Archive for the ‘Frederick Varley’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Starlight Social Club, Waterloo, ON (April 24, 2016). 

After reuniting for the AGO shows back in 2015, Rheostatics decided to make a proper go of it again.  This included yet another show at Massey Hall (this time with Martin’s voice working).  In order to prep for that show, they first played this show

Warm Up show prior to April 29 2016 Massey Hall show. First club show since March 29 2007 at The Horseshoe Tavern. The Band consisted of Dave Bidini, Don Kerr, Martin Tielli, and Tim Vesely. With Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Keyboards/vocals. Trent Severn guested on Fan Letter To Michael Jackson and Making Progress. Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub was in attendance at this show.

This is a great show with everyone sounding in good form.  Although I love Hugh Marsh and think he is amazing, his violin does tend to take front and center for a lot of this material.  Same with Kevin Hearn’s piano.  They are both essential, but they sometimes feel like more than the other guys (especially he soaring solo of “Stolen Car”).

As the show starts, Dave Bidini begins the banter: Great to be in Kitchener, Waterloo… you’ve changed.  The first show we ever did as Rheostatics was in the hotel across the way.  We slept in the carpark and couldn’t escape Alexanian Carpet (which they talked about back in 2007).  Here’s a bunch of songs.  Hope you like them.

“King of the Past” seems subdued but lovely, with Hugh Marsh’s soaring violin.  It’s followed by “California Dreamline” which opens with soaring guitars from Martin.

It’s followed by “Claire” which sounds great.

Dave says it will take a while for our patter to come back.  Then there’s some new country played on the monitors and Dave suggests that a new direction for them.

“P.I.N.”  sounds bright and positive although I think Kevin’s keys are too much in the chorus.  Martin even sneaks in a “Dirty Boulevard” line.

Dave notes that they were a band before drinking out of a water bottle was cliched–to give you an idea of the age of the band.  We predated grunge.  Actually we invented grunge and then decided it was a bad idea but we left it lying around and someone found it.

The first of Dave’s songs comes in with “Mumbletypeg” it is of course poppy and fun.

Then Kevin recites some of the story of Dot and Bug before starting “Monkeybird.”  Martin makes some wonderful crazy sounds and by the end Kevin starts a chant: I say banana you saw worms.

“It’s Easy To Be With You” is also very keyboardy, with a solo from Hugh or Martin, I’m not sure.

“Song Of The Garden” almost feels entirely like Kevin and Hugh.  It’s lovely.

Kevin starts a sample from Mister Rogers which can only mean “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”  Dave says they’ll play this for Prince and for Michael.  Trent Severn (Lindsay Schindler, Dayna Manning and Emm Gryner, in the flesh) sing the “it feels good to be alive” part.  The entire ending (with Martin joining in) is spectacular.

There’s a pretty one-minute guitar segue into “Making Progress” with a very cool long solo by Marsh.

They play a great version of “Self Serve Gas Station” at the end of which Martin says, “and then that guys escaped out of the bathroom window, he’s climbing down the side of the building.”

“Queer” has a lengthy piano solo from Kevin but there’s no “find me another home” outro.  “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” has a big drum (and much percussion) solo by Don Kerr.  The song ends with some great howling while Martin’s guitar soars.  Martin even brings up the old jokes about someone misunderstanding Don Kerr’s name:  In heavy accent: “Why do you call yourself ‘dont care.'”

“Shaved Head” sounds great as they head into the first encore break.

When they come back out Dave says “I’m working on this solo bass project if you’ll bear with me…..no?  your loss.”

Kevin asks “how many of you are going to Massey Hall?  Don’t share the setlist online so it’s a surprise for everyone.”  It will be next Friday at Massey hall with Amelia Curran

After many requests, they play a slow and powerful “Palomar.”  It’s followed by a pretty version of “Stolen Car” with what I think is a drum machine.  When it’s done, Martin says, “Let’s all smoke cigarettes!”  Dave tells everyone, “Enjoy Game of Thrones.”

There’s a five-minute encore break.  After 4 minutes you can hear country music playing as if it over, but the boys come back out.  Dave: “Now I’m gonna miss Game of Thrones for sure!”

They return with Kevin’s “Yellow Days Under A Lemon Sun” and then a great version of “Saskatchewan” (even if Martin forgets some of the words).

They end with “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”  The special guest on guitar: “Ladies and gentlemen, Martin Telli’s son… they’ve never met before.  It’s beautiful.”  I don;t know who it is but he plays a solid rockabilly guitar solo followed by a ripping piano solo from Kevin.  It’s all over after 5 minutes.

With a total show time of just over 2 hours, it’s a nice welcome back.

[READ: January 11, 2018]  A Legacy of Canadian Art from Kelowna Collections

I find the subject of Canadian Art to be rather fascinating (possibly because it’s more digestible than the expansive European or American histories).  This stems from my appreciation of The Group of Seven.  They loom (probably unfairly) large in the Canadian Art world.  So it’s interesting to see how the fit in with the rest of the history of Canadian Art.

This book is the publication from an art exhibit that from July 1 to October 15 2017 at the Kelowna Art Gallery.  What I found especially interesting about this show was that the pieces came from eight probate collections in Kelowna (as well as the gallery’s permanent collection).  But basically eight art collectors in Kelowna allowed the public to see their private collections.   That’s fascinating to me and I have no idea how common that is.

The book opens with thanks and kind words from the director and the curator with a longer essay from Roger Boulet.  He talks about the history of art and artists in Canada as well as collectors and their beneficence to artists and the public at large.

The book is divided up into eras. (more…)

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sicocSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Music Inspired by the Group of 7 (1995).

go7albumIn music there’s always a… key in which the composition is set…  In painting there’s a mother color that goes through all–it holds the painting together…you might call it the signature of the painting.

And thus opens the Rheostatics Group of 7 record.  I had always been vaguely dismissive of the album because it is mostly instrumental and, while good, I just didn’t listen to it that much.  After seeing it live it’s time for a reappraisal.

The disc opens with “One” a lovely minute-long piano introduction.  It’s followed by “Two” which has a series of piano and guitar trills as they set a bucolic mood. Then the drums kick in.  This song starts slowly with some plucked strings (and a sample from Queen Elizabeth).  What I love about this piece is that after the trills, the song seems to build to a very cool cello riff (provided by drummer Don Kerr).  Then there’s a vocal section (of bah bahs) which was really highlighted when they played it live.

The first highlight of this record for me is “Three,” which is known as the Boxcar song.  Someone shouts “All aboard” as the chugging begins and the cello and drums keep an excellent rhythm with Martin’s amazing guitar melody.  “Five” is another waltz with, to my ears, a vaguely Parisian sound.  Martin sings a few verses (and a chorus of “blue hysteria”).  It’s a lovely, delicate piece.

“Six” is a longer piece which centers around a slowly swirling guitar and cellos motif.  It ends with some noisy moments and more rainfall.  Until a noir sounding coda creeps up with piano and upright bass,.

Then comes “Seven” a cello based version of the awesome song “Northern Wish.”  I prefer the original because it is so much more intense, but this quieter version is really interesting and subtle.  “Nine” starts slowly with some gentle acoustic guitars.  But it builds and grows more intense (it has the subtitle “Biplanes and bombs”).  As the song progresses (around 3 minutes) Tielli’s guitar comes in and the backing notes grow a little darker.  The last 15 second are sheer noise and chaos (live they stretched this section out for a while, and it was very cool to see Hugh Marsh makes a lot of noise with his violin).

“Ten” uses some nontraditional instruments including what I assume is a didgeridoo and all kinds of samples.  On stage Tim and Kevin were swinging those tubes that whistle to make the noises).

Eleven is a reprise of track one, Kevin’s Waltz, with the vocals sung by Kevin Hearn.

I have really come to appreciate this album a lot more.  It doesn’t have any of my favorite songs on it, but it is a really amusing collection fo songs.

[READ: August 20, 2015] The Group of Seven and Tom Thompson

I have had this book for a number of years.  I’m not even sure where I got it (in hardback no less).  I know that I purchased it because of the Rheostatics, because I had never heard of the Group of Seven before the band made their record inspired by them.  Since I was going to see the paintings live, I decided to read up about the Group a bit more (I liked the paintings a lot, I just hadn’t read much).

Sadly, the Art Gallery of Ontario wasn’t open for viewing when we went to the concert (which makes sense as it was at night) and we didn’t have another opportunity to go to AGO.  Fortunately, we also went to Casa Loma which had a room full of Go7 paintings, so I was delighted to see some of these up close.  (They may have been prints, it was unclear, but it was cool seeing them).

So the Group of Seven were (initially) seven Canadian painters who joined together to create uniquely Canadian works of art from 1920 to 1933.  Their art was meant to celebrate their country which they felt was under-represented in art.  They planned to not follow conventional European styles of painting and often made striking scenes of nature.  They are largely known for their landscapes, although they also painted portraits and other works.

The Group of 7 originally originally consisted of (links are to Wikipedia bios): Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A. Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later, A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926; Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930; and LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.

Two artists commonly associated with the group are Tom Thomson (1877–1917) and Emily Carr (1871–1945). (more…)

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