Monday, May 31, 2010

it's the buzz, cocks!

the Buzzcocks
Republik Nightclub
May 29/10

This photo is not from Saturday night's concert at the Republik, but Steve Diggle was wearing the exact same shirt. It struck me at the time that it looked rather like a pyjama shirt and with the 7:30 start to a Saturday night show, I thought that maybe it was a sign that the Buzzcocks were going to bow to the realities of the decades that had passed since they cemented their role as influential punk innovators and go for a laid-back Muzak approach. NOT SO!

The show actually started earlier than the stated 7:30 time, which I have certainly never seen happen before, with Dollyrots pleading to a still small audience to get off their seats and come down to the pit. Dollyrots played a long set and they were energetic enough, but ultimately not all that interesting. Fairly standard punk pop. The frontwoman was obviously trying to tap into some aspect of punk sensibility by repeatedly calling the audience pussies, but it all felt like so much posturing. The continual namedropping of Blackheart Records, followed by a cover of Bad Reputation, sort of confirmed that suspicion.

The Buzzcocks, however, were the real thing. Granted Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle were the only two original members, and, as the RO noted, the rhythm section looked like they were 14 years old, but they played like they have been playing together their entire lives. And for a couple of old guys, one in a pyjama shirt, the other in a giant patchwork clown-inspired button down, their energy certainly belied the years. At times I really felt like I was in 1970's Manchester, especially during the rather limited banter, where I could barely understand a word that was said.

As could be expected, it was a very mixed crowd at the Republik. We had a perch up on the third level, from where we could look down upon many bald heads thrashing in front of the stage. Not shaved bald heads either, I am talking about a healthy representative of legitimate male pattern baldness. And there were more than a couple of matronly hips noted gyrating alongside the young hipsters in attendance.

It made for a really nice mix of people. As we occupied one of the few tables in the area, plenty of people used our table as a place to lean against and to park their drinks, including the smelly drunk guy and his nice friend who kept offering to buy us drinks, and the muscular beMohawked guy who just had to show me the photos that he had captured of the concert.

And what a fine concert it was. It was loud, it was joyful, it was high octane. My ears were still ringing the next day, and that hasn't happened to me after a concert for quite some time now. It was great to see Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Loves Bites performed in their entirety. As can be expected, people went nuts when the Buzzcocks played Orgasm Addict and I Don't Mind and especially when they launched into Ever Fallen in Love, but my personal favourite of the evening was What Do I Get. There wasn't a single person who didn't sing along.

The concert was over by 10:00, and Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle may very well have headed back to the hotel room to watch a little telly and drink some cocoa, but by god they earned it. There was a lot of love flowing back and forth from the stage to the crowd at the Republik on Saturday night, with Diggle and Shelley obviously enjoying reaching out and touching the outstretched hands. Not only did the Buzzcocks put on a hell of a highly energetic show, but they restored my faith in the relevance of musical icons. Well done, Buzzcocks!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

legal in BC

Not only could I not find a Moon poster, I didn't even get the "you're killing me, Buster" banner strung across the living room. But rest assured it is strung up in my heart.

Happy Birthday, Resident Offspring! I honestly cannot imagine what my life would have been like, had you not been dragged kicking and screaming into this world nineteen years ago, nor would I even want to imagine it. You are the most important thing in my world.

Let's see if we can stretch this celebration thing into a birthday fortnight, shall we?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

being there, only without the jet lag

For your visual and auditory delight, some videos from the house concert we hosted last weekend, featuring Olenka & the Autumn Lovers. Funny how audience participation becomes more spirited as the evening progresses and the wine flows.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

house alive with smiles and voices

If you were there, be prepared to return to that magical evening of music and merriment when we were serenaded by Olenka and the Autumn Lovers and you showed your support for Canadian independent music by enabling a band to continue on their tour and by hearing their songs.

If you weren't there, start making plans to attend the next Bad Tempered Zombie house concert. You don't want to miss out again!

~ wine and chips, dinner of champions ~

~ the stage, in all its Value Village deer rug glory ~

~ here's some wine, now fill up that band donation bowl ~

~ Lucille Bluth impersonator and event photographer ~

~ attentive crowd ~

~ the music starts ~

~ as do the giggles ~

~ well into the evening ~

~ foot five! ~

Still to come, actual concert footage with sound and everything. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

break's over, back to work

After a rather lengthy hiatus, BC Musician Magazine has been revamped and relaunched as a bimonthly, more hefty publication. The current festival issue includes my reminiscences of those sweaty heady days of last summer's Calgary Folk Festival. Sharing a dirty laugh or two with a rebel cowgirl, searching for the spirit of nature with a gospel trio, and coming close to killing a homeboy with attempted kindness - it's all in there.

Care to have a quick glance?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

because the night belongs to Autumn Lovers

There was a saskatoon pie hanging from my door handle this morning.

I suspect most neighbours would be more likely to greet you with a scowl the morning after you threw a party that wrapped up about 3:00am, but not mine. Mine bring you pie and a thank you note.

It was an unqualified success, last night's house concert by Olenka and the Autumn Lovers. We had a very respectable turnout - about 35 people - which was pretty much the optimum number needed to fill the living room. With every square inch of the living room jammed with every chair that we could scrounge from around the house and garage and from a few of our neighbours, a kitchen party was pretty much the only option before the concert proper, what with the night being decidedly too chilly for my plans to have the guests meander throughout the house and into the back yard prior to the concert.

We hadn't really anticipated that guests would arrive bearing as much wine as they did. We were asking for donations to the band at the door, after all, so had stocked up on an inordinate quantity of beer and wine. But our friends and neighbours are nothing if not generous, and despite our best attempts to make a dent in the alcohol stockpile that accumulated in the kitchen, we could easily throw another party tonight and wouldn't even need to go to the liquor store. Suffice it to say I was not forced to drink that sketchy box of Zinfadel that the Spousal Unit had bought on a whim, a fact for which I am forever grateful, as Zinfadel is not supposed to be pink and smell of cherry Kool-Aid. Our neighbour, the Big Rock rep (aka the beer elf), really took the party to the next level, though, when he set up a couple of kegs in the backyard. Despite the chill of the night, those kegs were very well attended.

We greeted a steady influx of guests until just before concert time, when Olenka, Sara, and Paterson took their places on the lovely technicolour deer rug, purchased at the Regina Value VIllage, which they were using for a stage. I had been warned by some "how to host a house concert" websites that I may need to work to get the attention of chatty inattentive drunks, but our guests were remarkably respectful of the fact that they were there for a concert, not just a piss-up, and quickly took their seats after my announcement that we were about to proceed.

Oh and what a lovely concert, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers treated us to. With classical guitar, violin and cello, and with Paterson's and Sara's beautiful soaring harmonies accompanying Olenka's strong and passionate voice, the Autumn Lovers brought us on a soulful journey through revolutionary Poland and Vancouver's east side. For over an hour, they serenaded us with a powerful acoustic rendering of their award-winning music.

I think the aspect I found most satisfying was glancing around the room during the show, looking at the rapt expressions on the faces of my friends. They were so obviously enjoying the intimacy of the evening. The inclusiveness of the experience brought such a relaxed vibe to the show, a feeling that you could never find in a larger concert venue. The between-song banter was not a one-way street. People commented and asked questions, jokes were tossed back and forth, and the barrier between performer and audience was blurred and obliterated. I absolutely love it when that happens.

It's even more fun when you can relax and have a few drinks with the band and a few dozen friends and neighbours after the show.

I was so pleased with my first foray into hosting a house concert. It was most gratifying to me that people were so receptive to the idea, so curious and open-minded and so willing to support independent Canadian musicians. And it was so wonderful to be able to share some space and some meals with such a talented group of musicians. My family have found some very talented new friends, who give impressively bone-crushing hugs. I cannot wait to try this again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

invite the tabby two doors down

It's not like I've been avoiding you or anything.

I've lost track of the number of times this week that I have been sidetracked from my lofty blogging goals by the massive to-do list hanging on my fridge. Let me tell you, shiny objects have got nothing on the scattered thoughts that plague a perfectionist gearing up for the musical and social event of the century.

But of course life does go on, even amongst the clutter clearing and the menu planning.

We received a call on Sunday evening from the Autumn Lovers, who were valiantly pressing ahead with their western tour, despite the death of their tour van and the need to leave half the band behind in Ontario. On their way through Calgary, disturbing new noises began eminating from the car and they wisely decided against trying to traverse the Rockies during the darkness. The narrow shoulder of a winding pass hugging the side of a mountain is not the best place for your wheel bearings to blow in the middle of the night.

Bless their hearts, the band did not even complain about having to bed down on mattresses in the living room or the man-cave-like condition of the bathrooms. When they return tomorrow, for the big house concert on Saturday, we will be able to offer them much more humane conditions.

This all happened right around the same time that I thought I had killed the cat.

After discovering Ramona merrily wolfing down ficus leaves, I came to the realization that not only was ficus toxic to cats, but so was almost every other plant in the house. The copious heaving and retching prompted an urgent trip to the vet, where it was determined that she had lost a half pound since the week before and was suffering from dehydration. That night I discovered her foaming at the mouth and went to bed with a heavy heart, certain that I would find her dead in the morning. But that actually seemed to trigger a turnaround, as during the night she hopped into bed with me, all purry and kneady.

Over the past few days, she has been making a steady recovery. Last night she began eating again with great gusto and this morning she drank water for the first time in days. She's now tearing around the house all cute and happy.

Preparations for the big house concert are progressing really well. I expect that we will welcome 35-45 guests, which will test the load capacity of our living room. The Japanese cherry tree in the front yard is showing impeccable timing and should be in the full glory of massive pink blooms on Saturday. Of course I want the yard looking its best, so yesterday I cut the grass for the first time, which of course gave the little boys next door their first lawn mower boner of the season.

I'm glad I still have the touch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

evenings spent listening

What do you do when you are busily preparing your domicile for the musical and social event of the century, which includes bunking down a troupe of travelling musicians for a couple of nights? Why, you go out pretty much every single evening in the weeks leading up to it, of course.

It's not quite as counter-intuitive as it sounds, as it is good practice for staying up late, just like a rock star.

Earlier this week, it was a reading at the Central Library by Chuck Palahniuk, which was awesome fun. I had heard tales of these Palahniuk readings and the throwing of body parts and such, so I assumed that this one would not be your average literary reading, with the author droning on and on in a Can-Lit-poet
-meets-undertaker voice. But I had no idea that it would be as interactive as it was, nor that Chuck (I feel that since he hurled an inflatable plastic turkey at my head, we are now on a first-name basis) would be as engrossing a story teller as he is.

And he looks so incredibly normal. Button-down shirt and glasses. Not the sort of person who would write a story about somebody drowning because their lower intestine has been sucked into a pool drain in a masturbation attempt gone horribly wrong. Plus he removed his shoes to sit on the couch for a post-reading chat, which of course appealed to our collective Canadian sensibility about shoes and furniture.

This was the only Canadian stop on his tour, which made us feel all superior to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Chuck read us a story called Knock Knock,
told in stand-up comic format, which dealt with the impending death of a parent. It will be published in December's Playboy, so this time you really will be reading it for the articles.

During the Q&A, Chuck explained his philosophy toward writing, borrowed from a long-ago writing professor - Dangerous Writing. This involves taking the aspect of your life that is absolutely unbearable, that is too painful to deal with, turning it on its head and writing about it. I think that explains so much about his body of work.

I wasn't particularly surprised that Chuck Palahniuk would have a lot of mesmerizing stories to tell. He does make up stories for a living, after all. But I was surprised at normal he seemed. And the fact that he stole the term "some kind of weird name-dropping Tourette's" from Sam Rockwell only made me admire both men more.

And if listening to a reading were not preparation enough for hosting a house concert, last night we went to an actual house concert.

The pet rabbit was kind of freaky, as pet rabbits are, but it was reassuring to see that you can indeed fit a whole pile of people into your living room for a concert and everybody gets along well and nobody stabs anybody over elbow room.

We were only able to stay for Shane Ghostkeeper's opener, but despite missing two of the performers, I felt that our little reconnaissance trip was well worth leaving the house for. I am now pretty confident that we can pull off
next weekend's house concert of the century, with the fabulous Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, and fifty or so of our closest friends, with style and grace.

If you happen to find yourself in town, give me a call, come on over.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I could see into your window, although you're far away

Who said I wasn't passive-aggressive?

Here's the note I left on a car windshield today, after the driver sauntered into the library in his turquoise high tops:

You do realise, don't you, that when you deliberately take up multiple parking spots not only do you look like a fucking idiot, but people will actually want to deface your car?

You'd think library users would know better.

Monday, May 10, 2010

the quest for pickled livers

My plan was to get all Lucille Bluth-y for Mothers' Day, she being the patron saint of Awesome Mothers We All Aspire To Be. Besides, it's been a hell of a long time since I went to a bar at noon on a Sunday.

But when the Resident Offspring and I walked into the Ship and Anchor at 12:05 pm for the final day of the Folk Festival Songwriting Contest, it was already packed, with people lining the walls hoping for a seat to open up. Lushes. We were starving, so we took off down the street for brunch at Nellie's instead. Sunday brunch - another activity I haven't indulged in for a hell of a long time! Nellie's was recently cited for health code violations, so I figured this was the ideal time to check out this little hole in the wall that everyone is always raving about. The negative press would make for a shorter lineup, I figured, and right now it was probably about as clean as it was ever going to get.

We thought we would head back to the Ship and Anchor post-brunch, but by that time the crowd had spilled out onto the patio, where they seemed unperturbed by the light spattering of rain. So we gave up, went home, and I missed the opportunity to spend Mother's Day in a bar with my child.

But the RO gave me a copy of The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities for a Mothers' Day gift, which tied in perfectly with today's scheduled activity, a viewing of Body Worlds and the Brain. Absolutely fascinating. My initial thought, upon seeing my first plastinated cadaver, was how the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments of the human thigh looked very much like a turkey drumstick. We really are all meat. With a few obvious anatomical differences, we are all put together much the same as any other animal.

Also male genitalia is really funny looking without skin. Okay male genitalia is really funny looking anyway, but when you take away the skin, which gives it some semblance of dignity, you're just left with a handful of balls dangling from ligaments, like a cat toy on steroids.

Many of the plastinates were physically posed to better demonstrate the impact of activity on the human body, playing soccer, baseball, figure skating, doing yoga. But the bodies I found particularly fascinating where those in which you could see and really appreciate the complexities of the layers that make up the human structure. The Drawer Man was my favourite; he really was quite beautiful, as they all were, but Drawer Man had the feeling of a work of art to him. An Escher perhaps. And because he still had much of his skin intact, he also maintained more of his innate humanity than a plastinate who was stripped down to the muscle layer.

Medical students in anatomy classes receive their cadavers with the faces and the hands left covered up until those areas are dissected, because much of the personality of a body is found in the face and hands. It's true of plastinated cadavers as well. I found myself fascinated with the ballerina's hands, particularly with her cuticles, which were slightly ragged.

Body Worlds is highly instructive, and we saw a few high school classes there today. But it is more than a simple anatomy lesson. It's an exhibition that raises as many questions as it answers, questions about humanity and ethics and life lessons and philanthropy and commercialism. You really should go.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

the sound that you found for me

This is Ramona, on her way home from the Humane Society on Thursday. She is a 1.5 year old, whose sweet and gentle nature belies her underprivileged beginnings as a pregnant teenage stray. As you can tell, she has the most exuberant flourish of white whiskers on her long pointed, jaguar-like face. She also has really long arms and legs and, as the Resident Offspring so astutely observed, white ankle socks on her hind feet and white fingerless gloves on her front paws.

She had likely never been inside a house before and was very shy when we brought her home, wasting little time in wedging herself between the wall studs under the basement steps. After a couple of hours, during which time she did not appear to have moved (we could really only see her hind end) our growing concern necessitated a bizarre scenario in which the RO had to wriggle between the upright beams into the box graveyard under the stairs in an effort to extricate her. After some stressful moments, a heroic effort, and a whole lot of dust, the RO was ultimately successful.

Ramona settled into the rest of the basement quite nicely, finding little hidey places, but coming out to purr and bump against our legs and be all lovey when we came down to visit, which we did often. We anticipated that we would have a basement-dwelling cat for a week or two.

But then last night, a switch was suddenly flicked. Up came Ramona from the basement, hopped onto the chesterfield with us and began talking. After that, she quickly explored the other levels of the house, poking into all the bedrooms, gazing in amazement out the living room windows, walking the fireplace mantle. She is getting used to our stomping and loud-talking ways.

She is still a little skittish and cautious, bolts at the sound of the toilet flushing and hates the screechy back door when it slams shut, and she is still a little uncertain as to why I have moved her food and water into the kitchen. But she is a total lover, full of gentle kneading and hugs and cuddles.

Although in real life Sputnik would have ripped Romana to shreds, I think her spirit approves.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

a child from those ugly new houses

It just sort of slipped out. "If you find yourselves heading to this area, let me know and perhaps we could arrange a house concert or something."

Just as quickly as the weather can turn in Alberta, and mimicing the current bouts of spring snow, that casual comment snowballed into reality. Before I knew it, I found myself eyeballing the living room, mentally calculating the number of chairs we could fit in, pacing out the area for the stage, wondering how the hell I was going to move that cabinet out of the way for the show.

It really does feel like a natural progression, though, this move into hosting a concert. I've always loved live performance and with "always buy the cd" being my personal mantra, it just seems right to expand on my mission statement to promote emerging musicians to the next level and do some actual promotion.

It's going to be a blast. The members of Olenka and the Autumn Lovers seem so easy-going and accomodating - no brown M&M clauses in their rider - and so genuinely happy to fill my house with music, that I sort of feel like I am getting away with murder. (You will tell me if I start turning into the sycophantic slag of Smiths' infamy, won't you?) Some barbeque, libations, a bed for the night, and whatever donations we collect at the door to help with gas money, and ladies and gentlemen, looks like we've got ourselves a show.

I'm a little concerned that we get a reasonable turnout, what with the concert falling on the May long weekend and all, but the Spousal Unit, bless his long-suffering heart, is being uber-supportive, despite his initial alarm, and is doing all he can to help drum up interest. We have, after all, been known to throw a decent party and we are overdue.

So, if you find yourself in the vicinity on May 22, we would love to have you join us for some food, drinks and great music.

Event: Olenka and the Autumn Lovers House Show
Date: Saturday, May 22

Door: 8 pm
Music: 9:30 pm

Donations: $10 suggested minimum

A large rambling collective, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers play darkly beautiful and sonically diverse songs of love and revolution. With accordions, violin, cello, mandolin, and the occasional glockenspiel marrying with soaring vocals and heartbreaking harmonies, the Autumn Lovers lead us through a swirling waltz of vodka-soaked heartache,
draped in carnival hues and a pageantry of Polish resistance in a new world landscape.

Winners of the Traditional Folk/Roots category of the 2010 Jack Richardson Music Awards and the 2008 CHRW local Album of the Year award, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers have made waves at NXNE, Pop Montreal, Halifax Pop Explosion, LOLA Fest, Home County Folk Festival, and have twice toured the Canadian east coast. Olenka and the Autumn Lovers’ music has been featured on CBC Radio 1, 2, and 3, and has received considerable play on college radio.

With their second full-length album to be released in the fall, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers are heading west as a group for the first time. Their musical pilgrimage to the Pacific will take them through Calgary, where you can join them on Saturday May 22 for an intimate and rollicking evening of melodic Canadiana infused with old world influences.

Please contact Barbara at bbruederlin(at)shaw(dot)ca for details of the super secret house concert location (Calgary). Drinks and nibbles will be served. Bring a friend. Space is limited, so RSVP asap.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

green for the soul

I believe this Vancouver pic spam is actually more for my benefit than for yours.
If I keep looking at the view I had from my window in Vancouver, rather than at the snow that's currently blowing around outside my window, it will bode so much better for all of us.

yes, much better

this is the spot from whence I computed.
I'm thinking of making it my wallpaper, just to inspire me.

the ginger kittehs who lived across the street!

99% done; Quatchi approves

girls' night out

Saturday in Kits

Tut with repairs

last load!

See you in the fall, UBC

Monday, May 03, 2010

remains of the year

it was at that point we realized we were almost
finished cleaning the dorm room

more photos to come tomorrow!

And if you are looking for something to read until then or if, like me, you are trying to ignore the snow that is starting to pelt against the window, please head over to No Depression to read my latest post about volunteering - I get to do this for free?