A successful day in the big (sh)city for me and my Dad! Lots to tell, but it’s late, I did a lot of driving and walking (I’m tired) and there’s work and getting the kids to school in the morning… Still, the least I can do is report back on today’s adventures real quick…
Traffic was non-existant (Mike, our next trip should be on a Sunday!), the weather said rain but we got sunny and warm, and the city was alive with people and festivals and awesome.
Parked up at Bloor, saw that Honest Ed’s is gone. The signs are still there but the store is empty. End of an era. I hit up BMV and Dad went off and did his thing. I could have spent SO much in BMV, it’s crazy. Really quality stock, as always. I was thrilled to see they have turned all their CDs with spines up so you can scan the titles without flipping – an excellent development. I didn’t get a whole of time with the LPs, but they have a ton…
Here are my BMV Scores (all CD):
Soooo much greatness here, eh? Wowzers!
NB: The Iron & Wine, Chuck Brown/Eva Cassidy and Jeff “Tain” Watts came from the 3-for-$10 bin.
NB: I wish Watts had a song called “Bartók” on his Bar Talk album. Alas, he does not. Missed opportunity, that.
Dad and I then met at Paupers for lunch (awesome as always), and walked down through the Annex to Chinatown. Kensington Market was jammed with people, as some sort of Art Festival was going on. The whole area was blocked off to cars, and people were dancing and singing and doing things (one lady was a Poet For Hire. Give her money and a topic, and she would type you out a new poem on the spot on her old Underwood). I hit up Sonic Boom while Dad went off and did his thing.
My Sonic Boom Scores (all CD):
Holy mackerel, what a pile of awesome! And again, as is always the case with Sonic Boom, several of these were either $0.99 or $2.99. And I could have spent soooo much more in there, too. I had a basket full and made myself go through and put stuff back. It was painful.
NB: The Buddy Guy is a high school nostalgia grab for me. I loved that set then, and I bet I will now.
NB: The 10,000 Maniacs was one I said I’d watch for when I put Quit on the three records of theirs I have (during their All The Everything series post, a while back). And here it is! It’s a hits disc and a rarities disc together. Right on.
NB: Granelli is a jazz drummer. DJ Stinkin’ Rich is a Buck 65 alias. Oh baby.
NB: The Evens includes Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi). With my three (3!) Fugazi scores at BMV as well, it was an Ian MacKaye kind of day.
NB: Though it was new CD full price, the Cowboy Junkies had to come home. Check out who guests on it: Skydiggers, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett, Doug Paisley, Lee Harevy Osmond, The Good Family, Martin Tielli & Dave Clark, The Screwed, Reid Jamieson, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, The Potion Kings, Ivy Mairi… Wow!
NB: The Greg MacPherson… I texted James did he need it, it was only $0.99. Nope, he had it already and likes it alot, said I should get it for myself and if I didn’t like it, he would give me $0.99. Challenge accepted!
NB: The Jam tribute is cool. Yes, it has Oasis twats on it, but it has Beastie Boys too so that makes it all better.
So then we walked back up to the car, blasted out of town. Quick bite to eat in Orangeville (watching some of the Memorial Cup hockey game on TV – Windsor beat Erie 4-3), then home.
And there you have it. A busy day encapsulated in one short-ish post. You’ll see all of these albums in the All The Everything series, eventually. At least now you know from whence they came. Also, sad to report I did not find one single Grail List item for anyone. Sorry, folks. I tried! I really did (the list was in my phone)! Ah well, next time.
Ah hell crap dammit I have three of these things to do. I want to do other things but I also don’t want to have FOUR of these particular things, so here we go.
I just looked up my last Greg MacPherson review and it was from four years ago and I can’t even fathom that. I’m fine with being 40, I can handle any of the “Want to feel old? _____ came out _____ years ago” posts (though the idea that Snakes on a Plane has been around for a decade is a bit disconcerting), but four years since that concert? Really? I do not understand how this is possible.
I remember that show well. It was an intimate setting (the first show I saw at the Artful Dodger) and a fantastic performance, one that made me into much more of a fan than I’d been going in. I know he’s come back through town a few times since then, but he has a knack for showing up on nights when I’m already booked. Also, he really seems to like to play here around tax time, much to Jeff’s frustration.
I actually had a ticket to see him earlier this year, but I would have had to go by myself, it was him sharing the stage with a few other folks to talk about songs (the format actually sounded really neat, but it wasn’t really what I was after), and it was up against a UFC PPV so I sat it out. Sometimes I am fine with going to shows by myself and sometimes I am very not. Regardless, I was glad that he came back through town so I’d get the chance to see him.
Like the last show, this was my first time at a new venue – this time, Creative City Centre. I feel like Stefon describing where it is: “Located above a jazz club situated in a former shoe store in Regina’s downtown, this place has everything.” But then it trails off because it has two flights of narrow stairs, a dozen tables, bowls of pretzels, and Jeff and his friend, who beat me there. No human Roombas.
But seriously, this is a really tiny space. I said that the Artful Dodger show was intimate, but that place holds twice as many people. I’d have to think 50 people would sell out Creative City Centre unless they pulled the tables out.
Possibly the highlight of the night came when the lady who (I think) runs the place opened the show by listing off all the upcoming events. She got to the guitar jam, where guitarists of all skill levels come together to play and learn and talk guitar… stuff. Anyway, they’re going to hold Regina’s largest ever guitar jam in the park downtown, and they’re all going to play the Experience Regina song – making this four straight public events I’ve attended with Jeff where that song has come up. I don’t know if I should take him with me everywhere? Or would that just jinx things?
Our opening act was a collabo of two local artists, Dan Holbrow and Leo Keiser, about whom I knew pretty much nothing at all. I still know very little. They played six or eight songs with the two switching off on vocals. Keiser had a song called “I’m Bored and You’re an Asshole,” which is, I guess, really what a lot of songs are about, but I’ve never heard of one that outright said it before.
The venue filled up as the show went on, and it looked pretty close to capacity by the time Greg MacPherson started. Good for him, but that did prevent us from stealing a bowl of pretzels from a nearby unoccupied table. The only open spot was, oddly, front and centre, but MacPherson started off the show by insisting that someone move up from the back and sit at that table.
It was a very different show, possibly because it was a very different tour – not a tour at all, really. He and his partner were off to Edmonton for a wedding and he just picked up a few gigs along the way. He said he was out of practice and hadn’t even remembered to bring any records or CDs to sell us (to think, I raided Mika’s purse for nothing). His voice was a little hoarse and it did seem like he didn’t have a set list and was just going to play for as long as his voice would hold out.
Last time, he played all of his songs that I know and love. This was decidedly not that. The bartender had requested the song Heatwave; someone requested it at the last show too, and I didn’t know the song at that time. Here, it was the only song I’d heard before. Even Jeff, who knows much more of MacPherson’s music than I do, only recognized a few songs. It seemed like he was trying out a lot of new material, and he was talking a lot too – lots about the political climate and general state of things, both globally and on a local level.
So it was quite an interesting show, and whenever I see him play, I think “this dude is super good and I really need to listen to his music more often.” Just not quite the show I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing.
This was the kind of show that I just love – you go in with high expectations and they’re blown away.
I didn’t love only finding out about this show that morning. The Artful Dodger is a new venue and I haven’t yet gotten into the habit of checking their website or Facebook for upcoming shows. Luckily, the local indie paper’s website had my back. I assume the paper itself would have too, but reading one whole newspaper a week is hard, you guys.
Because of the last-minute discovery, I had to make the call – did we dare go out two evenings in a row? Sure, Friday isn’t a work night, but on the other hand, we’re old and lazy. Knowing that I’d likely want to wimp out if I went home after work, I made the call to buy tickets online and force our hand.
I love how I make “sitting on my ass listening to music” sound so much like hard work. No wonder I never learned how to actually play an instrument.
Mika met me downtown after work and we dined on the finest food court fare. I know how to treat a lady. (Also, I made her pay for her own.)
This mall trip was the best because the old lady who sounds like Carol Channing was back working the watch repair kiosk at The Bay. I hadn’t seen her there in months and was concerned that she’d retired. But no, she was there and I was so delighted that I made Mika replace her home security keyfob battery even though it wasn’t yet dead, just so we could talk to Carol Channing. (I made Mika pay for this too.)
Hey, I did pay for her ticket to the show. And I bought her a beer when we got there. Which is only fair, given that Greg MacPherson isn’t really her thing and she was only going to be nice.
Like I said, the Artful Dodger is a new venue – so new that it looks like they still have to finish up a few things. There looked to be some light fixtures that still needed to be installed, and the evening’s menu (beer, wine, pop, and wings) was a bit lacking. But it’s still very nice so far, with several rows of raised padded benches in a semi-circle in front of the stage. Between standing and seating areas, I bet you could fit 150 people in the place for a show before it really felt overcrowded.
By my count, there were probably about 75 people there for Greg MacPherson (with the standard caveat that I am terrible at estimating these sorts of things). This doesn’t sound like many, but we were the first two people to arrive and for a while, I was concerned that we’d be the only two. Depending on where you looked, it was either doors at 7:30, or doors at 7:00 and the show at 7:30. We got there at 7:15 which was probably too early, but on the other hand, we got personally greeted by Greg in the middle of his “extended soundcheck.” It was almost like having a private concert, albeit one with monotonous guitar and nonsensical lyrics.
Among the attendees were the couple who lived down the hall from me in the apartment. I used to see them at shows all the time, but it’s probably been over a year now. We briefly got caught up, which was way funnier than it should have been for reasons I probably shouldn’t put online. Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you. It’s a shame that these reviews have bitten me in the ass a half-dozen times (deservedly so, I might add) because I’m leaving out the best part.
Greg MacPherson started around 8:30 and like I said, this just blew me away. I’d seen him twice before – once at the 2004 Regina Folk Festival and opening for Hawksley Workman in Winnipeg in 2009 – but this show was so much better than either of those. It wasn’t a full band – just Greg on guitar and Rob Gardiner on drums – but they didn’t need anyone else. Greg’s an incredibly talented songwriter and we got a nice mix of songs from his earliest releases to new stuff that hasn’t made it onto a record yet.
The show really kicked into high gear with First Class, which might be my favourite song of his. He then began taking audience requests, and played most of them. Folks called out for Slow Stroke, Bankrobber, and Company Store, which was nice, because it spared me from having to do so. We got two out of those three, which is pretty good, since Greg remarked that those were the hardest ones to play. Another request was for Heatwave; this wasn’t a song I’d been familiar with, but Greg seemed really pleased that someone would ask for it and told us that he never played that one.
Before the last song, someone else yelled for Company Store. Greg explained that the song was really difficult for him to play because it was a true story; he’d written it for his grandparents and he played it whenever he was out east (he was born in the Maritimes) and it always broke him up, and… “well, I can’t NOT play it after building it up like that.” After warning us not to clap along because it might mess him up, he tore into Company Store for what he said was the first time in over a year. Absolutely intense and absolutely sensational. It put the show over the top from great to awesome.
On the way out, I stopped by the stuff table to pick up one of Greg’s records on vinyl. I shouldn’t take such delight in buying the last one that they had, but I’m a jerk like that. A great show and a great day – and to think, I’d have been satisfied just by spotting the watch-repair lady.