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My Father-In-Law’s Records

My father-in-law passed away a little over a year ago. We visit his grave every time we go home to visit the family. Our daughter often insists on taking flowers, so we do.

We haven’t been home (thanks to quarantine and the protocols we must follow here due to my lovely wife’s job), since Christmas. This past weekend, it got figured out and we finally went and had a (strictly-distanced) visit. It was incredibly good to get together.

During the visit, my mother-in-law said she’d been slowly going through a few things, over time, just clearing out and re-organizing in the house. She mentioned there were a couple of boxes of my father-in-law’s records in the back room, did I want to go through them and take anything I liked, before she took them to the Sally Anne? She wanted nothing for them, was just happy maybe some would find a good home, if I found any. She’d already kept any that she wanted, that was my first question. 

Now that’s a loaded question – of course, I’ll go through records anytime, but these are from family, and my lovely wife has many memories of being woken by loud country music from downstairs on many Sunday mornings. So, these have stories to them. My lovely wife went through them with me and told some stories as we went. It was mostly old country, and a few others.

Of course, I found a bunch that I knew I would play. My first instinct was to rescue them all, but storage being what it is, and knowing some of them I would never play, I forced myself to be selective. My lovely wife chose one to keep (the Elvis Christmas album, as it holds memories). 

Here are the 16 that I selected. All are in great shape (he kept his records in excellent condition):

Bobby Orr – The Two Sides Of Bobby Orr.

I mean, come on. A legend, talking hockey? Had to grab this!

 

 

 

 

Loretta Lynn – Fist City

Loretta rules, so this was a must. But I also got it because of the Corn Sisters’ cover of the title track. Greatness.

 

 

 

Waylon Jennings – Love Of The Common People, I’ve Always Been Crazy

This just looked cool. Young Waylon!

 

 

 

Johnny Cash – Original Golden Hits Vol. I

I might’ve already had this (and Vol. II) but I brought it home just in case.

 

 

 

Johnny Cash – Original Golden Hits Vol. II

Companion to Vol. I (above).

 

 

 

 

Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash Special: 20 Original Hits Vol. 1

Probably redundant to the Original Golden Hits sets (above), but I see Johnny, I rescue it.

 

 

 

Johnny Cash – The Johnny Cash Songbook: As Sung By Johnny Cash

More rescued Johnny.

 

 

 

Petula Clark – Colour My World / Who Am I

I like Petula. Lots of songs here that are new to me.

 

 

 

 

Beatles – Twist And Shout

My lovely wife wrote her name on the cover of this, as a kid, and said she probably got in trouble for it. And I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan, though I might slowly come around eventually. But still, a cool find.

 

 

Willie Nelson – Make Way For Willie Nelson

I love Willie Nelson, so this one was a no-brainer.

 

 

 

 

Jim Reeves – The Best Of Jim Reeves

This one reminds me of my own grandfather, who loved Jim Reeves’ songs. I have this on CD, to honour that, but on LP? Sure, why not.

 

 

 

Hank Snow – The One And Only, When Tragedy Struck, My Nova Scotia Home, This Is My Story (2LP)

I’ve never spent time with Snow’s work, so this was an opportunity to see what’s up.

***

These were my lovely wife’s, I just grabbed because why not:

Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi

Classic 80s fun!

 

 

 

 

Europe – The Final Countdown

Another classic 80s record. I’ll have fun playing the tracks other than the title track, as it was so huge and probably didn’t help form a full opinion of the band.

 

 

***

In Sum:

There were lots more records in the boxes, but many of them were old country records that, while I’ve seen them go through at work a thousand times, even then I’ve never felt the need to own them. And even free, here, and in great shape, I still let them go.

There were some Michael Jackson and Jackson 5, but that’s never been my thing, and my lovely wife said those were probably hers and she didn’t want them either. I did learn that Mick Jagger sang on a track of the Jackson Five’s Victory album. Still not enough for me to keep it, but cool.

I am honoured to give these records a new home, and whenever I play them, I will honour the memory that comes with them. RIP, Mike.

SLCR Social Distancing Special

Hello! I miss you. I hope you’re well and healthy, staying in touch with people at a rate that’s acceptable for you, and that your hands aren’t all cracked and dry from excessive washing.

We’re doing fine here. Staying home, playing Animal Crossing or clearing movies off the DVR. Sometimes I play Pokémon Go from the car at some of my favourite parking spots. I go to Safeway every 10 days or so, and one time I went to London Drugs just to buy an uncommon size of battery for the smoke detector, which legitimately felt thrilling. (They had sugar too!) I need a haircut and I’ve never been so caught up on laundry.

I’m working from home, if you want to call what I do “work.” It doesn’t feel particularly essential at the best of times, and these aren’t the best of times. At least, I really hope they aren’t. But I dutifully sit at my desk in my 70s basement with my coworkers Ken and Carl (a spider plant and our fabled cat, respectively) and send out emails to tell people to watch Schitt’s Creek. (Available on demand!)

It turns out that I have no opportunity to write concert reviews when there aren’t any concerts. Glass Tiger, Corb Lund, and Matthew Good all cancelled. Joel Plaskett and Alice Cooper rescheduled to the fall. I can’t imagine BA Johnston will be here this month, so I’m spared from feeling bad about being too tired to go. That leaves July’s old-man show of Canadian 90s rock icons and SLCR veterans The Tea Party, Moist, Big Wreck, and The Headstones. I’m hopeful that we can go see at least 25% of them, but I don’t expect it to happen.

Which leads me here! A lot of musicians I like are doing shows online and I’d like to signal-boost them a bit. I don’t really know how many I’m going to cover or when I’m going to post this or if I’m going to do more than one. I think the review parts will be pretty short since, for the most part, you should be able to check these out yourself if you’re really so inclined.


 

Geoff Berner (April 11, 2020)
concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvOQ8nxTPpQ
buy music: https://geoffberner.bandcamp.com/
but he’d rather you donate: https://www.comingtogethervancouver.org/

This show was recorded at Or Shalom synagogue, an appropriate venue for the klezmer half of Berner’s klezmer-punk music. I suspect it hasn’t played host to a lot of songs that translate into “Fuck the Police,” but I don’t know, I’ve never been to a synagogue before. Which reminds me of the time I tried to buy a button that said “Kiss me, I’m Jewish” at a garage sale because I wanted to lie for kisses, not thinking that most of the time, the owner of a “Kiss me, I’m Jewish” button would be an actual Jew, who in this case was very excited to meet me and curious as to why he’d never seen me at the synagogue before. But I digress.

Obviously, these productions won’t compare to actually going out to see live music. But despite the lack of audience and minimal crew, Berner put on quite the enjoyable hour-long set. There were techs handling audio and video with minimal hiccups, and someone “who lives in my house” (a son, I think?) manning a second camera that was able to get in closer. A small touch that made this a lot more watchable by not restricting us to one static viewpoint. The sound quality was good, and Berner seemed relaxed and in good spirits, jokingly playing to the imaginary crowd and telling stories about each song.

I’ve seen Berner many times before and he’s an acquired taste. Most of my friends who have tried to acquire this taste have failed. I watched this show with earbuds in while Mika watched TV and we were both happier that way. But who knows? Maybe you’ll enjoy a lefter-than-left-wing accordion player with a wry, pessimistic sense of humour and a penchant for playing the occasional song in Yiddish. He usually translates them as he goes along, you’ll be fine.


 

Ben Folds (April 18, 2020)
concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwSerpoR-o4
buy music: https://benfolds.bandcamp.com/

If you’ve got extra time to fill during this here shutdown, Ben Folds is your guy. He was supposed to be performing with Australian orchestras when this all went down. Due to ever-changing conditions, he found himself missing the window to return home to the US. No problem – he rented an apartment in Sydney, bought an electric piano and a webcam, and set up for weekly free performances every Saturday on YouTube at 5pm my time. That’s 7pm Eastern and Sunday morning in Australia; you figure out the rest.

If one show a week isn’t enough, sign up for his Patreon. $10/month gets you 3 additional weekly shows and 4 Rock This Bitch song downloads. (They’re improvised live songs. It’s a whole thing I could explain but won’t.) One of the extra shows is meant for musicians and music teachers, with an over-the-shoulder view showing how he plays certain songs. In another, he makes up songs with fan-submitted lyrics. The third is a Patreon-only request show, which – unlike the others – I’ve actually watched. He’s very game to try any song from his back catalogue, even if he has to look up the lyrics or listen to a snippet on his phone to remember what chord it’s in. There’s a lot of messing up and a lot of swearing.

On that note, the show linked above – his fourth weekly public concert since the shutdown – is titled “TRYING AGAIN” and opens with him on his phone, squinting at his computer, saying “the current resolution is not optimal – well then, tell me what fucking IS optimal?!” We’ve all been there. Ben’s also currently clean-shaven because he tried to trim his beard and messed it up. Very relatable.

Between notoriously poor Australian internet – basically, it’s like if my house was a country – and Folds having to do all his own setup and hands-on technical support, there can be some snafus with these. You never know when he’ll switch from one of his songs to an ad-libbed musical complaint about how the pedals are sliding away and that doesn’t happen with a real piano.

That said, this was a really fun show. With upgraded mics and camera, the sound and video quality have greatly improved since these began. But more importantly, Folds is a fan-friendly performer, taking requests from the illegibly scrolling chat, dropping fans’ names into songs, running a drinking game (take a drink every time he messes up) (do not do this, you’ll die), enjoying morning beers, and doing several greatest hits albums’ worth of songs in one medley. It’s intimate and unrehearsed and feels like just hanging out as much a concert.


 

BA Johnston: (April 25, 2020)
concert: https://www.facebook.com/groups/10859965103
buy music: https://bajohnston.bandcamp.com/

Before this was announced, I’d actually singled out BA Johnston as someone who wouldn’t be putting on streaming shows. He releases albums, sure, but you really need the full live experience to understand BA, and that includes significant crowd interaction. You need the beer and the sweat and the Cheezies and the sparklers and the screaming and the same jokes every time.

And yet, here we are. Airing live from This Ain’t Hollywood in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario (and with messages of support from owners of various bars that BA frequents, including Amigo’s in Saskatoon), BA did his best to put on his full live show in front of an audience of the two guys handling sound and video. The jokes, the costume changes, the whole schtick was still there. He even closed the set in the bathroom, though he did wrap things up with uncharacteristic sincerity and well wishes.

There was a long stretch of technical issues before everything began – feel free to skip that part. When they did get it working, both the sound and video were the weakest of the of the shows I’ve seen. Though I will say that I watched this in two halves – the first part live streaming to my TV, and the second on replay with headphones on my computer – and the sound came in a lot better on the replay. I’m not sure if the live showing was having bandwidth issues, or if I just don’t expect as much coming out of a little Facebook window.

The technical issues mean that if you’re new to BA Johnston, this might not be your best introduction, but that aside, it’s still a night of funny, catchy songs that will stick in your head for days – classics like GST Cheque, new ones like We’re All Going to Jail (Except Pete, He’s Gonna Die), and even unreleased songs from his upcoming album, Werewolves of London, Ontario. Plus, you’ll wind up way less sweaty than if you go see him in person, mostly because he can’t sweat on you if you’re watching at home on your Acer laptop.


 

Steven Page (May 2, 2020)
buy tickets: https://sidedooraccess.com/home
buy music: https://stevenpage.bandcamp.com/

This show was held over Zoom, that video conferencing software that was probably created by the same people who created this virus. It makes sense if you think about it. Follow the money, sheeple.

Side Door was founded by Dan Mangan to help touring musicians set up and sell tickets to house concerts. That’s not happening at the moment, so it’s pivoted to online shows. They’re not expensive – this was $8 US – but it helps make a little money while there’s no touring. A bunch of Canadian artists have been performing on there, including Terra Lightfoot, Said The Whale, Jill Barber, Danny Michel, Sarah Slean, and Mangan himself. And Steven Page. Which you likely figured out.

Zoom works well for this type of setup. The host takes up most of the screen, and viewers (at least the ones who don’t turn their cameras off like I do) appear in a row of little boxes at the top of the screen, not dissimilar to a Press Your Luck board. That said, you may have heard of Zoombombing, where hackers take advantage of Zoom’s many security flaws to invade conference calls. I watched Page’s show last week too, and mid-song, the chat suddenly got REAL racist, and one of the video streams began showing gay porn. So that was fun. They had more moderators this week, and there are added security steps for next week’s show. Which does nothing for you, since that show’s already sold out, but I bet there’ll be more shows, if you have eight bucks kicking around.

I had good plans to write up last week’s show but then a week went by and I, uh, didn’t. So you get this one instead. Both were fun, live from Page’s basement with him mostly playing guitar but also on keys for a bit. The sound is pretty good; I find the video a little choppy but I also have trash internet. There were songs spanning Page’s entire career, with a nice mix of Barenaked Ladies songs and all his solo stuff. Plus, since he was taking requests, it wasn’t just all the hits, which is either a big positive or a big negative for you.

Since you can’t just go watch this one, I’ll go through the setlist:

  • Shoebox (if you want to feel old, sing along with “you’re so 1990 and it’s 1994”)
  • Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank (Page noted that this might be the first time he ever played this song solo)
  • Manchild
  • In The Car
  • Break Your Heart
  • Jane
  • Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel (with a bit of So Political by Spirit of the West)
  • So Young, So Wrong, So Long
  • Over Joy
  • The War on Drugs
  • The Old Apartment (He messed this up over and over last week, and noted that he got requests to “play it right this week”) (He messed it up again and cracked himself up real good)
  • Powder Blue
  • Maybe You’re Right
  • What A Good Boy
  • White Noise
  • The Chorus Girl (I don’t know this one that well, but oh man, the chat was so happy he played this one. He talked a lot about what it was about. Then he had everyone unmuted so everyone could sing along with the “la la la” part and man, having 800+ people unmuted at once sounded like what you’d hear when you open the gates of hell. Then they tried muting everyone again – including Page – but a few people couldn’t be muted and didn’t know how to mute themselves and kept talking while the chat got super mad at them. Then the chat got hacked and racist.)
  • Enid

I thought this was good fun. Mika said it was fine. The cat didn’t appreciate being woken up.

This feels like a good place to stop for now. More to come.

Aaron’s Best Of 2019

Welcome to my 14th annual Best Of The Year post!

Turns out, according to my iTunes, that I only bought 9 new release albums from 2019. True, I haven’t been buying anywhere near as much, overall, but apparently what I did buy was mostly older releases.

* Interesting Fact: Fully 1/3 of my 2019 purchases were from Guided By Voices. In this way, we know that life is very good, indeed.

UPDATE: And if you saw my last post, you’ll know I was also gifted the latest Opeth (In Cauda Venenum) for Christmas, so I mention this only after the neat and tidy GBV math (above). And even though I love Opeth, and this is a great record, I’d already chosen my Best Album and I just haven’t heard the Opeth enough (I’ve only owned it for 3 days, at the time of this posting) to really get it into my blood.

***

When the list is short like this, it’s easy to remember what they all sounded like, my thoughts on them. And I can say without equivocation that I loved the hell out of all of these releases, for various and good reasons.

So now I gotta choose? Well, this year I’m just gonna choose the one I’ve played the most, the one most steeped into my brain. It’ll probably be high up on a lot of other peoples’ lists, too.

AARON’S BEST ALBUM OF 2019:

Tool – Fear Inoculum

It had to happen. I mean, just through 13 years’-worth of anticipation alone, they could have put out an album of the four of them farting and laughing for an hour and it still might’ve made the list. But no, this is a strong Tool album, full of moments of weirdness, moments of yeah we’ve heard that before (but it’s still solid), and moments of sheer brilliant genius and raw power that just keep me coming back again and again. Add in the fun packaging on this limited edition set (with the LCD packaging, et al.) and it’s a natural. Few bands draw as much love and hate as this band has/does, even fewer care as little about any of that as these guys do, bent as they are on their own twisted missions. Straight up, I loved it.

***

NB: Leonard Cohen has won my Best Album award four times since I started this annual project in 2006, more than any other winner (list of all previous winners below). And this year’s posthumous release was definitely in the running, especially considering we don’t know how many more Leonard releases (of new material) we’ll even have, going forward. I may change my mind in future, but here we are. You should still buy the Leonard, though, it’s awesome. RIP Leonard.

***

AARON’S BEST BOXED SET OF 2019:

Sloan – Navy Blues

Natch.

***

ALL THE OTHER KICK-ASS 2019 GOODNESS (In No Particular Order) (9):

Mounties – Heavy Meta
Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance
Hawksley Workman – Median Age Wasteland
Guided By Voices – Zeppelin Over China
Guided By Voices – Warp And Woof
Guided By Voices – Sweating The Plague
Flight Of The Conchords – Live In London
Baroness – Gold & Grey
Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

***

PREVIOUS YEARS’ WINNERS:

2018  Sloan – 12
2017  Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (Deluxe Edition)
2016  Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker / Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (tie)
2015  Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
2014  Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems / Sloan – Commonwealth (tie)
2013  Black Sabbath – 13
2012  Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
2011  Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Play The Blues: Live From Jazz At The Lincoln Center
2010  Jack Johnson – To The Sea
2009  Leonard Cohen – Live In London
2008  Metallica – Death Magnetic
2007  Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free / Immaculate Machine – Fables (tie)
2006  Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It

***

Thanks for Reading! All the very very best to everyone in 2020. Truly!

Merry Happy Christmas Holidays

Hey everyone, all the best and merry merry happy happy from James and Aaron this 2019 season!

I know content has fallen off around here from my (Aaron)’s end, but James is still providing the quality content we’ve loved for years and that’s the special sauce. No updates on when/if I’ll get back to this regularly, who knows, but it’s Christmas and I thought you might wanna see the music-related goodies that found their way to me this year… and oh, there was goodness!

Of course, there were other things… I mean, I got a new Tilley hat. My old one (from 1992, I think) is finally beaten enough to be a beach-only hat. So now I can wear this new one for 27 years before I need another new one! See you in 2046, Tilley! Best hats ever. And I got a boxed set of DVDs of 5 Kurosawa films I haven’t ever seen, and that’s solid gold. I love Kurosawa. A few other goodies too, like a subscription to my hockey magazine, and new snowpants for whenever I need to get out the snowblower (not even once this year, yet, which is unnerving and weird)…

Anyway, you wanna see the music-y goodness…

 

This book always intrigued me, and I see there are other later editions too (which would update things), but this seems to be the first one and it covers a huge swath of the incredible output of this amazing (I love them dearly) collective of people’s music. I think of this as the paperback edition of the gbvdb.com site.

 

This new Opeth album (In Cauda Venenum) was on my wishlist, as I own all their other studio albums (I think) and the completist in me was getting twitchy… It’s 2 CDs, the first all in Swedish, the second all in English. Can’t wait to dig in and see what they’re up to this time around!

 

This book has been on my wishlist a while, and this year it came to me as a gift! I’ll be curious to see what all is in here, how it differs from the Never-Ending Present book, and so on. Hip Forever! We miss you dearly, Gord.

 

Yup, this is the double silver-LPs edition. I don’t want to pick a favourite Hip album (that’s like choosing a favourite child, you just don’t do it), but this one ranks very very highly for me, in their discography. This set is glorious all around!

***

So yeah, it’s been a beautiful Christmas here, lots of family visiting time, and some bittersweet as it’s the first Christmas without my lovely wife’s Dad. But there was so much amazing food, and a fog so thick it caused zero visibility advisories and we couldn’t get home last night and had to stay over and I had to miss work today. The kids are at the right age to be amazing though it all, and they were truely wired for sound and loving every minute of it, so all in all it’s been wonderful.

I hope Santa was good to you, and you were able to get together with family and friends and make the most of it all, safe and warm and loved and happy.

Cheers, everyone!

 

PS. I am making my annual Best Of 2019 list, and will try to get that posted before the 31st.

SLCR #342: Regina Folk Festival (August 8-11, 2019)

This was the 50th Regina Folk Festival. Or 50th anniversary, maybe. We skipped most of it.

I get inordinately high hopes for the folk festival lineup every year. The festival is a rare opportunity to get bands who’d never normally play Regina to come to town, but I need to remember, it’s not a whole lineup of them. This year, they got Jason Isbell, which is pretty cool, but most of the lineup read like a SLCR reunion show – Colter Wall, The Dead South, A Tribe Called Red, Bahamas, Rae Spoon, Blue Rodeo – and I like all those folks! Which is why I’ve seen them all before. Ultimately, we settled on just getting Friday night passes, but when Charlotte Day Wilson backed out and was replaced by personal favourite (and another SLCR alum) Kathleen Edwards, we made plans to pop downtown on Sunday night too.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8

If I was in charge here, this whole thing would be its own review – different venue, separate ticket – but this was put on by the Folk Festival and was covered in the Folk Festival program and it’s been over a month and sure, I’ll take the opportunity to condense these into one.

The important thing is that we paid money to listen to music through headphones in a grocery store.

Touring in support of their new album, Saskatoon’s Close Talker held a “3D-360 silent headphone concert,” which they named “Immersion.” The idea is that the band would play their entire new album How Do We Stay Here? from front to back, and everyone in the crowd would hear the music through headphones. This isn’t an entirely new idea, but they got some slick tech worked in that allows them to move the music around in real time, so the bass can move from left to right, or the drums can sound really far away, or the guitar can move towards you. I can’t explain the grocery store part, other than a local market named Local Market YQR has a small attached space that actually worked really well for this. It’s your proverbial “intimate venue,” which allowed the band to sell out two shows in one evening.

Being Olds, we opted for the early show. We were briefed about what was going on upon entering, and we took seats at the back of the room. One of Close Talker (or would you just say a Talker?) invited us to move up, which was nice, but we’re tall and the back works fine for us. Besides, every seat wound up filled.

They told us the show would start promptly at 8:00, but there was a lengthy introduction explaining how the show would work, the technology behind it, all that fun stuff. I thought it ran a bit long but it became apparent that this was intentional; one issue with the venue is there was nothing covering the windows, and some of us (most importantly, me) were getting the setting sun right in the eyes. The opening chatter was dragged out a bit until the sun was just low enough to not impact the show.

This was a really neat experience, an excellent introduction to a local band, and a fun way to kick off the folk festival weekend. The performance itself ran around 50 minutes of kinda folky, kinda artsy, kinda dreamy pop rock. The movement effects I mentioned above were there but never overused, complementing the music rather than overshadowing it. The band made a point of not talking much, especially early on, to help people focus on the music. To that end, the headphones worked really well; nobody talked, and people mostly kept their phones in their pockets. I wouldn’t want every show to be like this, but in the right cases, it could be really effective. I did think individual volume controls might be a nice addition, though I can see where that could add one more thing to possibly mess up in what had to be an already complicated technical setup.

At one point I slipped off my headphones for a second to see what it sounded like in the room. Mostly it was drums.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9

This brings us to our one full night at the 2019 Regina Folk Festival. With gates opening at 5:00, I’d have had to come downtown early and wait in line with folding chairs to get a good spot where Mika could eventually join me. Instead, we took our time getting down there and skipped the chairs entirely. This was a controversial decision, given that we spent way too much money on those chairs and they’re very comfy and ridiculously strong. Seemed a shame to not get as much use out of them as we could.

We got to the park a little after 6:00. Once we made it through the usual organized chaos, the whole chair thing seemed like a bad move on our part. There were noticeably fewer people there than in previous years and we wouldn’t have had a problem taking our traditional spots. This was Garth Brooks’ fault. His two sold-out stadium shows on the Friday and Saturday nights surely siphoned off Festival attendees. I didn’t mind the extra space, as the park has felt a little crowded during recent Festivals, but I was concerned that too much of his noise would carry over to the park and drown out our noise. Luckily, that was never an issue.

Emilie Kahn had already started playing by the time we arrived and we saw a few of her songs in between checking out the Stuff Tent and the food trucks and whatnot. It was perfectly pleasant harp playing that we honestly didn’t pay a ton of attention to.

Between sets, Ila Barker played a few songs, just her and her guitar, and there was a spoken performance from the night’s emcee, Stella from Queer Songbook Orchestra (they used a number of names throughout the night, but Stella is the most fun to yell, so here we are).

We picked the Friday night to attend in part because Weaves was playing and Mika really wanted to see them. And so they took the stage, and then everything went to hell. After half a song – just enough time for me to admire the airbrushed picture of Dolly Parton on the singer’s pants – someone from the Folk Festival ran out on the stage holding arms aloft in the dreaded X. It had been cool and drizzling off and on thus far, but now lightning was in the area. Luckily, the guitarist for Weaves had trained for this situation and knew exactly what to do – play the opening riff of Thunderstruck before flipping the double bird to the heavens.

With everything on hold, we waited around the park for a while to see what would happen, before the rain picked up and we headed to the car.

And the car was where we’d spend the next 90 minutes, with rain pouring down and lightning all around us. We played games on our phones, lamented the lack of nearby bathrooms, regretted not having picked up dinner as soon as we’d arrived, and intermittently ran the air conditioner when it all got too suffocating. The Festival kept people up to date via Twitter, or at least as up to date as they could given that everything was really contingent on the lightning going away. At one point, Mika tried to tell me facts about thunder, but she started it with “somebody once told me” and I jumped in exuberantly with “the world is gonna roll me” and she got mad and now I still don’t know what she knows about thunder.

This was all great fun but it could have been worse – we could have tried to go see Garth Brooks. The lightning hit before his show began, and they quit letting people into the stadium (it’s open-air and there’s only so many places they can hide people), so the busses quit running. Thousands of people took shelter in the nearby arena, where (according to a video that was on my social media hundreds of times but which I never actually bothered to watch) they all cheered for a zamboni, I guess because they had nothing else to do. Couldn’t watch the Rider game on your phone – they were on a lightning delay too. And they were in Montréal.

Finally, the storm passed and the Festival announced that the show was going to resume. We ran into Rheanne on the way back, because we have to run into Rheanne at every Folk Festival, even if we’re only there for an hour. It always works out.

With a few minutes to spare before the show was to resume, we hit the food trucks, only to find that most of the vendors had packed up and left. Can’t blame them, really. I wound up getting a burger from the bannock truck, and it turns out that replacing the bun with fried dough is an excellent decision. Mika, however, was stuck getting the sole gluten-free option, popcorn with literal ladles of melted butter. And, for some reason, a lemon wedge. Until this day, “too much butter” only lived in the realm of the hypothetical, but no more. The lemon worked surprisingly well, though.

The Festival is scheduled like so: a main act plays for anywhere from 40-90 minutes (depending on where they are in the set), and then there’s a teaser who plays for about 10 minutes while the next main act gets set up. It repeats that way all night – main act, teaser, main act, teaser, main act. So when the Festival tweeted that the last three acts were still going to play, people didn’t know if that meant the last three main acts, or main/teaser/main. If it was the latter, that would mean The Dead South would lose their spot. On Twitter, on Facebook, people were SO upset at this idea.

And then Stella came out to introduce the next band. They got three words in – “The Dead South” – and I have never heard a reaction like this for anyone at the Folk Festival. Or nearly any concert ever. Folk Festival concerts always have these long, scripted, artist-bio introductions – I’ve heard more than one musician describe them as “awkward” – and Stella got through the whole thing, eventually – but really, the best move would have been to just skip it when the crowd was already so hot.

The Dead South are a bluegrass band from around these parts who’ve started to make it big elsewhere, and this was their triumphant return. They had their time cut, as did the next two bands, but they tore it up and in front of a most appreciative audience, they could do no wrong. This was a high energy performance and was a blast.

Bahamas was up next and he and his band played a delightful set, though of the three that came after the storm, it was probably the weakest. And I love Bahamas! Being shorted on time hurt, because they crammed in as many songs as possible with little talking, and I greatly enjoy his talking. I shouldn’t complain; they played Lost in the Light and that’s my favourite of his. And at least we got to hear about how they’re not the best band, and don’t get the longest sets, but they’re the most chill. And we thank them for stimulating our economy by dining at Famoso.

Near us, an increasingly drunk girl grew tired of listening to some guy tell her about his degrees and made plans to scale a fence, sneak into the back stage area, and get it on with Bahamas. Not sure I’d have put money on her climbing ability at that point in time but I hope her evening ended well, however it ended.

Between sets, we went to sit down by the remaining food trucks. After resting our tired old people legs, I ran into a Dave on our way back in and we stopped for a chat. Mika wandered off, but promptly returned telling us how she was hit on by a guy asking what she was doing with her phone. When she said she was checking the score of the football game, the guy said something like “more like checking the score of the porn game.” I’d like to think I’m a good husband, but I don’t think I can honestly take any credit for the failure of this gambit. Mika did give me one free pass to try using this line on someone should the opportunity ever present itself; if I can pull it off, I’ll be sure let you all know.

I first saw A Tribe Called Red five years ago, and if you’d asked me, I’d have guessed two years ago, and I’m feeling some existential dread right now. At least I enjoyed the show a lot more this time around. I think it was the setting – the crowd was really into it, and the larger stage had room for Indigenous dancers, including a ridiculously impressive hoop dancer, and an adorable little jingle dress dancer who would sneak waves at friends and family in the crowd while waiting in the wings. That the band decorated part of their gear with stinky old LJN rubber toy wrestlers and had wrestling footage as part of their video effects didn’t hurt. I did see some old people in the crowd who looked decidedly not into the music, but I also saw a dude in a T-Rex mask who was really into it, so that all evens out.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10

I had good intentions to check out some of the free daytime stages, but no.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11

I had good intentions to check out some of the free daytime stages, but no.

We did make it down for Kathleen Edwards, though, if only so Mika could get the falafel she had hoped for on Friday. With no tickets and no real agenda beyond “let’s get there in time for Rae Spoon’s teaser set maybe,” it was a pretty casual evening.

Everything worked according to plan. Mika got her falafel and enjoyed it until feeling the effects of being glutened later that night. I got my first ever bánh mì, and I can’t speak for its authenticity nor its quality compared to other bánh mì, but it was super tasty. I kind of hope it was a terrible example of bánh mì, because if so, a good one would be mindblowing.

We ate and listened to a short set by Rae Spoon. Only a few songs, including There is a LIght (But it’s Not For Everyone) and the family-friendly version of a song I’ve seen them play before, Do Whatever the Heck You Want. Enough of a reminder that I need to catch a full show the next time they come through town.

Finally, it was time for Kathleen Edwards. She’s great. Of course. Played a bunch of songs I like; “all the hits,” as Mika put it. There was some new stuff. I think at least one song was the same new stuff as we heard in Bengough. Now, it’s important to note that as freeloaders, we couldn’t actually see the stage. Which is fine, we were there to listen, but it does mean that my descriptions of what was going on could be very wrong. For example, she had one musician with her, and was later joined by a member of Blue Rodeo. Or maybe several? Or maybe was just making jokes at Blue Rodeo’s expense? I’m pretty sure my initial description was right but I could be making it up entirely. But does that matter? You weren’t there and I won’t remember.

In here, I did make a tactical error. Remember the bannock truck from Friday night? I’d been told they made a mean bear paw (think beaver tail, or elephant ear, or your regional term for big fried dough with sugar on it) and went to get one. Which I did, but it was not what one would call a smooth experience. It had to take at least 20 minutes, maybe 30, and that’s with all of four people in line in front of me. And while the truck was closer to the stage than where we were sitting, it was also a lot noisier over there, so to be honest, I really didn’t get to hear most of this. At least the bear paw was exactly as good as you’d think fresh fried sugared dough would be, but I could have bought one at the farmer’s market sometime when Kathleen Edwards wasn’t concurrently singing.

Taranna: A Labour Of Love

For the Labour Day weekend, Dad and I hit up Taranna yesterday. We took the streetcar to the CNE, where it was so busy and packed and loud that it actually wasn’t all that fun. I didn’t buy anything, and you couldn’t get near much of anything, so I just ate my $20 philly cheesesteak (and a Coke) and spent the afternoon pushing my way through the crowds.

We hung out in Chinatown, and I got some more new kinds of green tea to try. Dad also gave me some green tea egg rolls, cookies, and Pocky Sticks that he’d found. There was a theme. Anyway, after all, we didn’t get back to our town until almost midnight, so it was a long day with a lot of driving and a lot of crowds, but it was full and interesting and (ultimately) fun!

I did get to do BMV and Sonic Boom, though only quickly. It felt like skim-scanning rather than digging in, but getting to be there at all was still better than not. Sonic Boom was completely sold out of the new Tool album. I wanted to get it so badly and.. no. It’s sold out here in my town too, and I didn’t see it on Amazon, either. Ah well. Another time.

So you’re probably curious about what a cursory dig in those shoppes might turn up for me, so here ya go:

BMV

4-FOR-$9.99 BINS

Eva Cassidy – Somewhere. I love Eva’s albums, and I buy up what I don’t have, sight-unseen.

Robert Johnson – Devil On My Trail: The Complete Songbook. I didn’t need this, but, you know…

Subtle – For Hero, For Fool. I remembered this being a crazy record, wanted to try it again.

Tragically Hip – Evolution Advances. A neat promo disc containing the single for Vaccination Scar, and snippets of Summer’s Killing Us, Heaven’s A Better Place Today, Gus: The Polar bear From New York, and Mean Streak. Never seen this before, likely never see it again, so it had to come home.

 

REGULAR BMV

radiohead – Com Lag. I’ve never owned this Japanese-only EP. Now I do!

Wallflowers – Rebel, Sweetheart. I like these guys, never heard this one so I’m excited.

Dictators – Go Girl Crazy. I blame Geoff. This had to come home!

U2 – The Best Of 1980-1990, and The Best Of 1990-2000. These 2cd sets have what you wanna hear, and second discs full of b-sides. I don’t wanna own all the albums, but this was a good way to get all the singles in a fell swoop.

Rezillos – Can’t Stand The Rezillos: The (Almost) Complete Rezillos. I blame ROLLINS. He played these Scottish punkers on his show, and I wanted to hear more.

Viletones – A Taste Of Honey. Because awesome.

Undertones – Teenage Kicks: The Very Best Of. I was curious if anything more than the one song I know is any good…

***

SONIC BOOM

Jimmy Lee Williams – Hoot Your Belly. I am a simple man. I see Fat Possum blues records, I buy them. They’re always awesome.

Dinner Is Ruined – Love Songs From The Lubitorium. A great left field Canuck supergroup fun times.

Isis – Temporal. I grab up Isis releases whenever I see ones I need, and this 2cd/1dvd made my day!

Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg. I already own this on CD and LP, but this one was signed so I rescued it.

Steve Winwood – Chronicles. I was in the mood for some of this, and this hits set covered a lot of what I had in my head. Excellent.

Counting Crows – Hard Candy. Haven’t heard this one before, so I’ll be curious to try it out…

***

And that was a super-full day, covering a huge swath of the city. I felt like I’d done my 10,000 steps for the week all in one day!

Recent Stuffs

Thought I’d share what I’ve picked up lately, so you know what’s been in my ears. Given the time available, this sort of post makes some sense these days. Give ‘er…

AC/DC – Powerage

I own most (if not all) the AC/DC studio albums. In oversiiiiiight, I didn’t have this one, so this fixes that.

 

 

 

Bon Scott with Fraternity – Livestock

Still haven’t played this one. Mike says it’s not so great, but it’s been a while since he heard it so maybe his opinion would be different now. I’m curious to try it out!

 

 

Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, and Cho-Liang Lin – Haydn: Three Favourite Concertos

Bought for the Marsalis, I’ll stay for the Haydn. Yes.

 

 

 

Wynton Marsalis – In Gabriel’s Garden

Wynton does Bach, Purcell, Torelli, Mouret, Clarke, Dandrieu, Charpentier and Stanley, with the English Chamber Orchestra and Anthony Newman. Yes please!

 

 

Diana Krall – Live In Paris 

A cool tracklist, and this copy looks like she autographed it. Neat-o!

 

 

 

Fleetwood Mac – 50 Years: Don’t Stop

Bought this out of curiosity. Didn’t really need it as I already have the Greatest Hits. Also, this is the 1CD version, and it turns out there is a 3CD version which would be a whole lot better. Anyway.

 

 

Various – Punk City Rockers (4CD)

Cool-looking comp with a pile of old-school punkers. Bands include UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, Anti Nowhere League, Vibrators, Exploited, Gonads, 999, Cockney Rejects, Lurkers, Defects, Infa Riot, Stiff Little Fingers, The Business, Adicts, Ruts, Chelsea, Adverts, Slaughter & The Dogs, among many others. Cool!

 

Ryan Adams – 1989

I buy any of his stuff whenever I see it cheap. Bought this one despite his cover of Bad Blood. I think I’ve just heard it too many times on the piped-in music at work. Blah. There’s surely other, better songs here.

 

Counting Crows – This Desert Life

I spend most of my time with their first two records, so I never heard this one. Now I can!

 

 

 

Tin Machine – Tin Machine & Tin Machine – Tin Machine II

Always wanted these David Bowie project albums. Can’t wait to dig in!

 

 

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Murder Of The Universe

Bought on spec. I mean, with a band name and an album title combo like that, this is has to be the most epic stuff possible, right?

 

 

 

Otep – Sevas Tra 

I love their song Blood Pigs. Love love love. Now I have the whole album!

 

 

 

Pantera – Far Beyond Driven

Love me some Pantera, and for some inexplicable reason, I never owned this album. Now I do, and I’m gonna crank it!

Catch-Up: Other Taranna

Hey y’all, it’s Sunday and this is a long one (that’s what she said), so settle in with a coffee and put your feet up…

Last post, I covered our July trip to Taranna, and all my scores. Fun! But with this extended time away from the blog, I haven’t even finished our May trip to Taranna. Not to mention my scores in June. This post corrects that.

 

***

So. There were a couple left from that abandoned series way back in May:

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology If I don’t already have one when I find them, I buy his releases (at reasonable prices) on the spot. I have yet to be truly disappointed.

 

 

 

Black Mountain – IV The only one of theirs I still needed (I think). Love their stuff.

 

 

 

 

***

And now here is the stuff I found during our June excursion…

BMV

3-For-$10

Live – Secret Samadhi For some inexplicable reason I did not have a copy of this on hand, so this corrects that omission.

 

 

 

 

Branford Marsalis – Romances For Saxophone Honestly, this one is in the 3-For bin during several visits. I rescued it, because Marsalis.

 

 

 

 

OMPS Natural Born Killers Love the film, been ages since I heard the soundtrack. Time for a re-listen. I remember NIN, and Leonard…

 

 

 

 

ALSO BMV:

Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head I have the other (second) album she did with Pete Yorn too. I think I owned this ages ago, as the single is very familiar to me…

 

 

 

Paradise Lost – Medusa, and The Plague Within HMO recommended. Totally awesome.

 

Solstafir – Svartir Sandar 2cd, I Blodi Og Anda, and Otta Also HMO recommended, I totally cleaned up and, in this fell swoop, nearly completed my collection of this excellent Icelandic band’s output. I already had the deluxe Otta in the box with swag, so this rescue copy is for play.

 

Silver Jews – American Water I always buy Silver Jews albums when they contain Malkmus. This one does.

 

 

 

 

SONIC BOOM

Pixies – Indie Cindy Bought because Pixies, because I hadn’t yet heard it, and because the title (her namesake) makes my lovely wife happy.

 

 

 

Danny Michel – Matadora All Danny Michel is excellent Danny Michel. Another one for the collection!

 

 

 

 

Metallica – S&M I realized I didn’t have this 2cd Metallica/SFO set on CD (I have the LPs), so I snapped up a reasonably priced copy. “Of Wolfgang And Man,” indeed!

 

 

 

Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse My first time seeing a copy of this one in the wild. There’s only one or two left, now, for me to have to the whole Opeth studio collection!

 

 

 

I like everything Rick White has done, so when I see a release I don’t yet have, it’s an instant yes please!

 

 

 

 

I also got a bunch of stuff for $2.99 at Sonic Boom, bargain-hunter that I am:

 

Big Rude Jake – Live Faust, Die Jung I realized there are gaps in my BRJ collection, which is inexcusable. This was one I needed.

 

 

 

 

Frank Black and the Catholics – Frank Black and the Catholics I do love me some Black Francis, and I was fairly certain I hadn’t heard this one. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard of the Catholics output.

 

 

 

Violent Femmes – Rock!!!!! I know next-to nothing about this one, but I do love the VF so why not!

 

 

 

 

Smashing Pumpkins – Momuments To An Elegy I grabbed this simply because I hadn’t even known it existed. What would SP sound like in 2014? Let’s find out!

 

 

 

 

Lyle Lovett – I Love Everybody, and Live In Texas There’s something about this loveable weirdo I have always enjoyed, so cheap albums of his made me happy. I especially liked the track listing on that live record…

 

Jesse Dangerously – How To Express Your Dissenting Political Viewpoint Through Origami I was thrilled to find this one, and for so cheap. James said this was the score of the trip and he’s right.

 

 

 

All in all, an excellent Taranna run!

***

ALSO:

And tucked way down here at the bottom, here’s what else I’d found in May, and covered in these pages, as you may recall. [Rescue Missions] are the ones I bought and already had because it’s what I do apparently…:

BMV

Rheostatics – Greatest Hits [Rescue Mission]
Atoms For Peace – Amok (deluxe) [Rescue Mission]
Eva Cassidy – American Tune
Various – Ballin’ The Jack: The Birth Of The Nu-Blues
Kelly Hogan – Because It Feel Good
Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
Ani DiFranco – Allergic To Water
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – ‘Freedom Tower’ No Wave Dance
Party 2015
Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Comapnions cd/dvd
Pixies – Head Carrier
Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County
Paley & Francis – Paley & Francis

SONIC BOOM

Hardship Post – Somebody Spoke
J. Mascis – Live At CBGBs: The First Acoustic Show
Sadies – Precious Moments
Mark Lanegan – Bubblegum
Mark Lanegan – Whiskey For The Holy Ghost
Sadies – Tremendous Efforts
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F#A#
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

***

And if you’ve read this far, your coffee is surely gone and you are a true trooper. Thanks for Reading!

Taranna Trip, Slight Return

 

First up, HAPPY CANADA DAY! Give ‘er!

 

 

So, it’s about time I put something here. Dad and I went to Taranna yesterday. It was a perfect day in the city, gorgeous weather, easy traffic, and a big party in the market as it’s a holiday weekend. 

I’ll just post up my scores (no reviews), for y’all to see what caught my eye…

 

BMV

First up, the 3-for-$10 bins are now 4-for-$10 bins. Awesome! I asked the dude, and he said he’s pretty sure it’s a permanent change. They just have so much stuff to clear through. He did say they may make some 4-for-$10 and some 3-for-$10, depending on what they are. Will see going forward. 

4-For-$10 BIN

Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith – Nothin’ But The Blues Y’all Looks like Taranna-based fun, half studio, half live tracks.

 

 

 

 

Clutch – Pure Rock Fury I don’t own any Clutch, but they’ve come recommended, so why not.

 

 

 

 

Joe Strummer – Earthquake Weather This was an immediate grab. A rescue mission for Joe!

 

 

 

 

Hootie & The Blowfish – Musical Chairs Our son heard Hootie on the radio and loved it, so this was one I didn’t have and it rounded out the 4-for-$10.

 

 

 

 

OTHER BMV

Tim Armstrong – A Poet’s Life I think I owned this at one point, but not until I found it again yesterday. CD/DVD.

 

 

 

 

Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things I asked James if Wallflowers are making a comeback like Hootie is, and he didn’t think so. But I’ve been hearing them everywhere, so when I saw a Jakob solo album, I was curious.

 

 

 

Guided By Voices – Vampire On Titus/Propeller In all the years I’ve checked the GBV sections, I’ve never seen this double album single CD. I own both albums individually, but when I saw this I grabbed it because GBV. Then I went to Sonic Boom and saw another copy. What are the chances, in all these years…

 

 

SONIC BOOM

Tuns – When You’re Ready b/w Kiss Yourself Goodbye Awesome 7″ from awesome band. Woo!

 

 

 

 

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs and Opel I owned Barrett already, so I was happy to round out the collection.

 

 

 

 

Descendents – Milo Goes To College Classic. Had to get a copy as I was inexplicably without it.

 

 

 

 

 

Godspeed You! Black Emporer – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress and Luciferian Towers Slowly completing (if not completed) my GY!BE collection. Glory.

 

 

 

Baroness – Gold & Grey New Baroness makes me happy and this is probably the score of the day!

 

 

 

 

All told, a perfect run to the city, and so many great tunes, to boot. Thanks for Reading, folks!

 

 

BMV#2 Ballin’ The Jack: The Birth Of The Nu-Blues

I f*ckin’ love comps like this. The write-up on the back cover says it all:

Balling The Jack: 1) Gambler speak for risking everything on one throw of the dice. 2) A railroads man’s term for going full speed on a train. 3) Afro American argot for a dance characterized by sexually explicit pelvic movements. 4) Black slang for generally having a goooood time.

The Nu Blues: The Old Skool Blues feel, given a techno turbo-charge and pepped with hip-hop thrills, punk power, indie angst, art-rock experimentalism and an extra helping of 21st century soul to go. The Devil’s Music Deconstructed. You know it ain’t a sin…

Tracks:

Reid Paley – Lucky’ Tune
Asie Payton/Go Gittas Camp – Oooh Baby
Tom Waits – Big In Japan
Jimpson & Group – Road Song
Chris Thomas King – Mississippi Kkkrossroads
North Mississippi Allstars – Someday Baby
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Electricity
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Stagger Lee
Olu Dara – Strange Things Happen Everyday
Pig In A Can – Slow Down Train
Gary Lucas w. Mary Margaret O’Hara – Poison Tree
Soft Boys – Give It To The Soft Boys
Billy Childish & His Famous Headcoats – The Wond’rous Day
Petit Vodo – Border Line
Moby – Findy My Baby
Penny Lang – Lost And Found
R.L. Burnside – Let My Baby Ride
Cowboy Junkies – Postcard Blues
Johnny Dowd – A Picture From Life’s Other Side
Bob Log III –  Stirring Round A Stick
Diamanda Galas – See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Deep Concentration

This is a sweet mix of hip hop beats, samples and scratches. It’s where creative musicianship enter into hip hop, the backbone of the works. It’s a helluva listen. You could throw it on in the background, especially at a party, but for me it needed to be in the good headphones, front and center so I could soak it all in.

This edition is part one of a series, and if I ever see others I’ll be grabbing them up for sure.  Recommended!

Tracks:

Cut Chemist – Lesson 6 – The Lecture
Prince Paul – DJ Prince Vs. The World
RadaR – RadaR Frees Tibet (Gasho Mix)
The Angel – Strange Times (Version)
Ingrid De Lambre f. Eddie Def – Poeisies, Scene 1 Le Blues
DJ Swingsett & DJ Wally – Centaurus Spece Bass (Cloak & Destroy Mix)
X-Men – A Turntable Experience
Lyrics Born f. Lateef – Say That
Peanut Butter Wolf f. Babu & J-Rocc of Beat Junkies – They Don’t fall Down
Beyond There – On Wax
Mumbles – At The Mountains Of Madness
Q-Burn’s Abstract Message – Book Of Changes

Shady Records Presents The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern Mixtape CD

When it comes to rap, I know what I like when I hear it, but it’s all gut instinct without much knowledge to back it up.

Eminem is one of those artists I intend to cover in-depth (eventually), but for now this Australasian promotional 2003 Shady mixtape is what was spinning recently. I don’t know if any of these tracks are rare, or even if some of these people are still performing (Joe Beast? Brooklyn? Shaunta? see lack of knowledge, above), but it was a fun listen.

Of course, Eminem is all over this. As a label sampler, these 14 tracks are hot and bangin’. Right on.

Tracks:

CD1

The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern – International Invasion – Intro
Eminem, 50 Cent, Tony Yayo & Lloyd Banks – Bump Heads
Eminem, D12 & Obie Trice – Doe Ray Me
Tony Yayo – Freestyle
Eminem & D12 – Keep Talkin’
Obie Trice – Synopsis
50 Cent & Eminem – Patiently Waiting (live from State Theater, Detroit)
50 Cent & Eminem – In Da Club (live from State Theater, Detroit)

CD2

Obie Trice – Rap Name
Eminem – Stimulate
50 Cent – ‘Til I Collapse Freestyle
Joe Beast – Gangsta
Brooklyn – The Weekend
Shaunta – California

GASCD

GASCD is an acronym for Governments Accountable to Society & Citizens = Democracy. So, wouldn’t that be GATS&C=D? Anyway.

Bourbon Tabernacle Choir’s Chris Brown put this together, inspired by the protests as the Quebec City Summit of the Americas in 2002. Profits went to progressive media and social justice groups.  

I bought this not for its political protest rally origins, but because of all the awesome artists playing their political songs. I’m all about the music. It’s a long listen, but it’s chock-full of goodness. Here’s the tracks list, from which you ought to be able to gather its awesomeness:

CD1:

1 Sylvain Lamoureux – The Geese
2 Ani DiFranco – Your Next Bold Move
3 Rheostatics – Bad Time to Be Poor
4 Olu Dara – Red Ant (Nature)
5 Gordon Downie – Trick Rider
6 Jello Biafra – Spoken word excerpt from Mohawk College April 25, 2001
7 Sex Mob – Black and Tan Fantasy
8 Bruce Cockburn – Call it Democracy
9 Scotty Hard – Diurnal – 5:24
10 Propagandhi – Today’s Empire, Tomorrow’s Ashes
11 Maude Barlow – Spoken word excerpt from People’s Summit – Quebec City, 2001
12 Chris Brown and Kate Fenner – How You Gonna Bring Your Children to God
13 Tony Scherr – Food for News
14 Michael Franti – Oh My God
15 Interférence Sardines – Un Nescalier

CD2:

1 Gil Scott-Heron – Work For Peace
2 Nikki Giovanni – Nothing Makes Sense
3 Clark Gayton – Glad I Found My Religion
4 David Suzuki – Phone interview excerpt, May 2001
5 The Tragically Hip – Putting Down
6 Sarah Harmer – 1st Lady
7 Christian Doscher – Straight Lines
8 DJ Serious – Trap Doors
9 Barenaked Ladies – Sell, Sell, Sell
10 Andrew Whiteman – Thot Provoker
11 Bionic – A Political Song for Danko Jones to Sing
12 The Dinner Is Ruined – Funk Asylum
13 Free Radicals – Bombs Burst Brightly on the Lawn
14 Jason Collett – Bitter Beauty
15 Chris Brown – The Shot Across the Bow
16 David Suzuki – Phone interview excerpt    May 2001
17 Bill Frisell – What’s Going On

The Spanish Guitar

I got this Naxos 2CD set at work because I sure do love me some Spanish guitar, and it sure delivers! Beautiful work, full of passion and dynamics. I love how an orchestra gets woven in sometimes, too. I was gonna mention more, but this dude on Amazon already nailed it:

You probably need to be a real guitar enthusiast to want the two-CD collection The Spanish Guitar, but anyone who fears that at more than 140 minutes this Naxos set may be a few plucky numbers too many should swiftly be won over. Where the set scores is in some clever programming that never allows the ear to tire of a particular sound-world or even a particular style. After the longest piece of the set, Mompou’s beautiful Suite Compostelana, an orchestra broadens the aural world with Peter Breiner’s concerto based on Bizet’s Carmen. Three pieces fulfil (sic) a similar function on the second disc. Some of the best known Spanish “guitar” music was written for piano–Granados’ 12 Spanish Dances; here we get the first, in an arrangement for guitar and orchestra, and the famous fifth, which tops and tails the set with a guitar transcription as an opener and a guitar and piano version as a finale. In between you can find everything from foot-stomping flamenco to moody languorous pieces, played with great atmosphere by a fine line-up of soloists. Listeners in need of persuasion need look no further than Norbert Kraft’s playing of Tárrega’s celebrated Recuerdos de la Alhambra, a cracking piece, beautifully played. –Keith Clarke

CBGB OMPS

I’ve never seen this 2013 film, but after hearing this CD I wanna. I mean, this mix is incredible – all the kudos to whomever put it together. What a blast listening to all of these tunes (most of them for the zillionth time, for me).

Hot damn!

 

Check out the tracks included here:

01 Talking Heads – Life During Wartime
02 MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
03 New York Dolls – Chatterbox
04 Television – Careful
05 Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation
06 Flamin’ Groovies – Slow Death
07 Velvet Underground – I Can’t Stand It
08 Wayne County & The Electric Chairs – Out Of Control
09 The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction
10 Tuff Darts – All For The Love Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (live)
11 Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – All By Myself
12 Dictators – California Sun
13 Dead Boys – Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth
14 Joey Ramone – I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up)
15 Laughing Dogs – Get Outa My Way
16 Blondie – Sunday Girl (2013 Version)
17 Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog
18 Dead Boys – Sonic Reducer
19 The Police – Roxanne
20 Hilly Krystal – Birds And The Bees

Verve’s Grammy Winners

This set is hot. Collecting (obviously) Grammy winners from the Verve label’s roster, it’s just great track after great track… You get Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, Charlie Byrd, Shirley Horn, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Betty Carter, Jimmy Smith, Joe Williams, and Joe Henderson. I mean, C’MON.

Found here: I will forever love Ella Fitzgerald for the time she did Mack The Knife live in Berlin but didn’t know the words… of course, she totally saves it in that inimitable Ella way…

Check it:

Dark Was The Night

Part of the Red Hot series of HIV/AIDS fundraising albums, this is two CDs of big names and cool songs. Full disclosure: it was a lot of (mostly) indie-sounding pop/rock all at once, and I had to do this set in more than one sitting. But that’s OK, it gave the tunes time to breathe.

Artists appearing:

CD1: Dirty Projectors & David Byrne, The Books (f. Jose Gonzalez), Feist & Ben Gibbard, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, The National, Yeasayer, My Brightest Diamond, Kronos Quartet, Antony w. Bryce Dessner, Justin Vernon & Aaron Dessner, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear & Feist, Sufjan Stevens.

CD2: Spoon, Arcade Fire, Beirut, My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Dave Sitek, Buck 65, The New Pornographers, Yo La Tengo, Stuart Murdoch, Jónsi & Alex, Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues, Andrew Bird, Conor Oberst & Gillian Welch, Blonde Redhead & Devastations, Kevin Drew.

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead OMPS

I know I saw this 1995 movie, way back in the day, but I don’t have too many memories of it, these days. Might need a re-watch, because this soundtrack (which I owned years ago and only recently replaced) is a great collection of songs. It’s bluesy, rockin’ and funky, slightly oddball and all-around great. Worth noting: Dishwalla’s killer rip through B.B. King’s The Thrill Is Gone is a highlight. Yes, the Counting Blue Cars Dishwalla. Wow!

Artists appearing:

Tom Waits, Morphine, Freedy Johnston, Neville Brothers & Buddy Guy, Dishwalla, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Blues Traveler, Ape Hangers, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Reed, Johnny Cash, Dean Martin, Warren Zevon.

See what I mean? Hot damn!

James Dean Era

This is a cool collection of tracks from the likes of Chuck Berry, Bill Haley & The Comets, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Little Richard… as well as cool stuff from Big Joe Turner, Johnny Otis, Pee Wee Crayton… and so on. There are pull quotes in between tracks, which I felt ruined the flow of a great bunch of tunes. There are two tracks of Dean playing the bongos (apparently rare) at the end. There’s also a DVD of (apparently rare) TV movies included.

Sandra Boynton’s Frog Trouble

Y’all probably know Boynton’s kids books. The included CD here will impress the grown-ups as well, as it includes tracks by:

Dwight Yoakam, Fountains Of Wayne, Mark Lanegan, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Adams, Ben Folds, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss, Josh Turner, Darius Rucker, Linda Eder, and Fall Mountain Cowboys.

Fun times!

Aaron’s Best Of 2018

I’ve been busy lately, and so I’ve lost track of stuff… so I have probably missed a few things from this year – LPs especially. If I’ve forgotten anything, I do apologize. Let me know in the comments!

Also, in counting things up as I can see it so far, I bought 18 new releases this year, and was given/sent 8, for a total of 26. Not bad!

Also, as with every year, some of the stuff on this list I haven’t even reviewed yet… odd, since I’ve heard them, I know, I know…

Notwithstanding all of this, here we go!

***

AARON’S BEST ALBUM OF 2018:

Sloan – 12

Yup. 12 years after their win in my inaugural annual Best Of (2006 Never Hear The End Of It), and 4 years after their 2014 Commonwealth tie with Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems, the mighty Sloan returns to the top of the heap! This makes them the second-winningest band in my Best Of series (Leonard has 4 wins to Sloan’s 3).

I took a long hard look at the pile of greatness I heard from this year’s new releases, and Sloan was the one I’ve played the most, and loved the most. 12 tracks on their 12th album, songwriting credit equally divided 3-each for all four members. Unimpeachable Sloan power, harmony and beauty. Hell yes.

SLOOO-OOOAANNN!!!

 

ALL THE OTHER KICK-ASS 2018 MAJOR LABEL GOODNESS (In No Particular Order) (16):

Voices – Frightened
Trews – Civilianaires
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard
Sleep – The Sciences
Rivers Of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Library Steps – Rap Dad, Real Dad
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
Killer Boogie – Acid Cream
Judas Priest – Firepower
Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Guided By Voices – Space Gun
Guided By Voices – Ogre’s Trumpet
Greg Keelor – Last Winter
Eminem – Kamikaze
David Byrne – American Utopia
Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Sarajevo: Music From The Motion Picture

 

ALL THE KICK-ASS 2018 INDIE (SENT/GIVEN TO US) GOODNESS:

Amherst Drive – For Freedom And Democracy
Cruel Bloom – Death Culture
Jeniffer Doll – With Everything
Manipulant – What Good Are The Stars?
Manipulant – Perspective
Max The Axe – Status Electric

Thank you so much to all of these artists for making sure their tunes got into our ears!

 

BEST RE-ISSUE OF 2018 (TIE):

John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (2cd)
Guns ’N Roses – Appetite For Destruction (Deluxe)

 

PREVIOUS YEARS’ WINNERS:

2017 Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (Deluxe Edition)
2016  Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker / Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (tie)
2015  Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
2014  Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems / Sloan – Commonwealth (tie)
2013  Black Sabbath – 13
2012  Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
2011  Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Play The Blues: Live From Jazz At The Lincoln Center
2010  Jack Johnson – To The Sea
2009  Leonard Cohen – Live In London
2008  Metallica – Death Magnetic
2007  Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free / Immaculate Machine – Fables (tie)
2006  Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It

 

STUFF STILL TO GET:

There are a whole whack of albums I’d love to get, of course. Neko Case’s Hell-On, Jeff Tweedy’s Warm, Sigh’s Heir To Despair, that Thom Yorke Suspira thingy… and then there’s a pile of stuff from all of your year-end lists that I wanna hear, too… the list goes on and on and on…

 

THANKS FOR READING:

Thanks so much for Reading! Without this Community and all of you beautiful Constant Readers, we’d just be typing away and sending this stuff unloved and unnoticed into the ether. You are what keeps us alive!

See you in 2019…

7 Worlds Collide – The Sun Came Out

Another Taranna December score…

 

This is a project for Neil Finn for the benefit of Oxfam. This 2cd set is a companion to the 7 Worlds Collide live album, and is chock full of names you know:

Johnny Marr, Jeff Tweedy, Saron Finn, Neil Finn, Ed O’Brien, Liam Finn, Don McGlashan, KT Tunstall, Bic Runga, Phil Selway, Glenn Richards, Glenn Kotche, Lisa Germano, Tim Finn, John Stirrat, Pat Sansone, Elroy Finn, and Sebastian Steinberg. 

I bought it for the Wilco and radiohead members, and because it contains many Finns, but the whole set is beautiful. There was also a film made of the live performances. 

Yessir it’s a keeper.

Rome OMPS

A Taranna December score…

 

Inspired by music from spaghetti westerns, this effort by composer Daniele Luppi and Danger Mouse is bloody fantastic. I read that it was recorded using vintage equipment (cool), and reunited the choir used by Alessandro Alessandroni on the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (cool). One track here, Black, was used in the final episode of Breaking Bad’s fourth season (cool). Throw in vocals from Jack White and Norah Jones and you’ve got a thrilling, atmospheric, fascinating and highly enjoyable album.

Tarannaaaaaaa!!!

Last month, my Dad and I made a run to Taranna, thinking that that would surely be our last chance before spring. And all this week, with white-out snow and icy roads, it seemed we were right. Then it started to warm up. And rain. Weather reports said this past Sunday would be only overcast, and 6C! We wondered if maybe… and it all turned out to be true. We had a perfect day and away we went. We hit little traffic, it was perfect downtown, and we were super-stoked to get another day out! And to top it off, reports say we’ll get a pile of snow in the next couple of days. We really truly timed this one right!

So of course I hit up the main spots. Here are the scores (no reviews, obvs). 

BMV

3-For-$10 Bin

The Thompson Twins is nostalgia for me, and full of remixes I’ve never heard. Cool. Super Friendz is one I’ve never heard (it’s from 2003), so right on I like those guys. And the PJ Harvey was a second-prize grab, as I’d found a copy of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy but the fellow couldn’t find the CD in the binders, so I had to let that one go and grab something else… hence the Harvey. Cool!

Regular

Bought on spec, these two Yuck albums (on Fat Possum) are new to me. Could be awesome, or not, who knows! I like She & Him, and these covers of classic tunes ought to be fun. And a 2cd live Wilco album? Yes please!

I also grabbed up three Chili Peppers albums I did not have. Sweeeet.

***

SONIC BOOM

$2.99 Dealz

I see cheap Iron & Wine, I buy it, and this EP looks promising. The Solomon Burke was a no-brainer, love that guy! And that old G. Love album (with Stepping Stones as track 1) will be super-fun, I just know it!

Regular

This soundtrack for Rome looks interesting. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi Present, starring Jack White and Norah Jones. Cool! Iggy Pop is always fun, I’ve wanted to hear this one. Bought on spec, the Warlocks record just seemed to grab my attention… can’t place why… 

The 2cd 7 Worlds Collide looks awesome, I loved the other set so this one is a cinch. A tour edition Beasties, with live stuff? YES PLEASE! And I’d lost my copy of this Lee Ranaldo/Dave Dyment tribute to Tom Thompson, recorded at Lee’s Palace days before 9/11. I’ve already reviewed it, in 2010, HERE but I replaced it anyway because my collector brain made me want it because I can’t imagine there are too many of these out there…

Oh, and I grabbed a Hellcat DVD too… Give ‘Em The Boot: A Film By Tim Armstrong. Oughta be loud and obnoxious, lots of bands I like are involved, yes yes yes.

This trip was an absolute success.

Thank you, Taranna! You never disappoint!

 

Sounds Of The Times Uncut (2018-08)

My sister gave me this issue of Uncut magazine at my birthday. The main article is on Prince. On the tipped in CD I only knew Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Ray Davies (Kinks). The rest were new to me. Reminds me of when I used to buy CMJ New Music every month, just for the CD, because it opened me up to all kinds of new music. Love it!

Talent

Car Tunes

I’ve made it a bit of a project to educate our children in music. I play jazz, classical, country, just about anything around them. We play music in the car, and I have an iPod in a player in the kitchen, just running through a big playlist while we go about our lives in the evenings.

I do this because (selfishly) I am always listening to music anyway, so it’s natural to me. But for them, I do it out of love – love for them, certainly, because I want to try to help them to be well-rounded and intelligent people. But also for love of all music. If I generally played one genre non-stop, like… the only thing on was country radio, all day… it could take them years to get around to other things, and where’s the fun in that?

Still, both of our children tend to prefer rock music. Our son (9) prefers metal, especially Iron Maiden. Our daughter (7) likes metal, but also digs on CCR and more classic rock. So, because I was the first one I knew in the 90s to have a CDr drive (2x, baby, yeah!), I still live that instinct to make mixes. And I made the kids a classic rock car mix on a 700mb CDr.

I tried to go for the classics, anything with big riffs and that attitude, you know. My only rule was to try to only have one song per artist (I think I came close to succeeding). And I ended up with one helluva track list which, I’ll admit, looks like every animal-themed classic rock radio station’s playlist for the week. But from our kids’ perspective, it’s a goldmine of new songs.

Right now we’re at the Guess Who’s American Woman in an alphabetical run-through. Some hilarious moments have already happened, like their belly laughs at Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. They loved the line about the teachers’ dirty looks. And during Dio’s Rainbow In The Dark, our boy turns to me in the front seat and says, “Dad, you can’t have a rainbow in the dark. You need light, and it has to have just rained so that the water can refract the light.” I couldn’t argue, but I did tell him that was just Ronnie James Dio doing what he did best. Inwardly, I was chuffed our boy was listening so closely and thinking so critically.

Check it:

Accept – Balls to the Wall
ACDC – Back In Black
Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion
Alice Cooper – School’s Out
Animals – The House Of The Rising Sun
April Wine – I Like To Rock
Bachman Turner Overdrive – Takin’ Care Of Business
Bad Company – Feel Like Making Love
Beatles – Day Tripper
Billy Idol – White Wedding, Pt. 1
Billy Joel –  It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Blondie – Call Me
Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper
Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Boston – More Than a Feeling
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69
Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
Cars – You Might Think
Chicago – 25 Or 6 To 4
Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son
Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
Deep Purple – Highway Star
Def Leppard – Photograph
DIO – Rainbow In The Dark
Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing
Don Henley – All She Wants To Do Is Dance
Doobie Brothers – China Grove
Doors – L.A. Woman
Eagles – Life In The Fast Lane
Eric Clapton, Derek, The Dominos – Layla
Europe – The final countdown
Five Man Electric Band – Signs
Foghat – Slow Ride
Free – All Right Now
George Thorogood – Bad To The Bone
Golden Earring – Radar Love
Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band
Guess Who – American Woman
Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Heart – Barracuda
Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills
Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart
Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love
Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath
Jimi Hendrix – Foxey Lady
Joan Jett – I Love Rock n’ Roll
Joe Walsh – Rocky Mountain Way
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Judas Priest – Living After Midnight
Kansas – Carry on Wayward Son
Kick Axe – Heavy Metal Shuffle
Kinks – You Really Got Me
Kiss – Rock And Roll All Nite
Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
Molly Hatchet – Flirtin’ With Disaster
Motley Crue – Kickstart My Heart
Motörhead – Ace of Spades
Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes
Mountain – Mississippi Queen
Nazareth – This Flight Tonight
Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Police – Roxanne
Queen (f. David Bowie) – Under Pressure
Quiet Riot – Bang Your Head (Metal Health)
Rainbow – Since You’ve Been Gone
Ram Jam – Black Betty
Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
Robert Palmer – Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May
Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Rush – Closer To The Heart
Santana – Black Magic Woman
Scorpions – Rock You Like A Hurricane
Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
Slade – Cum On Feel The Noize
Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’
Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World
Stealers Wheel – Stuck In The Middle With You
Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Pride And Joy
Styx – Renegade
Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
Sweet – Ballroom Blitz
T.Rex – 20th Century Boy
Them – Baby, Please Don’t Go
Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back in Town
Three Dog Night – Joy To The World
Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
UFO – Doctor Doctor
Uriah Heep – Easy Livin’
Van Halen – Panama
Warren Zevon – Werewolves Of London
Whitesnake – Here I Go Again
Who – My Generation
Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart
ZZ Top – Tush

The only one in the list you might wonder about is the Queen selection. Honestly, the Hits Of Queen disc plays in our car quite regularly anyway*, and our kids know all those songs inside and out, so it didn’t really mater what track from them I included and Under Pressure seemed like a nice change from We Will Rock You, or We Are The Champions, etc.

You can probably think of others I missed, or songs you’d have chosen differently for a given band, and that’s awesome. Drop comments!

Fun times!

 

*And here it behooves me to reference Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens r.e. mixed tapes in the car. You’ve read it, so you’ll know what I mean.

Overlooked Grail List Score!

During our last (most recent) Taranna trip, I scored this brilliant 2cd tribute to Neil Young. It’s chock full of cool stuff, just like the first volume one was (I have that too). Lovely!

When I went to the Grail List to update it for the Last Pogo DVD that I also found (wahoo!), I realized that this Borrowed Tunes II set was also on the list!

Double Taranna Grail List Score!!

 

NB: The list is now updated with these two items removed. Awesomeness.

Taranna Trip Finds! GRAIL LIST SCORE!!!

Yup. My Dad and I went to Taranna yesterday. Much goodness.  Of course, I hit up BMV and Sonic Boom. Here’s a quick post to share what I got. You will be seeing all of these at some point in future posts!

BMV

3-For-$10 Bin:

Pretty sure I owned Hindu Love Gods at some other point but it ain’t here now and I wanted it back! Warren Zevon fronting a bunch of the R.E.M. dudes? Awesome. The Memoirs Of A Geisha soundtrack looks sweet: music composed and conducted by John Williams, cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma, and violin solos by Itzhak Perlman. I loved the film, and this CD looks all kinds of awesome. And a solo Q-Tip album? I’m in!

Regular:

Jonny Greenwood (radiohead)’s soundtrack for There Will Be Blood intrigued me. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky was a collection-gap filler. Neil Young’s On The Beach is one I didn’t yet have (exciting!). Wayne Kramer’s The Hard Stuff (complete with ROLLINS liner notes, and it’s on Epitaph Records) totally made my day. And Nine Inch Nails The Slip (Halo 27) is a CD/DVD set. It looks to be numbered, limited to 250,000. Rare? I have no idea. Still, cool!

I also scored a couple of books for winter reading. Our Band Could Be Your Life is one I read years ago, wanna do it again. And Mersereau’s History Of Canadian Rock will be lovely. My copy has a foreward by Neil Peart!

***

SONIC BOOM

Regular:

Someone in the Community (sorry I’m tired and I forget who) was recently talking about Biffy Clyro. Found this Puzzles album for $2.99 and decided to give it a go. Cynic’s Kindly Bent To Free Us finishes off my Cynic collection (sweet!). GZA’s Legend Of The Liquid Sword is exciting, I’ve never seen one in the wild before. Happy to have this one on board! And the 2CD Borrowed Tunes II, a collection of Canadian bands covering Neil Young songs, is gonna be sweet. I loved volume one!

GRAIL LIST FIND!!!!

Super-stoked to find this DVD copy of the remasterd and re-released Last Pogo DVD. Documentary about Toronto’s punk scene 1976-1978 and the last-ever punk show at the Horseshoe. Dubbed ‘Punk’s Last Waltz.’ So many bands involved, including Teenage Head, Viletones, Diodes, Simply Saucer, Forgotten Rebels, Demics, and tons more.

It also has a 24-page colour booklet and 1.5 hours of special features! Including the film itself, this set is 204 minutes in total. Whoa.

I cannot wait to watch it all!

Story: I asked at BMV if they had this DVD. They did not. But the dude there said to check Soundscapes or She Said Boom! as he knew the director had dropped off copies at those shoppes for consignment. We checked both, and that was about three years ago… no copies left. But then I walked into Sonic Boom, asked the lady there and (Sonic) Boom! There it was! I wasn’t even in the store more than two minutes and I had a Grail Item Find!

***

And those were my scores. Sweet!

Funny, I spent my time in both stores telling myself this could be my last trip before spring (we don’t tend to try to fight our way to the city when the roads are shite), so I oughta load up for the winter! And, comparatively with my usual piles, I came back with far fewer items than most trips. I tried like crazy to find more things that would suit, and I guess this time it wasn’t as many as usual… So I feel that I shopped for quality, not quantity! I am thrilled with it all.

‘Twas a great trip down to the city, no real traffic, and no snow (which had been forecast). Ultimately a perfect day, as not even the drizzly rain bothered us.

Watch for all of these scores, individually, in future KMA posts!

TARANNA!

Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute To Gram Parsons

A Taranna score…

Gram Parsons was a flash of brilliance who gave us so much music, showed so much promise, then burned out instead of fading away.

This compilation is filled to the brim with amazing artists paying tribute to Parsons’ songs. The album benefited Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation’s “Campaign for a Landmine Free World.”

You get the Pretenders & Emmylou Harris, Cowboy Junkies, Beck & Emmylou Harris, Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield, the Mavericks, Chris Hillman & Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow & Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams & David Crosby, Wilco, Whiskeytown, Gillian Welch, and the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers.

See what I mean? Every song is eulogy, every song is praise, every song is pure in thanks to Gram.

Beautiful.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

SLCR #317: Regina Folk Festival (August 11, 2018)

Festivals can be tricky to write about since you get a bunch of different artists, some you might not know anything about, and often not enough time for them to leave a lasting impression. And you – this time I mean you, specifically, whoever is reading this – probably don’t want to read a list of names with me going “it was fine” over and over.

Luckily for you, God intervened. An afternoon temperature of 42C before the humidex put a hold on our plans. We’d already foregone the weekend passes in favour of just the Saturday night, but the heat was such that we held off even further, opting to show up after 9:00pm. As we got exchanged our passes for wristbands, Pierre Kwenders was just wrapping up. We took a walk around the vendor area, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the food trucks so dead. I know it was later in the evening, but still. Only the places that specialized in cool drinks had significant lines. I think it was just too hot to eat.

Since we showed up so late, we left our chairs in the car and stood down at the front. Gotta be the first time I’ve done that at the folk festival in a decade. Between sets, Zoey Roy was doing a spoken word performance – very impassioned and got a great reaction from the crowd. I’m not sure that poetry readings will ever be 100% my thing, but when done well and in front of an appreciative, supportive audience, I have a better understanding of the appeal.

Of all the artists at this year’s festival, I was most excited for Tanya Tagaq. We’d seen her with the symphony recently, but this was our first opportunity to see a full performance. Her music is a modern take on traditional Inuit throat singing and she was accompanied by, among other musicians, a Theremin player. This is not music I would listen to every day but it fits certain moods very well. Specifically, the moods of “I want to completely discombobulate my brain” or “I want to get ready for war.” In a literal sense, I mean – if I had to grab a gun and charge into battle, I’d want this playing. Her music is powerful and vulnerable and otherworldly and scared at least one nearby small child. It sounds unlike anything else I’ve heard and makes me feel different than any other music too. When I was younger, I probably would have hated this. She sang for an hour and it flew by. Amazing.

Between sets, we found a bench, and, somehow, Rheanne. We run into her every year, apparently even when it’s dark out and we’re only there for a few hours.

On our way back to the stage, we passed a very drunk lady being walked out of the park by security. Or at least that was the goal; when we saw her, she’d stopped to give out high-fives, take selfies, and sing Sweet Child O’ Mine with other festival-goers. It’s not often you get to say “there’s a very patient security guard.” Anyway, I had no idea alcohol could make you so happy. I should investigate further.

The night’s headliner was Neko Case. I’d seen her a few times before, including once at the festival, and I always came away a little underwhelmed. In what I always felt was an unfair way, you understand. She’s so incredible that I went into her shows with sky-high expectations that were never quite met. This time, though, was easily the best of her shows that I’ve seen. It would be easy to chalk that up to my expectations but I don’t think that’s quite it. She seemed to really be inspired and emotional to be at the festival, having worked earlier in the day with Girls Rock Regina, a girls’ music camp (and wearing their shirt during her performance). She also talked about how excited she was to finally see Tanya Tagaq (they always play the same festivals but on different days) and dedicated a song to Zoey Roy. It seemed like she was really feeling the festival and that came through in her performance. Even if she was eating and being eaten by bugs because of the spotlights.

Case is touring her new album, Hell-On, which I’ve listened to, but not a ton. We got lots of songs off it, of course. Fewer of the old classics but “Hold On, Hold On” is my favourite of hers and she played that one, so no complaints here. But the best moment for my money was during the song Man, a song about masculinity and gender roles and also one of the rockier songs of the night. These two ballcap bro-dudes heard the opening notes and they were SO into it. They yelled WOOOO and threw up devil horns and hugged and rocked out like nobody’s business. And then they were joined by a third guy, and they all stood in a circle, holding hands, jumping up and down and pumping their arms to the music. The song is great. Their reaction was fantastic. The two combined? Perfect.

And then we went home. Makes for an abbreviated festival recap this year – I trust everyone had fun at Walk off the Earth and Shakey Graves and Bruce Cockburn and Michael Franti. Next year is the 50th annual folk festival, so we’ll see who they bring in. Better believe my expectations are already completely unreasonable and we’ve got seven months until the initial lineup announcement.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls with Bad Cop/Bad Cop and Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs (September 12)
• The Fred Eaglesmith Show starring Tif Ginn (September 23)
• Cadence Weapon with Fat Tony and Hua Li (October 2)
• Jonathan Richman (October 6)
• Crash Test Dummies (October 11)
• Colter Wall (October 16)
• They Might Be Giants (October 20)
• Hawksley Workman & the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (April 13)

SLCR #315: Gateway Festival (July 28, 2018)

This show could have waited a few days and I’d have been fine with it. As far as festivals go, it had one of the most James-specific lineups I’d ever seen, so I should have been more excited, but it had been a really long week. I got home on time on Monday evening. Worked late and got home after 9:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Only left an hour late on Friday to begin my two-week vacation (woo) but spent Friday night mowing the lawn, cleaning house, and doing all the other stuff I’d been putting off before my in-laws’ flight got in at midnight. Mika had worked late all week too. We needed groceries and I wound up buying bananas and milk at Shoppers Drug Mart at 11:30pm, which I think is a nice summary of how that week went.

All of which was great preparation for driving two hours to Bengough, watching a bunch of bands, and driving two hours back after midnight. I was actually feeling better on Saturday than I was expecting; sleeping in until 12:30 helped.

Soon enough, tickets in hand and lawnchairs in trunk, we were on the road. The drive was uneventful, which doesn’t give me anything to talk about but that’s still probably for the best. I mean, it’s fun to tell the story of how I hit a duck in the ass with the car on the way home from Bengough a few years ago, but I’d still have preferred to not hit the duck.

I had promised Mika we’d make it there in time for Library Voices’ set at 5:15 but that was before I was slow and lazy in the morning. And afternoon. And pretty much always. But I was still pretty sure that we’d make it, and they started their first song as we were walking into the grounds. Close enough. We found a place to park our lawn chairs and sat back for the show. Library Voices are one of the bigger bands to come out of Regina in the past decade, and yet, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a proper concert by them, just short festival sets where they never play the few songs I know. Needless to say, that didn’t change here, but this was a quick fun hit of power-pop that started our festival experience off on a good note.

Onto the parade of mostly-local people I don’t really know much about and don’t have much to say about! Country singer Ellen Froese was up next with a mix of covers and originals. I enjoyed her set and she’s local, so I imagine I’ll see her again soon. She was followed by Seth Anderson. No band – just him and a guitar. He had a good sense of humour, playing off the sounds of soundcheck happening on the other stage during his set. (He may also have dropped a few f-bombs during one of his songs and it looked like maybe someone suggested that he please stop doing so, since we hadn’t hit the drunkening hour yet – but I digress.) I liked this too. Would see again.

Next was Zachary Lucky. Country singer. Deep voice. Probably something I’d really dig but I didn’t get to see much of him. I decided that I should get something to eat before the Karpinka Brothers, which seemed like a solid enough plan but it went awry. First I went to the merch stand to take a peek. Didn’t get anything this year. Next, I made the arduous trek back to the car – like, almost three or four whole minutes each way, some sort of death march – so I could get my glasses. I have regular glasses and sunglasses and whichever pair is not currently on my head is inevitably forgotten in the car. Finally, I had to survey the food options, settling on a food truck that made a waffle hashbrown sandwich. Basically, you get bacon and cheese inside two waffles made out of hashbrowns. It needed an egg for breakfast sandwich perfection but this was still pretty great and I’m going to try making hashbrowns like that here sometime. This, however, was not the speediest process – or possibly this truck had some efficiency issues – anyway, by the time I was back at my chair, the Karpinka Brothers were nearly done.

I went to high school with one of the Karpinkas (probably both, really, but Shawn was in my grade). I’ve run into Shawn a few times since high school. He’s always been nice and I’m always happy to see him and that’s not something I’d say about 95% of my graduating class. Before this, though, I’d never actually seen them play (apart from maybe a few songs in a Regina Folk Festival teaser set, but I’m not even 100% certain about that and it’s way too late for me to be fact-checking now). I still can’t say I really saw them, but I could hear them from the food truck of eternal wait and they sounded really fun. I’ll have to make it a priority to get to one of their shows soon.

I saw Megan Nash earlier this year and was looking forward to her set. She’s one of my favourite local musicians. She had a strict 30-minute set so she wasn’t as talkative as last time (or maybe it’s that she wasn’t all hopped up on cold medication), but this was still really good.

Onto the folks you may have heard of! First up was former Weakerthans lead singer John K. Samson, a self-described “lefty talk-singer from Winnipeg.” It sounded like there were some Winnipegers near us who were very happy to learn where he was from. Then he opened with Weakerthans classic One Great City!, which says “The Guess Who sucked, the Jets were lousy anyway” and has a singalong chorus of “I hate Winnipeg.” I’d say it’s still kind of a love letter to the city but said Winnipegers seemed to disagree. Anyway, I’ve seen John K. as a solo act before and he was all about playing his own songs and very few Weakerthans songs, but we got the opposite here. There were a handful of his solo songs, including Post-Doc Blues and Vampire Alberta Blues (neither of which are particularly bluesy), but most were Weakerthans favourites. A personal highlight was hearing Samson play all three songs about Virtute the cat in a row. Looking up the lyrics of Virtute at Rest, I saw on Samson’s website that the human from those songs is the same person in the song 17th Street Treatment Centre, which makes perfect sense but still blew my mind a little. As an aside, he played that one too. And he also played Aside.

Samson’s set started at 8:15 and in retrospect, when it was done, we should have moved our chairs from the beer garden side of the park to the all-ages side. 8:00pm is the magic hour where the hipsters and families disappear and the people who’ve been drinking at their campsites all day show up. Plus then we’d be nice and close to the main stage but still comfortably on our respective butts. Though I suppose we’d have missed out on some… colourful characters.

When the Gateway Festival released the initial teaser poster for the event, all of the musicians’ names were blacked out but some were done in such a way that you could kinda make a guess at who they were. I was 99% sure one was Kathleen Edwards. This got me hyped and I may have spent several days meticulously poring over the poster like it was the Zapruder film. Mika and I saw Kathleen Edwards at the Exchange many years ago and it was a great great show. Moreover, a few years ago, she essentially retired from music to open up a coffee shop called Quitter’s in Stittsville, Ontario.

If you think I’m going to make a joke about Stittsville, think again. I’m far too mature for that. Plus I live in Regina, so, you know. Plus Kathleen Edwards made all those jokes already.

ANYWAY my point is that while Edwards has done a handful of concerts since her self-imposed retirement, I really didn’t think she’d ever come out this way again. And here she was! This was exciting enough that we actually left our chairs and went down to the main stage. Edwards was in fine form and seemed to be relaxed and really enjoying herself. There was a nice mix of songs spanning her whole career (Sidecars was a personal favourite) and one new one she wrote about turning 40. After Empty Threat, she asked if there were any Americans there since we were less than an hour from the border, which led to a story about opening for Bob Dylan in Montana. She also dedicated the song Hockey Skates to everyone affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy earlier this year. Kathleen Edwards is a treasure.

Then we were back to the side stages for Elliott BROOD and as ever, I’ll play along with the spelling once. I should listen to these guys more but I always seem to forget how much I like them. Their energy was especially welcome coming after a series of folkier artists. They’re coming back to Regina in the fall and I was thinking about skipping out since I’ve seen them a few times in the past few years but this was fun enough that I might just reconsider.

Somewhere in here I went to use the bathroom and found that apart from the portapotties, there were also two urinals, of sorts. Big covered tanks with funnels sticking out of them. As they say, when in Rome, pee in a funnel and then go find some hand sanitizer.

Finally, we had the last addition to the festival lineup, recent inductee to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and former Barenaked Lady, Steven Page. I’d seen one of his solo shows with Mary a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when they added him to an already stacked festival, I was stoked. Much like with Samson, there were more Barenaked Ladies songs than Page solo songs, including Jane, Enid, The Old Apartment, Break Your Heart, It’s All Been Done, Alcohol, and I Live With It Every Day. He closed with Brian Wilson, which you had to expect. For solo stuff, he played Surprise Surprise, Manchild, Linda Ronstadt in the 70s, and A New Shore, among others.

There was also a bit where he did some happy strumming on his guitar and Page and the rest of his band took turns singing bits of different popular songs that fit the music. And while I’m sure this is a bit he does often, I suspect the snippet of Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure that Page sang was specifically because Samson was there. I mean, it’s not a happy song and it didn’t fit the music, but I know Page likes it and had previously recorded it with the Art of Time Ensemble.

Page didn’t play If I Had $1,000,000, much to the frustration of some of the folks around us who were expecting a Barenaked Ladies greatest hits show. I don’t know who wrote what in Barenaked Ladies, but I suspect Page only played stuff that he wrote (or at least co-wrote). Tough break for anyone who was expecting the chimpanzee song. But hey, he still played a lot of hits. Possibly too many for some folks’ tastes – Page was about 20 minutes over his allotted time when it looked like someone notified him it was time to wrap it up. Even then, after Brian Wilson, as we were starting to leave, just as I overheard a festival volunteer say “there hasn’t been an encore all weekend, there won’t be one now,” Page and his band came back out and played Call and Answer. The Badland Country Band was set to go on at midnight and it was nearing 12:30 and a handful of folks were growing impatient. One of the aforementioned colourful characters tried to start a “BADLAND BADLAND” chant but it was as successful as you might expect. “Sorry guys, we’ll be quick,” said Page to the Badlands when he came back out. I’m sure he meant it, but Call and Answer is a six-minute song and I cackled. I dug this whole thing, though to be fair, going over time? Not cool. But I’ll chalk it up to miscommunication somewhere along the way, mostly because we weren’t staying around for the Badland Country Band anyway. As we walked back to the car, we heard them start into a cover of You May Be Right and I’m pretty sure they messed up the words. Timing must have thrown them off.

The drive home was duckless and uneventful, which is exactly how I wanted to wrap up the day.

I should mention that the entire two-day festival was packed with musicians I like and basically consisted of one big SLCR all-star reunion show. I’m not a camping person and Bengough is a long drive from Regina – it would be pretty taxing to take in both nights if you’re going to drive home each night. So we skipped the Friday, since the organizers were kind enough to put all my nice-to-sees on Friday and my must-sees on Saturday. But seriously – Friday night had Big Sugar, Terra Lightfoot, William Prince, Belle Plaine, and Yukon Blonde (along with The Kentucky Headhunters and Chixdiggit, who I’ve never seen before). In Bengough! Population: 337! This whole festival is kind of ridiculous!

SLCR #308: Winterruption 2018 (January 19-20, 2018)

I’m back! It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. Probably because I let this sit for three weeks and now I have no real memory of these shows. Time to rocket through some half-recalled irrelevancies!

The short version is that this was all good and you can just go ahead and stop here if you want. I kind of want.

For the third straight year, the Regina Folk Festival and the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon teamed up to put on Winterruption, a slate of concerts meant to inject some warmth and light into the coldest, darkest time of the year. And for the second straight year, they missed the mark and accidentally dropped their reprieve from winter into an unseasonably pleasant weekend. Fine by me – I really like the idea of a fun concert in the middle of -40C but I don’t actually want to leave the house for it.

In past years, Saskatoon got a number of extra bands at their Winterruption and it felt like Regina was getting the short end of the stick. This time, apart from Chad VanGaalen making a Saskatoon stop, it seemed like we got pretty equal lineups. I wonder why this pleases me? I should want us all to get more, not just for them to get less. But if we go down this philosophical rabbit hole, I won’t hit my goal of finishing this review by the time this Apple Music Alternative Hits: 1991 playlist ends. Or so I thought until I looked just now to double-check the title and saw that this thing is three-and-a-half hours long. I guess I can put some time into this. Too bad I won’t.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 18

Begonia was at the Exchange with Close Talker and Bears in Hazenmore. For those whose tastes are a bit rockier, the Revival Music Room hosted Duchess Says with Partner and The Florals. And I didn’t go to any of this. It’s like you didn’t even read the dates up there.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 19

Indeed, I skipped the Thursday concerts, heading out to my first triple-bill of the weekend at the Artesian. I wish I had stories to tell you since I’ve been looking at this blank text file for like 20 minutes. Somewhere in there, I gave up on Alternative Hits: 1991 since obviously THAT’S the issue here. But I still got nothing – I bought a ticket a while back and showed up at the appointed time and showed them my ticket and they let me in and I sat in a pew at the back of the room. I think that’s pretty much how this is supposed to go. Mika wasn’t particularly interested in this show and I didn’t see anyone I knew, though I know Rob was there somewhere. Carver too, which is a given for Tom Wilson shows. Allow me to paraphrase what Wilson said from the stage: “No matter where I go, I don’t have a friend named Carver. I come to Regina, and I have a friend named Carver. It’s like the name of a Coen Brothers’ character. I know Carver does bad things but I don’t need to know what they are.”

But that would come later in the evening. To start with, we had local country(ish) singer-songwriter Belle Plaine. I’d seen her only once before – a little more than a year ago during BreakOut West – which is kind of nuts considering how many shows she does around these parts. I really enjoyed that last set and liked her even better the second time around, where she had the chance to show off more of her original songs and had a bit more of an opportunity to tell stories. Last time, I said “would go again” and that hasn’t changed. Would be more eager to go again, in fact.

Next up was Mariel Buckley, in case you prefer your solo lady country singers to come from Alberta instead of Saskatchewan, though it sounds like she spends enough time here that she basically counts anyway. There was nothing wrong with her set but it didn’t really grab me, mostly for the stupidest, most me-centric reason; basically, her voice reminded me a lot of someone I know. And I don’t like that someone very much. Such a dumb reason! If anyone out there actually listens to any of the bands I write about, give her album a spin and let me know if I was blind to something great. (And if I know you in real life and not just the internet, listen to this and tell me who you think I’m talking about. I mean, I’ll never tell you if you’re right but I really want to hear your guesses.)

Last time I saw Tom Wilson, he read draft excerpts from his upcoming memoir. If you ever get the chance to hear him tell his life story, you should, it’s really interesting and he’s a gifted storyteller. Now the book is out and I was planning on picking it up at this show, but it was being sold by Chapters who set up a little shop in the basement. And if I’m not handing money to the artist and I’m just getting it from Chapters, I can get it from any Chapters, you know? Plus, they left before his set anyway. And I didn’t really want to give up my spot to go get it with no guarantees I’d still have my space upon my return. And this is too many words about not buying a book or even trying to do so, when there are so many more interesting things I don’t do.

Apart from calling out Carver, Wilson’s set was split pretty evenly between music and stories. Both were enjoyable, but at one point he was concerned that we were thinking, “Jesus, the Junkhouse guy wouldn’t stop reading at us.”

I wonder if Junkhouse is ever still a thing? I’ve now got Tom Wilson, Lee Harvey Osmond, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings under my belt, but I’ve never seen Junkhouse. Time for some procrastination Googling, my favourite kind: according to Wikipedia, Junkhouse “still performs together occasionally,” though seemingly not since 2009 (so, VERY occasionally) and guitarist Dan Achen has since passed away. And Wilson was in a band called The Florida Razors that broke up in the 80s. I guess I’m never completing that Tom Wilson bingo card.

ANYWAY. Show good. Wilson writes great stories to begin with, and he has a voice that makes everything he says sound epic. Good combo. And while some of the stories were repeated from last time – they kind of had to be, since they’re central to what his book is about – there was lots I hadn’t heard before too. As for the songs, there was a mix between some Lee Harvey Osmond songs that he’s played here before, a few others from throughout his career, and a couple covers.

With Wilson, I really kind of missed out on his whole career up until a few years ago and that’s where I’d still be if not for my habit of going to pretty much any show for any reason. Now I see him every time he comes through town and I look forward to it more each time.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20

For this night, we were at the Exchange, which had been the plan all along, but for some reason, I’d been convinced it was two nights at the Artesian up until I saw some signs at the Tom Wilson show that indicated otherwise. So once again, I was dumb, and could have lived my whole life without anyone ever knowing about it, but I had to tell you just the same.

This show was very sold out, with a number of folks online looking to buy tickets. Some people thought they could get in at the door. They were denied. I felt bad for the girl ahead of us – her two friends had tickets, but she didn’t – and they drove. She took a disappointing early cab ride home.

The evening’s host was a local community radio DJ. You may remember him from his interminable introduction of Sloan at the Gateway Festival two years ago. That is, if you happen to be Jeff or Mika, you may remember him. The rest of you probably don’t. It was a hilariously lengthy introduction but probably you had to be there to appreciate it. Anyway, on this night, he was called into service at the last minute. He was there as a fan but the scheduled host no-showed and he was asked to fill in. He did a fine job with no advance warning.

It didn’t go so well for him once before. First up was Megan Nash, and apparently at some previous gig, he mistakenly introduced her as Megan Lane, a different local singer. They both joked about this and he took great care to get it right this time. In his defense, I think I had them mixed up in my head too because the person on stage was very much not who I was expecting. However, she quickly won me over with her songs and her charmingly quirky personality, and I’d have to say she was the most delightful surprise of the weekend. Though it should be noted that the aforementioned quirkiness may have been exacerbated by her being all hopped up on Buckley’s Mixture. For my non-Canadians, Buckley’s is a cough syrup that’s advertised with the tagline, “It tastes awful, but it works.” True story: the first time I had it, I actually went lightheaded. I was asked to describe what it’s like and the best I could come up with was “imagine watery jizz that tastes like rubbing alcohol and a pine tree.” Nash was swigging this from the bottle onstage and still managing to play music, which is impressive. “I think there’s a limit to how much of this you’re supposed to have,” she said, probably too late.

Between sets, our actual host arrived. I don’t know how she got to be the host – I’m guessing community radio? I do know her name, because she said it several times. She didn’t really bother doing anything to introduce Lindi Ortega, though. I have a whole new respect for the guy from earlier, to say nothing of the usual parade of CBC Radio “climate specialists” they normally get for these things.

After that underwhelming introduction, Lindi Ortega took the stage. I was surprised she wasn’t going on last. We’d seen her a few years ago, opening for k.d. lang, and I’ve seen her name pop up all over the place. Plus, I’m pretty sure she was responsible for attracting the cowboys that were scattered throughout the audience. I was looking forward to seeing her in a smaller venue, but I don’t know what it was – something just didn’t click with me. She was fine, her husband/guitarist was fine (as a guitarist, I mean; I assume he’s good at husbanding though I don’t have evidence one way or the other). It was all good, but for me it ultimately was just there, though I really can’t complain about anything. Apart from the people in the audience who paid to be there and then refused to watch the show or shut up while it was happening, but you’ve heard that one before. There was one heroic lady who told a group of babbling idiot girls to shut up and that was appreciated. Though not enough; you should get a parade for something like that.

Finally, we had Mo Kenney, and there were no major mishaps during her introduction, though I’m only saying that because I asked Mika if the host had mistakenly said “Kennedy” but she said she didn’t think so. I heard Kennedy but I may have been just expecting something to go wrong at this point.

Anyway, I’ve seen Mo Kenney a few times now and I say the same thing every time, so I’ll say it again; namely, she has a ton of songs that I like and she gets more confident as a performer every time out. The shows are always very similar, but despite that, I think this time was the best of the bunch. Not only did I get to hear a bunch of her new stuff live for the first time, but I got all my older favourites too – none were missed.

Really, I wound up feeling about Mo Kenney the same I did after seeing Corb Lund last year. Neither would be the first name to come to mind when I list my very favourite musicians, but when you factor in how many great songs they have and how much I enjoy their music, they both should really be in that mix. And I feel the need to say something more than that as a conclusion, but we’re rapidly approaching Winterruption 2019 and this thing still isn’t done. Except now it is.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• The Dears w/Lou Canon (March 17)
• Sloan (April 6)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic w/Emo Philips (June 1)

Aaron’s Best Of 2017

Since starting the blog (and this year-ending post series) in 2006, I have always chosen one favourite album of the year, then listed the rest in no particular order. In all of those years, it’s never an easy task – I love all the records! This makes sense, because I tend to only buy things I know I will like…

This year is no different, except that I haven’t played most of these 2017 albums enough to even review them yet! Some of this is because they need more spins, some is that I was simply listened and didn’t write them up as I went, and some I just plain forgot I should be writing…

As you’ll see below, only a few current releases on my list have been reviewed in these pages to date, as marked by a ^. Still, I have played all of these records in the list, but not written a lot of them up, so maybe perspective is a wee bit lost in it all, this year. Also, the majority of my buying this year has been of older releases, mostly used CDs, a few re-issue LPs of old jazz stuff…

No matter. I strive to provide, here at the KMA, and I cannot break tradition now. So let’s give ‘er!

AARON’S BEST OF 2017:

Once again it was a tough (very tough) choice. So much good music, even with the (relatively) few I actually got to hear. Some are sad because the artists have passed in the last year or two (Gord Downie, David Bowie, Chris Cornell on the Singles OMPS), some are awesome because they involve my hero Robert Pollard (GBV, Circus Devils), one was not really in my wheelhouse (Kendrick Lamar), and many of them rock really hard… and all were truly excellent releases. Of course I’m going to say that – I wouldn’t have gotten them if I didn’t want to hear them! And so I wanted to make them all my Best Of 2017… But a winner I must pick, and so congratulations for Aaron’s Best Of 2017 goes to:

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (deluxe edition)^

Not only is this a stellar live set, it is also a time capsule for all of us who were fortunate to have seen the band in concert on this epic tour. This is a band so far into the game, and still playing on all cylinders and totally owning it night after night. It’s also another cool deluxe packaging triumph (like the Book Of Souls was), thus proving this band pretty much can do no wrong at this point.

A nice companion award to go with their 2015 win for Book Of Souls! Congratulations, Iron Maiden!

***

THE REST (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER) (20):

Gordon Downie – Introduce Yerself
Jack Johnson – All The Light Above It Too
Jake Bugg – Hearts That Strain
Greg Graffin – Millport
Geoff Berner – Canadiana Grotesquica
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand^
Mastodon – Cold Dark Place^
Deep Purple – Infinite^ (and Time For Bedlam, All I Got Is You)
Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven
Guided By Voices – August By Cake
Circus Devils – Laughs Last
Circus Devils – Laughs Best (The Kids Eat It Up)
Dead Cross – Dead Cross^
Singles OMPS 25th Anniversary (2CD)
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
John Mayer – The Search For Everything
David Bowie – No Plan^
Solstafir – Berdreyminn

PLUS – LATE ADDITIONS I HAVEN’T FINISHED YET (3):

Max Webster – The Party 1976-82 (8CD boxed set)
Black Sabbath – The End: Live In Brimingham (2CD)
Motörhead – Under Cöver

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AWESOME 2017 INDEPENDENT RELEASES (3):

Manipulant – Eclectro^
Amherst Drive – Amherst Drive^
Cruel Bloom – Relapsing

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FREE ALBUM DOWNLOAD (1):

Public Enemy – Nothing Is Quick In The Desert

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PREVIOUS YEARS’ WINNERS:

2016  Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker / Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (tie)
2015  Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
2014  Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems / Sloan – Commonwealth (tie)
2013  Black Sabbath – 13
2012  Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
2011  Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Play The Blues: Live From Jazz At The Lincoln Center
2010  Jack Johnson – To The Sea
2009  Leonard Cohen – Live In London
2008  Metallica – Death Magnetic
2007  Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free / Immaculate Machine – Fables (tie)
2006  Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It

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STILL TO GET:

And finally, in this space I usually list all the albums I wish I had/could have/still want to buy every year. However, this year there are simply too many. I’ve seen some year-end lists on other excellent blogs in the community and I haven’t heard a single album in their entire lists! Scrolling through a full list of 2017’s releases, I saw even more I wanted to hear… So, instead, I will be happy with what I have and keep my eyes peeled for anything cool and recent as I go along… Suffice it to say, given unlimited funds, I would buy ALL the records!

***

IN SUM:

2017 had its up and downs, but so it goes. With the hiatus as summer wound down, I missed out on some time, but that was definitely necessary time away for several reasons. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we’ve in our 11th year of this blog, but here we are, still kicking and screaming and blathering, and we have all of you to thank for it. Without you, we’d just be yammering away into the ether, unheard. Absolute thanks from James and myself to all of you, for Reading and Commenting, for sharing great tunes and ideas and opinions, and for being the greatest community in the world.

Happy New Year to you all. See you in 2018!

Thrift Store Religion

This one needs a disclaimer:

I give all deference to anyone’s beliefs. I do. I really do. This post is just pointing out something I’ve noticed, recently. And now you’re wondering what the hell I’m gonna say. Well, read on!

***

There’s a piped-in radio at our work. We have no say in what gets played. It’s been Christmas music lately, of course. Not my favourite, but it’s only temporary.

Thankfully, it’s not non-stop Christmas music, they’ve been playing regular pop music mixed in. And with those mixed in songs, I’ve been noticing that there has also been an increase in overtly religious songs in the playlist. Related to Christmas? Probably. Or maybe it’s just random chance. But I noticed.

Here are 5 songs I heard in heavy rotation last week, mixed in with Jingle Bell Rock and Blue Christmas:

Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky

Yes, the original. And if ever there was an overt religious song, it’s this one. You’ve heard it. You know.

Beach Boys – God Made The Radio

I generally appreciate the Beach Boys and what they were, but I’ve always found this song insipid and obnoxious, one of the worst in their catalogue. And every time it plays, all I can think is that God did not make the radio. A long list of human inventors discovered electromagnetic waves and subsequently built machines to use them. I don’t care how good your harmonies are, science made the radio.

Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars

“Tell me all your thoughts on God, ‘cos I’d really like to meet her.” The story of a child asking a zillion questions, as “children often do.” Fun to purport that God is a woman (and why not, although Christianity seems certain it’s a man, who sent HIS Son, etc), and curiosity is great in anyone, but this one plays like pure calculation. like, ‘hey man, if we mention God in our song, and make it a woman, but package it as something relatable like a kid being curious, we might get radio play!’

Joan Osbourne – One Of Us

An OK tune the first couple of times I heard it, but every play after that (and it’s been countless times, in groceries stores, dentists’ offices, shopping malls, etc), has been annoying. And look, if God was “a slob like one of us,” “just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home,” well, first of all… where is that bus going, straight up? Don’t people believe heaven is in the sky? Shouldn’t it be a plane, not a bus? And if God is here on the earth amongst us, dealing with commuter traffic, who’s running things upstairs? It all hurts my head.

George Harrison – My Sweet Lord

Yup, he’s here too, and George was my favourite Beatle. I know a lot of his music was about spirituality in one way or another, but this has had a lot of play at work too and so here it is on the list because you know what it says too.

***

In Sum:

I’m just pointing out that I noticed an increase in the number of songs containing religious overtones and references on my workplace music system. It’s unusual for this many to be played daily. Again, it’s probably the proximity to a Christian holiday that’s brought this on. I also have not heard a single Hannukah song.

What’s probably worse is that my co-workers hum along and don’t pay any attention to the words. The tunes are catchy enough to grab their ear and attention, and the songs are played at just that volume that they can be heard but they don’t demand your full attention, and so the content doesn’t phase them. If they’re Christians, these tunes are great, but it’s pretty subliminal if they’re not. Of course, they also hum along to that horrid I can’t feel my face song, too, so it’s equal opportunity.

Fortunately, I am off all of this coming week. And with all the work holidays for Christmas and other days off when the production team (that’s me) isn’t in the building, I only work two days between now and January 2. By then, the Christmas music should be gone, and we can go (hopefully) back to our regular pap pop.

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Healing The Divide – A Concert For Peace And Reconciliation

Welcome to the last day of this brilliant Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival. Hope you’ve had as much as we did with this one! Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts from all the writers involved in the series. And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This is a fascinating CD. I cribbed this from Amazon, which oughta tell you everything you need to know about it:

In September 2003, actor Richard Gere introduced a brief address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an evolved soul if ever there was one. The two men hosted a benefit concert at New York’s Avery Fischer Hall to raise funds for Healing the Divide, a humanitarian organization founded by Gere and dedicated to fostering understanding between East and West. The Gyuto Tantric Choir’s deep, overtone-laced throat singing opens the festivities. Appropriately enough, Tom Waits, hoarse and rumbly-tumbly as ever, is up next, appearing with the eternally questing and utterly fearless Kronos Quartet, as is Gambian kora (a West African harp-lute) virtuoso Foday Musa Suso. The latter also sits in with minimalist composer Philip Glass and his ensemble–an unexpectedly thrilling juxtaposition. The beautiful and brilliant young Indian mistress of the sitar, Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi), shoots sparks while N. Carlos Nakai’s Native American wooden flute is heard in an ineffably spacious and moving peace chant with Tibetan musician/composer Nawang Khechog. Each of the artists involved and the record label are donating all their proceeds from the sale of this commemorative CD to the Tibetan Health Initiative, a program providing health insurance and medical care for refugee Buddhist monks and nuns. But aside from offering a painless opportunity for accruing positive karma, these awe-inspiring live tracks would be a bargain at double the price. –Christina Roden

As for my own take on it, after all that, I’ll tell you that I could not help but be pulled deep into this disc. It’s so different from what I usually play, and utterly intriguing and fully immersive, that as it unfolded it quickly became one of the best discs I’ve heard in a long time! This is how we expand our horizons and learn new things… And of course, anything with Tom Waits (with Kronos Quartet, no less!) is worth every penny. Buy this with confidence.

 

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: American Roots Songbook: The Blues – From Yesterday’s Masters To Today’s Cutting Edge

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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This one’s super-easy for me – I loved it!

Me and the blues go way back. I was listening to old blues in high school and haven’t ever quit. Of course, I had no real perspective on it, back when I got started in it, but I was learning. And what happened in the listening was it got deep into my blood and never left.

This comp is amazing. Discogs struggled to nail down how they wanted to label it, check it out:

“Genre: Jazz, Rock, Funk / Soul, Blues, Folk, World, & Country

Style: Piedmont Blues, Blues Rock, Chicago Blues, Rockabilly, Jump Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Piano Blues, Delta Blues, Boogie Woogie, Soul, Folk, Swing”

Whew! Whatever label, the playing is stellar, the tracks are killer, and this comp is one I will play often, any time of day and any day of the week.

Track Listing:

01 Rev. Gary Davis – Cross And Evil Woman Blues
02 Michael Bloomfield – Memphis Radio Blues
03 Duke Robillard – Sayin’ Don’t Make It So
04 Debbie Davies – I Just Want To Make Love To You
05 Anders Osborne – Boxes, Bills And Pain
06 Pinetop Perkins – Hoochie Coochie Man
07 Sue Foley – Every Road I Take
08 Curtis Salgado – Cookie Dough
09 Otis Taylor – Stone Pony
10 Stefan Grossman – Love, Devils And The Blues

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Birth Of Surf

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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There are tons of surf music compilations out there, but most of them leave me wanting more because I can always think of songs they should have added. Also, many comps like this (especially the real budget ones) have varying sound quality from track to track, which definitely downgrades the experience.

Then I stumbled across this UK comp and was blown away. Compiled by Pipeline Magazine, the 26 tracks here represent a fantastic overview of early surf music. Not a bad one in the bunch! It really captures how surf music burgeoned out of 50s rock and because its own thing in the early 60s. Love that Danelectro twang… Also, the sound quality is excellent across the, er, board.

And yes, I had more than one Pulp Fiction flashback as I listened to this haha.

Apparently, there are a vol.2 and vol.3 out there too. I wants them!

Check it out!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival – Vintage Sex Songs

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This entire compilation pleased me to no end. 40 tracks of jump blues, swing and ragtime – all about sex, often couched in double entendre (though sometimes not!). What a great listen, seriously.

This is a euro comp from a label called Primo, who remastered everything and sent this out into the world for our amusement and edification in 2008.

If you ever happen across a copy of this set, don’t even hesitate. It’s pure glorious. So much fun!

Tracklist

CD1

1-1 The Swallows – It Ain’t The Meat (It’s The Motion)
1-2 Bullmoose Jackson – I Want A Bow-Legged Woman
1-3 Crown Prince Waterford – Move Your Hand Baby
1-4 Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon – It Must Be Jelly (‘Cos Jam Don’t Shake Like That)
1-5 Wynonie Harris – She Kept On Sittin’ On It All The Time
1-6 Julia Lee – King Sized Papa
1-7 Sister Rosetta Tharpe – I Want A Tall Skinny Papa
1-8 Mabel Scott – Just Give Me A Man
1-9 Connie Allen – Rocket 69
1-10 Cleo Gibson – I’ve Got Ford Engine Movements In My Hips
1-11 Margaret Carter – I Want Plenty Of Grease In My Frying Pan
1-12 Sippie Wallace – A Man For Every Day Of The Week
1-13 Fats Noel – Ride Daddy Ride
1-14 Jimmy Preston – Hucklebuck Baby
1-15 Papa Charlie Jackson – You Put It In, I’ll Take It Out
1-16 Al Miller – I Found Your Keyhole
1-17 Jimmie Gordon – Bed Springs Blues
1-18 Roosevelt Sykes – My Baby’s Playground
1-19 Memphis Minnie – Keep On Eatin’
1-20 Bessie Smith – I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl

CD2

2-1 Lillie Mae Kirkman – He’s Just My Size
2-2 Barrelhouse Annie – If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It
2-3 Sippie Wallace – I’m A Mighty Tight Woman
2-4 Johnny Temple – Sit Right On It
2-5 The Treniers – Poon Tang
2-6 Lowell Fulson – Let Me Ride In Your Little Automobile
2-7 Lightnin’ Hopkins – Let Me Play With Your Poodle
2-8 Charlie Pickett – Let Me Squeeze Your Lemon
2-9 Bo Carter – My Pencil Won’t Write No More
2-10 The Mississippi Sheiks – Driving That Thing
2-11 Lonnie Johnson – The Best Jockey In Town
2-12 John Lee Hooker – My Daddy Was A Jockey
2-13 Blind Boy Fuller – Sweet Honey Hole
2-14 Jazz Gillum – Sarah Jane
2-15 Wynonie Harris – I Want My Fanny Brown
2-16 Victoria Spivey – Good Cabbage
2-17 Lil Johnson – Sam The Hot Dog Man
2-18 Bo Carter – Banana In Your Fruit Basket
2-19 Floyd Dixon – Baby Let’s Go Down To The Woods
2-20 Lucille Bogan – Shave ‘Em Dry

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Atlantic Jazz – Be Bop

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

Do I even need to say anything about this? I hope not, for a couple of reasons. First, I hope the names and songs you see in the track listing (below) are enough to make you say ‘holy shit, that’s an amazing mix!’ Because it really, really is. Second, writing about jazz is hard, for me anyway. I don’t have words when I listen to this stuff. It’s all visceral, elemental. It just goes into my blood and I know… but I couldn’t tell you how or why or all the reasons for its brilliance. It just is.

So. Seven tracks of be bop. This disc was amazing. Trust me!

 

Track Listing (Shamelessly copied from Discogs, tidied up by me):

1 Dizzy Gillespie – Our Love Is Here To Stay

Baritone Saxophone – Bill Graham
Bass – Percy Heath
Drums – Al Jones
Producer – Ahmet Ertegun, Herb Abramson
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Written-By – George & Ira Gershwin

2 Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey – Evidence

Bass – Spanky DeBrest
Drums – Art Blakey
Engineer – Earl Brown
Piano – Thelonious Monk
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – Johnny Griffin
Trumpet – Bill Hardman
Written-By – Thelonious Monk

3 John Coltrane, Milt Jackson – Bebop

Bass – Paul Chambers
Drums – Connie Kay
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – Hank Jones
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Written-By – Dizzy Gillespie

4 Sonny Stitt – Ko-Ko

Alto Saxophone – Sonny Stitt
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Connie Kay
Electric Guitar – Jim Hall
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – John Lewis
Producer – Ahmet Ertegun, Arif Mardin, John Lewis
Written-By – Charlie Parker

5 Philly Joe Jones – Salt Peanuts

Bass – Paul Chambers
Cornet – Michael Downs
Drums – Philly Joe Jones
Engineer – Phil Iehle, Tom Dowd
Piano – Walter Davis
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – Bill Barron
Written-By – Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke

6 Max Roach – Almost Like Me

Bass – Art Davis
Drums – Max Roach
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – Hasaan Ibn Ali
Producer – Arif Mardin
Written-By – Hasaan Ibn Ali

7 The Giants Of Jazz – Allen’s Alley

Alto Saxophone – Sonny Stitt
Bass – Al McKibbon
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Thelonious Monk
Producer – George Wein
Trombone – Kai Winding
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Written-By – Denzil Best

Oh baby!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Milestones – 20 Rock Operas

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This 1990 budget compilation is a brilliant listen. It’s the kind of set you can throw on, do other things, and let the time pass as the songs take you away.

The list of artists is impressive, and the songs are all worthy of inclusion: check out the track list photie (below). I couldn’t find what criteria the makers of this comp used when defining ‘rock opera,’ (I mean, some were obvious, not so with others to me, anyway) but no matter. I let the tunes do the talking and all was well.

Check it out:

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Earthquake Album

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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Here’s another oddity (to me). Y’all probably know all about this one, already.

Compiled by the British music industry for Rock Aid Armenia to aid those affected by the 1988 Armenian earthquake disaster, it was the first UK charity album to go gold. There were (apparently) a series of singles and compilations in the project.

I can see why. This edition I have here is a cool, if slightly weird, mix of amazing bands all in one place.

The first track merits further information for your edification… Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water ’90”:

The project is most remembered for a re-recording of Deep Purple’s famous hit song, “Smoke on the Water”, with different vocalists singing each verse. The single made it to the UK Top 40 Singles Chart. The track was recorded by an elite group of contemporary progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal musicians who gathered at the historic Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, London. Recording began on July 8, 1989 and was completed over 5 different sessions.

The rock musicians involved in the recording of the song included Bryan Adams, Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Downes, Keith Emerson, Ian Gillan, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Alex Lifeson, Brian May, Paul Rodgers, Chris Squire and Roger Taylor. John Paul Jones and Jon Lord were credited as “helping” behind the scenes with the track. The track’s producers were Gary Langan and Geoff Downes. Talent co-ordination for the record was overseen by Jon Dee, with David Gilmour being the first to join up after a call from Dee. Ian Gillan’s manager Phil Banfield also helped out with talent recruitment. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath was used as a B-Side for the releases.

In 1990, the song was released again with an alternate mix, one example of which was released by Dino Music, which unlike the rest, had “Black Night” also by Deep Purple as a B-side and had Tony Iommi’s name incorrectly spelt on the front of it. (Wiki)

It was even a making-of video:

The recording sessions for the re-recording of “Smoke on the Water” were filmed and released in the same year on video as Rock Aid Armenia: The Making of Smoke on the Water, along with interviews and a video clip for the single. Film producer Paul Lovell produced and edited the final extended version of the documentary which was released on Laser Disc and VHS in Japan in 1991. (Wiki)

But the rest of the disc is cool too. Overall the mix is pretty damn consistent. Sabbath and Maiden are the heaviest here, but even they fit in alright, all of the tunes are on about the same wavelength. I say right on, good for everyone that this got made, and if it went gold that means (hopefully) that a lot of relief money got sent to those who needed it most. Mixes like this can sometimes be a weird listen, but this one contains a lot of great bands and does a pretty good job all the way through.

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Royal Concert

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

I had to do a wee bit of detective work for this one, as the packaging on this set was shite for information.

Nowhere in the minimal booklet is it indicated where or when this concert was held. I found A&M Records listing 1987 (this Telstar version followed in 1989), and the bigger clue was the Prince’s Trust which, as you know, is Prince Charles’ long-standing charity in the UK to help young people.

Being like Sherlock as I am, I followed the information I had: Prince’s Trust and 1987, as well as the artist list on the back cover. The interwubs told me that the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Trust (1976) saw an all-star rock concert held at Wembley Stadium in 1986… An Eric Clapton fan site (which tracks every show Clapton has done) informed me it was held June 20, 1986…

So.  Setlist.fm shows more of the same artists as are on this CD set than does the 1987 listing they have, but the 1986 listing only gives artist names, not the actual set played that night. I have no idea if this is the whole concert, though it is a 2CD set so… probably? Also, on this set the songs are split up – e.g. Elton John plays three songs, but one is on CD1 and the other two are on CD2. I would guess he played them all back to back that night, since he was already on stage? Etc.

Ah well, I am reasonably certain that I have the right gig tracked down. As you can see by the set list (below) it was a pretty stellar cast of players all night long. It really dates itself with Midge Ure, Level 42, Paul Young and Howard Jones. I had no idea who Labi Siffre* or Mark King & Mike Lindup (Level 42, but I never knew the players’ names) are until I saw the names here. But I was pleased to see Big Country (I like that band lots!) and Joan Armatrading is a cool addition. And how cool is it to have Ben E. King there to sing Stand By Me? Exactly.

The big names you know well, of course, and the versions of popular songs are all pretty damn good. I enjoyed the covers, including Phil Collins and Paul Young’s Motown romp and Righteous Brothers tune besides, and Bryan Adams and Dave Edmunds doing Dion is cool, although I wish Adams had taken a turn singing verses. Early on, I cracked up when Phil Collins, before starting In The Air Tonight, said “Now I know what you’re saying… You’re all saying that he’s going to play that bloody song again. Well, I am.” Haha get ‘em, Phil!

The quality’s decent enough, and the versions are good, so I call this one a win. Even though it took me a while to figure out what and when this even was.

 

*Turns out I really should have known who Labi Siffre is. But look at me! I am learning new things!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Songs And Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

Here’s a good one for a recharge of your righteous indignation battery. As the title says, it’s songs and artists that inspired Fahrenheit 9/11, the 2004 documentary by Michael Moore.

There was a soundtrack released for the film as well, with a different track listing entirely

Lots of great anti-war stuff here, like we’ve been zapped back to the ideologies of the 60s (fair point: Dylan has three tracks here, one by him and two covers of his songs). I dug a lot of the songs, live or studio, right up until the Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah. I have already stated, in these pages, that I am not a fan of this cover (or any cover) of that song. It’s only Leonard’s original version for me, everyone else misses the point of it completely. Mix-wise, I also question its inclusion here – I don’t think it fits the mix at all, better to end on the Nanci Griffith track. Ah well.

In the liner notes, it says “Ultimately this record speaks to the responsibility we all have as citizens to act upon our beliefs. This is our country, our world. We can help shape its future or we can have others do it for us.” Let’s break that down, as I get what they mean but the wording is interesting:

“Ultimately this record speaks to the responsibility we all have as citizens to act upon our beliefs.” You are acting on your beliefs and so are they. Thinking your way is the only way is what you gets you into all of these messes.

“This is our country, our world.” Excuse me, your world? Really? Ah hubris.

“We can help shape its future or we can have others do it for us.” This I agree with, except I’d have better worded it as “We can help shape its future by working towards peaceful resolution of conflict, pulling troops out of foreign countries (especially when the real reason is oil), and generally stopping being the manipulative power-hungry global bully. Then, perhaps, others wouldn’t feel so compelled to strike back.

Man, I try to leave politics out of this blog, and yet, look at me go. I just get so tired of all the conflict and drama and war. Resources, finance and greed. Perhaps we’re beyond repair, perhaps this will go on and on and my kids will be hearing the same damn thing in the news long after I’m gone. But discs like this remind us it doesn’t have to be that way. We can be peaceful. It isn’t likely, but we could and it’s worth holding on to the potential.

Anyway, most of the rest of the disc is a worthwhile listen. Have a look at the track list!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Official 1991 (20th Anniversary) Juno Awards Collection

Welcome to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

I start off my contributions with a bit of a weird set. You see…

Discogs doesn’t list this, neither does Amazon. Google doesn’t even find it.

There is no barcode or label information anywhere on the packaging. But it still looks like an official release, manufactured by Cinram in Canada. So while I don’t know what this is, precisely (besides the obvious, that it is a compilation of Juno Award artists from 1991, natch!), I can surmise that perhaps it was handed out at the Juno event that year, as on the very back inside page of the included booklet it says NOT FOR SALE. Who knows. I can’t find anything about it, not even an image online!

It’s quite a mix (as you can see by the shite photie of the track listings). Lots of favourites here, several Canuck evergreens, a bit of a time capsule for the songs included (check out the Hip, Rush, Colin James, Maestro Fresh Wes! oh my). There are several classical pieces included here, which made me happy indeed. And there are several folks here about whom I knew nothing prior to buying this set (Susan Hammond, Mike Murley, Simply Majestic and B. Cool, Jayson & Friends). I am a bit miffed that I now have Celine Dion and Rita MacNeil in my collection (not my cuppa), but what the hell. Saving the whole thing, though, is the grand master, Leonard Cohen. Lovely!

As you can imagine, it’s a bit of an uneven listen, but not any weirder than putting my entire iTunes collection on shuffle… if you could somehow filter only Canadian artists in 1991…

Check out the shite photies (below), for which I apologize. My iPhone’s camera has stuff in front of the lens on the inside where I cannot get at it without dismantling the phone. I may soon have an updated (for me) iPhone, though, so perhaps by the new year I’ll have things clearer for you! I did try to get a picture of the front cover (above), the back cover with the track listing (below), and the sponsor page where it says NOT FOR SALE (bottom left corner of that last shite photie, below).

Also included in the booklet: four pages of all the artists nominated that year, with printed checkmarks beside the winners’ names… which tells me it was done well after the show? If so… how long after…?; two pages with the track list and all accompanying label/album information for each track; and two pages of all the (then current) contact details for management of every artist on the compilation… which makes me think this was handed out to the judges, or insider people in the crowd who might want to arrange tours or recordings with the acts… That last page indicates the set was presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS)… I wonder how many copies were even made…

I just don’t know how this set came about, so I don’t know if I have a rarity here, or not. But it’s a cool enough 2CD mix, and I’m happy it’s here!

Classic Rock Gold

I picked up this 2CD set for cheap and it does the job. It has all the songs you’ve heard a zillion times and (mostly) don’t mind hearing a zillion and one. I’ve been playing it in the car for the kids, and they really seem to like it.

I will admit, for myself, that I wasn’t as familiar with Head East’s Never Been Any Reason, nor was it necessarily the best track here, but so be it. Also, if I were in charge of the mix, I wouldn’t have wedged Evil Ways between the energy of Born To Be Wild and American Woman to start CD1. Ah well. The whole mix pretty much sounds like a day’s playlist for any of your animal-themed classic rock radio stations. And it’s got Lunatic Fringe, which we were just reading about over on 2loud2oldmusic blog.

One total oversiiiiiight about this mix is the omission of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen. I mean, seriously. That song owns.

Track Listing:

Disc One:

1 Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild” (3:30) (Bonfire) (1968)
2 Santana – “Evil Ways” (3:57) (Henry/Zack) (1970)
3 Guess Who – “American Woman” (5:07) (Bachman/Cummings/Kale/Peterson) (1970)
4 Free – “All Right Now” (5:30) (Rodgers/Fraser) (1973)
5 Jethro Tull – “Locomotive Breath” (4:33) (Anderson) (1972)
6 James Gang – “Walk Away” (3:34) (Walsh) (1972)
7 Rod Stewart – “Maggie May” (5:46) (Stewart) (1971)
8 Ten Years After – “I’d Love to Change the World” (3:44) (Lee) (1971)
9 Hollies – “Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)” (3:17) (Clarke/Cook/Greenaway) (1972)
10 Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein” (4:45) (Winter) (1973)
11 Elton John – “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” (4:55) (John/Taupin) (1973)
12 Grand Funk Railroad – “We’re An American Band” (3:26) (Brewer) (1974)
13 Joe Walsh – “Rocky Mountain Way” (5:16) (Walsh/Grace/Passarelli/Vitale) (1973)
14 Doobie Brothers – “China Grove” (3:16) (Johnston) (1974)
15 Golden Earring – “Radar Love” (6:25) (Hay/Kooymans) (1974)
16 Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama” (4:41) (Van Zant/King/Rossington) (1974)
17 Bachman–Turner Overdrive – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (3:53) (Bachman) (1974)

Disc Two:

1 Bad Company – “Bad Company” (4:48) (Rodgers/Kirke) (1973)
2 Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” (4:09) (1975)
3 Head East – “Never Been Any Reason” (5:11) (1975)
4 Foghat – “Slow Ride” [Single version] (3:56) (Peverett) (1976)
5 Peter Frampton – “Show Me the Way” [Live] (4:39) (Frampton) (1976)
6 Blue Öyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (5:09) (Roeser) (1976)
7 Foreigner – “Cold as Ice” [Single version] (3:20) (Gramm/Jones) (1977)
8 Ted Nugent – “Cat Scratch Fever” (3:39) (Nugent) (1978)
9 Cars – “Just What I Needed” (3:45) (Ocasek) (1979)
10 Eddie Money – “Two Tickets to Paradise” (3:49) (Money) (1978)
11 Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me” [Live] (3:42) (Nielsen) (1979)
12 .38 Special – “Hold On Loosely” (4:40) (Barnes/Carlisi/Peterik) (1981)
13 Red Rider – “Lunatic Fringe” (4:22) (Cochrane) (1981)
14 Billy Idol – “White Wedding” (4:13) (Idol) (1982)
15 Scorpions – “Rock You Like a Hurricane” (4:12) (Schenker/Meine/Rarebell) (1984)
16 Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again” (4:35) (Coverdale/Marsden) (1987)

Wanna Go To Taranna

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.

Thanks, Taranna!

Good Friday Jamming

Back when I was a stay-at-home Dad, a job I proudly undertook for three years, I would often leave the iTunes on random play for my whole collection and let it play away in the background all day long. This was a great way to introduce the kids to awesome tunes, and a way for some small part of the day to about something for Daddy…

As time has gone on, I’ve gotten out of this practice, focussing more on individual albums. This is also fun, but not nearly as, er, random.

But this past Good Friday, the whole family was home and I thought I’d try out the ol’ random play manouver again. The kids, who are older now, were busy playing and quickly tuned it out. My lovely wife was probably listening, but she never says much unless it’s a song she likes. As for me, I loved it!

Right now, my collection in iTunes looks like this:

47,508 items, 131.3 days, 179.57GB

That’s right, I’m approaching 50,000 tracks! Heh heh, that’s a wee bit!

Anyway, iTunes also keeps track of everything played previously, so I went back and collected up what we heard during my first trip back to random land!

Radiohead – How Do You?
Donovan Frankenreiter – Bend In The Road
Leonard Cohen – Le Manic (live)
Pavement – Harness Your Hopes
Rush – Red Sector A
Good Pinsent & Keelor – Shadows In The Sun
Haywire – Wild Wild
Bonnie Raitt – About To Make Me Leave Home
Nick Buzz – If You Go Away
Duke Ellington – Sound Track Music: Anatomy Of A Murder
Guided By Voices – He Rises! Our Union
Robert Pollard – Run Son Run
Dropkick Murphys – Far Away Coast
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon
Mastodon – Bedazzled Fingernails
Ani DiFranco – Subdivision
Hank Williams – My Son Calls Another Man Daddy
Glenn Miller – Everybody Loves My Baby
Dream Theater – A Change Of Seasons II: Innocence
Ozzy Osbourne – Mississippi Queen
Marillion – Assassing (single version)
Candlebox – Arrow
Meat Loaf – The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be
Mozart – Serenade No.10 in Bb minor, K361 “Gran Partita IV: Adagio
Mother Love Bone – Holy Roller
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Pearl Jam – Low Light
Fats Domino – I Want To Walk You Home
Songhoy Blues – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Slayer – Filler / I Don’t Want Hear It
Headstones – Swinging
54-40 – Cheer Up Peru
Watertown – I’m Looking For A Love To Call My Own
Slash (f. Myles Kennedy) – Not For Me
New Morty Show – Terri (With The Delicate Hands)
Sarah McLachlan – Elsewhere
Frank Sinatra – Glad To Be Unhappy
Slipknot – Eyeless
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Radio Segment
Pussy Galore – Don’t Jones Me
Jeff Healey & The Jazz Wizards – Someday Sweetheart
Beatles – Nothin’ Shakin’ (BBC)
Pixies – River Euphrates
Modest Mouse – The Stars Are Projectors
Water – Thoughts
Dire Straits – Why Worry
John Lee Hooker – Crawlin’ Kingsnake
Pack A.D. – Hardtack Saloon #2
Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
Van Morrison – Little Village
Robert Pollard – Something Strawberry
Fleetwood Mac – I Don’t Want To Know
Wolfstone – The Howl
David Hillyard & The Rocksteady Seven – Father & Son
Gits – Social Love
Weezer – Peace
Mötley Crüe – Planet Boom
Gipsy Kings – Baila Me
Rheostatics – Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne
Pavement – Father To A Sister Of Thought
Live – Selling The Drama
Headpins – Just One More Time
Circus Devils – The Other Heart
Massive Attack – Spying Glass
Foreskin 500 – Superfamily
Buzzcocks – Paradise
Jeen O’Brien – Side By Side
Gordon Lightfoot – I Used To Be A Country Singer
Meta-Stasis – Space Occupying Lesion
James Keelaghan – Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Free Girl Now
Coverdale/Page – Shake My Tree
Beastie Boys – Mullet Head
Hawksley Workman – A House Or Maybe A Boat
Rolling Stones – Rip This Joint
Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know
Black Flag – You Gotta Be Joking
Roots – BOOM! (f. Dice Raw)
Green Day – Reject
John Coltrane – Mr. P.C.
Psycho And The Birds – Oh My Chosen One
Louis Armstrong – Body And Soul
Spirit Of The West – Tell Me What I Think
Clarence Carter – Dr. C.C.
Serena Ryder – Is It O.K.
Robert Pollard – Motion Sickness Ghosts
Iron Maiden – The Aftermath

If I counted correctly, that’s 87 tunes. Assuming a 3.5 minute average, that’s 304.5 minutes, or just over 5 hours.

And that’s where I shut it down. It played for a good long while, and it was quite a good, eclectic mix! Some of the transitions were jarring, but it wasn’t on at a high volume as we were doing things around the house this whole time, so it was all to the good!

I daresay I’ll be jamming the random play feature again soon.

SLCR #277: The Last Waltz Remembered (April 5, 2017)

When I go to Calgary, I like unique concert experiences. It’s always good to see a band I like, but if I’m going to be in a bigger city anyway, I may as well go see something that isn’t going to come to Regina. And I’m pretty sure this all-star affair was a one-off.

You’re familiar with The Band, yes? And their farewell concert, the Last Waltz? Am I asking rhetorical questions so as to hide how little I actually know? Am I trying to avoid rewriting a Wikipedia article in a futile attempt to appear knowledgeable?

Replace Wikipedia with books and that was pretty much my entire university career, really.

Anyway, yes. Very famous farewell concert. 40 years ago. This show was to be a bunch of songs from that night, performed by Corb Lund, Amy Helm, Matt Andersen, and the Russell Broom House Band.

The show was at Jack Singer Concert Hall in Arts Commons. I’ve been there before but always took the train. This time, after an exceptionally lazy afternoon, I walked it. Took about 40 minutes. I wish I had something more exciting for you, but I like my walks to be uneventful, so really, I don’t.

The hall was mostly sold out. I was sitting in the first row of the mezzanine, far off to the right. After the Lyle Lovett/John Hyatt show, I was a bit concerned about my seating choice but this wasn’t really off ground level at all, so that was nice.

There was no opener, and the show got started right on time. This was my first time seeing both Andersen and Helm. Andersen had a bit of a rough start in the first song, Up On Cripple Creek, as he very clearly forgot the words to his part. As he tried to talk to Helm to figure out his spot, Corb jumped in and took over. Andersen seemed to have a good sense of humour about it – really, there’s no better option – and he redeemed himself later in the show.

Helm is the daughter of Levon Helm of The Band, a fact which became less relevant as the show went on. She may have been brought in for her name, but she has a fantastic voice and more than deserved her spot for that alone.

The first half of the show flew by. Like I hinted at, I’m not super familiar with The Last Waltz – I’ve never watched the movie or listened to the soundtrack album – but there were so many classic songs from that night that you probably know some of them. The first half included The Shape I’m In and Ophelia. Andersen, Helm, and Lund all got to perform some of their own material during the show, and during the first half, Lund played The Weight (dramatic pause) of the Gun. Possibly chosen solely so he could make that joke. The whoops from the crowd suggested that possibly Corb was the one who drew the audience.

During intermission, I could have gone for a bottle of water. However, I stopped to look at the merch table and as I did so, the lobby area filled up with an ungodly sea of humanity. Just making it back to my seat felt like a genuine achievement.

The second half was much the same as the first. Corb’s own song was This Is My Prairie, but he also did a fantastic version of Ian Tyson’s Four Small Winds. But the second half was mostly the Matt Andersen show, with a great version of Neil Young’s Helpless, followed by another song that drew a mid-set standing ovation.

The three singers would walk off stage for songs where they weren’t needed. Upon one return for Lund, someone yelled “CORB YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” to which Andersen simply replied “meh.” Perfectly timed.

Before the last song, Russell Broom introduced the house band, which was pretty sizeable. Including the singers, they maxed out at 11 people on stage, including a horn section and an organist who also played accordion when called for. It also turned out that the band included Chris Byrne of the Road Hammers, as well as Joey Landreth. This clarified things for me, as Landreth got to sing on a few songs and whenever he did, the folks sitting to my left were really excited.

They closed with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and came back for an encore of I Shall Be Released and The Weight, and it was over too soon. What a great show. Fantastic performances from the three singers, and the band killed it. Highest recommendation. I mean, you’ll never get to see this, but hypothetically.

SLCR #276: I Love the 90s (March 30, 2017)

I can’t say that I love the 90s, really. The first four years were high school and let’s pretend that never happened. University was better, and there were various good times and new adventures and stuff, but I don’t look back at James aged 13-23 as being Prime Era James. I mean, God, I hope not.

As far as the music of the 90s, there’s a certain type of late 90s alternative that I still quite like because I am old and afraid of anything new. This show, however, was not that. Instead, we were treated to a selection of early 90s R&B and rap that isn’t really on my current playlists. But I loved some of this back in the day. Nostalgia, right? This should be fun, right?

Before the concert, Mika and I met up with Reagan, Deserée, and Reagan’s friends Dustin and Sarah for dinner. Twice, in fact, because the first place was full. I had a delightful Thai chicken pizza. Would get again. Then Mika went home because she is the only one of us with any sense. The rest of us were off to the show.

We had splurged, relatively speaking, on floor seats. Not too far back, pretty close to the centre, and I was even on an aisle. A lovely view for what was in store.

When we got to our seats, there was a party host on stage inviting people to join him for the opportunity to win Salt-N-Pepa t-shirts and a chance to dance on stage with the band. You could also just buy the shirt and get to dance with them that way too. Despite repeated requests from Deserée, I refused to take part in any of this. Anyway, the people who did go up for the contest would hear a snippet of a TV show theme – name that tune, and you get your shirt and can come back later and dance. Out of probably 20 contestants, I think they gave away three shirts. The thing is, this is I Love The 90s, right? But apart from the Jeopardy song (which is technically from the 80s or earlier anyway), it was all shows like The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, and Welcome Back, Kotter. The host – whose name was also James – even said “you’re here because you love the 90s and the 80s and the 70s” and it’s like… no? That was never part of the deal, my dude. James seemed quite disgusted with how this all went down. As a black person, he was especially disappointed when the black contestants didn’t know the themes to Good Times, The Jeffersons, or Sanford & Son. He was also annoyed with the white guy who missed All in the Family and gave “I don’t know, I’m 35” as his excuse. Apparently age shouldn’t matter as Those Were The Days is “in the white people handbook.” Fair enough. The only contestant he seemed to like was a dude wearing a rainbow mohawk wig who grabbed the mic out of his hands and yelled FUCK YEAH and then James said FUCK YEAH and then rainbow guy said FUCK and James said FUCK and rainbow guy said IT’S MY BIRTHDAY and James said FUCK YEAH and then James said fuck like 30 more times and none of you who get reviews by email will ever see this. I’m sorry for clogging your spam filters. I should mention that rainbow guy’s theme was Knight Rider and of course he didn’t get it because he’s probably 25 and how would he know what the Knight Rider theme is?

Anyway, this may have been the highlight of the evening.

Our opener was Young MC, who also stretched the credibility of this 90s conceit as he’s known for one big hit – Bust A Move – that came out in 1989. Close enough, I guess. 1989 was quite a while ago and Young MC is pushing 50. I suppose that illustrates the danger of naming yourself “young” anything, though his actual last name is Young, so he gets a pass. He did five songs, I think, highlighting a new song called Nocturnal that is on the soundtrack to a movie he directed, possibly also called Nocturnal. He really wanted us to know about his directorial debut. Anyway, he did Bust A Move and then said that normally that was the end of his set, but he was going to give us something more (I assume every city gets something more) and asked if we remembered a song of his called Fastest Rhyme. I am 100% fine with admitting that 2017 James inherited 1989 James’ enthusiasm for Fastest Rhyme and if I could pick any one song of his for this show, that would have been it. So I was delighted, even if he did have to pause for breath in the middle of it. Though I did think it was a little funny that his only other hit single was Principal’s Office and he didn’t do that one.

Next up was Color Me Badd, the band Deserée was most looking forward to. I had always said I didn’t know anything about them, but when Mika did some YouTube research, it turned out I was actually pretty familiar with their hits. We also discovered that the Lonely Island’s Dick In A Box video is just Color Me Badd’s video for I Wanna Sex You Up reshot with new people (and some boxes).

Anyway, these guys got about 25 minutes to do a half-dozen songs and they were better than I expected. I knew all the songs, including No Diggity, which is not actually one of theirs. It reminded me of seeing Bobby Curtola and other oldies at the casino with my dad, where they play their own songs but also play random other songs from that era because you’re nostalgic for the time more than the specific artist. I can’t remember if I mentioned this then, but it would be like seeing 70-year-old Justin Bieber at the casino doing Gangnam Style and Call Me Maybe and Blurred Lines. Which could very well happen. I’ll go to his show in 2064 and report back.

In a compelling example of how expectations change one’s perception, Deserée didn’t care for Color Me Badd so much: “I was fairly disappointed with them actually. I mean, fun and nostalgic, yes. But for one thing – in 1990-whatever, I truly believed Color Me Badd was an edgy R&B group (that I had to turn down when listening to at home, because of all the sex songs). It wasn’t until dinner the other night when Mika talked about them that I realized they might actually be a boy band. And then when they came out in matching outfits (including hats) and started doing their dance moves, I realized the horrible truth. Overall though, it made me sad that the lead singer was off-key and off-time for much of it. But like I said, nostalgic and fun anyway.”

It should be noted that the crowd was very excited for all of this. Between sets, the DJ played Funky Cold Medina and people went wild for it. You didn’t really even need live musicians or rappers anymore. Just play recognizable songs and you’ve got them in the palm of your hand.

Right about now, we were about to be possessed by the sounds of MC Rob Base. Base got four or five songs too, most of which were about our hands, where we could put them (in the air), and how we could wave them (like we just don’t care). He also wanted to yell things and have us yell other things back at him. To be fair, everyone did that all night, but he was especially interested in this. He closed with It Takes Two. Of course.

We had a bit of an intermission while they set up the stage for Salt-N-Pepa. James came back out to talk to us and seemed delighted to spot his friend in the crowd. “HEY! IT’S FUCKING FUCK BIRTHDAY GUY!” Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy was delighted by the attention.

Salt-N-Pepa had about an hour-long set – the only one of the evening – and played pretty much everything you’d expect – Shoop, Push It, Whatta Man, Let’s Talk About Sex. Continuing a theme from earlier, they also played a bunch of things like Billie Jean (not 90s) and Smells Like Teen Spirit – by which I mean Spinderella just played the MP3s and everyone sang overtop them. Like I said, you didn’t really need any musicians at this point.

All the girls who bought or won t-shirts got to come up and dance to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (not Salt-N-Pepa, not the 90s) and then they invited guys up for Whatta Man. You could see a rainbow mohawk wig making its way through an ocean of humanity like a shark fin. He neither bought nor won a shirt, but Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy was allowed on stage anyway because James was in charge and James was laughing to nearly the point of tears. Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy tried to take Salt’s mic and yell FUCK YEAH but she just told him to settle down. Total professional. Then he didn’t want to leave the stage until James basically had to drag him out of there.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pepa had apparently just discovered what Regina rhymes with. This happens a lot when bands come to town. I believe that by now, all possible avenues in this area have been explored (not a euphemism) (but probably true if it was?) but she was so amused and enthusiastic about it that nobody minded.

And then it was our headliner, sort of, Vanilla Ice. Grade 9 James (me, not the host) (if only there was an easy way to differentiate us) loved some Vanilla Ice. But even then, there are only a handful of songs I remember. Ice Ice Baby, of course. Play That Funky Music White Boy. Ninja Rap OBVIOUSLY. And beyond that – and I am not proud of this, much less proud than I am of admitting to having liked Vanilla Ice in the first place – I remember a verse he had on a Bloodhound Gang song. And that was what he actually opened with, which kind of blew my mind a little bit. I don’t think he actually did Ninja Rap (the sound was terrible all night – way too loud, distorted, and full of feedback) but he did say GO NINJA GO NINJA GO a few times and that was good enough for me. But it was pretty much downhill from there, and we weren’t starting from high up.

The absolute funniest moment of the night came when Ice said “I just wanna give a shoutout to the Pats. Regina Pats, making it to the playoffs! I think they’re going all the way this year.” And look, I know that “local sports team” is second only to “name of city” in terms of cheap pops. But you can get away with that if you’re talking about a major league team. Even if Ice had said something about the Roughriders, I can almost pretend that he cares enough to have CFL opinions. But come on. Far be it from me to call into question the credibility of Vanilla Ice, but I really don’t think he’s following the Western Hockey League that closely.

Anyway, if you’re Vanilla Ice, what song do you end on?

Guess.

He called a bunch of fans up on stage and played Ice Ice Baby about five songs in. It seemed early to wrap things up but where can you go from there?

“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”

He did some song nobody knew.

“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”

He did another song nobody knew. People were filing out of the place at this point. Including Vanilla Ice, who disappeared from the stage (or at least hid behind the fans, who were still up there) though his voice could still be heard.

“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”

Deserée: “…but it could.”

At this point, Vanilla Ice played Turn Down For What.

“YEAH YOU LOVE THE 90S!”

Turn Down For What is from 2013.

“ALL THE HORNY PEOPLE PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”

Not to reveal too much about myself, but I did not, in fact, put my hands in the air. I mean, sure, you’d THINK nothing would get a person going like hearing loss and complete bafflement, but it didn’t do it for me. In fairness, it seemed to be the secret sauce for lots of the folks who were left, including Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy who had found his way onto the stage by this point.

But hey, at least Turn Down For What is a good song to end a party on, right? But Ice – who had also made his way back onto the stage – possibly he got lost and followed the rainbow mohawk – had one more for us. First, he told us to follow our dreams. Believe in ourselves. Not let borders divide us. And then he sang No Woman No Cry. Vanilla Ice, reggae superstar. I texted this to Mika who simply replied “Oh no.” People were flooding out of the arena. I could not leave. I was transfixed. What is this? Why is this? And then it was over. No encore, just a voice – possibly prerecorded – thanking us for attending. It didn’t end with “…leave now” but it may as well have, not that I would have needed encouragement.

To cap off the evening, as I walked alone to my car, mostly deaf and lost in some sort of existential crisis, two guys stopped me and asked for a ride. They did not say to where, but they did promise me “a lot of money.” I declined, not feeling up to being a good Samaritan and also not wanting stab wounds and a stolen car. Though it would have made a more compelling conclusion than “I went home and had some Coke Zero and Crispy Minis.”

I’m writing and posting these reviews out of order. As I’m finishing this off, it’s the day before my trip to Calgary. By sheer happenstance, I am there during Canadian Juggalo Weekend. Part of me badly wants to go to Canadian Juggalo Weekend just so I can write about the experience. But I kind of feel like there’s much less reason for that now. I mean, sure, there will be wrestling and circus performers and crazy shit and clowns EVERYWHERE but is that really so different from this? I mean, Vanilla Ice even had two dancers who were fat guys in clown suits and wrestling masks who sprayed water on the crowd. Switch out the water for Faygo and we’re set.

I can’t recommend this show enough and I also can’t recommend avoiding this show enough.

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