Tuesday, March 8, 6:47 p.m.
Back in Regina. Got in late last night. The plan was to have a nice restful day off before I go to the show tonight and back to work tomorrow. That was booked before my car developed a nasty shake a week or so ago. So instead, I got up early to drive the car to the shop. In between dropping it off and picking it back up (and dropping nearly $1,200 in the process HECK YEAH CARS ARE GREAT), I spent the day on foot, eventually racking up 27,767 steps and 21.33 kilometres. Now I’m sleepy and my feet are sore. And I have conflicting information about whether the doors open at 7:00 or 7:30, with the show starting at either 7:30 or 8:00. I’m aiming for 7:45 or so. If I miss some or all of “local opener” Scott Richmond, let’s all assume he was fantastic.
I am trying to find the source of that “local opener” description but not finding it. I remember thinking it was funny in the way it was completely accurate yet went out of its way to say nothing at all.
I had some cookies an hour or so ago. Should I eat some real food y/n
Decided on a not-very-spicy southwest beans n’ rice frozen dinner. It made my nose run. Blew my nose and now I gave myself a nosebleed hahahahahaha friggin’ tremendous
Made it. Hemorrhaging abated. At a table in the back of the Exchange with a Diet Pepsi and pockets full of emergency Kleenex.
They don’t seem in a hurry to start, though. No standing area. Most tables have candles. Kind of nice atmosphere, really.
Okay NOW we’re starting.
My nose has had better evenings. No more bleeding but it feels unpleasant. It is unsettling. I’m unsettled.
Tangientially and facially related: if you ever wondered how many days I can go without shaving before the itching becomes unbearable, it is 5.5. I might try to keep this going though.
It turns out that Local Opener Scott Richmond was real good! I just bought his first CD. He’s here tonight, taking a break from recording his second. Guitar and harmonica with occasional stomping tonight, though he normally has a full band (who were here manning the stuff table). He’s battling tonsillitis (with apple cider vinegar, which he discussed in detail) but his voice sounded fine to me. Good sense of humour when talking, largely (but not exclusively) sad songs when singing. Dude writes good songs and likes to talk and likes to tell us what the lyrics of his songs are.
I said “good” too much. He probably doesn’t mind. I also used too many parentheses. Dunno if he’d have an opinion about that.
He tried to get us to sing at one point and it didn’t work so well so he got an extensive case of the giggles. Aside from that, the crowd was surprisingly attentive. Bodes well for the main attraction.
Our host, Eric Anderson, is a radio host from the CBC who’d driven down from Saskatoon for the opportunity to see Amelia Curran. His enthusiasm is more authentic than we get from the usual CBC “climate specialists” that normally host these things.
And as if on cue, he’s back! I didn’t win the 50/50. Unsurprising as I didn’t buy a ticket.
For the record, I was at 28,380 steps before significant clapping began. Will report back later.
Wednesday, March 9, 12:47 p.m.
I don’t have exact numbers but I clapped somewhere around 700 steps. Exercise is easy.
Anderson’s story about how he discovered Amelia Curran’s music was cute and had a solid punchline. He was upstaged by the wee lass who helped him with the 50/50 draw, though. She won everyone over, including Curran.
I haven’t gone back to look at my review from last year but I think it would be much the same as this one. Very similar setlist with a big portion drawn from They Promised You Mercy (not too surprising as she hasn’t had a newer album since then) and she told the same story about The Mistress and… hm. Okay, let me go look at the old one.
::looks at old one::
Dang, I had nothing to say that time either. Huh. Okay, well, she was real good again. Seemed a little nervous again. Made some jokes about how sad most of her songs are (and how happy they can sound and how it can be hard to tell). It took three guys to get her guitar working at the start of the show (“Happy International Women’s Day,” she quipped, before telling an abbreviated version of her life story to fill time). She messed up the start of one of her songs and made the band restart (“Hold on, I know this, I wrote it”) – just one of those moments like that make the live experience unique and fun. Though I guess it’s really only somewhat unique since I’ve seen some version of a do-over on three shows so far this year.
I had to put this away for work (booooo) and had high hopes of coming back this evening to wrap things up with a thrilling conclusion. That doesn’t look to be happening. Both folks were good. Would go see both again. I think that was already covered.
In lieu of a proper conclusion, I will share an anecdote. Our scheduled I Mother Earth show got cancelled because they brought their old lead singer back (much to Jeff’s chagrin) and need more time to get ready, or at least that’s how the nice man from the casino explained it to me. They’ll be coming through in the fall but it was refund-only, no option to save my tickets for then. With said refund, I thought about buying tickets to see David Francey next week, believing him to be one of the New Pornographers, but it turns out that David Francey and Todd Fancey are very different people so I didn’t do it.
That story was much better inside my head than outside of it.
Alternate closing anecdote: I was on the plane to Regina the other day, waiting for takeoff, when it seemed that two folks had been assigned the same seat.
“You are going to Regina, right?” said one.
The other one tore-assed it off that plane as fast as he could. The look on his face was the most perfect combination of WTF and OMG I have ever seen. It was kind of like
…but you’d have to make the colon extra-bold for maximum accuracy.
Aaron later suggested that the dude just didn’t want to go to Regina. Fair enough – who does? – except his planned destination was Brandon, which I’d have to think is worse?
Two more Brandon-bound folks later found their way onto our plane. Maybe if you’re loading two planes from the same gate at once, you should check tickets at the plane door?
I learned the phrase “tore-assed it” from a Calgary newscast. Some guy claimed he tore-assed it to the window when he heard gunfire. If it was “I tore ass to the window,” at least the usage would be familiar to me. But either way, I don’t know if I want to be interviewed on the news for tearing ass regardless of context.
I don’t ever watch the news at home, but I see enough news when in Calgary to be irrationally upset that their weatherman shaved off his mustache.
Somehow this review devolved into some kind of throwback LiveJournal update. Not even one of the good ones with barely-concealed passive-aggressive drama, or at least some kind of desert island discs meme or “Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong To?” quiz. Just one of those obligatory “haven’t updated in a few days and have nothing to talk about except how little I have to talk about” posts.
I spent an hour on that closing bit. I think it might be bedtime.
• The Watchmen (March 25)
• Metric & Death Cab For Cutie w/Leisure Cruise (March 28)
• Spirit of the West (March 31)
• Sloan (April 9)
• Jason Collett & Zeus w/Kalle Mattson (April 19)
• Ben Folds & yMusic w/Dotan (May 11)
• Hawksley Workman & The Art of Time Ensemble (May 13)
• City and Colour w/Shakey Graves (June 12)
• Regina Folk Festival (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
There are shows where I think “dang, I am not going to have anything to write about.” This was one of those times. The sum total of what I knew about Amelia Curran is that Mika liked her. Mika also liked the opener, Ryan Boldt, about whom I knew precisely one other thing, which is that he is the lead singer of Deep Dark Woods. I know one song that they do, and it’s off a compilation album. So clearly we were off to a fine start.
One thing I did not know is if I’d actually seen Amelia Curran before. The answer would become clear to me later on, but she’s one of those people I’ve heard about forever, you know? The kind of person who would maybe tour with someone else I like, or who would play at the Folk Festival – this show was part of the Festival concert series, in fact. But while it seemed plausible, a quick scan of old reviews reveals that her only mention was from when we were supposed to see her at Junofest but she was playing at the Six Shooter event that we couldn’t get into, so now I’m mad about that, and that’s awesome.
We got to the Exchange with plenty of time to get good seats. The place got pretty busy but never truly filled up. Having room to move and breathe delighted me, but later on, I just felt bad for people who missed out. But I will get to that. If I cannot fill this review with shenanigans, I will at least take up space with repeated foreshadowing.
Mark did not miss out. With about 15 minutes left before the show started, it struck me to text him and let him know that we were at the Exchange and that he should pop by if he was bored at home. I assumed he’d be off cutting up a deer or something – unlike me, Mark has hobbies – and in no way did I actually expect a response of “Save us seats. On our way.” but I was delighted to receive it. The Artistic Director of the Folk Festival introduced the show; this always involves the reading of a long list of upcoming concerts and a longer list of sponsors. That gave Mark and Arlette precious extra minutes which enabled them to take their seats just as the show was starting.
Ryan Boldt played a selection of Deep Dark Woods songs, as well as traditional songs from his album Broadside Ballads. I mean, I’m assuming he did. Like I’d know? It seems like a safe thing to say. He played guitar and was accompanied by another guitarist, and it was a relatively laid-back affair. After the first few songs, Boldt got a little chattier with the crowd, with a dry delivery that made him come across quite likeable.
Not so likeable? Bram. What a dick that guy turned out to be.
Anyway, I thought he was real good. If you want an assessment of this performance from people who actually know things about things, Mark said that Boldt was worth the admission price by himself, and at one point during the show, Mika disappeared for a minute and came back with his album. Unanimous approval from our little crew.
Between sets, Mark chatted with Boldt while Arlette took a picture of a sweater (I know that is not exactly the right word for what this thing was) with a bulldozer on it. I am not sure who made better use of their time. I took the opportunity to pee, so maybe me?
As soon as Amelia Curran took the stage, I realized that I had never seen her before, because I would have remembered someone that charming and funny and delightful. And also I apparently have been pronouncing her last name wrong for as long as I’ve known of her existence and I like to think that I would have fixed that somewhere along the way had I known.
Anyway. She was great! I am a lyrics guy and she writes great songs.
(Let us take a moment to praise both The Exchange and the sound guy here. I could hear the singer clearly! Fine work! I wish all venues and techs, respectively, were like you.)
Great songs. Yes. As with Boldt, I was entirely unfamiliar with the music going into the evening, but I am listening to her newest album now (“They Promised You Mercy,” which Mika also bought) and she played pretty much all of these. And I know she played The Mistress because she mentioned the title when introducing the song with a fun story that I won’t spoil here. iTunes lists this as her #1 most popular single. Maybe you know it? I did not but it was real good.
Curran was backed by a full band that was as good as they were untalkative. The drummer declared at one point that he was “good,” or maybe “fine,” I forget. Beyond that, they let Curran do all the talking, which was fine because she came across really well on stage. She seemed a bit nervous in an endearing way with a great sense of humour and I was totally disappointed in my fellow Reginans that more people didn’t laugh at the Simpsons reference. But she did promise/threaten a series of Kiss covers which didn’t materialize (in favour of “more sad songs about my feelings”) and I did think it was a shame we missed out on something that Mike would consider so sacrilegious.
Overall, this night was one of the great underdog success stories of the SLCR series. I hung out with good people and got introduced to new favourites and in a no-drunken-shenanigans, infrequent-chicken-fingers era, what more can one ask for? (Aside from drunken shenanigans and chicken fingers, I mean.) I knew Dan Mangan would be in the running for my show of the year, and I have high hopes for Joel Plaskett, but we have a new surprise contender. The year is off to a good start.