, so I was delighted to see some of these up close.  (They may have been prints, it was unclear, but it was cool seeing them).

So the Group of Seven were (initially) seven Canadian painters who joined together to create uniquely Canadian works of art from 1920 to 1933.  Their art was meant to celebrate their country which they felt was under-represented in art.  They planned to not follow conventional European styles of painting and often made striking scenes of nature.  They are largely known for their landscapes, although they also painted portraits and other works.

The Group of 7 originally originally consisted of (links are to Wikipedia bios): Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A. Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later, A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926; Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930; and LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.

Two artists commonly associated with the group are Tom Thomson (1877–1917) and Emily Carr (1871–1945). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »