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Archive for the ‘Rheostatics’ Category

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 27, 2017).

Fourth of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals.  Some bust outs at this show – Take Me In Your Hand, Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too, Edmund Fitzgerald as well as Opera Star and Take The Money And Run – another awesome show.

Lineup is: Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

Jeff “J.C. ” Cohen the owner of The Horseshoe introduces the show.  He talks about the 70th Anniversary of The Horseshoe.

He mentions thee 1950s and 60s when artists like Willie Nelson would do a full week here. No cover from Mon-Wed to get to know the band and then a $3 cover and then a $4 cover.  They made this dump a legendary live venue.  Nothing beat 25 nights of Stompin’ Tom Connors.  That kind of thing doesn’t exist anymore except the Rheos.  He mentions how during their last Nationals they went to like 3:45 AM.

The opening acts were Southtown from Texas and Hydrothermal Vents (John Tielli’s Montreal-based band)

This nearly three-hour(!) shows starts off pretty mellow with Tim;s new song “Music Is The Message” which sounds more pretty than ever.  It’s followed by a whispered version of “Stolen Car” with gentle violin and backing vocals to start.  Although about 3 minutes in, an ever escalating feedback starts taking over the song and they have to stop mid-song (gasp!)  DB: “Live music!  These are not backing tapes, not yet.”  Martin picks up right where they left off perfectly.

Dave: “We’re mostly playing waltzes tonight.”

They mention the “bad” fan from last night. The Habs fan, he was very anti-fellatio.  Clark: “That’s the big guy from Shakespeare, right?”

Ford: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Fellatio.”

“King Of The Past” sounds great.  I love Hugh’s violin at the climactic moment.  It’s followed by “Northern Wish” Dave notes: My wife wrote those land ho’s.”  He also mentions that Martin is “quite the cowboy.”  So Martin recites in a drawl, “Everybody’s talking about me, but I don’t hear a word they say.”

Someone shouts, “You guys gotta play ‘Saskatchewan.'”
DB: [quickly] “Nope.”
Audience guy: “Why not?”
DB: “Well maybe.  Seeing as you asked so …nicely and not at all brusquely.  We’ll see.  The set list is merely a sketch.”

DC: “This ain’t brain surgery.”
DB: “Or Brain Salad Surgery.”
Tim: “Or hot dog salad surgery” (an inside joke about the very first tour they went to the 7-11 in Thunder Bay in our under pants and it was seriously cold.  All we could afford was hot dogs so we loaded on as much salad as we could.  I don’t think they have police in Thunder Bay because we should have been arrested.

Then comes the first huge surprise, a bust-out of “The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Parts I & II.  It sounds great and during the ending section they do a few Stompin’ Tom songs: “Bridge Came Tumbling Down” and Algoma 69.”  Then they take it back to G sharp for a folkie verse of “P.R.O.D.” and then the Wendel ending.

Dave talks briefly about the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper our legacy as a generation.  It’s a beautiful body of water that nobody goes in.

There’s a very smooth sounding “Claire” with nice washes of synths.  It leads to a terrific version of “The Albatross” which gets better with each playing.  We learn that it was written after a Martin solo tour which is why it sounds so very Martin.

“Soul Glue” is a fun version with lot of violin.  Amusingly, Tim messes up the opening lyric, starting with the first syllable of the second verse.  Dave asks, “You need some help, Tim?”  But Tim is quickly back on track.  A ringing of feedback returns but is quickly squashed.  The pretty ending of the song leads an abrupt loud rocker, the introduction to “AC/DC On My Radio.”  It has some great drums at the end and Dave even asks, “Could you guys clap your hands?  I never ask people to clap their hands.”

“P.I.N.” sounds great and is followed by another bust out: “It’s Easy To Be With You” or “It’s easy to be with Hugh.”

Tim: This one’s called “smoke break slash washroom break.”  It’s a pretty acoustic version of “Bad Time to Be Poor” with Tim on guitar and High on violin.

Tim thanks the “multi-nighters” and then Martin introduces “my brother johnny” who helps out on “Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too.”  The songs tarts quietly with just piano and builds and builds.

They have some “high level talks” about what to play next.  They agree on “What’s Going On?” Then Martin suggests “Saskatchewan” “for those guys.”  Tim: “maybe that will shut them up.   Just to be clear it’s Part 1, right?”  Dave: “he’s left, he’s puking in the bathroom.”

There’s a very pretty ending that launches into Martin’s heavy riffing for “RDA (Rock Death America).”

Then the man who has been compiling all of these live shows, Darrin Cappe gets a dedication of “Christopher.”

A fun, rollicking “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” segues into “Alomar” (sort of, Dave notes) and then back into “Dope Fiends.”

After an encore break, Dave plays “My First Rock Concert.”  Dave says “Maybe Tim Mech will join me.  maybe not.”  But then, “This song features Tim Vesely on the drums.  He’s got one fill but it’s a really good fill. [Tim plays].  That’s a new one! [Tm plays another]. That’s all I got.

As Dave sings about his first rock concert which his dad drove them to, Tim says, “Fred…. in a Delta 88.”

Dave asks: Ford what was your first concert?  Ford is using Tim’s mic, no sound.  Tim: “They didn’t turn my mic on tonight.”  Ford: “But you made so many awesome jokes.  You got to repeat them all.”  After some hemming and hawing he says: “D.O.A. or SNFU or Personality Crisis or Chocolate Bunnies From Hell… or Big Country.”  Dave: “You can only have one, Ford.”  Ford: “Nope.  Too convoluted to get into here, but I am the kind of person who has had many firsts in his life.  I’m a complicated man.”

When he sings the “swan dive,” Tim says “No you didn’t.”  Dave: “He was there.  No I didn’t.  But it works with the song.”
Ford: “See, truth is less important than meaning.”
Dave B: “Truth is less important than loyalty.”

Dave Clark: “Beach Boys, 1973, Surf’s Up, with my best friend Karen Lindhart.”
Tim: “Triumph at Exhibition Stadium.”

They play “Take Me in Your Hand.”  Dave: Tim, two drumming songs in a row how do you feel?”  Tim: “Elated and vindicated.”  There’s a great organ sound throughout the song, which they haven;t played in a long time. Although the acoustic guitar cuts out during the outro.”

Dave Clark has the audience do something with their hands and ultimately touch their ears and says he does it with little kids all the time in class.  I’d like to know what that is.

Martin notes: “Timothy Warren Vesely on the kit… on the traps.”
Ford”  “I want to tell you all how thrilled I am to be here with my dear friends, playing like the best music there is.”

Dave mentions some upcoming shows through the summer and then one that’s not in Toronto that their lawyer Woody Springsteen told them not to talk about.

Martin: This next song was written by a good friend of ours…”
DC: “G. Gordon Liddy.”
Martin: “G.  Gordon Lightfoot.”
Ford: “He could have killed every person in this room with any object on this stage.”
Tim: “We ask that there be no lights for this song….”
Dave B: “Total dark in the beginning, Marsen.”

It’s amazing that they do an 11 minute version of “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It sounds really great and just builds in intensity until there is absolute silence at the end of the song.  Really amazing.
Martin asks, “When’s the last time we did that, Dave?”
Dave: “I don’t know, a long time ago.  But sometimes it’s good to take a break from a song.”
Tim: “Or from a band.”

Dave B: “Who is not from Toronto?  It means a lot.  Jesus, I don’t think I’d drive to see us.  …because I’d be replaced and that would be terrible.  It would be sad.”

There hasn’t been a ton of banter during this show, but as it gets near the end, they are talking more.  They dither about what to play

Audience: “play a good song.”
Dave B: “that’s a terrible chant.”
Audience: “play a bad song.”
Audience: “play my favorite song.”

They play “What’s Going On Around Here?” with Tim on accordion.  It sounds great and then as they get near the end, Hugh starts playing a crazy violin solo–weird effects making bizarre almost human sounds with Martin doing bizarre backward mumble vocals.  It’s pretty neat.

Dave, sounding exhausted: We have one more maybe one and a half more.

Tim: “I think we played the show stopper like five or six songs ago.”

Dave C: “Martin’s gonna surprise you, kids.”  He plays Neil Young’s “Opera Star” and then a sloppy version Steve Miller’s “Take The Money and Run” that doesn;t quite sound right but still sounds good, especially Hugh’s wild solo.

Dave B: “Now that’s a show stopper.”
Tim: “That’s because we know no other songs.”
Dave B: “Should we do one more to bring it back.”
Tim, “No, we know no more.  That was bottom of the barrel.”

Requests from the audience, but Ford Pier, he’s in the band, we have to honor his request.  We’ll soon be having an opening on keyboard after Ford Leaves, and if you’re in the band you request songs and we have to play them.
Ford: “I didn’t know how that worked.  ‘Chemical World.'”
Clark: “I’d love to play that.”
Dave: “I’d love to pay ‘Satellite Dancing.'”
Martin starts singing “Radio 80 Fantasy.”
Dave starts playing “Body Thang” then says, “I just wanted to see Tim make that face.”
Ford:  “What a bunch of yoyos.   All those nice things I was saying before, I take it back.”

They settle on “Self Serve Gas Station” which opens quietly with lots of violin from Hugh.  “What went wrong with Johnny?  And Dougie too.”  They play the end in a crazy ska fashion.

This was a great four show Nationals and I wish I could have been to at least two of them.

They played throughout the summer, but the only shows left on the site as of today are four more from December 2017.

[READ: April 20, 2018] Baseballisimo

Baseballissimo is about baseball.  In Italy!  That’s a pretty good title.

I have read all of Dave Bidini’s books so far but I put this one off because it’s about baseball in Italy, which I didn’t think I’d care about.  And I don’t really.  But I did enjoy this book.  I especially enjoyed reading this at a removal of some 15 years from when it was written.  There was no reason to have any vested interested in the current status of anybody in the book (except Dave).  I just assume that fifteen years later nobody in the book is still playing baseball and we’ll just leave it at that.

So in the spring of 2002 Dave took his wife Janet and his two little kids on a six month trip to Nettuno, Italy, a seaside town of thirty thousand about an hour south of Rome.  His plan was to follow around the local third-tier baseball team the Peones for their season.

Many on the team wondered why he would write about them.  They seemed puzzled by the very idea.  One of the players asked

“Photo?”
“Si”
“Photo nudo?”
“Maybe”
“Angalaaaaaaato” he said using a Nettunese expression for lovemaking

But mostly they wanted to know why he didn’t want to wrote about real baseball.  We play for fun, no?
Dave said, “I’m mot interested in real baseball.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 26, 2017).

Third of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals.

This was one of the best Rheos shows I’ve ever seen. At the end of the show Jeff Robinson presented Martin with the custom made guitar he had been working on for the past 6 months. Martin then played an impromptu version of Indian Arrow which he had last played on his Farmer In The City tour 18 years prior. Indian Arrow is a 13 Engines song that to the best of my knowledge was never recorded, nor does Mike Robbins apparently recall writing it…but Martin knows it.

Lineup is: Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

There’s occasionally a lot of echo and reverb on the vocals, but the sound quality of the recording is excellent.

Before they start Dave B says, “Those people at the back don’t even know we’re up here, right?”

After a long guitar intro, martin sings “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It builds really well although he doesn’t quite hit the note on “the morning time has come.”  It’s followed by another Martin song, “California Dreamline.”  This song also has a lengthy guitar and keyboard introduction.

When the song ends there;s some rousing guitar chords for almost a minute before the words of Dave Clark’s “AC/DC On My Radio” kick in.

It’s followed by a terrific “Soul Glue” with Martin joking about playing “jazz metal.”

Ford asks, Who is on lights tonight?
Dave B: I don’t know.  Have we seen much of a light show tonight?
Ford: Last night you said his name three times in a row and that is messing with some dark force
Dave B: Ford Pier is our dark force attendant.  Thanks for coming to night three.  Lucky number 3.  Dark force night.

Clark tells a lengthy story about someone farting behind him on a plane.  Martin guesses it was Margaret Atwood.  But Dave says he has proof of David Suzuki farting near him at a book signing and frightening all of the signees away.

Martin announces that the next song “P.I.N.” is called “Oh that Suzuki.”

They ask Tim Mech if he finds a lyric sheet in the back to bring it forward.  They are doing a song for a Stompin’ Tom compilation, but they don;t know the words.  Tim: So instead we’ll forget the words to this one” I’ve never heard “Gumboot Cloggeroo” before.  Someone plays an amazing solo that sounds like it was done on a banjo but which might be Hugh on violin?

Dave wonders if it’s too early for shots?  Martin “I’ll just get looser after this.”

Martin again states that Tim is sporting the gentleman’s instrument.
DB: “what does that make the bass?”
MT: “also a gentleman’s instrument.  I just learned the mojo of the bass about 7 years ago.”
DB: “4 strings is tough”
MT: “it’s pretty well inexplicable.”
DB: “It took me a long time to pop and snap.”
MT: “Tim Vesely used to be the king of slapping on Queen Street.”

DC: “Tim Mech do you have Gaffer tape?”
MT: “Why would a guitar tech have gaffer tape?”
MT: “I had a dream I was gaffer taped.”
DB: “Dark Forces”

Martin and Tim play “Sickening Song.”  It starts well, but then he stops.
Martin: “I got snot on my microphone.”
DC: “That’s because it’ the Sickening Song.”
Ford: “Is it yours?”
DB: “We had a gaffer stop and a snot stop, very professional.”

They resume and “Sickening Song” sounds great.  There’s some wild drums and crazy echoed vocals in the middle (the punk rock section).  There’s some big growling vocals at the end–it’s awesome.

Tim stays on the accordion for “What’s Going On Around Here?” and when it’s over, someone in the audience shouts “that was fuckin awesome.”

The Horsehoe is now 70 years old.  It was really different back then when Hank Williams and Stompin’ Tom.
DB: “Me, Tim and Dave Clark played that stage over there in 1984.  James Grey was on keyboards with us.  It was our 6th or 7th gig of all time.  We opened for The Government.”

From The Last Pogo:

The Government were a three-piece band rooted in Toronto and active between 1977 through 1982. The band consisted of: Andrew James Paterson (guitar, voice, and writing), Robert Stewart (bass, voice, writing), and three drummers (Patrice Desbiens from Sept.1977 to May 1978, Edward Boyd from June 1978 to December 1980, and Billy Bryans throughout 1981 and 1982.) The last version of the band was also occasionally augmented by scratch guitarist Jeremiah Chechik.

Robert Stewart wore pink spandex pants,  Billy Bryans on drums he had synth drums.
MT: “There’s never been a better drum tone since.”
DB: “I’m merely trying to drive away the dark forces.”

DC: “Patting a Bengal cat is like patting the back of Tim’s head.”
Martin: “Tim has the nicest hair of anyone I’ve ever stroked….  Here’s a new song by Timothy Waren Vesely.”

They play the nice folkie song “Rear View.”

Then comes “Northern Wish” which opens with a pretty acoustic guitar melody. and sounds great.  It ends with a cool buzzy guitar sound at the end.

For “Here Come The Wolves” DB asks, “Hey Marsen, I’d like a little more light on stage.  I’m not reading my lyrics or anything, honest.”  The middle has a great fiddle sound from Hugh, thundering drums and lot of intensity–when they get this song tight it will be fantastic.

There’s a very long intro to “Dope Fiends.”  It sound great and then there’s a long drum solo lasting over 2 and a half minutes).  The song ends after Martin singing Dark Side of the Moooooon with someone whispering The Dark Side and then Martin speaking backwards nonsense (you can hear “Satan” a few times).  This all culminates in some wild improv.

Tim recites “Halloween Eyes” then they return to “Dope Fiends.”  This segues into an introduction to “Queer” in which Dave starts singing Trooper’s “Here For A Good Time” and then Dave says, “Uh oh Tim’s got something.”  They play “Halloween Eyes” properly and the chugging guitar leads Dave to sing “You Shook Me All Night Long” but he doesn’t know the words (!) and no one else seems to either!?  No one knows it?

Paul Linklater?  You don’t know it?
Kurt Swinghammer? You must know it.  Kurt gets up there to sing it and his lyrics are “I don’t know that song, I don’t know that song at all.”
Finally Ford gets up there and sings a really strained voice (and misses a lot of lyrics) but they play it pretty well: “Ford Pier saves the day!”

They finally get to a romping, “Queer.”  It’s so good that Clark says, “I’m giving you the [cow]bell brother.”  There’s great harmonizing on “he put his fist through the kitchen door.”  There’s a cool pizzicato solo from Hugh.

And then Hugh plays a great violin as the introduction to Clark’s fun new song “Super Controller.”

Dave: We’re gonna do one more.  We might not do one more.  Give us an encore.”

After the encore, Ford comes back and sings “Thursday Morning” on acoustic guitar.  He confesses “after the Brian Johnson vocals, I have a bit of a frog in my throat, help me out?  Oh, you sound like a chorus of angels.  Am I having a stroke?)  This segues into a romping fun version of The English Beat’s “Save It For Later.”

When it’s over, Ford says, That must have been enough time for a Cuban cigar (depends on who’s smoking it, Ford).

Dave talk about the Brave New Waves recording that’s for sale and then discusses the very first single that Dave Crosby, Me, Tim and Dave Clark made at Round Sound in 1980.
Tim: It’s available on wax cylinder.

“Saskatchewan” has lots of echo on the vocals.  It’s kind of a slow version with pizzicato violin until the roaring ending (which gets a little messy).  It segues seamlessly into “Horses.”  It’s still got the intensity of old.  There’s a quiet middle part with Martin doing a falsetto of what Dave sang.”  It hasn’t been played much and Dave gets into it but his rant isn’t that long: “They’re all going to jail, Jared fucking Kushner.”  [Please, please, please be true.]

They tack on the ending for “Queer” and then Clark starts a drum beat that leads to “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”  They invite Paul Linklater on stage to play with them: “You can tell he’s good because of his green hat.”  Thee’s also Jeff Robinson on lead guitar.  Ford gets a solo and when Dave sings, “Eagleson ripped off Bobby Orr,” Tim again comments, “Get over it.”

As they leave, Martin says that Jeff Robinson made him this new guitar.  It has a piece from his paleontological collection.  This is a mammoth tusk and it makes it sound prehistoric.  It could be 80,000 years old.

He starts to leave bu the crowd asks him to play something and he plays a little of “Indian Arrow” as noted above.

This is a great show, the band sounds fantastic.

[READ: May 21, 2018] “Calico”

This is a story about death and a life that, to me, seems much worse.

Sara lives next door to Sands, “an old bitch.”

Sara doesn’t like to say such things but she had seen Sands hose a cat once to get it out of her yard.

Sands never said a word to anyone, just stood in the doorway and glared if you parked in front of her house. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 25, 2017).

Second of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals. First Time played live for the new songs Rear View (Tim), Here Come The Wolves (Dave B), AC/DC On My Radio (Dave B/Dave C).
Lineup is:
Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

The show starts with a kind of quiet, hushed version of “Stolen Car” with cheers for Hugh’s violin solo at the end of the song. And then Martin introduces “Ford Kristofferson on the keyboards” (Man I wish I could see what Ford looks like).

Someone shouts “Rheos rule” and Clark comments, “if we did, there’d be world peace.”

They play a wonderful combination of “King Of The Past” (Clark: King of the Pasta) and “Northern Wish.”

The crowd whoops and Dave says that that is the appropriate sound for the new song.  Clark: “It’s called “Confused Wolf.”  The song is really called “Here Come The Wolves” and it’s a powerful song with great toms and violins.

This one [“P.I.N.”] is called “Snakes on a Plane.”

Clark says “Big thanks to Dani Nash and her rocking band.  She also drums for the Samantha Martin Band.  She is a wicked drummer and a knockout visual artist, too.

[We’re skipping a song on the setlist, shhh–they were going to play “Bridge Comes Tumbling Down”].  They “bridge” to “Music Is The Message” and as Tim says, “we played a bunch of new songs last night and playing them again tonight and they’re completely different.  It’s awesome.”

Dave B: We’ll try to play this next song (Dave’s “Mountains And The Sea”) well for once.

Clark says “That is the first chord of Dust in the Wind, right?  It was a hit for them, why not us?”

There was a lengthy solo from Hugh including a funny bit where he holds off on playing notes busting all the anticipation.

Martin comments: “I’ll call you David from now on.”
DB: “Are you mad at me?”
MT: “No it’s jut you insist on that….  Don’t Davids bug you?  Or Mikes who insist on being called Michael.”
DB: “I’d like to send that out to Michael Philip Wojewoda who is here tonight.”
MT: “I’ve always hated that about Michael Phillip.”
Tim: The only thing worse that David is “Daveed”
Clark: “And yet David Durango is one of the nicest guys going.” (I can’t figure out who they are talking about).
MT: He’s the only guy who almost drummed for Nick Buzz.  A Band with a “no drummer” policy.”
DS: “No drummer policy? Where do I sign up?”

Tim will surprise us with an instrument change…
Someone in the audience: “Polka the shit out of us, Tim!”
DB: “There’s heavy male patter presence, which must be offset at some time.”

Tim is on “the gentleman’s instrument” for “What’s Going On Around Here?”  It sounds great to hear again, although Tim says, “that accordion was exhaling musty basement smell in my face. It’s been down there a long time.”

Up next is a duet with Hugh and Tim (on acoustic) doing “Bad Time To Be Poor” it’s very cool to hear it this way.

Dave announced the last new song of the night.  “I know you want to hear new songs but you get worried, I hope they play the one I like.  But you’re such an elastic forgiving crowd, you’ll let us do anything.”
Tim: ” Wednesday’s crowd were a bunch of assholes.”
(Someone in audience: “I’m never coming back.”)
Tim: “This is the best crowd ever.”
Martin: “Maybe the penultimate.  There was one other that was better.  They were so good.  I loved them.  I dream about them.”

Tim tells a story about opening for The Hip and getting ambivalent and odd crowds.  We expected that.  There was no abuse.

But Dave B says they played in Quebec in purple and orange jackets and people laughed… they got it!  We should be bigger in Quebec.

Martin says in New Brunswick somebody threw something at us.  Martin says he picked it up and whipped it right back at them.
But Dave says at another show, something hit Martin and he got pissed, but it was a T-shirt that said “We love you Rheostatics.”

Tim: “The moral of the story… Fucking Rheostatics fans.”

They play a wonderful “The Albatross” which is really gelling live and then a solid “Legal Age Life At Variety Store” (with an introduction to Tim Mech).  Dave shouted that he end, the Eagleson ripped off Bobby Orr line and Tim shouted “can’t you ever get over that?” During “Self Serve Gas Station” Martin sings “What went wrong with Ford?”

After some banter they’re on to “Shaved Head” which sounds great even though Martin misses a lyric.  It doesn’t throw him, although he does apologize later.

The pretty ending gets cut off but only by a little I’d guess. And they go for an encore.

After the break Dave Clark comes out to sing an a capella version of “Johnny’s Got A Problem” by D.I.   The crowd is really into it and sings along.

As soon as Martin starts playing the crazy guitar intro to “When Winter Comes” someone in the crowd goes crazy “Oh my God!  Oh my God!”  It sounds great to hear again as well.

They end the night with a song “co-written by Paul Quarrington.  Go to a library and take out one of his books.”  A lovely version of “Claire.”

It seems like maybe there might be more, but that’s where the recording ends.  The new songs have been getting better and better, and the band is having a lot of fun up there.  Dave Clark is even being a bit more silly, but nothing like he was back in the old days.

[READ: May 18, 2018] “Candidate”

This is a story of a man who works for a presidential candidate.

It is told in first person in the present and in flashbacks.

The flashbacks talk about how he and his best friend Spencer were marginal kids in school.  Spencer in particular was a somewhat shunned individual–he could have been in the Trench Coat Mafia.  But while the narrator and Spencer shared the same views and ideas, the narrator passed more easily with the other kids. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 24, 2017).

After decades of live Rheostatics shows, this one finally catches up to just one year ago today.  Which means that after this four-night run, the only unmentioned shows from Rheostatics Live are ones from this past December.

I really wanted to get to these shows in person, but four nights in May in Toronto is not easy for me to swing.

First of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals. Dave Bidini, Dave Clark, Martin Tielli, Tim Vesely, featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Ford Pier on Vocals and Keyboards. In addition to the newer songs that they played in the Winter, they debuted three new songs: Rear View (Tim), Here Come The Wolves (Dave B), AC/DC On My Radio (Dave B/Dave C).

This show is “only” 2 hours long, which is something of a surprise, but maybe not for a Wednesday night.  The sound quality is great and there is a ton of hilarious banter.

“Saskatchewan” takes a while to start but it’s worth the wait as Martin and everyone else sound terrific.  Interestingly, the music sounds somewhat different with the keys and violin.  Not radically different, but noticeable.

Martin says, “That was called ‘Saskatchewan’ we wrote it in the 1940s.”

Next up is Dave Clark’s newish song “Super Controller.”  There’s a long fiddle intro before the big “bah bah bah bah dah dah dah dah.”  It segues right into “Soul Glue” where everyone does their parts wonderfully–especially the vocals.

The Daves offer a “big shout out to Friendly Rich” for opening the show and congratulations to Rich for some awesome music games for people to play.  He’s loving and kind and he’ll hug you….  but only if you ask him to.

Dave: “Great to see you all on Wednesday night–the first of 4 shows.  We’ve got opening night jitters.  Not really, we’re mailing it in.”
Martin:  “I’ve got the jitters.”
Martin to Dave: “You’re the most nervous driver I know.  No, your driving makes the most people nervous, but you are the opposite of the uptight driver.  You dance with the car.”
Dave: “Hugh and Martin don’t drive.  They’re both totally way too smart to drive.”
Martin: “We care too much about the planet.”

Pointing to the keyboards: Dave: “That’s Ford Pier.  We can’t decide if he looks like Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Loggins and… who’s the third person?”
Dave C: “I said he looks like Ronnie King from the Stampeders.”
Ford: “Who said Michael Phillip?  That’s who I was going for.”

Next up is “P.I.N.” which sounds very pretty with the violin.

Then there’ a pretty, mournful, almost Slavic violin and guitar opening to a mellow song played for the first time, Dave B’s: “Here Come The Wolves” (7:11).  Once the thundering drums kick in it’s got a kind of Jethro Tull quality.  It’s long and compartmentalized and ends with chants and tom toms.

Once it ends, Dave says, “New songs are scary, which is a good thing.”
Audience Member: (It was great)
Dave B: “Oh geez… that’s not what I was fishing for, but thank you.”
Dave C: “I liked it because I noticed Tim is howling.”
Tim: “I’d like to say that old songs are terrifying too.”
Dave B: “When you’re on the accordion.”
Dave C: “I only recently learned the next song “Sickening Song” is about sex.
Martin: “With the lowering of sexual drive comes the perception of subtlety.”

There’s a whole bit about sex and cum and ever so much more. It’s quite funny.

Then Martin gets on a long rant about the movie Urgh: A Music War.  He speaks of it lovingly as a good cross-section, of good and bad bands from the era.  Bands were very diverse.  There was no one style.  The music was free.  I love that.  So does my brother, John.

Dave Clark: “As Annie Hall would say, ‘Well, La di dah.'”
DB: “I’m going to turn off the Martinator.”‘
Tim: “I liked stage-fright Martin a lot better.” [much laughter on that].

Martin can take the joke and informs us that “Tim’s gonna accompany me on the gentleman’s instrument” (the accordion) for “Sickening Song.”  It’s great to hear this older, more unusual song.

Fave mentions that they have the new “Brave New Waves”–the first ever band on the show back in 1988 and “we sound very energetic and enthusiastic and it’s  got Dave Clark rapping on it.  It’s worth the $75.  No it’s not $75.”

Next up is Tim’s new song, “Music Is The Message.”  This is a really enjoyable version of this song, the other instruments come to the fore and Hugh Marsh’s violin is wonderful.  It’s followed by a brand new Tim song (first time plated) “Rear View” (4:16).  This one is a bit more upbeat and folkie-sounding.  Martin even acknowledges: I like that one, Tim.”
Tim: “That was a first for that one live.”

[Dave puts down the guitar and sings into jut the mic]: “It’s about to become a Corky and the Juice Pigs gig, you realize.”

He continues: “There will be no spoken word tonight sir, we will express our thoughts in melody and song.  When you go hand-held, the stand is your friend.  This is a song about coming to a new land.  “Mountains And The Sea” is a pretty song although it might be too much for Dave to sing by himself–there’s some notes that he strains with. I could see it more for Tim or Martin.  But the melody is nice and the middle improv violin section is quite cool.

Martin is back for “California Dreamline” and he sounds great.  And then comes “Claire.”  For the first time in a long time, there’s no acoustic opening, it just starts and rocks on.”

Dave starts to talk about the Rock and Roll Journey Train that their management dreamed up.  Take you up north on our journey train.
Clark: Loving, touching, hugging, squeezing.
Martin’s reaction is great: “What?  What are you talking…?”

Dave: We’re about 4 an a half songs from the end.  Did you randomly say nine more?  Then we will break for…
Tim: “A day.”

Tim: “Be excited for the next song its like 5 in one.”
Dave: “It’s a value added composition…”
Tim: “A Groupon song.”

And then there’s this amusing discourse:

This next song features Hugh Marsh on the violin.  It doesn’t, but still it seemed like a good time to mention it.

Dave Clark: The Satchel Page of the violin… Hugh Marsh.
Dave B: “He’s got a few years before he can we can all him that, Dave.”
DC: “Ok, The Ellen Page of the violin!
Martin: “The Ayn Rand of the violin!”
Ford: “That sounds like a shitty thing to be.”
DB: “Ford Pier, the Geraldine Page of the keyboard.”
Ford: “That’s equally shitty.”
DB: “Tim Vesley, The Stephen Page of the bass, see its just getting lower and lower isn’t it.”
Martin [clearly not getting the “page” part of the joke] “Dave Bidini, the Daryl Hannah of the rhythm guitar.”
[pause]
Martin: “I’m waiting, I want one.”
DC: “The Suzanne Somers of the guitar.”

Then they discuss how much good Suzanne Somers has done for people.

Dave B asks Dave C: “Remember The Alan Hamel Show Dave?  Wasting away, thinking about ending it all?”
Martin doesn’t know it.
DB: “It’s peak Canadian afternoon television.”

Then Dave asks for a gin and tonic.

Martin explains that “The Albatross” is based on a poem by Baudelaire and then mentions a song by The Godfathers with the lyric, “I don’t read Baudelaire.”

Then there’s a discussion about The Beachcombers and the Bigfoot double episode–all shows about Bigfoot have to be double length.  Martin says “a presented theory is that Bigfoot ritually bury their dead in Alaskan glaciers.”

Dave B: “I’m not getting my G&T am I?  That was ten minutes of patter….”

It’s the most fun version of “The Albatross” yet.

It’s followed by “A song about hockey and sex and being gay…yeah. you;ll see.”  Its a fun version of “Queer” with lots of backing vocals and the keyboards (or violin) doing all kinds of crazy sound effects.  The song builds up into Dave B’s new song (first time played) ” AC/DC On My Radio” (4:03) which is a much more rocking but still simple song.  Clark sings the middle verse.

After an encore, Dave sings “My First Rock Concert.”  He mentions Meatloaf and says “he just wont go away…”    Tim asks, “Did you see anybody else?  Frank Sinatra?”  Dave: “Sinatra wasn’t that big in the new wave scene.”

Martin plays a lovely version of “Stolen Car” which segues into a blistering “RDA” which they have to stop because it’s only a warm up.  Then they do it again, even better.

Dave says good night, but they play the conclusion of ‘Queer’ as Dave Clark introduces everyone in a real DJ voice.  Martin launches into the “Green Sprouts Theme” although with no fast part before it segues back into “Queer” to end the night.

The band sounds fantastic and rejuvenated.  I really must try to get to see them next time they play The Horseshoe.

[READ: May 18, 2018] “Artifacts”

Geoffrey works at a history museum in the Yukon.  There was a room dedicated to the gold rush of 1989 with rusty pans and pickaxes. But more interesting to him was the prehistory room next door: Beringia, it was called, that place where the ice wasn’t.

The room held replicas of giant sloth, giant short faced-bear and a mammoth.  Animals that were familiar, yet not.

Geoffrey was dating a woman, Ida, who had moved to the Yukon because she was “into ice ages.”  She had heard of Beringia even though he, who had studied anthropology. had not.  She was somewhat cold and inflexible like a museum exhibit.

The crux of this story involves a meeting between scientists, environmentalists and Janice, Geoffrey’s boss.  She is determined not to cave to the environmentalists who want an exhibit to address glob.  Janice may have believed in global warming but “what belongs in my museum is another matter altogether.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 10, 2016).

This show is the second of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on drums, Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

After about an hour, there is a ten minute intermission, but this show is about twenty minutes longer overall than the previous night’s.  And the sound quality is 100 times better–nice and full.

The band plays the same five new songs this evening but not all together.  Surprisingly, (a little although I get why it is this way), the set list is pretty similar to the previous night.  The only songs played the first night that were not played the second night were “It’s Easy to Be with You,” “People’s Republic of Dave” and “Self Serve Gas Station.”  The only songs played the second night but not the first were “Palomar” “Halloween Eyes” (!), “Horses” and “Christopher.”

On the download, the intro to “Stolen Car” is actually about 5 minutes of drum machine before the band comes out.  Then Dave Clark plays a bit of an introductory drum solo while I gather the rest of the guys ambled out.  After about 2 minutes of drums, Martin plays the guitar opening to “Stolen Car” and he sounds fantastic singing it.  It’s a really lovely version and Martin hits those high notes with no problem.  When it’s over you hear someone say “never open with a show stopper.”

Bidini says, “More songs about breaking the law.  Although ironically we will not be performing “Breaking the Law” (booo) I guess… never say never, eh?”

Tim sounds great on “King Of The Past” and Kevin does the whole Mister Rogers introduction for “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson” which again sounds different (but only a little) with all of the extra keyboard stuff.  The band is always tight on this song.

Dave apologizes for the TFC, Toronto Football Club, loss.  Was anybody there?  Nobody.  Good. We don’t want any angry football fans here.

Have you said hello to Dave Clark yet?  Dave is playing with a stolen timbale tonight, although he made good.  Way back in the 1980s, Dave stole that drum from Mr McKay’s music class at Martingrove Collegiate.  However, one wintry morning a couple of years ago he enumerated the value of the drum and paid them $500 for it.  “Then I walked home to my old house.  You could have rolled a bowling ball down the roads and not hit a thing.”

I love “P.I.N.” more with each listen.  The four-string guitar sounds great and the band is always having fun.  Whether it’s Kevin’s keyboards floating around or Tim’s interjections midsong, it’s always fun.

Clark is gonna play some brushes for “Mountains And The Sea” which sounds much better at this recording than the previous one.  Mid-song, Dave whispers (that’s Hugh Marsh on the violin).

Then Bidini introduces Martin’s fancy guitar …two necks… two guitars?  Siamese guitar?  Then he notes “a very interesting discussion going on back there.  Are you all discussing my post lounge debut?.”

Martin: Dave’s very exited about the mike… going hand held.
DB: I seized the mike.
Tim: Let’s limit that to one song.
Martin: Seized the mic?  It’s right in front of you.
Kevin: Carpe Mikem [much laughter]
DB: That’s my stage name.

Tim: I think they’re discussing music stands on stage … Lack of commitment?
Martin: Bands that have music stands I want to kill them all… they’re racist….  I don’t know.

They finally start “Northern Wish,” but after a beat Clark says, “Let’s start that again.  I’ll tell you why.  Because I saw a squirrel go by.”  It sounds great and is followed by Tim’s “Palomar” which is dedicated to the dog that’s accompanying someone in here.

They play “saskatchewan” which opens with a long meandering opening, that’s quite lovely.

They take the ten minute break which on the download is primarily synthy jazz, although it doesn’t really seem to be from the club.  When the ycome back Dave says “Our break was good.  We beat up some yuppies in the alley.  Do yuppies till exist?  We are probably yuppies.

DB: Can you see Tim is he lit enough?  No!
Tim: My sister came last night and complained about the light show.  I was in the dark.  I said that’s the way I like it.
Martin:  That’s bass-ial discrimination, Tim’s lightning.

Tim’s “Music Is The Message” also sounds much better in this fuller situation, although it is still primarily piano and Martin’s quiet soloing. When it’s over, someone shouts “Happy Birthday Tim.”

Kevin explains that “Chemical Valley” is from a recording he made with Martin and Hugh last winter, (with Gavin Brown on drums).   Dave says that he and Tim were on a cruise.  There’s lots of Hugh Marsh’s soaring violins.

Kevin says that Martin’s going to sing his song called “The Albatross.”  Martin “The Unlucky Albatross.”

Dave tells a story of Martin working at the Royal Ontario Museum as a young fellow.  Martin says he defleshed an ostrich and a rhinoceros while getting bones for comparative paleontology.  He brought the meat home to eat.
DB: The Tielli’s were famous for their rhinoceros soup.
Martin: The rhino was worse, it was rank, But we got to have a piece of real rhino.
DB: Is it true your dad made grappa with the rhinoceros bones?
Martin: Horn, David, grappa cornuto.
DB: It’s the bands secret.

Kevin: Anyway, Martin’s going to sing his new song.  It’s called, “The Albatross”
Tim: Mr Reality over there.
DB: Fucking talk show host.
Kevin: Happy birthday, Tim and here’s Martin with his new song “The Albatross.”

This version is really good and much more fun, but it still feels more like a solo Martin song than a Rheos song.  But “California Dreamline’ sounds terrific.

Its followed by a 10 minute “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.” (Three Martin songs in a row).  There’s a beautiful flute-like melody playing throughout the song (Kevin, I assume) and another cool drum solo from Dave Clark.  At he end of the song when it gets to the “dark side of the moon” and the howling starts the sounds get kind of dark and spooky and weird and someone plays the riff for Pink Floyd’s “Money” while some howling goes on.

More banter: “This is the end of our Canadian tour.”  “Did you know it was Tim’s birthday?  He’s 71.”
Tim: That last song really went to the dark side didn’t it?  For a moment, I was on the dark side.”

“Claire” sounds great with Martin playing a wonderful solo and then mid-song it just stops dead.  Tim was saying to bring it down and Martin was saying to bring it up.  Tim says he wanted to hear more of Martin’s guitar.  “It’s your birthday, you can hear all the Martin you want.  I want a guitar solo for my birthday, Martin.  I want some violin on this guitar solo.  Wah wah wah, it’s all about me.  And a little drum solo at the end.

There are cool keyboard twinkles that lend atmosphere to the opening of “Shaved Head.” The song sounds amazing although just before the ending, there’s a pause with much laughing (but Martin doesn’t lose it).  I wonder what happened.

After the encore, Chris Brown comes on to play keys for “Queer.”  After the song, Kevin sings “Waiting For My Man” with the refrain of “Hey Chris Brown what are you doing uptown?  Chris Brown / Uptown.  They start jamming a bit and Dave says, “C’mon, Tim, it’s your birthday, so Tim sings a few lines of “Halloween Eyes.”

After a pause they start playing “Horses,” but Martin says, “Clarkie, just think about the Royal Albert in 1987 and the guy named Tex with the fart gas can and the cowboy hat.
Clark:  He didn’t even work there, he just took it on himself.  He was like a vigilante fart gas man.
Martin: What do you mean he didn’t work there?
DB: You were very disturbed by Tex and his fart gas canister.
Martin: I’m disturbed that fart gas in a can even exists, Dave.
Kevin: Yeah, Dave.
Martin: That’s just weird in itself.  Stop your song that they wanna hear.
Kevin: Yes, let’stalk about this.
after some discussion
Clark: I’ve got a giant can of Beano in the back.
Martin: What’s Beano for?
Clark: It’s for starting songs, lets do one.

“Horses” rocks.  Midway through the song he starts singing “Smoke on the Water” but no one really seems to play along with him.
DB: I’m still in that Dope Fiends Black Hole.
Martin: That Pink Floyd black hole?
Kevin: There’s a cream for that.

Clark sing “Super Controller” which sounds much bigger and more fun with those “ba ba bas.”

There’s another encore break and they come back for “Legal Age Life” which was performed acoustic in the crowd and is thus silent till the ending part.  The recording doesn’t really follow them and you can hear people talking at one point someone even says, “that is them, I thought it was a bunch of other people.”  Then you can hear the end of the song.

Finally, they’re back up on stage and Martin says, “somebody get me a shot, the bar’s closing.”  This leads to an awesome version of “Christopher” to end the night.

It’s a fantastic show and confirms that they are back and better than they have been in years.  Next time I see that they are playing I need to haul myself up to Toronto to watch them.

[READ: January 28, 2018] “One, Two, Three and Four Rabbits”

This was a story published posthumously and was translated by Ezra E. Fitz.

I pretty much never knew what the heck was going on.

It starts with

I. The Future…

From where is the future related?

That’s all of Part I.

Then

II.  The Past (more…)

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 may162SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 9, 2016).

First of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on Drums. Featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

I’m not sure how many shows the band played since the previous show in April.  This show was eight months later and the improvement in Martin’ on stage behavior is remarkable.  He seems calm and comfortable.  He hits his notes and (almost) doesn’t forget any lyrics.  Hugh Marsh is on violin.

This is a really remarkable show.

It’s also the introduction of five new songs!

The recording sound is quiet and a little flat, so you really don’t get a good exposure to the new songs which don;t sound that great in this setting.

They start the show confidently with “Stolen Car” and Martin sounds great.  Tim says, we don’t have any setlists (no sure if that’s bragging or complaining).  It is followed by “King of the Past” with some soaring violins from Hugh.

“Claire” feels quiet, but the whole show does, like it’s missing a low end or something.  After the song, Tim says, “That’s it for the hits, sorry.”

But Dave counters, “Here come the near misses” and they launch into “P.I.N.”  Followed by a song from The Story of Harmelodia (Don;t worry it ends well) “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  They both sound poppy and great.

Dave mentions the “wintertime seasonal shenanigans” as Kevin starts playing samples of Mister Rogers: “Sandwiches.  I like to talk to you.  You’re very special to me.  Even if it were raining I’d like it with you.”  This is the lead in to “Michael Jackson” which has a lot of fun keyboard sounds on the verses.  The song instrumentation sounds very different, even if music hasn’t changed.

Then come the five new songs:

Music Is The Message (Tim Vesely) 4:45  This is a slow Tim song.  It is heavy on piano and,in fact, feels like the other guys aren’t really part of it (I assume the recorded version will sound bigger).

Before Dave’s song, Martin says:

“Remember… eye contact with the first three rows. Make love to their faces.”
Dave: “I don’t know if i can do that with all of those people.”
Martin: “You can a little bit.”
Dave: “I have my eye on someone special, Martin.”
Kevin: “You’re a man of great stamina.”

Mountains And The Sea (Dave Bidini) 5:05  This song has a sing-song quality with a kind of farty keyboards (a recording issue no doubt).  But once again, heavy on the piano and rather mellow.  There’s a kind of orchestral middle section that’s quite unlike a Dave song (there’s even soaring vocals).

Dave Clark: “Martin,  I’m not going to cheer because of those miserable people on deck.”
Martin: “The boys of the crew.”
Kevin: “Why don’t you like the boys of the crew?”
Dave: “They’re so cruel.”
Martin: “They kill stuff for fun.”
This is a lead in to The Albatross (Martin Tielli) 5:35 which Martin explains is pretty directly from a [Charles] Baudelaire poem called “The Unlucky Albatross.”   It’s a very Martin piece, quite theatrical.  It’s about the boys beating to death the unlucky albatross.  The middle section is a very theatrical waltz with muzzy keyboards and a plucked violin.

At the end, Martin says: “That was in 16/11.”  I’m not sure if he means the tempo or the year.

Someone shouts, “When are you releasing a new album?”
Bidnini: “It’s complicated.”
Martin: “We gotta get out of our contract with Sire Records, first.”  [much laughter]
Tim: “Forty more years don’t worry about it.”

Kevin’s gonna lead us in this next song, Chemical Valley (Kevin Hearn) 5:27.  It’s a very Kevin slow song (and quite long ).  Again lots of keys and limited guitar (sounds like maybe Martin is soloing trough).

Bidini: “Dave Clark on the drumset tonight.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “I love you, Dave.”
Bidini: “I love you too, ma’am.”
Tim: “Other Dave.”
Clark: “Wow, Tim is a tough crowd.”
Super Controller (Dave Clark) 4:55 has a big “ba da da” verse.

Then back to the older stuff with a great “California Dreamline.”  Martin sounds terrific.  And they joke about “spooning in the dry sand.”  Bidini: “We were into spooning like way before it was popular.”  Martin: “Before there was a word for it.”  Clark: “They tried knifing, they tried forking.”  Bidini: “You guys ever whisk?  That was dangerous.  We learned how to whisk in Vancouver.”

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” has a wild wah wah solo from Hugh Marsh, it also has part of “Uncle Henry” and a song with lyrics “We’re digging a hole on a military trail” which I can’t place.

“Queer” sounds great (with excellent backing vocals) and has a reading by Kevin dad of “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  Kevin takes a little vamp through “I’m Waiting For My Man” before the song ends properly.

“Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” is wild with some cool keys floating over the top and then an effects-filled drum (and keyboard?) solo and then an “Alomar” type solo before the howls and sirens bring the song to an end.”

The pages says “Shaved Head” but there is no “Shaved Head,” just a long encore break.

They return with a walloping “Peoples Republic Of Dave” (“You ready for G sharp?”).  That was Martin’s request.
Kevin: “Was it from before you joined the band?”
Martin: “It was as I joined the band.”
Dave B:  “It was before I joined the band …weird.”

Martin sounds great on “Saskatchewan” and “Northern Wish.”

And they do come out for a second encore.  Clark says, “I’m gonna play brushed on this one.”
Martin: “We are Ratt.  This is called “Round and Round”

They start “Self Serve Gas Station,” with Martin messing up and joking (!) “Sometimes its gotta start right.”  He even throws in a jokey line: “What went wrong with Bilbo, is he dumb?”

In addition to Martin sounding fantastic, Clark is remarkably restrained.  back in the day he was t he wild and checked id of the band, making jokes, reciting poetry.   In this show he made one or two comments but was otherwise just an amazing drummer.

Knowing that they sound this good now means that I absolutely must see them again when they play next time.

[READ: June 16, 2016] “A Life of Adventure and Delight”

I found this story to be a little confusing.  The action all made enough sense, but there was something that felt…off about it.

As the story opens, Gautama is shoved into a police van with a bunch of other men.  It’s the first time he was arrested for calling a prostitute.  He was 24 and a student at NYU.

He was from Gwalior and knew he would have to get married one day, so he wanted to have as much sex as possible.  Perversely, he though that any woman who would have sex before marriage was depraved and foul.

Gautama had hired many prostitutes although his favorite thing was the negotiation (the actual sex was so immoral it was hard for him to enjoy it).

He was released the next day and made to do community service. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (April 29, 2016).

After their farewell concert at Massey Hall in 2007, who would have guessed that some nine years later they’d be back again.

When I heard this show was announced I immediately bought a ticket, not really thinking about how I would logistically manage such a thing.  I was able to get it to a fan who could go, but at least I’ll have my email confirmation:

Live at Massey HallRheostatics
Fri 04/29/2016 8:00 PM
Main Floor Centre Front  Seat I-44   $29.50

This time Martin’s voice is working again.  But in the intervening years he has had something else go on with him.  I don’t know details, but there’s some kind of anxiety present–and it comes out during this show.

Amazingly, for such a big show, there is hardly any evidence of it online.  There’s a few fan videos but no full sets available.

The only performance available that I can find is the official release from (the terrific) Live at Massey Hall series.  The whole series is wonderful–professionally filmed and beautifully recorded.  The only problem is that it’s so short.  I don’t know how long the show was, but the video is only 40 minutes.

The video opens with Martin talking about his laryngitis, “laryngitis taught me to enjoy singing in a lower range.”  There’s Tim talking about seeing Devo (who were walking on treadmills the whole show) at Massey Hall and overheating from wearing a heavy coat in winter.  Dave saw lot so new wave bands who weren’t great live but were great because they were in Massey hall–it’s a forgiving and inspiring place.

Big red letters in the back of the stage spelled out RHEOSTATISC (sic).

The set opens with “King of the Past” Martin plays a lovely solo and gets some applause and the whole thing sounds great.

“Californian Dreamline” opens with some great sound effects from Martin, Hugh Marsh and Kevin Hearn.  But after the “sensamilla” bit, Martin freaks out.  He steps away from the mic and waves everyone off.

Dave jumps in, “this happened in Montreal once. It’s true.  We were opening for Moxy Fruvous, so it’s a kind of curse we’ve got to exorcise.”

The band jams on and them Martin comes back to sing and the crowd gives him a big cheer–there really is no more forgiving crowd than a Rheostatics crowd.

The opening acoustic guitar of “Claire” begins.  That’s Tim on acoustic, Dave on bass and Martin on his gorgeous double neck guitar.  The letters have been rearranged to say SORTA ITCHES and Martin plays a great solo.  Tim sounds perfect, of course.

They start “P.I.N.”  Martin sings the first line and then has an issue.  He steps away again while the band plays on. He catches himself and returns (again to encouraging applause).  Once it gets going it all sounds great.

Dave finally gets a lead vocal song.  The letters spell out SHITCOASTER as they play a flawless “Mumbletypeg.”

Then apparently the entire rest of the show happens and we get the night-ending encore–a wild and raucous “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.” (The letters finally spell RHEOSTATICS). The song gets off to a pretty good start.  For the middle, Martin and Hugh face each other (Martin always seems comforted by being with Hugh) and then Don Kerr gets a drum solo (with sound effects from Kevin Hearn).

At the end of the song, for the “moon,” there are howls, probably from Kevin, possibly from the audience.  As they slowly fade away, Dave jumps of the drum rise and the end of the song begins.  But this is an extended jam ending.  Hugh and Kevin make some menacing sounds and then Martin plays a solo with a slide.  It’s a weird, very undramatic ending for such a dramatic band.

I have always been sad that I couldn’t go to this show, but it sounds like it would have been a real roller coaster of a night.

Read this review from Radio Free Canuckistan for the perspective of someone who was there.

Over the closing credits, Kevin Hearn’s father read “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  I assume he read that before the band came out (accompanied by Hugh Marsh).

I don’t know much by Bukowski, but this is great for its simple profundity.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

[READ: March 5, 2018] Head Games

As with some of my favorite books, the story behind the creation is almost as interesting as the book itself.

Craig McDonald is a journalist and he says that he is often frustrated by trying to write the truth: “read five biographies about the same person and you’ll feel like you’ve read about five different people.”  With fiction maybe you can find something bordering truth.

The introduction by McDonald tells us that we will be riding with pulp novelist Hector Lassiter.  Lassiter is the protagonist of a finite arc of ten novels. The last one, Three Chords & The Truth is a sequel to Head Games and appeared in 2016.  Lassiter is a charmer, a rogue, a rake and a crime novelist who lives what he writes and writes what he lives.  Hector was born in Texas in 1/1/1900 and the arc of the novels spans the 20th century.

McDonald says the publishing history of the books is not chronological. Head Games was the first novel published.  The second was set in 1935 and features Hemingway prominently.  Other books hopscotched through the decade. They have recently been reissued and presented in roughly chronological order.

The novels “follow secret histories and underexplored aspects of real events.”  They’re set in real places and use history and real people to drive the plots. (more…)

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