Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Wowee Regina Spektor just finished her set at the Metropolis. I most often choose to write about shows that I really enjoy. this was one of them. I’m a musical submissive. I want you folks on the stage to pummel and empower me, I want to be cast down and uplifted, I want to feel your pain in perfect resonance with mine. I want our shared joy to uplift and expand the whole room. Really, is that so much to ask?
Ms Spektor did all of these things. She sang effortlessly, precisely and beautifully. Regina Spektor began her set with a nearly acapella song with a blues feel. She reached the grand finale of the song and did a vocal slide down towards the last note. She purposefully way overshot, belched a note from well below any possible part of her range, and nailed the last perfectly. She seems to be completely without affectation. Perhaps because she learned english as a second language or maybe because she’s just that good, her enunciation is impeccable. She played many of my favourites, “Folding Chair,” “Blue” “A Statue to Us”, and “Samson”. Selections from the new record fit nicely with the old gold. She had a very small band that made a very big noise. She played piano, had a second keyboardist, a drummer and a cellist.
I must say something about group singing. Unless we’re in some kind of choir, most of us don’t have a chance to sing in a big group. I hearken back to the Scum reunion at Katacombes this past summer. The club was jammed to bursting and most of us knew the words. Feel the steaming heat of too many bodies jostling in rhythm and then the power of 400 people singing, “It’s getting to me, it’s getting to me. Won’t go for shut eye happiness. I can’t stand this ignorance, NO LONGER!”. All that from a song that is nearly 30 years old.
Regina Spektor managed the same thing tonight on a much larger scale. there must have been close to 2000 people singing along.
what a feeling.
In the line-up to leave, I met Veronica. We chatted as the line moved slowly towards the exit. She said she was very new to Spektor’s material. Veronica had heard a song on CISM, one of Montreal’s campus community radio stations [www.cism893.ca]. She texted her sisters immediately and demanded that they listen to the album and told them they were expected to accompany her to the show. Three sisters who claim to be best friends. I felt their jubilation. Her energized story made a great ending to a great night.
You should be able to listen for yourself at the following link:
Monday 2 July 2012.
Wowee! I’m barefoot in my sandals because I’ve just had my socks knocked off. I have had the extraordinary pleasure of hearing Nellie MacKaye live at the Montreal Jazz Fest. She was alone with her piano and ukelele. Nellie MacKaye exemplifies all the reasons why I love music. She showed amazing wit, exceptional, power, enticing softness, inspiring virtuosity, distinctive tone and she spoke french. What more could one want in any performer? The sound quality was superb. She was dynamic with little compression on her beautiful voice. She enunciates EVERYTHING. She is a gifted mimic, swapping personas on the fly. Once grand dame, then french school girl,then Brit popster, a gospel-like powerhouse, a brief slide into a Tom Waitsian growl and her own lovely voice, the foundation from which all the others resonate. Ah, the voice. She consistently sang in perfect tune. The woman has octaves of range, mega watts of power, effervesces with personality and PERFORMED a show. She would have been a star vaudevillian, a command performer in the courts of the crusty and a welcome addition to anyone’s party. Her politics are progressive and that feels so good in these days of fence sitters and sentimental amnesiacs. We’ve seen these political trends before. What makes us think they’ll be any better this time around?
Whew! I have enjoyed the first two of her five albums. I bought two more that were available this evening.
Check out her website:
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If Clank has not responded to your Email, this is why.
Folks, I deleted my “In Box” on 31 May 2012. If you had sent a message that I hadn’t yet responded to, I ask you to send it again. If you’ve managed to get along without my response, I’d be happy to hear from you when next we need to communicate. Thanx for supporting the music I love, Clank
Emma-Lee at Divans Orange, 21 Feb, 2012
Motel Rafael opened. They were breezy and light. The focus was on the three youthful female vocals. The tambourine riffs were my favourite element. They were much better than the last time I saw them. Men have been defining femininity for women over millennia, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by Motel Rafael’s bizarre call for manliness that appears in one song.
Harlan Pepper played second. They had very good stereotypical sound. harmonica and organ were there. The drummer pounded on heavily damped gear. The bass was fat, round and smooth. The guitar, when clean, chimed like a bell and when dirty was dirty. Everything about them was well done, but they did not draw me in. They played loudly and were most interesting for me when they finished their set with an instrumental medley of covers, from surf to early metal.
Emma-Lee started her set with the two songs that open her new album, “Backseat Heroine.” Her voice was in top form. I have spent a great deal of time with this new release. She sang the songs with all the power, presence and poise that she showed in the studio. Her band backed her beautifully. They were dynamic and supportive, never overbearing. I was there to see Emma-Lee and she was highlighted front and centre. She has a “girl next door” speaking voice. It’s when she opens her mouth to sing that the tones blossom. I understand that Emma-Lee has had two operations on her voice box. I wonder if these have contributed to the quality in her voice that brings edge to her singing when she gets louder. This element reminds me in a small way of the multi-toned Tuvan throat singing style. It’s as if she harnessed another audio spectrum of overtones beyond that of the main body of her voice. Hers is a voice that demands my attention. She sings with fragility and vulnerability and taps into a seemingly endless supply of simmering power. What a combination. She did many songs from the new record and sang the duet, “Another Yesterday,” by herself. She sang, “That Sinking Feeling” and “Flow” from her first record. She also included a live version of the internet single, “Kiss My Face”, a tribute to making out. She encouraged the audience to go for it if a receptive someone was at hand. The set closed with, “Red-light/Shadow of a Ghost,” in which they did a stop-on-a-dime break with the precision of nomeansno at its best.
Here it comes again. I raise my curmudgeonly sourpuss head. I send out a great big, “SHUT THE !@#$ UP” to the pinheads that think being at a live music show is the same as watching tv at home. Emma-Lee has developed this amazing performance only to have it ignored by squawking pinheads. They were in the minority, but never the less, were loud and oblivious in their distraction. Perhaps the layout of the room contributed. It is long with the musicians at one end. There may be some physical disconnection that isolates those who are short on attention span and commitment.
If Emma-Lee comes to your town, don’t miss it. Thanx to Indy Montreal for bringing her to us. Look her up at www.soundcloud.com or on her website: www.emma-lee.com.
Review of “Backseat Heroine” by Emma-Lee
I am a fan. I think Emma-Lee has a one in a million voice. Thus, there may be only 32 others like her in Canada. Most of this album places her front and centre in the listener’s ears. This is a beautiful thing. Emma-Lee has a voice that is subtle and variedly textured. I offer my heart at the alter of her voice to be joyously sacrificed, soothed, scintillated, sliced, saddened and sent over the moon. She is dynamic a can sing a single word and show many different colours in its delivery. She is vulnerable and exposed, yet she is also reassuring and assertive. Every song has more than one energy level. Some have several dynamic levels to draw me in. Here is a track by track review:
“Not Coming By”-Is this a jilted lover’s lament? Is it a cry for attention, companionship, love? A blues for something/one gone? My heart is torn to hear her sing, “What’s it like to never be alone?? I don’t know.” The trumpets lend a lazy adobe building, dust blown gunfight feel.
“Backseat Heroine”-This is the title track and has a simple catchy chorus where the strings shine. Organ simmers along nicely. As I have heard in other songs from this record, the writer’s perspective is not always clear. Who is in the first person? Does “you” mean the athlete’s “you” or someone in the second person? I suppose this allows me to interpret as I wish.
“Dream For You”-Anyone would want to have this song sung to them. Too bad I don’t work hard enough to actually deserve it. “I’ll dream for you when you’re too tired to do it for yourself”. The organ is here and the dusty adobe feel reappears with a jicka-jika-jing-jing, jicka-jika-jing-jing guitar riff in the chorus.
“Just Looking”-this is a favorite for me. She tells us of many of the risks she’s subjected herself to, perhaps not always wisely. She seems amazed to have survived this far. The line where she delivers the title is exquisite. The phrase is rhythmically longer than I would have expected and tantalizes to a perfect end. The slide guitar Is sweet and sorrowful. Is this an unrequited love song or did she finally jump on this person’s action? She sings of unwise risks she has taken. Will she chance another one by going for it? I’ve never been good at reading hints. You’ll have to make up your own mind.
“Shallow Grave”-Great piano tone with strings and brass. This slow burner has a Motown or gospel twinge. It has a great, one two three FOUR five six, one two three FOUR five six rhythm. “I’ll rise up singing like a bird from the ashes. The bells will be ringing for me.” She’s definitely gonna get over this one and not look back.
“Figure It Out”-Again, the rhythm and blues feel shines forth. The organ is present. She is singing from a poweful emotional position. She compells her lover to work out what she wants and needs or she’s walking. yikes, the pressure! I suggest listening to Dan Peletier’s, “Three Chances” from his first album.
“Another yesterday, Different Feet”-So there I was, happily listening along with Emma-Lee right in front of me in the privacy of my living room stereo, and suddenly an interloper appears. How dare she allow another man in to this most intimate audio relationship? Okay okay, He sings pretty well and his opening lines are some of the funniest on the whole record. This is a duet with Luc Doucette. He works hard and plays well, so I guess i’ll let him visit with us in the stereo in my living room. Emma-Lee delivers one of her softest sweetest performances here. She is light and balm. How does he get away with singing, “Hey girl” to her and she replies with, “Hey man”?, not fair.
“Bring Back Your Love”-I spent a tossing and turning half sleeping night with this chorus dancing through my head. the song swells to a glorious climax with choir-like backing vocals and a string line that doubles back on itself in an endless loop of beauty. If you’ve sworn you’ve given up on love, the protagonist from this song will be the one to bring you back to the warmth. “so let’s cough up all that moon dust. Let our thirst get the very best of us.” If you’ve been frozen out, if fear has left you isolated, let emma-Lee bring you back to love.
“Pool of Teers”-This one moves along in a slow loping swing time. This is another song of reassurance. How did she know we needed so much? When being rescued from the pool of tears, the kiss of life takes on whole new meaning.
“Red Light”-This is an upbeat swing time number. It is gutsier or a little more down and dirty than most selections from this album. I’m not exactly sure what she’s on about here, but it’s fun to listen to.
“Live With Dyeing”-this song has far and away the most subtle piano playing on the record. The piano sounds are very very good and this track highlights the keyboard wonderfully. Listen as she sings,”Truth be told i’m still as scared as hell that I’ll fool the world and never fool myself.” Sigh. Right off the top of this album I felt an overall harshness in the loud bits. The two opening tracks and”Shallow Grave” and “Red Light” are evident culprits. At low listening levels this is not problematic. I, however, love Emma -Lee’s voice and would have it rattle the building with sound pressure. It’s probably better for my hearing if I don’t. I’ll revel in this beautiful recording at whatever volume is required. You can decide if any of this rings true by buying her record. The following is a quote from Emma-Lee. Use it as you will:
You can stream the entire album on my website HERE! Share the link with your friends, let’s get this baby heard. http://emma-lee.com/site/?page_id=80
Kathryn Calder at Casa Dec 1
Embarrassingly, I had not purchased her, “Are You My Mother?” album when it was first released. So I bought it and her October 25 release at tonight’s show. She sold me the cds herself. She was a pleasure.
Her bandmate, [Ryan] opened the evening with his group, Himalayan Bear. He is a great guitarist. extremely fluid and dynamic. His vocals were much the same. He has exceptional range, from a Hoxley Workman-like falsetto to a textured baritone. His lyrics had an appealing complexity of syllables.
I was excited to hear Kathryn Calder. I had heard her on an “Immaculate Machine” album that I thoroughly enjoyed. She is tall and slim and apparently, constantly cold. How is this reflected in her music? I couldn’t hear it. She came accross as beautifully warm. She was sincere, gently wilful and never over earnest. Her vocal lines were rich with melody. She has a very sweet high range and a get-under-my-skin full voice. Kathryn calder sang with an assuredness that I associate with the best of 60′s folkiness. It is not a performer’s job, but it is ever so pleasing when they make an audience fall a little bit in love with them. We are drawn to the beauty or power or humour or tension. I guess that’s how those greasy haired guys with green teeth managed to get dates. She was lovely like Joe Lally. Hoorah!
Dance Movie Thursday 24 March 2011. A surprisingly cold wind howled along Agricola St as I bent towards Gus’s Pub. I wanted to go out and this was the best option. I came to this event cold in a literal and figurative way. I had no idea what to expect from Dance Movie. The club was chilly though the folks inside were warm. I heard some last minute sound checking and then we were left with toooo much recorded sixties “punk”. the Dance Movie set finally started with a long drawn out guitar riff. There were only a few notes but each was played for a long time. Tara Thorne commenced singing. A sweet, swelling swirl began its soaring ascent into pure pop. After a daringly long pause, the sparse three-piece of guitar, violin and drums, jumped into a very satisfying crescendo. I was surprised by her singing voice. Somehow, I had expected something different. I’m not sure what, just different. She is a journalist and if you haven’t read her articles, you’ve probably heard her on CBC radio. I expect journalists to be hard edged and short tempered. Tara Thorne sang with the open heart of someone in the midst of a desperate love or someone desperate to be so. She used no vibrato. She never resorted to the pained pallet of the pensive poet. Somehow she remained fierce through the melancholy. Her delivery seemed literate as opposed to lyrical. Her choice of words suggests more than a small vocabulary. The songs are pretty and poetic, but Thorne’s phrasing stretches some words, dramatically shortens others and places them in unexpected positions. I was tantalized by deliciously held pauses that heightened my expectations and made the ensuing explosions exhilarating. I very much liked it. Sad, sweet songs are some of my favorites and Dance Movie is bursting with them, so I bought two EPs with 3 and 5 songs. The band’s recordings are much fuller and reflect a pure pop aesthetic. there are small choirs of female voices. Trumpet on one and real strings on others, provide tasty layers of texture on some tunes. The slight buzz from her single coil pickups or ungrounded amplifier is evident. To me, this conveys a kind of hominess and humanness. Her voice was recorded incredibly cleanly. It is front and center, just how I like it. It would be a blasphemy to bury such beauty. Her melodies are simple, simple, simple and understandable. They managed to capture spaciousness and power. The arrangements fill the speakers. I like the mastering. The quiet bits are actually quiet and give the loud bits greater impact.
Friday 21 January 2011
Get your raingear on. I’m about to gush uncontrollably all over your screen. I have just returned from the Salla Rosa where Emma-Lee performed?, softly exploded?, evangelised?, Loved us back? I repeat: I am sappier than a sugar maple. I put the mental in sentimental. The first time I saw Black Flag, the first time I saw Connie Kaldor, these are part of my da. If my genome is ever written out it will now have the first time I saw Emma-Lee inscribed upon it. Her show started with a ripping triangle riff. That is not an oxymoron. The triangle is extremely difficult to play effectively. The player must mute and release with perfect precision. Her band sucked us into their groove and exploded when Emma-Lee’s voice burst love and joy all over us. She plays with a ROCK band. I don’t mean maybe. The rhythm section was loud and proud. The guitarist was surprisingly tasteful and supportive. Keyboards textured and lifted everything higher. This woman can sing, point finale. It can be startling to hear a voice, perhaps unexpectedly, reach inside me and electrify. Connie Karen Young and Cyndi Lauper have affected me similarly. Think of Dusty Springfield or Karen Carpenter or Maria McKee or Linda Ronstadt. Emma-Lee was dynamic beyond the dreams of all but a few singers. She seems to have an ability to sing with the utmost intimacy and softness yet still maintain a timbre of voice that penetrates pleasingly and moves magically. She has passionate power, ridiculous range, awesome intonation and terrific tone. She was attractively self deprecating and humourous at the same time. What are the tears I cry when moved by music? The artist has given me an overdose of beauty? My heart swells, the tears well, I brim with…? Great art makes my life better.
Oh yeah, warmupper Peter Katz was very good and Roses opened.
Thurs 13 Jan 2011
Everything on stage was quiet. The recorded music stopped. The
chatter diminished when a minute vibration began to haunt the
room. This built very, very, very slowly until it became the
sound of a guitar. The player, Lez Beyond, had it repeating
itself by electronic means. Picture an echo that never fades
away. Layer upon layer was piled into the sound. Rhythms
evolved as the repeated elements began interacting. The piece
somehow changed gears and became another song. It was lulling
and soporific. The whole experience lasted about twenty minutes.
Next came Gambletron Carioci. She started with giant swooshes of
blaring chords, bending and careening around. After a time, she
made a song. I laughed out loud when it finally became, “Touch
Me” by an eighties dance queen. It continued with, “Cecilia” by
Simon and Garfunkel. This was much more recognizable. It was
very noisy and goofy.
Legends Last, formerly known as Gardens of Heat, opened their set
with one of my favourites. I’ve heard them refer to it as, “The
Mountain”, an apt title. This is the one that has no lyrics, yet
moves me to tears with its power and beauty. Where could they go
from here? Well, they then did my secondmost favourite. Their
song selection and order was well thought. I just wish they had
less time between songs so that their momentum had a chance to
build. The bass had a bit of distortion which gives more edge to
its tone. One of the players was too hot and I believe she
removed her shoes as a cooling option. Whatever song came next
had wonderful shimmering guitar tone. It was crystal clear.
They lifted me when the second guitar joined in harmony. They
swept us away with beautiful three part harmonies, thus not
letting us down by having already performed their usual closer
off the top. .
Will all the people who gabbed constantly through the show, have
to watch it tomorrow on youtube? Whew, that really makes me
sound like the crotchety old curmudgeon that I am.
Tiny Empire 26 November 2010
Alex has some of the best bass tone I have ever heard. He plays with a pick and gets an amazingly percussive sound. The musical equivalent of a sledge hammer hitting an I-beam. I can pay him no higher compliment. Spencer has fitted himself resoundly in the trio. Gen screams like a demon and sings pretty well too. Her guitar seemed to be less edgy than usual. I wonder if she might need to change some tubes in that ancient amp of hers. They are hoping to record in the new year. I hope they will capture the energy and tonality of their live show. Perhaps I’ll finally be able to hear what Gen is singing about. Annie, the bar tender, served me a Crime juice [cranberry and lime] that bordered on the edge of too much citrus. She got the balance exactly right last summer. I was interested to hear Alex say that he listens to little or no music, other than that which he plays. He said that he found production values often had a greater influence on his enjoyment of a song, than the song itself. I asked if he missed the emotional charge that music provides. He replied that most music couldn’t excite him the way that playing with Tiny Empire does. I’m keen to hear how their new recording will affect me. I look forward to it with anticipation.
Dreadnoughts, “Polka Never Dies”
I like this album. They have very high energy. It sounds great.
the guitar is edgy and crunching. Some of this is reflected in
the vocals. Imagine the demon offspring of a tryst between
Spirit of the west and the Sex Pistols “Great Rock and Roll
Swindle”. The instrumentation lends itself to klesmer. Though
the distorted electric guitar is foremost, fiddle, mandolin and
accordion all jostle for position.
The recording quality is very good. Sounds are well shaped and
placed. Everything has an aggressivity that I really like. I
have had substantial hearing loss. So, This may explain why I
like snarly, growly mid-frequency sounds, only because I can hear
them better. The Dreadnoughts seem to have a fixation on
drinking songs. In spite of this, it maintains an exuberance and
uproariousness that never descends into dreariness or drooling
darkness. The main vocal is tonefull, tunefull and powerful. It
sounds like they are all singing at least part of the time. The
gang vocals climax in an a capella sea song. It, “Randy Dandy-o”
is rousing loveliness. The drummer plays vigourously and with
precision., even at very high speed. The band tantalises us with
moments of decreased dynamics that never loose their menace or
perhaps have greater menace because we know the explosion the
band is capable of when they erupt into a loud part. They
present an almost classical feel. Some of this may be due to
instrumentation that includes piano, but they have at times, a
sweeping majesty that borders on the orchestral. If you like
Spirit of the West, The Pogues, Green Day and Only Crime, you’ll
probably be able to enjoy this album nearly as much as I do. I
hear Stan Rogers in some of this album. Would he have been a
Dreadnought had he been born in another time and place? I’ll ask
Connie to give a listen. If she says I’m all wet, I’ll get back
to you. The lyrics are clever and lusty. The album is harshly
and dramatically beautiful. I recommend it unreservedly to all
but the faint of heart.
Friday 19 November 2010
Tonight I was going to go to “O Patro Vys” to see, Violent Kin.
I’d heard a song on one of our campus community radio stations at
breakfast and was very impressed. The host said they were
playing this evening and I decided I’d go.
But before all of that, I knew that Hannah Georgas was doing an
early set at Salla Rosa, so I went by to purchase a cd. They
were a couple of songs into their set when I arrived. I
explained what I wanted to the doorperson and they obligingly
allowed me entry to the merchandise table. There I met Dan who
sold me her latest and suggested that I stay for at least a
couple of songs. He invited me to be his guest and listen to the
whole set. I’m so glad he did. Hannah Georgas managed to
perform with most of my favourite elements. She sang about love.
Her band was tight and in tune. She had a positive attitude.
She sang with a very resonant tone that was extremely listenable.
I detected a slight punk rock snottiness that warmed my heart.
Something akin to that of X-ray Spex or a less raging Silverfish
or Die Cheerleader. Maybe even a little Alanis Morriset on a
heavy day. She stirred my emotions with building up and down
dynamics that finally crescendoed into a climactic finale and
then just did another song with similar energy. There was
variety and vastness and vocal expertise. She and her band
cleverly strung songs together. Once by maintaining the keyboard
chord while all other instruments faded away, Only to have the
same chord introduce the next song. Another time they did this
they used a swish-swishy rhythm that morphed and melded into the
next song. She sang powerfully and precisely, with beautiful
tone and presence. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be at her spring
show at Salla. I won’t miss another.
When I finally arrived at O Patro Vys, I was informed that the
show was to have been last night and had been cancelled anyway.
I had found only sketchy info regarding the show. No wonder.
Noone answered the phone. Both the band’s and the venue’s
websites were inaccessible. I wish i had asked for the booker’s
number before I left so that I could confirm for next time.
Wednesday 3 November 2010
Tonight it was Caroline Glass and the Pleasure Panes at Divans
Orange. People were in great moods. On my way to and from the
club, everyone seemed to be in a chatty way. We’ll see how long
that lasts after the first snow. Caroline has a lovely voice and
is backed by an excellent band. She has Jackie, who Montrealers
will recognise from having seen her play drums on stage with
countless groups. Isabelle played trumpet and violin. David was
on guitar and keyboards. Boris handled the upright bass.
Caroline mostly played mandolin, but moved to a woodwind for at
least one song. I’m not sure if the sound tech was used to such
delicacy and nuance. The mix was a bit heavyhanded. Caroline’s
pleasing voice would have been better framed in an overall
thinner mix. The bloopy, somewhat exaggerated, middle bass
didn’t let the finesse of her voice shine through as clearly as
might be desired. . She sang about insomnia, invisibility and
gave us a lesson on brain chemistry, singing about serotonin.
There sound has spaciousness and subtlety. They all seem to be
great players, but I was there to hear Caroline. Their songs
often ended without vocals. I hope after this, their second
show, that they might shift some of the arrangements so that the
song or songs are carried to the end on a wave of Caroline’s's
Tuesday 19 October 2010
I’m just back from the “Just For Laughs Studio” This is a
definite misnomer. It feels like a huge, high-celinged car
showroom, all tiled and windowed, with the roar of traffic on St
Laurent filtering in. Helmet played. They did a very brief
soundcheck just before they commenced. The bass was everything
one desires; hard deep and slightly crunchy. Sadly, this tone
was nowhere to be heard when the guitars came in. I could tell
when the bassist wasn’t playing, so that must mean he was being
heard to some degree. The vocals were surprisingly loud and sat
perfectly in the front of the mix. The band shot out great
chunks of sound. In one moment, they did a complete stop, almost
out of nowhere, and slammed back in perfectly. The power and
precision were wonderful.
An extremely intoxicated woman latched on to me for a very short
time. Can drunks sense someone else’s sobriety and stability or
did my static state guarantee she would eventually have to careen
into me. This seems to happen on a regular basis. Don’t get me
wrong, I’m not complaining, as long as you/they don’t pour beer
all over me. I like the way some women will use me as a prop to
help hold themselves in the perpendicular. This often involves
leaning large portions of their bodies against mine. Having a
slurring rag doll pressed against my side is not entirely
unpleasant. I’m just doing my part to maintain an upright
citizenry. I hug everyone that I meet, so drunkenness isn’t
required, simply introduce yourself.
On Thursday, 13 Oct 2010
Bent by Elephants played at Casa del
Popolo. Chesley has a sweet voice with moderate power. She
sometimes slips in to a vibrato that pushes all my wrong buttons.
It can be so fast that her voice almost chatters. Yet,
fortunately, it’s not like that all the time. They played a good
set an closed triumphantly with a song perhaps titled, “How High
Can you Get” or How High Can You Go”. She proceeded to show us
her limits. She remained pure and never screamed, going higher
and higher until I started getting nervous. The ascending run
seemed effortless and was uplifting and supremely beautiful.
Charlotte Cornfield, who had been playing drums for Bent By
Elephants, fronted her own project next. She had a very friendly
stage presence and her story about trying to get her driver’s
license was very well told. Many details in her lyrics were
veiled mumblings by lips that seemed to have separation anxiety
and never wanted to get too far away from each other. Their
pedal steel guitar made for some gleaming, slippery moments.
Someone in the band played several very tantalising and timely
The Bruce Peninsula gave the impression of a gritty, barely sober
choir with a rock band attached. There had to be at least 6 or 8
of them and any time you get that many folks singing and playing
together, it makes for powerful possibilities. They sometimes
sang with a wailing quality that made me think of sounds one
might hear at a pow wow ceremony. I flagged and heard only the
first four songs.
Sunday 5 September 2010
A day of unfulfilled desires for delectation. I arrived inside
the Milton Gates at Mcgill U about an hour after the bbq started.
The bands had been playing since early afternoon. I waited in
line and was told, “Aw, too bad, we just sold the last veggie
thing.” Okay, I was there for the music and the sound system
would be louder than the rumblings from my stomach. Omegas were
pretty good, Their guitarist filled in on bass, playing through
his usual guitar setup. Yannick was quite crunchy. The main
attraction was The Nymphets. Jared’s voice is nearly as high as
Johanna’s. She is a marvel, playing drums unbelievably fast and
singing. Their set was cut short by the cops. The story I heard
involved a prof calling the police to claim his research was
impossible with the music playing. She/He should learn to work
ahead of a deadline so that they don’t have to cram during a
Sunday on a long weekend.
We had gone from very typical, very hot Montreal summer days to a
sudden descent to barely double digits. I detoured for home to
get another sweater. I got to the Kah Zhee Bee in time to hear
the opener. A handful of almonds and a peanut butter sweet, made
it better. Gardens of Heat came on to a very receptive crowd.
They have a big, full rock sound with at least two and I think
sometimes three vocals. Dynamic shifts add interest. One of
them, Pamela?, sings a lot of high, powerful long notes. She was
in the midst of such a note when she did a slight yodel sort of
hiccup to change notes. Very cool. In the same song, one of the
guitars, Cherie?, swelled up from nothing into a tasty feedback
note that fit perfectly. The Bass was tubby and nearly creamy
with just a bit of distortion from being pushed so hard. They
closed with a pulsing power piece that featured a single lyric,
ahh. We the crowd ate it up.
I figured, since I was at St Viateur I should get a bagel. Now,
I’ve done a blind taste test between Fairmont’s and St Viateur’s
sesame bagel. Surprisingly, I chose the St Viateur. I had
always gone to Fairmont. Their fancy bagels can’t be beet. I
walked the few blocks to the bagel shop. If I could learn to
live only in the moment, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed
and disbelieving when they told me they had no bagels. I suppose
this means business is good. Not for me.
September 4, 2010
I’m hoping to catch five shows in four days. The second was a
sold out show at club Soda. Yves, the kite flying manager[?] at
the club, had openers, Trung Hoa, unbelievably loud. Their
bassist, Paul Julius, used an old Canadian workhorse, a
Monoblock, to great effect. They were not as sophisticated as
the Melvins, but had my entire audio spectrum full to bursting.
The Melvins pummeled us with giant slabs of earthquaking
vibrations. They had two drummers. I think they have pulled
some goodies out of the Nonmeansno bag of tricks. They had great
tone, great humour and great big amps.
Now it’s Saturday and I just came back from hearing Shari Ulrich
and family at the Yellow Door Coffeehouse. I would guess there
were close to a thousand at Club Soda last night and close to 30
at the Yellow Door. This makes a full house for each venue.
Shari Ulrich had her daughter Julia and her recently discovered,
raised by another family, son[?], Mike McGee. She was incredibly
human and inspiring. The harmonies she sang with her daughter
were extraordinarily beautiful. During the intermission and
after an oatmeal cookie, I changed my position and had a better
balance to the sound. I really like the richness of her voice.
She has a slightly nasal quality that I find very pleasing. When
she allows a bit of edge to creep in, I’m completely sold.
Sept 2 2010
Tonight I had the pleasure to hear our own Montreal Symphony
Orchestra do their season opener outside and free to the public.
One of my favourite prices. It was hosted by Luck Merville.
Kent Nagano conducted. The soprano will remain nameless. The
selection of material wasn’t well suited to this event. they did
Stravinsky’s, “Firebird”. Now I have a recording of said piece.
I did not realise that the 5 minute droning puddle drying murmur
of strings, was actually part of it. An introduction? I always
skipped to the loud, jumpy bit. The third piece the orchestra
performed, was one of the better choices. Folks didn’t seem to
get that it might be nice to shutup for a few minutes and
actually listen. There were neanderthals bellowing throughout
the crowd. Were they trying to find there knuckle dragging
friends? The soprano “sang”, “summertime” and “Amazing Grace”.
I did not enjoy it at all. If I want to hear the human voice
distorted to such an extreme, I’ll take larynx-lacerating punk or
tonsil-gargling death metal, anyday. Luck Merville sang two
songs that were excellent. He was warm and strong. His last
note was a mile long. To hear him backed up by a huge orchestra
was fabulous. I can’t listen to music on by primitive computer,
but I’m sure most of you could find the broadcast of this
I had a great day at the Osheaga festival Sunday/yesterday. I
went to see Devo in concert for my first time.
I started with The Gaslight Anthem. They played a highly
energetic set with only enough time for drumm counts or guitar
intros between songs, just like the Ramones.
Amanda Mabro’s voice was edgier than I remembered. She still hit
the high high notes with seeming ease. Her band seems to have
gelled and felt tighter.
The Cat Empire from Australia were an exciting surprise. I don’t
think I’ve heard them before. Their combination of ska, reggae
and rock was tantalizingly hip grabbing. Their trumperter was
supreme, with cool runs into blazing high notes.
I snoozed through most of the Sonic Youth set. This was no fault
of the band. They played very well. I’m old and needed a nap.
Devo were amazing. They only played a few songs from the new
album, “Something for Everybody”. I would like to have heard
more. I loved hearing the old gold for the first time live in
person. The sound was extraordinary. My favorite sound
technician, Monk, was behind the board. It was perfectly clean.
My entire body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet,
was pummelled. I have never heard or felt such an experience.
The hairs on my legs were perfectly horizontal. I tried on one
of the Devo Dome hats. Absolutely no way it would fit on my
giant coconut of a head. Too bad.
The day had a very positive vibe. People were friendly and
5 July 2010
I’m just back from the Cyndi Lauper show. She focused on songs
from her new blues album. I bought a signed copy for a measly
$10. She played a flat slidy guitar-like insturment for some
songs. The room was full to bursting with exuberant fans. She
came back for an encore and did some of the material that she has
been iconized for. This included slightly blues tinged versions
of, “Change of Heart”, “Who let in the Rain?”, “Girls Just Want
to have fun” with a guest appearance from opener Dawn Tyler
Watson, “”Time After Time” sung by the 2000+audience. The grand
finale was a beautiful, “True Colours”, again with help from us
in the audience. She played the intro on her guitar thing. I
hung around the stage door for an hour and a half and was able to
say hello to her and give her a copy of “Postcards”. I hope
she’ll like it. .
Wednesday 23 June 2010
It’s a beautiful day. Moderate temperature and humidity with the
promise of extreme highs for both later in the day. Soon the
summer festivals begin. I won’t have the good fortune of seeing
Connie in performance this summer. I had originally hoped to be
in Lunenburg, but my plans have changed. I need to be in
Montreal on 1 august to hear Devo in concert. This will be a
first for me. I will travel with Connie for the Nova Scotia
shows in Sept. This will be the greatest concentration of Connie
Kaldor shows I will ever have had the opportunity to attend.
This weekend at Montreal jazz fest I’ll hear Brian Setzer and his
orchestra as they open the festival. A friend from my hometown
of Halifax is coming especially for the gig. Saturday has
virtuosic Victor Wooten playing then on Sunday, it’s Meaghan
Smith, of whom I am a big fan. Cyndi Lauper on 4 July to top it
all off. I haven’t gone over the entire outdoor schedule.
Supposedly there are over 800 shows this year. I can hardly
Thanx for supporting live music, Clank