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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ROKIA TRAORÉ-GlobalFEST Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #136 (January 14, 2021).

Rokia Traore.GlobalFEST is an annual event, held in New York City, in which bands from all over the world have an opportunity to showcase their music to an American audience.  I’ve never been, and it sounds a little exhausting, but it also sounds really fun.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. 

Given the pandemic’s challenges and the hardening of international borders, NPR Music and globalFEST is moving from the nightclub to your screen of choice and sharing this festival with the world. Each night, we’ll present four artists in intimate settings (often behind desks donning globes), and it’s all hosted by African superstar Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

The final artist of the fourth and final night is Malian singer Rokia Traoré.

Rokia Traoré performed at globalFEST in 2005, the music festival’s second year, and it’s a thrill to present her meditative performance as part of Tiny Desk meets globalFEST. Her work is rooted in the Malian musical tradition, but defies the confines of a single culture. Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Traoré had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences. She joins us from Blues Faso, a theater inside her Foundation Passerelle in Mali, which she created to support emerging, interdisciplinary artists, from music and the performing arts to visual arts and photography.

She plays three songs that more or less segue into each other.  I don’t know a lot about music from Mali, but the little I know I can recognize from the Ngoni played by Mamah Diabaté and the guitar played by Samba Diabaté, with lots of speedy runs.   In “Souba Lé” melody is played on the balafon by Massa Joël Diarra (although I wish they’d have shown us it up close).  Both this song and “Tiramakan” feature subtle bass from Aristide Nebout.  The final song “Fakoly” is a little louder and drummer Roméo Djibré is a bit more prominent.

But all of these songs are all about Rokia Traoré’s vocals which soar and ring out.

[READ: February 25, 2021] March Book 3

Each book has gotten longer.  Book one was 121 pages, Book 2 was 187 and Book 3 is 246.

This book begins right after the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.   You meet the victims before they were killed.  It continues through until the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.  Holy cow was there a lot of violence in these two years and the amazing art by Nate Powell never shies away from showing it.

Eagle Scouts at Klan rallies who then go on to kill Black teenager’s, hicks in pickups celebrating the deaths of the girls in the church with anti-integration chants and, as we see more and more in this book, police killing innocent people and not getting in any trouble because of it.

This book has opened my eyes to what Black people have known all along about police forces.  That they are completely corrupt and need to be restructured from the ground up.  When you see that it was their job to be racist in 1963, is it any surprise that they are still racist in 2021?

Reading a book like this I can’t help but think that the best thing we could have done for our country would have been to let the south secede.  Bring all people of color north and let the racists fester in their own lack of diversity.  Because their racism poisons the whole country.  And yet that is exactly the opposite belief that this book is based upon.

I’m embarrassed at how naïve I am. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKELISAPIE-GlobalFEST Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #136/156 (January 14, 2021).

ElisapieGlobalFEST is an annual event, held in New York City, in which bands from all over the world have an opportunity to showcase their music to an American audience.  I’ve never been, and it sounds a little exhausting, but it also sounds really fun.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. 

Given the pandemic’s challenges and the hardening of international borders, NPR Music and globalFEST is moving from the nightclub to your screen of choice and sharing this festival with the world. Each night, we’ll present four artists in intimate settings (often behind desks donning globes), and it’s all hosted by African superstar Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

The second artist of the fourth and final night is First Nations singer Elisapie.

Elisapie returns to Tiny Desk for a show-stopping performance from Montreal, with the disco globe of our dreams helping to light her set. Elisapie, in both her songs and work, is a resounding advocate of First Nations culture in Canada. In her set, she harnesses an incredible energy with electrifying, emotive vocals.

I had really enjoyed Elisapie’s previous Tiny desk.  I found her to be a less extreme, but no less dramatic performer than Tanya Tagaq.  Her band is outstanding creating all kinds of textures to surround her voice.

The first song is “Qanniuguma.”  It starts quietly with a single ringing guitar note from Jean-Sébastien Williams and little taps of percussion from Robbie Kuster.  Joshua Toal adds some quiet bass as the guitar plays some higher notes.  After a minute Elisapie starts singing.  Another 30 seconds later the drums get louder and Jason Sharp start sprinkling in some raw bass saxophone.  As the song grows more intense, Elisapie adds some breathing and chanting–throat singing.  Things quiet down and then build again with the sax and the guitar soloing as the drums and bass keep things steady

Behind her you can see Mont Royal, which has a lot of history.

The second song “Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules” is “a small song” but very meaningful.  It starts in a similar way with ringing notes an thumping drums.  She sings this one in  English and it feels like a much more conventional sounding song.  It’s pretty quiet but the instrumental breaks adds huge guitar chords and the end is really loud.

Introducing the final song, “Arnaq” (which means Woman) she says women tend to forget that we have a lot of strength and we should celebrate it loud and clear.  This one opens with a loud raw sliding guitar like an early PJ Harvey song.  The song’s chorus builds with an “ah ya ya ya” as the instruments add chunky noises–scratches from the guitar and skronks from the sax and all kinds of precious.  It’s a cool noise fest, although the guitar could be a smidge louder.

I’d really like to see her live.

[READ: February 25, 2021] March Book 2

Book Two picks up John Lewis’ life.

Like the first, it starts with Lewis’ preparations for the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Then it flashes back.  Lewis was in college and had moved to Nashville where the growing student movement was gaining strength.

The visuals are even more striking in this book.  The panels of the white woman pouring water and then soap (or flour) on the quietly sitting Black diners and then hosing them down is really arresting.  As is the sequence (which is almost entirely black) of a room full of peaceful protestors being locked in a room when the fumigator was set off.

I couldn’t believe that a man couldn’t really left us there to die.  Were we not human to him?

Then next round of protesta was at the segregated movie theaters.  I love that they chose the Ten Commandments to protest (the irony was lost on the whites in Alabama).  The Black protesters would line up and would be refused seating.  Hundreds of people who would then get back on line and be refused seating again.  Whites would throw things at them and hurl abuse at them. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKMARTHA REDBONE-GlobalFEST Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #135/154 (January 13, 2021).

Martha RedboneGlobalFEST is an annual event, held in New York City, in which bands from all over the world have an opportunity to showcase their music to an American audience.  I’ve never been, and it sounds a little exhausting, but it also sounds really fun.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. 

Given the pandemic’s challenges and the hardening of international borders, NPR Music and globalFEST is moving from the nightclub to your screen of choice and sharing this festival with the world. Each night, we’ll present four artists in intimate settings (often behind desks donning globes), and it’s all hosted by African superstar Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

The fourth artist of the third night is Afro-indigenous appalachian performer Martha Redbone.

Martha Redbone performs her Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST performance from her home studio in Brooklyn’s Navy Yards. Native and African-American singer-songwriter Martha Redbone is known for her mix of folk, blues and gospel from her childhood in Harlan County, Ky., which she infuses with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified Brooklyn. Inheriting the powerful vocal range of her gospel-singing African-American father and the resilient spirit of her mother’s Cherokee, Shawnee and Choctaw culture, Redbone broadens the boundaries of American Roots music.

“The Garden of Love” starts with Martha playing percussion sounds.  Keyboardist Aaron Whitby is playing some backing chords while guitarist marvin Sewell is playing some interesting slide guitar sounds.   Martha sings in a very traditional style.  Then the song starts proper with an old sounding blues riff and the song feels old and gospel-like.

She tells us her inspiration is the Appalachian mountains where she grew up–rattles, soul music, the blues.

“Talk About It” is a prayer for stronger communication around the world.  It’s a more conventional sounding soul song, with heavy keyboards and Redbone’s vocals taking the fore.

“Underdog” is a very pretty ballad with slide guitar sounds and gentle keys.  But it’s all about her gorgeous voice.

[READ: March 1, 2021] Kindred [prelude-the fall]

I’m always happy to start a new group read with the fine folks at Infinite Zombies. Normally we read big books by white men.  So this time it was decided to pick a different kind of author.

I was pretty pleased to see that Octavia E. Butler would be the new reading choice.  I had only recently heard of her and had recently read Mind of My Mind, which I really liked.  So it was a great opportunity to read more from her.

Kindred is Butler’s most famous book.  I was looking forward to reading something different from Mind (although I do intend to read the rest of that series).

I didn’t know what this book was about.  The cover of this book gives absolutely no indication is what’s going inside.  In fact, it looked pretty much exactly like what is not happening in this book.

I was blown away by the first sections of this book.  Butler’s style is not fancy and I found this direct writing to be really effective at conveying what is going on.

Butler basically puts a horrifying slave narrative into a science fiction story.

It starts very abruptly with the prologue.  The narrator, Dana says that she lost her arm on her last trip home.  The police question her husband Kevin but she assures them it is not his fault.

Then the story resumes with The River.  It flashes back to when this all started–June 9, 1976.

In The River, Dana and Kevin are unpacking books in their new California home when suddenly Dana feels dizzy.  She is pulled through space into a river where a young red-haired boy is drowning.  Dana thinks quickly and stomps into the river to rescue the him.  She even does some mouth to mouth

The boy’s mother starts blaming Dana for what’s happening even while she is trying to resuscitate the woman’s son.  Dana succeeds and just as the boy, whose name is Rufus comes to, his father holds a shotgun at Dana’s head.  What is the black woman (who is dressed like a man) doing with her mouth on his son?

Rufus’s father is Southern and they seem very, very old-fashioned.  But just as Dana fear the worst from the shotgun, she flies back to her bedroom.  She is covered in mud and soaking wet, but Kevin says she was gone maybe ten seconds.  He has a hard time believing her (who wouldn’t) despite the proof of the mud on her clothes.

What in the hell just happened? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Show 7 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 23 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  On the last night of Green Sprouts Music Week, the band played two shows in one day. This first one is all ages, which I kind of think of as a children’s show, but really it means that people under 21 (or whatever the drinking age is) can get in too.

Seventh and final show of the annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Excellent finale to the week with some peak performances of the material being worked on for The Blue Hysteria album – most of which debuted live during the week long run. There are some great references in this show as well – to Martin’s new double neck guitar used for the first time and which they were debating how ugly it was (it had yet to be painted), the Whale Music Movie premier which was to take place in Los Angeles the following week, as well as Dave talking about the actual Joe Jackson at Massey Hall event noted in My First Rock Concert which is the sample noted below. Farm Fresh and Tamara Williamson guest, a great Spirit Of The West segue into Claire via Scaffolding and the traditional gift exchange at the end. Less than a month after this show they would perform Music Inspired By The Group Of 7 at the National Gallery in Ottawa…which at this point not a single note had been written.

Tyler from Farm Fresh will sit in with them tonight.  Sgt. Tielli will start the show (he’s wearing some kind of fancy suit–Martin: we used to tour with these outfits all of us.  Tim: I bet you never washed yours.) He begins with a lovely “Song of Flight” that segues into “California Dreamline.”

During “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” the chant is Farm Fresh and They Suck. Tyler does a turntable solo.

Tamara Williamson comes up for “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  She’s with Mrs. Torrance and they’ll play her next Tuesday.

Martin debuted his double neck guitar this week. Martin: It’s a trial basis–I’m borrowing it to see if I like it.  Dave: It’s ugly but in a nice way.  It goes with the jacket.  It needs stickers (!).

After a lovely “All the Same Eyes,” Dave says “you just gotta spina around when you hear that song.”

Some Green Sprouts start whistling “You Are Very Star.”  Dave: You could start your own religion with a tune like that.

Don talks about a concert event this Sunday.  He’ll be playing with Cake (I don’t know if it’s that Cake), and on the bill is “Don’t Talk, Dance” and Bob Wiseman.  It’s a benefit for The Campus Coop Day Care which burnt down.  Tim: so when it says “members of the Rheostatics, they mean you.”  Tim says Bobby Wiseman’s new album is awesome.

The do alright with the counting on “Four Little Songs” and Dave says Neil Peart’s kitchen.  When Dave tells them to count off on the final 4321 some says “that’s your job Dave” and Dave retorts: “You guys are getting lippy.  On Monday the audience was quiet.”  Don: They’re tired of your jokes–same jokes 6 nights in a row.

Tim says that he taught the fellows the next song (“An Offer”) during rehearsal this week.  He kept writing out the charts but someone kept stealing them.  He got tired of writing them.  Someone shouts: I heard some other band play the song on the radio today!

After the song, someone shouts “encore!”  Dave: Encore already? The longest encore in rock.

“Desert Island Poem” features some scratching from Tyler and a solo from Martin.

Don sings “Never Forget” (I feel like he never quite gets the vocal right).

Dave says he was interviewed by CBC.  Originally he said no, but they paid him fifty bucks.  They interviewed him for like an hour and he was on TV for all of two and a half seconds saying “Italo-Canadian.”

Next song is in French.  “Chansons Les Reulles.”  Tim says, “Play it in French, Don.”

Martin: Someone asked me if the Joe Jackson song is really true.  Dave tells the story then sings the son.  He adds an extra first verse about Aerosmith and the Carpenters.  Never heard it since.

A footnote to ELO.  They were going to come out of a big spaceship–like a Big Mac box.  As it turns out they were sued for playing backing tapes.  My first real rock concert wasn’t even live.

“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” sounds good even though Martin doesn’t even try for the high note.  But he plays a wild solo.

Dave says that Whale Music is opening in Santa Monica.  Are we going down there?  No Hollywood party for them.   But then we thought–Hollywood party–free coke.  Don tells a story about cocaine when opening for a big big Toronto band.  He found a rolled up $20 sitting on a mirror.  He made $20 that night because you never get paid for those big gigs.

They play “Claire” (hard to believe how rare this song is. Tim opens with a verse of Spirit of the West’s “Scaffolding” before starting the song properly.  During the solo, Tim says, Martin, can you play the other neck?  Both at the same time?  he must do it because Tim sings “purify me / blow my fucking mind with that thing.”

They invite Farm Fresh to the stage for a gift exchange and Andrew Rourke’s vocal debut.

Farm Fresh brought 40 tapes and they sold out in the first night, so they’ve been dubbing them in the back.  Then Farm Fresh plays “Space.”

Their gifts include a music trivia book (he asks some of the questions).  Apparently a Red Sonya #1 (it’s worth $700 at least) and a Fantastic Four #358.  And also The History of the Bonzos by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Then Dave thanks a bunch of people.  The T-shirts sold out!  Or we lost them.
Dave thanks everyone.  Being a rock guy and playing big stadiums is good, but playing a club for a week and having people come all week long is the dream.

Farm Fresh present the Rheos with an album: Truck Stop Comedy by Gene Tracey: Double Clutchin “for tough adults only.”  Tim reads the back of the record (it’s hilariously bad) and they all fight for who will play it first.  You can actually find comedy by this guy online.

What a great week of music.  I wish I’d been able to go to alo of the shows, although I didn’t actually know them yet.

[READ: February 20, 2021] “Visiting George”

This is listed as a “Memory” in this issue.  I thought I was familiar with Nadine Gortimer’s work, but I don’t know if this is anything like what she normally writes.

It was really hard to follow as I don’t know who she’s talking about or even what exactly happened.

She says they were in London for a conference and wound up near a house where old friends lived.  She was about to say they should pop in–it had been so long. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Show 6–all ages (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 23 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  On the last night of Green Sprouts Music Week, the band played two shows in one day. This first one is all ages, which I kind of think of as a children’s show, but really it means that people under 21 (or whatever the drinking age is) can get in too.

Sixth show of the annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. This is the all ages afternoon show. Very solid fun show. Of note is Aliens sung by Julia Pietrus and her stuffed chicken followed by Joe Jackson’s I’m The Man sung by Don – actually this to me could be considered the genesis of his band Communism. A couple of nice acoustic in the crowd numbers as well. Near the end the band mentions they were commissioned to perform the GO7 but hadn’t as of yet written a single note for it which is pretty crazy seeing as it would be performed just a month later.

Dave says that at this show they have people aged 6-60.  A nice sober crowd–a daunting thing.  Martin says “after we play tonight they’re going to tear this place down.”  Tim: No.

Martin’s wearing sailor blue for the nautical song “Saskatchewan.”  It’s great to hear this.  There’s a line in the song about knowing the truth and when the song is over, Dave asks, “what is the truth?”  A prescient and profound young person says “I’m the truth.”

Tim tells everyone that this is his first week with picks taped to his stand.  Do you put them back or drop them? Dave says you fling them.  Tim does and is mocked–you throw like girl.  Tim: which isn’t a bad thing.

Then comes three solid versions of “All the Same Eyes.” “Four Little Songs and “Introducing Happiness.”

Dave then calls Julia Pietrus and her stuffed chicken Dale to the stage.  Dale has been to all of the shows.  Julia is going to sing “Aliens” in Polish.  Her mom made her translate it and she’s here tonight to sing it.  She’s also in a band called Ow, That’s My Head.

It’s amazing to hear her translate this song and hear how it works and doesn’t work at the same time.  But it’s really cool.  They they give her a Rheostatics single from 1980.

Then comes some “Old New Wave” as Don Kerr sings “I’m the Man” (it seems like he used to sing this with his old band).  It’s really fun.

That song was written by someone we’ll tell you who it was in the next song.  They play “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” but shout JOE!  JACKSON! (no relation).  Dave starts shouting “One Step Beyond” and then sings the Tuesday night in the discotheque. I can’t dance what the heck, I’m an Uzbeck.

Dave: You kids okay out there?  I didn’t know it was gonna get so dark and loud and weird but I think you’re loving it.

People start whistling “You are Very Star” which is pretty cool.

Up next is the “Digital Beach / Earth segue and then they announce they’ll do a few acoustic songs in the audience.

They are in the crowd for a spirited run through of “Take Me in Your Hand” and “Peas & Rice.”

Dave says that they have been commissioned to write 40 minutes of music for the Group of 7 at the National Gallery next month.  But we haven’t written a minute of it, yet.

Martin asks him to tell the Neil Young story.  Dave says he went to see Neil Young at the Garden during the Ragged Glory days.  It really wasn’t very good.  They all had Marshall stacks and were trying to be the loudest band in rock.  These two folks behind me shouted “acoooooooustic” through the entire show–he never brought the acoustic out.
Martin: the loudest sound I have ever seen was at the first stadium concert I went to about three years ago for Rush.  It wasn’t Rush though, it was this guy behind me who was whistling so loud I couldn’t believe it.
Tim: Whistle like this?  [puts fingers in his mouth and can’t do it].
Dave: have you done that and tried to say “puck?”  Don: The title of the next BNL album is going to be Born on a Pirate Ship.  They all crack up.

Martin: We unplugged and we plugged it back in.  Replugged?

After a great “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine,” Dave plugs the Green Sprouts Music Club–people who have written to us and we’ve written back.  We’ve met many bands.  Like The Inbreds, Farm Fresh and Local Rabbits (in the audience now, playing tonight at the Horseshoe).

They play a lovely version of Tim’s “All in a Row.”

Don: Are there any more Dave Bidini dolls?  Sold out!
Dave: When you pull the string, what does it say?
Can I let you off the corner?
I can’t break this 50.
I found a great thrift store.
Can you pick up my dry cleaning for me?

Martin brought art to sell but left them in the back–I declare them for sale.  A page from the lyrics from Saskatchewan and the other is a story book.  We were going to do Melville part 2 with corresponding songs.

We’ll do one more song and they’ll be available.  They end with a great “Fat.”  How fun to be done with a concert by 7:30.  But it was totally worth it to go at night as well because it’s a very different set.

[READ: February 5, 2021] Cleopatra in Space Book Six

Book five was dramatic and pretty intense.  Where do you go from there?

You start on Cada’Duun, the home of the Golden Lion, where a battle with the Xerx has left yet another one of their forces dead.  But our heroes are okay and Brian has made Cleo a new crown.

Her old one was an heirloom but it was destroyed.  Cleo us touched. They even got the ibis just right (they thought it was a snake). She asks if it does anything–Brian made it after all. Brian is annoyed to be figured out but he is pretty pleased to show of that the lower left side makes her invisible.

They are en route to Thonis, a remote, previously unpopulated planet where they have terraformed a small section to make it habitable.  They been bringing refugees from around the Nile galaxy.  Luckily, the right side of the crown is a universal translator (thanks Brian). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 5 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 20 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  Like this full week of shows from the Third Green Sprouts Music Week.

Fifth night of the third annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. The first song is Tim Vesely performing a rap he wrote along with Farm Fresh and Rheos and then perfected the following night. If you ever listened to or attended all the shows of a GSMW run you know how the band kind of builds through the week and really hits a stride a few shows in – this is one of those types of shows. Interesting to hear how even within single songs they were working on the transformation from night to night as they worked them out in front of a crowd – Desert Island Poem aka Drumheller is a great example. Song Of Flight/California Dreamiline/Digital Beach/Earth is a particularly great run from this show. Don sings Never Forget for the second time and also second time ever singing lead at a live show. Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine features Tamara Williamson who co-wrote the song. All in all a great show. It is funny looking back at shows that have the impression of classic setlists but in fact half of the songs had not even been recorded yet and were pretty unfamiliar to fans.

This recording opens with a freestyle rap from Farm Fresh.  I’m assuming that’s Tim on bass, and maybe someone else joining them?

Farm Fresh (Tyler, Pat and Ronnie) does “Space Song” and then Tim does a great story-rap about touring and listening to the Farm Fresh cassette and really loving it.  is tim playing bass with them

Then Farm Fresh does some more rapping and when they leave someone (Don?) says that seriously they fought over the Farm Fresh tape–which van would get to listen to it.

When everyone leaves there’s some weird swirling music that lingers while martin starts “A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream.”  He can’t reach the high note at the end–his voice kind of craps out but it’s still good.  The jam at the end makes up for it.

There’s a raw “Feed Yourself.”  Dave has changed “like a box of chocolates or a Beatles song” to “like Preston Sturges or a Beatles song.”  But they get the crashing end part perfect.

Tim’s “All the Same Eyes” has some fun harmonics on the second guitar.

Dave says: Friday night is rock night.  Each night is a like a snowflake–each one is unique.  Like, Martin’s guitar did not break down last night during that song.  And the new songs we have not yet worked out our dance moves yet.  Donny was playing the lower drums with his hands and the hi-hat with his feet.
Tim: and the crash cymbals with his teeth.
Dave: I aspire to have all gold teeth like Sticky Thompson in Ziggy Marley’s group.

They begin “Aliens” which I thought would make everyone pretty excited.  But there’s a lot of chatter.  At the end, Dave says, “that was nearly my chance to grab the brass ring of lead guitar.”

There’s a screaming person in the crowd again and Dave says, “nice scream. We hear you.”

There’s a long tech delay so they do “My First Rock Concert.”  Dave asks, “Does everyone know who ELO was?”  When it’s done Martin says that was the mystery song.  We’ve never rehearsed it, we just let it develop live.  Dave then talks about the five flash pots and asks if the guy from the Yardbirds died when a flash pot blew up in his face.  Or is that like the pop rocks guy story.  Someone shouts Same guy!

Dave asks, Martin, if we play “Four Little Songs” will that cheer you up?  It will.  During Dave’s part he asks, “who votes for a guitar solo?”  The 4321 at the end is perfect and at the end (“now they’re gone”) he asks several people if “you took them?”

The noisy crowd continues to irritate.  Dave wishes there was a button you could use to highlight something or other and then Don says, a button to eject screaming fan.  Or let them live?  Someone shouts “make them buy beer.”  Then as Tim starts the next quiet song someone shouts “shut the fuck up!”

Tim get a few songs now.  “Connecting Flights” and “An Offer” (It’s only the third time we’ve played this, so be gentle).  The falsetto seems a bit of a struggle.

Then comes Don’s song, “Never Forget.” Dave asks if he ever sang in his old new wave band.  Only backing vocals.  “Last night was the first time I was completely naked in front of the people.”  So Dave introduces: Second time for the Don Kerr Band.

Dave invites Tyler from Farm Fresh on stage, but they are doing an interview.  They play “Drumheller” (or “Desert Island Poem” as it’s also called).  Drumheller’s a weird place man.  We had great Greek food there once and terrible Greek food in the same restaurant.

As Martin plays a gorgeous “Song of Flight” he makes cool whale sounds.  (Whales lived in Canada once).  It segues into a lovely “California Dreamline” and then into “Digital Beach” and then into a wild “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds.”  It’s, as Darrin says a great sixteen minutes.

Someone asks if “Earth” is about Dave’s family.  Bidinis were the first humans.

Someone shouts “Winnie Cooper.”  Dave: “The Wonder Years? I don’t follow.   Lets meet outback later and talk about it.”

A ripping “Queer” come next with a “riff so nice, play it twice.”  Dave messes up some words (which hardly ever happens).  There’s a jam of the intro to “King of the Past” but no vocals.  Did Tim just not want to play it?

Tamara from Mrs. Torrance is invited up, and while Dave is talking he says to someone “Hey don’t fuck with me” (!) [What happened?]  Dave: I wish we wouldn’t swear as much, but we don’t swear as much as the guys in Farm Fresh do.

Tamara wrote the chorus to “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  The two of them singing this together gives me goose bumps. Martin says: “That song was for Winnie Cooper.”  Dave: How do you know about The Wonder Years?  Martin: “Late at night, lonely, kind of lukewarm depressed.”

Dave: Was she like the Miss Beedle? [from Little House on the Prairie].  Martin: No, she’s like Jan.

Up next is “Fat” with a great jam at the end.  Martin says “You hurt me with your rocking.”  And then proceeds to rock out a cover of jane Siberry “One more Colour.”

The recording cuts off after about a minute of “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson,” so who knows what else happened on this Friday night. 

[READ: February 12, 2020] Ready Player Two 

I really enjoyed Ready Player One quite a lot.  It was certainly one of my favorite books of the year.  I didn’t know there was supposed to be a sequel, but when I heard about it, I imagined it might be a lot of fun.

And while the book is largely the same in structure, the tone of it was really disappointing to me.

Set several years after the events of the first book, Wade (Parzival) and his helpers Aech, Daito, and Art3mis are all in charge of the empire that controls the OASIS.  They have bought out their competition and are basically a giant monopoly.  They are the only company making legit equipment to access the OASIS and each of them multi-billionaires.

They do a lot of philanthropic activities, especially when it comes to giving poorer people access to the OASIS.  And each one of them his his and her own pet causes to which they donate millions of dollars.  But primarily they (or at least Wade) is taking care of himself.  His house is palatial and costs billions of dollars.  He has made everything fit his heart’s (nerdy) and he wants for nothing.  Much of his money and energy is spent on building security measures for himself. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 4 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 21 1995).

Darrin at Rheostatics Live added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  Like this full week of shows from the Third Green Sprouts Music Week

Fourth night of the third annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Never Forget makes its live debut and Farm Fresh and Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies joins the band for Soul Glue. The 16 minute Digital Beach/Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald/You Are Very Star ending is amazing. The band also talks about “Raise A Little Elf” which would be noted on The Blue Hysteria and several other albums.

This is the first of the shows in which the audience is really obnoxious.  It gets worse later on.  I’m not sure why they get picked up so clearly on the mic, but it ruins some of the songs.

Many of the shows opens quietly, but this one opens with a raw “Feed Yourself” with some different words.  The guys are still figuring out the ending.

There’s a really noisy guy who shouts “sit down!” [This is a big thing tonight].  Tim: I’m not getting involved in that.

They play “All the Same Eyes” which I wouldn’t call the most rocking song in their catalog, but Martin says “we’re not normally this rock n rolly.”  Dave: Only on Thursday.  Only on St. Swithin’s day.  Only on my grandpa’s birthday.

They play “an old song,” it’s “Fishtailin'” and the crowd is stupidly loud during the quiet parts.

Up next is “Four Little Songs.”  There’s a long intro, but they get it right.  During Dave’s part he asks them to play the intro twice and he says Bono’s (?) kitchen.  But by the end, they can’t get the counting part right so they ask the audience to help and they do great.

These songs are “aged like sharp cheese which is what Rheostatics means in Latin.”

Dave finally addresses the shouters: you’re not gonna shout out sit down still are you?  They’re obviously not going to sit down and stuff.  Don: They’re talking to you, Dave, they want you to sit down.

Dave says his “day band” The Medicores” playing tomorrow at Lee’s Palace.  It’s a food bank benefit  Don will be at a benefit on Sunday with the coolest band in the area, Don’t Talk, Dance (a group with Tyler Stewart and others).

Last night was a weird night–felt the ghost of Trooper.  We even broke into “Raise a Little Elf.”  The story behind that is that when Andrew was very young he thought that the Trooper song “Raise a Little Hell” was “raise a little elf.”  He didn’t find out until …1992!  So naive.  He’s Mennonite.  Mennonites believe in elves.

Up next is Tim’s new song “Connecting Flights,” which Martin says is called “Two Flights of Stairs.”

You hear the guy shout “sit down asshole.” Thankfully before the song starts.

Presumably to damp down the jerks, they play their happy theme song (“Introducing Happiness”).  He says they plan to play it at the Grey Cup and the Governor Generals Inauguration (cheers). You like the Governor General? Weird crowd.

Up next is “Claire,” the only time they played it this week.  This time it features a guitar “duel” between Martin and Tim.  Tim obviously loses.  he even messes up his simple part and has to play it twice.  Dave says that the song is from the movie Whale Music which is coming out in the States on October 6 at a place in Santa Monica.

Next up is a brand new, never performed song sung by Don kerr called “Never Forget.”  There’s so much talking during it I can’t believe it.

Dave tells a funny, lengthy story about riding his bike and getting honked at by girls in a van.  He tells them Mississauga’s that way (a burn on Don Kerr).  The punch line is them telling him to “go back to England.”  You know what happens when Italians are mistaken for English….

Don says that if you’re riding a bike in Mississauga, you’ve got to  watch for people in vans with baseball bats.  Their TVs break and they have nothing to do.

A great sounding “Fat” has a rocking ending (Dave reveals that the gum that’s tough to chew was Dubble Bubble).  Farm Fresh gets the shout out in “Fan Letter” And then Martin introduces the next song which is “about working in a gas station.”  Dave: It’s not the ‘Summer of ’69’ is it?  But seriously, who talks through “Self Service Gas Station?”

Then there is clapping for the “contest winner.”  The “play drums on your birthday with the Rheostatics” contest.  It’s Tyler Stewart.  Give him a shot at the big time.

Dave asks about an “eat Kraft dinner with BNL contest” in which the bnl were too busy to eat with th eguys and so there were cardboard cutouts.  Tyler: is that some sorta CHOP?

They got to eat with Tyler’s double: Tarzan Dan.
Tim’s double is Henry Rollins
Dave’s double is Telly Savalas
Martin’s double is Starsky Michael Paul Glaser
Don’s double (courtesy of Janet Morassutti) Richard Manual from The Band.
The guitar tech’s double is William Baldwin–at least you didn’t say Ed Begley, Jnr.

Tyler plays a beat for Farm Fresh.  It’s a wild introduction to “Soul Glue.”  There’s so much cursing!  Whaddya think of Farm Fresh/Rheostatics/Barenaked Ladies  “They suck!”  Tyler also does a rap and then describes “Soul Glue” as a “song about LSD.”  It’s a bit slower, but sounds cool.  When Tim sings the “reapt that mistake” Tyler shots “sorry!” and after the “in the ground” Tyler adds “in the ground, in the ground, in the muthafuckin ground.”

Dave encourages everyone to join the Green Sprouts Music Club if you can.

The encore is “Digital Beach.”  There’s some shushing as Martin starts.  It segues into a slow, powerful “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  The song is fantastic–the loud parts are really overwhelming. Then as the song ends and Tim reprises the slow part some some jackass shouts out “Gordon Lightfoot!” which totally ruins the moment.  Jesus.  Dave threw in an “I wish I was back home in Derry” which I thought was something he did much later.

After atmospheric jamming at the end of the song, it ends with a lovely (uninterrupted) “You Are Very Star.”

I hate that these drunken people can ruin quiet moments because otherwise this show is fantastic.

[READ: February 20, 2021] School for Extraterrestrial Girls

The title of this book sounded pretty good and when I saw that it was written by Jeremy Whitley who did the wonderful Princeless I was ready to read it.  I don’t know Jamie Noguchi but he has illustrated Erfworld.

Princeless was a YA book and this series is aimed a little younger.  It starts with Tara Smith, a normal girl going to a normal school.  Well, not that normal.  She doesn’t really have any friends. She just puts her head down and gets good grades.  Her parents are pretty intense.  And they are very busy.  So much so that she never really sees them in the morning.  They give her her daily meds (she has serious allergies) and trust that she will catch the bus (which she always does).

When she gets home they go over her homework, make her do everything that she got wrong over and over again and then tell her to study for tomorrow.   The only free time she has is when she takes out the garbage.

Then one morning she wakes up late. A power failure has messed up her alarm.  In her haste to get to school, she drops her meds and breaks a special bracelet that her parents gave her.  Today she can’t take the mean kids on the bus.  She yells at them and her eyes glow red, which gets everyone to back up.  Later in class, as she is writing on the board, her hand catches fire.  And then her whole body does. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 3 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 20 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  Like this full week of shows from the Third Green Sprouts Music Week

Third night of the third annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Shorter mid week set though I believe the first song is missing and not sure if there were any encores. The show focused predominantly on Blue Hysteria material they were working on at the time with 8 of the 14 songs being unreleased. The show builds pretty nicely to epic song territory. The last four songs alone make up almost 1/3 of the show.This tape starts with “All the Same Eyes,” which sounds great–martin adds in some cool noisy guitar effects.

But, as seems to happen a lot for these guys, there’s technical problems.  The first song does appear to be missing because after this, Dave says something about being only two songs in.  Someone shouts “Tell me a story, Dave.” “I don’t have a story at the ready.”  “Tell us the Milli Vanilli story.”  “I don’t have a Milli Vanilli story….  And if I did I wouldn’t be at liberty to release that information.”

Martin tells everyone, “On New Years Eve we sat down and wrote four songs and if we made a whole song of any of them it would be awful.  So we put them into one song.”  “Four Little Songs” comes out perfectly.  Dave says that he’s in Neil Finn’s kitchen.  At the end of the song “And now they’re gone,” he asks, “Did you eat them?”

Introducing “Desert Island Poem” Dave talks about writing a song about cannibalism already: IOn “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” he has to eat his friend to survive.  So we have reprise the theme in this song.  Tyler from Farm Fresh adds some scratching.  Don says “I feel like we’re being attacked by one of those beam swords from Star Trek or Star Wars.  Everyone cracks up that he can’t remember light saber.

Martin says he was once hurt by a toy torpedo.  Did one of your brothers do that to you?  Martin: The mean one, the one they don’t talk about.   Gus, the hidden Tielli.

Then comes three Tim songs in a row.  In “Introducing Happiness’ Tim sings “your sister lives in … wherever the hell she is.”

Dave asks “How are the cats doing?”  Tim: “They’re a little bored.”  Dave” Bring them to the show–all kitties half price.”  But…  Is Dale [the Rooster] here tonight?  There would be a problem.

Up next are “Connecting Flights” and “An Offer.”

Martin follows up with “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine” which has some outstanding drumming in the chorus.

Dave plays “My First Rock Concert” and I noticed that instead of “Paul Weller was Christ” he says he’s seen “The Special Beat thrice.”

They’re going to take a little break (it’s pretty early for that, frankly) and then they come back for “California Dreamline.”  Martin had no monitor and couldn’t hear anything–“I sang it deaf.”  Don: “That was def man.”

It’s weird how many people are talking but then how many people are excited to hear it.

A gorgeous “Northern Wish” segues into “Saskatchewan” which has a cool buzzing sound that goes from one ear to the other.  Was that on purpose?

Throughout the week, there is some concern in the audience about people standing up.  I guess this is a seated venue, maybe with tables?  Before they start “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson,” Dave says, “you can stand up now.”  As they start the song, Dave starts singing Bowie’s “Fashion” (turn to the left).  Then he starts singing a refrain that pops up a lot this week and I cant figure out what it’s from

It’s tuesday night in the discotheque / I can’t dance what the heck / I’m an Uzbek.

Farm Fresh gets the Michael Shout out and Tyler does a scratching solo.  There’s a fantastic vocal ending from Martin and Tim.

They follow this with “When Winter Comes, with a stomping honky tonk guitar before the main riff comes in.  Someone else is sings the “blue Canadian winter” part.

Dave says they’re going to do a couple more, but the tape only has one more–a really good version of “Fat.”

[READ: February 20, 2021] We Can Be Heroes

S. brought this book home and after describing the premise I wanted to give it a read.  I’d never read Mike Chen before.  Apparently his books are typically a lot darker than this one.  So I’m glad I read this as I don’t think I’d like the darker ones.

This one comes from an amusing premise.  It also comes from a short story that he wrote that had a similar premise but when in a different direction.  In that story (called “Anonymous,” from Storyteller Vol. 1 No. 3 which I can’t find anywhere) two superheroes meet in A.A.  The premise of the novel is similar–two superheroes meet in a memory loss group.  But it’s that memory loss that really changes the direction of the story.

The book opens on Jamie Sorensen–a villain. He is the Mind Robber and he is robbing a bank.  He is able to look into people’s minds and flick through their memories like pictures on a phone (I liked that detail).  He can read them or erase them or just stun people’s memories with a flick of his finger.  He doesn’t want to hurt anyone in the bank, but people are afraid that he is going to wipe out their entire memory.  He just wants to get a ton of money so he can go to the tropics and hide out for the rest of his life–not an ambitious villain, really.  Plus he had heard that banks are insured so as long as he doesn’t take too much at a time, no one really gets hurt. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 2 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 19 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows including this entire week from 1995.

Second night of the third annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. This show is much tighter than the first night. Of note this is the third show that Martin played his double neck guitar (the second being the night before). First live performance of Feed Yourself, An Offer and My First Rock Concert. I believe this is the first time Stolen Car made a live appearance as a verse in the middle of Dope Fiends and Boozehounds. Also Farm Fresh from Brandon Manitoba opened all the shows this week and guested on an amazing version of Fat which had also only been played live a couple times.

“Digital Beach” is a quiet opening and I’m glad the crowd are pretty respectful  It segues into “Earth with its “Monstrous Hummingbird” crashing end and a pretty guitar trilling at end the song.

“Aliens” has a middle slow down part which is pretty unusual–the music cuts back to a simple groove.

Dave notes that “the one wearing the Green Sprouts jersey is the first to start the mosh pit.  Then he addresses Dale the Rooster.  More about Dale later in the week.  But Dave says they don’t allow chickens in the mosh pit.  Dale the rooster has seen five shows.

A swinging “All the Same Eyes” is followed by “Four Little Songs.”  They coordinate ahead of time but they get the countdown perfect.  After the “can’t go wrong” but Dave prepares us for the next verse with a scary “UNLESS!”  And in what would be a weeklong thing Dave starts picking a different Neil whose kitchen he was in.  Tonight it’s Neal Schon’s kitchen.

At the end of the song Tim says “We got the 1234 right–nothing can be harder than that.”

Dave: This is the second night of our residency.  Of the third Green Sprouts week.  There’s an all ages matinee saturday at 6.  Three years old? We’ve had younger than 3.  We birthed a baby onstage at last GSMW and they named it Green Sprouts Music Week.

MT: [“Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine”] is a song I wrote the chorus to [not true, so I must have misheard].  He messes up the chord, which leads to a “Capo Problems” reprise this time with an avant garde solo by Dave.  He wonders, was the person who invented the capo named Capo?  Don: Victor Capo.  MT corrects: this is a song I stole from Mrs. Torrance.

Mrs. Torrance is here every Tuesday in September.  And Farm Fresh drove all the way from Brandon, Manitoba.  They play dope shit or is it shit dope?

“Fan Letter” gives another shout out to Farm Fresh instead of Michael Jackson.  Dave says “we just re-recorded that song and are selling it on white vinyl.  Two sides of the record have music–quite an idea.  Side 1 is the Springfield Duff mix and side two is the Shelbyville Fudd mix.

Up next is a song about Etobicoke: “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” gets a big reaction, then Don throws ina drums solo and the song segues into “Stolen Car” (sung by Dave!).

Don tells a story about the first time he tried to smoke a joint.  It was in Etobicoke at a condominium complex on Islington and Dixon called Fortuna 2000  MT: He once saw a girl going in there with Simon Le Bon.  Don: That’s who I was with!

Up next is “Desert Island Poem” or “Drumheller” (name undecided as of yet) a “happy song about cannibalism.”

Dave says tonight’s show is better than last night–suckers who paid last night got a bad show.

It’s the first time they’re playing “An Offer,” in which Tim sings in a major falsetto, they play a rocking “Feed Yourself.”  This is the first time they’re playing it as well and Dave is still tinkering with the words, instead of “sucking his thumb,” he sings “fucking his mom” (!).  The end is chaos.  Tim says we’ve haven’t even done it yet and we’re trying to change it.

Dave: We’ll play a few old ones now–sweatin’ to the oldies tonight.

Dave asks about Martin’s double neck guitar.  Martin: I’m getting used to its weight.  Dave: I’m a little afraid that you’re gonna be buff like Thor.  Tim: It’s only the third show you’ve used it in, and you brought it out and it didn’t get a laugh.  It got a laugh the night before because Tyler was there–everything is funny when Tyler Stewart (from Barenaked Lades) is there.

A solid “Northern Wish” (Martin forgets a line but it’s fine) is followed by a really funky “Soul Glue” in which Dave plays a great scratching sound for “Dragged the bottom of the lake.”

Drum roll ladies and gentlemen for “My First Rock Concert” (the first time Dave played it live).  Some of it is different–the Joe Jackson part is more improv sounding.  Martin: that’s a song we’re just gonna learn on stage.

Dave says he tried to fit in a verse about Tim passing out at a Devo concert.  Tim: in the early 80s when everyone was wearing those big heavy winter overcoats. Tim wore it to Massey Hall.   Devo were marching on treadmills and it freaked him out and he passed out and thought he was going to hell.

A delightful “Introducing Happiness” is followed by “Fat.”  They call Farm Fresh up to rap.  They say that really nice people come to see the Rheostatics because people actually listen to the music.  Tim: I heard 18 Farm Fresh tapes were sold last night is that true?

Farm Fresh do a freestyle over an awesome intro jam (there’s lots and lots of “shit” and “fuck” in it).  Although the refrain of “when I say ‘What do you think of Farm Fresh’ you say ‘they suck'” will appear throughout the week.  “Fat” sounds great with a lengthy jam at the end and some more freestyling that you can’t really hear.

They end the set with a combo of “Legal Age Life at Variety Store” and “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”

Tim: I know it’s time for us to go because the bartender has put on Conan O’Brien.  Dave: We have commemorative T-shirts for sale, as well as pamphlets and biscuits and bowling shoes–we got all kinds of stuff.

They end the night with a two part–“The Royal Albert” and “Record Body Count” which get a huge reaction.  This is a really solid set and a great sounding recording.

[READ: February 10, 2021] Tsukuyumi

I found this book at work and thought it looked really interesting.

Then I saw that it was all in German.  But when I flipped through it, it didn’t seem like there was all that much dialogue.  So I thought I’d translate it for myself.  This took longer than I anticipated it would and no doubt I missed a lot, but it was still fun.

It turns out that this book was created to go along with a board game of the same name.  This book came with certain pledge levels.  There was an English version that came with a lesser level.  but i’m not sure if it’s the same story.

Felix Mertikat did all of the drawings in the book and there is a different author for each story.  All of the stories seem to be setting up something bigger, like this is the first intro part to a much larger saga.

The general idea: Man lives in fear all the time–fear that his creators could destroy him just as easily as they once created him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 1 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 18 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  Like this full week of shows from the Third Green Sprouts Music Week.

He writes:

Rheos had just come off of the 2nd Another Roadside Attraction tour with The Tragically Hip in July. The band would perform their Group Of 7 commission in Ottawa a month later and during this run were working on material for what would become The Blue Hysteria album. Some of the working titles are listed (Crescent II, Two Flights) as well as Drumheller which would end up as “Desert Island Poem” on Dave’s first Bidiniband album The Land Is Wild.

I don’t regret missing many shows that I’ve missed, but I do very much wish that i had been able to go to a few nights of a Green Sprouts Music Week.  Seeing them in a small club with them chatting away and experimenting seems like it would have been a wonderful experience.

As the tape starts on this first night, someone asks

“Are we going to play that song tonight?”
“What song?”
“The $1.79 song.”
“Of course it wouldn’t be a Green Sprouts…”

Never find out what that is.  But then Dave tells the audience

The plan is over the next 7 days to pay every song we know and even songs don’t know.  He says that it’s Roger the sound man’s first Green Sprouts week and he hasn’t caught Green Sprouts fever yet.  This is also Don Kerr’s first green sprouts, too.

We’ll lay a couple old ones to start.  Someone shouts “YAY!”  Dave: “Hey you haven’t even heard the new ones yet.”

They start with “Me & Stupid” which features the spoken part of the poem “Wilderness Gothic” by Al Purdy:  “Something is about to happen two shores away a man hammering the sky”

Dave: “The great thing about green sprouts is you forget different stuff each night.”

Up next is “another Southern Ontario song” “Fish Tailin’.”

Then Martin unveils his new (as yet unpainted double neck) guitar: “overcompensating for the lack of headstock for the last 6 years.  Now he’s got a guitar with two big ones.”

Tim gets the first new song with “All the Same Eyes,” a song that doesn’t change much between now and the record.

In what will be a theme for the week, they have a really hard time coordinating the opening countdown for “Four Little Songs.”  They have to start it three times.  And they mess up the 4321 at the end.  Martin’s verse seems different.

Kevin Hearn joins them for the next song.  Dave says they stole some part of “Four Little Songs” from [Kev’s “on patrol?  Cabs On patrol?   No idea].

Kevin plays on “Fan Letter” and in they chant “Farm Fresh” instead of Michael.

Over the course of the week we’ll get more details about the creation of “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  Onm this first night, Martin forgets the second verse.

Dave says that Neil Peart said that he preferred playing smaller places (meaning arenas) because he could hear himself (he preferred arenas to open air venues).  But in arenas there’s big speakers but it sounds small.  But it’s snugsville in here, boy.

It’s been a long time since we did this song (“Palomar”), which gets a good response.  After which “it’s the fall but we can still play summer music” (“Introducing Happiness”).

Dave says he saw Asleep at the Wheel and the last song everyone did a solo.  Then the lead singer had a guitar shaped like Texas, but instead of his solo, he picked up three balls by his feet and did some juggling. The last one he threw up in the air and it landed on the brim of his cowboy hat.  They’re working on that for later in the week.

They start the new “Connecting Flights” but can’t find a capo.  They do an improv “capo shortage,” a goofy bit a fun.  Up next is the new “Desert Island Poem,” which sounds great.

Then comes the popular section.  A rocking “California Dreamline” which segues into a lovely “Song of Flight” and right into “Fat.”

They haven’t played “Queer” in a while (which is a surprise).  As they start Dave says, “now there’s a little matter of the words.”  Someone recites them for him.

Dave is going to play “My First Rock Concert” every night this week and the and are kind of learning it on the fly.  In the middle of the song, some words are different.

Dave: “I sense something funky coming on (start of “Soul Glue”).

The last song before “our first encore” is a rocking version of Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour.”  I love their version.

Heading into the encore break Don says, “We just played 18 songs without a pee break.”

That reminds him of a gig they played in Pennsylvania: drinks were free until the first person has to pee.  It was a real classy establishment.  The most boring place on earth–Harrisburg, PA.  It’s a great place if you have a huge bladder.

Martin says “My assessment of tonight is that it started out very vague and hazy, like we haven’t played in six months or like we’re getting back together after a year breakup.  But it gelled together in the last three or four songs.”

Martin tries to remember the new song “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”  He doesn’t go for the high note in the middle of the song–choosing a lower growl instead.  It works pretty well, but I love the high note.

Dave jokes: You don’t know what it was like touring in Platinum Blonde town after town having to play the hits with the drummer under the stage playing the parts for the fake drummer on the stage.

A delicate “Take Me in Your Hand” is followed by Don Kerr’s first time playing “Northern Wish.”  Martin gets the first line but missed the rest of the verse and starts the song again.

The first night ends with a ripping “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”  There’s a drum solo for Don and then martin ends the song with interesting guitar effects.

It’s a good start to a great week.

[READ: February 20, 2021] Leviathan

I signed C. up for a YA program at the library.  His subject was steampunk and they chose this book for him.  S. had read this series and loved it, so I decided to give it a read while it was still in the house.  I found it to be a fast and fun read.

The story is set in 1914, the dawn of World War I. But it’s an alternate reality–one where zeppelins and other hydrogen-based flying machines dominate the air  It also has a very cool component of animal/machine hybrids that are really quite impossible to explain except to say that the Leviathan is a living airship that is made out of whale–they are in side of a whale–but it’s also a machine.  Or something.  Best not to think too much about that.

It’s here that I should mention the drawings by Keith Thompson. They are wonderful pencil-looking drawings–dark but detailed.  They really help to get the visuals down of thes extradoridfanly machiens tah Westerfeld has createa.  I’m not always certain that I could picture the without the drawings.

The book opens on teenaged Prince Aleksander, the heir to the Austrian throne.  While he is playing with toy soldiers, imagining a war, two of his servants enter the room and tell him they are off to do some training in the dark–his father’s orders.

The machine that Aleks is being taken to is a Cyklop Stormwalker.  This is a giant machine that walks on two legs (Star Wars, yes). Alek has never piloted something this large before, but they tell him it’s important for his training. But Alek senses something is wrong and that’s when they tell him this is not a drill.  His parents, the King and Queen of Austria, were killed that very night. He is probably another target and they are trying to keep him safe. (more…)

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