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Archive for the ‘Stompin’ Tom Connors’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Quilted Bear, Banff, Alberta (February 11, 1997).

I am quite surprised that the Rheostatics Live site doesn’t make a bigger deal about this show, given its unique nature.  This is an acoustic show that sounds like it was played in front of ten people and a lot of beer.

The shows seems to have started with the second song (at least the way Dave introduces it).  But the first track is a romping acoustic “Record Body Count” (sound check? or maybe just put out of place?).  Whatever, it sounds great with some electric guitar squeals but mostly just folk style with lots of backing singers).

The show proper starts with Dave introducing “an Ontario drinking song.”  There’s lots of shushing as people keep talking over him (although those people might be Tim an Martin).  Dave says, “a drinking song, there’s got to be some drunks talking.”.  Dave tells the story behind the sons and then they launch into a spirited rendition of Stompin’ Tom Connor’s “Midnight Ride of Red Dog Ray.”

Next comes “Christopher.”  It’s hard to believe they used this version for Double Live because it is so imperfect.  Martin coughs in the beginning and his voice cracks a bit.  But it sounds great and is a wonderfully unique version, especially for the live record.

It’s followed by a folksy rendition of “Chanson les Ruelles.”  Although Tim is too quiet.  mid song, you can hear someone in the crowd says “is it in French?  Yea!”  The version of “Wendell Clark” that comes next is only the second part.  But it is stompin and rompin (with someone yelling “yeeeha”).  At the end someone shouts Wendell broke his back.  “He didn’t really break it.”  “Well, he hurt it.”

Someone shouts for “Palomar” (or “Alomar” that seems less likely).  But they play “Take Me in Your Hand” instead.  It is also a folkie version and the end features a percussion addition of wood blocks.

Dave shouts “Hey, Mike, you wanna do Noah’s Cage?”  I have to assume this is Mike O’Neill from The Inbreds (the song is an Inbreds song).  They play the song although Mike forgets the second verse so he repeats the first.   He says its been a while since he played it.

Martin introduces “Introducing Happiness: as “this is a song about being happy.”  Dave says, “I hope so.”  It’s followed by a surprising acoustic version of “P.R.O.D.”  Surprising only because the song tends to get noisy and out of control, but it’s not in this version.  Towards the end, Dave shouts “all percussion solo–whatever you got.”

Martin busts into the melody of “Dope Fiends” but instead they play a long funny version of “Desert Island Discs.”

Dave: AC/DC-Back in Black; Ramones-Rocket to Russia; Martha and the Muffins-Danseparc.
Tim: The Inbreds-Hilario; The Inbreds-Kombinator ; The Inbreds-It’s Sydney or the Bush.
Donny: Randy Newman-Creates Something New Under the Sun; Grace Jones-Nightclubbing; Herbet von Karajan conducts Beethoven’s… “Last Waltz?” (Dave: could you believe he said the classical one?)
An audience member: Kiss-Dressed to Kill;  The Beatles White Album, and… someone says Billy Idol-White Wedding.  Dave: Billy idol?  Gigs over.  And a later line: I’m going to get me to an island not with that guy though, he wants to bring Billy Idol. I don’t even think White Wedding’s the name of the album (it’s not)–although the fans argue the point).
One last guy: Pink Floyd-The Wall; Led Zeppelin-IV… how many picks? How many picks!?)  ZZ Top-Degüello.

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is sung my Tim, Dave sings “I wish I was back home in Derry” at the appropriate moments.

They end with a piano-based version of “Jesus was Once a Teenager Too.”  He has to start again (“it’s just that that thing fell over”), but when he does it sounds really good–very different.

What a fun show to have been at.  There’s a lot of interaction with the band and fans–I really wonder how many people were there.

[READ: April 3, 2017] “Girlfriend on Mars” 

This story is probably my favorite Lucky Peach story (even if it had nothing to do with food).  Although the end seemed to maybe spiral out of control a little bit–with a finale that was, possibly, a little trite (although, not exactly).

This plot is simple.  Amber Kevinn, the narrator’s girlfriend is going to Mars.  Well, maybe.  She has (unbeknownst to Kevin) entered a reality show contest in which two winners will be selected to travel to Mars on MarsNow.  They will live on Mars until they die–no hope for returning.  This story intersperses the contest with just how Amber’s boyfriend feels about the whole thing.

Amber and Kevin are drug dealers.  Well, not exactly–they sell drugs, but only to family and friends.  They grow them hydroponically–this skill with plants was one of the reasons she was accepted for Mars in the first place.  But why didn’t she say anything to her boyfriend (of twelve years!) until it got to this point?

She made a video, she sent in an essay she even met with the TV people–all without him knowing.  Of course, Kevin’s a pretty heavy stoner at this point so he doesn’t notice much. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Railway Club Vancouver (November 1988).

This is a “very good sounding show considering it is from 1988. This has a mix of unreleased songs, Greatest Hits songs, Melville songs and even a couple that would end up on Whale Music.”

Like the 1987 show here, this is also their last night in Vancouver. It’s hard to believe that previous show was the same band, as just a few months later (Nov-Mar), the sets are radically different.

It opens with the end of “Lyin’s Wrong,” and then moves into a fun version of Stompin’ Tom’s “Bridge Came Tumbling Down,” and then one of my favorite unreleased songs: “Woodstuck.”

The opening is to the tune of Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done”

I called on Crosby and I called on Nash / I asked them if they want to buy some hash / Oh the deal is done / Hanging out with Stephen Stills, I asked him if he wants to buy some pills / Oh the deal is done.

And then the main body is a rocking bluesy number with the chorus: “You can’t go back to Woodstock baby, you were just two years old.   You weren’t even born” and a big chant of “BAD KARMA!”

Things slow down with a version of “Triangles on the Walls.”

During the banter, Dave Clark talks about going up Grouse Mountain in his jeans and he says he was automatically a “Wofuh”–as soon as you get into the skis you’re going to start saying “Woah… fuck.”

A great sounding “Dope Fiends” is followed by “Green Sprouts” which is “the silliest song of all… about the worms of New Jersey.”  “What’s Going On” has an accordion!  And “Italian Song” has them singing in over the top Italian with an almost ska beat and melody.

There’s a goofy, slap funk cover of “Take the Money and Run.”  It’s fast and rocking, but they leave out the signature five claps after some verses.  Nevertheless there are some great harmonies at the end.

They play an unreleased song “Sue’s Mining Town” which is a bit of a rocker, and then one from Greatest Hits (released the previous year) called “Churches and Schools.”  The set ends with a slow and pretty “Higher and Higher.”

This is the only place you can hear “Italian Song” and “Sue’s Mining Town” and one of the few places you can hear “Woodstuck” (except for this video)

[READ:August 28, 2016] Tennis Lessons

I’ve enjoyed some stories by Dyer but I was actually reading this because he reviews the new David Foster Wallace collection String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis.

But it turns out that this is not so much a book review as a delightfully funny discussion of Dyer’s own tennis playing and how he also wanted to write a book about tennis–but never did.

Dyer proves to be a funny protagonist. In 2008, (age 50) he was about to sell his novel to a new publisher and he imagined writing a book about taking up tennis at age 50. Dyer is British and the popularity and success of Andy Murray was making tennis very popular in Britain again.  It seems like a great idea.

And then Dyer is honest with us:

as a perennial bottom feeder for whom writing has always doubled as a way of getting free shit, I as also hoping that a top-notch coach might be willing to give e free lessons in return for the massive exposure guaranteed by inclusion in the book.

(more…)

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liofriends SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Railway Club, Vancouver, BC (November 1987).

RailwayClub87-PROD91It’s pretty impressive that this show (ostensibly from the same month as the previous show) has such a different setlist.  Between the two shows they play 22 songs and only four are repeated.  And this time five of the songs come from their debut album, Greatest Hits.

This tape begins with a recording of “Indian Arrow” by the 13 Engines.  It sounds very different from the other songs on the tape–the audience is very loud and you can hear a woman say “I wanna sing this one” (!).  I know this song from a Martin Tielli solo tour (and indeed, he sounds pretty much solo here–although there is a piano, too).

The rest of the tape all has the same audio quality but sounds different from the first song.  “Crescent Moon” begins mid-song (as if it was recorded over by “Indian Arrow”).   “Sad Sad World” is more upbeat than the title suggests with a “vocal solo” introduced with Dave and Tim chanting M-R-T-I-N in time with the music.  An upbeat “Ditch Pigs” leads to some silly banter during the guitar solo.  “Churches and Schools” sounds a lot like Talking Heads.  “Bridge Came Tumbling Down” is a Stompin’ Tom Connors song–they really had been playing him since forever.  Then they play a good version of “Higher and Higher” (from Greatest Hits).

It’s their last night in Vancouver, apparently which leads to a lengthy talk about he next song–a funky version of “Good on the Uptake” with lots of screaming at the end (from Tim).

The band plays the full version of “The Ballad of Wendell Clark” (with a some jokes about “Joel” whoever that is).  It’s rollicking and stomping and Martin starts playing “O Canada” as part of the solo.  Bidini stops the song and asks him to play it again, so Martin plays it on a good echoed effect (and Dave Clark shouts “alright Joel!”)  There’s some inappropriate jokes before Martin launches into a delicate version of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe-“-not the best version I’ve heard but still nice.

The final song is a romping stompin “PROD”–the only song The Rheostatics play in G#.  It has a fun shambolic end and it ends the set with them saying they’ll be back to play some Menudo tunes after a short break (which we never do hear).

[READ: January 15, 2016] Making Friends

It’s unsettling to me that the Liō books come in different shapes.  This one is even hardcover!  The contents of these stories are not unsettling to me though, even if they are to some readers (looking online, you can find gripes).

Liō continues to be a strange kid who loves zombies and squids and spiders and playing pranks.  This is his latest book (and I just confirmed to see that he is still publishing daily, so a new book must be coming soon, right?).

Tatulli still has some great gags.  And this format book has some of the strips in color. (more…)

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S57OUNDTRACK: DAVE BIDINI-The Upstairs, Sydney, Nova Scotia (July 26, 2007).

sydneyAfter the Rheostatics broke up, Dave Bidini did a solo tour and then wrote a book about it.  This is that book.  And this show is from the mini-tour he did as promotion for the book.  I don’t know too many details about this tour.

I wrote notes about these shows before I read the book (which I recently found and tread).  But I’m going to leave in some of the notes I took about the audio portion for posterity.

I gather he was in town to promote his book and was invited to do a few shows as well.  So these three shows from the Rheostaticslive site include a short reading from the book and then many songs.  This show has two readings and 8 songs (and runs over an hour).

He opens with a description of the book and the tour of china with a band they called the Rheos Not Rheos.  They were asked over and over to play The Beatles.  They played at the Sculpting in Time café.  Dave hung out with the Chinese singers Dirt Star and Airbag (who were also in a cover band that played Radiohead).

For the music, it is just Dave an his acoustic guitar (and a tuner). He plays three Rheos songs “My First Rock Show,” “Me and Stupid” and “Horses” (to much applause).

He plays four new, solo songs “Song Ain’t Good,” “The List” “The Land is Wild” and “The Ballad of Zeke Roberts.”  All of these would appear on the debut Bidiniband album which would come out in 2009.

“The List” is a diatribe against Canada: Tim Horton’s, Stephen Harper,  Zack Werner, and Chad Kroeger.  He says that it was inspired by taking a close look Tim Horton’s bacon and wondering just what it was.  And the mention of Chad Krueger gets a big reaction from the crowd.  The Zeke Roberts song is about a Liberian singer who was killed.  “The Land is Wild” is about Bryan Fogarty, a hockey played who died (it’s not the most upbeat concert I’ve heard).

There’s an extra song “Moncton Hellraisers” (you can watch a video of this one).

He ends the show with second reading and there’s a drunk guy who keeps shouting and interrupting.  I feel bad for Dave, but he handles it well—different than a rock show obviously.  This section involves meeting a TV show producer (of a show called Super Girls) and the Chinese version of the Spice Girls (who sing for them).  He also mentions going to an all night record shop and finding a copy of the Toronto band The Diodes.  He plays their song “Tired of Waking up Tired” for the employees.

If nothing else, this book will introduce you to a lot of little-known bands.

It’s interesting to hear him in such a casual setting.  He sounds good and the audience is really responsive.

[READ: November 5, 2015] Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs

This book chronicles Dave Bidini’s solo tour after the Rheostatics broke up.  He explains that it was Tim Vesely who wanted to break up the band (no doubt inspired somewhat by Dave and Martin’s harsh critiquing of the songs Tim wanted to submit to their final album 2067).  Nevertheless, Dave was devastated and angry and unsure what to do, especially since they were planning to gig China for the first time.  So he decided to do it himself.  A world tour unlike any other.

disc_baladesqueHe scheduled a few gigs in Finland.  And he decided to invite his friend Alun Piggins along.  Piggins has been in a number of bands and has released several solo albums.  He seems notable for being a little crazy (with wild hair).  And I automatically respect him for making this album cover.  When Dave asked Alun what to do about being a solo artist (Dave hadn’t really played solo before).  Alun gave him some comforting advice and then said that with his band The Quitters, they would play “our loudest song then tell the crowd, “‘Thank you and fuck off.'”

The two would play separate shows on a double bill and occasionally duet on Rheos songs. They decided to tour Finland.  They flew into London and were only staying for 24 hours.  He wanted to try to get a gig before they left for Finland.  They scored one at the last minute in the Maple Leaf Tavern (which had never staged a live show before) and was themed in Canadian kitsch.  He talks about one man bands like Bob Log III “probably the superstar of all one man bands” (his song “Boob Scotch” is surprisingly straightforward).  He says he spent most of his 35 minute set worrying an doesn’t recall too much about it.

Then they set out for Finland.  First stop Hämeenlinna ( enjoyed typing out all these Finnish towns). (more…)

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harperioctSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Icehouse, Victoria, BC (July 18 2001).

ice-house-oyster-bar-tofinoAfter playing the free show earlier that afternoon, the Rheos played a show at The Icehouse that evening.  And it seems like quite a number of people showed up.  And they were not disappointed.  They also got to see Michael Phillip Wojewoda on drums.

Although the show begins with some slightly sketchy sound quality, it clears up pretty quickly.  This show starts with a bunch of great older material “King of the Past,” “Fat,” “Northern Wish.”  There’s an amazing guitar solo in “Christopher.” And “Fat” is one of the best live versions I’ve heard.

When they play “Four Little Songs” it gives MPW a chance to sing his bit.  But when someone requests “Guns” Dave says that MPW doesn’t do poetry.  At what I believe is a fan’s request, the play “The Pooby Song,” and then joke that they are going to play the entire Nightlines Sessions. 

Then they talk about Stompin’ Tom Connors and how they met a 65-year-old man who scares the Canadian into you.  This is an intro to “The Ballad of Wendel Clark” which includes two Stompin’ Tom fragments “Gumboot Clogeroo” and “The Ketchup Song.”  The seven minute version of “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” ends with a crazy riff and noisy drums–a rare jam section.  There’s more great drums on “Song of Flight” and excellent harmonies on “California Dreamline.”

This is a really fantastic show–one of their best.  And as Lucky notes the “Dopefiends -> California Dreamline -> Song of Flight -> Self-Serve -> Winter Comes Reprise” is killer.  The end of the show tacks on an amazing version of “Horses.”  But it doesn’t seem like it’s from this show.  The sound is a little different, and it seems pretty certain that the night ended after “Record Body Count.”  But who knows.

[READ: April 19, 2015] “Hitler in Chicago”

This short story, from the book Learning Cyrillic, is fascinating in the way it begins as one thing and then turns into something else entirely.  David Albahari is a Serbian novelist and the story was translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać.

As the story opens, the narrator talks about how afraid he is of flying on planes.  He would much rather ride by carriage.  Why is everyone in such a hurry, anyway?  But he needs to fly and so he does.  He pays careful attention to the stewardesses and then tries as quickly as possible to fall asleep.

On this flight to North America, he falls asleep pretty well, but when the book he was reading falls off his lap, it wakes him up.  His seat mate picks up the book and smiles.  The book is by Isaac Bashevis Singer and is called Enemies, A Love Story (a real book).  The woman says that knows Singer and asks if he has read the story where Singer met Hitler in New York.  He has.

Then she says,

“I spent a night with him.”
“Hitler?”
“No, she said, I would never have allowed myself such a thing.  I meant Singer.”

(more…)

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information_cover_FINAL_webSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Vertigo, Victoria British Columbia, (January 21, 2000).

21Jan2000I recently learned that the Rheostatics Live website has added dozens of new (old) shows.  It has been almost exactly a year since I last did a tour of some of these live shows, so it was time to move into 2000 (with one new show added since I last looked).

As of 2000, the band is still touring the Harmelodia album, and the set has a lot of songs from that album.  I recently relistened to the album (something I don’t listen to all that much).  I was surprised to hear how many songs had narration–which pretty much precludes them from playing them live.  So that explains why they focus on just a few songs live.

Lucky’s notes for this show state: The Rheos were on a short west-coast swing and they played in Whistler the night before this show. In fact, the inspiration for ‘Satan Is The Whistler’ (from their following album) came from this trip, as Martin remarked something along the lines of ‘They are a bunch of Fascists in Whistler!’.

This is a really good set.  The sound quality is excellent and the band is in very good form.  There’s some great harmonies on “Loving Arms” and Martin really rocks the guitar on “I Fab Thee.”  “Junction Foil Ball” sounds awesome here–a good breakdown in the middle.  And it’s a rare sighting of “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” and a replay of “Good Canadian.”

It’s always fun when the band is feeling chatty.  In this show they joke about the Crash Test Dummies and even sing, “Superman never made any money saving the world from Crash Test Dummies.”  They also have fun with “My First Rock Show” with talk of blood on the seats.

The band has some technical failures, and they play a Stompin’ Tom song (“Bud the Spud”) while they get fixed.  But it doesn’t mess them up as they play a killer version of “Stolen Car” with a great solo.

Luke Doucet (now of Whitehorse, then of opening act Veal) plays during “Legal Age Life” and the band jokes about the Vealostatics.

The whole show ran for nearly two hours.  It’s a great set and the first of two nights at Vertigo.

[READ: February 10, 2015] Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

This short book is Doctorow’s plea for Copyright common sense, Net Neutrality and internet freedoms (among other things).  Of course Net Neutrality just passed–hurrah!– which makes this book less urgent but no less spot on and worth remembering while going forward.

Doctorow starts each section by stating his three laws:

  • “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”
  • “Fame Won’t Make You Rich, But Yo Can’t Get Paid Without It”  (or as Tim O’Reilly said “The problem for most artists isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.”)
  • “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, People Do.”

(more…)

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