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giant-daysSOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-The Starlight Club Waterloo, ON (September 24, 2008).

This Martin Tielli show is the final solo show (excepting a Bidiniband that I am saving) on Rheostatics Live that I have to write about.

This is the first show of a tour at The Starlight Club in Waterloo Ontario. Just prior to release of The Ghost Of Danny G Part 1. Only live recording I have to date of “Ship Of Fire” and “Our Keepers.”

As Martin comes out he says, “This is our first show, we’re starting it here at my favorite club.”

This is a new band
Selina Martin – acoustic guitar, vocals, bowed saw ;  Monica Gunter – piano, synth, viola, vocals ; Greg Smith – bass, vocals ;
Ryan Granville-Martin – drums, vocals, glockenspiel.  There’s a lot of Martin up there.  Martin says, “My name is Martin because my mum’s last name is Martin.”

I really enjoyed this set a lot . The sound quality is excellent and the band is in tremendous form.

“Dead Is The Drunkest You Can Get” starts with just acoustic guitar and voice.  But when the get to “just like a child” the backing vocals come in.  And the xylophone sounds pretty.  It’s quite a surprise when the drums kick in mid way through the song.  “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” opens with some quavery violin and guitar trills–very different from the Nick Buzz version.  It’s overall more rocking and less cabaret style.

“Love Streams” sounds really pretty on piano.  He says, “that was a song I did a long time ago with a group called Nick Buzz.”  “(A Romantic Place) She Said, ‘We’re On Our Way Down'” opens with a musical saw!  He tells us, “I have to adjust the teleprompter here.”  He says it’s tough one, it’s a song I wrote about a place I love in Toronto.  A bar called the Inter Steer.  I wrote it in the bar while other music was going.  There’s too much music in pubic places, I think.  We should ban it.”  It has some great low acoustic guitar trills.  Overall, it’s a pretty spare song with Martin on guitar and the saw playing along.  When it ends he says “sorry about my brain… my brain my brain.”  That’s one of my favorite chorus of any song.  It’s by Wayne Omaha.

“That’s How They Do It In Warsaw” has a false start and lots of laughter.  He describes it as a “bit of a rockabilly number,” and when it’s over he says, “there were some devil notes in there.  Satan!  Frightening music that rockabilly.”

He opens “The Underbrush” by saying , ” the next few songs are on my subscription series records. These 2 record are about growing up in rural southern Ontario.”  This one is about a feral child.  Then he tells a story about his sister: She had an afro but she used to wear a towel on her head pretending she had straight hair.  I used to ask her what is wrong with an afro, it’s awesome….   We don’t talk anymore.  She lives in Brampton.

I love that you can hear the footsteps like in the beginning of the album and love how quiet and delicate it is with lovely backing vocals.

He busts out the vocoder for “Something In Those Woods.”   And then plays the beautiful “Watersriders”  They guitar is terrific and the keyboards add wonderful atmospherics. I love the guitar melody on “I’ll Never Tear You Apart” as well.

He tells a little bit about the subscription series: I had a bout of bravado about 4 or 5 years ago.  I’d do a subscription series and do 4 or 5 records in a year.  Then we blew the entire budget on the first record, Operation Infinite Justice, uh Joy.  Justice was the name that Bush gave to the first war on terror.  The town I’m writing about is Priceville.  Someone has heard of Priceville?  Priceville is where my grandparents live. His Italian grandparents are from a town near Verona, Italy.   A month ago I celebrated for a week because I finished all of the paintings.  The art is an important part of these records.   I was hoping to have it ready for Halloween because there are spooky musings about ghosts and spirits.  But now I’m hoping Christmas.

“Beauty On” jams through the whole first part even the normally quiet intro: “i am not.” It sounds great with the percussion.  But he asks, “Did we drop a verse n that song, it seemed too short.  He confesses, “I like working in bars because you can drink cocktails while you do your job that you get paid for.  I have a passione for the cocktails.

It’s nice to hear him do a Rheos’ song: “Take Me In Your Hand” is quite slow and different-sounding with the female backing vocals.  The coda on bells and melodica(?) is charming.

“My Sweet Relief” sound nice with the piano and Neil Youngish with the backing vocals.  “A Hymn To The Situation” is solo piano.  he interrupts the song to say “At the end of the next verse, there’s an axe and I want some heartfelt applause for the idiot I’m portraying, not an idiot…an honest guy.”  The crowd responds wonderfully.   He says that he’s been trying to rearrange “Sane, So Sane” so much that that’s the only way it can be done now.  It sounds good you can really hear the “lesbian pasta, please” lines.

He then says, “the next song is one I wrote with a certain hockey writer/sports writer.  Nice fellow, very gregarious.”  “Saskatchewan” opens sounding like “I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day” and the band jams it for a moment before playing a really good version of the song–appropriately rocking.

He uses the robotic voice thing again for “Sergeant Kraulis.”  It sounds great but when he gets to the end, it feels like he wants to do something else but it just sort of fades out with him playing weird notes. The backing guitarist plays the notes that should come next, but he says “That’s the end.”

Then he introduces a “Totally new song.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be on my next record after I finish this subscription… debacle.”  He says “Our Keepers” is “full of hate… the most invigorating emotion, hate… the most delicious, invigorating, joy-inducing emotions.  bloody ..and loving.”  The song totally rocks and the middle section is pretty classic rock sounding.  It’s shame it’s only available on More Large Than Earth (We Will Warn the Stars).

Apropos of nothing he says, “this is Buddy Holly’s Stratocaster–midi Stratocaster.  The light keeps things from getting too spontaneous.”

Then it’s back to the music with “another song I wrote with this Armenian-looking guy who writes columns for the Star and is on the radio a lot.  I stole the song and changed the entire meaning of it.”  “Stolen Car” sounds great.  The backing vocals are different, but Martin is the heart of this song and he songs it great.

Then it’s back to “Sergeant Kraulis” with the “Reprise.”  The song picks up with the repeated notes from earlier and then Martin repeats primarily the “we were opening packages” mantra on the robotic voice.  The end is a long jam with wild soloing from Martin.  At the end, We had to pick up the last bit of that song.”

During the kind of encore break, he says “thanks for helping us kick this little tour off.”

The intense “Ship Of Fire” has a rather Neil Young sound but with some cool synths.  This is the only recorded live version of it which is a shame because it is intense live.  There was more robot voice at the end.

Martin begins tuning and says, “Let’ do ‘Voices from the Wilderness.'”  And you hear someone say “Oh, yeah, okay!”  There is a hunt for capos “Capos have been located.”  More tuning Martin says, “Talk someone, while I tune.”  Selena sings “G…  A….” (as Martin tunes those notes, then asks, “So uh what’s things like in Waterloo?  I never get to spend any time here.  Just soundcheck, show.  It seems like a swell place.” Martin chimes in:  “I got to spend a lot of time here when I was a kid–Kitchener/Waterloo.  There was a big cemetery we used to play in.”  Someone asks, “Did they used to be two towns that grew together, kind of like mold?  But good mold on cheeses.  When we get big we’ll have people who can tune guitars for us–were working on that.  You know Gibson has expensive guitars that actually tune themselves.  I think Jimmy Page had one a really l long time ago.. because he could.  Voices has a lovely guitar melody and bells.   I like that he puts in the line “I know Geddy, but he don’t know me.”

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days Vol. 4

I was so excited to see two volumes of Giant Days out!  This meant I could read them right after each other.

And its a good thing because the third book ended with a bombshell that Esther was dropping out of school.

Chapter 13 opens with Esther storming around her house, her parents quite upset about her decision.  But Esther is certain and she even goes out to find a job.  She gets one at Bakerymax as a sausage roll technician.

And how is Esther enjoying being home?  She runs into her old best friend Sarah (who has fun hair) and they catch up.  There is a wonderful joke about textiles.  And then she sees her ex, Eustace.  But he just looks at her and walks away.  It’s ugly being home.

Meanwhile Daisy is so upset to have found out that Esther is not returning that she talks to her grandmother for advice (I love the way she twists anything her gramma says into something good for her).  Daisy and Susan decide to go and find her to bring her back.  They show up at Esther’s house and her parents are thrilled to see them (and thrilled to offer them so free luxury–Esther’s parents are loaded!). (more…)

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Gord Downie [1964-2017]

Gord Downie died yesterday after suffering from brain cancer.

Downie was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip a band I had wanted to see live but never did.

I first learned about The Hip in 1994. I was living in Boston and had access to Much Music, Canada’s music video channel.  I saw a video for “Nautical Disaster” and was blown away.  I loved everything about it.  This was from their fifth album, the one after the album that everyone cites as their best, Fully Completely.  But for me, Day for Night will always be my favorite.

Downie was an interesting and enigmatic guy–at least for a fan who didn’t know the band super well, but liked all their music.  Downie wrote interesting, thoughtful lyrics and he really brought people together.  As the CBC puts it: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 5, 2012).

The Rheostatics were originally supposed to play 3 Reunion concerts to help celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Horseshoe Tavern. Unfortunately the concerts got cancelled but Dave stepped in and offered up a free show on Wednesday December 5 2012, what was to be the first of the reunion shows. The show started out with Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra and was followed by Bidiniband. The Bidiniband set was a mix of Bidiniband songs as well as a variety of Rheostatics songs featuring guests such as Dave Clark, The Woodshed Orchestra, Tim Vesely, Noah Campbell, Tim Sweeney, Matt Cowley, Selina Martin, Al and Colin of Jazzberry Ram.

Dave opens the set by wishing: “Happy birthday Horseshoe, 65 years old tonight.”

The set opens with two “new” songs.  Bidiniband’s album came out in 2012, but they have been playing most of these songs for years.  This is the first show on RheostaticsLive that includes “In The Rock Hall / Rock and Roll Heaven.”  “In the Rock Hall” is a fun singalong.  And “Rock and Roll Heaven” is a fairly vulgar song about groupies and whatnot.

“Big Men” is even catchier than before and the band sounds great.  They play a lengthy version of “Fat” which segues into a slow, fairly traditional version of “The List.”  This List ends with… “It’s true… fuck you.”

“We’re going to do a song and then we’re going to have Selina Martin come up and do the exact same song.  “Ladies of Montreal” is my most openly sexist song.  Not really.”  Indeed, after finishing the song they play it once more, this time with Selina Martin singing the lyrics in French!

It segues into a stripped down version of Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio,” which is a very different,loose take on the song.  At the end someone asks, “Can you do that one in French?”

This is the first time (on the site) they’ve played “On Camoragh Lake.”  There’s a lot of cursing in this song.

Dave asks, “should we go song guest song guest?”  Someone says, “Totally man it’s a lot of fun.  It’s fun to see a lot of Rheostatics shirts too.”  Is Tim Sweeney here?   He comes up, “thank god I’m not following Selena Martin.  The closest thing to church for me was going to a Rheostatics show, so this feels weirdly like  impersonating clergy.”  He sings “Ozzy Osbourne.”  It seems shaky with the first notes, but he does a great job with the main part of the song.

We’d like to get the Woodchoppers up for this one, if possible.  They blow through the really “Take a Wild Ride” and then Dave says, “Lets go to E!” and they segue into “Legal Age Life” with a nice big horn section.

Dave says: We all wish Martin Tielli was here big time, but he’s in Ancaster.  We’re thinking of him (yea, he’s the best).  There was a really important Knight Rider episode he had to watch.  He’s got a really nice TV room, I can’t blame him.  60 channels….  Sausages on the barbecue.  Don: Is that one of the channels?  Dave: “Nice one, Don.”   This next song features Don Kerr. It’s called “Guns.” [some chuckling as it’s a poem written by Dave Clark].  They play “Last of the Dead Wrong Things which opens slowly with great guitar work and backing vocals.  And the drums are tremendous.  Near the end he shifts the song to “Making Plans for Nigel,” but this time the band sings along with the chorus.

Dave says he brought some stuff from his basement to sell–some old Rheos discs, Whale Music on vinyl and one Five Hole Stories CD  (CD?)

Dave calls for Tim Vesely the Slovak Slayer (they don’t call him that).  “Tim’s got his electric rock guitar (someone shouts “Palomar”) “Its Tim Vesely of the Rheostatics and The Violet Archers (or The Violent Archers as I like to say).  Tim: “I don’t need any bass for these songs.” Dave: “It’s overrated.  Only 4 strings, how hard can it be?”

It’s nice to hear “Claire” and to have Tim back.  There’s a good solo from Paul and then he says, “We’ll do one more Rheostatics cover for you,” and they play “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  Which he introduces as “This song is for Tim Hudak [a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1995 to 2016 who represented the ridings of Niagara South, Erie—Lincoln, and Niagara West—Glanbrook.]

“All Hail Canada” is new to the shows–it’s a cynical look at Canadian politics.

Then: “Do the guys from Victoria want to come up and sing now?  Come on it’ll be fun.  Jazzberry Ram, the nerds from Vancouver.  They do a great version of “Quuer” and put their own spin on it.  After the song, Dave says, Do yo mind if Matt joins us?  He’s okay, really.”  Matt Cowley comes up to sing a gleeful “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave takes a moment:

I meant to say something profound about this night but I’m lost because we’re in the soup of this experience. He says he has been writing in cafes (cause I’m from Toronto, so I’m cool I write in cafes.  He’s listen to music and Rheostatics would come up on YouTube. He’d enjoy the songs and marvel at the parts they played. Then he would listen more and he would cry and wonder… maybe we should try to play again.  It didn’t happen,  but that’s not to say it won’t ever happen as long as you never stop listening to your Rheostatics records and crying, anything is possible.

The opening of “The Land is Wild” sounds an awful lot like “Horses” the way it opens.  Dave says this song existed in the Rheostatics for a couple of months but then they broke up.  This version really rocks (the backing vocals are tremendous).  You can hear Dave’s guitar get staticky near the end.  The song segues into “Yemen” sort of, but the statics is too much and they have to stop to fix it.  Dave tries to gt things going again: “Can we start off where that last song ended I think it was building to an interesting place.  Or was it not?”   But the static is irreparable.

“Terrible time in the night to have technical problems–during the last song.”

Dave says, “Okay folks one more.  The crowd shouts: five more.  100 more!  Dave: That would be impossible.

Take it into the crowd!  There’s some inaudible chatter and laughter but I think save heads out into the crowd with the guitar to play Stolen Car.  Not sure who is singing–but he’s a bit off on things.  At one pint he says, “my son told me I’d fuck up.”  Dave: “you fucked up good though.”

Doug–says “I grew up listening to that shit.” He then talks about a dream: he was trying to play Take 5 but the strings were all mushy (The band plays a bit of “Take Five.”  Then Dave talks about a dream he had about shows that never happened.  They did play shows where nobody showed up.

Tim’s my favorite was in Winnipeg or Alberta, a university pub gig  “1/2 price wings plus live music.”  There was nobody there yet there was set list from the band that played the night before.  We took it and went song by song off the list and made up songs on the spot.  I think it was B-52s in Winnipeg  a lunch hour gig named not after the band or even the plane.

Audience: “How were the wings?”  “Half Price.”

We played in Red Deer to two guys who had just come back from putting out fires in Kuwait and a sound man who put his headphones into the TV to listen to The Cosby Show–it was an important episode.  Don: But we got a good bag of weed out of it.  Dave: In red deer at Mortimer’s in the Capri Hotel.  The Shell sign with the s burnt out.  We should have known…   that’s rock n roll.

bzzzt  “I don’t think it’s the cable”  “Put a mike on it!”  “That’s why we need a professional studio engineer.  Don’s side career is that he runs the Rooster Recording studio!

“Horses” sounds great.  Everyone is into it and the addition of horns at the end is great with someone singing along with the horns:  bup bup bup.  And then it rocks to the end.  Despite the cable, it’s a great set with super guests.  Not bad a for a free night.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Wild Game

“Wild Game” is the concluding book in the Sweet Tooth story.  And it remains as dark as anything.

It also begins, like Endangered Species, with a storytelling section–the book turned sideways with a lot of text. It catches us up on what happened in a succinct style.  How the environmentalists were able to return to the dam, how they invited our heroes to stay (Johnny and Bobby accepted–Bobby needs to hibernate after all) but the rest decide to head to Alaska, to their destiny.

Their crew is now Jepperd, The Fat Man (the guy they met out in the woods), Wendy, Gus and Becky.  Lucy is now dead and Dr Singh fled to get to Alaska on his own (he had an epiphany that may have sent him over the edge–he seems to think he might be a preacher, or even a savior).

When they finally arrive in Alaska, sadly Abbot and his team are waiting for them.  And Abbot is especially angry at his brother.  Which leads to a flashback provided by Nate Powell.  It shows Abbot and Johnny as children with their abusive father and how Abbot always stuck up for Johnny even when Abbot went to the military and Johnny had long hair.  When the Sickness began, Johnny was taking care of his ungrateful father and Abbot was at war.   He had returned–with far less hair, and far more attitude.  He took Johnny away from their dad and brought him to the camp where we found them at the beginning of the story. Of curse Abbot wasn’t in charge at first but he quickly made everyone know just how powerful he was.

And just how much things have changed.

Dr Singh meanwhile had been looking for information about Gus’ father. Could he rally have been a lowly janitor? While searching, he comes across Dr Thacker’s journal (I love the continuity).  And he learns a fascinating but of history about Gus and his father.

While browsing through the barracks our heroes learn that there are many more hybrids living here–they are feral but not mean.  In fact they are quite taken with Becky. But they are quite fearful.  And they meet Dr Singh who has some pretty tough truths to impart.

But there is no time for any of that.  Because Abbot and his men are coming.  And Jepperd needs to get everyone prepared.

Can anyone possibly survive?  Yes, some do, but several others will die in the bloody confrontation.

The final chapter of the series is outstanding,  It looks very different–clearly Lemire’s work but with a starkly different, somewhat softer appearance.  Gus appears to be chased by more humans. But Gus looks different somehow,  And that’s when we learn that he is.

And the conceit of the last chapter is that each little segment begins This is a story.  Starting like the beginning with This is a Story of a little boy who lived in the woods.  And that story moves along through many years–through happiness and bloodshed. Through conflict between friends and love between enemies.  And it has an incredibly touching ending.

What a great story.  If you can handle the violence and gore, it is so worth it for the ending,

Lemire is a master storyteller.

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND AND FRIENDS-Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse YT (February 10, 2011).

Stolen From A Hockey Card

From the City of Charlottetown:

Hosted by CBC’s Ron MacLean, Stolen From a Hockey Card is a hockey-themed concert which pays tribute to Canada’s love and passion for the game of hockey. The impressive all-Canadian line-up of artists for the concert includes songstress Sarah Harmer, Chris Murphy (Sloan), Lennie Gallant, Stephen Stanley (Lowest of the Low), Carmen Townsend, Liam Corcoran (Two Hours Traffic), Bidiniband and former New York Islanders great and Hockey Hall of Fame member Bryan Trottier.  [Not all of these performers are included below, if they were all there].

Each artist will write their own hockey-themed song which they will perform for the first time as part of the concert. In addition to their newly-written hockey song, each artist will also perform one of their own original songs. Bidiniband, featuring Dave Bidini, formerly of acclaimed rock band The Rheostatics and creator of the Stolen From a Hockey Card concert, will serve as house band for the evening.

The official line up: Paul Linklater – guitar; Douglas Friesen – bass; Don Kerr – drums
Geoff Berner – vocals, accordion; C.R. Avery – vocals; Buck 65 – vocals; Dave Bidini – vocals, guitar; John K. Samson – vocals, guitar; Kim Barlow – vocals, banjo; Mathias Kom – vocals, guitar;  Sarah Harmer – vocals, guitar

There are 12 songs in total

Geoff Berner wrote “Fighting To Stay in the Game” The lyrics begin: “Mike Keenan ruined watching the Canucks for me when he traded away Trevor Linden.” It’s a rocking song that goes beyond hockey: “I’m just fighting to stay in the game… to keep the love of our spouses. …to keep the banks from taking our houses. …to keep the respect of our children. …to making a living not making a killing.”

I loved this verse about a hockey player I had not heard of: “As the first nations leader Gino Odjick met with the Pope (it’s true) / The Pope apologized for the Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools / I wondered if he was tempted to grab him by the jersey and pop him a few / but no, Gino forgave him.  Said it was important to work together to build the future anew.”

After this one, he says, “I’m going to revert to form play a new song.  It’s about people on the run trying to get to a country that is safe.  There are a lot of people knocking on the door to Canada and we could have kids from Sri Lanka or Haiti playing hockey in the future.  And that would be a good thing.  The song is called “Wealthy Poet.”  It’s all accordion and vocal–cool wild accordion riffs in between a strongly sung melody.

C.R. Avery performed “Already The Great One,” his story of the Wayne Gretzky transfer.  He says, “I sat down to write a story about Eric Lindross–meant to write a good murder ballad.  But that memory of Gretzky crying…” Avery has a raspy Springsteenish voice in this piano ballad.  I enjoyed this section quite a bit: “I wanted to be that kid from Brantford, Ontario–between the pipes in a ski mask / I was cool like Ken Dryden / I was bad ass like Grant Fuhr  / An arrogant outlaw: part Billy the Kid, part Patrick Roi (screamed wonderfully)–noisy screaming big loud pianos and guitars.  It’s a great climax.  And then after 5 minutes there a really intense electric harmonica solo.

Folk rapper Buck 65 was up next.  He says, “So yea this is called ‘The Borje Salming Massacre’ a song about the night in November 1986 that Borje Salming got cut on the face and required 200 stitches.  The backing band plays along–the chorus is a slightly disturbing “look away.”  He talks about how he always wanted to be a hockey star, but after that incident, form which he couldn’t look away, even though “the Leafs won that game in the end  / but I never played hockey again.”  He also plays a short fun song called “Wicked and Weird” (not hockey related).  It’s his folky rap delivery over some interesting electronic percussion and samples.

Dave Bidini and Bidiniband performed “Val Marie.”  Bidini talks about being a Leafs fan but when he was in grade 10 he made a TV tray and put Bryan Trottier’s face n it.  Why not a leaf?  He can’t say.  But Bryan Trottier and his brother used to play in Val Marie Saskatchewan, and he says je was one of “hockey’s greatest musicians.”

John K. Samson is there “making his case for Reggie Leach joining the hall of fame.”  His song  “Petition” has a “choir” backing him: “we the undersigned put forth his name.”   The host asks him why Reggie Leach. “I always thought he was an exemplary and fascinating player.  Growing up I was not a Flyers fan, I was more of a Habs fan, but we made an exception for Reggie because he as from the Interlake Region….  Woah.”  Reggie Leach comes up on stage.  Samson: “I’m flabbergasted.”  Samson, also plays “a song about curling.  he was at the Dawson City 112th international bonspiel.”  He plays a solo version of The Weakerthans’ “Tournament of Hearts.”

Kim Barlow’s “One Good Goalie” is an ode to Jaroslav Halák.   She says, “this is for people who like goalies and appreciate their nobility.  And it’s also for the gals who play hockey.  She started playing and says “All the cool girls all play hockey in the Whitehorse women’s hockey league.”  She sings that the first game she watched was for her boyfriend. But the game we caught that night was “the shining hour of Halák–he stopped 53 pucks they kept coming but he didn’t crack.”  The chorus is just a repeated Halák, with a final line: “one good goalie made me understand I was born a Habs fan.”   t

Mathias Kom sings “Dear Phoenix.”  He says, “I went back to Winnipeg and was digging into the municipal archives and found a letter written by the city of Winnipeg that began, “Dear phoenix.”  The Winnipeg Jets were transferred from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996.  The letter reads in part:  “Do you think they’ll be happy trading parkas for sunscreen.  They say gentlemen prefer blondes but these are no gentlemen, they grew up with blood on frozen ponds.”   He says the letter notes that they’d give it 15 years.  18 years later they changed the team name from the Phoenix Coyotes to Arizona Coyotes, which is not quite the same thing.  Everyone enjoyed this line: “you can take the Jet out of the ‘Peg but never the ‘Peg out of the Jet.”  And this fun conclusion:

I know there’s nothing I can do so please treat them well be loyal be kind and be true.  Just so you know if i see you around my gloves will come off, you know i’ll throw down, oh Phoenix, I mean it I’ll break your arms and your legs okay, better sign off now.  Yours truly, Winnipeg.  Go Jets Go.”

Sarah Harmer “straight from the Wolf Island hockey tournament.  She plays “Go to Sleep” and explains that “she had to go to bed after the first period and she would listen to games upstairs.  Her dad used to do this one resounding clap when the Leafs scored.  She imagined asking him to do two claps when they other team scores, but she never had the nerve.  It’s a tender lullaby.  The other song is “Harold Harvey Rink,” written by Luther Wright.  Its a romping song about being a young hockey player and the various indignities you suffer for the love of the game.

Dave ends the night with “Land is Wild.”  A somewhat subdued version of the song, probably because of the setting.

This is a fun show and is not the only Stolen From a Hockey Card Night.  I don;t think it’s annual , but there was another one in 2015.

From the RheostaticsLive site:

Still have an old shoebox filled with hockey cards from your childhood? Did you sneak outside for a game of street hockey when you were supposed to be doing homework? Remember providing your own play-by-play, ending with “He shoots, he scores!!”?

This concert’s for you – all Canadian music celebrating the sport of hockey. Hear songs freshly written and performed by Dave Bidini and BidiniBand, C.R. Avery, Kim Barlow, Buck 65, Geoff Berner, Sarah Harmer, John K. Samson, and Mathias Kom. From Wayne Gretzky to Reggie Leach, from Borje Salming to Jaroslav Halak – emulated players get idolized in song.

Dave Bidini coerced this incredible line-up of stars to convene in Whitehorse to celebrate Scotia Bank’s Hockey Day in Canada back on February 10, 2011. The Yukon Arts Centre won’t ever be the same! (Eric Mac Innis)

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Unnatural Habitats

Despite all of the action in the previous book, Lemire slows things down to give us a flashback.  And, wow, is it a good one.

Matt Kindt does the art for the first part, a wonderful old-fashioned-looking journal type story.  Indeed the story is the journal of Dr James Thacker, September 4, 1911.

He has set sail to the Arctic Ocean to retrieve his sister’s fiancee.  The guy agreed to marry Thacker ‘s sister, but first wanted to go to the Arctic as a missionary.

The fiance wrote home regularly but then the letters stopped. People feared the worst but his sister needed to know the truth.  So Thacker and his family spent a considerable fortune (which they had), to commission a boat to find this man.   Thacker feels a sense foreboding about the trip and well he should. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (September 18, 2010).

From: Concerts On Demand: Bidiniband live at the Horseshoe Tavern.

So I gather this show was recorded on CBC Radio 2.  It’s just over 32 minutes long and it rocks through some Bidiniband classics from the soon to be released In the Rock Hall.  It also sounds terrific.

Dave Bidini is best known in the literary world as a “rock and roll sports” journalist but in the indie rock world he will be forever known as a member of Canada’s first indie band The Rheostatics.

After the Rheostatics played their last show in 2007, Dave Bidini traveled around the world playing Rock and Roll and writing a book about his journey around the world and the last days of being in The Rheostatics. Once he returned from this trip he thought the best thing to do in order to get over the loss of one band was to form a new band. The result is BidiniBand – a progressive acoustic rock band that sings songs about dead hockey players.

CBC Radio 2 caught up with BidiniBand at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. After a summer of touring the festival scene the band was primed and ready to rock.

All hail the return of Dave Bidini! (Eric Mac Innis).

The set opens with a gorgeous version of “Memorial Day” (relatively short at 7 and a half minutes).  There’s some intense guitar playing in the middle.  Next up is “Big Men Go Fast on the Water,” a really catchy song.  Dave doesn’t chat much during this set.  And right up next is “The Best Thing About the 80s is You,” a fun poppy song.  It’s pretty short and he name checks a whole bunch of 80s personalities: “Not Corey Hart, Pat Benatar, the 80s was you.”  “DJ suitcase, the 80s was you.  Oingo Boingo, the 80s was you.  Flouride toothpaste, the 80s was you.  Reagan football, the 80s was you.”

“Take a Wild Ride” is fast and almost punky.  And it’s followed by “The Land is Wild,” which Dave introduces, “here’s a song about a dead hockey player.  I mean, they’re all pretty much about dead hockey players, but as my son would say, this one is literally about a dead hockey player.  It also sounds great–the band is in top form.

Dave introduces the band and mentions that he has a new book out about the Homeless World Cup (Home and Away). And they close the set with “Last of the Dead Wrong Things.”  I love this line in the song: “We’re just a two-bit Neil Young rip of attack / they stole this song and we’re stealing it back / Doesn’t  matter how good or bad you can sing.”  The song rocks hard with a drum solo from Don Kerr and Dave going nuts on his acoustic guitar.

It’s a tight no-nonsense set, perfect for a half-hour radio show.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Endangered Species

“Endangered Species” begins differently right off the bat–you have to turn the book sideways and read full-page pictures with lots of text. It’s far more narrative than piratical. But Lemire is a good story teller so it doesn’t feel like exposition.

This chapter one of the happiest in the series for not only do the travelers find a mall, which means warm clean clothes at last, but they also experience their first snow fall, which is magical to everyone.

With this new gear, everyone goes camping.  And, feeling a bit more comfortable, the girls go for a walk–Lucy, Becky and Wendy (the hybrid pig girl).

And then we get some backstory and for the first time other artists contribute to the book, creating backstories that look very different and giving them an excellent sense of “this is different.”

NATE POWELL draws Lucy’s backstory where she was a nurse. She cares, she really does, but even nurses feel fatigue.

EMI LENOX changes the style intensely for Becky’s flashback.  It’s all bright colors and big eyes.  Becky’s parents died when she was very little.  Foster families made it worse.  Until she just fled to try to manage on her own.

MATT KINDT provides Wendy’s backstory–how was she kept hidden and safe for so long?  It was fate–her mom became sick when people discovered Wendy.  And she was taken away, never to see her mom again. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax Nova Scotia (December 7, 2009).

This is the second night at The Carleton.  The previous night they played for two and a half hours; this show is ten minute shy of 3 hours.  There are two recordings of this show, an audience and a soundboard.  The audience one is quite good although occasionally when Linklater plays a loud guitar it drowns out the vocals a bit.

Unlike with the Rheostatics, this band plays pretty much the same setlist (mixed up and with some songs stretched out) both nights.  Even the guests are he same.

The only new songs are “Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” “Bud the Spud,” “Pornography,” and “Wendell Clark” and they don’t play “Big Men Go Fast on the Water” or “Moncton Hellraisers.”  There’s a lot of chatting during the show: “Man I miss Halifax already.  I feel like we left and then came back all in that last song.”

“Memorial Day” sounds great, a slow expansive epic song with a really intense, wailing guitar solo at the end.  “The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” and “Paul and Donna” are sweet and boppy, although Paul & Donna sounds like it’s going to start as “Michael Jackson” before locking into “P&D.”

A noisy version of “Fat” (after the ‘I said you were fat’ line, Dave says, “it happens… we were just talking and stuff.”  It runs about 9 minutes and then he says, “sometimes one word titles suffice, like “Fame”  Someone else: “or Sting!”  Dave: “Sting is not a song it’s a lifestyle.”  Paul: “Does anybody here read the National Post? (no reaction).  Dave’s been writing a weekly column for the National Post and none of his friends read it.  Dave: “They are too cool.”  Paul: “He wrote an article about Sting a mock interview. Dave: Sting said he couldn’t do his job if he was a fat kid.  Dave doesn’t understand why and name checks larger people: Billy Joel, Fats Waller, Chubby Checker.  And as they are thinking of them, Dave says it’s time to bring up a guest.

Ruth Minnikin sings a slow, moody “Stolen Car.” And there’s a plug for the Peanuts Christmas album on Zunior: “It’s amazing, Ruth has taken Beethoven and messed with it in an amazing way.

“The Ballad of 1969” is an interesting mellow and folky song segues into the punky, 1 minute “Take a Wild Ride.”   It’s followed by a bluesy version of “This Song Ain’t Any Good.”  Dave has a lot of fun with the “you can play it when you’re drunk” line–he keeps messing up the sing along part.

Doug is friends with Chris Pennell a local pop and slap bass hero.  All of the gear we’re using tonight (and last night) was provided by Chris.  (we never learn why) .  Some of the gear includes pillows, blankets and beds.

Dave then tells a Stompin’ Tom story which says it’s in his contract that if you tour with him he can never be the last to go to bed at night so someone has to stay up and drink with him.   The drummer spent 3 days on hospital with alcohol poisoning.  Speaking of contracts, Al,  is it time?  It was in your contact, must follow a medley.  Al tuck sings a mellow song called possibly “The Rights of His Descendants.”

At Mike’s behest were going to do 2 sets–you can mingle buy merch.  It’s not merch, it’s art.

Leading into “The Land is Wild,” Dave says that Fogarty was a genius hockey player, broke Gretsky’s records at 12.  But he didn’t like hockey, he liked Metallica and Wrestling.

The next song is about the deep winter on the west coast.  Anybody hear from British Columbia?  Anybody here form Alberta?  Anybody her from Alaska? You gotta ask. “Desert Island Poem” has Leo Sayer eat their drummer.  This folky songsegues into a folkie, upbeat version of “The List.”

Dave says, …. if you wanna buy shots for the band, we really really discourage it.  If you want to go to the bar and are satisfied with the performance, we seriously discourage you.  Its’ the last thing the band need (the band plays Tequila)  Don says if you do buy is shots don’t invite us back to your house or I might puke on your ceiling.  A woman from Sydney whose sink don threw up in is there and Dave tells the every funny story about a crummy gig that turned into a debauchery filled night.

“Popcorn” has a lengthy ending section and Dave sings “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Then Dave shouts, “Where the fuck are our shots?”  Don: “Well, do you want shots or popcorn?”

“Michael Jackson” is quite subdued, he even quietly speaks the first “Michael.” It segues into “My First Rock Concert.”  The rest of the band sings the Joe Jackson part, and the song has a cool solo from Paul and then right after the swan dive part it segues into “Yemen.”

Mike O’Neill, will you come up and do a shot and a song with us.   What do you think of Mike’s ‘stache [cheers].  Wait what do you think of Mike without a ‘stache [more cheers].  Don: That ‘stache is freaking me out man.”  Mike: I don’t think my contribution to the Zunior album was that much less than Ruth’s.  Chuckles. They sing “Mr. Carvery,” which   sounds a bit like The Jayhawks

“Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” is “unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar,Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  Dave is singing and sings the wrong verse–“fuck!” As he’s getting it back someone starts singing, “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave: “More shots!” Someone: “You guys gut 7:30 flights, right?”  Dave dedicates his shot to Ruth Minikin and Al Tuck.  Don: “It’s always best to leave Mike O’Neill out I fins.  If you can hurt Mike O’Neill with a small gesture its always the best thing.
Dave: Dedicating a shot to him would just piss him off.
Don: Hes going to go home and write a song….  I just want to hurt mike O’Neill just a bit because of that mustache.”

“Last of the Dead Wrong Things” rocks and eventually segues in “Making Plans for Nigel.”

They play “Bud the Spud,” and then “Earth,” which has a nice simple drum solo.  The drums play on and on and then Dave segues into “Horses.”   We’d like t invitee Chris up–it’s your fucking bass.  He says he’s like Mike O’Neill on stage with a tambourine–stereo tambourines with Ruth Minikin.

Doug: Do you guys want to hear something funny?  I have to be at work at 10AM tomorrow, in Toronto.  [groans].
What kind of work do you do?
Doug: I’m a high school teacher.  [laughter].

They play “Pornography” which opens a lot like “Bread Meat Beans and Rice.”

Doug: you guys are great I want to move here to Halifax–I just have to convince my girlfriend.  Someone local says, “Doug and Paul are from Manitoba which is from now on the second most friendly province in Canada coz Nova Scotia has got these guys thinking about moving here.”

Dave seems pretty wasted by this point as he introduces “Wendell Clark” : I don’t care of you dot like the Leafs.  If you don’t like the Leads you can suck my cock. That’s how I feel.  Sometimes you just love stuff because it’s yours doesn’t matter how its judged.

we can all agree on one thing…no players play more virtuously than those from the great province of  Saskatchewan.  All Canadians love Saskatchewan.

When there were rumors that Wendell Clark was gay, I supported it.  “Wendell was the rockingest leather fag on Church Street.  If Wendell was gay then he was the best gay hockey player that there ever was.”

As the show ends, the host says, “You don’t have to go home unless you have to go school tomorrow, which I know most of you don’t.  Generally we hang around and drink tequila with the band.

I think I love the Maritimes, too.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies

“Animal Armies” features a series of stories called The Singh Tapes.  But this book is also about Gus–as Dr Singh goes through his notes about Gus.

I love the delivery of this story–Singh’s notes run along the bottom of the page while the story above tells a parallel story without words.  And in it we see that of all of the hybrids that were there, only Gus, Wendy and Bobby are left.  Wendy is educated, but Bobby is very dumb–at least by human standards.  He seems more animal than the others.

By the end Singh is convinced that Gus is somehow the cause of the Sick. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax, Nova Scotia (December 6, 2009).

There are two recordings of this show up on RheostaticsLive.  There’s an audience recording of the full show, and a soundboard recording of the first set.  Normally the Soundboard is the recording of choice, but the quality of the audience recording is really good and has a bit more ambiance.

Dave greets the folks: “Hello its great to be in Halifax, port city.”

They open with the Rheostatics song “Fat.”  They mess up a few words in “Fat” and Dave goes, “yea, something like that.”  The song is generally slower and less angsty than the Rheos’ version.  The middle section has a real jazzy feel.

He introduces the next song “Desert Island Poem,” “This is a wintertime song for the first snowfall of the year.  It’s really bad snow in this song.  The worst kind of snow.  Cannibal snow.”  Before the songs he says, “We’ve been giving Leo Sayer a hard time. [not elaborated upon].  We’re gonna lay off Leo Sayer for this one.  They change the line to “Pantera and Slayer eat their drummer–who will cool and season the body?”

“Paul and Donna” is a sweet, catchy song.  Dave says “The song was written for Paul and Donna’s wedding.  It’s a wedding song.  “Stairway To Heaven” was a wedding song. Marriage of an evil maiden and a bewitching knight.”

He talks about getting his first photo shoot and addresses “Molly”(the opening act): have you done a photo shoot yet?  It’s so weird isn’t it?  One day you’re trying to play “Two Tickets to Paradise” in a mirror and then some weirdo is taking your picture.  They talk about travelling and a taxi driver asking what kind of music they play. New Wave?  Contemporary.  And while one of them said, yes exactly, Doug said, “straight ahead rock.”  When they ask who you play with they always assume you’re in the The Hip. Its’ cute to disappoint them.  “Not that I was wishing…..”  Being in this band is like being in The Hip.  Dave: “Yea right, $10,000 to be in the Hip?  Yea, I would too.”  Back to the photo shoot, it was in a bowling alley.  The guy said he was a musician too–guys, listen to this story it’s really good.  (Sorry Dave).  He says he wrote a song that’s going to be famous.  It’s called “Led Zeppelin Town” where all the heavies go to when they die.”  Before beginning Wild Ride, Dave starts singing a made up chorus of Led Zeppelin Town.”  The whole song is a short rocker.

“Yemen” has that great guitar line that I really like.  Then Dave says, “Mike O’Neill will you join us–it’s a cavalcade of stars tonight– a cavalcade of ‘staches.”  They sing the O’Neill song “Mr Carvery.”  At the end of the song he says, “one of Ontario’s finest exports.”

“The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” is an imagined comic book loosely based on the lives of Paul Linklater and Don Orchard.  Only geographically I suppose and their misadventures across Canada.  Doug Friesen starts it with an electric bass solo–Doug I’m really looking forward to this bass part.

“Big Men Go Fast on the Water” has a very pretty chorus.  At the end, he confesses, “that song totally has no ending yet endings are hard.  Come back tomorrow night to hear the ending.  We’ll leave you shy and ending and you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see if we finish it. But we’ll leave a different ending shy tomorrow.  It’s in the handbook… on page 48.  Someone asks, “Is that song your ode to the jet ski…?  Part of the 14 songs you wrote about Lake Ontario and how its being destroyed?  Yes 30 in 30 swim drink fish club, the waterkeepers online music club.  It’s true, you can go download them.  Whoo!  Lets hear it for downloading!  Dave: “How was the gig?  It was a big downloading crowd.”

They play a groovy version of “Earth Revisited.”  The end is stretched out with a nice jam with Dave saying Keep Going and them singing “Keep Going” as backing vocals.  Dave says that song goes back to 1994.  Doug the bassist says, “I was 6….  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”   Dave says the young blood is what keeps him going.  During the applause they confirm that “Halifax is a really big Doug town.”

“The Ballad Of 1969” is a song about a lesbian school teacher.  The best.  After a verse, he messes up the lyrics, and says hold on hold on but they keep going with that groove and he catches up.   It’s a great song with and excellent guitar solo and multiple parts.   And interesting story song that is enjoyable multiple times.

They end the first set with “Stolen Car” featuring Ruth Minnikin on vocals.  I don’t know her and her delivery is a little flat (in fairness, it’s a challenging song).  But overall the song sounds good.

We don’t usually do breaks but Mike said he wouldn’t pay us unless we did.  This is the second song from our record The Land is Wild.  I have enjoyed this song, Memorial Day” more and more with each live rendition.  The band seems to be really gelling on this song.  The melody is great and the lyrics are really strong.  Linklater makes some great roaring guitar noises in the middle of the song that sound intense.

Show of hands for those who like to rock.  Solid.  They like to rock and they like to download in Halifax.  This is called “We like to Rock.”  It’s a folkie song, fun and all that, which is not all that loud or heavy.  Doug says, “We like to rock at a reasonable volume.”

We’d like to invite Ian on stage. It’s our first time ever laying with a saxophone player on stage.  Ian how do you feel about what you’re about to do?  “I’m excited and nervous.”  Dave asks, “Do you like the movies, Ian?”  “I love the movie I recently, rented Up.”  Pretty good eh?  “Great, I cried the first ten minutes.”  Someone in the audience goes “Squirrel!” and they kind of have to explain that joke.  “Popcorn” is a sort of song about the movies.  The song seems to sound a little different every time.  This one is more fun than usual. With a really long jam section–and lots of sax (that’s not too loud).

Before the next song the guitars are all playing some weird noises–flat picked notes, the bass sliding up and down.  And over this, Dave starts singing “Song Ain’t Any Good.”  The band kicks in after a verse and the song sounds great overall.

The download seems to be somewhat out of order here.   There’s a song about a Christmas Tree, which I can’t place.  The song segues into “The List” which has some different guitar styles and sounds great, especially the rocking guitar during the Stephen Harper verse.  It segues back to that “Hanging by the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve” song which ends with some futzing around with guitar picking sounds.  They begin “The Last of the Dead Wrong Things.”  This sounds great with the drum solo in the middle (with Dave scratching his guitar strings throughout).

They call up Al Tuck and Dave thanks everyone for coming and Chris for loaning them stuff.   Al says, “I wanted to play my old song ‘I’ve Got to Hand It To You,’ but I’m not going to play that one.”  Then he says, “I wrote this on the piano: ‘What Kind of Soul.'”  He also says he wrote this one his daughter’s birthday.

Dave says it’s fun to visit a city and see friends who you don’t get to spend time with and to have them up on stage.  He talks about the first time he played Halifax.  He feels his life changed after that show–he talks a lot now, but he didn’t talk much back then.  He was less secure, but something changed him in Halifax.  He also says that after the second song they heard muted cheering and wondered where that was coming from.  There were like seven kids behind the back door of the club–they couldn’t get in.

Thanks to Molly for opening for them.

This song is about he life of Bryan Fogarty and it’s the best version of this song I’ve heard.   I love that he whispers “Let’s Go” before the slinky guitar line kicks in.  Linklater adds some great interesting guitar sections to the song.

It’s followed by a quite folky version of “Moncton Hellraisers.”  Note: “Unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar, Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  You can hear them wandering the floor.  And then it’s time for the solo.  Dave asks Paul:   “Want to stand on the chair so everyone can hear?  It’s a really good solo.”    “Woah–bad table,”  He cant get the solo right, and seems to be trying to climb back on the chair.  Finally he says, “Wanna get on my shoulders?”  The crowd loves it  (“watch your head man.”)  It’s sounds pretty spectacular: Dave plays the main part with Paul on his shoulders (I assume).  The crowd loves it.  Someone says, “That was the most interesting double neck guitar I’ve ever seen.”

Someone requests, Conway Twitty.  “None of us have the hair to pull off a Conway Twitty song.”

Instead it’s a rocking version of “Horses” which sounds very different with Martin not playing the solos.  But the song rocks through to the end where Paul seems to have the song degenerate with crazy warped noises until Dave starts playing the guitar intro to “Michael Jackson.”   It is quiet and has spoken verses.  It works perfectly as a show ender.

While Bidiniband will never match the Rheostatics for amazing live performances, Bidiniband has really upped its game over the years and they sound pretty great–and do seem to out on quite a show.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: In Captivity  

As happens with many series, I read the first book and then forgot the rest.  Well, conveniently for me, the remainder of the books were all in at the library so I grabbed them all and devoured them over a spring break.

“In Captivity” begins with a flashback.  In fact, the bulk of the story is about Jepperds.  We see him as a young hockey player–he’s a bruiser and he is currently beating up Jeff Brown.  In the locker room the announcers say that when a hockey player is reduced to that, it means the end of career is in sight.  And then we see him carrying a bag.  This is the mysterious bag that he received at the end of Book One.

Next we flash to Gus.  He is in captivity by a bald guy with red-tinted glasses.  He has just thrown Gus into a room with other “freaks.”  But the scenes with Gus are few and far between and soon we are flashing back to Jepperds again.

He is with his wife Louise.  She is watching something on TV and we soon learn it is a story about the Sick and how people are dying everywhere.  Jepperds wants to flee their house, but Louise thinks they are remote enough to be safe.  Louise doesn’t want to leave but Jepperds insists and tells her that when it’s all over he will bring her back home.

It is then that we learn that Louise is pregnant. (more…)

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