Friday, May 30, 2008

I can't sleep so...

I'm in my Ottawa hotel room and it's way too early. And I can't sleep, which considering I should still be on Vancouver time makes no sense. Oh well.

Ottawa is a slightly odd place. I'm thinking maybe all government towns are odd. One cool thing though - we had dinner in the Rideau Club last night in a private room full of Karsh photos (with his famous Churchill photo at the head of the table). Kind of neat.

And I will take a brief moment to mention the Breeders gig last weekend. Really enjoyable night, and a real contrast to Beirut. The Deal sisters looked like they rolled off their tour bus right onto the stage, and there in lies their own completely unconsidered sense of cool. It gives me hope that women over the age of 40 can still be Richards was packed, which was also great to see. And because I'm a nice person, I will say absolutely nothing about the opening act (name of which I have purged from my brain thank god), or the fact that Tegan (of Tegan and Sara) recommended them to the Breeders. Why? WHY? Sigh.

I have lots of vids to post, as does my bro - I've only managed three so far, so here is one for Divine Hammer - not great quality thanks to the slightly crap Richards lighting. My camera just isn't that happy in low light:

Just to prove my camera doesn't like low light, here is a really pathetic looking but OK sounding video of Dan Mangan at the Penthouse last Sunday - he was playing as part of a songwriters circle with Nat Jay and James Lamb. Great night, great opportunity to go into a strip club without having to see strippers, and as always, a great performance (from all actually). If this guy doesn't go far I will shave my cats to look like poodles. OK, no I won't. But he deserves any fame that comes his way.

Alright, I should go have a shower or something I guess, and get ready for day #2 of my Ottawa weekend of work fun. Pray for me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Going dark...

Off to Ottawa on work today, back in a week. If I get a chance I will post something - the much belated Breeders/Dan Mangan post perhaps, or maybe just something about how much I enjoy (hah! I'm so funny....) National Meetings.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Things that start with B...Birthday, Beirut...

Today's challenge: writing about the Beirut concert this week without falling into a musical swoon. I'm actually thinking it's not possible, but here goes...

Reasons this was a Bunklelife near-perfect concert experience:

1) Huge whack of people on the stage
- I know, this isn't a logical reason perhaps, but for some reason I love the energy and visual spectacle of this kind of thing.

2) Huge whack of people playing instruments not played by Rush - Sorry Rush (OK, no I'm not). But I have a passion for accordion and violin. And though I won't say I have a passion for french horn, it's great to see a good brass section too.

3) Phenoms excite me no end - Zach Condon is astounding. He is 22... 22. And I know there are a lot of great young musicians out there, but there aren't many that have the complex and rich musical vision baby-faced Zach does. It gives me hope, it really does. And he is able to pull together a group of talented musicians that are obviously enjoying working with him.

4) Byronic hair - Don't believe me? Check this out. Ya, I know, not a good reason. But it adds to the romance don't you think?

5) Passionate audience - The key to this is passionate yet respectful... which in general they were.

6) Friends and family - and a birthday that didn't make me feel cranky about getting older

So - here is Nantes for your enjoyment!

And Mount Wroclai, filmed by my bro:

There are lots of other videos here as always. And before I forget - yay to Laura Barrett for getting the opening slot. The noisy Commodore not really the right venue for her quiet performance, but it was great to see the majority of the audience paying attention.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

You know you're a rock star when....

Saw The Kills at Richards this week. Unlike the Chan, I can video to my heart's content at Richards - but as you'll see if you bother watching the videos, or even from the still I pulled here, it was so dark it was pretty much like filming in a cave. So dark that the band actually asked to have the lights turned up half way through. The still, by the way, was taken AFTER the lights were turned up.

Not that the darkness was without purpose...or something like that. The edgey, prowl-y raw tension of the band works in the semi-dark. And therein lies one of the signs of true rock stardom...other signs?

2) Supermodels want to sleep with you -check. Kate Moss, she of impeccable taste in heroin-chic men, is now dating guitarist Jamie Hince, who from where I am sitting is a few notches up the ladder from Pete Doherty.

3) You are cool without effort - this is harder to quantify, but they are both that word means. When we showed up to line up outside the venue, they were hanging out smoking, on their way to go for a meal, and they just looked...naturally cool. This is a stark contrast to a large component of the audience, who were trying on the cool front. It's such a fine line. But you've either got it or you don't.

4)You can prowl on stage and not look like an idiot - check.

5) Your face is obscured by your hair - check.

6) Your songs are featured on teen-focussed TV shows - check (see Gossip Girl). This is, like, not always a good thing....

It was a really good night. And the opening act, White Lung, was worth listening to as well...and watching, not only because the lead singer is a dead ringer for my highschool pal Barb - in body/hair/outfit...scary. Welcome back, 1982.

Here's one video - more, as always, here. There are some White Lung videos as well for those interested. Next up: Beirut (yay!), the Breeders, and Dan Mangan at the Penthouse strip club if I can convince anyone to go with me...

*Update* My brother just loaded this one - a far better example of the night...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fierce is always welcome

Isn't that the truth.

That statement, bizarrely, brought someone to this blog (welcome to Google Analytics). I have to admit, I read through the keyword searches that have landed people on my blog more out of a morbid curiosity about what people search on than anything. Some others:

things that freak me out (just incase they find someone else that shares their fears?)

little person (don't expect they were looking for a cat, which is what I was describing...)

big bust is also welcome (this statement is NOWHERE in this blog - honestly....)

golliwogs toilet (I'm not making this up)

haas double baked almond croissant (mmmmmm....)

pictures of green plaid couches (someone wanted pictures of green plaid couches?)

rub belly (again, I used this in reference to a cat. Honestly).

Ahhh, cyberlife.

There is beauty in defeat...

Welcome to the faux english country garden out front of the Bunkle (read: completely uncontrolled, unweeded, and not thought out). The crazy array of tulips is the result of a mixed bag of crazy tulips (wouldn't it be great if that was actually what they were called?) planted last fall. And despite the sudden overrun of bluebells, the tough as nails horsetails, and dandelions whose sunny faces mock me every time I look at the lawn, these guys are pretty breathtaking.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Joe Jackson & the Nipple Cam

The Bunklelife review of Joe at the Chan (get a coffee)

The band - Last night was the fifth time I've seen Joe Jackson. And I swear, any opportunity I have to see him again I will take, because it is always stellar, always new. This time around, I loved the jazz-trio format (with his long time band mates Dave Houghton and Graham Maby) and the clean, warm sound the Chan allows. Great mix of new tracks from Rain and a selection of older work - and the old sounded new. I heard him interviewed on WXPN a couple of weeks ago and one question posed was how he manages to keep playing songs like I'm the Man almost 30 years later. His response - he keeps it bearable for himself by changing the arrangements as much as he can. And at the risk of sounding like a real concert review (yikes), his rearrangement of You can't get what you want (Til you know what you want) - a sparse, tense, teasing arrangement that had you (ok, me) waiting for the piano to kick in, which it did for the last few bars. I had a better description for all of that, but decided to put the PG version in instead. (And I should mention that this photo isn't one I took - and it's of the tour, but not the night...damn Chan Centre and their camera rules...)

Me: I love Joe Jackson. Really. Always have. It's a relationship that started in my teens - fortunately or unfortunately, one of the most memorable nights of my life happened to involve seeing Joe at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre back in the 80s, along with 1) losing the heel of my shoe; 2) getting ID'd at the restaurant, resulting in my date having a glass of milk with his caesar salad; and 3) having my parents roll out of bed at about 1am because the 70s station wagon that dropped me of was firmly stuck in the ditch outside the house. But enough of that. The highlight of the night was really Joe. And over the years, my respect for his creative capacity has grown and grown. In my mental filing box of musicians, he and Elvis Costello are filed in the same drawer. Both have an amazingly diverse bodies of work - from chamber music to classical to jazz to some of the best and most unusual collaborations I've heard, these two just get more and more interesting. I am sort of tempted to throw Bowie in there as well (though his body of work is more unique than diverse...?), but he lost points when he got the face lift and new teeth. You can't just change your head like that.

Now, some may think Joe has changed his head. Certainly, he has ended up with a very distinctive look over time .... some might say - well, no, I'll let you judge (cue Twilight Zone music):

Filming of the night was compromised by the camera police at the great seating/great sounding Chan Centre. Now, don't get me wrong - I can respect that. Reluctantly. So I didn't bring my camera, so I would avoid the inevitable temptation. My brother did bring his - a little vertical Canon with an adjustable LCD screen and small silver lens - which he finally had the courage to sneak out at the end of the show, held under his jacket with the lens projecting like a big silver nipple. What was caught on camera: a good sounding but not ideally framed of Is she really going out with him?"(the little white blip is Joe's head, honestly....)and this short clip of the man himself exiting the stage.

All the cheering is me. Really. Which brings me to The Audience. Generally well behaved, but apparently this particular group all had really teeny bladders. Either that or they were going to the bathrooms to snort coke, but based on the general demographic I'll guess not. Honestly, go before you sit down, because YOU'RE DISTRACTING when you shuffle in and out across the aisles. Sheesh.

These days, you mention Joe Jackson to anyone under 35 and at best you might get a brow furrow like they are trying hard to remember something from the dark ages. It's too bad - I think his best stuff has been missed by many, or dismissed because it falls outside the comfortable, witty pop he is known for. Heaven & Hell, his foray into the quasi-classical realm, remains one of my favorite albums, but I sometimes wonder if I'm the only one that bought it. Oh well. (And for the pal who I know will read this that can't stand Rain ... well, I didn't like Dream Girls so ....)

Until next time.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The furry and the flowery

I will have more to say soon I am sure - but in the interim I am posting some of this week's photos. And I have no idea how to align text and photos - I don't get it. If anyone does, let me know. Argh.

First, Mr. Fuzzyhead rolling on his new carpet ( a new favorite activity)

Second, the massive cherry tree planted way to close to the foundations of the house (boo), which is flowering (yay!) - I will be booing again when it starts dropping fruit in the yard...

And my favorite genetically modified tulip...