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Archive for the ‘Melissa McClelland’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live at Massey Hall (December 8, 2017).

I saw Whitehorse open for Barenaked Ladies a few years ago and they blew me away.  I really want to see them again.

When I saw them it was just the two of them and the magic of their interplay was what really impressed me the most.  For this special Massey Hall show, they have a full band.  But as Melissa McClelland explains:

This is the first time playing the Massey stage with a full band.  We wanted to … finally invite some friends on stage with us and play music.

Those friends include John Obereian on drums, Ryan Gavel on bass, guitar and backing vocals and on keys and bongos and guitar, the second best singer in this band Gregory MacDonald.  He replies, “Thanks to the second best guitar player in the band.”  I have seen MacDonald on tour with Sloan a bunch of times and he is awesome.

As to why they are a duo, she says

we knew that Whitehorse was always going to be just the two of us and that everyone would know that we are equal partners in the band.  But we didn’t want it to be a folk duo so we started brainstorming and bought looping pedals and a kick drum and a stomp box and we  found new arrangements and once we got it we were like Yeah!

The show opens with hand clapping from the band and the audience and then Melissa’s slinky bass intro to “Baby Whats Wrong.  Then comes Luke Doucet’s echoing Western guitar. Their voices are wonderful together and I love when Doucet sings in that weird telephone microphone.  He also plays a ripping guitar solo.

Luke introduces “Tame as the Wild Ones” by saying they needed to write a sexy song so “Melissa kicked me out and said she’d do it alone.  I go to the bar to get drunk and when I come home, she plays me this song.  And nine months later our son Jimmy was born.”  I love the way the bridge (or is it a chorus) builds and settles–that melody is just gorgeous.

“Pink Kimono” has a simple rocking riff and the two singers singing at the same time.   Doucet’s soloing is on fire in this song.

“Die Alone” is a showstopper.  A slow moody piece in which Melissa sings over a wash of synths.  The music so much build as just unfold as first Luke sings with her and then the band kicks in.  Wow can Melissa belt out a song.

“Downtown” is a celebration of how you can put hundreds of thousands of people in a city and for the most part everyone gets along.  It s got a great throbbing bass and some cool guitar scratching and riffs from Doucet.  It’s a bummer that they interrupt the awesome middle solo section with an interview, even if it is quite interesting.

After Melissa lays out how they wanted the band to sound, Luke says that when people ask him about what it’s like to do Whitehorse, he says

we were solo artists first but we had been involved with each others albums as singer or producer  or touring musician.

So in order to be successful

you have to hang out together for five or six years and play in each others bands and make eight albums together and then you have to go on tour as freelance/hired gun musicians working for Blue Rodeo or Sarah McLachlan and then you have to live together for five or six years and listen to music together and fight and then you have to get married and once you’ve done all these things and listened to 10,000 hours of music and dissected Tom Waits entire catalog and argued about which is the best Beatles record and had fights on stage about who is speeding up or slowing down and once you’ve done all those things together then start a band.

It certainly worked for them.  The only bad thing about this show is that it’s only 30 minutes.

[READ: January 24, 2019] Hits & Misses

It has been a while since Simon Rich published a collection of his stories.  This one was pretty enjoyable.  Overall, not as much fun as some of his previous collections, but still a lot to laugh at.  Rich tends to write what he knows, which is often a very good sign.  However, sometimes what he knows is limited to writing and filming, which tends to miss the everyman silliness of his earlier pieces.

Having said that there are still some hilarious pieces that anyone can enjoy and some pieces about writers that are very funny.

A few of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker, and I indicate as much, with a link to my longer review.

“The Baby.”  This was a highlight.  A sonogram reveals that their baby is holding a pen–he is going to be a writer!  But when word gets out that the baby is already getting a reputation AND representation, well, that baby’s writer father is pretty damned jealous.  Wonderful absurdity based on reality taken to its extremes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TERRA LIGHTFOOT-Live at Massey Hall (December 8, 2017).

I know of Terra Lightfoot because she has done some (very minimal) work with Rheostatics.

Amazingly, she is not related to Gordon Lightfoot (how many people have this last name?).

Terra Lightfoot opened for Whitehorse (a double bill I would love to see).  She plays a half a dozen songs.  I thought she might be a sensitive folkie (again that Gordon connection), but it turns out that she rocks (and blues), has a powerful voice and plays a pretty wicked guitar as well.

Lightfoot is a great front woman–engaging and funny–and she has some great stories to tell about each of her songs.

“Stars over Dakota” just rocks out–big guitars, smashing drums (from Joel Haynes) and then settles into a swinging shuffle.  Lightfoot has a singular voice which I quite like.  I also like the little guitar riff she gives after the “gin martinis make dizzy” line.  She is joined mid-song by Melissa McClelland of Whitehorse who sings some amazing harmonies.  That’s two killer voices on one stage.

Drifter is a slower song, with a really lovely opening guitar melody.  She has been inspired in her career by her grandmother and her aunt who both played music.  Her grandmother recently died, but her aunt is still playing.

Introducing the next song “You Get High,” she says she has a special new guitar–a woman made it for me Ashley Leanne from Waterloo, she’s 26.  While Terra’s going to play this acoustic, she invites Daniel Lanois up on the stage.  “Can we get a spotlight on the man here?”  They can’t so he scooches over to her spotlight amid much chuckling.  Lanois plays a beautifully fluid electric guitar while she picks out a lively melody on the acoustic.

“Norma Gale” is about a famous musician from the 70 who played with Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash and went on a date with Conway Twitty (I guess he didn’t call her back).  While she was doing all these cool things, she was also raising a young son on her own.  So Terra wrote this song for her.  It starts as a pretty, slow ballad but builds nicely with the addition of keys (from Alan Zamatis).

“Hold You” rocks up again, and it’s got a cool call and response with a bass melody (from Maury LaFoy) rumbling along.  “Two Hearts” is a song she wrote in a couple of places in Europe when she was very much in love…. with a couple of people.   The song starts slowly but build to an intense climax with pounding drums and Terra on her knees rocking out,.

Having had a total mis-perception of Terra Lightfoot, this show blew me away and I want to hear more from her.

[READ: January 19, 2019] All Summer Long

This was a fun story about friendship, distance and guitar playing.

As the story open we see Austin and Bina getting ready for 7th grade summer vacation.  They have been friends since they were five years old and have spent all of the previous summers together.  They even created the Combined Summer Fun Index–a way to tally just how much fun they have each summer.

Last summer’s included:

  • Cats petted: 22
  • Went swimming: 51 times
  • $idewalk change: $1.18
  • Sneaked into R-Rated movies: 2 times

But this summer, Austin can’t participate.   He is going to soccer camp for a month.  A whole month.  Summer is ruined–for Bina at least. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 7 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 17, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 14, 2004. This was the 7th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.

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 rep

 Two versions are available – Mark Sloggett’s soundboard recording and 8 track files provided by Steve Clarkson.  The Sloggett download has 8 minutes of pre show intro music, which I assume is on the PA.  It starts out kind of synthy and cool then turns into piano music then a big horn-filled jazzy song then back to piano as mike starts playing some drums and that’s the official start of “Who Is This Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” even with the PA music still playing.   Despite this being guest vocalist night, this song is instrumental with accordion and clearly spoken Polish.

Martin says they’re not supposed to sing tonight so they’ll do an instrumental version of “Four Little songs.”  No one sings their verse, but Chris String on keyboards plays a lengthy sample: you gave this to, me but you cannot escape, not this time.”  They play the song really well without the vocals and for the end someone is ringing bells in tune.

Dave welcomes everyone to the 4th annual Fall Nationals and introduces their first guest vocalist Robin Lowe from Pittsburgh, PA.  She sounds great singing “Introducing Happiness.”  She’s followed by Melissa McClelland who asks, “Can I do something on this?” and someone jokes, “no don’t touch the keyboard.”  “Can I do some beat boxing on the mic?”  “Absolutely.”  She doesn’t beatbox but she sings a beautiful version of “Aliens (Christmas 1988).”  It’s a bit of a different vocal melody than martin sings and is quite wonderful.

Mike Bell comes out to sing “Beerbash” guessing that they haven’t done this in a while.  It’s rocking and fun/sloppy.   Then Paul Linklater and Donna Orchard
come out to sing “King Of The Past.”  Dave notes that “you guys sang separately last year.”  Which they did.  They do a kind of dramatic singing of the song which I think I like, but not as much as the original.

Dave says, “The beer is here and so is my adorable wife.”  Janet Morassutti who has co-written many songs sings “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  She has a good, deep voice and I love when she gets into the 1,2,3,4.

Kurt Swinghammer comes out and introduces the Trands-Canada Soul Patrol back in the house.  But Dave says they’re supposed to be backing Brenda Lee.  Kurt continues, “It’s time for a Tim Vesely song.  He’s sort of the George Harrison in the band.”  This brings forth three jokes at once including Dave saying he;s more of the George Foreman of the band.   They do “Loving Arms” and Dave says, “you’re lucky we did this last night.”  He sings in a deep and ponderous voice not sure it’s quiet right for this sweet song, but he does a great job with it.  The song ends but the give Kurt an extra solo.

Michelle Rumball comes out and says, “Dave do you know that the last time that I was supposed to sing this song, I showed up and only knew the backing vocals.”  Dave says, “I’ve never forgiven you for that.”  “It was like ten years ago.”  Then Dave notes “No one ever sings “Saskatchewan Part 2”  Michelle says, “next year?”  It’s slow and moody and she kind of messes up a bit but holds it together.  Chris Brown gets a keyboard solo.

Greg Smith of the Weakerthans recently.  He’s going to sing “The Tarleks” and they start asking him “what are you doing now that KRP shut down?”  He says he gets a lot of questions about Bailey Quarters–everybody liked her more than Loni Anderson.   There’s lots of wild synth stuff in the middle.

Chris Brown comes out for “Bad Time To Be Poor” and there’s some seriously off guitar to start the song, but they settle down and play along nicely.

Then they need to take a five-minute break to work on equipment.  Martins Steinberger guitar died.  It led a rich life and needs to go to the hospital.  Sorry about that.

Royal Wood sings a pretty version of “It” and then Steve Stanley puts the power back in “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” including the intro.  They say that he is currently in a band called Midi-Ogres.  At the end of the song, there’s sustaining feedback note–“make it stop make the bad man stop, stop the fucking note, Mike.”  While they’re fixing that, Chris plays a sample:, “I’ve been practicing every day for a year.  I can’t even learn a piece in a week.  When will I learn to play real good?  How long does it take?”

Jen Foster sings “Take Me In Your Hand” (no accordion) and they do the penny whistle ending.  Justin Rutledge comes up for “Marginalized.”  Dave notes that he played with the last night and slayed the house. There’s some raw guitar sounds, but not as interesting as Martin’s.

Amer Diab comes up to play “Lying’s Wrong.”  Mike says, “Shit, I don’t think I’ve ever played this one.”  Dave: “me either.  How does it start?”  “Thanks for pulling that out of the closet.”

Howard Druckman and Beverly Kreller come out to sing “Chansons Les Ruelles.”  Bev plays the bodhran, which is evidently too loud in the monitors, which makes Dave says, “You’re the John Bonham if bodhran players, aren’t you, Bev?”  Mike: “John Bodhran.”   Howard says, “I remember the People’s Republic of Dave.”  Dave says, “You know Broken Social Scene stole everything from PROD.”

Kate Fenner sings “Northern Wish.”  her raspy voice is nice with this although she misses the “built my rocket” section.  Reid Jameson sings “In This Town” and dedicates it to all the Pisces in the room.  “Posses of Pisces.”  Martin says that he hasn’t listen to it since they recorded it.  They typically play a different version.

Dennis Ellsworth sings “Palomar” but the teleprompter seems to give out for a few seconds.

Simon Wilcox sings “Dead is the Drunkest You Can Get.”  But it causes nothing but trouble.  “Anyone remember how to play my song?”  Tim: “I thought this song only ever appeared on a t-shirt.”  She has a sultry, almost sexy delivery.

Matthew Cowley sings “My First Rock Show” although ta the end he says “He was there, I’ve never seen any of those bands.”  During the Joe Jackson saved my life part, Dave chimes in: “hes always doing that.”

Chris plays the “we are the music makers” sample from Willy Wonka.

Simon Head sings “Shaved Head.”  He says “It’s fun to be part of Rheostatioke.”  Martin says, we were thinking rheo-oke.  It sounds good.  The heavy part is really heavy.  At the end everyone comments: “Nice Vegas walk off, Simon.”  Martin: “next time we do that I’m going to do a walk off like that.  The walk off is underrated.”

David Celia does a nice version of “Claire” and Yawd Sylvester sings “Record Body Count.”  They have fun with Yawd (who mentions Tim’s album that he played on).  They call him the one-armed bandit and then say that “Yawd gives this the one thumb up.”  I wonder what happened to him.  There’s some fun jamming guitars (and accordion?) and other sounds.  And he says “Thanks you guys for putting smiles on 28 faces.”

Ford Pier comes out and Tim says, “Thanks, Ford, for not making us learn ‘Motorino.'” He retorts, “I didn’t not make you learn ‘Motorino,’ you refused to learn ‘Motorino.’  Who wants to hear ‘Motorino?’  Yea, well it’s not going to happen because of the lassitutde of these bastards.”  Tim: “That song is fucked.”  Ford: “It’s a damn good song and next year you’re not getting off the hook so easily.”  [He doesn’t sing it next year]. Tim: “It’s like five or six songs.”  Mike: “The only reason it didn’t happen is because you just got off a plane yesterday.”  Ford: “Perhaps we should be doing “Connecting Flights.”  But instead they play “Junction Foil Ball” and everyone messes it up at one point or another.  Guitars, vocals, timing.  It’s a mess, but fun.  And then right away starts the clapping for the next song, “Rain, Rain, Rain.”  Selina Martin sings it kind of crazy and growly and the final verse is pretty silly.

And then they’ve made it to the end.  John Crossingham comes out and they comment that making it to the end is an achievement in itself.

Mike wonders, “Is there going to be an encore?  Or are we going to be more theatrical about this?”
Tim: “The encore is tomorrow morning.”
Dave: “The encore is Selina Martin jumping around a bit more.”

The next song takes a bit of extra special tuning preparation, bear with us.  So John takes the time to thank the band for such a wonderful idea.  It means a lot to all of us who have graced the stage this evening.

Then Dave asks, “John where’d you get your toque?”  John: “On the floor at a Green Day concert at the Rico Coliseum.  I stepped on something and that was it.  I did wash it before I put it on my head.”  Dave: “You’d have to be pretty drunk to leave toque like that at a Green Day show.  How was the tour?”  John: “It was good.  Had its ups and downs.  His book On a Cold Road got us through.  If you haven’t read it already pick it up.  They’re even selling it over there, smartly.  Or perhaps you’d like to read about Italian baseball or hockey in the Republic of China?”

And then they’re ready to end the night with a great version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” (which is not available on the Slogett MP3 download).  John does an amazing job with this really difficult song.  He even hits the super high note in the middle.  It’s a solid version, and while I love Martin’ more of course, it’s really enjoyable.

There’s no encore since the show was already 3 hours long (!).  Although there is a crazy noise at the end of the song for a couple of minute–with synths and Martin messing around.

What a fun night.

[READ: July 7 , 2017] Spill Zone

Sarah loves Scott Westerfeld, although I hadn’t read him before. I had to wonder if this graphic novel was also a traditional novel, because I’d love to see how he described the visuals.  But I believe it is only a graphic novel, so I just get to marvel in the visual imagination of Alex Puvilland.

This book starts out weird, no doubt.  Addison is a teen with a camera.  She has been taking pictures of her hometown in upstate New York.  Which isn’t so strange except that her town is a Spill Zone.

What’s that? Well, actually I don’t know yet.  Suffice it to say that it’s not good.  There are dead people, weird sightings and a roadblock with military personnel.  Addison speculates it could be a nanotech accident colliding with the nuclear power plant, an alien visitation, something from another world?  Some people escaped, like her sister Lexa, but most didn’t, like her parents.  Addison was not there when it happened, and since the accident Lexa hasn’t spoken a word.

She is part of group if what she calls crazy tourists who like to take pictures of the disaster. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2013] Barenaked Ladies

20131018_214137Sarah and I saw BNL this summer with our friend Megan, and the show was great.  That marked the fourth or fifth time that I’d seen them.  When we found out that they were coming through again (to the close to us and cool Bethlehem Sands) we thought it might be fun to see them again.  Especially with our friends Matt and Marisa who like them but had never seen them.  So we met up and had a very fun time.  We ate at Emeril’s Burgers and More.  The burger was good (although it took an incredibly long time for it to arrive).  The strange thing about the burger was that it was very crispy on the outside (which was good) but rather and odd shade of  pink on the inside (which may have been the lighting, but it was certainly pinker than usual for medium), but it was not juicy/bloody—how is something pink but not juicy?  It was weird.  But still rather tasty.

But back to the show.  Our seats were in Row 20, which was much better than our seats this summer. The pictures here are mine taken with my phone—they’re blurrier than I’d like, but not terrible.

And this show was a ton of fun and full of surprises.  They started with “Limits” an unexpected song from their new album.  And then they jumped into “Never is Enough” a surprise old song.  Ed always does an introductory rap (which no one ever includes in the setlists online for some reason).  This one, while not as good as the PNC Bank Center one was enjoyable.  Ed explained that he ran a half marathon that day on the Sands grounds.  Well, actually he ran a block but did cross the finish line (the band played along with Da Don’t Run Run).  It was very funny.  “Pinch Me” is the new crowd favorite.  Whereas they used to throw Mac and Cheese during $1,000,000, now they throw underwear.  And much hilarity ensues. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2013] Whitehorse

whitehorseliveWhitehorse opened for Barenaked Ladies at the Bethlehem Sands (our new favorite slightly larger venue–even if the acoustics aren’t great, the seating is good and the prices reasonable–we were in the 20th row for this set, which was really perfect).

I had never heard of Whitehorse, so when I saw that they were opening for Barenaked Ladies, I wanted to see what they were all about.  I found a concert from Mountain Stage which was enjoyable but which I felt pigeonholed the band as a kind of country folk duo.  They weren’t exactly what I imagined when I thought of an opening band for BNL.  I actually wondered if BNL’s show would be more mellow in general, too.

Well, Whitehorse absolutely blew me away on stage.

They opened as I expected, with Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland (who were solo performers and recently got married) playing guitars and singing into one microphone (that last part I didn’t expect).  They sounded great together.  And the song (“No Glamour in the Hammer”) was very nice—mellow folk with a hint of country.  And then things got really interesting.  They each moved to a different microphone.  McClelland switched to a bass, Doucet switched to an electric guitar.  And then they started playing some percussion—Doucet played a bass drum with his foot while playing the guitar.  Then he picked up some random percussion objects—small drums, maracas, even pots and pans—and hit them a few times.  And that’s when I realized they were looping the percussion and building the rest of the song from that.  McClelland played some keyboard and, at one point, she began singing into a distorted microphone to create some cool vocals which she also looped.  A video camera closeup revealed that the “microphone” was actually an old-fashioned telephone.  The first song went on for a pretty long time, building and growing and expanding  And by the end of the song the crowd was hooked.

What was completely evident was just how much fun they were having.  Both of them were smiling all the way through the set, in between singing of course.  They looked at each other and shared moments, thanked us and BNL and told good stories to lead up to the songs.  (more…)

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wilderSOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live from Mountain Stage (May 16, 2012).

whitehorseWhitehorse is opening for Barenaked Ladies on the current leg of their tour (we’re going to see them in October).  I hadn’t heard of them.  Turns out Whitehorse is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.  They are from Canada, which may be why they are touring with BNL–because they’re not very funny or very upbeat.

They play four songs in this Mountain Stage show.  I really like “Killing Time” which has a very alt-country feel—McClelland’s harmony vocals are great on the chorus, which has a very low down dirty feel.  I particularly like the lines:

Pimms in the cooler and daughter in the yard Playing California strip croquet

And

Tongue is a sharpened razor Little miss know it some But get her alone she cries I wanna go home Oh, this little piggy plays dumb.

They have some good stories too, like the one about “Emerald Isle” which is about Luke running a marathon in Ireland.  His Irish mother, who had never been to Ireland, flew out to meet him at the finish line and his wife, Melissa, flew in from Australia as well.  There are more great harmonies in this song which, while mournful has a wonderfully uplifting feel.  “Night Owls” is a very slow ballad which, while lyrically interesting, is a little too slow for my tastes.

For the final song, Melissa explains that the two of them had been playing solo and then they got married and still played solo.  And then they decided to join forces. “Broken One” was a song that Luke wrote for his ex-girlfriend (and it is mean); Melissa says that she fixed it for Whitehorse.  It’s a pretty standard country song with a honky tonk feel.  It has a great blow off line: “You gotta have a heart to have a broken one.”

There’s something about Canadian Country music that I like so much more than American country music.  I wonder what that is.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Wilderness

I recently stumbled upon this book at the library.  I was only vaguely aware that Doyle had written a children’s novel, but there it was on the shelf.  This is not a young child’s book, which is kind of a shame.  I know my son would love half of the book, but I didn’t think he was ready for the other half.

The two parts of the story are about different members of the same family.  The father, Frank, is the same.  He married a woman quite young and they had a daughter.  When the daughter was about 4 years old, the father and mother realized they could no longer live together.  After some fights, the mother left for America.  Where she stayed.  Gráinne, the daughter, is now 18 and she is a sullen, angry teenager.  Her dad is still okay, but most of the time she wants to treat him like he’s not.  But he seems okay with that and gives her space.  The crux of her story is that her mother has decided to come back after all these years.  And Gráinne now has to deal with that.

Her story is a little mature, (especially for my 8 year old son), and she has some pretty harsh things to say about her parents, (which I hope he doesn’t have yet).

The other half of the story concerns her half brothers, and I know my son would love this part.  Conveniently, the two stories are easy to demarcate–the ones with the boys are named Chapter 1 etc, the one with Gráinne are named things like The Bedroom, The Bus etc.  So I did consider telling him to read just those parts.  But maybe I’ll just wait.  Anyway, her half brothers, Johnny and Tom, belong to her dad and her stepmom, Sandra.  Sandra loves her boys and her husband and even Gráinne–most of the time.  But lately Gráinne has been a little much.  And Frank has encouraged Sandra to take the boys and go on a trip, just with them.  That will let her focus on the boys and give him some time with Gráinne. (more…)

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