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Archive for the ‘Luther Wright & The Wrongs’ Category

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

Stolen From A Hockey Card

From the City of Charlottetown:

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

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

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

There are 12 songs in total

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the RheostaticsLive site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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pinballSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICSFall Nationals The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON. Night 5 of 13 (November 14, 2003).

This was the 5th 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’s Big R night (see below).

There’s an introduction by J.C. who says he used to be the owner of the legendary Horseshoe Tavern “but as of tonight I am the owner of the R club.”  As he’s saying there’s a burst of “It’s Not the End of the World from Super Furry Animals–probably a mistake).

“Last night this band was here and they didn’t sing a single lead vocal the entire night.”  J.C. also mentions upcoming shows at the Horseshoe: Skydiggers will be doing an annual residency, Luther Wright, The Sadies, Royal City, Northern Pikes and the last two Watchmen shows ever.”

Then back to Rheos: “Next Wed will be the wheel of fortune–all requests by spinning the great wheel and next Thursday is all covers night.”  I’d love to see the set lists from these nights.

One of the greatest legendary Canadian bands:

“Power Ballad for Ozzy” is fairly mellow with lots of acoustic guitars.  It segues right into “PIN” where Martin recites “In the dirty boulevard” during the end chords.

“Aliens” brings a bit more loudness.  In the middle of the song, someone starts playing the melody for “When Winter Comes.”  The band starts grooving it but Martin will not be hijacked and he finishes “Aliens.”

A funky, percussion-heavy version of “Marginalized” is followed by a sweet “Loving Arms.”

As Dave starts playing the opening jazzy guitar to “I Dig Music,” Martin sings “The bed’s to big without you” (which fits pretty well).

Then you hear Dave say, “please sir don’t touch the setlist.”
Mike: “It’s still drying.  It’s like an infomercial for inverted reading.”
Dave: “Did it feel good to touch?”

“The Tarleks” has a really raucous guitar ending with lots of noisy loud chords.

Dave explains that “Tonight is giant R night.  The giant R was in Martin’s parents basement for the last 13 years–Otobicoke cultural prison–since the “Aliens” video.”  And since they’re returning to the olden says they’ll do an old song: Woodstuck.”  There’s a false start, wrong temp, but then they play a solid version.  Martin repeats “Hippie child” and Dave says “little protest song there.”

Then we learn that Dave is now playing drums.
Tim: “All because Michael showed up late for practice one day.” [rim shot].
Dave: “Anyone else want a rim shot–it’s not what you think–it’s the first thing they teach you in amateur drummer school.”

Tim sings “Here comes the Image” with MPW on keys with a great solo.

Someone shouts “Bad Time to Be Poor” which is followed by someone else shouting “Yeah! ‘Bad Time to be Poor!”

But they play a ripping version of “Fishtailin'” which Dave says they recorded in the Bahamas.  Someone growls and Dave says it’s about a giant cat–the mascot of the Bahamas.

The first surprise comes when Tim starts playing the then there the bassline that can only be a cover of “Teenage FBI” (!) by Guided By Voice.  They play a respectable version of the song with Tom on lead vocals.

Dave: “Yup, Guided By Voices.  Since we can’t be there we figured we’d simulate the experience.”  (GBV were at the Opera House in Toronto that night).  Were doing a covers night next Thursday so were working through a few tonight.  From then on someone keeps shouting “Horses” but they will not hear that song.  Next song is “From that up and coming Greenwich Village folk duo Simon & Garfunkel.  It ends with someone loudly going “doh duh duh doh duh duh doh duh duh doh…as  wrote.”

Someone yells do you plan to do any Rush covers?  Martin says, “If we had enough time I so wanted to do “Closer to the Heart” or “Red Barchetta.”  Mike says they might have time.  And Dave says, “No but we’ll do about four I Mother Earth tunes.  Mike says, “Why because that’s the equivalence weight?”

One more scream for “Bad Time to be Poor” Martin says, “Okay, we know.”
Mike asks if anyone knows what a ballyhoo is: When they sweep the lights over the audience like at the beginning of a game show.  He says the stars are doing that tonight–whatever he’s talking about.

Then Martin says to Dave: “I see you’re selling hockey cards of yourself”
Dave: Sold out!  Just get a picture of yourself, charge 50 cents, people will buy anything.
Martin: “Dirty player… you see how mean he looks on that card.”
Dave: But off the ice, the meanest are the most loving and good to their fellow citizens.”
Mike: “When you play you’re not a goon, right?”
Dave: “Just a dirty suck.”
Martin: “You told me you’re a fun loving player.  You jab people, but its friendly.”
Dave: “A gentle tickle.”
Martin: “Some of them don’t have a sense of humor.  Some of them should try harder to get a sense of humor.
Dave: Kenny Linesman was called “the rat.”  Me I’m more of a monkey. I’ll bite you, but I’m a monkey.  I’m not all bad.”

They finally play “Bad Time to Be Poor” and then a rocking “CCYPA.”  And then after a wild and rocking intro to “Song of the Garden.” the song rocks too.

Then Martin says, “Gonna slow burn on this one.”  It’s one of the best versions of “Stolen Car” I’ve heard–the climactic section is so intense.  I love the way Martin sings “drive a…  way!” at the end.

Before “RDA” Dave says, “Send this one out to Bono, coz he’s the man.”  Martin says “Rock Death America starts with R.”  Dave has a wild middle section in which he starts yelling thing like:
“Gonna be in a big fucking band with big fucking people playing for big fucking people, big beautiful guns, big beautiful hockey pucks made of fudge.  It’s a silly war, it’s an insidious war, it’s a stupid war.”  At the end, Mike says, “Good rocking, Dave.”

Staying political, Dave says, “Congratulation to the Liberal dynasty, the Liberal monopoly, the Liberal empire of Canada.  Don’t fucking get it wrong.  “We’re gonna gave to retire this song because it was written about a bunch of assholes in the past.  We’ll have to put it behind us.”  Sadly People in the States need to bring it back for Betsy DeVos and her own shitty people.  “Hands Off Our Schools” is an outtake from 2067 : “Hands off our schools politician scum.”  At the end of the song Tim says , “you lose.  ha ha.”

Tim says, “We’re going try to put music back in the schools.  Next Tuesday we’re raising money for an alternative public school for their music program.”

After the encore Dave says, “We’d like to thank The Imponderables for playing before us.  Up and coming young funnymen.”  Then

Dave: We have T-shirts Fall Nationals T-shirts. Martin’s two solo records and 2 of my books and most of our CDs.  Hockey cards sold out.  We have mugs too so if you don’t like us buy a mug and throw it as us.  Nothing says I hate you like a mug to the head.
Martin: nothing says you’ve made it more than having a cup of coffee with your band’s name on it in the morning.  You know, Chapters won’t stock my album [Operation Infinite Joy] because they think the image on the front might offend some people. [Boos].
Dave: “We were supposed to do an in store there but we got bumped for Lady Di’s butler.  Double lame.”

Anybody here from the prairers?  Really?  All of them!  A rocking excellent version of Saskatchewan that segues into “The Mayor of Simpleton” with MPW on drums and vocals. It’s pretty good although his vocals are too quiet and he forgets some words and he seems winded by the end.  A quiet “Little Bird” is followed by a moody and intense “Shaved Head.”

Dave thanks George Stroumboulopoulos for nominating Whale Music for Best Canadian album for the CBC.

During the second encore break, Serena Ryder comes out  and yells at the crowd to get the band back up there.  Then she sings a cool, spooky version of “Digital Beach.”  It’s followed by a fun bouncy version of “Mumbletypeg.”

There’s some discussion and you hear Mike say “So many songs.  There’s a bullion of them and you just cant think of one, sometimes.”  Not sure what they were talking about playing but they settle on “In This Town” and then a wild version of “Me and Stupid.”  They play a verse and MPW stops the song.  Dave says “Sounded pretty good to me MPW Dot Com.  Dave starts talking about the fish in the song: “when those pike start going when they start thrashing you can hear them a mile away.”

For the final song, they thank Canadians and Americans “we’re gonna do a Ron Koop song.”  Koop sang “Introducing Happiness” the night before.
As they head out they announce, “Tomorrow night, Tim Vebron and Rheostar.  You don’t wanna miss it.”

Tim Vebron and Rheostar were the Rheostatics dressing up in crazy outfits playing synth songs.  You can see some pictures here.  Wish there wad a recording of it.

 

[READ: December 30, 2016] Pinball 1973

In the introduction of this book. Murakami devotes a page to Pinball and says he wrote a sequel the following year.  He was still running the jazz bar.  Soon after finishing this he decide to stop writing at his kitchen table and then wrote his first full length A Wild Sheep Chase which “I consider to be the true beginning my career as a novelist.”

He describes the text as “a novel about pinball,” but also explores themes of loneliness and companionship, purposelessness, and destiny. As with the other books in the “Trilogy of the Rat” series, three of the characters include the protagonist, a nameless first-person narrator, his friend The Rat, and J, the owner of the bar where they often spend time.

The plot is sort of beside the point although it is more present than in Hear the Wind.

Before the story starts properly we get this little introduction in which the narrator says the story is about “me” but also about a guy called “Rat.” That autumn the two of them were living four hundred miles apart.  This novel begins in 1973.

The story begins with Pinball and Raymond Moloney.  In 1931 Moloney made the very first pinball machine (this is true). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LUTHER WRIGHT AND THE WRONGS-instrumentality (2006).

I loved Luther’s Rebuild the Wall, and I kind of thought of him as country, but not really country.  A sort of punky country (his song “Broken Fucking Heart” lead me in that direction, too).

But this album is all instrumentals (hence the title) and it’s very traditional bluegrass/banjo-fueled tracks.   Eleven tracks in all (totaling about 22 minutes).  There’s even a cover of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  Listening to this I realized that I like banjo music (not as my favorite type mind you, but certainly more than a little).  Steve Martin (an excellent banjoist himself) once said:

“You just can’t sing a depressing song when you’re playing the banjo. You can’t go– [grins, plays and sings] “Oh, murder and death and grief and sorrow!”

And there’s something to be said for that.  With this fun collection of mostly 2 minutes songs, you’ll smile for twenty minutes or so.  (And the playing is top notch, too).

[READ: September 11, 2010] Handle Time

When I wrote about One Night @ the Call Center, several readers said I must read Handle Time, that it was the consummate Call Center novel and that it was much better than One Night.  So I tried to find it.  No libraries in New Jersey carried it.  And although I could get it at Amazon, there was precious little other information about it.  Well, I finally decided to add it to our library collection (so I didn’t have to pay for it) and to read it for myself.

My first surprise came when the first line of the text has the word embarrassed written in a super large font.  The font is so large in fact that it put a pretty sizable space between the lines of text (that’s called leading).  My second surprise came when I saw that littered throughout the text were a whole bunch of large words and crazy fonts and a bunch of clip art pictures that showed what was happening.  (I was especially surprised when one of them turned out to be Mr Burns from The Simpsons!).

So it turns out that there are different fonts throughout the book, some of them large and crazy, others fancy and scripty.  But the long and short of it is that this book is really only about 50 pages long (I mean I read the entire 188 pages in about 2 hours).

Okay, but what about the content.  Well the plot itself is fairly brief.  Chase gets a job at a call center.  She sits through orientation, begins working, gets demoralized and has a panic attack about her job.  That’s pretty much it.  But really what you read the book for is for the side bits, the comments, the snark, the sympathizing with call center workers.

Except that I’ve never worked in a call center and yet I have experienced many of the things in the novel.  So, this book, much loved by call center workers, could be about pretty much any shit job (except for the part about keeping your numbers up (and the part about not actually helping people because it skews your average handle time)).  But bad cafeterias, microwaves, bizarre HR nonsense, stupid powerpoints, they’re part of any corporate job.  And she does a good job in skewering them, they’re just not specific to call centers.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SARAH HARMER-I’m a Mountain (2005).

I first heard Sarah Harmer in 2000, with her “Basement Apartment” single (which always made me think of my friend Ailish who, at the time, lived in a basement apartment in Brookline, Mass.)

My wife Sarah has this CD playing in the car and I’d forgotten how much I liked it.  Unlike the You Were Here, I’m a Mountain is much more country music sounding. I’m not much of a fan of country music as a rule, but there is something about country music from Canada that just sounds better to me.  It tends to have more of a crossover sound, and is lyrically more interesting to me.  Maybe it has something to do withe Calgary Stampede.

While two or three tracks on here could easily fit on a country station, the album still got nominated for a Juno for Best Adult Alternative album.

To me, the album really kicks into high gear with the title track, which is funny and catchy (the line about Wal Mart is a good one).  The cover of Dolly Parton’s “Will He Be Waiting for Me?” is beautiful.  And the French song “Salamandre” sounds gorgeous even if I have no idea what she’s on about.”  The disc closes with my favorite song: “Luther’s Got the Blues” a wonderfully funny country song written by Luther Wright.  And in Sarah’s hands, it turns into a yodeling masterpiece.

You might hear Sarah’s voice backing up all kinds of bands.  And her voice really is fantastic.  So, should you tend to shy from country music as I do, this may be an entry way for you.

[READ: January 15, 2010] Hopeless Savages

I read this comic years ago, and loved it quite a lot.  I found it right around when I found Blue Monday. I recently tacked down the third trade paperback, so I figured I’d read all three again.

The premise here is that Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage, two old school punk rockers fall in love and settle down.  They have four kids: Rat Bastard, Arsenal Fierce, Twitch Strummer & Skank Zero Hopeless-Savage.  Each kid is a traditional punk: bad assed, fierce and take no shit.  But they are also pacifist by trade (Ronald Reagan took on the world with force, so force is for fascists, too right!).  Self defense is okay, mind you.

In this first story (there’s three trade volumes published so far), there’s not too much punks-in-proper-society comedy, because it’s all action.  The kids’ mum and da have been kidnapped, and its up to the four of them to find them.  Well, actually it’s up to the three of them to find Rat and then find their parents. For you see, Rat Bastard has sold out and gone commercial. (more…)

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persuasion.jpgSOUNDTRACK: LUTHER WRIGHT AND THE WRONGS-Rebuild the Wall (2001).

wright.jpgI first heard Luther Wright on an episode of Robson Arms, a weird, funny show on CTV in Canada. They were playing “Broken Fucking Heart” a fabulous country-punk song. So, I had to find out more about this guy, and it turns out he did a country-punk, but mostly country, version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It was with much trepidation that I dared into this most unusual of covers, because I don’t really care for country, particularly, shudder, new country. But, wow am I glad I did.

It’s hard to know even where to start, but it is amazing how well the songs translate into a country motif. I’ve loved Pink Floyd’s The Wall ever since it came out. I have very fond memories of reading the lyrics on the record sleeve when I bought it back in 1979, sitting in the back of my mom’s car as she drove myself and my aunt back from the mall. And, I have a fond memory of the resurgence that it had for me in college when evidently every angsty boy in my dorm felt the need to play it ritually.

I was prepared for the worst, but I never had any regrets of this cover version. I’ve even played it to friends who’ve thought it was really good as well. It all sounds like a joke, but the musicianship is top-notch (Sarah Harmer is back with great backing vocals), and the appreciation of the original is evident from the start. I encourage you to track down this album if you like the original. Give Luther some of your cash!

[READ: August 20, 2007] In Persuasion Nation.

This completes my recent spate of books that I read about somewhere, and can’t remember where. I maintain that it was in The Week by a former Simpsons’ writer, but I have to wait about a month before that issue gets online so I can confirm it (boo!). At any rate, I was led to believe that this was going to be a book of funny essays. And, well, it’s not. It skewers contemporary society, and it has moments that are definitely funny in a hmmmm, sort of way, but laugh-out-loud funny this is not. (more…)

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