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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax Nova Scotia (December 7, 2009).

This is the second night at The Carleton.  The previous night they played for two and a half hours; this show is ten minute shy of 3 hours.  There are two recordings of this show, an audience and a soundboard.  The audience one is quite good although occasionally when Linklater plays a loud guitar it drowns out the vocals a bit.

Unlike with the Rheostatics, this band plays pretty much the same setlist (mixed up and with some songs stretched out) both nights.  Even the guests are he same.

The only new songs are “Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” “Bud the Spud,” “Pornography,” and “Wendell Clark” and they don’t play “Big Men Go Fast on the Water” or “Moncton Hellraisers.”  There’s a lot of chatting during the show: “Man I miss Halifax already.  I feel like we left and then came back all in that last song.”

“Memorial Day” sounds great, a slow expansive epic song with a really intense, wailing guitar solo at the end.  “The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” and “Paul and Donna” are sweet and boppy, although Paul & Donna sounds like it’s going to start as “Michael Jackson” before locking into “P&D.”

A noisy version of “Fat” (after the ‘I said you were fat’ line, Dave says, “it happens… we were just talking and stuff.”  It runs about 9 minutes and then he says, “sometimes one word titles suffice, like “Fame”  Someone else: “or Sting!”  Dave: “Sting is not a song it’s a lifestyle.”  Paul: “Does anybody here read the National Post? (no reaction).  Dave’s been writing a weekly column for the National Post and none of his friends read it.  Dave: “They are too cool.”  Paul: “He wrote an article about Sting a mock interview. Dave: Sting said he couldn’t do his job if he was a fat kid.  Dave doesn’t understand why and name checks larger people: Billy Joel, Fats Waller, Chubby Checker.  And as they are thinking of them, Dave says it’s time to bring up a guest.

Ruth Minnikin sings a slow, moody “Stolen Car.” And there’s a plug for the Peanuts Christmas album on Zunior: “It’s amazing, Ruth has taken Beethoven and messed with it in an amazing way.

“The Ballad of 1969” is an interesting mellow and folky song segues into the punky, 1 minute “Take a Wild Ride.”   It’s followed by a bluesy version of “This Song Ain’t Any Good.”  Dave has a lot of fun with the “you can play it when you’re drunk” line–he keeps messing up the sing along part.

Doug is friends with Chris Pennell a local pop and slap bass hero.  All of the gear we’re using tonight (and last night) was provided by Chris.  (we never learn why) .  Some of the gear includes pillows, blankets and beds.

Dave then tells a Stompin’ Tom story which says it’s in his contract that if you tour with him he can never be the last to go to bed at night so someone has to stay up and drink with him.   The drummer spent 3 days on hospital with alcohol poisoning.  Speaking of contracts, Al,  is it time?  It was in your contact, must follow a medley.  Al tuck sings a mellow song called possibly “The Rights of His Descendants.”

At Mike’s behest were going to do 2 sets–you can mingle buy merch.  It’s not merch, it’s art.

Leading into “The Land is Wild,” Dave says that Fogarty was a genius hockey player, broke Gretsky’s records at 12.  But he didn’t like hockey, he liked Metallica and Wrestling.

The next song is about the deep winter on the west coast.  Anybody hear from British Columbia?  Anybody here form Alberta?  Anybody her from Alaska? You gotta ask. “Desert Island Poem” has Leo Sayer eat their drummer.  This folky songsegues into a folkie, upbeat version of “The List.”

Dave says, …. if you wanna buy shots for the band, we really really discourage it.  If you want to go to the bar and are satisfied with the performance, we seriously discourage you.  Its’ the last thing the band need (the band plays Tequila)  Don says if you do buy is shots don’t invite us back to your house or I might puke on your ceiling.  A woman from Sydney whose sink don threw up in is there and Dave tells the every funny story about a crummy gig that turned into a debauchery filled night.

“Popcorn” has a lengthy ending section and Dave sings “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Then Dave shouts, “Where the fuck are our shots?”  Don: “Well, do you want shots or popcorn?”

“Michael Jackson” is quite subdued, he even quietly speaks the first “Michael.” It segues into “My First Rock Concert.”  The rest of the band sings the Joe Jackson part, and the song has a cool solo from Paul and then right after the swan dive part it segues into “Yemen.”

Mike O’Neill, will you come up and do a shot and a song with us.   What do you think of Mike’s ‘stache [cheers].  Wait what do you think of Mike without a ‘stache [more cheers].  Don: That ‘stache is freaking me out man.”  Mike: I don’t think my contribution to the Zunior album was that much less than Ruth’s.  Chuckles. They sing “Mr. Carvery,” which   sounds a bit like The Jayhawks

“Midnight Ride Of Red Dog Ray,” is “unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar,Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  Dave is singing and sings the wrong verse–“fuck!” As he’s getting it back someone starts singing, “My First Rock Concert.”

Dave: “More shots!” Someone: “You guys gut 7:30 flights, right?”  Dave dedicates his shot to Ruth Minikin and Al Tuck.  Don: “It’s always best to leave Mike O’Neill out I fins.  If you can hurt Mike O’Neill with a small gesture its always the best thing.
Dave: Dedicating a shot to him would just piss him off.
Don: Hes going to go home and write a song….  I just want to hurt mike O’Neill just a bit because of that mustache.”

“Last of the Dead Wrong Things” rocks and eventually segues in “Making Plans for Nigel.”

They play “Bud the Spud,” and then “Earth,” which has a nice simple drum solo.  The drums play on and on and then Dave segues into “Horses.”   We’d like t invitee Chris up–it’s your fucking bass.  He says he’s like Mike O’Neill on stage with a tambourine–stereo tambourines with Ruth Minikin.

Doug: Do you guys want to hear something funny?  I have to be at work at 10AM tomorrow, in Toronto.  [groans].
What kind of work do you do?
Doug: I’m a high school teacher.  [laughter].

They play “Pornography” which opens a lot like “Bread Meat Beans and Rice.”

Doug: you guys are great I want to move here to Halifax–I just have to convince my girlfriend.  Someone local says, “Doug and Paul are from Manitoba which is from now on the second most friendly province in Canada coz Nova Scotia has got these guys thinking about moving here.”

Dave seems pretty wasted by this point as he introduces “Wendell Clark” : I don’t care of you dot like the Leafs.  If you don’t like the Leads you can suck my cock. That’s how I feel.  Sometimes you just love stuff because it’s yours doesn’t matter how its judged.

we can all agree on one thing…no players play more virtuously than those from the great province of  Saskatchewan.  All Canadians love Saskatchewan.

When there were rumors that Wendell Clark was gay, I supported it.  “Wendell was the rockingest leather fag on Church Street.  If Wendell was gay then he was the best gay hockey player that there ever was.”

As the show ends, the host says, “You don’t have to go home unless you have to go school tomorrow, which I know most of you don’t.  Generally we hang around and drink tequila with the band.

I think I love the Maritimes, too.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies

“Animal Armies” features a series of stories called The Singh Tapes.  But this book is also about Gus–as Dr Singh goes through his notes about Gus.

I love the delivery of this story–Singh’s notes run along the bottom of the page while the story above tells a parallel story without words.  And in it we see that of all of the hybrids that were there, only Gus, Wendy and Bobby are left.  Wendy is educated, but Bobby is very dumb–at least by human standards.  He seems more animal than the others.

By the end Singh is convinced that Gus is somehow the cause of the Sick. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-The Carleton, Halifax, Nova Scotia (December 6, 2009).

There are two recordings of this show up on RheostaticsLive.  There’s an audience recording of the full show, and a soundboard recording of the first set.  Normally the Soundboard is the recording of choice, but the quality of the audience recording is really good and has a bit more ambiance.

Dave greets the folks: “Hello its great to be in Halifax, port city.”

They open with the Rheostatics song “Fat.”  They mess up a few words in “Fat” and Dave goes, “yea, something like that.”  The song is generally slower and less angsty than the Rheos’ version.  The middle section has a real jazzy feel.

He introduces the next song “Desert Island Poem,” “This is a wintertime song for the first snowfall of the year.  It’s really bad snow in this song.  The worst kind of snow.  Cannibal snow.”  Before the songs he says, “We’ve been giving Leo Sayer a hard time. [not elaborated upon].  We’re gonna lay off Leo Sayer for this one.  They change the line to “Pantera and Slayer eat their drummer–who will cool and season the body?”

“Paul and Donna” is a sweet, catchy song.  Dave says “The song was written for Paul and Donna’s wedding.  It’s a wedding song.  “Stairway To Heaven” was a wedding song. Marriage of an evil maiden and a bewitching knight.”

He talks about getting his first photo shoot and addresses “Molly”(the opening act): have you done a photo shoot yet?  It’s so weird isn’t it?  One day you’re trying to play “Two Tickets to Paradise” in a mirror and then some weirdo is taking your picture.  They talk about travelling and a taxi driver asking what kind of music they play. New Wave?  Contemporary.  And while one of them said, yes exactly, Doug said, “straight ahead rock.”  When they ask who you play with they always assume you’re in the The Hip. Its’ cute to disappoint them.  “Not that I was wishing…..”  Being in this band is like being in The Hip.  Dave: “Yea right, $10,000 to be in the Hip?  Yea, I would too.”  Back to the photo shoot, it was in a bowling alley.  The guy said he was a musician too–guys, listen to this story it’s really good.  (Sorry Dave).  He says he wrote a song that’s going to be famous.  It’s called “Led Zeppelin Town” where all the heavies go to when they die.”  Before beginning Wild Ride, Dave starts singing a made up chorus of Led Zeppelin Town.”  The whole song is a short rocker.

“Yemen” has that great guitar line that I really like.  Then Dave says, “Mike O’Neill will you join us–it’s a cavalcade of stars tonight– a cavalcade of ‘staches.”  They sing the O’Neill song “Mr Carvery.”  At the end of the song he says, “one of Ontario’s finest exports.”

“The Continuing Saga of Canadiana and Canadiandy” is an imagined comic book loosely based on the lives of Paul Linklater and Don Orchard.  Only geographically I suppose and their misadventures across Canada.  Doug Friesen starts it with an electric bass solo–Doug I’m really looking forward to this bass part.

“Big Men Go Fast on the Water” has a very pretty chorus.  At the end, he confesses, “that song totally has no ending yet endings are hard.  Come back tomorrow night to hear the ending.  We’ll leave you shy and ending and you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see if we finish it. But we’ll leave a different ending shy tomorrow.  It’s in the handbook… on page 48.  Someone asks, “Is that song your ode to the jet ski…?  Part of the 14 songs you wrote about Lake Ontario and how its being destroyed?  Yes 30 in 30 swim drink fish club, the waterkeepers online music club.  It’s true, you can go download them.  Whoo!  Lets hear it for downloading!  Dave: “How was the gig?  It was a big downloading crowd.”

They play a groovy version of “Earth Revisited.”  The end is stretched out with a nice jam with Dave saying Keep Going and them singing “Keep Going” as backing vocals.  Dave says that song goes back to 1994.  Doug the bassist says, “I was 6….  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”   Dave says the young blood is what keeps him going.  During the applause they confirm that “Halifax is a really big Doug town.”

“The Ballad Of 1969” is a song about a lesbian school teacher.  The best.  After a verse, he messes up the lyrics, and says hold on hold on but they keep going with that groove and he catches up.   It’s a great song with and excellent guitar solo and multiple parts.   And interesting story song that is enjoyable multiple times.

They end the first set with “Stolen Car” featuring Ruth Minnikin on vocals.  I don’t know her and her delivery is a little flat (in fairness, it’s a challenging song).  But overall the song sounds good.

We don’t usually do breaks but Mike said he wouldn’t pay us unless we did.  This is the second song from our record The Land is Wild.  I have enjoyed this song, Memorial Day” more and more with each live rendition.  The band seems to be really gelling on this song.  The melody is great and the lyrics are really strong.  Linklater makes some great roaring guitar noises in the middle of the song that sound intense.

Show of hands for those who like to rock.  Solid.  They like to rock and they like to download in Halifax.  This is called “We like to Rock.”  It’s a folkie song, fun and all that, which is not all that loud or heavy.  Doug says, “We like to rock at a reasonable volume.”

We’d like to invite Ian on stage. It’s our first time ever laying with a saxophone player on stage.  Ian how do you feel about what you’re about to do?  “I’m excited and nervous.”  Dave asks, “Do you like the movies, Ian?”  “I love the movie I recently, rented Up.”  Pretty good eh?  “Great, I cried the first ten minutes.”  Someone in the audience goes “Squirrel!” and they kind of have to explain that joke.  “Popcorn” is a sort of song about the movies.  The song seems to sound a little different every time.  This one is more fun than usual. With a really long jam section–and lots of sax (that’s not too loud).

Before the next song the guitars are all playing some weird noises–flat picked notes, the bass sliding up and down.  And over this, Dave starts singing “Song Ain’t Any Good.”  The band kicks in after a verse and the song sounds great overall.

The download seems to be somewhat out of order here.   There’s a song about a Christmas Tree, which I can’t place.  The song segues into “The List” which has some different guitar styles and sounds great, especially the rocking guitar during the Stephen Harper verse.  It segues back to that “Hanging by the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve” song which ends with some futzing around with guitar picking sounds.  They begin “The Last of the Dead Wrong Things.”  This sounds great with the drum solo in the middle (with Dave scratching his guitar strings throughout).

They call up Al Tuck and Dave thanks everyone for coming and Chris for loaning them stuff.   Al says, “I wanted to play my old song ‘I’ve Got to Hand It To You,’ but I’m not going to play that one.”  Then he says, “I wrote this on the piano: ‘What Kind of Soul.'”  He also says he wrote this one his daughter’s birthday.

Dave says it’s fun to visit a city and see friends who you don’t get to spend time with and to have them up on stage.  He talks about the first time he played Halifax.  He feels his life changed after that show–he talks a lot now, but he didn’t talk much back then.  He was less secure, but something changed him in Halifax.  He also says that after the second song they heard muted cheering and wondered where that was coming from.  There were like seven kids behind the back door of the club–they couldn’t get in.

Thanks to Molly for opening for them.

This song is about he life of Bryan Fogarty and it’s the best version of this song I’ve heard.   I love that he whispers “Let’s Go” before the slinky guitar line kicks in.  Linklater adds some great interesting guitar sections to the song.

It’s followed by a quite folky version of “Moncton Hellraisers.”  Note: “Unamplified, Band moving around the bar. Dave on acoustic, Paul on Al Tuck’s acoustic guitar, Don and Doug on tambourines A 13 db boost was added to make more audible.”  You can hear them wandering the floor.  And then it’s time for the solo.  Dave asks Paul:   “Want to stand on the chair so everyone can hear?  It’s a really good solo.”    “Woah–bad table,”  He cant get the solo right, and seems to be trying to climb back on the chair.  Finally he says, “Wanna get on my shoulders?”  The crowd loves it  (“watch your head man.”)  It’s sounds pretty spectacular: Dave plays the main part with Paul on his shoulders (I assume).  The crowd loves it.  Someone says, “That was the most interesting double neck guitar I’ve ever seen.”

Someone requests, Conway Twitty.  “None of us have the hair to pull off a Conway Twitty song.”

Instead it’s a rocking version of “Horses” which sounds very different with Martin not playing the solos.  But the song rocks through to the end where Paul seems to have the song degenerate with crazy warped noises until Dave starts playing the guitar intro to “Michael Jackson.”   It is quiet and has spoken verses.  It works perfectly as a show ender.

While Bidiniband will never match the Rheostatics for amazing live performances, Bidiniband has really upped its game over the years and they sound pretty great–and do seem to out on quite a show.

[READ: April 13, 2017] Sweet Tooth: In Captivity  

As happens with many series, I read the first book and then forgot the rest.  Well, conveniently for me, the remainder of the books were all in at the library so I grabbed them all and devoured them over a spring break.

“In Captivity” begins with a flashback.  In fact, the bulk of the story is about Jepperds.  We see him as a young hockey player–he’s a bruiser and he is currently beating up Jeff Brown.  In the locker room the announcers say that when a hockey player is reduced to that, it means the end of career is in sight.  And then we see him carrying a bag.  This is the mysterious bag that he received at the end of Book One.

Next we flash to Gus.  He is in captivity by a bald guy with red-tinted glasses.  He has just thrown Gus into a room with other “freaks.”  But the scenes with Gus are few and far between and soon we are flashing back to Jepperds again.

He is with his wife Louise.  She is watching something on TV and we soon learn it is a story about the Sick and how people are dying everywhere.  Jepperds wants to flee their house, but Louise thinks they are remote enough to be safe.  Louise doesn’t want to leave but Jepperds insists and tells her that when it’s all over he will bring her back home.

It is then that we learn that Louise is pregnant. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Hillside Festival, Guelph ON (July 26, 2009).

Back in 2003 Rheostatics played the Hillside Festival.  And here it was six years later, the Rheos had broken up and Dave Bidini’s band, Bidiniband were here to play.

And apparently there’s a downpour.

The announcer says, “I’m glad you’re semi dry.  I’ll ask you to stand away from the steel poles–it’s to do with lightning and all that.  We’re going to do a quick delayed sound check”  Dave interrupts, “Nah we’re not.  Can everybody hear your guitar?  Check 1,2.  There we go.  Fuck the weather. let’s rock”

The Bidiniband!

Some of these songs are ones he played solo, so it’s interesting to hear the with a full band.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BIDINIBAND-Call the Office, London, ON (April 18, 2008).

Dave Bidini played some solo shows in 2007 but by 2008 he had cobbled together a band: Bidiniband.  The band includes Dave, Paul Linklater, on lead guitar, former Rheo Don Kerr on drums and Doug Friesen on bass.

I’m not sure when they started playing together, but this is the first live show at Rheostatics Live.  The set list hasn’t changed much since his solo shows, but the songs sound really different with the full band.

Some of Dave’s solo work is about telling real life stories of unsung people.  They

re usually really interesting the first one or two times you hear them, but they kind of lose their power after multiple listens.  So “Zeke Roberts” and “The Land is Wild” (except for the fantastic chorus) wear out their welcome a bit.  But again, it’s a nice change to hear them with the full band.

“Fat” is interesting to hear with other musicians.  The ending isn’t quite as wild as with the band but these guys chant the “everyone’s a robot” with great energy.  After the song Dave says “Good  night everybody” to much laughter.  For the next song he says, “This is basically the same song but with a more ironic joke.  The irony is not in the tuning or lack thereof.”

Someone says, “You guys and your new strings. I haven’t changed my strings in like two years.”  “I thought t would be cool, you know, on a new tour.”

“This Song Ain’t Any Good” has a very different delivery than the folksier style that I’m used to.  He asks the band, “You want to do it sad, what did you mean?” They do the chorus in a kind of repeated downbeat “singalong.”

Thanks to Andy and The Two Minute Miracles for playing tonight.  We’re gonna do another song based in our country: “The Moncton Hellraisers.”  It has a rather country flair to it.

Someone shouts, “Do a hockey song.”  Dave says, “I think you’re out of luck tonight  Oh, no there’s a longer one later tonight….we’re making you wait for it.”

I love the jazzy opening of “Memorial Day.”  But even better is the full band rock of “Terrorize Me Now.”  Who ever in the band is screaming “And then we killed again,” is totally intense.

Dave asks, “Could anyone deliver a water to the stage, or I could put my guitar down…  From off stage: “only whiskey and cold coffee!”  “cold cuts?”

This next song is gonna feature Dog Paul’s on double bass for a song about cannibalism and Canadian rock.  “Desert Island Poem” features the line   “Rheostatics eat their drummer who would cook and season the body?”

Dave once described the song: “Yeah, and that’s sort of a true story in a way. I mean not the cannibalism part. But one time the Rheos were stranded in Drumheller [Alberta] and we were listening to the radio and we heard this story about that plane that crashed in Alaska. And we began to wonder what would happen to us if we never got out of Drumheller.”

For “The List”, the replaced Zack Warner with Sass Jordan (a Canadian singer) which features the line “you say I suck but it’s that suckdom of which I’m proud.”  Some one shouts, “that’s a fucking song that needed to be written.”  Dave says he has one more verse but he can’t remember who its about.

“The Continuing Story of Canadiana and Canadiandy” has a cool slide guitar solo in the middle of the folk.  Dave, “That’s from back in the day where all the Canadian folk singers looked like Jesus.  Those nice sweaters on, a nice beard.”  Mitsou?  “When I think of Canadian folk I think of Mitsou too, ironically.”

Someone in the band proposes the “Top five Canadian folk albums: Summer Side of Life, Old Dan’s Records,”  Dave notes: “That’s two from Gordon Lightfoot are you allowed to pick two from the same artist?” “And The Way I Feel.” Dave: “You’re just doing Gordon Lightfoot.”  “That’s what I’m trying to say, dude. “I’m getting your drift that you like the Gord.”  “Gordon never looked like Jesus did.” “No, he looked more like Bruno Gerussi.”

“Is everybody ready for a long death ballad?  You look like the kind of crowd who would like a long death ballad.”  Someone in the crowd shouts: “kill us, kill us Dave.”

We haven’t performed this song successfully ever life.  “Zeke” sounds better with the guitar sliding up and down and in the middle when there’s a few complex moments  and the band really takes off.  But there’s all kinds of flubs at the end.  Dave says, “you’re too kind.  That was the best first half we’ve done for sure.”

They play “My First Rock Show” at a slower pace.  “A bit of banjo for this, Paul?”  After the swan dive, there’s some crazy feedback and effects manipulation and then Dave starts singing “Happy Jack.”

They finish “Rock Show” and then begin with “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and then Slade’s “Run Run Away.” (did that song have a chorus?).  And then it shifts to Bidini’s “Pornography.”

“Rock Intro?  Is it a rock intro nigh?” “Progtro.”  Someone says something about YouTube.  Dave says “Whats YouTube. They’re an Irish rock band, right?”  There’s great noisy opening to “The Land is Wild.”  It quiets down but sounds great with the full band.  I like the lead guitar line that runs through the song.  During the slow part, the person who mentioned Gordon Lightfoot sings “Ode to Big Blue” as the song gets bigger and noisier.

It segues into a really fast version of Rheostatics’ “Earth.”  Its rocks.  “Don Kerr on the drums everybody.”  And then a romping “Horses.”  Midway through the song he starts reciting the lines to “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads and then some of “Another Brick in the Wall. Pt 2.”  He also throws n the “facts” portion of Talking Heads’ “Cross-eyed and Painless.”

This all segues into a stomping, guitar-light version of “Life During Wartime.”  Dave starts singing lines from “One Thing Leads to Another” (“one gun leads to another”), “Relax Don’t Do It”  then “When Two Tribes go to war, war is something you can’t ignore.”

As the song ends Dave thanks everyone for coming: “a small but mighty crowd for a small but mighty band.”  Then he introduces the band: Douglas Friesen from Manitoba, Paul Linklater from Manitoba, Dave born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Donald S. Kerr from Mississauga, Ontario.

As they finish, the crowd is screaming screaming for an encore with one guy even telling him not to put their instruments down.  But there is no encore.

[READ: April 15, 2017] Writing Gordon Lightfoot

The title of this book is unusual–it’s hard to even figure out what it means (until you read the book), but it’s also deceptive.

The title means writing to Gordon Lightfoot.  Bidini is basically writing Lightfoot a series of letters. But it is far more than that.  In fact the scope of the book is really the Mariposa musical festival that took place in Toronto in 1972.  Lightfoot appeared (along with many other folk luminaries).  Interspersed with his documentation oft he festival (he was too young to go so it’s all research) are his letters to Lightfoot.

The reason he is writing letters to Lightfoot in a book is because Bidini believes that Lightfoot won’t speak to him.

His band Rheostatics, recorded a cover of his “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It was one of their big songs when they were first starting out.  And then, as a brash young kid, Bidini once said that it was actually based on an old Irish melody and that it really wasn’t Lightfoot’s song anyway.  Yipes.

So, assuming that Lightfoot will never talk to him (I wonder if he actually tried), he decides to write letters.  But the letters aren’t “hi how are you” letters, they are a biography of Lightfoot’s life as written by a fellow musician.  He bases most of his notes on things that were in other biographies and he says he makes a lot of it up too.

So it’s an unusual book in many ways. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Reverb, Toronto, ON (August 29, 1997).

This is the final show Rheostatics show from the 1990s that I haven’t mentioned thus far.

I’m not sure what the band had been doing before this show (aside from making he Nightlines show), but they’ve apparently not played live for a while.  This return to performance seems to have brought out the wildness in them.  This show has all kinds of jamming moments with eight songs lasting over 7 minutes.  There’s also some slower moments or songs played differently.  It’s a cool, unique show–very different from their other shows.

There’s even an “opening jam” with a guitar riff explored around some bass notes.  Then a new guitar comes in with some rums.  The whole jam is about 3 minutes but it doesn’t really turn into anything, it’s just a like a warm up jam–I even wondered if it was just the guys messing around until all four of them were on stage.

They play the opening riff to “Fat” but he only plays a clip of it and then stops (allowing Tim to do some bass fills).  During the “bye bye” section they stop the music a few times unexpectedly as well.  It’s an interesting jamming opportunity and runs a pretty long time.

After the song Dave says, “we haven’t played togetehr in a long time well, we haven’t played live in front of people.  We played together at the CBC.”  (the Nightlines show mentioned later).  “So now we got one under our belt.  We forgot our songs had so many parts.”

Dave continues, “There’s a lot of people from Michigan here tonight for some strange reason.  They think the Stanley Cups is here.  But it’s not.  We’ll send this next song out to them.”  It’s “Aliens” At the end, Martin takes off on a wild solo as the band really rocks out.  There’s also an extended jam with someone singing a “dit dit dit” part while Martin plays along on guitar.

“All the Same Eyes” is pretty straightforward except that there’s some real wailing from Martin throughout.

Someone shouts “Are you looking for some fun?” and Martin says “We’ve got a new version of that song we’re gonna play.”  Then Tim says, “Just write your requests on a plate.  Dave: “There’s a private party upstairs and there’s lots of plates outside the door.”  Martin: “There’s a private party for um the three little boys with sandy blonde hair… hamsum?  handsome?”

Then they play the first known occurrence of “Junction Foil Ball.”  Martin introduces it: “we’ll do a kind of a new song”  Don: “its new and we’re kind of going to do it.”  I’m impressed with the interesting sound effects that Martin gets while playing this song.  During the “acoustic tile” section he even distorts his voice like it has slowed down–is that effect of Martin’s singing.

“Four Little Songs” sounds totally different.  It’s got a kind of swinging opening.  The first part is really heavy.   Dave’s part is interesting because while still in the trippy intro section, he begins singing the lyrics to Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”  When he finally gets to the song, people sing along to his first lines!  Martin has crazy fun with the riff at the end–lots of squeaking solo noises.

Dave asks: “How are those chamois working out, martin?” “They’re remarkably absorbent for large quantities of liquid.”  When I saw them Martin was very sweaty.  I wonder if he always was.  There’s a solid, slow version of “Bad Time to Be Poor,” which Dave says was written awhile ago…but it’s still a bad time to be poor.

Before “Sweet Rich” Martin says, so I’m going to do this solo, okay Tim.  Just the first bit.”  It’s a great version.

“Joey II” has a long rollicking jam in the intro with Martin chanting “I’m about to fuck up, I’m going to fuck up.”   During the middle of the song he asks if any musicians in the audience have played at the Royal Albert Hall in Winnipeg–well that’s what this song is about.

They play an early version of “Easy to Be with You” which goes to “California” instead of “Harmelodia.”

Dave introduces “Stolen Car” by saying “We’d like to do another new one for you.  We played this at our last concert but we’re going to play it a little differently.  This is Tim Mech one of North America’s greatest unsigned artists.   Seriously, he won a contest in Musicians magazine and was named one of the ten best unsigned artists.   We recorded this for the last Nightlines program.  We recorded about 32 minutes of music.  Old stuff, new stuff and a version of this song.  Dave’s last show is tomorrow night.  Thats 104.1 FM CICZ-FM in the local area!”

As the song starts he says (I assume referring to Mech’s guitar) “this is a Hawaiian guitar that’s autographed by Ben Harper.”  ( I had no idea Ben Harper was noteworthy back in 1997).  There’s a weird electronic drumbeat through the song, and the music is primarily guitars–gentle and smooth.

Martin shouts, “Its’ been great playing in our home town–Toronto!”  They play a long version of “My First Rock Show” with a lengthy introductory instrumental section.  Near the final verse, he whispers the “many years later” section and someone shouts “bird in a cage” at the right time.  As the song ends they play the chorus of Trooper’s “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time).”

“California Dreamline” is quite extended as well.  After the first verse there’s a dance jam before the second verse begins.  The middle has a kind of vocal jam with a light bass and guitar motif and everyone singing different parts in a fugue state.  It’s a weirdly unique version.  At the end Martin says, “That was ‘California Dreamline,’ we’re going to do ‘Record Horse Count’ next.  They do neither and in fact play a really slow almost country-feeling version of “Claire.”  It’s so different sounding that they kind of mess it up here and there.

Things get quiet and then people start clapping along and you can barely hear them playing an acoustic un-mic’d version of “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  Dave says the name of the song “for those of you who could hear it.  You kind of understand why you use microphones.”  Tim starts talking about the band Farm Fresh. “They had a similar kind of thing with their Peanuts and Corn record [what?] and apparently they’re supposed to be releasing a new record, is that right?  They’ve made two cassettes and they are both for sale and are both really good.”  Dave: “Whats with that T-shirt, Tim?”  “Free with every cassette sold.”

Someone shouts again, “We’re looking for some fun.”  Dave: “Are you?”  And they launch into “Fishtailin'” which opens with that lyric.

After the song Dave asks “What is the time, late or early or what?  What time do bars say open til  4?  5?  [Shouts of four and Five] Tim: According to the new mega city law they close at 1 [boooos], so we’ve got half a song left.

They surprise ever one with “Bees,” a short quiet song with Martin making bee-like sounds on his guitar.  It leads to a long, quiet intro for “Michael Jackson” with Martin still doing some cool guitar sounds.  The whole beginning is slow and a little odd, with Dave singing “but an auto-bon would be better.”  And later, “Elvis is king because he’s dead.”  In the middle of the song Dave starts “rapping” and he says “I’d like to call Pip Skid (I assume) to the stage.  Pip Skid from Manitoba does a rap that’s kind of hard to hear.  Then there’s some soaring guitars from Martin.  The whole song is 11 minutes long and ends in a vocal jam that grows ever quieter.  Martin sings “It feels good to be alive” (hitting great falsettos) while the others are singing snippets and oh yeas.

They play an 11 minute “Dope Fiends” which has a bass and drum solo in the middle as well as just a drum solo later.  After 8 and a half minutes the band keeps going with some simple rocking.  At the end Martin says, “Thanks guys for giving me a second chance.” [?].

They leave the stage for the encore with a drum machine blipping away.  They come back with the drum machine still playing and someone plays a slow meandering guitar line. Another instrumental jam for 3 or so minutes before Dave says, “We’ll play one more.”  He also says that they’ll have their live album out by Christmas (stocking stuffers!).  And they end the show with a great non-nonsense version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”

This is a wonderfully atypical show for the band.  A real treat for fans and an interesting entry point for fans of jamming shows.

The next Rheostatics show that I’ll mention will be in 2001!

[READ: March 16, 2017]  “The Pickle Index”

This story is written in a fascinating way.  There are newspaper articles from The Daily Scrutinizer (written by Mark Hamper) and with them, there is the Pickle Index, a series of recipes.  In fact, it’s a recipe-exchange network “for citizens by citizens.”   Daily participation is mandatory (though surely that’s unnecessary since the treats within are so tasty).

From the Scrutinizer we learn that the official strike team has captured Zloty Kornblatt,the instigator, conspirator and fomenter. He brought a troupe of “performers” into the village to mock, destabilize and cause anarchy.

The Pickle Index begins with Fisherman’s Dills (by Sarafina Loop)–brine-ing cucumbers in the ocean.  And then comes Hollow Gherkins by Flora Bialy.  Although midway through the recipe, it shifts directions and talks about Zloty.  How he left them last night and the writer, Flora Bialy wonders why–was it their incompetence or was it her?  She says that once, years ago Zloty’s team was a real circus with clowns, a trapeze and roasted nuts, but now they were reduced to an extended residency in Burford. (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-Marine Midland Arena (November 26, 1996).

I’m not sure how many shows Rheostatics opened for The Tragically Hip, but there are quite a few of them available on Rheostatics Live.   I’m also not exactly sure where the tour took these bands, but this show in Buffalo is the only live recording on the entire Rheostatics Live site that was recorded in the U.S.

It’s interesting how different the band sounds in an arena–not their playing, just the bigness of their music.  The fans are clearly there for the Hip (you can hear lots of chanting of Hip! Hip! Hip!which is either obnoxious or fun, depending.  But they get a good reaction at least on recording,

They opened the show to “ding dong the witch is dead” from the Wizard of Oz.   There’s no graceful segue into the music, Martin just starts playing “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”

This is a weird song (that I love).  It’s 8 minutes long with many different parts and no real catchy melody at all.  What a strange choice to play open an arena show as an opening act in the States.

In fact six of their eight songs comes from their new album.  This makes sense, except that they have actual hits that they could have played for potential fans, right?  Whatever, the show is great and the quality is mostly good.  Occasionally there’s some audible talking by (obnoxious, presumably drunken) men over the quiet parts.  But it’s not too bad.

They play a really good “Fat.”  Then Dave introduces the band in this way:

We’re the Rheostatics from Toronto, Canada.
We’re B.T.O. from Red Deer, Alberta.
We’re The Spoons from Burlington, Ontario.
We are every Canadian band that ever was and some that haven’t even been born yet.

The play “Motorino” which is about a motorcycle or scooter and dedicated it I believe to Brad May, the Buffalo Sabres player.

Tamara Williamson joins them for “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  She and Martin sound great together.  It’s a bummer that during the quiet opening you can hear some meathead complaining about something–best not listen too closely to find out what.  There’s some loud tussling but it subsides.  The song has a great ending–although Martin doesn’t quite pull off the roaring guitar sound after the final Rich.  Strangely, he breathes very heavily into the mic after the song.

Don says “So far all of these songs have been from our brand new record.  And this next one is too.  And I think the only place it’s available in the States is right here in the lobby.”  They play a great “Bad Time to Be Poor” and I feel like Tim emphasizes the “don’t give a shit no more” line.

They finally play an older song with “Self-Serve Gas Station.”  Before playing the final song Dave says “To all those people in the cheap seats, we can hear your cheers.  We appreciate them.”  The final song is “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson.”  Way back when, this was the first song that I’d heard by them and I was instantly hooked.  I had to wonder if the Buffalonians felt the same way.  Although it’s interesting that instead of shouting “Michael” the first time around, Dave shouts “Triumph!”

During the verse, Dave says, “I see two angels with funny lights on their heads in the 11th row.  It’s like some kind of dream or something.”

Rather than doing their cool dissonant harmony ending, they gently fade the song out.  Its’ a very different ending and quite pretty.

It’s a solid 40 minutes of new material.  I’m also intrigued to see that they played a different set almost entirely at each future show.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “Boat Trouble”

This is The Walrus‘ Summer Fiction Issue with new fiction & poetry from 6 writers in total.  I won’t be reviewing the poetry, but I’ll be talking about the three short stories.

Stories in The Walrus have been on the dark side lately but while this one was a source or trouble for the characters, it was more dangerous than disheartening.  Except for the fact that the main character was a woman who was stupid enough to get involved with a cocky know-it-all who almost got them killed (and, even worse, apparently stayed with him for a time after that).

She was a native of Georgian Bay and she met François, a Parisian, at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas.  They maintained a long distance relationship and eventually she invited him out to the Bay. (more…)

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