Five years ago – almost to the day – I saw Kim Churchill at the Exchange because Mo Kenney was opening. I didn’t know who he was and was prepared to skip out early, but I wound up really enjoying his set and bought some CDs. You’d think I’d be more prepared for this show as a result, but no. Haven’t listened to those CDs in forever. Didn’t stream any of his new stuff. Really, I bought these tickets based on half-remembered feelings of having a good time. And also they were pretty cheap.
The show was at the Artesian, and nothing of interest happened in the lead-up to the show or the drive there or finding our seats or whatever. I mean, Mika and I sat in our usual spot, then moved to a slightly different spot in hopes of a better view, but you likely don’t care about that. Even though it mostly worked (there are tall people everywhere).
The openers were Victoria folk duo Ocie Elliott. Dude on guitar, lady on keyboard (more specifically, a Mellotron), neither one is named Ocie or Elliott. They were very laid-back and I was amidst conflicting opinions. One person sitting near me said that he had come to the show already as a fan (they were here opening for Carmanah in February, apparently), but this set had been completely won him over and spent the whole time “fangirling” – his word. Another absolutely hated them, with a wide range of complaints (mostly funny ones) that I really don’t need to repeat since I don’t want to unfairly influence anyone who might read this before seeing them. Maybe I’m getting tame in my old age. Or maybe “absolutely hated them” about covers it and the details are not necessary. As for me, I wound up somewhere in between the two, both physically and opinionally. I thought it was mostly pleasant if completely forgettable. I did come dangerously close to falling asleep a few times. Two songs into Kim Churchill, I realized that I had no recollection of what Ocie Elliott sang about. So yeah, somewhere in the middle, leaning towards “not my thing.”
Intermission. Mika left for the washroom and asked if I wanted anything if she stopped at the bar on the way back. I said sure, not actually expecting anything because who wants to deal with lines? Apparently she did and we had ciders. I like ciders. My favourites are the ones that taste like bubbly apple juice because I don’t drink grown-up drinks.
The first thing you notice about Kim Churchill is that he’s a really good guitarist. Or maybe it’s that he’s an Australian hippie. There are two types of Australians, I think; the Kim Churchills and the Crocodile Dundees. The Yahoo Seriouses and the That Guy From The 80s Energizer Ads. Steve Irwin might have been both, doubtless contributing to his enduring popularity.
I digress. Guitar. Real good at it. And sampler pedals and occasional harmonica. Very earnest songs. Very positive. Seems like a good dude. Barefoot (see above re: uneducated stereotypes regarding Australian hippies). It turns out shoes aren’t required for sampler pedals. I really enjoyed this set. Not as much as one lady who was sitting up near the front who recorded much of the show and cheered like mad for her favourite songs, but I had a good time.
That said, I’m not sure I see a future deviation from the established pattern: see Kim Churchill, enjoy show, kind of forget about it until he comes back to town, repeat. I suppose that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but he sells a ticket every time out, and I get to be pleasantly surprised each time.
A guy named Kim and a girl named Mo walk into a bar. They put on a good show and everyone has a good time.
I am the worst at jokes.
Mo Kenney is a protégé of sorts of Joel Plaskett. Mika and Other James and I saw her last year and it was good times. She has a new album out and I like it. And Kim Churchill is Australian. Now you are caught up, or at least as caught up as I was.
Kenney also played the Regina Folk Festival this year, but not while I was there. Other James had backstage passes for the weekend and he got to chat with her for a bit. He said she was very nice and very gracious, even when mainstage host Al Simmons said “Mo Kenney – that guy is great!” This story made me laugh much harder than it should have. When I told Mika, it had a similar effect. I guess we will take any excuse to make fun of Al Simmons, who is still much better as a festival host (and probably all other areas of life) than Bubba B The MC. PHOTO OP PHOTO OP PHOTO OP PHOTO OP
Oh well. They can’t all be Fred Penner.
Anyway. I’ve been complaining about bands skipping over Regina, so I’ve been trying to make a point of going to more shows. The best way to get more bands to come here is to go see the ones who do, right? But it’s cold now, and I get lazy, and it’s real easy to bail out if I haven’t made concrete plans. So in a moment of enthusiasm – by which I mean while I was briefly awake and energetic and aware of my surroundings – I popped online to buy a ticket to this show. There have been times when I was willing to take the financial hit by skipping out, and I’m sure it will happen again, but buying in advance in moments of enthusiasm helps the odds.
If you read the MBF review, this evening started off much the same. Mika went to school. I took a bus downtown. Walked through the cold to The Exchange. Bought an iced tea when I got there. The cold is colder now, with no way to avoid wearing a parka, but there were lots of open seats so I had someplace to park my coat. And my butt. I appreciated having a place for both. I sat around for a bit, probably getting caught up on iPhone games (it’s been several weeks since this show – I really don’t know what I did – but that’s almost always a pretty good guess at concerts) (and at home, at work, in airports, at funerals, etc.) until Mark and Other James arrived. We chatted for a bit before they found their pals and took their seats.
Kenney was here with a band this time. I don’t know if it was having a few other people on stage with her, or if it was just the result of a year of recording and touring, but she came across much more confident this time out. Beyond that, her show felt much the same as the one the year before despite the addition of a new album’s worth of songs. This is not a bad thing! I liked both shows; there were just no real surprises this time (apart from the story of the drawing on the drum, which I’ll keep to myself so as not to wreck the eventual comic book). They played many of the same songs as last time, including the same covers of Shakin’ All Over and Five Years. I suppose her new single Telephones is a cover too, but I didn’t know that until yesterday (it’s by a band named Mardeen, who I had never heard of until writing this very sentence) so it doesn’t count. Because I get to decide what counts. I’m listening to the Mardeen version right now and it’s good! So we’re all learning something here today. Or maybe I’m slow and thus the only one.
The hits from the last album – Déjà Vu and Sucker – got the big reactions, of course. And I don’t believe she played my favourite song from the new album – Take Me Outside – so that will be something to look forward to for next time.
Between sets, a dude walked through the crowd selling Kenney’s CDs. I admired the hustle – don’t wait for me to come to the stuff table, bring the stuff to me! I already had both of Kenney’s albums, but I’d see that salesman again later.
During the break, I got to chat some more with Mark. I had bought my ticket to see Kenney and really knew nothing about Kim Churchill. I was prepared to give the guy a shot but was also quite willing to leave early if I wasn’t into it. Mark echoed my sentiments. He then told me that he couldn’t come to the Buck 65 show the following night because he had plans. These plans included “setting up a craft show” and “cutting up a deer.” I think we live very different lives. Mine has much less venison.
Kim Churchill looks Australian. He has Australian hair. If that makes you think of Yahoo Serious on the box for the Young Einstein videotape, 1) you’re wrong, but not by as much as you might think, and 2) when did we get so old?
Unlike Kenney, Churchill was alone on the stage, but though he was just one man, he was indeed a one-man band. He played guitar and sang, wore a harmonica on a harness around his neck, played drums and sampling pedals with his feet, and had some chimes set up by his elbow. I on the other hand, cannot pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. I was impressed enough that he could do this at all, and then it turned out he was really good on top of it. Dude can play. And I just tested that patting/rubbing thing and wound up punching myself in the balls and poking an eyeball.
Seriously, Churchill put on a great performance. I couldn’t tell you what he played, apart from recognizing the one song I’d listened to one time before the show (Window to the Sky). Didn’t matter. This was great. I recorded a video of one song and put it up on YouTube. No idea what the song is called. Don’t care. Great. You should watch it, and if he ever comes to your town, you should go. There should have been more people there for this.
I caught up with Mark and Other James after the show and they were both suitably blown away. Mark picked up all three Churchill CDs, as the salesman cut him a package deal. They left, and I browsed the stuff table while waiting for Mika to come and get me. I decided to pick up a CD. “Which one?” asked the salesman. I had no idea so I went for the newest one. The salesman smelled blood and pretty soon I had the package deal too. I can’t even be upset about it. He did his job amazingly well. And as I only had $48 in cash on me, I got the CDs for $2 less than Mark did. VICTORY!
With time to spare, I decided to talk to Churchill for a minute and get my CDs signed. By this point, there were only a handful of people left in The Exchange. I was patiently waiting my turn when I was joined by someone who I had never seen before in my life.
If Cathy reads this, she will tell me that the following story would only ever happen to me. I think she might be right.
So. Bald guy. About my height. Has a mustache that he doesn’t appear to be fully committed to so I assume it was for Movember. He’s drinking a beer. And he says to me, “Fuck, man, what a great fuckin’ show, man. That song about the darkness? Fuck, man, I’ve been there. I was out by fuckin’ Radville earlier today, and I blew a fuckin’ tire, so man, I’m fuckin’ lucky to be alive.”
At this point I was convinced that this fellow was the most fascinating man I had ever met. I was also a little bit terrified. But mostly fascinated.
“Man, you never fuckin’ know. Like that song about the fuckin’ darkness? It’s fuckin’ out there, but music, man, music will help you fuckin’ keep it together. Music can save your fuckin’ life, man. It saved mine.”
“I was in a persistent vegetative state for three months and when I woke up, I didn’t recognize my own father. But they gave me a toilet paper tube, right? And I could do my fingering exercises from when I used to play the violin.”
He demonstrated on an invisible toilet paper tube.
He then asked if I was musical (no, though I’ve never made an honest effort to try to be) and told me about some of the groups he plays with. One of them sounded familiar and I asked if we might know the same person – one of my workplace’s multitude of Dougs.
“YOU KNOW DOUGIE?!”
Kim Churchill was now waiting to talk to us. I will always very much wonder what he thought of this whole situation. We all chatted for a bit but I quickly took my leave as Mika showed up, and besides, my enthusiastic new best friend had loads of questions about Churchill’s stage setup and I had nothing to contribute to this conversation. But I will always remember the last thing I heard him say: “So THAT’S where the fuckin’ snare comes from!”