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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (March 30 2007).

This was the very last Rheostatics show ever.   Well, for eight years.  But it was supposed to be the very last one.  They had been a band for nigh on 20 years and they needed to call it quits.  So they managed to get a final gig at Massey Hall which sold out pretty quickly.

And we’re lucky enough to have a recording (or several) of it.

The show opened with a tribute song by Dave Bookman/Steve Stanley.  Throughout the song there is consistently off rhyming–the word Rheostatic does not actually rhyme with things like attack it.  I also absolutely don’t get the line about thinking The Bends is better than OK Computer (which it isn’t, but what does that have to do with anything).

So after their folk song, the band comes out.  Martin’s voice hasn’t been fixed yet (that is such a bummer–what a disappointment for him and the show that his voice couldn’t soar–although his guitar sure can).

26 Songs were played (27 including Alomar)
From the poll that was taken here are the top 26 songs as voted.   Those in bold were played (17 of the 26 played were in the top 26 voted):
1. Saskatchewan (51) 
2. California Dreamline (50) 
3. Northern Wish (48) 
4. Dope Fiends and Boozehounds (48) 
5. Self-Serve Gas Station (47) 
6. A Mid Winter Night’s Dream (46)
7. Record Body Count (45) 
8. Horses (39) 
9. P.I.N. (37) 
10. King of the Past (36) 
11. Aliens (31) 
12. Shaved Head (29) 
13. Claire (27)
14. Satan Is the Whistler (27)
15. Legal Age Life at Variety Store (25) 
16. Four Little Songs (23)
17. In This Town (21)
18. Christopher (21) 
19. Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too (20)
20. Take Me In Your Hand (19)
21. Junction Foil Ball (18)
22. Feed Yourself (18) 
23. Bad Time To Be Poor (17)
24. Queer (17) [surprised they didn’t play this]
25. Making Progress (17)
26. Introducing Happiness (16) [surprised they didn’t play this]

I want to interject that I am shocked that Stolen Car, Michael Jackson, RDA and Bad Time to Be Poor weren’t in the Top 25. Songs that weren’t voted on but were played were:

Me & Stupid; Mumbletypeg; It; Easy To Be With You; My First Rock Show; We Went West; When Winter Comes; Stolen Car; RDA

They open with “Saskatchewan.” Martin sound rough but is pretty game to sing what he can.  “Me and Stupid” absolutely rocks.

They don’t talk much (yet) although Tim says that “Bad Time to Be Poor” is from the dark days of Ontario about ten years ago.  He also says that they were going to put an intermission in between two sets but we wanted to play as much as possible so we nixed it.

Martin confesses, “I’ve got a little bit of a bug so I don’t have the high stuff in my voice.  Doctors can’t fix it.  So sing along with it, especially the falsetto.”  They start “P.I.N.” and there’s a terrible guitar moment where someone is way off but it’s quickly fixed.”

Dave introduces “Mumbletypeg,” I’d like to send this out to my parents.”  Martin: “Me too.”  Tim: “Me three.”  Once again, the opening guitar or bass if way off but again fixed quickly.

“It” is kind of a surprise.  It sounds good as does “Christopher,” which Martin says was written for his friend Chris Hamilton.

When they play “King of the Past” Dave tells Martin to “do an extra long one” for the solo.

They call up Don Kerr and Dave Clark (our old friends) to the stage for “Northern Wish.”  Dave Clark on drums (and maybe percussion) and Don Kerr on a prominent and excellent cello.  Martin sounds pretty good on this song and the whole thing si really lovely. So lovely that Dave has them do the end section one extra time.  Thanks to “Clarkie and Kerr.”

Clark mentions Dave’s dad who signed the form when they were 15 to allow us to play in bars–I think there was a two-four in it for him (which we couldn’t buy).  We should thank Dave Clark’s mom Maude because they played at her house every day.  We were really loud and uh…bad.  During mellow time.  “My mom certainly knew it was mellow time for some of us.”

Ford Pier gets introduced for “Easy to Be with You,” which sounds great.  “You aren’t leaving are you, Ford?  Last time we were on stage together, some D.O.A. broke out.”

Dave sings “My First Rock Show” and The Imponderables act out the story of Dave getting rescued by Joe Jackson (I can’t believe there is no video for that!).  Tim Vesley was on drums.  Dave jokes, it was like a dream and you were there and you were there.   When Dave gets to the “Massey Hall” line, he repeats it over and over, letting the fact that they are there really sink in.

Timmy’s gonna tell a story about us touring back and forth across this country.  Tim sings a wonderful “We Went West” with some great guitar accompaniment.  Tim says there’s lot of great places we’ve played.  This place isn’t bad.

Dave: “Hats off to everyone who came from out of town.  Thanks very much.”

Ford gets to be profound  Massey Hall– hallowed cathedral.  The birthplace of music. Where the first note was sounded out.  The dawn of creation….  I grew up in Edmonton.  This place is okay. Now, if  we were playing at the Jubilee Auditorium….

Then Dave talks about some of the history of Massey Hall

Dave: Massey Hall, a long time ago, soldiers sat in these seats and waited to be shipped out to WWI.  Hitler’s cousin came her and warned people about the Nazis.  Charlie Parker played here and Bon Scott.

Tim: We played the Walker Theater in Winnipeg opening for Barenaked Ladies and our van broke in Brandon.  The taxi cost $220 and we made it just in time to get to the side of the stage.  We’d never placed a place that big (not as nice as this though).

Dave: So general recap: it’s going okay?

Martin makes a joke about Dave “writing books about how I smell.”  Dave: People love that shit.

Martin says that Ford is gonna help me with this tune.  It wasn’t intentional that the intro should sound anything like Bob & Doug McKenzie’s Great White North call (it does and doesn’t).  Martin tries it but can’t hit the notes.  The audience does it for him.  Martin: I’ve never done rock stage shit before.  Dave: last change, Martin, go for it.  Martin: I might as well enjoy it.  Ford is going to sing it because this is what it sounds like when i do it (bad).  Martin has some guitar fun in the middle of the song

“Feed Yourself” is suitably intense–Dave really gets into that middle section: “look inside his head!”

Then some humor:

Dave:  I plan to take Rheostatics Revisited on the road–with a bunch of younger guys.
Tim: I got Rheostatics We Hardly Knew Ye on the casino circuit.
Mike: I’ll be work shopping some young boy bands.
Martin: I’m taking up pet massage (Mike: receiving or giving) Martin laughs: giving, I train pets to massage people.
Dave: We’ve been playing with Ford for 2 years now.  I think Ford’s been studying us very deeply learning all of four secrets.
Ford: Yes, in 20 years I’m going break up.

There’s a really pretty “Making Progress” with some lovely accompaniment.  It’s followed by a terrific moody “Shaved Head,” but it sucks when he can’t hit the “it’s such a happy thing to cry.”

Dave: “we’re entering the shank part of the evening as Levon Helm used to say–never knew what it meant, but it seems appropriate.”
Martin: “I’ve carefully maintained not getting to know hoe to play our own songs for about 20 years it’s a delicate process: you want to know it enough but not too much.”

They talk about Martin’s hat. Martin does not wear a hat to cover male pattern baldness.   Martin: my hat is my good luck charm.  I keep fiddling with it so I try not to think about things.   Dave: “If you’re thinking about your hat you’re not thinking about bad stuff.”

martin says that they planned to name their third album Rheostatics Cut Their heads Off and Go Swimming.  They made a pact that when we play for the last time, I would cut off Tim’s hand and he would cut off mine.  But how does the last guy do the last hand?

Someone shouts “50 bucks for your hand.”  Dave: “How much if he autographs it? … oh wait.”

So Dave, you wrote this frankenmonster [When Winter Comes] so talk about it.  I’m looking forward to playing it personally and Dave’s going to explain it to you.  Dave doesn;t explain it but he says the first part was written in  the interior of British Columbia.  The middle was written at King and Parliament intersection.  The final part was written at the Isaac Hostel in Dublin Ireland coz I missed my girlfriend.  Tim: That’s where we broke up the first time.

As they start the song, Martin says, “this is the fake ending of the show, lets rock.”

Evidently there was snow falling during the song as one person wrote: “Also, the fake snow falling in ‘When Winter Comes‘ was gorgeous and will be imprinted in my brain forever.”

They come back for the encore.  Tim says, “This song is in the key of D, it’s one of our favorites.  (Dave: can we get those police back?).  Martin: “I’ll dedicate this song [“Self Serve Gas Station”] to my parents.  This song isn’t all that true.  And to my sister who is seeing us for the first time tonight.  (Save: so it’s her fault).

Martin sings his heart out on “California Dreamline” but just can’t get the notes.

They invite Wolf Island’s Chris Brown to the stage.  We’re going to dedicate this song to Claire who is siting in the balcony.  She’s 7 years old.  “Claire” runs to almost 9 minutes with some great solos from all parties, including a great keyboard solo from I assume Chris Brown.

They play a ripping, intense version of “Horses.”  Despite acknowledging the kids in the audience, Dave doesn’t hold back.  Send this out to Stephen Harper and his minority government behaving like a majority government:

 theft and lies and deceit and pain and crime and hate and intolerance and cheating.  And he hasn’t even done anything yet.  But were gonna be ready and strong.  We’re gonna be mighty, small, and fierce.  Teeth bared, eyes open fists clenched, feet rooted to the ground.  This is our ground.  These are our roots

“Stolen Car” ends with Martin repeating the first line and Dave asking and then what happened?  So Martin speed reads the plot of the song to a blur as it segues into “RDA” with a chanted chorus of Super Furry Animals, “They don’t give a fuck about anybody else.”  As they near the end, Dave asks, “Are you ready Timmy?  Are you ready Marty?  Are you ready Fordy?  Are your ready Michael?” before they conclude… in America!

The final song of the encore is “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.”  We’d like to invite the ensemble up for this next number.  Don and Dave and Chris…  let’s all do it together.  The drummers get a special drum solo with some fun keys from Ford.  The percussion solo segues seamlessly into “Alomar” before returning to “Dope Fiends.”  This song featured Chris Brown on keys and Dave Clark and Don Kerr on hand drums.

They leave but it’s not over yet.  They come out for a final encore, where they apparently sit down on the edge of the stage and joke with each other “how come you’re not famous?”  “How much money do you have?”  They plays some acoustic guitars (can you hear us alright?).

Dave: Ford, what can we do to get the top balcony singing?
Ford: This is Dave Clark’s thing, he’ll have good advice.
Clark directs the audience.  Top balcony, this half goes “oom” the other half goes “oom oom.  Middle balcony, hum through the nose–that’s not loud enough so hum out loud.  The bottom group, half goes ahhh and the other half goes whoooo.  They do a pretty decent participation throughout the whole of “Legal Age Life.”

And then there’s one last song.  Dave gets a little choked up.

I don’t get emotional about this until I start talking to people who are into the band.  People coming with old friends who grew up singing Rheos’ songs; people forming bands, lost in the wilderness and singing Uncle Henry to themselves….

And then they play a sweet acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” a sweet send off to Martin, for sure.  And as one person commenting on the show wrote:

Martin’s expression at the end of ‘Record Body Count‘ when he realized that there was a human pyramid behind him was priceless.

There is a clip of the human pyramid online, and it’s really pretty impressive.

The final word goes to Darrin Cappe, who runs the Rheostatics Live site

This show was the biggest they have played on their own to date, and the fans have flown from all over North America, from Florida to San Diego and from Halifax to Victoria to see them. What a pleasure and a treasure it was to have been there. I truly feel that those lucky enough to have been there were witness to a significant piece of Canadian Music History. One of those events where years from now when people talk about it you can say in the words of Dave Bidini “Oh Yeah, I Was There!” ” Darrin Cappe, Toronto ON

Shortly after the concert CBC Radio aired an edited one-hour version of the show.  The sound is excellent.  They play havoc with the set list, having it rather our of order, and having it end with the main body of the show.  But it’s a nice, clean-sounding, digestible one hour highlight reel.

01. Introduction   1:27
02. Interview with Andy Craig   1:44
03. Saskatchewan   8:04
04. Me and Stupid   4:02
05. DJ   0:11
06. Bad Time To Be Poor   4:17
07. King Of The Past   6:27
08. Northern Wish   6:34
09. We Went West   5:24
10. banter   1:09
11. Making Progress   5:18
12. Claire   7:09
13. DJ   0:22
14. When Winter Comes   10:05
15. Outro   0:49

There’s a slideshow of pictures at the bottom of this post.  And Pete Nema has some photos from the show online.   There’s also a couple of non soundboard recordings.  The one from Desmond Howl is especially interesting because you can hear a lot more of the crowd reactions–they were really into the show (which doesn’t quite come across in the soundboard version).

It was great run from a great band.  I was pretty psyched to be able to see them when they reunited seven years later.  My bucket list now includes seeing them play a proper show–two hours plus, with Martin’s voice in great form.  We’ll see what the summer allows!

[READ: January 13, 2018] “Munich, 1938”

I saw this longish story and the title and thought I would not like it at all.  I was pleasant surprised at how engrossed I became in this story.

It started out as I feared with the British Prime Minister and his delegation heading to a conference with Hitler and Mussolini.  We are focused on Hugh Legat, Chamberlain’s private secretary (but apparently not a very high ranking one).  He was asked to stay at the hotel to get an office running for the Prime Minister when he returned. We learn that Legat has an ulterior motive for being in Munich, although I’m not entirely certain that this excerpt reveals what that is.  It might, but I’m not sure.

The story is a bit bogged in details, but that’s as befits a novel, which this is and excerpt from.  So the early part is a little tough going with so many characters–most of whom we will not meet in this excerpt.

Then we meet Paul Hartmann. Hartmann is also at the conference.  We know even less about him except that he has a gun in one pocket and a letter in the other.  He has a message for the British delegation, but there is no way he can get it to them without being spotted.

The conference ends for lunch.  The delegates do not look pleased.  This made Hartmann happy that maybe the conference would fail. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE WOODSHED ORCHESTRA-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 5, 2012).

The Rheostatics were originally supposed to play 3 Reunion concerts to help celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Horseshoe Tavern. Unfortunately the concerts got cancelled but Dave stepped in and offered up a free show on Wednesday December 5 2012, what was to be the first of the reunion shows.  Dave Clark’s Woodshed Orchestra opened the show with a 48 minute set of New Orleans-style jazz (a limiting descriptor since their site says):

Legendary Toronto drummer Dave Clark (Rheostatics, Dinner is Ruined, The WoodChoppers Association, Gord Downie and Charles Spearin) pilots a five-piece horn section, four-piece rhythm section and full-ensemble vocals through New Orleans Funk, 2nd line and Jazz, R&B, Ska, Soul, Reggae, Punk, Rock n Roll, Blues, Country, Surf Rock, Neo-Greek, Ranchero, Polka, Disco, Samba, Afro-Pop, Waltz, New Wave, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Power Pop, Klezmer, Torch Ballads, Tango and Calypso, in an extraordinary celebration. This band is a funky, uplifting and joyful ride every time it plays.

The joy is utterly true. Dave is a warm and friendly guy, introducing all songs with a smile and calling everyone “friends.”

The play nine songs from their three albums.  Each song is a variant on that New Orleans style of tuba and banjo (and more of course).  It’s exemplified by “Love Letter to New Orleans” a song that seems like an instrumental but which is actually just really long before the words come in.

Dave introduces the second song, “There’s certain things I forget…. ”  “Drugs & Alcohol” is, unsurprisingly, a song about drinking.  He introduces our friend Pavel (Paul Kolinski) and then Karen Ng on “I Got No Clue.”

The next song’s entire lyrics are the band members meowing while they play.  I can’t find the name of the song.

Dave introduces the next song as a dancing song dedicated to one of the greatest guitarists to walk the planet.  It could be me or you or anyone on the planet because were all great then we try.  But this is for “Levon Helm” who looks like he was a bout to die on stage but still gave two hours of the slinkiest, grooviest music.

Next, Karen Ng is going to play you a song and then teach it to you: “Seasons of our Lives.”

Dave says, “We’re good for two more numbers or so and then we’ll take it out to the hallway.”

Then: “Let me name some names: Geezer Butler, Erica Badu, the guy from Crazy Horse who doesn’t t move but he’s got a really good voice.  Tim Vesely.”  This is all an introduction to their song “Geddy Lee.”

Want to hear a sing about sex?  “Clothes Off” features the line: “Come on take your clothes off I wanna see you naked.”

The final song is dedicated to each and every one of you and people you don’t get to see.”   “Penny & Mousie’s Antidotal Lullabye” is a sweet slow number, a nice send off of love and tenderness.

Considering that Dave Clark was always the weirdo in the band, and he is still a bit of a goof, this music is really sincere, and really good.

[READ: April 16, 2017] Birthright Volume 1

The name of this book intrigued me when I saw it in the library.  And I really liked the cover image.  So I grabbed it and volume two.

And man, did  I love how quick and abrupt the beginning of the story came.

On page one a dad is throwing a ball to his young son.  On page two the dad talks to his wife while the boy, Mikey, runs into the woods for the ball.  On page four Mikey is officially missing and the police have been called in.  On page five the dad is being accused of killing his son and by page ten the parents have filed for divorce.  Yowza.

In that time the mom has started dating one of the detectives (I think).  The dad, Aaron, has become a useless drunk.  But there is some news on the case.  The detective calls both of the parents and their older son Brennan into the precinct because they have brought someone in.

The man is in his mid 30s, totally muscular and wearing intense armor.  They immediately think that this man abducted Mikey. But the dad says no, that IS Mikey.  WHAT?  The detective says that the DNA matches. It makes no sense, but there are real indications that it is indeed Mikey.  It’s just that time moves faster where he went, obviously.

Mikey tells them it was destiny and then we see how he was grabbed by some flying creatures and some large orc-like creatures.  There is a brief story of Mikey’s introduction to Terranos–where it is his destiny to be the world’s hero.  And he has come back to earth to protect it from the bad guys of Terranos who plan to invade.

Twists upon twists and great storytelling.  But a pretty standard premise, right?

No, because Williamson has one more twist up his sleeve. (more…)

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