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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 11, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 11, 2004. This was the 1st night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

PIN is kind of sweet sounding, Martins guitar “sounds” even “smaller” than usual.  As with many versions of this era, he’s changed the line to, “you’ve got the key to my bosom.”   Then you hear Mike say, What are we playing, I don’t have a setlist.

They are playing “Soul Glue” which is delightfully chaotic with all kinds of backing vocals (MPW is great with the b voc).  Tim is having a bit of fun with this song, calling the “poliziei” and adding the line: “execrate, take a big dump on.”  It jumps right into “Polar Bears and Trees.” Martin is making some really cool scratching sounds before he brings in the big riff.   The “can’t do it” part feels like a fun improvised section with lots of different vocal parts overlapping.

Martins guitar sounds great on “Marginalized.”  I love the little fills and of course the crunchy guitar.  This song does loud and quite together very well.

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Martin says we made a new friend the other day.  His name is Frank Bonner and he played a brilliant character Herb Tarlek in the WKRP TV show.  He knew what was going on.  You never know when you meet somebody what their situation is, but his was good.”  The song is really great with lot of keyboard accents from Christopher…  Lots of banter from the band:

We got a new guy, Chris Stringer.  He’s shy but he’s new.  He’s just checking us out.  He got the elite week pass–sit on stage and play synthesizer with the group.  Did you win that off the radio station or something?  He didn’t go far enough to get the vocal mic.  Oh he got it, he went for the super deluxe gold.  He helped us make our last record and he’s up here to help us remember how to play it all.

This is the first song on our new album “Shack In The Cornfields,” it’s about growing up as a kid in Kitchener and wandering around cornfields.  Next comes “Pornography.” The intro sounds like “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  When the song ends Mike shouts: Four. More. Beers!

The keyboard solo on “Here Comes The Image” is pretty similar to what Mike plays but with a few more frills.  “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” starts out quietly with some picked acoustic guitar.  Then Martin throws in some gentle solos and Tim adds some bass.  I love this song as it gets bigger and bigger–the guitar lines and the harmonies are just wonderful.  Its unclear who does the spoken word–recording or live?  I assume recording.

“The Royal Albert (Joey Part 2)” starts almost comically with a really strange pacing before Martin starts singing about Joey.  Midway through the song they start the riff to “Satisfaction.”  As it ends, Mikes says, “that was corpulent.”

Dave introduces a “couple of songs that kind of go together thematically.”  They play a quick two-minute romp of “Torque Torque” which segues right into “Claire.”  Martin gets a great solo which is followed by a rather strange keyboard solo.

Torque, Torque is a quite 2 minute romp that segues right into Claire  after a great martin solo there’s kind of an odd.

Send those two out to Paul Quarrington our friend nominated for the Giller Prize tonight–didn’t win but it looks good on him.  A friend of his daughter will be opening for us on Sunday: Hebrew School Drop Outs.  All ages, late afternoon matinee.

Dave: I got my beer back.  Touch and go for a minute there.  It’s called “Trailhead,” I’ve never seen of it before either.  Is that a kind of fish, Martin?  Nope. “A mythical beer fish?  Canada’s national animal is a mythical beer fish.”

“It”starts out slow and then has a roaring guitar solo in the middle.

Our new back drop for 2004 (up at the top).  Designed by Martin.  We’re auctioning them of at the end of the run and all profits will go to ….charity?  Mike: “yeah, that’s right, charity.”

“Making Progress” has a cool creepy synth opening and a very pretty acoustic guitar ending.  The more I hear “It’s Easy To Be With You” the more I’m surprised it wasn’t a hit.  There’s certainly some weird lyrical content what with it being from a kids’ album, but it’s so catchy.

“Stolen Car” starts out slow with a lengthy intro.  Martin sounds great and there’s a terrific solo from Martin.  He ends it in the middle of a line though, I think he should have stopped but kept going.

“Little Bird, Little Bird” is slow but nice.  There’s some lovely, quiet work from Martin throughout the song.  When it ends, Dave says, Happy remembrance day.  Do you say happy Remembrance Day?”  We’ll do two more for you.  It’s getting late.  Don’t want to overstate our case.

They play “Aliens” which sounds great.  There’s a cool spacey solo and some fun bass work from Tim in the middle of the song.  It gets extended with Tim playing a faster bass line and Martin saying “jamming!”  Martin gets into it with some crazy guitar sounds muttering “gabba gabba hey” and then the group singing all kinds of classic rock lines: “Mother…” “Voodoo Chile.”

Dave thanks everybody but Martin starts playing the opening to “I Dig Music.”

Tim: he said two more.

They have a lot of silliness with this song, appropriately.  Mike: there’s only so many more times I’m going to come out here and do this.  This is one of them. During the end part “some say I’m an animal,” Tim sings “too bad,” “too fucking bad” in falsetto.  The full song is called “I Dig Music (The Jazz Animal)” but by the end they are singing “Jazz enema.”

During the encore break, Dave says “Chris will be with us every day but tomorrow.  It’s his brother’s wedding tomorrow (Mike says: “he’s got to spend the night in jail).

Tim: thanks to By Divine Right for starting this whole thing off in the rockingest way possible.  We have a weeklong pass that’s available for sale.

When they mention the all ages show, Mike points out: “there will be a little bowl of earplugs for the young ones.  Dave says: “You can eat em too.”  And cigarettes for the youngsters.  Dave: they don’t call them candy cigarettes anymore they call them candy stix.

They play the mellow instrumental “Who Is That Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” which I would find a disappointing encore, except it’s followed by a rocking intense “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”

This is a terrific show and runs almost 2 hours and 15 minutes.

[READ: Summer 2017] Olympians 9

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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pinballSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICSFall Nationals The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON. Night 4 of 13 (November 13, 2003).

This was the 4th night of the Rheostatics 13 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  Rheostatics Live has recordings of nights 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.  It was guest vocalists night with this lineup: Reid Jamieson, Mike Bell, Andy Maize, Dennis Ellsworth, Justin Rutledge, Jen Foster, Ron Koop, Kurt Swinghammer,  Donna Orchard, Serena Ryder, Matthew Crowley, Paul Linklater, Leslie Stanwyck, Ford Pier, Dylan Hudecki, Jonathan Seet, Selena Martin, Amer Diab,  Jason Plumb, Jose Contreras, Silas White, Greg Smith Sounds, Paul MacLeod.

The show opens with the instrumental introduction of “Four Little Songs” which turns into a lovely version of “Song of Flight.”

The rest of the show sounds very different from other shows.  Obviously because of the different singers, but the band is quite restrained.  Not phoning it in, but holding back, allowing the singers to really stand out.  Songs are slower, fills are quieter and the band does feel more like a backing band (without the songs suffering).

And then the guest vocalists come in.  Reid Jamieson sings “PIN.” He has the same tone as Martin.  It’s a nice version.  As he gets off the stage he says. “I’m naming my first child Rheostatics.”  Someone warns him: “think of the school grounds.”

Mike Bell (from Dunville, Ontario and the post-hardcore band Chore) says “I just did a big shot of Buckley’s so bear with me.”  He sings “King of the Past” but has rather flat vocals.  The pace is slower too.

Dave tells the audience that it’s all guest vocalists and they are flattered that this could happen.  And then there’s Andy.  Andy Maize of Skydiggers sings “We Went West,” and says, “I lent my teleprompter to Mr Chretien for his farewell address, so I apologize for all my reading.”  He sings raspy and great and I think adds some gravitas to the song.

Dennis Ellsworth sings “Northern Wish.”  Dave asks him, “Do you favor the Melville version of the song?”  “I do.”  He has some gentle singing that works well with this song.  When it’s over, Dave announces, “Ladies and gentleman Ward MacLaurin Cornell [a Canadian broadcaster noted for hosting Hockey Night in Canada] because of Dennis’ jacket I guess.

Justin Rutledge sings “Feed Yourself.”  Dave says it’s not the first time he has fronted the group.  “The first time was 4 days after I turned 19 (that would be 1998) at the Rivoli.  He has a gravelly voice that sort of works with the song although he’s a little slow, maybe.  But he really gets into it.

Next up, “Here’s Jen Foster everybody.”  She sings the new song “The Tarleks” and adds an interesting spin to it with hr voice and delivery. There’s some fun wild guitar at the end.

Then Dave says, “Uh oh here’s the big money.”  Ron Koop of Tim Mech’s Peepshow sings “Introducing Happiness” but first he asks, “Is this Star Search?  I feel under-dressed.”  Dave says, “I want to know is there a name for your beard?”  “Dudley?” “Gunther?”  Dave says just “The Koop.”   He says, “I’m a backup singer I don’t know what to do without a bass in front of me.”  Dave notes air bass didn’t really take of like air guitar did.  Koop says he loves this song, and while not really lead vocal quality, he does a really fun job with it.

Kurt Swinghammer is a Canadian singer-songwriter and visual artist.  He and Dave have a chat about a club owner named Jimmy Scopas, it’s pretty funny.  While singing “It’s Easy To Be With You,” there’s a bunch of ad libs in the middle of the song.

Donna Orchard sings a kind of operatic “Jesus Was Once A Teenager, Too” which works nicely for the high notes.

Serena Ryder “The stage hog… can’t keep you away.  How’d your set go tonight?  “Really fun. I really enjoyed it a lot.”  Dave: “You guys like it?”  “That’s what they call popular acclaim.”  She does a cool trippy rendition of “Digital Beach.”

Matthew Crowley is a mumbly singer of this mumbly song, “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds.”  It’s a hard song and this version is a little disappointing.

Paul Linklater comes up to sing “California Dreamline.”  Dave shouts “Hey, Link, those dirty Toronto winters will get you every time.”   “You’re the bridge the half way point.”  This version is echoey and trippy and sounds very different, Linklater gets a little crazy carried away by the end.

Leslie Stanwyck from The Pursuit of Happiness and Universal Honey is gonna do a song [“Claire”] that appeared on two records…
Tim: “Is it not on the live record?”
Dave: “I don’t think so?” [It is]
Martin: “We like this one a lot.”
Dave to Leslie: “Are you familiar with the Howl Brothers version or the Rheostatics?”  Rheostatics!  Her version sounds great.

Ford Pier comes out and they tell him he’s got a lot of nerve going back into the archives.  Ford: “Entirely my own idea.”  They play “Chemical World,” a song from 1986, from “our second demo tape ever.”  They do a good job with it too.

Dylan Hudecki wonders, “How can I beat that?  This is so awesome.  I feel privileged.”  Tim describes the night as “Karaoke with a capital K.”  Hudecki says this a song [“Satan is the Whistler”] for all the people who went to Whistler and wondered what went wrong.  There’s lots of fun vocal nonsense at he end Martin even gets out his mechanical robotic voice.

Jonathan Seet does a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand,” and then Selena Martin comes out: “The word is dazzling.”

Selena says, “Pretty fuckin 70s, eh?”  Dave: “Look at you in your 70s outfit.  Any particular reason you chose “Dope Fiends?”  She says a friend made her a mixtape and “then I heard this fuckin’ song.   The rest is history.”  I wonder if it’s in a odd key—no one seems to be able to hit the notes.

Amer Diab gets the beloved “Horses.”  And he does a good job, but not as angry as Dave does it.

Jason Forrest Plumb was the lead singer and front man of the Waltons.  Dave asks how things are in Saskatchewan.  “Cold, snowy and the ‘Riders aren’t making it to the cup this year.   Bad calls all day that day.”  They play a slow and moody “Shaved Head.”

Jose Contreras, frontman for By Divine Right, José Contreras says, “Rheostatics changed my life.”  Dave: “for the better I hope.”  Jose: “For the better.   They taught me and a lot of other people a great lesson to dare to be glorious.”  He notes that this [“Triangles on the Wall”] is an autobiographical [he can’t get the word out] song.  “Am I singing this in the first person?  It’s kind of waltz in the key of D.”  He gets really into it with a bunch of ad-libbed jokes and whatnot.

Silas White does a good version of “Queer.”  In the end of the song Dave asks twice, Silas do you miss British Columbia?”  But we never hear the answer.

Dave says he’ll pay acoustic for this one.  Greg Smith the bassist Weakerthans, makes “Self Serve” sound a bit more twangy–“what went wrong with martin?  Is he on some kinda drug or something?”  As the song ends, they introduce Paul MacLeod also of Skydiggers (he sounds just like Martin at beginning of “Record Body Count.”  The song starts chaotic and fun and it’s a great ending to the main set.

Dave says they sent out an email about a week ago but since there are a lot of luddites among us, some people didn’t respond to the request to come up here.  So,”we will invite as may people as can fit on stage.  Don’t be shy.  Purple shirt guy be the first.  Lots of room, folks.”  They wonder if they can get the entire bar on stage.

The whole club sings “Legal Age Life,” with occasional singers stepping up to the mic.  And Dave shouting in the last verse: “Eagleson ripped off Bobby Orr.”

[READ: December 30, 2016] Hear the Wind Sing

After reading the Madras Press Murakami Slow Reader issue.  I decided it was time to read some more from the man himself.

So I decided to start with his first book–which I’d read about in the New Yorke essay.  Incidentally, the New Yorker essay that talks about his writing style is expanded on in the introduction to this version of the book (which is technically called Wind/Pinball and is a collection of the first two stories).

The essay is called “The Birth of My Kitchen-Table Fiction.”  While the New Yorker essay covers a lot of his life, this essay focuses on his early days–and gives more detail to some of the ideas he mentioned.  He says he hated the idea of working for a company so he opened a jazz club (it cost a lot less to do this back in 1974).  He shares details of the club and talks about how hard he worked.

Then he talks about the baseball game that inspired him to write.  In that previous essay he mentioned the game, but in this essay we get a lot more detail. He went to the Central League season opener: the Yakult Swallows vs the Hiroshima Carp (he was a Swallows fan, despite their perennially poor record).  He says he stretched out on the lawn with a beer and when he heard the crack of a bat, “for no reason and based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.” (more…)

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