Tuesday, July 31, 2012

rodeos and recluses: Calgary Folk Fest 2012 day two

Had I known that Friday's would be the last mainstage concert that I would be seeing at the folk festival, I would have chatted less and listened more.  Being a coordinator does have its benefits, in that one gets up close and personal with so many of the artists, but it also has its risks - which can mean stepping up to work extra hours when the going gets crazy.  I did manage to consume my second dose of gelato on Friday evening, though, so that certainly counts for something.

Before settling down on the tarp for an evening of grooving with family and friends under a clear sky, I hoofed it over to the media tent to confirm my interview with The Breakmen the next afternoon.  Look for that article, chronicling tree planting and a month of daily shows, in the September issue. (To read my latest BC Musician Magazine article, about a Calgary musician who went from being homeless to performing off Broadway, go here.)

The beautifully accented bagpipers Shooglenifty, the rollicking crowd favourites Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and the indie it girl Cold Specks started out the evening. Betty LaVette made a soulful return appearance to the festival, and Winnipeg super-nice guy Del Barber squeezed in a tweener set. 

It was grand to see Dan Mangan gracing the stage at the Calgary folk fest again.  Although I think that his highly interactive performance is better suited to more intimate setting, I was thrilled to hear that he will be playing to the luxe seats at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in November.  He certainly deserves to be harvesting the fruits of his labour. 

Of course, the buzz of the evening was clearly around the final performance, that of the renowned recluse Jeff Mangum.  The former frontman of Neutral Milk Hotel has been an incredibly influential musical force over the years, a fact made even more impressive considering his relatively small body of work.  In true mysterious recluse fashion, Jeff Mangum asked that the jumbotron monitors be turned off during his performance.  

Although this miffed a sizable portion of the audience, who rolled up their tarps and went home, those of us who crowded into the dance areas by the stage were rewarded with the opportunity to sing lustily along to some of our favourite NMH songs.  In famous recluse fashion, Mangum called out one of the audience members for daring to take a photo (please don't take my pictures; if you can draw me, then you can take my picture).  Undaunted, I still managed to snap this bit of contraband, showing the famous recluse in amongst the heads and the backpacks. Such a bad-ass, I know.

Still to come, the highlights of the weekend workshops, with loads of photos.

Friday, July 27, 2012

screaming eagles and shiny suits: Calgary folk fest 2012 day one

The Barr Brothers were sweet, humble and awesome when they opened the Calgary Folk Music Festival on Thursday evening.  Also they played a bicycle wheel.

Charles Bradley - the one and only Screaming Eagle of Soul!  The man can bust more moves than a person half his age, and hug more ladies too.

The sweet songs of local heroes, Reuben and the Dark.  Plus some random head shots.

Beirut!  Hipsters were (rightfully) losing their shit all over the island, especially after the drummer stepped up and implored tarpies to "let the kids dance".  Of course in hipster terms, that means standing and texting.

Chris Isaak and people dancing all over the place.  Who knew Chris Isaak was such a great banterer?  Chris only had two costume changes, compared to the Screaming Eagle's four, but Chris' were shinier.  Hard to beat a suit made entirely of mirrors.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

all about the pacing

The 33rd annual Calgary Folk Music Festival begins tomorrow evening, and I shall be attempting to squeeze in as much music as humanly possible, in amongst my coordinator duties at the Music and Merchandise tent. Taking my vitamins as we speak!  

Thursday July 26
Friday July 27

Saturday July 28
Stage 2
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Sunday July 29
Stage 2
Stage 2
Alternate Universes
Jon Langford, Lowlands, Jim White
Stage 3
Stage 2
Stage 5
Stage 1

Sunday, July 22, 2012

achtung, autobus

Zombie Central has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a trial run of Netflix (or The Netflick, as it is known in these parts).  Of course, not being owners of a smart TV and shunning such contraptions of the modern world as Wii, PS3, Xbox or Gameboy, this necessitated our buying a Smart TV Upgrader for our regular dumb TV.

Although our technoweenie selves were rendered near apoplectic trying to hook up to our wifi (until we stumbled upon the well hidden cap lock function), we eventually managed connectivity. 

Of course being responsible gadget owners,we carefully perused the safety pictograms that accompanied the upgrader. I think we interpreted the drawings correctly...

Can you help us fill in the ones we missed? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

slip into the sea

The excitement levels around here are off the chain these days.  Why, you ask?  Check this:

1.  The OFKAR comes home today for three glorious weeks, first visit since Christmas.  Commence the porch-sitting, the witty repartee, the belly rubs.

2.  The Calgary Folk Music Festival begins in just over a week. Beirut!  Jeff Mangum!  The Barr Brothers!  Eve Hell & the Razor!  Gillian Welch!  Little Scream!  John Doe!  Justin Townes Earl! Rae Spoon!  Whitehorse!  Reuben & the Dark!  Chris Isaak! The Rural Alberta Advantage!  I could go on all day, really.

3.  Communiqu3 plans are gelling nicely.  The Seattle house has been booked, and Frightened Rabbit tickets have been secured.  Music, laughter and exploring one of my favourite cities, all in the company of fine friends - it does not get much better than that.

4.  The shrieker who was visiting the Trampoline family next door has finally gone home.  Peace reigns.  I am rather hoping that the Lawnmower kids return from their vacation soon though, because even though they can be loud, they always manage to say something amazing.

5.  The Spousal Unit is cooking up his world famous hot wings tonight to celebrate the OFKAR's triumphant return.  This despite the fact that the mercury is planning to hover around 30C today.  That's fatherly love at its finest.  

What's getting you excited today?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

that secret place where no one dares to go

Despite appearances, she really is an efficient and ferocious mouser.  Just not in the house, it seems.

The Spousal Unit had gone to bed, and I was just about to start a late-night Skype session with the OFKAR when a movement, a shadow in my peripheral vision, caught my attention. Nothing.  But then it happened again, and this time I saw the little grey mouse dart under the armchair that I usually inhabit.

Naturally I freaked out a little.  In our last house, built about 100 years ago, we went through one winter in which a few mice got inside.  I accepted it as part of living in an old house, and besides, our aging cat was sadly clawless   But in the 14 years we have been in this house, we have never had a mouse.  It felt very much like an invasion.

While the OFKAR watched with great amusement via Skype (and called out helpful statements like put a bucket over top of it), I enticed the Slightly Retarded Kitty into the house and hauled her downstairs to the family room, to deal with this situation, which was clearly her responsibility.  Although she protested and tried to leave to go up to the kitchen for a snack, she was intrigued to see me lift up one side of the 800 kg armchair, only to reveal a mouse-free and very dusty carpet.  And then she promptly lay down under the armchair.  

I could hear the OFKAR snorting with amusement as I tried to shoosh the cat out with one arm while holding up the increasingly heavy chair with the other, in order to avoid crushing the oblivious cat.

Eventually I went to bed, without the SRK having any clue that one of her favourite snacks was cavorting somewhere in the house.  Shortly after I fell asleep, a strange noise awoke me, and I recall thinking that sounds like aluminum pie plates. 

In the morning, I knew where that sound had come from - the oven drawer.  This time, I called in the big guns.  With the Spousal Unit armed with a broomstick and with me armed with a mixing bowl, we opened the drawer and saw movement.  As we carefully removed roasting pans, the SRK appeared at the screen door, and the Spousal Unit picked her up in a half-Nelson and carried her over to the oven drawer.  Naturally, hind legs careening, she freaked out, thinking that we were going to stuff her into the oven.  

Eventually, the Spousal Unit and I trapped the critter and he arranged for it to meet its maker, while I washed the hell out of everything in that drawer, all without assistance from the most ferocious mouser either of us have ever known.  She still has no idea that there was ever a mouse within the house, and that's why she will never lose that nickname.

The end.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

you can't get there from here

When you are staffing a Calgary music festival booth at the Stampede, you get a quite a few people stopping by to ask questions.  Not all that many questions are about festivals, however, or even about music.

Here are some of yesterday's queries:
 -   Where do I pick up tickets to see the Super Dogs?
-   Is there a kids' midway?  Where is it?
-   I'm trying to get to Banff.  Is there a bus or something that goes there?
-   A few years ago, the Lions Club used to barbeque an entire cow to make beef sandwiches.  Do they still do that?

Can't wait to see what today brings.  

Oddest question you have ever fielded at work?

In other news, we have a winner in our Hundred Thousand Pieces album giveaway contest.  

Jen rocked the nostalgia vote by suggesting Ryan Dahl from Limblifter should release a solo album, while Sean made us smack our foreheads and go of course, with his suggestion that it was time for Arcade Fire's Win Butler to release a solo album.  It was a squeaker, but ultimately Sean's name emerged from the big black sorting hat.  

Give it up for Sean! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

come on in

Want to see what we've done with the lake place?
We've been gathering furniture and such.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

how to stampede like a zombie

For the past decade or so, my Stampeding has been limited to watching the chuckwagon races on tv in the evenings.  The crowds, the heat, the sun glaring off the pavement and the rides - they have all lost whatever appeal they may have once had.

This year, however, being the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, means that it's going to be even so nutso than usual.  Case in point, 70,000 people attended a pancake breakfast in the parking lot of Chinook Centre mall on Saturday.  I like a free pancake as much as the next guy, but not if I have to elbow 69,999 hombres out of the way to get it.

I will be working for National Music Centre at Stampede for a few days this week, staffing the NMC booth.  I am prepared to sacrifice a goat and three small children to ensure that the booth is not in the direct sun.

There were a couple of Stampedey-themed activities on my dance card recently.  

The first was Stomp & Strum at National Music Centre, held shortly after the parade wrapped up, on the first official day of Stampede.  In the 45 minutes it took me to drive there, I managed to set a new land speed record for getting sick of Stampede.  Dodging oblivious wandering cowpokes and those guys with flags standing in the middle of the street waving people into impromptu parking lots, avoiding collisions with rubber-neckers, and duly noting official signs reading "No Parking on Centre Median" confirmed that crazy season had arrived.  But it broke my heart to find that I had arrived at NMC mere minutes after Mondo Spider  had departed.

However, I got to hang with his Beakerhead buddy, Daisy the 4-metre steam-punk solar tricycle, the next day at East Village Vintage in the Village, so that was cool.    

What deep-fried fair food on a stick do you recommend I 
sample while I am on the Stampede grounds this week?

Friday, July 06, 2012

lost in the sound: review and contest

Hundred Thousand Pieces - Krief

Hundred Thousand Pieces is the third solo album by Patrick Krief, guitarist for The Dears.  It shouldn't come as any great surprise then, that the album is populated with authoritative guitar work, but the intense dreaminess of the songs, underlaid with deeply textured instrumentation, was far more powerful and affecting than I expected.  This is a lovely album, filled with soulful choruses, soaring vocals and intimate lyrics. The vocals balance beautifully with the dense and well-conceived instrumentation, especially with well-placed flourishes of crying guitars.  

At times ethereal, at times meaty and driven, Hundred Thousand Pieces features tracks that feel at once strangely familiar and completely fresh.  I found myself singing along with the chorus several times on first listen.  Definitely worth a listen, or ten.


Do you want a copy of Krief's Hundred Thousand Pieces for your very own?  I just happen to have one CD copy to give away, courtesy of our buds at With A Bullet.  

All you have to do is tell me what member of a Canadian band 
you would like to see release a solo album.

The winner will be chosen by random draw (flexing up the drawing fingers as we speak). Contest closes midnight July 10, and is open to Canadian residents only (sorry).

Enter now!  Trust me, you don't want to miss this one!