February 1, 2016

Blogging on my phone. Too lazy to get to the computer. At least it’s a big phone.

Saw a Darth Vader humidifier at Sears today. Got irrationally angry. We as a society are not allowed to have any more new things. Why does this exist?

Switched from phone to iPad. Needed the keyboard. Keyboard only so-so.

Back to my point re: Lord Vader. Who is buying these? Either there are people in need of a humidifier who have thus far put off buying one due to existing humidifiers not being sufficiently Star Warsy, or they’re replacing perfectly good existing humidifiers to get these. Either way, there’s some questionable decision-making going on here. There are only so many Star Wars fans who are saving mint-in-box humidifiers, and only so many who have conveniently-timed broken humidifiers in need of replacement.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. For as much as I would like to rid my life of Things, I do a very bad job of ever putting that into practice.

Plus, if they replaced the Darth Vader humidifier with a Big Van Vader model, I’d have to be tempted. At least it would be character appropriate.

 

SLCR #229: Blue Rodeo (January 14, 2016)

January 31, 2016

It’s 9:45 a.m. on Friday, January 22. I’m washing down my Robaxacet with Diet Pepsi, and The Guy (capitalized because I’m pretty sure that’s his legal name) is fixing the burnt-out element on our stove. I have better things to do than write a concert review right now (sleep) (that’s it), but I had to be up to let The Guy in, and this hard kitchen chair is the best thing for my back, so here we are. And I need to get this done, because we’re less than 12 hours away from the next show. And then 4 days from the next. And so on.

Seriously. I normally bury my list of upcoming shows at the bottom of the review, and don’t include it in the final copy that I save for the book I’ll never compile, but look at this. How did this happen?

  • Whitehorse w/Andy Shauf and Emily Wells (January 22)
  • Headstones (January 26)
  • Corb Lund (February 9)
  • Elliott Brood w/Nick Faye (February 10)
  • Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls w/Mo Kenney & Northcote (March 5)
  • Amelia Curran (March 8)
  • The Watchmen (March 25)
  • Metric w/Death Cab for Cutie (March 28)
  • Spirit of the West (March 31)
  • I Mother Earth (April 23)
  • Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids (April 25)
  • Ben Folds & yMusic w/Dotan (May 11)
  • Hawksley Workman & The Art of Time Ensemble (May 13)
  • City and Colour w/Shakey Graves (June 12)
  • Regina Folk Festival (August 5-7)

Those aren’t maybes. Those are all things I have tickets for (except for Grownups, and that’s only because tickets haven’t gone on sale yet). My goodness.

Anyway. Blue Rodeo. Canadian (rock? country?) legends. If you were born in this country or have ever visited it, you likely know their hits. I saw them ages ago at the Folk Festival and they were good, didn’t blow me away or anything. Then I saw them again at the Folk Festival this past year, and they were great. So so great. This would be my first time seeing them at their own show (if that makes sense), and I had high hopes for a repeat of this summer’s experience.

Having said that, my attendance at this show was sort of decided for me. I got the email notification that they were coming, and I thought “hey, Mark really liked Blue Rodeo at the Folk Festival too, I should send him this,” so I did, and he said “Great! Get us tickets and I’ll pay you back.” Now, at this point, I hadn’t actually decided whether or not I was going to go to this show, but I took this as a sign from God that I was meant to be there. Even as an atheist, I can find signs from God in all sorts of things whenever I want to do something anyway. Remember, your work fire drill is just God’s way of saying that it’s time to go try the DQ Blizzard of the Month. Anyway, I can tell God approved because we got really good seats.

With each of the four tickets, I was entitled to a free download of a Blue Rodeo album. I wanted to pick up the classics – meaning, the ones that had the songs I actually know – whereas Mark wanted newer stuff. We compromised, by which I mean he left it entirely up to me. That’s good teamwork. I picked their new live album, their two most recent studio albums, and Five Days in July. I listened to precisely none of these in preparation for the show. Mika and I did, however, listen to some Blue Rodeo themed station on Apple Music on the night before. And mostly I paid attention to the songs I actually know.

We got to the Conexus Arts Centre fairly early with lots of time to check out the stuff table. Lots of vinyl, lots of shirts, all the stuff you’d expect. Didn’t get anything. We checked our coats, which I hate doing because then you’re stuck there forever when it’s time to go home, but the alternative in this weather is either to freeze to death on the way to and/or from the show, or boil up until you evaporate during the show itself. And I wanted to see the show. I’d hate to have… mist it.

I think maybe I’m tired.

THAT JOKE WAS GREAT AND I AM LEAVING IT IN DESPITE ALL INSTINCTS

ANYWAY WHATEVER

WHEN MARK AND ARLETTE GOT THERE MARK ASKED FOR DORITOS AND I THINK HE WAS KIDDING BUT ARLETTE BOUGHT HIM DORITOS ANYWAY BECAUSE ARLETTE GETS SHIT DONE AND THEN MARK HAD TO EAT THE DORITOS WHICH IS A PRETTY GOOD OUTCOME FOR A JOKE I HAVE TO SAY

I didn’t get Doritos. Or help Mark with his Doritos. We’d just had Wok Box. It was good. Would go again. And will do so in about 7 hours or so, in fact. This concert review brought to you by Wok Box. “Wok Box: for when you get old and you can’t eat mozza sticks and chicken fingers every day because you are scared of your doctor.”

The bar, apart from Doritos, also had a drink called a PineApple Upside Down Cake (their spelling choices) which was pineapple juice, birthday cake vodka, and 7-Up. I couldn’t tell if I wanted one really badly or if I wanted to punch the guy who thought this up. I settled on “I don’t want to have to pee during the show.”

Our opener was Terra Lightfoot. After last year, I was leery of people named Lightfoot but she was really good. She occupies a similar part-country/part-rock space like Blue Rodeo. Do I know from song titles? Not at all, apart from a song called NFB, which I liked, but is accidentally not on her “limited edition” vinyl. She mentioned that the last time she played Regina was at O’Hanlon’s, so the Conexus Arts Centre is a big step up in terms of prominence, but I bet her show at O’Hanlon’s would have been killer.

I took a break from writing this to bus downtown and watch my work friends play with their toy helicopters. I picked Lightfoot’s album, Every Time My Mind Runs Wild, as the soundtrack. It was quite good; well worth checking out if it’s on your streaming service of choice. Or you could buy it. That’s still an option in places.

Unfortunately, this break of mine has now lasted eight days and counting. The Whitehorse and Headstones shows have come and gone and both have even been reviewed. I am apparently now far enough behind to bend the fabric of space and time. This was inevitable. Much like when I started this thing, I would like to be asleep, but no! I soldier on in hopes of sleeping tomorrow.

Blue Rodeo had, like, six lamps on the stage. This is important for you to know. Now you feel like you were there. I think this is like that VR stuff you hear about on blogs. An immersive experience. To complete the illusion, surround yourself with assholes. Seriously, this show had the loudest, most obnoxious drunks I’d encountered in some time. Oh, did they yell. They wanted to go into great detail about how much they love Blue Rodeo and how happy they were that Blue Rodeo was playing there. I kind of rolled my eyes at this, but secretly, I just wanted it to escalate to the point where there were five-minute audience monologues between songs. “THIS MESSAGE IS FOR ALL MEMBERS OF THE MUSICAL ENSEMBLE BLUE RODEO. ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENS OF REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN, I WANT TO PROFESS MY PROFOUND GRATITUDE FOR YOUR APPEARANCE HERE THIS EVENING. AS YOU MAY KNOW, REGINA WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1882 AND WAS NAMED IN HONOUR OF QUEEN VICTORIA…”

The drunks also yelled song requests, to which Jim Cuddy said “Thanks. We wouldn’t have thought of playing that.” He responded to a request for Try by saying that they were, as hard as they could. I couldn’t tell if the band was amused or irritated by these outbursts. Maybe a bit of both?

I didn’t have any run-ins with the drunks personally. The closest I had was the lady to my right who was VERY excited for Blue Rodeo and for our great seats. She went “EEEEEEEEEE” at me when they played one of their hits, and I thought “man, when we get to the show-ending crowd singalong of Hasn’t Hit Me Yet, she’s going to LOSE HER MIND.” Which, pretty much, yeah.

So yeah, the show was a little bit predictable, but not entirely. I got my phone out to record what I thought would be said singalong, but they swerved me and brought out Terra Lightfoot and her band to join them on Lost Together first. Which is here:

See? Lamps.

So how was the show? Well, it was very good. This should not surprise. Blue Rodeo are very talented musicians and songwriters. You do not need me to tell you that. (You need me to tell you about their lamps.) But it wasn’t as good as this year’s Folk Festival show. It felt like both shows had the same amount of energy, only this time, it had to be spread twice as far. They would go long stretches playing only new material, which again was GOOD, but not what most people were there to hear. And things like the show-closing singalong were great the first time. Now they’re still fun, but an expected part of the show. But then putting those two points next to each other suggests that I don’t want to see stuff I’ve seen before but I also am not very interested in anything new. So what the hell do you do with that? Go to a show, have a good time, and maybe don’t think too hard about it.

January 31, 2016

I didn’t blog yesterday. This “blogging daily” thing is off to a fine start.

Not blogging at all may provide better content than one sentence about disliking Sex & The City.

I have an app on my phone that is a list of things I want to do daily. Building good habits, you know. The app keeps track of how many days in a row I succeed. It has been very good at getting me to floss, and I am very bitter that my dental hygienist hasn’t praised me enough for this. It hasn’t been so good at most anything else. I am to eat better, drink more water, and walk 10,000 steps a day. I also want to do my daily New York Times crossword and some Duolingo French practice, and take a daily picture of myself for an app that stitches them altogether into a little time-lapse video. And, now, blog. I can’t remember the last time I managed to hit every one of these in a day.

The combination of the new job and the weather has made the walking thing tricky. I don’t really have time for coffee break walks, and it’s too icy/sloppy to walk to/from work. These aren’t good excuses – I own a treadmill – but I’m looking forward to spring and getting settled into the job just the same.

I go to the doctor on Tuesday morning. I’m heavier than I was before Christmas and he’s gonna be pissed. I’m afraid of him. I should make up some dire symptoms to distract him.

January 29, 2016

After this week’s exposure to Sex & The City, I would hereby like to offer a formal apology to Girls, The Vampire Diaries, and any other television show I may have slandered over the course of the past decade. 

SLCR #228: Whitehorse (January 22, 2016)

January 28, 2016

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SLCR #227: The Headstones (January 26, 2016)

January 28, 2016

20160126headstones-web120160126headstones-web220160126headstones-web3headstones

January 28, 2016

I got one vote for “yes” and two likes. Good enough. Let’s see how this goes.

Right now I have to post some concert review scans. That’s how it will go for the immediate future.

January 27, 2016

Should I start blogging again?

Should I commit to doing it daily?

Do I need something else to fail at? Or, more likely, to succeed at for a week and then get bored with?

I have missed blogging lately. And I’ve especially missed blogging about useless things. I don’t even know how I feel about that.

Let’s say “maybe” and see what tomorrow brings.

(If I can get to a scanner, it will bring at least one concert review.)

SLCR #226: Bahamas (November 17, 2015)

November 22, 2015

I had really good intentions of having another go at writing this in bed last night, but yeah, fell asleep again. So now I am sitting up at the kitchen table, but in the interest of repeating past mistakes, I am once again overloading on chips and salsa. To further increase the degree of difficulty here, I am watching WWE Network on my iPad and typing this on my phone. I still have my Bluetooth keyboard, sure, but there’s an ongoing distraction and a wee little screen. So if this sucks, that’s why. Now I just need to think of an excuse for every other time.

While we’re talking about degrees of difficulty, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the walk to the C-Train was like a skating rink. I had gone out in the afternoon and the weather was wonderful. Two hours at home and I go to leave and the world had iced over. I took a fairly miserable looking selfie on the train – red cheeks, fogged glasses, snowy toque, the whole deal.

selfie

I didn’t consider staying home, though. I was pretty excited for this show. My original plan for the Calgary trip was to go a few weeks earlier, but that got bumped for the usual work-related reasons. (Did I mention I start my new job in three weeks? Did I mention I am looking forward to it?)

Really, though, the change was for the best. That week, there were no shows that really appealed to me. I could have seen Barenaked Ladies with Great Big Sea lead singer Alan Doyle opening, and that could have been a fun trip back in time to 1997 James’ favourites, but I really haven’t listened to much of anything from either band in years.

Anyway, a few slips and slides aside, the C-Train trip was uneventful. At least for me – there was an accident somewhere downtown so when I got on the train, I had a nice long sitdown before we slooooowly made our way. I didn’t hear anything about it on the news (and I am staying with my grandma, so I have seen a lot of local news) (also Jeopardy and Wheel, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars, and Chopped) so I am hoping nobody was hurt. The delay meant nothing to me since I was only going two stops anyway.

The Jack Singer Concert Hall is in the same complex – the Arts Commons – as the Big Secret Theatre where I saw Hawksley Workman’s The God That Comes a few years ago, as well as a number of other venues. It’s really easy to get to and just a great idea. I wish we had something like this in Regina.

I found my way in and took a look at the stuff table. There were your usual records, CDs, shirts, etc. – nothing new from John K. Samson, unfortunately – and there was also a selection of drawings used in Bahamas’ video for Bitter Memories. I bought one; a piece of original art seemed like a really neat souvenir. It’s a sparse pencil drawing of a guitarist who may or may not be Bahamas (I have never actually seen this video, which is what I should be watching right now instead of old wrestling). I hope that description suffices, as I will likely be too lazy to attach a picture here. Or not. Who knows? I’m watching wrestling and typing on a phone, I can’t think of logistics right now.

bahamas

I checked my coat (which I always hate doing, but it was pretty damp), took my drawing and found my spot – dead centre in the back row of the floor seating. Not bad for buying a ticket a week or two out. I don’t think the show was sold out, but it was close.

As I hinted at above, the opener was John K. Samson, the lead singer of the Weakerthans. Or “former” lead singer of the Weakerthans, I guess. Boo. But be that as it may, this ruled. He played a handful of Weakerthans songs (Plea from a Cat Named Virtute, Everything Must Go!, Reconstruction Site) and a few songs from his solo album (including Cruise Night), but most of his set was devoted to new songs. I was hopeful for one, but we got five or six and I was delighted. He only mentioned titles for two of those songs, but I had some guesses at the others: Winter Wheat; On the 21st Day; Fellow Traveler; Select All, Delete, and Post-Doc Blues. He didn’t mention a new album but I hope the new songs mean one is coming sooner rather than later.

If a big ol’ pile of new John K. songs wasn’t enough, he was also joined for about half his set by Jason Tait, Weakerthans drummer (ex-drummer) (boo) who has also been drumming for Bahamas of late. This was the best and I just wish it hadn’t been a 40-minute opening set. I could have easily watched another hour.

I don’t think I was in the majority, though. Before I left for Calgary, Mika said that Samson seemed like an odd choice to be opening for Bahamas. I disagreed – I mean, *I* like both of them, and who could disagree with me? – but the audience was very much Bahamas’ crowd. John K. had his fans, but there were little things – pauses after songs ended because people didn’t realize that he was done and it was time to applaud, or people giggling at lyrics that I don’t think of as funny. In that way, it reminded me of seeing Hawksley Workman perform as part of Stuart McLean’s Christmas show – there’s a very different crowd reaction than at one of his own shows, if that makes sense.

Brief intermission. I took a picture of the drawing I bought and texted it to some folks while simultaneously pondering how, exactly, I was going to get this thing home in the snow on the C-Train. (Answer: carefully. Tucked into my coat. Luckily, it was wrapped in plastic.)

Bahamas took the stage. I assume. Someone was up there, but they were in silhouette and fog. Playing Lost in the Light. A little on the nose, possibly, but I don’t care. It looked cool.

I have mentioned this problem before. In the age of the iPhone (and the iPod before it), I don’t know what songs are called. As far as I am concerned, the titles of most Bahamas songs start with “the one that goes like” and then I hum something. In the quest to give you a list of what he played (while still typing on my phone and watching wrestling on my iPad), I’m going to have to get my work phone involved so I can look up song titles. This is becoming a three-screen experience and it is getting ridiculous. I wonder if there’s any way if I can involve my Nintendo 3DS in this?

As I’m procrastinating looking up song titles, I will mention that he played a new song and asked us not to record it since it was a work in progress and may change a lot or may wind up discarded entirely. I will go one better and not describe it at all. I mention it only to point out that I got to hear it and you didn’t.

He talked a lot about the process of writing one song and going back and forth about how he loved it one day and hated it the next, and how it went through numerous different revisions. When he finally played the song, which turned out to be recent single Stronger Than That, he added back a chord that was excluded from the recorded version – a chord which he called the Golden Girls chord because it came out of nowhere, kind of like Blanche Devereaux. I do not entirely understand the logic but I am not about to decline a Golden Girls reference. And I am especially not going to decline Bahamas singing the Golden Girls theme and critiquing the lyrics (“You’re a pal and a confidant. Isn’t that a nice thing to say to someone?”). He also threatened to play the theme from Growing Pains but only made it one line in. I would have been perfectly fine with an entire show of Bahamas singing TV themes.

There was one really weird moment while Bahamas was talking. I don’t know if it was something he specifically said or what, but he was talking, and for a split second, his voice sounded just like what I hear when I hear my own recorded voice and it seriously creeped me out. For real – it made me uncomfortable like when I have to listen to a recording of myself. I have no idea how this happened – I have seen Bahamas numerous times and have never thought of anything like this, and I listened for it as the show went on and didn’t hear it again. It was just really odd.

I’d blame the sound system but the sound was excellent all night – remarkably so. The concert hall isn’t as ornate as some that I’ve seen but the sound was stellar for both Bahamas and Samson. Really, everything about this show was great, start to finish. I will use that wording as a loophole to exclude the fact that I juuuuuuust missed the train going home and had a 15-minute wait for the next one.

Okay, I finally broke out my work phone and here are some other songs I know he played: Bitter Memories; Can’t Take You With Me; All The Time; Southern Drawl; I Got You Babe. That is not many songs; and yet, he played many songs. Come hang out sometime and we’ll play Bahamas records and I’ll say “that one!” and then we can try to memorize what the song is called and it will be good times. Can we maybe go for donairs? I could go for one.

UPCOMING SHOWS
• Blue Rodeo w/Terra Lightfoot (January 14)
• Whitehorse w/Andy Shauf and Emily Wells (January 22)
• Corb Lund (February 9)
• Hawksley Workman & The Art of Time Ensemble (May 13)

SLCR #225: Ryan Boldt (November 15, 2015)

November 22, 2015

I have written reviews at work and in airports and okay so I thought I could list more interesting places than that but I guess I can’t.

I was going to expand on that thought by talking about how I was making history by writing a concert review in bed for the first time, but that one sentence was literally all I wrote before falling sleep. I am not kidding about this. Some bad ideas do not become evident until you put them into action.

Another bad idea was picking up chips and salsa on the way home twenty minutes ago. I mean, it was kind of a great idea, but I have found them to be distracting me from the task at hand; namely, squeezing out two reviews in one evening. Time to put the chips away.

And return with chocolate, apparently. Writing is an indulgent profession. Or at least procrastinating is.

I find the hardest reviews to write to be the ones that boil down to “it was a show,” and this was one of those. Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the house and listen to some things for a while, you know? Doesn’t mean I have to have deep thoughts about it.

We got to the Artesian sometime between “doors at 7:00” and “show at 8:00.” Other James was thinking about attending, and we pulled up just as he was arriving, so if you really care what time we got there, just ask him. You can find him by going into literally any downtown Regina business and asking if they know someone named James. They will.

We made our way to the bar downstairs, pausing only to let James greet several dozen of his closest friends. Eventually, we got our red wine, cherry cola, and iced tea. Respectively, I mean. Though if I had all three in front of me right now, I’d combine them and tell you how it is. Should I name this new cocktail after Other James or after the Artesian or Ryan Boldt who brought us all together?

On our way up to our seats – or pews, as it were – Other James made friends with pretty much everyone, or at least everyone who he didn’t already know. He chatted with everyone around him. He introduecd us to Clayton of Kacy & Clayton, our night’s opening act. Truly, Other James is a man of the people. I do not know how a person gets to be like that but maybe I should be more like that. Somehow.

So! Yes. Kacy & Clayton. Local folks whose names I knew but had never seen before. They’re cousins, and we were sitting in front of relatives. Kacy was born in 1997. I know this because the relatives were discussing (and threatening to shout out) random facts about them. I thought this was pretty funny when it didn’t make my soul ache from pondering the incessant march of time. We’re all getting old, you guys. Bad indoor lighting reveals that my hair is more grey than it is other colours, and I just paid cash money to see a musician who was not even yet alive when I graduated from university.*

*okay maybe she was barely alive, I don’t know, I am not about to look up her birthday if such a thing is even possible when I don’t even know what her last name is

Anyway, he played guitar, she sang. After a while, some other dude played drums, and some other other dude (Shuyler Jansen, speaking of people whose names I know but who I have never seen) played bass. Clayton handled most of the talking, but mostly that just meant he asked if anyone here liked Cajun seasoning. I guess I do? I’ve never really thought about it. I prefer my Five Guys fries without it so maybe saying I do is a lie. Or at least makes me some kind of poseur.

Why does poseur have a U? Is it British? And why does Shuyler have a U, for that matter?

Whatever. This was all fine.

Brief intermission. I played my Yahtzee With Buddies games. Other James got more wine, I think. Or at least went in search of more wine. Come to think of it, I don’t recall if he was successful.

Shortly, Ryan Boldt took the stage with… the exact same band. Kacy and Clayton and Shuylueur and the other guy. The Artesian website did say that Boldt was debuting his new band, and it also said that this band had a name, but I don’t know what it is. I saw it long ago, but the show has not yet been posted in Past Shows but is too far in the past to be in Upcoming Shows. So maybe it never happened.

Mika says she thinks Clayton played with Boldt the last time we saw him (early this year, opening for Amelia Curran). She is likely right. Boldt did have another guitarist with him then, though I only know this because I mentioned it in my review, which I just skimmed. How she knew it, I have no idea. She “remembers” things, especially music things. I have to write them down or else they are lost forever. But she can see a band play an entirely new-to-her song one time and then remember it when she hears it again two years later. I could only maybe do this for my most favourite bands and even then, I am not real confidant.

Part of me wants to write a fake concert review and see if, twenty years down the road, I believe it to be true.

I bet I have suggested that idea in a past review and don’t remember doing so.

Anyway, this new band was pretty good! I just spent 20 minutes staring off into space thinking about random topics in hopes of inspiring a second sentence but I am not sure one is coming. They sounded like what you’d expect from guitars bass drums being kinda folky kinda rocky. Boldt did not retell the story about Bram being a dick. Because that is the kind of thing I remember instead of the music I paid to see.

I dunno, what else do you want to know? Everyone on stage is part of (and I think co-owners of) a new record label. They didn’t play an encore or make a joke about not doing so. There were a ton of senior citizens there and only some were related to the musicians. And that is about all I know except that also I ate too many chips earlier and now I need to go have a lie down. Or maybe it’s a delayed side effect from the merry-go-round I rode this afternoon (this really happened). Anyway, it’s 1:18 a.m. and the Bahamas review can wait until tomorrow since I won’t post these until I get home from Calgary anyway.


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