Archive for the ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BLACK PUMAS-NonCOMM 2019 (May 14, 2019).

A couple of years ago I had a pass to NonComm, but ultimately I decided not to go.  I had never been to World Cafe Live and, while it sounded like a fun time, it was just so many mid-week nights and lots of leaving early, that it sounded more exhausting than fun.

I have now been to World Cafe Live and I can imagine that the (less divaish) bands are hanging around talking to people (and radio personalities) which is probably pretty cool.

I love the idea of these sorta personal concerts, too.  But I have since come to see that they are 20-45 minutes tops.  Hardly worth driving 90 minutes (one-way) for.

But since the shows are streaming you can watch them live.  Or you can listen to the recorded version online.

Black Pumas was the opening band on the opening night.  They play and exciting and fun psychedelic soul.

It is hard not to be moved by Eric Burton’s powerful voice. Joining Burton onstage was production partner and guitarist Adrian Quesada, as well as a bassist, keyboardist, and two backing vocalists. The whole band moved as a unit, but each member added their own unique talents, making Black Pumas’ sound undeniably theirs.

The set mostly comprised of songs from the band’s upcoming self titled debut, due June 21st.

“Next 2U” had some great keyboards and Burton’s impassioned vocals.  “Colors” showcased their ability to slow things down a bit and to lean into improvisation.  There was a grooving guitar solo and a cool keyboard solo.  There was even more grooving on “Black Moon Rising.”  I enjoyed Burton giving us the occasional falsetto “AH!” at the end of the verses.

I really couldn’t believe how young these guys turned out to be because their sound is really old-school, but with enough of a modern twist to keep it from being retro.

“Fire” opened with a cool guitar riff before backing away from the rock a bit to allow the big harmony vocals to really soar.

The final song “Etta James” was surprising because it was more like a Rock n’ Roll shuffle–a fast bass line running through the quick verses.   It’s when the soulful chorus comes in that Etta James surfaces both in the lyrics and in the soul of the song.   Although the scorching guitar solo brings the song back around to its rocking sensibility.

Black Pumas sound like a great live band that would be even more fun to see than to hear.

[READ: May 2, 2019] “Tax Niʔ Pik̓ak (A Long Time Ago)”

The July/August issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue.  This year’s issue had three short stories and three poems as special features.

This story was written by Troy Sebastian / Nupqu ʔa·kǂ am̓, a Ktunaxa writer living in Lekwungen territory based in Victoria.  It’s not often that I read a story with a glossary, but it was very helpful, because this story uses a number of Ktunaxa words.

  • tax niʔ pik̓ak—a long time ago
  • Ka titi—grandmother
  • suyupi—white people
  • ka·pi—coffee
  • Kupi—owl
  • Ktunaxa ʔamak̓is—Ktunaxa lands

The story starts fairly simply, a long time ago.  Uncle Pat says that the suyupi have built a statue of David Thompson.


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 ganeSOUNDTRACK: DAVE BIDINI-The President of Mount Allison’s House, Sackville (July 28, 2007).

allisonUntil I looked it up, I didn’t know what Mount Allison was, nor why he would be playing at the President’s house.  I’m still not sure why he was playing there, but as part of his solo mini tour, Dave graced the beautiful house.

For this show he read for 17 minutes and played 5 songs.  He plays “My First Rock Show” as the only Rheos song.  And then plays the same four “new” songs as in yesterday’s post: “Song Ain’t Good,” “The List” “The Land is Wild” and “The Ballad of Zeke Roberts.”

He explains the Zeke Roberts song a bit more.   He spent a few days in Ghana and went to a Liberian refugee camp (all documented in the book Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs) which is how he learned about Zeke Roberts.

He talks about staying locally in the Marshland Inn and the scary doll in his room (and also how he hopes to have his picture among the famous people who have stayed there).

For the reading portion he talks about the guys he played with in China: Alun Piggins, drummer Jay Santiago and guitarist Dwayne Gale.  He talks about the scene where they get massages (very funny).  There’s another excerpt in which they meet some people on the street where a baby is playing with a lighter.  The band starts taking pictures and then—eventually one of the adults puts an unlit cigarette in the baby’s mouth, and much hilarity ensues.

Overall though, this reading gets pretty dark as he gets into fight with Jay about Rush, and he feels bad that the Rheos had broken up especially when he sees the up and coming band The Wombats loving their set.

As for the music in this set, it is too loud and peaks a lot in the recording.  There also seems to be a hornet pestering him.  It’s probably the least interesting of the three shows.

[READ: November 7, 2015] The Best Game You Can Name.

This book is about hockey.  Specifically it is about Bidini’s rec team the Morningstars and their quest for another championship (and how after winning two years in a row, they were the main target for all the other teams).  Much like how his book On a Cold Road included quotes and stories from musicians, this book includes quotes and stories from former NHL players (I didn’t really recognize any of their names, but then I wasn’t a hockey fan in the 70s and 80s).

So each chapter talks a bit about his team and then has several stories about a specific topic from the hockey guys.

He begins by talking about his athletic renaissance in his 40s (after having given up on professional hockey).  I enjoyed the stories from the hockey players who loved playing so much as kids that they would spend hours and hours and hours on the ice.  I also liked them saying that you could still become a pro if you only started playing at 15 unlike today when kids are starting at age 5. (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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keonSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Alt House, University of Western Ontario, London, ON (January 23 1997).

 westernThis show takes place at the University of Western Ontario, an unusual location for the band, but they had an appreciative crowd.  There’s a long introduction in which Don Kerr is late to get to the drums.  They say that he’s sick and, in fact, they’re all sick, but they don’t sound sick when they play.

 The college atmosphere seems to relax them.  Indeed, Martin tells a very lengthy story about a painter near his home town in Italy (as an introduction to “Motorino”).  He rarely talks much on stage so this banter is a rarity.  Dave asks if the fans like the banter.  He takes a poll.  Songs and banter?  Much cheering.  No banter.  Apparently one vote.  Upon hearing that one vote, Dave says, that guy, security!  Some fans shout “only banter no music,” but the band doesn’t acknowledge that.

They once again mention martin’s new Chickadee banner and they even throw in some jokes about chickadees in “Four Little Songs.”

This show they explain that they get a little bored playing older songs so they like to mix them up a little.  “Record Body Count” sounds rather different and it has a very pretty guitar outro by martin that leads into the intro of “Michael Jackson.”

The opening band was People From Earth, the band that Martin’s brothers were in.  I can’t find out much about them and I can’t find any music from them, but I’m very curious to know what they sound like.

This is a really enjoyable show.  The recording level is a little too quiet at times, but the sound is quite good.

[READ: February 24, 2014] Keon and Me

This rush of Rheostatics music has had me investigating what the band has been up to since they split up.  They have all released some solo records, and Dave Bidini seems to have devoted a lot of his time to writing as well.  In addition to his column at the National Post, he has written a dozen or so books.  I’ve already read his two earliest books (which were about touring and hockey respectively) and thought I’d read some of his other books too (about baseball, hockey, touring, hockey, hockey, music etc).  I thought about reading his third book, but then–amazingly coincidentally–his newest book, Keon and Me was staring at me from a pile of new books at work.

How exciting!  Sure it was out of sequence, but that was fine.

The only problem (and the reason I wasn’t too too excited to read it in the first place) was that I had no idea who Keon was.  I had gleaned that he was Dave Keon, a hockey player.  But I’d never heard of him.  It turns out he was the captain of the Toronto maple Leafs in the 70s, during the Leafs’ heyday.  Aside from his achievements, which were quite impressive, what was most impressive about Keon was that he only got into one fight in his entire career–and that was in his last game with the Leafs–which garnered him a 2 minute penalty.  That’s pretty impressive given that it was the era of goons and thugs when fighting was often more important than hockey.

But this book isn’t really a biography of Keon.  Rather, it is a memoir of Bidini growing up and loving Keon.  And of his fanaticism to the Leafs (who have sucked ever since Keon left).  It is also the story of young Dave Bidini, grade schooler, who was bullied by the classroom thug (and biggest Flyers fan). (more…)

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After mentioning the two live shows that comprise the majority of this disc, I figured I’d mention the disc itself.  Rheostatics are a great and engaging live band: Dave Bidini has wonderful repartee with the audience and Martin Tielli’s live guitar work is amazing. The band sounds tight but not stiff and there are a number of tracks here that are goofy (but not throwaway) like the acoustic version of “Bread, Meat, Peas & Rice” and the weird and wonderful “People’s Republic of Dave.”

The songs that were taken from the two Bathurst Street concerts have been professionally mixed and mastered (of course) so even if you’ve listened to the bootleg concerts, you’re going to hear a different quality (and mix, as boots tend to be recorded from one side, usually missing some aspect).

My only gripe is something that they’d never really be able to accomplish live anyway.  It’s in “King of the Past” which is one of my favorite Rheos songs.  On the album, after the break, there’s an electric violin (or something) that plays a really cool dramatic melody.  But live they never play it like that, they rely on Tielli’s guitar.  The guitar sounds fine, but that majestic string section provides such a great contrast that the live version lacks just a little.

On the other hand, the live version of “Horses” is stunning.  As are “A Midwinter Night’s Dream,” “Palomar,” and “Christopher.”

[READ: February 8, 2011] Tropic of Hockey

I bought this book when I was in Toronto sometime in 2001.  I was pretty excited to get another book by Dave Bidini.  And then I proceeded to not read it for a decade.  Hey, these things happen.

But I have to say in many ways I’m glad I waited this long to read it.  The book was written pre 9/11 and as such it has a kind of sweetness about international travel that I miss now.  And I can appreciate it all a lot better with a decade’s distance from everything.  As of 2011, I know that I never want to go to the UAE, but reading Bidini talk about the UAE circa 1999 it sounds like a really fun place to go.

So anyhow, this book, as the subtitle suggests, is Bidini’s attempt to find hockey in weird places around the globe.  Bidini has gotten tired of the NHL: it is bloated, is it full of obnoxious rock anthems during stoppage and the spirit of the game has been overwhelmed by the Almighty dollar (specifically the American dollar).  And so, he wanted to see if he could find people who played hockey the way he and his pickup team play on the weekends: for the love of hockey.  And he was amazed to find hockey fans in these four unexpected places: Hong Kong, China, The United Arab Emirates and Transylvania.

The book is really three things though: it is the story of hockey in different places, it is a chance for Bidini to play hockey in these places and write about the experience and it is a history of Canadian hockey. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE TEA PARTY-The Edge of Twilight (1995).

In the way that Ian Astbury of The Cult reminded everyone of Jim Morrison, so does Jeff Martin, singer of The Tea Party.  He looks a bit like him and he sings in a baritone voice that, while all his own, sounds like perhaps a 1990s Jim Morrison.

This, their third album, is full of what I think of as their trademark sound: all manner of exotic instrumentation laid over heavy Zeppelinesque riffs.  Opener “Fire in the Head’ is not unlike “Kashmir” in its riff, and what’s funny is that the exotic instrumentation makes it sound even more like “Kashmir” than “Kashmir” does.  Zep didn’t use instruments like the sitar and sarod to make their sound more authentic.  Indeed, authenticity seems to be what the band is going for, as later albums describe them spending time in the middle east where they learned to play these instruments more proficiently.

“The Grand Bazaar” takes that concept further with some really Eastern sounding music within a very heavy rocking track.  And “Ianna,” although not my favorite track, really showcases the Middle Eastern instrumentation in this cool, twisty track.  There’s also a more traditional rock number, “Drawing Down the Moon” which features lengthy blues-guitar solos over a fairly conventional track.

It’s not all heaviness though, as “Correspondences” is a seven minute piano based ballad in which Martin’s voice is right in your ears.  It’s on this track that you decide whether you love his voice or think he’s preposterous.  If the latter, well, then there’s the beautiful instrumental “The Badger.”  And “Shadows on the Mountainside” is a quieter acoustic number in which Martin sings in his much more delicate range.

But perhaps the most over-the-top, and consequently, best track on the disc is “Sister Awake” which features 12-string guitar, sitar, sarod, harmonium and goblet drums.  It starts slowly and quietly and builds into multiple climaxes (complete with loudly whispered “Sister!”).

Whether or not this confers any kind of approval on The Tea Party or not, Roy Harper (as in “Hats Off to Roy”) does a spoken word bonus track at the end of the disc.  I don’t know much about Roy Harper or what he was up to in 1995 (perhaps he’d do anything for a buck?) but it give an air of legitimacy, no?

The Tea Party is a band that splits people into love it or hate it groups.  They have sold millions of copies and yet there are those who despise them.  Their next album Transmission found some success in the U.S. because it was a bit more industrial sounding (with samples and loops), but they never really broke through down here.

[READ: February 4, 2011] Stories from the Vinyl Cafe

I’m not sure how I found out about this book.  I know I bought it in a Chapters in Toronto.  I wonder if it was on a display and I was intrigued by the title.  Or, more likely, I had heard a bit about him in my preparations for my trip and decided to buy his book.   Whatever the case, I didn’t read it until now.

McLean is described in one of the (practically a dozen) pages of praise and advertisements for his other books as a Canadian Garrison Keillor.  And, as lazy as that seems, it’s fairly accurate.  Especially because although McLean is a humorist (he won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor), like Keillor, who is mostly funny, McLean also deals a lot with serious matters.  Indeed, some of the stories in this collection are utterly unfunny: ending with a dead dog or a dead grandmother.

And here’s the thing.  These stories are slices of people’s lives.  They are incidents that impact them and are worth recollecting, but that don’t cause anyone to change.  They’re like perfect little anecdotes, and I imagine they are excellent to hear aloud. (more…)

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[WATCHED: July 11, 2010] Beyond the Lighted Stage

I had heard about this film around the time that I read .  I was pretty excited about it, and then evidently everyone I know went to the TriBeCa Film Festival and saw it (except me).  And then everyone saw it on VH1 (except me), so I bought the DVD instead.

This film is really fantastic.  Obviously, it helps if you’re a Rush fan, but Geddy and Alex in particular are funny and interesting (even if they think they are boring).  And the film is expertly edited.  They cover 40 years of Rush’s history in 90 minutes.  This leads to a rather cursory look at their history, so the film doesn’t get mired in details, but there are tidbits of fun for die-hards. (more…)

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