Friday, July 31, 2009

This time, it's not me that's hot

Finally, a morning where I am not dripping in sweat just standing in my house.


Bit brain-dead (tired) after a late night with Blitzen Trapper. They played the Venue as the original venue, Richards, is now being turned into much needed (ha...sigh. I curse you Aquilini...) condos. To be fair, they have tried to improve the Venue's space - they have removed the completely annoying bar that was smack in the centre of the floor, and the carpet no longer sticks to your feet (well, not yet) like it did in the club's previous incarnation, The Plaza. That being said, it is still a lot more awkward a venue to see a band at (particularly if you don't feel like standing), and the ambient crowd noise is REALLY high. We ended up at our usual spot, right at the end of the balcony basically overhanging the stage, which really is not the ideal place sound-wise (your head is about 4 feet away from the flown speaker bank) but gives you a pretty good view. And the place was packed, which was great to see.

The band put on a great show, and the openers - the Quiet Ones - were a lot of fun too. I took a few videos, but my positioning was a bit awkward - not my best efforts, my framing is consistently whacky, but here is the beautiful title track from their fab second album, Furr...

Not feeling very coherent this morning, so let's be safe and leave it at that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cat Flatness

Seriously. ENOUGH already with this f$&king hot weather. I moved away from Toronto to get away from this nightmare.
I will never complain about rain again (ok, that's a lie...but for today, it's the truth)
Me and the Flat Cats

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Folk Fest #2 - because there is ALWAYS more to share..

Not a particularly content-full post, but here we go. First, Vancouver's incorrigible Geoff Berner. I don't know if I can come up with a better word for him. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to capture his 2010 Olympic Theme Song ("The Dead Children Were Worth It!"), which you can hear here. He's a bit like the South Park of the festival - sometimes you can't believe what you are hearing, but nine times out of ten he's holding up a pretty effective (if uncomfortable..and funny...) mirror for us to peek into

Some lovely reeds (oh how I love you Jericho Beach Park)....

Geoff Berner, of course...

Steven Page on the main stage, in what must be his Special Pink & Blue Show Suit...

Some Bellowheads...

the Weakerthan's John K Samson...

and a rather handsome Breakman, just to cleanse the palate. Or something like that. And I will say this is a perfect example of how I FIGHT WITH THE FORMATTING in this stupid blog!! AUGH!! Any tips on how I can get photos and text to play well together, let me know.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vancouver Folk we go, brace yourself...

...for a long one.

I've been thinking for the morning how I'm going to break this one down. The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is hands down my favorite event in Vancouver. FAVORITE. If the weather is good, it is guaranteed to be two and a half days of sunburn/sunstroke, food from places with names like "The Preserved Seed Cafe" (cafe or sperm bank? Hmmmm), giggling at the colourfully clad interpretive dancers (who are not necessarily listening to any music you or I might be hearing), unusual relaxed friendliness, and GREAT music.

An Introduction to the VFMF:
I figured this year I would try and get the feeling of the place across with some visuals. A few stills, and then a couple of videos just to set the atmosphere: First, a quick 360 turn from beside the (controversial) new beer tent, with waving from my pals A & A, followed by a fantastic bit of dancing by a guy that is there, dancing to his own special tune, EVERY year:

Are you feeling it yet? Yes? Well, let's move on then...

Apparently I went with my sister...or ...?:
For the last few years, my partner in crime at the festival has been my dear pal A. We are about the same height and width, and take up roughly the same volume in the world. We both wear our festival cowboy hats, sit in our matching striped chairs (hers blue, mine pink) getting matching tank-top burns, with our similar sunglasses and identical cameras. At the festival, this means one of two things: to those that know only one of us, it means we must be just being the pasty british version of her Chilean/Hungarian sibling I guess; for those that don't know at least one of us, it means we are A Couple. Not that we wouldn't make a pretty cute couple, I must say, but I'm guessing it does provide effective protection against meeting the man of my dreams there. I'm just saying.

The Music:
Now, this is the most important part of it all.

The lineup was really interesting this year - though still including some great classic folk & blues, and some fantastic international musicians, the focus shifted slightly towards acts that would appeal to a slightly younger crowd. The evening shows included Steven Page (who to his credit made some pretty funny self deprecating jokes about his drug related arrest and departure from the BNL), Iron & Wine, and the Weakerthans; and dotted throughout the weekend were personal faves the Great Lake Swimmers, Veda Hille, Rock Plaza Central, and Dan Mangan. So here we go with some highlights:

Holy crap, what was THAT? : Rev. Payton's Big Damn Band
Now, this video does NOT convey the monumentally imposing figures the Rev and his wife Breezy make. I wish I had more of their set. Particularly, the part when Breezy lights her washboard on fire and keeps playing through the flames. I'll be watching out for these guys, they were fantastic.

Yes, I know you know: Dan Mangan
I have spoken before about my Mang-on (I should add that the friend that accused me of that has subsequently changed it to Har-dan...or maybe I shouldn't add that...). Each time I see him perform I am floored by his talent, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. And his charisma is...well, I defy you to find a grandma that wouldn't want to pinch those cheeks and feed him a bowl of soup, or a 20 year old that isn't hatching a plot to take out his girlfriend. And that, dear readers, is the mysterious combination that will move this young talent into the spotlight sooner rather than later. Mark my words. His new CD Nice, Nice, Very Nice will be released the second week of August. The tracks I have heard (either live or on the teaser EP released earlier this year) are fantastic, and if the stars are aligned as they should be, it will bring him the recognition he has long deserved.

And one day, one day, I will be able to listen to Basket without tearing up. Unfortunately, that one day was not yesterday.

I caught a bit of his workshop stage with his friend Mark Berube, and his fantastic solo set. (The still of him walking through the crowd is from the performance of Robots, which another lucky Fest goer videoed here) I should add that part of the delight of his solo set was that the enchanting Veda Hille sat in for a few songs, including these two:

Rock Plaza Central: Gimpy banjo? I don't think so...
Meet another band I am ridiculously passionate about. I can't quite pinpoint what it is that appeals to me so much - there's a rawness to it all, or an immediacy or something - that just grabs me. That, and Chris Eaton's incredible lyrics. Their new album the moment of our most needing just came out, and it is absolutely fantastic. It was great to see them live in Vancouver with an audience of more than 50, and as Chris Eaton pointed out, somewhere where there seemed to be fewer crack addicts than the places they usually play. RPC played an absolutely fantastic workshop stage with Bellowhead and Geoff Berner - here's a glimpse of that magic:
They also played a fantastic solo set, during which Chris recounted that someone from the Breakmen asked him what style of banjo he played. He responded "gimpy". You be the judge:

I'm running out of steam now...but I will squeeze in another thing I loved - the Great Lake Swimmers. What a TREAT to see them at so many workshop stages, and for the most magical evening show, the band lit by the setting sun.

Gorgeous. Absolutely. And in every way.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


My NEW back garden (thanks Mel! - that's her on my back porch...)

Less that beautiful:
  • rat face & tail, connected by a few entrails, found on the back path. Poop from satisfied coyote, found nearby.
  • new loaner fridge, which is squished into my kitchen alongside my regular fridge. Sigh. This fridge saga is OBVIOUSLY not over...
  • the lack of fence in the back yard (or rather, the stellar view of the alley & my car). Next year, next year.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


My day:
  • 5:25 - Get up
  • 7:10 - Grab lunch from freezer before heading to work
  • 7:11 - Discover lunch isn't frozen; discover nothing in the freezer is frozen. Swear
  • 7:14 - Misplace my bus pass; swear again
  • 7:16 - Find bus pass. Go to work*
  • 8:00 - Call Sears - they tell me they will be there "sometime between 8 am - 7pm". I tell them I have to leave my house at 5:00; they will make note of that
  • 8:15 - Rush BACK from work, home just before 9am. Cats appear to be happy to see me, but can you really tell with cats?
  • 9:50 - notice that there is a "missed call" from Sears at 8:15am, but no message.
  • 10 - 11am: online meeting for work
  • 11:05 - Mum stops by with freezer box.
  • 11:10am - call Sears to clarify if there was a reason they called at 8:15am. Find out the tech has logged a note saying "left message that we are only available during the day, not after 5pm". AUGHHH.
  • 3:50pm - Sears tech arrives, all smiles. After 10 minutes, tells me I have a Serious Problem. Gas Leak. Major Repair. Loaner Fridge Required. Sears will call me with details (I am still under warranty. I should be. The fridge is a month old)
  • 3:58pm - find out that the tickets I bought for a band I don't know just so I could be there on Richards "last night" are actually NOT for the last night. The last night, they have decided, is the evening before. The band I don't know is now moved to the crap "Venue" (aka the Plaza). Sigh.
  • 4:15 - cancel appointment at vet for 5:30 pm, as still haven't heard from Sears. Rebook for Friday night. Because I want to spend Friday night at the vets. Really.
  • 4:30pm - go into kitchen to find raccoon attempting to break in through cat door, likely because he smells thawing food. Cats stare at door, goggle-eyed. Which, truthfully, makes me laugh.
  • 4:30 - 5:15 - spend a lot of time pacing. It's a family trait.
  • 5:30 - am pouring myself a drink and plan to stay still until this day is over.
*I have NO idea why I didn't call Sears before leaving for work. Really.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This was supposed to be joyful...

But I just read this. I know, I know, this horror has been on the horizon for at least two years, but it doesn't make it any easier. Richard's is hands down my favorite concert venue in this venue-deprived city. Small enough to feel intimate, big enough to have crowd-induced-energy, and with the most frightening washrooms in the city, it is (soon to be was...) pretty near perfect. I am not convinced that the "new" venue will come anywhere close (art galleries? not that I don't like art galleries...but really, art galleries?). I was really looking forward to seeing Blitzen Trapper at Richards. Sigh. Where will they be now? The Plaza? Sigh.

SO - I will try to regain some joy talking about what was, it seems, my LAST concert at Richards - Dirty Projectors.

As usual, we got their early (for the last time...sigh. OK, I'll stop). Sometimes when you are there before doors open, you will see the band members wander out of the club and out for dinner. We saw a bit more than that this time around. The band van was parked in front of our car, and Dave Longstreth and Angel Deradoorian wandered out and opened the back of the van, to rifle through their suitcases. Dave pulled out his show jeans, then turned around to see us, parked right behind him trying to look nonchalant - which doesn't deter him from taking his pants off. Once changed, he sits on the back of the van to tie his shoes, all the while staring exaggeratedly up into the air like a dark-eyed, slightly unbalanced version of one of Rafael's angels - a way, I suspect, of trying to pretend we weren't there. Meanwhile, we were pretending to face each other and not notice, ever the polite Canadians. (For those that care: boxers). A nice FINAL story about waiting to get into Richards...sigh.

When we finally did get inside, it didn't look promising from an attendance standpoint. I always fear the awkwardness of seeing a great band playing to 20 people in a venue that holds 20 times that. Luckily, by the time the band got on stage, the floor was full of happy, adoring fans.

And what a treat the show was. They are such a rhythmically and melodically complex band that things could easily go horribly wrong - but they are so GOOD that it doesn't. Dave Longstreth moved like a slightly distracted, jerky raptor across the stage, his crazy guitar lines just seeming so ... easy. So good. And the rest of the band? SO good. Crazy harmonies from the women. Great semi-naked drumming. And very, very happy audience.

Thanks, Dirty Projectors, for making my last (*sniff*) night at Dick's so great.