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gentlemonkey

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gentlemonkey last won the day on June 27

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About gentlemonkey

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  • Birthday 12/19/1976
  1. gentlemonkey

    Ottawa Bluesfest 2018 Official Thread

    Big ticket? I think it's about time they shell out and get Neil Young! Also- If this Kinks reunion is real, GET THEM!
  2. gentlemonkey

    Ottawa Bluesfest 2018 Official Thread

    Furthur didn't seem entirely disastrous bad to me. Must've been at least 4000 on the pitch. You would think Monahan would consider Widespread Panic the 'Hippy Disaster' night.. that was a dark evening, turnout wise. Attendance at the main stage felt like it maxed out at 300 peeps.
  3. gentlemonkey

    Jazz Fest Report - Bella Tagaq-a

    Thanks Edger! It was nice seeing a lot of music- it's been a while. Appreciate you reading them!
  4. gentlemonkey

    Jazz Fest Report - Bella Tagaq-a

    Thursday night featured an unusual, eclectic pairing both satisfying and surreal in downtown Ottawa. Enjoying the last reasonable summer weather before a looming heat-wave, revelers arrived early in anticipation of glimpsing something elusive and jazzy floating into the scene: an overweight pink animal in tilted hat and shades. Once I arrived, the scene was set.... for the rare.... storied elegance of the infamous, grass fed.... Kyla Ramsey. (Full disclosure: My wife has been an amazing co-conspirator this past week, often developing some of the finer turns of phrase in these reviews: Chaka Gon?- all her. Thanks Kyla!). Together we sat in the humid humus and hot-doggedly relished the arrival of Bela Fleck the Flecktones, and although no flying hippos were sighted, the evening was certainly cosmic. Bela and the 'tones sounded tour-fresh and dexterous as they worked through a 90 minute set of new and classic material, flanked artfully by the stoic multi-coloured, possibly acrylic Jazzfest columns (or Roman spouts, or trumpet holes- whatever those things are) which have peppered the stage for the last 30 years. Trotting out returning Flecktone Howard Levy on piano and harmonica for his first appearance in Ottawa since the departure of Jeff Coffin, renditions seemed slightly scaled back or re-imagined, which was fine. I did crave the intensity of Coffin at times, but it didn't matter as Levy definitely adds his own flair. Forever young, Victor Wooten's playful style is riveting. He attacks his bass with merciless joy and skill. Joking and smiling on stage, it is clear the band are close friends enjoying these time on the road. Their relaxed approach is, however, incongruous with the music, which maintains a relentless intensity, and a note-count somewhere in the upper trillions. Even still, somehow their compositions remain booth soothing and thrilling. In a heartfelt moment, Bela Fleck shared a piece written for his recently born son, entitled 'Juno' and then the group finished with classic 'Sinister Minister' encore to the great delight of my better and I. Futureman tapped it out methodically all night- though by the look of his weathered hat, and face, it appears the future past may be catching up with his pirateering a bit. On the (new) late night OLG stage at Confederation Park, (FYI- After Dark Tartan events are now taking place at Confederation Park, and as a result, some of the earlier events have been affected). This night, Tanya Tagaq emerged with violinist Jessie Zubot and drummer Jean Martin for a set of heavy, at times somewhat uncomfortable, but most surely thought-provoking improvisation. It was by no means a groove-fest, but rather a holistically invasive cerebral aural experience. Polaris winner Tagaq easily charmed the audience with her authenticity, modestly introducing the band. Once underway, her set was genuinely intense and at times even monstrous. Her vocal abilities are quite literally unmatched and include everything from traditional Inuit throat singing, to howling, operatic singing and scatting. Tagaq has a natural confidence and musicality that allows her to employ this arsenal with devastating effect. Her themes and rhythms rolled with a rare natural ebb and flow, evoking magic and terror symmetrically. For a set with few deliberate words, themes and connections could be made, often between pleasure and pain in a masterpiece of subjectivity. Tagaq's bravery as a performer is also, frankly, stunning as she dissolves into her performance baring everything of which she is comprised; blood, guts, love and hate, pain and leasure. It's almost impossible to take your eyes off of her- she is a total powerhouse. Without knowing how to quote specific sections, I enjoyed the movement that I recall as "rage/fuck/row/resist'. Her music incites disruptive reflection as she evokes both the struggle and joys of not only Inuit people, or First nations women, but anyone ready to confront themselves on some level, and feel things they can't remember having felt. Go see Tanya Tagaq!
  5. gentlemonkey

    Jazz Fest Report - Bella Tagaq-a

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  6. gentlemonkey

    Jazz Fest Report - Terrific Tuesday

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  7. gentlemonkey

    Jazz Fest Report - Terrific Tuesday

    Alison Krauss packed Marion Dewar Plaza with the most attentive crowd I've seen in recent memory. Though a little bit quiet through the main speakers, and muddled by wine-tent yakking, the audience tried their best to catch every breath and fiddle twiddle the songstress shared. Her band was comprised of Nashville magicians, softly singly sweet songs of love and sorrow in unmatched harmony. You know music is working when you are truly taken away- and at moments during this set I found myself exploring deep recesses of my mind, just freely wondering... Where will it all go? (I'm not sure) - Is Mr. Dress Up still alive? (no- Ernie Coombs died in 2001, I Googled it) - Should I be trying to write fiction so there is no accountability? (Probably). It was a lovely set, and definitely primed me for the jaw-dropper to come. Tartan stage hosted The Jerry Douglas Band, in what can only be described as a close encounter of the 4th kind, the Jazz-Grassian kind. There was a power and energy on that small stage which is not often available to mankind- it was almost divine, or maybe alien. Spacey, exploratory and dense music danced into our hearts with grace and precision. The combination of tenure, experience, confidence, and genuine delight in music-making seduced revellers to the point of ecstatic convulsion (That is just how I dance, Ronny!). Jerry looked like a mature southern ranch owner, with a twinkle in eye and a knowing flash in his toothy grin. He's the uncle we all wish we had, with his perfect leather boots and winky smarm. He could be a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie, played by Don Johnson, or Jeff Bridges. Jerry earns his reputation, and as 'the best dobro player in the world' it comes as no surprise that Jerry would have the best Nashville hot-shot soon to be elites in his band, and he gave them all an opportunity to strut their stuff. They collectively sashayed the audience through a mesmerizing 90 minute masterclass in musicianship, style and excitement. With some of the most riveting interplay and compositional creativity I've enjoyed in a long time. All members were off the charts, but guitar player Mike Seal was a show-stopper, calmly picklessly picking his matte Ibanez like a modern Roy Buchanan with something to prove. His speed and tasteful layering often brought Jerry to smile, and their mutual grins were exceptionally cute, and kind of heartwarming. I guess, I'll include my phone note: It was like Zappa was arranging for Garcia and Rice. Departing on my bicycle with a strong soberish music high- the world seemed just a little more beautiful.
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  9. Monday night's lineup at Ottawa Jazz fest stood-out like a beacon of hope for me for several weeks leading up to the event. It was the kind of bill that was like a mysterious and exciting hooded rider..You know the kind? With a leather satchel, on a dark horse.. in that, you don't know what's under the hood, what's in the satchel (like bread? or firecrackers? who knows!), or if the horse is fast or lazy. Or lame. What a bloated, unsatisfying metaphor, I know, I apologize- but it fits here. Frankly, for so much hope, the evening ultimately provided only diminishing returns. The event kicked off with a taste of Jazz-Punk from amazing local heros Fet Nat in the Tartan Homes tent- another brave booking in a desirable time slot. Really, what better way to celebrate St-Jean Baptiste day, than being musically terrorized by a group of Quebecois nationalist noise-anarchists in the heart of English Canada's Golden Triangle? I guess the wise elder crowds got the memo, as attendance was poor. Regardless, the band performed with memorable energy and positivity in a riveting though short set. They are a lot like early Pod-era Ween in their sounds, with no interest in traditional songwriting or money-making. Fet Nat tore through heavy dissonant grooves and distortion with screaming and vocal modulations which brought me personally, great delight. The band used social commentary with humour to get a reaction, and leave you with something to think about. For example: the 'singer' / 'host' directed the sparse crowd to shift their seating comically using cute handmade child-like signs and traffic police-like direction, while other band members were screaming aggressively and pointing accusatorially at audience members. Then, the group thanked everyone cordially for their participation sheepishly, in a high pitched mouse voice- again very satisfying. I did have difficulty at times understanding the all-French lyrics, and felt bi-lingually inadequate, as per usual. Time to tune into French CBC a little more often, I guess. Local sax player Linsey Wellman adds some wonderful texture to the group, and their drummer Olivier Fairfield is one of my favourites to watch, using only a kick, snare and hi-hat to great effect. One of the set highlights was his son climbing onto the stage and cozying to his kit as the ferocious drumming continued. Looking forward to seeing this band again. Chaka Khan on the main stage provided a rare opportunity to scream 'Chaka Khan!' loudly and specifically- which was also a delight. Especially when it draws an irritated look from my favourite CBC voice, Lawrence Wall. Chaka took the stage with her huge backing band of world class players- and brought the smooth funky disco of the late 70s to the Plaza. Her band was most certainly super badass. It's not often you see a leather do-rag coupled with aviators glasses, a pink Stratocastor, rhinestone everything, and infinite sparkles all in one place without irony- and it somehow worked. The group had some great choreographed struts and rock squats, and kept the groove moving all night. The sound was a little bit on the harsh (digital?) side, and sorely lacked the necessary warmth of disco vinyl. I suppose this is a result of the concrete. After thrilling the audience with 'Tell me Something Good", and 'I'm Every Woman' - she shuffled off the stage without an encore, and just like that - Chaka 'Gon. I can't say if it was a good set for her, but it felt a little bit flat for me. Over to the Tartan Home's stage for - Knower - one of my most anticipated events of the festival. A weirdo duo from Los Angeles who incorporate funk, and upbeat dance rhythms in their tunes, have produced a series of ridiculously irreverent songs and videos which are impossibly catchy and clever; including - 'The Government Knows (when you masturbate)", "Butt N Tits N Money", and others whch have recently captured my heart. I enthusiastically sang their praises to several friends throughout the evening- but ended up slinking out of the tent sheepishly, hoping they wouldn't notice when things weren't going as well as I'd hoped. It was kind of like when you really want to take a friend (who has never been) for a great sandwich at Dirienzos, and the day you bring them the bread is staler than those packets of McDonald's orange mix at the back of your cottage cupboard. That kinda thing. First problem was that the show began at 10:40pm, almost 50 minutes after Chaka ended. This is not an acceptable amount of time to go without music at a 'music festival'- but especially on a Monday night. Producers need to start the Tartan Tent stage at 10:15pm, or earlier, even if music overlaps a bit. This way the 'fans' or those who want to shift stages can make that choice. It would also keep music playing and avoids useless lineups, and also prevent the chair-people from staking out inappropriate real estate on the dance-floor. Anyway, the band took the stage to an seemingly epic backing track intro, and then timidly stumbled through a few tracks and motions. They certainly got their groove at certain moments- but the confidence of their playing was lacking and they seemed quiet and concerned. I wondered if they had been introduced to some of Canada's over-potent, soon to be legal, recreational herbage backstage: it was that kind of awkward. Singer Genevieve Artadi looked bashful from the get go- and her voice lacked tone and clarity. The whole band seemed intentionally quiet, which is never a good sign. Drummer Louis Cole played with intensity in compensation. He made some snide remarks about the sponsor, then admitted the duo only met the guitar player and keyboardist that day, so not to judge too harshly. Ooof. They he launched into a drum solo that seemed disconnected from the songs, while the rest of band waited, chatting. I only managed to stay for a few more tracks as I realized I was actually hoping for a big choreographed production with backing tracks that made me move. Something big loud, ridiculous and fun with video- not some timid wank. I really just would like to be entertained, unequivocally- and I feel I'm still waiting for the satisfaction. It was also earlier revealed that St Germain had cancelled their appearance on Wednesday, so I suppose perception played a big part. Hopeful for tonight!
  10. gentlemonkey

    Jazzfest Report- Dirty Lowdown

    Hey tbone! I think Festival Plaza is a temporary site while they fix up the sewers at Confederation Park. It isn't ideal, but it's a nice convenient alternative! The Tartan stage is definitely over on the Lisgar field- same tent.
  11. gentlemonkey

    Jazzfest Report - Lakeside Lowdown

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  12. gentlemonkey

    Jazzfest Report - Lakeside Lowdown

    To wrap things we checked out the electrifying Israeli 16 piece brass powerhouse marching band, Marsh Dondurma. Sweet heaven! - do yourself a favour and catch these amazing players. Energy and enthusiasm was off the charts as this interactive and playful group got the crowd dancing on all sides of the After Dark tent. Everyone got a turn, and the Crowd response and interplay was incredibly fun and probably extra musical as half the audience appeared to be local musicians smiling from ear to ear in participation. I'm looking forward to checking out their collaboration with Mike Essoudry on his kit Sunday afternoon on the free stage!
  13. gentlemonkey

    Jazzfest Report- Dirty Lowdown

    This year's Ottawa Jazz-fest has successfully rolled itself, temporarily, across Laurier to Festival Plaza, while Confederation Park attends to some boggy drainage issues- a mechanical enema you could say, but probably wouldn't. This environmental investment requires that, for just a year, we trade the cool grass and familiar shady haunts of the park for the exposed concrete digs at City Hall. So be it, we can handle some slight discomfort for the sake of our future environment, right? Although the trademark Festival main stage has been transplanted, some familiar vendors and the free OLG stage remain static along the West end of Confederation. In expanse, the festival footprint now also includes the Tartan 'After-Dark' tent at Lisgar field- so there is a bit of hustling and jockeying required if you want to catch all the action. The scene is quite reminiscent of our early millennial Bluesfest, especially in baby-boomer representation- whose sprawling lawn chairs, festive blankets and healthy prepared snacks occupy 90% of pitch real estate. One glaring difference with the site's previous tenant is the overbearing inclusion of the now inevitable tiered experiences which permeate the festival, with various exclusive tents and fences. This trend unfortunately leaves the 'Average music lover who didn't bring a chair and doesn't mind being with other people' section quite a small slice of the sectional jazz-pie. Nevertheless, the vibe is really quite nice, and subdued, especially on a beautiful night like Friday's where Boz Scaggs and his band entertained a solid turnout with some (very) mature musicianship and several tasty musical treats. Highlights predictably included 'Lowdown' (buoyed by the incredible lady-like falsetto of his hulking keyboardist), 'Jojo' and the smooth party anthem 'Lido Shuffle' which was unfortunately drowned out by an aggressive chorus of drunken elder-bros howling like forlorn manatees. Boz hogged the spotlight in his glowing white shirt and face, dropping a few surprises on the crowd, most notably a cover of Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" which had all the squares twisting like Vincent Vega at Jack Rabbit Slim's, minus the junk and milkshakes. After some whisper quiet blues and a tasty ripping solo from Boz, whose guitar was close to inaudible otherwise during the set, many of us made our way over to the After Dark tent, for Moon Hooch. We tucked in like Trinity Taylor, and felt the tent filling up with an enthusiasm to which, I'm sure, this trio is surely accustomed. The Brooklyn group, comprised of a drummer who clearly loves to rock, flanked by two dialed-in, horny AF sax players, serving a high energy electro-jazz which flirted with house and dub step, while remaining connected to jazz sensibilities and dynamics. Extreme shifts in groove, feel and tempo, kept listeners on their toes and got the crowd moving, and yes, grooving. Looking forward to the week of shows ahead!
  14. Welcome to Ottawa, Jaydawg! I hear the 27 club is great! I hope it's nice buzzy night!
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