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Archive for the ‘Old Age’ Category

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 1] (February 25, 1994).

The next four shows are four of the five nights from the Second Annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 1, 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. This first night featured 24 songs never previously released and a few that were played live very very rarely including Joey III, Floating, Fluffy, Green Xmas (which would appear years later as The Music Room on Harmelodia) and Symphony. Some of the audio on the beginning of each side of the tape is a bit warped and thus has a bit of a flange like effect for a few minutes.

That flange is very noticeable on “Jesus Was Once a Teenager, Too,” but it all settles down for “Tim Vesely going electric” on “Introducing Happiness.”  Bidini jokes that this is going to be their “up with life” album.

Introducing “One More Colour,” Dave Clark says, “Our next diddy is by a friend of ours who we last played with in Guelph.”  They follow it up with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” and “Full Moon Over Russia.”  After this song they ask the audience which chord they like better during one section–the minor chord wins.

They introduce “Fishtailin'” as a song about “love and life and living and loving.”  But an even better introduction comes for “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds” in which Bidini says it’s a song about the missing link.  Mankind was just walking around on earth drooling a lot.  And then all of a sudden they were up flying kites and making hotcakes and colorizing films and making Top 40 Radio.  Some say aliens impregnated cro-magnon man.  Dave thinks they came down for just two days and made everything happen.

Before the next song, Clark asks, “Dave what’s the best time of the year?”  Bidini says “Spring time: spring training starts.  Clark says I find around September 23rd (Bidini says, that’s coz baseball’s ending) because it’s 21 degrees–my favorite temperature.  Bidini: “yeah well spring’s better.”

There’s some banter about rehearsal space.  Clark says the band that used the microphones after them left them smelling like cheese.  Tim: “and by coincidence the band is called “Cheesemike.”  Then Clark tells a story about them being on Lunch TV, with his friends calling up saying “hey man, what are you doing on lunch TV,” and I said, “what the fuck are you doing watching it?”  Martin is annoyed because he stepped all over his introduction to a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand.”

They ask if there are any complaints so far.  Has everyone who has written the band gotten a reply?  Then Tim requests that Martin sing a verse of “Fluffy” which has only been played one other time on the live bootlegs (back in 1990).  The verse about champagne  Champagne?  Martinis, sorry.  It’s incredible falsetto, but Martin stops the song and says it sucked.  The last time they did that song a dark cloud came over Saskatoon.  Martin gives himself credit for writing one of the sickest songs ever.

Then they do one of the “not sickest” songs ever written: “Claire.”  Whale Music the film is locking down on Tuesday.  Clark jokes “Lee Majors is in it!”–he isn’t.  And then a great version of “Me and Stupid” before they take a break.

Paul McCloud “and his two little clouds” played in between sets.

They come back and At the conclusion of “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” Dave says that song is where Jethro Tull meets Rush.  Someone shouts, “What corner?”  Dave replies, “The corner of Bloor and Symington” (voted as the worst intersection in 2012).  At the end of “In This Town” Clark asks “who’s got Olympic fever? I do!”  Bidini asks, “Who’s your favorite Olympian?” Clark mentions a sportscaster….  Bidini says, “Dave hasn’t watched one second of the Olympics clearly, or he would have said Myriam Bédard.

Then there’s “Floating” a song I don’t know at all.  It’s a slow building Bidini song with a bouncy refrain of “up in the air” and a really noisy middle section.  After that he asks, “Didn’t everyone on the Finnish national hockey team look like Great Bob Scott?”  Clark says, “It’s funny you should mention that.  If I was gonna write a song for anybody it would be for Kevin Hearn, my favorite clown.  Of course none of you know who Kevin Hearn is… (ironic that they opened for BNL the previous year)

We had an idea one night that we would do a sequel to Melville–continue the stories from the album.  They only have two, this one “Onielly’s Strange Dream: is one of them.  It starts out very pretty with a recognizable guitar riff, but midway through the tape must change or something, it gets really loud and flangy.  It’s okay, it’s virtually impossible to forget the words on record.  It’s virtually impossible to forget the words “chicken Jimmy kept em alive,” To which Martin mumbles, “yea well he did.  It’s not funny.”

“Symphony” is also new to me.  On the song Bidini plays drums.  Martin stops the songs after a few verses and Dave complains that Clark was so jealous that Dave was playing drums that he forgot to turn the snare on.  And then Martin says it was way fast.  There’s some cool riffs and a line about no one takes solos in this band.  I’d like to hear that one more clearly.

Before the next song, Bidini says, I don’t play guitars on this, thank the lord.  Then there’s some drummer jokes:

Drums is a promotion actually–a drummer told me that.
Clark yells, “If Laura Lynn’s in the audience shame on you for cutting on drummers–they’re the foundation of any band.”
Bidini: “What did she say? How do you know a drummer’s at your door?  The knock speeds up and gets louder.  Coz if she did, that would be okay.”
Clark says, “Of course the most schooled musicians sit behind the tubs.”

The slow and country sounding “Row,” gets the dramatic introduction, “This is a song… Tim wrote.”  Then comes a rocking “Triangles on the Wall.”

Before “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice,” Clark asks, “Just acoustic guitar and voice?”  But no, “Full band.” Clark jokes, “We’ll attempt a song we don’t know.”  At the end Clark asks, “Was that cannibolically inspired?”  “Alomar” is always a fun treat especially when followed by a wild and raucous “PROD.”  At the end Tim asks, “I wonder if Steven Page had a song, “We are the people’s republic of Steven Page, how would it go?”  And they give it a shot.

They then launch into the lurching “The Royal Albert” the other song that’ s a sequel (“Joey Part II”) which ends with the guys all singing what sounds like “soooey.”  After this song, Dave says, “We’ll take some requests because we’ve run out of new material. [Much shouting] Okay we’ll do them all.”

They start with “Record Body Count” which ends with a fugue vocal of everyone singing “Joey stepped up on a block of ice,” which is pretty cool.  It’s followed by the unrecorded “Joey III” (all three parts together, just out of sequence).  “Joey III” contains the “do you believe it” refrain from “Christopher,” which is a little odd, but which works.  This segues into a slow “Self Serve Gas Station” that eventually rocks out.

They end the set with some covers: a short, sloppy but fun version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (sung by Martin) and a pretty rocking version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” (sung by Dave) which segues into a blast of “RDA.”

Despite the slightly muddy sound, this is a great set, especially if you like Introducing Happiness.

[READ: January 18, 2017]: “In This One”

I don’t really have a sense for what Stephen Dixon is doing in his writings.  He really likes to play with convention as a way of telling a fairly conventional story.

So, in this one, Dixon uses the phrase “in this one” in nearly every sentence.

It starts out “In this one he’ll have only one daughter and no other child.  In this one he’ll be divorced and his ex-wife will live in California…”

The character being discussed is a writer, “in this one he’ll have finished a novel a month or so ago after working on it for more than three years.”

In this one, his daughter tries to set him up with a coworker but neither finds the other interesting.

It sounds like Dixon is trying to write a new story–trying to create a character based on other characters.  But as the story proceeds it seems like this story is far more self-reflective.  In this one he meets a woman and he’s off to bed with her. But he warns her that it has been a long time and he hopes he’s able to get started. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PETER SILBERMAN-Tiny Desk Concert #616 (May 5, 2017).

I didn’t realize that Peter Silberman was the singer for The Antlers.  I also had no idea about what happened to him:

Something happened to Peter Silberman — singer and guitarist for The Antlers, a band known for its loud, soaring crescendoes — that hushed his life. In a conversation we had, he described a medical condition related to tinnitus. He’d experienced the ringing before, but this was even more intense. “I don’t even know if ringing is really the right way to describe it, because it really sounded more like rushing water. This was at a level I’d never experienced before and it was really all-consuming, it took over. Playing music at all was out of the question. The sound of my own voice reverberating in my head was very painful — I had to just be more or less silent while this was happening.”

After a time, he tried to make music again. “I started trying to play again and trying to sing again, testing where the boundary was of the sensitivity and of the pain. What I found was that if I sang very quietly and if I played guitar very quietly, that this would be a path for me.” The result is his first solo album under his own name, a record called Impermanence. These are songs in slow motion; the builds are less about crescendo and more about subtle change. Peter is joined by Timothy Mislock, a former guitarist for The Antlers. It’s a set of songs meant to slow the pace of life. Have patience.

The blurb says that this may be the quietest Tiny Desk Concert, but it’s actually not all that quiet–perhaps it is just mic’d well.  What it is though is slow and delicate.

The Concert is 23 minutes long and they play 3 songs.  “Karuna” sets the tone: It’s ten minutes long.  There’s delicate chords and notes and Silberman’s voice.  It takes nearly 6 minutes before the second guitar comes in.  It doesn’t really have anything catchy in it and it’s so slow that I lost track of the words as well.

“Ahimsa” is 7 minutes long and is a little more catchy in the chorus: “no violence, no violence today.”

For the final song, “Maya,” it’s just him for 8 minutes.

These songs stretch out, are practically ambient and for me at least, kind of drift in an d out without leaving an y real impression.

[READ: February 21, 2017] “Ladies’ Lunch”

This is the story of Lotte.  Lotte lives in New York in an apartment that was “commodious” with a gorgeous view.   But Lotte hates the fact that she has a caregiver.  The caregiver was there to watch her and to make sure she didn’t eat too much bread.  Lotte was very deliberate in her dislike for this caregiver.

It is up to Lotte’s son, Sam, to make sure that Lotte is taken care of–and to deal with the problems when Lotte gets abusive to the caregivers.

The only thing that Lotte enjoys is her Ladies Lunch.  The lunch is five women who live in Manhattan and have grown old together.  They’ve met every month or so for the last thirty years.  They save all of their most exciting stories for the lunch.  The ladies ask Lotte whats wrong with this caregiver.  And Lotte explains: that’s she’s in my living room and my kitchen and my bathroom. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RENÉ MARIE-Tiny Desk Concert #556 (August 12, 2016).

René Marie has a classic jazz singer’s voice.  She has the tones and bounce perfectly.  In fact, her entire performance is timeless–one would be hard press to guess when this was recorded (if you didn’t know).

Her first song “Colorado River Song” was inspired by an NPR coincidence:

René Marie was answering phones at Denver’s jazz radio station KUVO when she sat down across from a fellow volunteer fundraiser. He would soon invite her on a canoeing trip and, without yet having seen the eponymous river, she wrote the giddy “Colorado River Song” on the way there.

She said had never been canoeing before and she was so excited that wrote this song on the way to the river.

Her voice sounds great, especially when she does some mild scatting in the middle of the song.  There’s a great jazzy piano solo, too.  She accompanied by her Experiment In Truth band (John Chin on piano, Elias Bailey on bass, Quentin Baxter on drums).

“This is (Not) a Protest Song” covers serious topics, but sing in a gentle and caring way.   She sings of her homeless brother and her crazy Aunt who fell through the health care cracks (not sure if these are actual relatives, but it doesn’t matter).  This song is a bit less jazzy (although it has some cool jazzy bass lines).  It’s a surprisingly upbeat song although none of it is in a hurry to get anywhere, it just sounds great.

“Sound Of Red” is a bit faster with a pretty wild (relatively) piano solo. She also has a lot of fun teaching everyone to do her dance moves–put your weight on it.

And the sweet canoeing trip has a very sweet ending:

In the audience [for this Tiny Desk Concert] was the bold KUVO volunteer from that day 10 years ago. His name is Jesse, and they’re now married and live in her home state of Virginia;

[READ: April 1, 2016] Sunny Side Up

The Holms siblings are responsible for the Babymouse series.  It took me a little while to get used to their artistic style in such realistic story (no mice or amoebas), but it doesn’t detract from the story at all.

I especially loved this story because it reflected my childhood in the settings (although not the story).  I loved seeing the images from the 1970s (like Tab in the soda machine and going to the iron-on T-shirt store down at the shore).  There’s even a Polaroid camera!

The story is told in flashbacks, and I have to say that if I hadn’t been told that there was a sad element to the story, I wouldn’t have guessed that at first.  But once I knew there was a sad section, my anticipation of the sadness proved to be worse than what the actual sad part was, so phew. (more…)

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borgesSOUNDTRACK: SEU JORGE-Tiny Desk Concert #79 (September 13, 2010).

seuSeu Jorge was the melancholy singer in Wes Anderson’s movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He sang the David Bowie songs and was amazingly soulful and brought a completely unexpected quality to the Bowie songs.

He plays these five songs with his band Almaz.  For reasons unclear to me only one of the songs is on the video, but the other four are available in audio format.

He sings three songs in Portuguese, and his voice is husky and passionate, so even if you don’t know what he’s singing about, you can feel the emotion.

The first song in English “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” has a cool trippy 70s vibe, with some cool keyboards.  Although I don’t love his version of “Rock with You” which I imagine was super fun to sing, but it’s so different from the Michael Jackson version that it’s hard to reconcile the tow.

  • Cirandar” (Audio Only)
  • “Saudosa Bahia” (Audio Only)
  • “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” (Audio Only)
  • “Pai Joao”
  • “Rock With You” (Audio Only)

[READ: October 19, 2015] The Last Interview and Other Conversations

I have never really read any Borges (a piece here and there sure, but I have his Collected Fictions waiting for me and just haven’t gotten to it. However, when I saw this book at work I decided to give it a read. I have very much enjoyed the other books in The Last Interview series (there are ten and I have read four) so I thought I’d like this too, and I did.

Borges is a fascinating individual. He was legally blind from a youngish age and was completely blind by the time of the last interview. He was humble (but not exactly humble—he genuinely didn’t think he was that great of an author). He was a pacifist (remaining neutral even in WWII) and basically spent his whole life immersed in books.

This book contains three interviews

“Original Mythology” by Richard Burgin (from Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges, 1968)

“Borges and I” by Daniel Bourne, Stephen Cape, Charles Silver (Artful Dodger 1980)

“The Last Interview” by Gloria Lopez Lecube (La Isla FM Radio, Argentina, 1985) [translated by Kit Maude] (more…)

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june1SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS–The Media Club, Vancouver, BC, (October 21, 2004).

media clubEvery year, the Rheostatics would perform what they called Green Sprouts Week in Toronto.  In 2004 they did a West Coast version. Five nights in a row at The Media Club (with each show being crazier than the last).  There aren’t always recording available for these shows, but on this leg there are recordings from the third, fourth and fifth nights.

This recording is about 90 minutes and I assume is edited (most of their GSMW shows are quite long and there’s no banter).  There’s also crazy static on a certain instrument, which mars the quality somewhat.

The band has added keyboards, although I’m not sure who is playing them.  Morgan from The Buttless Chaps guests on a nice rendition of “Claire.”  They play a great version of “Jesus Was Once a teenager Too” with a folky breakdown in the middle.  “Take Me in Your Hand” is slow but really good.

There’s goofing on “Song of Flight” with them ending the song quickly and booing and yelling “stinky” I wonder what happened).  “Marginalized” is blistering and “Record Body Count” is a little goofy.  Perhaps the highlight of the night is “Horses” which is an amazing rendition and ends with a few lines and acoustic guitars from “When Winter Comes”

The encore starts with “Pornography” a song later recorded by Bidiniband.  Then there’s some great harmonies on “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”

They do a rocking version of Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” which is musically spot on, even though no one really knows the words.  The last few songs are more covers.  A very fast version of Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour,” and then a perfect version of “Takin’ Care of Business” (the guitar and vocals sound right on) which segues into a sloppy/fun “My Generation.”

The Green Sprouts shows often allow the band to mess around a bit which is great for fans.

[READ: July 21, 2015] “The Duniazát”

I generally like Rushdie’s work.  This story is told in the style of a 1001 Arabian Nights tale and consequently I didn’t enjoy it that much.  Although I was interested to find out some details about those stories.  There was originally a Persian book called “One Thousand Stories” which had been translated into Arabic.  In the Arabic version there were fewer than a thousand stories but the action was spread over a thousand nights, or, because round numbers are considered ugly, a thousand nights and one night more.  Huh.

The stories featured a beautiful storyteller knows as Sheherazade, who told her tales to a murderous husband in order to keep him from executing her.

Anyone, in this story, Rushdie tells a similar type tale.

Set in the year 1195, the great philosopher Ibn Rushd (I enjoyed the play on his own name there) was a physician to the Caliph.  But when he started espousing liberal views, he was discredited (sound familiar?).  He wound up living in a village where Jews were forced to convert to Islam and could not speak of Judaism.  So he felt right at home as an outcast. (more…)

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harp jan SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-CBC Studios (1999, 2000 or 2001).

cbcrheoThis is a hard event to document.  According to the Rheostatics Live website, this show was broadcast on Sonic 102.9 in 2000, but it appears to be a rebroadcast of a live show that the band recorded at CBC2 Studios in 1999 or, possibly, even in 2001 (according to the link to the video below which states Rheostatics CBC In Session October 26 2001 Just Concerts. Vancouver BC Studio 2, although that may just be a cut up version of the audio–so confusing!).

Whatever the case, the sound of this in-studio live show is tremendous.  It is one of the few instances where you can totally hear Dave’s acoustic guitar in the mix.

Kevin Hearn is there too, so they play a number of songs that they might not be able to without him.  And Michael Philip Wojewoda is on drums. (This complicates my understanding of the recording too, since Don left in 2001, but MPW often played with them anyway).

The audio version contains eight songs and two interview segments.  The interviews are funny (of course) and informative (although Tim sounds totally high), but it’s the music which is the highlight.

They play “Wieners and Beans,” “Martin’s Waltz (Blue Hysteria)” and “Kevin’s Waltz” form Music Inspired by the Group of 7.  They play “Easy to Be with You” “Monkeybird” and “Song of the Garden” from Harmelodia and then “Stolen Car” and “P.I.N.” as “new” songs.

The video below (which is the best video version of these recordings I’ve seen) has “Song Of The Garden” “Easy To Be With You” “Martin’s Waltz (Blue Hysteria)” “Stolen Car” and “Wieners and Beans.”  No word where the other three songs went.  But I love watching the video to see the way Martin makes the crazy sounds out of that little Steinberger guitar.

This is the last Rheostatics show I have for 2000.   I’ll be resuming with some shows from 2001, including Don Kerr’s final shows in a few months.

[READ: March 9, 2015]: “Two Parts”

I have only read two things by Dixon–the two McSweeney’s-released books I and End of I.

This story is a reflective look at regrets and decisions. It is told, as you might guess, in two parts.  He asks if he should start with his father or with Lotte.  He decides to start with his father.  He says he was thinking about something and he decided to talk at Abby about it. This framing device is used throughout the story.

The story about his father is from back when he was about ten and his father was about 51.  His father had always been in good health, but he had a temper.  Especially when it came to the narrator.  And while the father never hit the narrator with his hand, he did whack him with a rolled up newspaper. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WOODEN SHJIPS-Live on KEXP, August 7, 2011 (2011).

while ago I reviewed an Earth concert and while I felt like I should have liked them, I didn’t like them as much as I anticipated.  Well, Wooden Shjips (no idea what’s up with that “j”) sounds like I would have liked Earth to sound–a bit faster and yet still ponderous   They play with really distorted guitars and heavy bass, but their songs aren’t terribly fast or anything.   The thing that sets them apart is the keyboard–loud droney keyboards that take a kind of lead role and add a weird sort of retro feel to the heavy proceedings.  Indeed, even the voice is fuzzed out and echoey, making the keyboard one of the few clean sounds in the show.

As befits droney metal bands, all of these songs are long.  The first two “Lazy Bones” and “Black Smoke Rise” are over four minutes while the final two “Home” and “Flight” are over 5 and nearly 7 minutes respectively.

Lazy Bones is dominated by a spacey keyboard riff and vocals that are echoed almost into oblivion, reminding me of a kind of mid 70s Black Sabbath (if Ozzy’s voice was deeper).  The riffs on “Home” and Flight” sounds like we’re in for some real classic rock, but again that droney keyboard (which also sounds retro but in a different way) mixes with the heavy distorted guitar in a new way.  I’m intrigued to hear more from them.

Rock out here.

[READ: November 15, 2012] “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”

I’m always surprised to see a Stephen King story in say Harper’s or the New Yorker.  Not because he’s not good, but because he’s such a famous genre writer (and he certainly doesn’t need the exposure).   I don’t even think of him as a short story writer, really.  I wonder how he gets his stories in these magazines?  Does he get vetted?

Well, this story was really enjoyable and if I hadn’t known it was Stephen King, I never would have guessed.

The first 3/5 of the story are about Dougie Sanderson and his Pop.  Pop is in an old age home, suffering from Alzheimer’s. They have a routine, which is easy enough for Dougie  to do, even if to his father it’s new every time.  Dougie visits every week, they go Applebee’s, and they come home.  This depends, of course, on how good Pop is doing that day–as long as he’s fairly lucid and isn’t cursing out everyone in sight.

What I appreciated about this story was that Pop has moments of incredible lucidity that can be immediately followed by moments of utter confusion   Like when Pop calls him Reggie (Dougie’s brother who died forty-five years ago in a car accident .  But the moments of lucidity are nice for Dougie–although they’re not encouraging exactly, because most days he guiltily admits that he wishes things would end sooner rather than later.

The Batman and Robin of the title refer to a Halloween costume that Dougie ad Pop wore when Dougie was little.  Indeed, Pop remembers it very well, “Halloween, you dummy.  You were eight, so it was 1959.  You were born in ’51.”  Pop even adds a detail that Dougie didn’t remember: that Norma Forester looked at Dougie and said “trick or treat” and then looked at Pop and said “trick or drink” and offered him a bottle of Shiner’s.  Dougie is silent–amazed at the memory.  Then Pop says “she was the best lovin’ I ever had.”  Dougie doesn’t know whether to believe this or not thinking, “They hurt you….  They may not mean to, but they do….  There’s no governor on them, no way of separating the stuff that’s okay to talk about from the stuff that isn’t.” (more…)

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