Archive for the ‘Will Ferguson’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

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so-youSOUNDTRACK: MIKE FORD-Canada Needs You volume two (2008).

fordThis is the long awaited follow up to Mike Ford’s first Canada Needs You CD.  Volume Two covers Canada’s history in the 20th Century.

The album is more fun than the first because there are several tracks where Ford uses a stylistically appropriate music to go with the songs: “Talkin’ Ten Lost Years” uses a Woody Guthrie-inspired “talking blues” to go along with the Depression-era lyrics.  “Let’s Mobilize” is done in a great swing style for a 1940s/50s era song.  “Joey Smallwood” uses a near-perfect Johnny Cash style (it may not be time-appropriate since Cash is timeless, but it works great for the song).  “Maurice Richard” is a perfect Dylanesque folk song.  And finally, the pièce de résistance is “Expo 67!” It is so wonderfully Burt Bacharach-y, so perfectly late sixties it gets stuck in your head for days! C’est Magnifique!

The rest of the album, especially the first three songs do not try to match a song style to the time it discusses.  Rather, he sings about Canadian history in a folk/rock style ala Moxy Fruvous (Creeping Barrage” and “In Winnipeg”) or in a great R&B/girl group style–with actual female singers, not himself in a falsetto (“Tea Party”) or reggae on “I’m Gonna Roam Again.”

The songs are all great.  And, yes, it’s a great way to learn some history (I’ve already Googled Joey Smallwood, just to see who he was.  I’m trying to get all of the lyrics down, but it’s not always easy, especially if you don’t know the details of what he’s singing about.  Which leads to my only gripe.

My gripe is that the disc packaging doesn’t include much information.  And, since he is essentially teaching people about the history of Canada, I’d think that some details should be included in the packaging.  I realize of course, that he says that the he’ll have the information on his website, but since we’re carrying the disc with us (not the website), it’d be nice to have at least a summary like on Volume One.  Because frankly, I don’t know enough about Canadian history to know what he’s talking about on most of the tracks.

The only problem is that as of this writing he hasn’t put the information on his website yet.  D’oh!

[READ: Christmas 2007] So You Want to Be Canadian

iamcI am Canadian.  Okay, I’m not, but I’ve had the beer, and I’ve seen the commercial (hilarious) and I’ve been there several times. I even have Canadian satellite broadcast into my home (long story).  So, I’ve seen Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans, and I’ve been a fan of Corner Gas long before it was broadcast down here. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MIKE FORD-Canada Needs You (Volume 1) (2005).

Volume 2 of this series has just come out, but I haven’t received it yet, so I’ll start with Vol. 1

I discovered this series because I love Moxy Fruvous, and any member of the mighty Moxy is worth checking out solo.  Mike Ford has a wonderful voice, a great knack for songwriting and an ability to do multiple genres in one setting.  Couple that with the history of Canada and it’s win-win!  Volume One covers Canada pre-1905, with Volume Two covering up to the present.

I admit to not knowing very much about the song topics on the disc, which is fine, as I learned something new.  And, much like with the two Ferguson books, Mike Ford clearly loves Canada, and is willing to celebrate it without hiding any flaws that might be found.  Which is as it should be for an album or book of this nature: Don’t hide the warts; celebrate the whole picture.

Musically, the disc is as varied as the subject matter.  “I’m Gonna Roam” is a folk song done in a rap style. “Turn Them Oot” is a sea shantyesque sing-along about the Family Compact (and what a great rabble-rouser it is).  The most rocking song, “Sir John A (You’re OK)” is sort of a mock metal song (it’s as metal as a folkie can get…with a chorus from a Grade 7 class).  Imagine rocking the line “RESIDUAL POWERS!”

There’s even a song that sounds as if it was recorded on an old wax cylinder (“Canada Needs You”).  I like this song especially because it is a satire of early 20th century Canadian government attempts to get people to move to Canada (much like the Go West Young Man of the US).  A little snippet of lyrics:

There’s an abundance of everything in Western Canada
Where it’s never ever (hardly ever) cold
And the streets are paved with gold
And you grow rutabegas bigger than a loaf of bread
tomatoes bigger than a horse’s head
There’s milk and honey and a kitchen sink
There’s never any bugs or drought and the farts don’t stink

Some other topics include: a young Native woman who inspired her people (“Thanadelthur”); the voyageurs–with canoe sounds (“Les Voyageurs”); the fact and fiction of the treasure buried on Oak Island, Nova Scotia (“The Oak Island Mystery”); and the importance of Canadian women (“A Woman Works Twice as Hard”).

Perhaps the most fun song on the disc (for style and content) is “I’ve Been Everywhere” in which Ford lists thousands of Canadian towns at superfast speed.  Great good fun. Moncton, Moncton, Moncton, Moncton.

All the lyrics are available in PDF here.  And facts and background info about the songs are available here.  With all of these resources, you’re bound to learn something new about Canada!

[READ: September 2008] How to Be a Canadian

Now this is what I expecting from Why I Hate Canadians–a funny, tongue in cheek look at Canada and all of its quirks.  I got this book on the same trip as Why I Hate Canadians, and since I just read that one, I figured, why not keep it going.  So this book is co-written by Will and his brother Ian Ferguson (apparently there are Fergusons littered across the US and Canada, as their services are called upon throughout the book).  And, hard to tell if this is true, but based on the previous book, Ian must be the funny one in the family, as this book is very funny indeed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE NEW ODDS-Cheerleader (2008).

Craig Northey, singer of the Odds has written some great songs by himself and with a slew of other projects.  But most notably, he did the theme songs (opening and closing) for Corner Gas.  At last, “My Happy Place” the Closing Credits song has now been released on this disc by The New Odds.  (The Opening Credits song “Not a Lot Goin On” is available on the disc that Northey made with Jesse Valenzuela, cleverly titled Northey Valenzuela.  I mention Corner Gas aside from the fact that it’s a great show, because I mention it in the book write up below as well.  But back to the Odds.

The Odds had a minor hit in 1993 with “Heterosexual Man” (which we all thought was hilarious).  I didn’t really think much about them until my friend Amber from Vancouver sent me a tape of Bedbugs.  I was surprised how much I liked it and how, although the band was funny, they weren’t a novelty act at all.

I’ve enjoyed the Odds very much since then, they’ve appeared on a number of soundtracks, and released four solid albums, especially 1996’s Nest.

The New Odds are, as you might guess, the Odds, only new.  3 of the 4 original members are back, and aside from updating their sound to the twenty-first century, the band isn’t radically different. They play what used to be called college music, but which really is more or less alternative or even just rock music.

As with previous Northey output, the lyrics are witty and clever, with some wordplay in evidence.  There’s a pretty diverse collection of sounds on the record, yet they all stay within the range of alternative guitar pop.  One or two songs rock harder than the others, “Leaders of the Undersea World” sounds like a dose of heavy metal in comparison to the rest of the record.  “Write it in Lightning” is also a pretty good song, and “I Can’t Get You Off” has a wonderfully catchy hook to it.

Northey’s voice is easily described as inoffensive, and the music is catchy but not stick-in-your-head catchy.  It’s not a ringing endorsement, but it’s also not a put-down.  Like meat and potatoes, it’s a good staple to any alternative fans’ collection.

[READ: August 28, 2008] Why I Hate Canadians

I bought this book several years ago, probably in 2000, when I was visiting Montreal.  I remember being very excited to visit Chapters and to see what kind of books they had that weren’t available down south.  I was especially interested in the humor section as I had just started watching Mike Bullard, and I knew he wasn’t available in the States.  I found Bullard’s book as well as two books about Canada by the Fergusons. Why it took me 8 years to read them, I don’t know.

This book is listed as a humour book; the copyright page has it listed as 1. Canada-Humor 2. Canadian wit and humor (English).  But the thing is that the book isn’t very funny.   Even with an outrageous title like that, it’s not very funny.  It is however, a fantastic introduction to the history of Canada written in a style that is (yes) funnier than your average textbook.

DIGRESSION: I will state that I realize that Will Ferguson has a perspective, and quite often he’s very vocal about his perspective.  Most good history is written with an acknowledged bias–trying to hide your bias makes for dull (or hypocritical) history.  So, Ferguson’s history of Canada may not be Accurate, (especially if you are a Quebecois) and of course, I’d be interested to hear from those who disagree with him; however, to an American who is not well versed in the history of Canada, it was pretty enlightening. (more…)

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