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Archive for the ‘Bruce Cockburn’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS (1994).

This is one of the first alternative Christmas albums I bought.  I don’t listen to it that much because I tend to think it’s not that good (the cover is pretty uninspired).  But there’s actually quite a lot of good stuff on this.

SYD STRAW-“The Christmas Twist”
I’m happy to report that the “twist” is not some dark storyline, but an actual dance of The Twist.  Syd has written a Twist and it’s fun and dancey with plenty of Christmas lines to sing along to.  It’s a great opening track.

SHONEN KNIFE-“Space Christmas”
Shonen Knife does what they do best–short fast punky pop songs.  This one about a space Christmas, of course.

NRBQ-“A Christmas Wish”
I know this from the She & Him version.  I didn’t realize I had the original.  It’s sweet and cute with a really catchy and lovely melody in the “people all over the world” line.

BRUCE COCKBURN-“Mary Had A Baby”
This is one of those call and response songs that is very repetitive and goes on for too long.  If it was shorter it would be fun.

The dB’s-“Home For The Holidays”
This is kind of a stomping country song. It’s got a cool stomp stomp in the middle.  At under 3 minutes it’s just right.

SHELLYAN ORPHAN-“Ice” [NSFC]
I love the vocals and the song is quite pretty.  But this song is a downer (I don’t like Christmas anymore) and at over 5 minutes is not really good Christmas party music.

FISHBONE-“It’s A Wonderful Life”
Man I love this song.  It’s a super fun and dancey ska song that cites It’s a Wonderful Life and is just full of fun and pep.

POI DOG PONDERING-“Mele Kalikimaka”
It’s funny to hear this Hawaiian song done in this New Orleans brass style.  It’s a fun song regardless of who is doing it.

T-BONE BURNETT-“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
This opens as a pretty instrumental version of this song on acoustic guitar and violin.  Lovely.  The vocals are fine, but I’d have preferred it with no words–the instrumentation was really striking,

TIMBUK 3-“All I Want For Christmas” [NSFC]
I really disliked Timbuk 3 back in the 1980s.  But I find their strange deliver to be reminiscent of X and I’m quite attracted to their style.  I like this song a lot. Although I can’t endorse a Christmas song about WWIII.  And I suppose lyrically, it’s a bit naive.  But the music is fantastic.

DAVE EDMUNDS-“Run, Rudolph Run”
I don;t know that anyone can get me to enjoy this song. Certainly not this vert standard version of it.

SHAWN COLVIN-“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Shawn has a lovely voice and this song is delightful.  It’s a simple piano version with some gentle accompaniment.  Interestingly, this does not appear on her own Christmas album (see the 24th), probably because it might be too upbeat–she does get a bit carried away, vocally, by the end.

So there’s nothing stellar on this disc (except Fishbone), but it’s a solid collection of alternative versions of songs and a few solid originals.

[READ: October 19, 2017] Pashmina

I wanted to love this book so much.  It has so many awesome elements.  The black and white to color juxtapositions are wonderful.  The colors are gorgeous and Chanani’s drawing style is simple but charming and effective.

And I think wanting to like this book as much as I did is why I wound up not enjoying it as much as I wanted.

And that’s because it feel like there’s a lot left out of the book–I wanted it to be twice as long.

This story is about Priyanka, a young Indian-American girl.  She is raised by her mother (and knows literally nothing about her father–her mother won’t say a word about him). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 8, 2005).

This series of ten concerts contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about–except for their “final shows” and their “reunion shows” (which I really hope to see some day). This was the 1st night of their last 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. Ford Pier was on keyboards.

These shows seem significantly shorter that the 2004 Fall Nationals.  This show is under 2 hours–practically unheard of in a Fall Nationals.  Unlike the 2004 Fall Nationals, however, they are not promoting an album, so there is a lot more diversity of songs.

This recording is from the audience, so there’s a (shocking) amount of chatter from fans.  You also can’t hear everything that’s said into the mics, so you have to listen close if you want to hear audience interaction.

The show opens with them talking to fans from San Diego (Mike: “that means Saint Diego”).  Dave asks how long they’re here. He says well, we have three chances, then.

“Loving Arms” is a sweet opening from Tim.  Then Martin starts announcing in a smarmy voice “I’m a member.  Hi there.”  It’s a launch into “CCYPA” (Miek: “in an election year, imagine that”).  Tim follows with a quick “Song Of The Garden.”

Then Dave starts playing the opening to “Fat” to much applause.  “That’s Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That’s Tim Vesely on the keyboards.  That’s Martin Tielli on the keyboards.”  During the end jam section, there’s some loud, unusual backing vocals which I assume are from Ford Pier.

Martin: “What’s the first note of the next song, Dave?  I’m feeling a little shaky.  But that’s what this song [‘Fish Tailin”]is about so it should lend itself to this current number.  After this comes “Mumbletypeg” Martin: “That is David Augustino Bidini.  Dave wrote this song.  All by himself!”  It romps along nicely.

Next is the first of a couple new songs.  “Sunshine At Night” is actually a song hat Tim would release on his 2008 Violet Archers disc Sunshine at Night (where it is mostly the same but more fleshed out and better-sounding).

Martin is having fun with the “Hi there” smarmy voice as an intro to “The Tarleks.”  It’s followed by “Marginalized” which has a rather lengthy and dramatic piano solo in the middle.

Martin: “That was by Timothy Warren Vesely.”  Ford: “Stop shouting everyone’s middle names, Jesus.”  Dave:  “Martin is obsessed with middle names, whenever he meets someone new he says ‘What’s your middle name?”  Mike: “Yeah right but whats your middle name.”  Ford continues, “A friend of mine was engaged to a woman from Slovenia.  When she came to visit she was astonished to hear that everyone had a middle name–are you all rich?  It was a difficult thing to explain to her.  She associated middle named with wealth?  Middle names were not a concept that came to her block in Ljubljana.  Tim: “Ford tried to convince her it had something to do with wealth.”

Then came a song, “The Land Is Wild.”  This would eventually be released on Bidiniband’s 2009 album The Land is Wild.  It’s pretty much the same although this earlier version has a few lines that are not in the final.  A line about him being in his own head and listening to Metallica, Ozzy or Queen.  There’s another line about tickling the net and being lost in his head.  Both of these lines are left off in the final.  Interestingly, the final verse about fishing with his old man and his death were added later.

Martin says that for “Here Comes the Image,” Augustine is going to play the drums and Dimitrius is going to play the keyboard.”

As they start, “It’s Easy To Be With You,” Dave says, “My friend this is no time to be talking on your phone, there’s some serious rock n roll happening up here.  Take a picture with your mind.”

It’s followed by a beautiful “Stolen Car.”  Martin’s vocals are just so good.  After the song ends, properly, there’s an extra acoustic strumming section that soon becomes “Nowhere Man” sung by Selina Martin.

Dave notes that it has been 25 years since John Lennon was killed.  The world has gotten a lot shittier.

Ford then says, “You know who was really burned on that score? Darby Crash, lead singer of The Germs.  He committed suicide with an intentional heroin overdose the same day.  Five years earlier David Bowie said they only have five years left.  So he told his band mates hat five years from now he was going to off himself.  They ignored him, but he did.  And then three hours later the Walrus gets blown away.”
Dave’s takeaway: “Never take advice from David Bowie.  He told me to buy a wool suit.  Well actually Springsteen told me, but Bowie told him.”
Tim once ate some hot soup with David Bowie.

We’ll do a couple more for you seeing as how it’s Thursday.  Tim: “Can you do a little pretty intro for me that you sometimes do?”  Dave does and “Making Progress ” sounds big and more rocking than usual (the keys help).  Martin plays  a more rocking guitar solo before settling in to the pretty ending.  When it’s over you can hear Dave says “we can call him Timmy, I’m not sure you can call him…  Well, I guess you just did.  Is this your third straight year?  Fourth?  You’ve earned the right to call him Timmy.”

Thanks to the Creaking Tree String Quartet they were beyond awesome.  I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow night.  The set ends with a lovely version of “Self Serve Gas Station” with some great piano additions.  The song ends in a long jam with trippy keys a fun solo from Martin.  As he walks off Martin says, “I smoke Gaulioses Blue cigarettes, since they can’t advertise.  The flavor!  And so did John Lennon and Bruce Cockburn.”

After the encore, Dave sings and acoustic “Last Good Cigarette.”  When Martin comes back out they play a surprising encore song of “Song Of Flight” which segues into a mellow intro for “In This Town.”  By by the end it picks up steam and rocks to the end.

It was a fairly short first show, of the Fall Nationals, but they played a lot of interesting stuff.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Friends is Friends

This book had a lot going against it.  The title is virtually impossible to find in a catalog (3 words long, 2 words repeat, the other word is “is” and the one main word is incredibly common in children’s books, ugh).  On top of that, no libraries near me carried it.  And then its got that creepy-ass cover.

Reviews of the book weren’t very positive either.  So my hopes weren’t very high.

And even with low hopes, I was still pretty disappointed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Call the Office, London, ON (April 18, 2008).

Dave Bidini played some solo shows in 2007 but by 2008 he had cobbled together a band: Bidiniband.  The band includes Dave, Paul Linklater, on lead guitar, former Rheo Don Kerr on drums and Doug Friesen on bass.

I’m not sure when they started playing together, but this is the first live show at Rheostatics Live.  The set list hasn’t changed much since his solo shows, but the songs sound really different with the full band.

Some of Dave’s solo work is about telling real life stories of unsung people.  They

re usually really interesting the first one or two times you hear them, but they kind of lose their power after multiple listens.  So “Zeke Roberts” and “The Land is Wild” (except for the fantastic chorus) wear out their welcome a bit.  But again, it’s a nice change to hear them with the full band.

“Fat” is interesting to hear with other musicians.  The ending isn’t quite as wild as with the band but these guys chant the “everyone’s a robot” with great energy.  After the song Dave says “Good  night everybody” to much laughter.  For the next song he says, “This is basically the same song but with a more ironic joke.  The irony is not in the tuning or lack thereof.”

Someone says, “You guys and your new strings. I haven’t changed my strings in like two years.”  “I thought t would be cool, you know, on a new tour.”

“This Song Ain’t Any Good” has a very different delivery than the folksier style that I’m used to.  He asks the band, “You want to do it sad, what did you mean?” They do the chorus in a kind of repeated downbeat “singalong.”

Thanks to Andy and The Two Minute Miracles for playing tonight.  We’re gonna do another song based in our country: “The Moncton Hellraisers.”  It has a rather country flair to it.

Someone shouts, “Do a hockey song.”  Dave says, “I think you’re out of luck tonight  Oh, no there’s a longer one later tonight….we’re making you wait for it.”

I love the jazzy opening of “Memorial Day.”  But even better is the full band rock of “Terrorize Me Now.”  Who ever in the band is screaming “And then we killed again,” is totally intense.

Dave asks, “Could anyone deliver a water to the stage, or I could put my guitar down…  From off stage: “only whiskey and cold coffee!”  “cold cuts?”

This next song is gonna feature Dog Paul’s on double bass for a song about cannibalism and Canadian rock.  “Desert Island Poem” features the line   “Rheostatics eat their drummer who would cook and season the body?”

Dave once described the song: “Yeah, and that’s sort of a true story in a way. I mean not the cannibalism part. But one time the Rheos were stranded in Drumheller [Alberta] and we were listening to the radio and we heard this story about that plane that crashed in Alaska. And we began to wonder what would happen to us if we never got out of Drumheller.”

For “The List”, the replaced Zack Warner with Sass Jordan (a Canadian singer) which features the line “you say I suck but it’s that suckdom of which I’m proud.”  Some one shouts, “that’s a fucking song that needed to be written.”  Dave says he has one more verse but he can’t remember who its about.

“The Continuing Story of Canadiana and Canadiandy” has a cool slide guitar solo in the middle of the folk.  Dave, “That’s from back in the day where all the Canadian folk singers looked like Jesus.  Those nice sweaters on, a nice beard.”  Mitsou?  “When I think of Canadian folk I think of Mitsou too, ironically.”

Someone in the band proposes the “Top five Canadian folk albums: Summer Side of Life, Old Dan’s Records,”  Dave notes: “That’s two from Gordon Lightfoot are you allowed to pick two from the same artist?” “And The Way I Feel.” Dave: “You’re just doing Gordon Lightfoot.”  “That’s what I’m trying to say, dude. “I’m getting your drift that you like the Gord.”  “Gordon never looked like Jesus did.” “No, he looked more like Bruno Gerussi.”

“Is everybody ready for a long death ballad?  You look like the kind of crowd who would like a long death ballad.”  Someone in the crowd shouts: “kill us, kill us Dave.”

We haven’t performed this song successfully ever life.  “Zeke” sounds better with the guitar sliding up and down and in the middle when there’s a few complex moments  and the band really takes off.  But there’s all kinds of flubs at the end.  Dave says, “you’re too kind.  That was the best first half we’ve done for sure.”

They play “My First Rock Show” at a slower pace.  “A bit of banjo for this, Paul?”  After the swan dive, there’s some crazy feedback and effects manipulation and then Dave starts singing “Happy Jack.”

They finish “Rock Show” and then begin with “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then Slade’s “Run Run Away.” (did that song have a chorus?).  And then it shifts to Bidini’s “Pornography.”

“Rock Intro?  Is it a rock intro nigh?” “Progtro.”  Someone says something about YouTube.  Dave says “Whats YouTube. They’re an Irish rock band, right?”  There’s great noisy opening to “The Land is Wild.”  It quiets down but sounds great with the full band.  I like the lead guitar line that runs through the song.  During the slow part, the person who mentioned Gordon Lightfoot sings “Ode to Big Blue” as the song gets bigger and noisier.

It segues into a really fast version of Rheostatics’ “Earth.”  Its rocks.  “Don Kerr on the drums everybody.”  And then a romping “Horses.”  Midway through the song he starts reciting the lines to “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads and then some of “Another Brick in the Wall. Pt 2.”  He also throws n the “facts” portion of Talking Heads’ “Cross-eyed and Painless.”

This all segues into a stomping, guitar-light version of “Life During Wartime.”  Dave starts singing lines from “One Thing Leads to Another” (“one gun leads to another”), “Relax Don’t Do It”  then “When Two Tribes go to war, war is something you can’t ignore.”

As the song ends Dave thanks everyone for coming: “a small but mighty crowd for a small but mighty band.”  Then he introduces the band: Douglas Friesen from Manitoba, Paul Linklater from Manitoba, Dave born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Donald S. Kerr from Mississauga, Ontario.

As they finish, the crowd is screaming screaming for an encore with one guy even telling him not to put their instruments down.  But there is no encore.

[READ: April 15, 2017] Writing Gordon Lightfoot

The title of this book is unusual–it’s hard to even figure out what it means (until you read the book), but it’s also deceptive.

The title means writing to Gordon Lightfoot.  Bidini is basically writing Lightfoot a series of letters. But it is far more than that.  In fact the scope of the book is really the Mariposa musical festival that took place in Toronto in 1972.  Lightfoot appeared (along with many other folk luminaries).  Interspersed with his documentation oft he festival (he was too young to go so it’s all research) are his letters to Lightfoot.

The reason he is writing letters to Lightfoot in a book is because Bidini believes that Lightfoot won’t speak to him.

His band Rheostatics, recorded a cover of his “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It was one of their big songs when they were first starting out.  And then, as a brash young kid, Bidini once said that it was actually based on an old Irish melody and that it really wasn’t Lightfoot’s song anyway.  Yipes.

So, assuming that Lightfoot will never talk to him (I wonder if he actually tried), he decides to write letters.  But the letters aren’t “hi how are you” letters, they are a biography of Lightfoot’s life as written by a fellow musician.  He bases most of his notes on things that were in other biographies and he says he makes a lot of it up too.

So it’s an unusual book in many ways. (more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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rainbowSOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-Steamers, Victoria BC (September 1, 1999).

steamersOf all of the three main Rheostatics, Martin Tielli has released the most music outside of the band.  He had a band called Nick Buzz who has released three albums and then he has released three solo albums under his own name. His first came out in 2001.  And this tour was something of a preview for that album.

He called “Farmer in the City” (a song with this title, originally sung by Scott Walker was released on the 2001 album).  This was the second night of the tour (Torfino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island was the first date).

What is most amazing about this show (aside from the fact that the audio quality is outstanding) is that there are a number of songs here that never made it onto any albums.

Also interesting is that even though the show sounds great, Martin was having trouble with his monitor all night. He keeps asking if the crowd can hear him, and saying that he could barely hear himself at all.  And yet his voice sounds fantastic.

The show begins with an intro loop—Martin playing his guitar in waves and crescendos. It’s interesting and unexpected.  “Farmer in the City” is probably my least favorite Martin song—and I find it interminably slow and spare on the record.  Although each live rendition reveals something new in it.

The songs that are heard only on this bootleg include:  “Elkdog” (a description of horses as seen by people for the first time) it’s a rocking and fairly conventional song.  The next is “Indian Arrow” which is as song about his dad being killed by an arrow. It’s a simple rock song (and I just learned was actually recorded very early on a Rheos demo).  “Dear Darling” is a slow song with lots of dramatic singing—very Tielli.  “Redwing Blackbird” is another fairly conventional song but with great harmonies.

“Don’t You Forget It” is a loud, vulgar, sexual song which is dedicated to Vivian (happy birthday).  It’s even got a kind of funk metal middle section.  And “All My Life” is a funky song too.

Although Martin is not very chatty, his band is.  The rest of the band includes Mike Keith on guitar Andrew Routledge on bass and Max Arnason on drums (Mike introduces them as Bob Loblaw on bass and Basic Max on drums).  He also says that during their three days in Torfino, Andrew became a certified surfboard mechanic to which Andrew replies that Mike became a driftwood sculptor (len Tukwila).

There are a number of covers as well-Joni Mitchell’s “River” (which is on the Nick Buzz album, too) Three Bruce Cockburn songs, the mellow “Thoughts n a Rainy Afternoon” (I prefer the original) and then a blistering take on his “Arrows of Light” (I love this version a lot) which segues into “Joy will Find a Way.”

They even do a cover of the Suzanne Vega song “Tombstone.”  Actually, the backing band plays it while Martin goes for a smoke.  It sounds nothing like the original, as their version is loud and rocking.  When Martin comes back from his smoke break he says it didn’t sound like a Suzanne Vega song (I had to look it up by the lyrics).  The other cover is Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues,” which is a rather unusual Neil Young cover I would think.

After a few songs Mike the guitarist says that they were eating some tasty spicy black bean chips which he’s going to pass around for everyone to share… But don’t take them all ”you guys with the hat you take everything.”

They also do a Nick Buzz song “That’s What You Get for Having Fun,” which is a rocking song that sounds great.

He throws in some Rheos songs too.  Their versions of “Digital Beach” and “California Dreamlne” sound great. Martin is in fine voice and although it is somehow different than with the Rheos it still sounds fantastic.  “Shaved Head,” is more dramatic.  A quieter take on the song with no guitar solo.

But when he plays “Record Body Count” he messes up the lyrics so bad that he stops and says “I fucked up my own song.” He refuses to play the end and when someone says he’s being pretentious, he says he’s not he just can’t play it.

The final two songs are just him on his guitar.  He plays “Self Serve Gas Station” which sounds great.  After this he says he doesn’t know what to play.  Someone shouts out “Claire” and he says that he didn’t write that (of course he didn’t write the other covers either, but that’s a funny answer).  For the final song he plays “Christopher” which is truly fantastic.

This is a fantastic show, with lots of dramatic songs, a bunch of real rockers and some rare treats.  It’s a great starting point to listen to Martin solo, and a must listen for any Rheos fan and you can get it (and all these live shows) from the Rheostaticslive site.

[READ: July 27, 2015] Inside the Rainbow

I grabbed this book because I am intrigued by Russian and Soviet art.  I don’t always like it, but I find it utterly fascinating (I wish I could read Cyrillic too, which I think is such a cool looking language).  This book collects illustrations–covers and interior pages from Russian children’s books.

The Soviet Union was formed in 1922 and Joseph Stalin was head of the Union.  A nutshell history of the titular terrible times is: Stalin launched a period of industrialization and collectivization that resulted in the rapid transformation of the USSR from an agrarian society into an industrial power. However, the economic changes coincided with the imprisonment of millions of people in Gulag labor camps.  The initial upheaval in agriculture disrupted food production and contributed to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–33, known as the Holodomor in Ukraine.

The images in this book do not date to the Socialist propaganda style (the striking graphic images of red black and white), rather, these are a more pastoral style.  All of the images come from the Raduga (Rainbow) publishing house. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKDOWN AT THE SEA HOTEL (2007).

This has rapidly become one of my favorite CDs for our kids.  It’s a collection of lullabies written by some great artists with performances by: Guy Davis, Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, Eliza Gilkyson, The Wailin’ Jennys and Lynn Miles.  They play either solo or in groups to create a wonderful collection of tracks which maintains an overall cohesive sound.

It’s nice to have a collection that, although it contains many different singers, retains a similar style, a style that feels like a group of folk singers playing together just to get you to relax.

The songwriters include: Greg Brown, Tom Waits, Bruce Cockburn, Gord Downie, Neil Young, Carole King, Steve Earle and more.  It’s a magical collection of songs. Perfect for any bedtime routine.  The only problem with it is that my daughter usually falls asleep before we get to the end, so I don’t know the last five or six tracks all that well (but I know the first batch from start to finish).

I also recently learned that you can get a very cool edition of this CD in a book format. It is an illustrated edition of the title song and it comes complete with the full CD attached in the back. The book is quite beautiful (and I wish I had gotten that version instead of just the CD).

[READ: January 26, 2010] Salt Water Taffy 2

This fantastic kids graphic novel series just gets better and better.  I enjoyed this story so much that I decided to read it to my 4 year old son.  I removed a few paragraphs and edited for length but he really enjoyed the story…leading him down a garden path to comic book enjoyment.

This book continues the story of 8 year old Jack and 11 year old Benny on their family summer vacation in the seemingly dull seaside town of Chowder Bay.   The first volume laid out enough backstory for you to know that the town is boring as all get out for the kids, with no TV even!  But the locals have plenty of adventure for the kids to get up to.

As this book opens, the family is on a nature hike.  The boys are collecting feathers to compete with Fisherman Angus’ fantastic collection of a feather from every (species of) bird on the island.  But they are easily distracted from this quest when their dad reveals that Angus isn’t the only one on the island with good stories.  For indeed, he himself once climbed to the top of Mt Barnabus (the tallest mountain around) where he fought Barnabus, the giant eagle, for the hat that he is wearing at this very moment.

The boys are awed by this and now hold thie rdad in slightly higher esteem.

Later, when the kids are playing (and one of them is wearing that very same hat), Barnabus the giant eagle swoops down and take the hat right of his head.  He proceeds to fly up to his cave on th etop of the mountain.

The rest of the book covers the boys’ decision to climb that mountain by themselves and rescue that hat.  They encounter many many dangers on the way (I edited down the wolf section a wee bit)but what they find at the top of th emounatin is by turns frightening and hilarious.  (I especially enjoyed the cameo of the little lobsters from Book1).

The resolution to the story is great, the drawings are great, and the entire sprit of the book if one of advneture and fun.  It’s a real treat to read, and I’m delighted that there;s a 3rd book already available.

The first story laid out all of the details of where and who they are.  However,

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