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Archive for the ‘Joni Mitchell’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-This Ain’t Hollywood Hamilton ON (December 15 2017).

This is the final Rheostatics concert of 2017.  And it’s the most recent concert available of the Rheostatics Live site.  This entire show is fantastic.  The band is in perfect form.  While they have fun and goof around between songs, the songs themselves sound amazing.

There’s a lengthy, amusing introduction by “Failed Hamilton mayoral candidate Steve Bunn” who describes the band as created by “David Cronenberg who combined the genetic materials from Stompin’ Tom. Joni Mitchell, Martha and the Muffins and Gino Vanelli, giving rise to the founding fathers of the can-rock renaissance.”

As the opening notes of Stolen Care begin, Clark asks: “Can someone turn off the house music in the monitor.”
DB: “We hate Haircut 100.”
Martin: Almost as much as Spandau Ballet.
DB: “Although, our next album is going to have a little bit of house music all the way through it.”

“Stolen Car” is just beautiful.  The band sounds in great form.  martin is having fun, Hugh sounds terrific.  And there’s a long, glorious ending.  It’s followed by a soaring and lovely Soul Glue.”  The next song is one of the best versions of “AC/DC on My Stereo” I’ve heard.  The band seems into it and Tim’s bass makes it a but more interesting than usual.

They start a regional antipathy between the locals.  While in Hamilton, DB says, we’re more into Ancaster ultimately, but it’s nice to be here.  Dundas, that fucking blows. Dunville’s alright  Don Mills?  Burlington sucks shit kind of, though, am I wrong?  I mean it’s great.  Bronte though that’s really the pits.  Here’s another song to divide you further.

It’s a lovely version of “It” with pretty pizzicato from Hugh.  Clark and Martin have this ending that they want to do and the keep forgetting.  They want to just have a short high note.  So they do just the ending.  And then once more.

A delightful version of “The Headless One” follows.  Tim and Martin’s voices are wonderful together.

Audience: Double Dave
DB: I know its confusing, eh?  Considering that we are both excellent drummers we get confused a lot.
Clark: Dave actually is a smoking drummer
DB: Like Bun E Carlos.
Clark: Yes in that style.  I like to learn from him.  I’m always looking for a swinging drummer.

MT: Now we’re gonna do “Take It Easy” by the Eagles which is about…  I was driving down the road trying to loosen by load.  It’ about constipation.
Like the Local Rabbits the protagonist in that song clearly shit in a bag

Audience: Stop talking and play.
Martin: You guys just fucked it up, now we’re gonna talk for ten minutes.
DB: Didn’t you see, the ticket price includes patter: WARNING: may include patter.  Not even good patter.
MT: Music n’ patter.
Clark: Cheerful stage patter.

This leads to a pretty intro for “Michael Jackson.”  The middle section has a wild chanting nonsensical part where they sing “suck out the poison” over and over but the end has a great rocking jam with some pretty funky almost disco bass from Tim.

Thanks to our buddy Dale Morningstar for opening the show and and ripping it up.

A new song by Timothy Warren Vesely which features Dave Bidini on the bass its called “Rear View.”

They talk about their first show in Hamilton. No, before La Luna.  Before The Regal (with The Waltons) The Other Side was pretty weird–it had that freaky mural.  Tim: Where was that place they had to push the pool table aside?  DB: Every place.

Martin: Am I officially a Hamiltonian?  I’ve been here 8 years.  DC: Maybe you’re going to get beat up Toronto boy.  MT: “Toronto boy gets beat up in alley.”

This leads to a lovely “PIN.”

Dave Clark plays a clinking melody (like to one he described at a previous hows pluh duh duh duh ding” which is an introduction to “Northern Wish”  But the music is all wonky.  Thumping bass and drums.  They quickly start it properly and its a beautiful version with a fantastic ending of the whole crowd singing “Land Ho!”

DB: My mother in law is from the North End of Hamilton.  They came from Northernish Italy, the Veneto.  Any one here from the Veneto in Italy?  You never know in Hamilton you’re pretty much always two feet away from an Italian.  Much like Martin and I.  This is a song about people travelling. A pretty “Mountains & The Sea” follows.  The transition is a little rocky but they pull it of. There’s a delightful high-pitched solo from Hugh.

MT: We all went to the school of the entertainment arts in Forest Hill Toronto.  We were told how to project ourselves to the back of the room and to drink water–particularly bottled water.

Clark demonstrates the “proper way” to drink from a water bottle … his thumb is pointing up because I’m feeling great about life when I drink water.  I’m touching just the upper edges of the cap.  I do not want to touch the drinking part with my fingers.  I’ve been touching all kinds of things tonight.

MT: Your iPad is dirtier than the toilet in this joint.

Very fucking pro-Tim Vesely crowd tonight, what’s gong on?  “King of the Past” is fantastic with some great soloing by Hugh and amazing vocals from Tim and Martin.  The end features a little folk jam that’s quite a lot of fun, too.  It segues into a wonderful “Christopher.”

DB: Here’s a song you might have heard on the radio at some point in your radio lives.
Clark: If you listened all day for three weeks at one point in time you might have heard this once.
MT: All five of us have Toyota Echos and we head out on the highway.  This song is about how we head out on the highway in a sort of arrow formation Toyota Echo convoy.

“Claire” sounds lovely with a cool solo from “hometown boy, local legend, martin Tielli.”  They start chanting M-A-R-T-I-N instead of “C-l-a-i-r-e”

We’ll get to all your favorites hopefully before the night is done.  If not that’s why they invented recorded music.

Martin tunes his guitar and then runs through a quick “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
DB: And this ones called “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Tim: “I’m pretty sure it was that guy.”  DB: “Totally fucking guilty.”  But it’s really a soaring “California Dreamline.”  The wonderful weird noises Martin is making on his guitar are a perfect segue into a totally rocking “Horses.”

And then its time for the encore break.  Amazingly they play for an hour after the encore.

MT: “This is the fake walk off… I just have to change my shirt.”

Clark returned first and sings a capella “I’m Not Afraid,” then he gets behind the kit to do some drumming before “Legal Age LIfe.”

That’s Dylan Hudecki to my left.  Also with them is George Collins and Skye of the Gas Station Islanders.  They all join in on a fun and raucous “Legal Age Life.”

Martin’s in his uber on the QEW.  He’s got to get home to host his late night radio show.  It’s a quasi-religious program.  He plays only Hawaiian gamelan music and reads from the scriptures.

All these years, I had no idea that the 12 bar blues section was an actual song.  It was written by (Canadian) Jack Butwell in 1974 and then covered in 1983 by NRBQ. Although it isn’t played tonight.

Clark: can we do “Supercontroller?” This is a good audience for that.

DB: This is our most Quaalude song ever.
MT: [In total disbelief] Quaaludes?  This is a lots of coffee song.

This segues into the opening notes of “Dope Fiends” which leads to a couple of huge medleys.  “Dope Fiends” winds up being 16+ minutes long. The beautiful soaring end of “Dope Fiends” is shattered bu the roaring guitar of PROD.  Mid song–“Hey Tim, are you ready for your close-up?” (a zippy bass chord solo ensues).  Then there’s a section of Calling out the chords:  G then B flat just for a little bit now back to G then to G sharp.  DB to audience: “That feels right, do you guys like G sharp? It not G it’s not A it’s G sharp.”  Tim: “Now let’s go to A flat  A flat is a downer go back to G sharp.”  Then to D minor. Another bummer.  Lets go to E.  MT: Dave play this one solo … E minor, which Dave turns into “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Go back to G sharp and PROD  When it ends Martin plays the riff to Rush’s “What You’re Doing” and the band joins in.  He tacks on a bit of “Working Man” before it’s over.

DB starts asking for a beer and the audience asks for Wendell Clark.  We haven’t played that …  Only if you’ll sing it.

They start to play Part II.  MT: That’s the part I wrote!  The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part I and II begins and mid way through Part II, they go to G for a run through of “Bud the Spud.”  DB: shouts “Don’t film this–copyright violation.  Jesus Christ, Daron, have some respect.”   Bud continues: “He knows a sign that rises up in the sun that says Martin Tielli.  …because he’s got his own fucking touring truck that’s filled with potatoes.  Dave says: It was really weird they played a medley of other songs and we wondered when they were going to finish Bud the Spud and play their own songs.

DB: He’s got another big load which is a fucking lyric that outs you in a whole nother…
Tim: Yes, it’s very Eagles.
Clark: Comedy high of the night.

This leads to a discussion of masturbating in the car, which people do.  (MT: There’s people who do everything which the internet has told us.)  Dave tells a story of a hitchhiker from Saskatchewan to Calgary.  And the driver said do you mind if I masturbate while we talk and the friend said.  This leads to an impromptu song called I know “Jerking Off All The Way To Calgary.”  It’s rude and hilarious, with Martin’s line: “That’s a lot of uncomfortable time.”  The y finish off Wendell Clark.

MT: Dave, you’ve gone blue!

Clark: Are we gonna do another song or go home.  DB: I vote go home.
No! Lots of requests especially for “Record Body Count” and lots for “Aliens.”  Also: Superdifficult, Queer, (Clark: queer is a good one). The Jane Siberry song?  And a loud solitary one for “Do You Believe in Life After Love?”

You should all go out and buy Tom Wilson’s book Beautiful Scars.  It’s an amazing Hamilton story.  And there’s copies of the West End Phoenix for sale.

They end the night after all that silliness with a great, solid version of “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It all goes well until Martin gets messed up (laughing) just after the loud section starts (he misses the “morning time has come” high note).

[READ: October 2018] Polish Porno Graphics

So yes, this is a book of graphic sex stories.  I found it at work and thought it was a book of Polish artists depicting pencil drawings of nudes.  I kind of assumed the title was a poor translation because I didn’t imagine our library would have anything quite like this.  I also thought it would be a uniquely Polish look at art (I like looking at Polish books).

But nope, this is a series of largely wordless (although the words which are there are in English) sex comics.  Some are a little cartoony, but for the most part they are pretty realistic and very very explicit.  There’s lots of drawings of people copulating in various, mostly unexpected ways and places.  Don’t read any further if you’re easily offended. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKAMELIA CURRAN-Live at Massey Hall (April 29, 2016).

I knew of Amelia Curran but I didn’t know her work before this show.

She says that growing up in Newfoundland it’s all about original music and the oral tradition and story discovering.  She loves to play at the pub back home.

But she continues that when you move into a more professional scene–recording your first album–you also become a Canadian musician, which is an extra thing that happens later.  You look to Neil Young and Joni and Massey Hall.  You come from a musical place like Newfoundland and then coming to Canada and “arriving.”

She plays great folkie songs.  Lyrically her songs are rich, but I find the drums to be quiet compelling on most of the songs.  There;s nothing flashy, but I really like the way the drums are somewhat unconventional or rhythmically interesting, like on “Song on the Radio.”

She is also quite sweet as she says, “Well thanks, oh golly.”

After “Blackbird on Fire” she says “the teenage me on the inside is really freaking out.”

Before “The Reverie,” she says “I’d like to play you a love song and to introduce you to this handsome fellow on the electric guitar Dean Drouillard.”

Before the nest song, “The Modern Man: she says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you know, but this handsome lad on the bass guitar has the best hair in the business.  This is Devon Henderson”

And before “The Mistress” (which is probably her biggest hit), she says “I know it’s hard to believe but there’s even more handsome up here.  This man behind me on the drums is Joshua Van Tassel.”  This song is more jagged and sharp than the others.  It’s a darker, more pointed song and it’s really great.

“Devils” is a slower, moodier song, with snaky electric guitar leads.  Next up is “Time” which is  a beautiful song that’s just her on the acoustic guitar.  It’s quite different from the other songs, much more stark.

For the final song, “Somebody Somewhere,” she says, “Here’s a happy-sounding song I wrote about being depressed.”  This song has more great drums and some cool guitar sounds that change on each verse, including a great buzzy sound during the second verse.

[READ: June 18, 2018] “Omakase”

Even though I love sushi, I had never heard of the titular “omakase” which is a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef, typically with suggested wine pairings.  And frankly it’s something I’d likely never do (if I was paying for it).

This is the story of a couple who’d met online two years ago.  Three months ago they had moved in together.  They both liked sushi and omakase–they liked the element of surprise.   It also worked for their personalities–she second guessed herself too much and he liked to go with the flow.

They went to a tiny room with a sushi bar and cash register.  The woman (their names are never given) imagined it could fit no more than six people.  How had he even heard of it?  There was a young waitress and old sushi chef who ignored them longer than she imagined they would.

The story leaves the meal from time to time. The first time is for aside about New York City trains.  How she has not gotten used to the subway and the delays.  Tonight’s delay was because of someone jumping in front of the tracks.  In Boston people rarely did that, “probably because the trains came so infrequently, there were quicker ways to die.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  DAN MANGAN + BLACKSMITH-Live at Massey Hall (February 28, 2015).

I know Dan Mangan from a Tiny Desk Concert.  I also had an opportunity to see him opening for Stars a month or so ago, but I couldn’t make the show.  I was bummed about that and am even more so after seeing how great Mangan is live with a full band.

He says his family flew in from Vancouver because Massey is like Canada’s Carnegie Hall.  Or should I say, Carnegie Hall is like America’s Massey Hall.

Then his bandmate says: Charlie Parker played here.  That’s ridiculous!
Neil Young played here.  That’s ridiculous!
We’re gonna play here.  That’s ridiculous!

Wilco played here; Arcade Fire; Joni Mitchell; Peabo Bryson (you know what I’m getting at–Peebs!); James Taylor; Dizzy Gillespie.

Massey Hall is from the days before there were mega rock concerts–when things sounded better.  The soul of that has been lost.  Music was made about the art and the music and not about being in the same room as someone famous.  There’s something about that soul of rock n roll has been lost.

“Mouthpiece” is a dark acoustic but fast, shuffling song.  It builds rather quickly to a noisy rock–which Mangan specialized at with some great drumming from Kenton Loewen.

“Vessel” opens with some screeching feedback and cool staccato piano riff.  Mangan’s deep voice works perfectly with this spare musical landscape.  The backing singer singing “it takes a village to raise a fool” works perfectly as the keys and trumpet build behind them.  I love how every few lines some other new piece of music is added, like the wailing guitar solo that runs through to the end.

“Rows of Houses” has a great building backing vocal section.  I love the quiet intensity of this song before it ratchets up to a loud stomper.  There’s s long noisy jam with trumpet (JP Carter) and keys (Tyson Naylor) blaring and a wild raucous bass (John Walsh) and a crazed guitar solo which ends with Gordon Grdina hammering the back of the guitar neck creating a wall of feedback and distribution

“New Skies” opens slow, but after a verse the band kicks in and it, too, rocks.

He says he needs everyone to sing the “oooohs” and he’s pleased with everyone’s response.  He sings some verses and then band starts singing the ooohs and he says “I forgot to tell you that’s where you come in.”

As the song moves along, there’s mostly a keyboard solo but then Grdina comes in with a pretty wild, sloppy but emotive solo.  Then Dan takes the mic and gets the crowd to sing along.  He exhorts: “When people stand they tend to breathe and sing little louder.

It works and it’s a great set ender.

He (and they) puts on a great show.

[READ: February 5, 2018] “The Burglary at Stormfield”

This excerpt is from a previously unpublished section of his autobiography.  When he died in 1910, he requested that his autobiography not be published for 100 years.

This excerpt is about his house outside of New York City.  He says he named it Innocence at Home but his daughter, Clara, called it Stormfield–“it is high and lonely and exposed to all the winds that blow.”  He concedes hers is a better name.

He got the money to build the house “out of a small manuscript which had lain in my pigeonholes forty-ones years, and which I sold to Harper’s Magazine.  The article was entitled Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”

The focus of this essay though is burglaries.  He says that Stormfield has been broken into many times and he is surprised that the New York architect should have overlooked adding a burglar alarm to the building.  New York City is only an hour and a half away…”it contains millions of people, and most of them are burglars.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE WEATHER STATION-Tiny Desk Concert #689 (January 8, 2017).

The Weather Station played a show in Philly a while back.  I knew that Bob Boilen really liked the album, and I thought about checking them out live.  But things came up and I didn’t.  And now here they are at a Tiny Desk.

It was the first song here, that Bob especially liked:

It’s called “Thirty” and in less than four minutes and nearly 400 words, singer Tamara Lindeman paints images of joy intertwined with the awaking jolt of turning thirty.

The dollar was down
But my friends opened businesses
There were new children
And again, I didn’t get married
I wasn’t close to my family
And my dad was raising a child in Nairobi
She was three now, he told me

The song is a pretty, shuffling song (spare drums from Ian Kehoewith a speedy rhythm guitar (from Lindeman), a roaming bassline (Ben Whiteleyand some cool guitar licks (William Kidman) over the top (both of which are really lovely).

The musicians in The Weather Station underpin these words with delicate playing and by sitting quietly but poignantly under Tamara Lindeman’s beautiful voice. Her soft voice shifts pitch with a rapid flow in a Joni Mitchell-sort of way, never coming up in volume more than a quiet, table conversation level.

There’s a great (relatively) wailing solo that really pushes the song forward and which ends perfectly when Tamara starts singing again.

“You and I (On the Other Side of the World)” has a slow slinkiness that I rather like.  There’s also some nice, understated backing vocals (deep male voices under Tamara’s higher register).  I love the bass work at the end of the song, too.

Tamara’s voice sounds very much like someone else or maybe a number of people: I hear Laura Marling and yes, Joni Mitchell, but maybe Margo Timmins as well.  In other words, all good benchmarks.

In fact, the final song, “Free” has a real Cowboy Junkies feel with the big slow echoing rhythm guitar that opens it.

On “Free,” there’s some great lead guitar work once again as well as a wonderful bass line.

a song Lindeman describes as about being both free and not free at the same time, there’s restraint in the voice and a release in the powerful guitar chords. That tension and release is an essential element to The Weather Station’s sound and one of the joys I’ve found listening to their enchanting music.

Initially I wasn’t blown away by this concert, but I found myself hitting replay over and over, enjoying it more each time.

[READ: August 20, 2017] Fierce Kingdom

I read about this story on Skimm, a daily news digest that I have since read is geared to women (and according to some criticism, treats women like they are dumb.  I have recently stopped subscribing to it because I do find it rather dumb and subtly right-wing (how could a site for women not be pissed that Hillary lost? #RESIST).  But whatever, the book sounded interesting so I put it on hold.

The premise is fairly simple: a woman and her young child (4 perhaps), are in a zoo.  Right around closing time two gunmen enter the zoo and start killing people.  What will she do?

For some reason, the blurbs didn’t reveal that there were gunmen, just that “something” happened. Well, honestly what else could it have been but gunmen. So, perhaps I spoiled that part but it came out pretty early anyway.

The story begins with a time stamp 4:55 PM. The zoo closes at 5:30 and Joan and her boy Lincoln are sitting in their favorite spot waiting to leave the zoo.  As they head toward the exit around 5:30, she notices bodies on the ground.  She had heard explosions earlier but didn’t think much of it,  But when she sees the bodies, she quickly puts things together and takes off.

Now the blurb for the book on the inside cover says “an electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.”  That’s not wrong exactly but I feel like that puts a weird focus on it being about mother hood instead of survival.  Must be some kind of marketing thing.  I didn’t get the sense in the book that it has anything to do with motherhood–I mean frankly any parent would do that for his or her child and I’m sure any person would do the same for anyone they loved.  The fact that the child is younger and doesn’t have the same cognitive skills make the story more compelling.

Because, frankly, as she hides in an abandoned animal enclosure, there’s no reason she would ever have to leave such an enclosure–she can’t be seen, she is well protected, and it is dark.  She even has her cell phone and she talks to her husband (I find it a bit hard to believe that the police wouldn’t listen to him if he has a text from his wife in the zoo, but that’s what happens).  The bad guys even come into where she is and don’t see her.

So, end of story right?  At least I couldn’t imagine why there would be more story when she is safe and the police are coming. (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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2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: BETH ORTON-Tiny Desk Concert #235 (August 6, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

ortonI loved Beth Orton’s album Trailer Park.  The acoustic / electronic sound was new and interesting.  I haven’t heard much from Orton since then, although I gather she has released a bunch and has been producing as well.

But I understand that she has more or less given up on the electronic sounds and focused mainly on acoustic guitar songwriting.  So here she plays four songs.  Three are new and sound quite different from the fourth one which is older.

Her voice is really raspy and raw on those first three songs, inclduing “Candles.”  I actually don’t really remember what she sounded like on those earlier songs, but this sounds different to me.  Very 70s folksinger (like Joni Mitchell, perhaps).

It’s very funny to hear her speak because her speaking voice is so different from her singing voice—so accented!  She seems nervous introducing “Dawn Chorus” a song that she has barely played even for the band.  It’s a lovely song and her voice sounds great on it  I love the strumming style she employs for this song too.

“Poison Tree returns” to that 70s folksinger style again.  The music is very pretty but I don’t care for the rawness of her voice in this setting.

She ends the set with an older song.  She says he wants to tune her guitar for “prosperity  and all.”  Cute how nervous she is.  She plays  “Sweetest Decline,” a familiar song from her second album.

[READ: December 15, 2016] “Minus, His Heart”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This was the first story in the collection that was just a huge puzzle to me.  It was confusing from the start (which is fine), but it never really cleared itself up (which isn’t).

There’s a boy.  His proxy father, Interminable Richard, is sitting on an electric voice box seeking a frequency to soothe his old wound.

The bell rings and it is Minus, the Neighborhood Wassailer, who comes inside and grabs the boy, calling his a thief.  The boy says that Minus had fallen asleep on the escalator, so he, the boy, was going to steal his duffel.  But someone had already stolen it.

The Wassailer inspects himself and says “You ejected my tape.”

The boy says he did steal Minus’ tape and he gave it to his sweet number. And so off they go in search of his sweet number.

They get to the playground and see Winsome Jenny at the leatherball court.  Jenny is mad at him, I gather, and threatens to drop the stick. She says that she was his bona fide sweet number, so he still gets a lastly, but she gave the tape to Zooman Jubal, who is her sweet number now.

Minus drags the boy to the zoo where they meet Jubal.  They take a boat ride and Minus says he will shoot Jubal if he won’t parley.  Even stranger things happen and the boat goes over the waterfall.

This fever dream of a story has a final chapter which seems to tie things up, but never is any detail explained.

I have no idea if this is part of something else or if I’m supposed to find profound metaphor in this crazy story, but suffice it to say I didn’t.  Unless it is simply a romance set in some kind of alternate universe?

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eggersSOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Circo (1996).

nickbuzzMartin Tielli has been prolific both as a solo artist and with his “side project” Nick Buzz (named after his love of smokes).

Nick Buzz’ first album came out in 1996 (during a time when the Rheos had just wrapped up their album The Blue Hysteria) and was ignored.  It was reissued in 2002 to a bit more fanfare.  I reviewed it once before and while I thought I was more dismissive of it then, it turns out that I wasn’t.  That I enjoyed it and felt mostly the same as I do now.

“Spilling The Wonderful” starting out with a mellow piano intro, the song jars into a noisy/drunken waltz melody and a violin solo before returning to the cabaret/waltz style that opened the song. It is deliriously catchy. The song ends with some tape manipulation before seguing into “That’s What You Get For Having Fun.” This song opens with some slapped and scratchy guitar sounds with a refrain of “there’s a monkey in my underwear.”  There’s a super catchy guitar riff that is sung along to—this song really shines live.

“Just Because” mellows things down a lot, with a jazzy sounding guitar and Martin’s delicate vocals.  The music for his one was written by pianist Jon Goldsmith which might explain the mellowness. It’s a sweet ballad.  Although the segue after this song is some clips from the radio (possibly sung by Tielli?) which are distant and crackling.   There’s a saxophone playing as well.   This merges into an announcer introducing the band for their (live) cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” It’s a beautiful, delicate version with Hugh Marsh’s electric violin solo swirling around.

Some dissonant sax segues into Sane So Sane which is actually a pretty gentle piano song. They play with the recording sound as the drums get muffled and dense and there’s more backing vocals thrown over the top.  But it remains largely conventional.  “Hymn to the Situation” is a creaky somewhat creepy song that Martin described as being about a self-centered jerk. who says things like “I’d suicide for you.” There’s a canned crowd cheering at a particularly funny line and even a cow mooing as the song ends

“Fornica Tango” is a wild weird song.  It is tango (Tielli speaks Italian), but the rhythm is kept by a squeaky sound (which is likely Marsh’s violin).  The song is interrupted throughout by a crying baby or, even stranger, a screeching chimpanzee (fornica translates as ant). The song ends with some crazy sounds from Marsh’s electronic violin.  The highlight of the record is “Love Streams’ a beautiful ballad based largely around a piano melody and Marsh’ keening violin. It’s followed by “Aliens break a heat” which is more tape manipulation and all kinds of weird effects (backward vocals I believe) for 2 minutes. Until it’s replaced by sounds of traffic (European) and horns honking.

The final song is the amusing “The Italian Singer/Just Because I’m Nick The Buzz” It starts slowly with some plucked strings and Tielli’s voice. There’s some spoken sections and lots of staccato music until the gentle ending which resumes the melody from “Just Because.”

It’s a peculiar album but one that gets better with each listen (and hearing him play some of these songs live has really introduced new aspects of them to me.

[READ: October 10, 2015] The Circle

I put this book off for a while but with no real reason for doing so.  And I’m sorry I waited so long because the book is really good–it’s thought-provoking and questions a lot of established ideas but is also really kind of fun and utopian.

What’s most impressive to me about the way the book is written is that the story itself is really quite simple.  It is a gradual building up of intensity.  At the end of which the main character has to make a decision which proves to be very important both for her and everyone else.

The story is about Mae.  Mae had been working at a dull and dispiriting job in civil service at her home town.  The job was dull, the people were dull, there was zero energy in the place and even her boss was depressing.  It sucked.  She had been there for 18 months and when her boss joked about her getting a promotion, she’d about had it.

She contacted her friend Annie.  Annie was her college roommate and boon companion for a few years.  And Annie worked at The Circle, the coolest most awesome place in the country to work at–think google, but better).  Was there any way that Annie could help out Mae?  Indeed there was.  Annie got Mae a job at The Circle, just like that.  Annie was one of the Top 40, the influential crowd at The Circle and Mae was in (her first day is hilarious, because Annie plays a wonderful prank on her). (more…)

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