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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (December 9, 2017).

Final of three shows for the Horseshoe Tavern’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Kindly recorded and provided by Mark Sloggett and Matt Kositsky. Kevin was playing Massey Hall with Barenaked Ladies but showed up for the encore and played Accordion.  Ensign Broderick opened.

The show opens with a beautiful two shot of Martin-sung songs.  A lovely Stolen Car which starts out quietly and beautifully is followed by a soaring “Northern Wish” which starts and ends quietly but had a nice fast loud section in the middle.

After Clark starts inexplicably singing “Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana,” the band plays a quiet intro to “Michael Jackson.”  There’s some great crazy sounds, I assume from Hugh Marsh, that add an interesting texture to the verses.  The band really fills out the middle with some great soloing from Martin and Hugh and the vocals from Martin and Tim are great too.  The end totally rocks. It’s an awesome version.

It segues into “AC/DC on My Stereo” which is a little sloppy but more fun than other versions.  After a few technical difficulties, there’s two in a row from Tim.  First the mellow “Music is the Message” with great violin from Hugh and then a terrific “Claire.”  DB intros it by asking “How many people have read the novel Whale Music?  Oh not nearly enough, that’s a Christmas order.  Go to your beautiful local library and read it and we’ll talk in like four months.  Deal?”  The sound on this version is crisp and everyone’s instruments sound so clear.

DB: We’ll play longer than usual since its Saturday and no one has to do anything tomorrow.  If you do just give me the number of your boss and Martin will call your boss and pretend he’s you.  Martin: I’ll be up first thing in the morning.  Not hungover.  The Clark and Martin have a pretty darn funny pretend conversation in which Martin quits the company.

This is no a segue into a wonderful “Christopher” that has a terrific Martin and Hugh duo–they try to match each other in sound and scope and it’s just amazing–I would have loved to see that.

Then DB is coming out front to sing “Mountains and the Sea.”  Clark: he’s not Neil Sedaka, he’s not Neil Diamond, uh oh.  Tim: Dave’s fundraising again.  DB: Tim, I put the fun in fundraising.  DB: Anybody got a stool?  Martin: Ah extra casual.  Dave, make sure you’re not flying low.  It’s a lovely quiet version of the song with a fun and funny solo by Hugh.

Clark starts chanting 6-11-11-18.  DB: we’re doing new songs that require counting.  We’re playing them for you tonight because you are elastic and rubbery and forgiving:  Possible names 6-11-11-18 (Tim: that’s way better than 2067), could be called Swipe Right.  Then Martin demonstrates the noise and nonsense that they will be doing for 90 minutes (feedback and slide whistle).

Martin: I’m a temperamental artist.
Clark: I thought you said tempura artist, you work wish sushi.
Martin: I play tantrum rock.
Clark: You’re like Sting, you can go all night long.
Martin: Except mine is just unpleasantness and anger.

This is a set up to Martin’s complicated “Albatross.”  It sounds great and very dramatic.  This is followed by a beautiful acoustic rendition of “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It winds up being just Tim and Hugh and it’s very pretty.

DB: You’re much more composed than last night’s crowd.  Martin: who were a bunch of louts.  DB: Lout-ish.  Well, one guy was a lout.  And congratulations to the Toronto Football Club for winning the MLS football cup.

Up next is “Supercollider,” with an unusually long and trippy opening from Hugh.  Clark says: “I’d like to dedicate this to my oldest friend on the planet Karen Lindhart and my sister, who are here tonight.  We listened to a lot of music together when we were kids.  Take us into space, Hugh.  A wondrous soaring violin solo ensues before the cool song begins.

DB: Okay, now we’re entering “shank” portion of the concert.  This one features Tim Vesely on … air.  This is an obvious dance party starter, but what the fuck.  Dave starts chanting post-Ptolemaic and when he asks Tim if he;s like to say anything about the Ptolemaic universe, Tim says he wasn’t paying attention.  It’s a wild and somewhat shambolic version of “Legal Age Life.”  But things settle down nicely for Tim’s “Soul Glue: which has some lovely violin as an intro.

They start out a beautiful “California Dreamline” and when it gets to “questionable things like” just before the song takes off, something happens (not sure what) and it crashes to a halt.  Tim says, “that was so fucking close.  I thought the intro was pretty awesome.”  They try to pick it up from where they left off, but it fails.  Martin: Okay lets drop this song, we’ve only played it 14,000 times.  Clark: let’s do a quick palette cleanser.  Which turns out to be a bouncy “Alomar.”  Mid song Martin says “your call will be answered shortly.”  They jump back into “California” and after a few false starts, they play it through with no more hiccups (although a lot of sloppy guitars).  When they get to “All the naked ladies,” Tim interjects, “they’re at Massey Hall tonight.”

DB: This is the birthday of the Horseshoe–70 years ago today.  We (Me, Tim, Dave, and James Gray [of Blue Rodeo]) first played here Halloween in 1982 (or 1983) opening for The Government.  I don’t even know how many years that is.  Audience: “35” DB: “Wow. Thanks… math nerd.”

That kindly story segues into a harsh and rocking version of “Feed Yourself.”  The middle instrumental section where Dave B gets really intense screaming and repeating lyrics is fleshed out even further by some great work from Hugh Marsh.  It’s probably the most intense version of the song I’ve heard.  I wish Martin’s guitar was a little quieter in the mix.  And I wish more than ever that I’d managed to get to see this show.

DB: We have one more song.  Then we’ll go back stage and we’ll have an internal review and you can have an external review.  If you deem it worthy of continuation, perhaps you’ll show some sign of support.  Tim: However if you disapproved of tonight’s show please remain silent.  It would confuse us other otherwise.

Then Tim looks in the audience and asks, “Is that a bumble T-shirt?  Sorry I thought you were promoting your dating website.”

They begin “Shaved Head” and Clark says he wants to play brushes, dammit.  Which he does for the quiet opening.  It’s an amazing song and a great ending to the set.

For the encore, Clark says Kevin is going to come up and play accordion.  Then he sings an a capella (until Tim starts playing the drums) rendition of “My Mind Is On Fire” (“I wanna communicate with you about love… right now” are the whole of the lyrics).

Kevin starts the accordion for a sloppy wild “Who Stole the Kishka” which seems in the wrong key the whole time.  When it’s over: DB: They don’t write any good fucking kisha songs anymore.  Audience guy: “Taking Care of Business.”  DB: “We fucking just took care of business right there.” Audience guy: “There’s something about you guys I really hate.”  DB: “Know what I hate about our audience?  Too many Italians.”

Tim: “Alright, Dim the lights, chill the ham.  Turn the lights way down.  As in off.  Even the wiener roaster, turn that one off.”  And so starts a slow, brooding version of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  By the end, the song has gotten huge, including the by-now obligatory “I wish I was back home in Derry” shout outs.

[READ: November 28, 2018] Ambient Comics

I love working in a place where I can see German comics (especially if they are wordless like this one), which I can fully enjoy.

This collection by German artist Nadine Redlich is wonderful.  The introduction by Mahler talks about the urgent question in the study of sequential art: “What lies between the panels” and how this book makes it easy to answer the question.  He says that that which lies between the panels is already within the panels, which explains “why there is so little room in between.”

Each of the pages of this book hosts a six panel cartoon in which literally almost nothing happens. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (December 8, 2017).

Second of three shows for the Horseshoe Tavern’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Kindly recorded and provided by Mark Sloggett and Matt Kositsky.

The opening music is Echo and the Bunymen’s “Killing Moon” and Jonathan Richman’s “Ice Cream Man” until 1:20 when the guitar for “Stolen Car” starts playing.  It’s a quiet intro section and Martin sounds good.  At 6 minutes the overall sound increases dramatically for about 20 seconds. It’s a shame it doesn’t stay that loud because otherwise the show is too quiet.  An absolutely scorching solo between Martin and High Marsh.

A somewhat subdued and quiet version of “King of the Past,” Hugh adds some soaring violin at the end.

The usually kind of flat “AC/DC on My Stereo” is spruced up by Hugh’s violin.  But the mix is really unfortunate–the overly loud guitar masks the rest of the song.

Dave Bidini: That song was written by Dave Clarke on the drums (and my friend Brodie Lodge)  Clark: a shout out to Davide DiRenzo and our friends in Ensign Broderick–Ensign, Griffy (Gordie Wilson), Danny, Glenn Milichem on the drums.    (Glenn tried to steal martin for his band Vital Sines…it only proved he had great taste) but he got Gordie Wilson and it all worked out.

A solid fun version of “PIN” with a “Dirty Blvd” tag at the end.  It’s followed by a long (nearly 8 minute) jamming (Hugh get a pizzicato violin solo) version of Stompin’ Tom’s “Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down.”  DB: This song would have been played oh 37 years ago on this very stage.  Some songs just stick around longer.

They retell some stories about Vancouver (the song is about Vancouver)–diaper dancers and people stealing wallets.  Vancouver leads the nation in diaper dancers.  A good piece of advice is to take your wallet on stage.  But not in Vancouver!

DB: We’re not a rock band, we’re a public service.  In a plant a seed and watch it grow into a tree sort of way.  Information is our fruit.  Melody is our bark.  Stompin’ Tom is our hero.  Well, one of them.

Someone shouts, “Play [Stompin’ Tom’s] Snowmobile Song.”   DB says, not quite snowmobile weather.  Well, is there snow up north?  Little bit?  Then it’s not even Super Slider Snow Skates weather.  Oh Jesus    Here’s the commercial for the lawsuits waiting to happen.

“Here Come the Wolves” sounds different, but very cool.  I like this version. Clark shouts the verses and Martin sings a quiet verse.  After Clark introduces Bidini with an Italian accent the band launches into an impromptu Italian song.  Bidini says they haven’t done that song in 7000 years, although, ironically Hugh is more Italian than any of us.  Tim: Once you do that kind of thing you’re scarred for life.

Audience check-in moment.  DB: “The customer, the fan is always right…  The fanstomer.”

Clark asks Martin if they are going to do the end of the next song a certain way.  DB: gives away the ending?  Clark:  Asked his bibliophile lady (and her friends)—do you read the last page the book first?  They said yes and it blew his mind.  And then they’re happy to read the book.  Its like having an orgasm without foreplay… or not really actually.   DB: I’ve done that many times myself  MT: You know this sex thing that everyone is talking about…what happens at the end?  DC: You get a little plastic toy out of the bottom of the box. That’s why they call it Cracker Jack.  DB: And then you feel shame.  MT: The shame part I’m comfortable with.

DB to the fan: You realize that by shouting for the next song you’re further delaying the next song, just so you know.  These guys would never do that   they are seasoned fanstomers.  Then inevitably someone shouts “play some music” and that’s when the gig is fucking over.

A quiet and pretty “It” (in which Hugh plays some beautiful soaring sounds) is followed by a raucous “Michael Jackson.”  Instead of Michael Jackson, he sang Auston Matthews a Maple Leafs player.  Mid song they start chanting whoop whoop whoop while Martin plays “Sweet Child of Mine.”  DB: “It’s called having fun it’s what Axl says, it’s what Slash says, it’s what Jimmy Page says, it’s what Eddie Van Halen says, it’s what Kathleen Hannah says, it’s what Patti Smith she says, it’s what Michael Stipe he says, it’s what Gord Downie he said, it’s what Tom Connors he said, it’s about having fun.  It’s hard.  It’s really hard.”  The crowd woo woo woos and sings the “it feels good to be alive” ending.   It’s a cool moment.

I used to be that I’d Used to hear “You rock Dave” and it was for me, but now I’m sharing it with a stage with my best friend Dave Clark.  It’s nice. Not saying I’m comfortable with it I’m saying it’s nice.

Clark goes on about being warm and swaddled and like a child.
Someone shouts: You can never go back.
Clark: Oh yea you can be a child all your life if you got the right ideas.  Age is a matter of the mind–if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

This leads to Tim’s pretty, acoustic “Rear View.”

Someone: “C’mon Martin sing one.”  DB: “Yeah Martin, what the fuck?”

Clark introduces the drum beat of the next song “pluh dee dut dut, pluh dee dut dut ding.”  When someone shouts something inaudible, Clark replies, “Apples and oranges pizza and Popsicles man.”  DB: ” I think you just came up with the name of our next record.”  This is a lead in to Northern Waltz.   Which DB says is a progressive waltz.  Clark: It’s the Ostenick 3/4.  Tim: Another potential album title.  Walter Ostenick, a cool guy who watched them soundcheck.  Tim Mech bought an accordion from him.    They start the song and martin gets choked up–Clark: It’s the ghost of Walter inhibiting you….devil come out!  He tries again and things go well in a beautiful version.

Martin plays a beautiful solo version of Tragically Hip’s “Bobcaygeon.“

During the pause there’s all kinds of weird shouted requests.  “Play some Skydiggers.”  “Play some Blue Rodeo.”  DB: “You’re kinda 0 for 2.  We don’t do those groups.”  Clark: “You realize that those guys are our friends.”

Play “Secret Heart” by Ron Sexsmith!  C’mon do it!”  DB: “You realize we’re not sitting in your car right now, eh.”  Clark: “Thelonious Monk says never engage with hecklers, so here we go.”

“Dope Fiends” sounds great and the band seems really into it with Martin shouting “Why didn’t they stay here? How come, Hugh, why?”  Clark gets a drum solo and it ends with a rollicking conclusion and soaring violins from Hugh.

“Self Serve” opens on a quiet guitar.  I almost didn’t recognize it, the way it was played.  It is very pretty.  The ending gets pretty harsh with Martin snarling “you ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” before a rocking ending with everyone singing “I will be kinglike!”

This encore break exhibits this new thing that I’ve heard people do at shows where they chant “one more song,” which drives me nuts because some bands like the Rheos will actually play half a dozen songs, and you are limiting them, so knock it off!

Audience: “I love you Dave Bidini.”  DB: “I love you too, stranger, strange man.  Are you that strange man that I love?”

Merch plug: Give us your money and we will convert it into rock n roll magic.  You can take the things with you and replay the nights tonight for eternity—ish.  Plug for West End Phoenix.

This leads to a quiet acoustic version of “My First Rock Concert.”  DB: “Dave Clark tell us about your first rock concert.  Dave sings “Don’t Worry, Baby,” about The Beach Boys in 1973 The Surf’s Up tour.  He was 8 years old.  Wicked show!  Ricky Fataar on drums (he also played with the Rutles!).  Martin: My first concert was in 1981.  I went to Convocation Hall and I saw Bruce Cockburn with Murray McLaughlin and in the band was Hugh Marsh.   Tim: That doesn’t sound very rock to me.  In his diary Martin wrote, “This audience is very intelligent,” I thought rock shows would be full of assholes… like tonight. That was my first rock concert.  First and last.  After the song: Was that guy the same Hugh Marsh? Yes and John Goldsmith.

DB: I’m having a shitty lapel weekend.  Martin: Another one?  No, you’re just fixated.  It’s puffy, but it’s not that bad.  Any tailors in the audience?  Dave needs an emergency.

“I am Headless” sounds great.  I love the way Tim and Martin’s vocals interplay with Hugh’s violin.

We’re in Hamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood.  It’s sold out.  There’s still a few tickets for tomorrow night.  Good luck to TFC tomorrow.  Tim: Don’t tell the Thursday night people about tonight’s show because it wasn’t quite as good last night.

Martin starts a chuuga metal riff and Clark says, “What have you got for us, Tony Iommi?”  DB: here’s a song about hockey and also about being gay and living in a small town.  Tom Cochrane do not write it.  It’s a solid “Queer.”  For the second verse, Tim sings Cochrane’s “Big League,” (Sorry I was daydreaming for a second) then DB sings REM’s “I am Superman”  They try for the high note.  DB: “Kinda.”  Clark: “It’s always worth trying.  If you’re not failing, you’re not doing.”  Clark sings “Stepping Stone” which segues into “I’m a Believer.”

After “sometime choices aren’t so clear,” instead of the end it turns into a drum and violin jam which somehow segues into a funky instrumental jam and then into “Alomar” at the end.  Tim says “And what song were we playing? We don’t have to finish that.”  Clark quips: “We don’t even have to Swedish it….  Let’s Latvia alone.  It’s okay, I’m a little Estonia’d right now.”

What do you guys want to hear?  [Horses, Aliens, Palomar, Wreck of the Edmund]

Thanks, we have fed all of the data into the super computer which has come up with the exact right thing to play at this time.

Thanks to Ensign Broderick and everyone in the band Jason for opening the show.

DB: I was going to try to play “Purple Haze” but I don’t now how.  I thought you were doing Buddy Guy.  I don’t know, do we know any Eagles?

Here’s a song by the Eagles called “Horses.”  The Eagles featuring Rabbit Bundrick, Skunk Baxter, Philthy Animal Taylor, Gullible Guinea Pig and Hammy Hamster.  “Horses” starts quietly and intensely (with great backing vox from all present).  After the first “holy mackinaw, Joe,” it totally rocks out.  Dave also calls Red Deer a “fucking shitty town” (!).  They shift briefly into “We don’t need no education (sloppy).”   And the concert roars to an end with Martin making some great horse sounds on his guitar.

[READ: November 28, 2018] When I am King

Demian 5 (Demian Volger) created a hilarious and good-looking webcomic back in 2001 (hard to believe).  It was finally put into print form this year.

I love the clean lines and style that a webcomic (especially one from 2001) necessitated.  It also means the artist is going to have to think of ways to differentiate the characters who, for the most part, look pretty similar.  And Demian 5 does a great job with that.

In the (bilingual) introduction, Demian 5 explains that he has been editing the historical findings of his ancestors for some 15 years, trying to make this account readable and accessible.  “It was my goal to reproduce these historical hieroglyphs without detracting from the information they contain.”

And what that means is a wild and wonderful story about royalty, nudity (amusing and non-detailed), bestiality and flowers. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAC DEMARCO-“No Other Heart” (Field Recordings, August 10, 2015).

Mac Demarco is pretty famous now and seems to be pretty much everywhere.  And yet I actually don;t think I’d ever heard him before this recording.

I’m not even sure if it is in any way representative of his music.  But I love that you can hear the waves lapping.

For this song, Demarco says he bought a boat for his birthday.  It’s a small rowboat, which he rowed out into a bay in Queens “Take A Sunset Cruise With Mac DeMarco”) and began playing his song on a little keyboard. The music has an intentional weird vibrato on it but the recording sound is quite magnificent.

For the charismatic 26-year-old songwriter who grew up in the landlocked plains of Canada, the water still holds an exotic appeal. Plus, the area’s laid-back feel is a perfect match for his laconic delivery and perpetually chill personality.

He sounds a little goofy singing it–presumably intentionally–given the other clips of him goofing off on his boat.

DeMarco moved to this house [by the bay in Far Rockaway, Queens] last fall, after touring behind last year’s excellent Salad Days — just in time for the long, bleak East Coast winter — with the intention of playing his instruments loud and writing new music in isolation [the wistful, melodic mini-album Another One].  A shaggy and surfy collection of love songs, it’s suited for a lazy summer backyard barbecue or taking your second-hand rowboat out for a dusk cruise.

As the show ends, he goofs around singing “Don’t Rock the Boat” as the camerawoman walks up to him in waist deep water.

Behind him, sun-dappled waves are chopped up by freighter boats and the occasional jet ski passing by. Across the water sits JFK airport, with its distant engine hum of planes taking off and landing at a steady, rhythmic clip. The crisp, salty sea breeze mingles with wafts of stagnant water, decaying debris and dead horseshoe crabs that wash ashore.

[READ: June 2, 2018] Cleopatra in Space Book Four

T. brought this book home and I couldn’t believe that book four was out already (had it really been a year?).

This book opens with a reflection on the previous book and Octavian yelling at his soldier cat for not killing the girl.  He is provided with a bounty hunter–a dog-headed man who will stop at nothing to make sure that the Golden Lion is destroyed.

Octavian is shocked.   If they possessed the Golden Lion, they could firmly defeat P.Y.R.A.M.I.D.

Back at P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. at Yasiro Academy, we see Cleo doing battle against a whole bunch of robots in a simulator  Akira comes to take her to class but before they can go they are summoned before he Council.  When they arrive in front of the cat Council, Akira’s parents are there (they call her KiKi much to her annoyance).  They are happy to see her and very happy to meet Cleopatra for they have been studying her life and the prophecy for years. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKCŒUR DE PIRATE-Live at Massey Hall (July 8, 2014).

I known of Cœur de Pirate more from reputation than her music.  But everything I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed.  Cœur de Pirate is Beatrice Martin a Francophone singer from Montreal who sings almost entirely in French.  And yet despite that, she sells out to Anglophone audiences because her music is so darn catchy.

In the opening she notes that it’s crazy that she’s a French-speaking artists singing in french selling out a venue like Massey Hall.  She feels special and can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.

The first song is “Le Long du Large.”  She is playing piano with a great band behind her.  The song grooves along smoothly–it has a great catchy chorus with terrific backing vocals.  There’s an acoustic guitar (Renaud Bastien), a lead guitar (Emmanuel Éthier), bass (Alexandre Gauthier) and drums (Julien Blais).

On “Francis” it’s just her on piano.  The song has a very Regina Spektor vibe in her playing style and singing delivery.

“Ensemble” is bouncy and upbeat, just super fun.

Golden Baby” opens with a melody like “Come on Eileen” but as soon as the electric guitar soars over, it is a very different song.   I love that she sounds like she smiling throughout.

It surprised me that she did an encore so soon in the show, but there’s clearly a reason for that.

Before the encore, she plays “Adieu”  our “last song.”  Shes off the piano on this one, only singing.  It’s got a heavy rocking beat and guitar and it’s really great.

When she comes back for the encore she sits at the piano and asks “More songs?”

“Place de la République” starts as solo piano and it sounds lovely.  After a verse or so, they add a bowed bass and strummed acoustic guitar  which builds the songs nicely.  Half way through, drums come in to give it even more power.  It’s a terrific song.

She is quite sweet saying that “it makes no sense that a French Canadian girl could sell out Massey Hall…. just got to hold it together.”

She invites everyone to sing along. If you don’t know French, just pretend.  It works too.  This is the last song.  Make it fun make it magical.  She says that the song, “Comme des enfants” is being taught in French classes.  It was a huge hit and the audience sings part the last verse.  It’s a wonderful moment and always cool to see an artist overwhelmed by her fans base.

[READ: March 28, 2018] Cici’s Journal

The book (there are two books in this volume) opens with Cici talking about her journal.  We meet Cici and her mom.  We learn that Cici hangs out a lot with the neighbor Mrs Flores, a writer.  Her mom doesn’t love that she hangs out with am older lady, but Mrs Flores is pretty cool.

Cici’s two best friends are Lena and Erica  The pair knew each other since they were babies;  Cici moved to the neighborhood when they were all little.  They have been best friends ever since.

I give Carol Klio Burrell a real thumbs up on this translation. I didn’t realize that it was a translation until well into the second book.  But I didn’t love a few aspects of the story.  The problem here I think comes with the friends.  Lena is sweet and has the soul of an artist.  Meanwhile, Erica “complains constantly, but she has a good heart.”  That’s not a very complex or desirably character trait.  And that aspect of her comes out a lot in the second book, which is kind of annoying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BEDOUINE-Tiny Desk Concert #737 (April 30, 2018).

Bedouine has a lovely clear voice.  She’s a genuine folk throwback treasure, without being retro.  Her songs are remarkably simple and yet they are rich and almost enchanting.  There is something about the way she sings that makes you want to listen, to lean in and hear what she has to say.

Her guitar playing is also very pretty.  Again, a reasonably simple finger-picking style.  but it is simultaneously precise and warm.

I saw her live recently and she held an entire club rapt despite being an opening act for two much louder bands.  So who is Bedouine?

Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960’s North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.  This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous.

Azniv Korkejian was born in Aleppo Syria. Her parents were Armenian and she spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia. But a green card lottery win found her family moving to Boston and Houston. Eventually she made her way to Los Angeles with important time spent in Austin, Texas and Savannah, Ga. The name she chose, Bedouine, reflects the traveler, the wanderer in her.

She plays three songs, just her and her guitar.  The songs don’t diverge that much from each other.  She even jokes that the second song is a different song than the first one, she promises.

“One of These Days” is a pretty song that seems so optimistic because you can feel the smile in her voice as she sings.  But as with much of what she plays, there is a kind of melancholy to it.

“Solitary Daughter” opens with the same chord (and picking) but soon shifts textures. I love her delivery on this song in which she lets her voice drop a register and adds a kind of Laura Marling spoken word style to part of it.

The middle third is just stunning

I don’t need the walls
to bury my grave
I don’t need your company
to feel saved
I don’t need the sunlight
My curtains don’t draw
I don’t need objects
to keep or to pawn
I don’t want your pity
Concern or your scorn
I’m calm by my lonesome
I feel right at home
And when the wind blows
I get to dancing
My fun is the rhythm of air
When it’s prancing

“Nice and Quiet” is an intimate love song, but one tinged with sadness.  It has such a charming and sweet melody, which really sums up her music pretty well.

[READ: March 5, 2018] The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang is back with an outstanding book.  I absolutely love her drawing style.  The look of her dressmaker, Frances, is just adorable.  I love her clothes, I especially love her face, which is cartoony but not caricature-y.  The prince’s nose is huge but not overtly comical and adds a distinctive element to the story.

But what makes this book stand out even more than the art is the story.

The Prince is holding a ball.  When the scene pans back we see horse-drawn carriages.  In other words, the time is sort of nebulously olde.  The women are dressed fancy, with petticoats.  There is much stress around town because all the young women wish to go to the ball.

A woman storms into a couture shop with a mud-covered dress.  Her daughter decided to play in the dress and it is ruined.  Can then makes something for her in time?  Frances is available and the owner gives her the job. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (April 29, 2016).

After their farewell concert at Massey Hall in 2007, who would have guessed that some nine years later they’d be back again.

When I heard this show was announced I immediately bought a ticket, not really thinking about how I would logistically manage such a thing.  I was able to get it to a fan who could go, but at least I’ll have my email confirmation:

Live at Massey HallRheostatics
Fri 04/29/2016 8:00 PM
Main Floor Centre Front  Seat I-44   $29.50

This time Martin’s voice is working again.  But in the intervening years he has had something else go on with him.  I don’t know details, but there’s some kind of anxiety present–and it comes out during this show.

Amazingly, for such a big show, there is hardly any evidence of it online.  There’s a few fan videos but no full sets available.

The only performance available that I can find is the official release from (the terrific) Live at Massey Hall series.  The whole series is wonderful–professionally filmed and beautifully recorded.  The only problem is that it’s so short.  I don’t know how long the show was, but the video is only 40 minutes.

The video opens with Martin talking about his laryngitis, “laryngitis taught me to enjoy singing in a lower range.”  There’s Tim talking about seeing Devo (who were walking on treadmills the whole show) at Massey Hall and overheating from wearing a heavy coat in winter.  Dave saw lot so new wave bands who weren’t great live but were great because they were in Massey hall–it’s a forgiving and inspiring place.

Big red letters in the back of the stage spelled out RHEOSTATISC (sic).

The set opens with “King of the Past” Martin plays a lovely solo and gets some applause and the whole thing sounds great.

“Californian Dreamline” opens with some great sound effects from Martin, Hugh Marsh and Kevin Hearn.  But after the “sensamilla” bit, Martin freaks out.  He steps away from the mic and waves everyone off.

Dave jumps in, “this happened in Montreal once. It’s true.  We were opening for Moxy Fruvous, so it’s a kind of curse we’ve got to exorcise.”

The band jams on and them Martin comes back to sing and the crowd gives him a big cheer–there really is no more forgiving crowd than a Rheostatics crowd.

The opening acoustic guitar of “Claire” begins.  That’s Tim on acoustic, Dave on bass and Martin on his gorgeous double neck guitar.  The letters have been rearranged to say SORTA ITCHES and Martin plays a great solo.  Tim sounds perfect, of course.

They start “P.I.N.”  Martin sings the first line and then has an issue.  He steps away again while the band plays on. He catches himself and returns (again to encouraging applause).  Once it gets going it all sounds great.

Dave finally gets a lead vocal song.  The letters spell out SHITCOASTER as they play a flawless “Mumbletypeg.”

Then apparently the entire rest of the show happens and we get the night-ending encore–a wild and raucous “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.” (The letters finally spell RHEOSTATICS). The song gets off to a pretty good start.  For the middle, Martin and Hugh face each other (Martin always seems comforted by being with Hugh) and then Don Kerr gets a drum solo (with sound effects from Kevin Hearn).

At the end of the song, for the “moon,” there are howls, probably from Kevin, possibly from the audience.  As they slowly fade away, Dave jumps of the drum rise and the end of the song begins.  But this is an extended jam ending.  Hugh and Kevin make some menacing sounds and then Martin plays a solo with a slide.  It’s a weird, very undramatic ending for such a dramatic band.

I have always been sad that I couldn’t go to this show, but it sounds like it would have been a real roller coaster of a night.

Read this review from Radio Free Canuckistan for the perspective of someone who was there.

Over the closing credits, Kevin Hearn’s father read “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  I assume he read that before the band came out (accompanied by Hugh Marsh).

I don’t know much by Bukowski, but this is great for its simple profundity.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

[READ: March 5, 2018] Head Games

As with some of my favorite books, the story behind the creation is almost as interesting as the book itself.

Craig McDonald is a journalist and he says that he is often frustrated by trying to write the truth: “read five biographies about the same person and you’ll feel like you’ve read about five different people.”  With fiction maybe you can find something bordering truth.

The introduction by McDonald tells us that we will be riding with pulp novelist Hector Lassiter.  Lassiter is the protagonist of a finite arc of ten novels. The last one, Three Chords & The Truth is a sequel to Head Games and appeared in 2016.  Lassiter is a charmer, a rogue, a rake and a crime novelist who lives what he writes and writes what he lives.  Hector was born in Texas in 1/1/1900 and the arc of the novels spans the 20th century.

McDonald says the publishing history of the books is not chronological. Head Games was the first novel published.  The second was set in 1935 and features Hemingway prominently.  Other books hopscotched through the decade. They have recently been reissued and presented in roughly chronological order.

The novels “follow secret histories and underexplored aspects of real events.”  They’re set in real places and use history and real people to drive the plots. (more…)

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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: LOGAN RICHARDSON-Tiny Desk Concert #734 (April 23, 2018).

Logan Richardson is a jazz saxophonist.

I’ve been down on saxophones lately, but I do really like the sound he gets.  I’m a bit more impressed by the rest of his band, though.

Since I don’t know Richardson, I’ll let the blurb speak for me, with some of my comments.

Richardson ‘s latest project, Blues People,  … was derived from the early slave calls that inspired the earliest American jazz and blues musical traditions. Here at the Tiny Desk, the saxophonist revisits that history with four remarkable songs from the album, all performed with a hope that our country’s future will be less painful than its past.

“80’s Child” is a reflection on the decade Richardson was born. Its colorful melody complements the band’s energetic fusion groove. Continually pushing forward with momentum and anticipation, its 8/8 time signature moves seamlessly into 10/8 to create an intensity that is both focused and free.

I love the opening guitar work (by Igor Osypov) which sounds very un-jazzy to me–you could hear an alt-rock sound being built out of that.  While Igor is doing a simple but pretty guitar solo rhythm guitarist Justus West keeps the rhythm work with some interesting whammy bar bending.   About three minutes in, drummer Ryan Lee gets some great little improv moments.  I really enjoy the song even if I find myself tuning out the sax and listening to the guitar.

Richardson notes, “The desk is tiny but it’s mighty.  I have a tiny saxophone that I forgot to bring.”

The next groove, “The Settlement,” maintains a similar tone and features DeAndre Manning slapping on his funky bass.

This song feels more jazzy to me–prominent sax with jazz guitar chords.  But I do love the jazz/prog rock section with the slap bass and the guitars following suit.  I definitely tune out the sax to listen to the great riffage from the strings

While the band is ringing out the last notes of the song, Richardson introduces the next

The song gently segues into the only vocal piece, “Black Brown & Yellow,” a lovely reminder that racial diversity is something to celebrate.

They do a short chant of “Black, brown and yellow is beautiful.”  It’s a pretty, almost sensuous song sung first by West and then joined by everyone else.

I love that I am now quoting someone quoting some else about this last song:

“Anthem (To Human Justice)” ends with brilliance best described by my colleague Nate Chinen, “By design, too, Richardson’s alto saxophone often functions more like a lead vocalist than as a virtuoso solo instrument. He’s a good conduit for soaring, plaintive melody…. And however the band surges or thrashes around him, there’s a feeling of urgent communion in this music.”

The backing music is once again excellent and interesting, with cool time changes a nifty guitar solo (while the second guitar is doing some other cool stuff too) and some great bass work.  I really like the way the whole band jams it out at the end–the band sounds great and Logan’s sax is right there with them soloing the whole time.

I feel like this is jazz for people who don’t like jazz.

[READ: March 17, 2018] Olympians 10

I’m still not sure how many books O’Connor has planned for this series, although in his introduction he talks about saving his favorite books for the end, so I assume there are at least two more (although 12 seems reasonable).

Here’s the summary of the man himself:

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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