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  1. jimmy skyline

    Slippery People

    Part musical concert, part dance, part performance piece, part kinetic sculpture, David Byrne's latest American Utopia Tour settled into a slightly abbreviated stop at CityFolk Festival in Ottawa. The show has been gathering an endless stream of positive reviews, and fan appreciation. Really, the reason why this seems to resonate so deeply amongst the wide-ranging demographic that makes up David Byrne fans base is a little perplexing. Minimalist in design, the performance is endlessly engaging and transforming. Within the somewhat self referential opening of the show, (so similar in idea to Stop Making Sense, with David Byrne at centre stage in bleak surroundings and alone), the audience is drawn in and seduced by the stark setting, grey leisure suit, bare feet, desk, chair and a “brain” carrying showman. David sucks you in and before you know it we are living in Dave’s Byrne Big World. With no explicit narrative, there is the thread of positivity, and hopefulness that permeates the overall exploration of design, form, and movement. The overall effect of the show is Kinetic Sculpture… using humans and the occasional simple prop, Byrne leaves enough room to transpose your imagination onto the dance and the forces that cause and create movement. The latest record, American Utopia, deeply benefits from the continued collaboration with Brian Eno, making it Byrne highest chart topping success. The time is ripe for some positivity, but American Utopia and recent projects are filtered through the eyes of the modern condition. Tracks like, “Lazy”, and “I Should Watch TV, which are both collaborations with St. Vincent, were sobering reminders of the bleak separation and general malaise that encompasses so much of our daily encounters. On stage, the band was watching a “tv” that was simply a beam of light glowing off of the hanging chain link strands that boxed in the stage’s back and sides. David Byrne rolls up his sleeves, miming shooting up, and sings “touch me, and feel my pain”, suggesting that the drugging of our nation is a response to the alienation from the advent of technology, and an environment where we can be instantly be connected to each other, but still suffer the painful isolation and solitariness of being lost in society. The idea of “Utopia” is not a delusional pipe dream, but one tempered by an understanding that it is an ongoing struggle, and that it is a work in progress. It is often overlooked that “Utopia” is part of a larger project that David Byrne is engaged in. The project, which borrows a title from Ian Dury and the Blockhead’s song “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3”, which ironically was written in the U.K. during the Margret Thatcher years. Within the context of this bigger project David Byrne ’s “Reasons to Be Cheerful”, looks at the complexities of the urban environment, and the subtle but transformative cues, like the changing impact of increased bicycle use on our daily life, our outlook, our habits, and the environment. Byrne is looking at the ways to change our perspectives by engaging with the world in more direct and meaningful ways. The bombardment of images and messages that promote fear and dread, largely propagated by media, corporations and the government, is what the authorities want you to feel. This is part of a “Hegelian dialect”, that keep the power structures oppressing individuals in society, and allow the exploitation of those individuals at the same time. “They” want you to live in fear, keep you at bay and use this as leverage for policies and attacks on freedoms and liberties. The “Reasons to Be Cheerful” project, is a plea to turn off the fear mongering media messages, and re-engage in your community, make real human connections and participate in civic issues. In other words, he is hoping that people simply get involved in a direct and meaningful way to make the world a better place, no matter how small the contribution may seem. Walk to the store instead of driving, bike more, grow your own food, and to be really subversive, smile more. Yes, smile more, and if you do, you may soon notice, people will smile back. All of this is a subtext to a performance which is at its core is a celebration of joy, music, and movement. The fluidity of the dance, the freedom of the musicians to move freely, the stripped-down aesthetic gives a lot of opportunity for the audience to celebrate alongside. The entry point into the performance is easy, nothing really stands between the performer and audience, and this transforms the event into a giant kinetic experience. The energy of the dance was infectious for the audience at CityFolk. With the side screens that usually give the back 40 a good close up of the performance, were black. The only way to experience the show was by directly watching it. There was no way to filter the experience through another medium. The stage design was as striking from the dead centre 30 feet out, as it was from the back of the Great Lawn. The stage glowed with a shimmering intensity, the dancing so bold and engaging that no matter where you stood, you were in on the action. Of course, it was the music that propelled the dance, and the Ottawa crowd dropped it usual conservatism and boogied right along. There were more balls out dancing then I have ever seen at an Ottawa show. It was very heartening to be in the middle of this energy, and be able to dance with abandon at the foot of the master of polyrhythmic cross-cultural musical mayhem. I have seen David Byrne perform over the years, including the small understated tour that he did after the St. Vincent collaboration. On that tour, he played mostly his back catalogue of Talking Heads material. Although this tour was incredibly satisfying, in all sincerity, Ottawa shock their collective money maker just like I remembered at “The Remain In Light Tour” of 1981. This was a watershed moment for me, at only 14 years of age, (with The English Beat as an opener), my life was transformed. I danced for the first time that night. And I mean really danced. With abandon. Forgetting time and space, and dissolving into rhythm and movement. Pure joy. Pure celebration. And smiles. Lots of smiles. Just like Ottawa. Two songs were dropped from the set list that has been commonly played on this tour. Both “Bullet, and the unrecorded live song, “Dancing Together”, were dropped from previous shows. A slightly different song order was also an unusual feature of this rare outdoor festival performance. Most venues have been sit-down theatres, like the two summer shows in Toronto, at the Sony Centre. So, it was very heartening to see Ottawa take advantage of the setting, and cut a deep rug on The Great Lawn. The bulk of the set list was from “American Utopia”, and smatterings of the Talking Heads back catalogue. A little less then half the show saw a survey of some of the Talking Heads best material, and there was a lovely shout out to David Byrne's many collaborations with a light-hearted Fatboy Slim (The Brighton Port Authority) number called “Toe Jam”. Deep tracks like “I Zimba”, “Once in a Lifetime”, and the “Great Curve”, had the most resonance with the audience. I suspect, as was the case with me, that the older Talking Heads pieces transported us back to our youth and the start of our musical awakenings. I heard many a side conversation re telling which album and at what age people discovered the Talking Heads. From “77”, through to “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, to the underrated last record “Naked”, everyone seemed to hold high reverence to their David Byrne initiation. Now, I’m a realist, and not someone prone to using my rose coloured glasses to view my past. As awe-inspiring as this tour is, I can not shake the idea of how notoriously difficult David Byrne is to work with. Often, and especially for this incredibly intricate performance, David Byrne gets a pass on his curmudgeon demeanor. I suspect that as free-flowing and celebratory as the performance appeared, there is an iron hand driving the performance and its aesthetics. Initially, the “American Utopia” tour was booked into several venues and then canceled… Burlington and Montreal come to mind. It is my understanding that the stage set up did not meet David Byrne's minimal requirements, leaving several cities out of the mix. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it is his tour, and his vision, and a fine one at that. One opinion that i seemed to share with only myself, was that the band was not near as powerful as “The Remain in Light” band that had Adrian Belew, and Busta Jones and, well everyone really… in the shadows of my mind, this band was different than the Talking Heads. I would like to think that comes down to ownership… the fellow founding members of the Talking Heads, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth owned the material, shaped it and created it. When the original Talking Heads played, they were nothing short of dangerous, and provocative. They were a machine with many moving parts, that sometimes felt like they would implode, but rarely did. The “American Utopia” band felt like they were hitting their cues, and marks, but not free enough to soar above the clouds. Wonderful they were, and I appreciate that this is at best nitpicking, but 1981 this wasn’t. What we did get was a peek into the future of stage performance. With the advent of technology freeing our collective constraints, this novel approach to an unfettered musical experience will become more common, and perhaps even the norm in a few years. Bravo to David Byrne for using a minimalist approach to high light the physical freedom and collective dynamic energy to bring a joyful celebration of music, dance and performance art to the wonderment of all in attendance. This was a real coup for CityFolk and a very high water mark for next years performers. Set List David Byrne September 14, 2018, CityFolk The Great Lawn Landsdowne Park Ottawa Here Lazy I Zimbra (Talking Heads song) Slippery People (Talking Heads song) I Should Watch TV (David Byrne & St. Vincent cover) Dog's Mind Everybody's Coming to My House This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song) Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song) Doing the Right Thing Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover) Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song) I Dance Like This Every Day Is a Miracle Like Humans Do Blind (Talking Heads song) The Great Curve (Talking Heads song) Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song) Hell You Talmbout (Janelle Monáe cover) (with Merrill Garbus) (also with Ani DiFranco) If you want to explore more about the Talking Heads, David Byrne and the Reasons to be Cheerful movement, check out the links below. Well worth your time. Now smile, dammit. An Introduction to The Talking Heads Well How Did We Get Here? A Brief History of Talking Heads An Audience Video of the American Utopia Tour (complete performance) Reasons to be Cheerful Lecture/Talk by David Byrne David Byrne - Reasons To Be Cheerful talk - Jan. 8, 2018
  2. jimmy skyline

    Slippery People

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  3. Tedeschi Trucks Band Review: September 12, 2018. The Great Lawn at Landsdowne Park, Ottawa Mid-set of Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Ottawa CityFolk Festival, I was quietly reminded that I first saw Derek Trucks play with the Allman Brothers in Toronto when he was a tender 21 year old. Now, by 21, Derek was a seasoned veteran, making headway with his powerhouse slide guitar on stages and in front of audiences for several years. He was an acclaimed guitarist, and by age 13 was sharing the stage with Buddy Guy, and ThunderHawk, and could be found guesting with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. By July 30, 2000, Molson Amphitheatre performance, The Allman Brothers had just kicked out Dickey Betts (a founding member) from the band only days before. Much to my initial disappointment Jimmy Herring and Warren Hayes were holding down the dueling guitars. Jimmy sat in a chair the whole night, with a pair of headphones on, and Warren was the guitar slut that he would later be known for. However, it was the playing of Derek Trucks that stood out in my memory. I had heard that the nephew of Butch Trucks (the on and off again drummer for the Allman’s and an original member), had been tearing up the coast. And memorable it was. In fact, this particular Allman’s Brother show was so powerful and had rung every single high note of my expectations, that I swore i would never see them again. For me, The Allman Brothers would never play such a perfect show again. They tore it up, leaving everyone exhausted as the last notes of a complete Mountain Jam ended the second set. Derek Trucks left a major mark on the 21st century Allman’s, and this era was faithfully recorded on “Peakin’ at the Beacon”, that same year. One of the high water marks for the band. Derek never stood still, marrying Susan Tedeschi, breaking up the Derek Trucks band and forming the Tedeschi Trucks Band by the year 2010. Since then, the TTB has been road warriors, paying countless festivals and headlining concerts. The 12 piece band has hit their pace, as was evident in the stunning performance at CityFolk at Landsdowne Park September 12, 2018. If there was any doubt that Derek Trucks was one of the greatest guitarist going these days, that notion was left behind after a blistering and inspired set that lasted just over 90 minutes. Their official time slot was listed at a paltry 70 minutes, but TTB came out 10 minutes earlier than their set time and finished a good 15 minutes after the curtain call time. Still, by TTB standards it was a shortened set. Twelve songs, and one encore later, the Ottawa crowd was treated to a spiritual, positive, and intricate evening of jam-infused songs. Susan’s voice was pure and strong, with hints of a gritty Bonnie Raitt, and a whole bag of soul to boot. Her guitar playing was the perfect foil for a band with a lot of musical muscle. When she stepped out on lead guitar, she played with initial poise and constraint, building her soaring leads and pushing the jams forward. Lead vocals were traded off a couple times in the evening, allowing the backup singers, Matt Mattison, and Mark Rivers to have their due. But it was Susan’s soulful poignancy that gave credit to the plea for peace, love, and acceptance (a philosophical perspective shared by most Jam Bands of this era). The Joe Cocker song (written by Mathew Moore) “Space Captain” which ended the set, was sung convincingly by Susan as she repeated the refrain, “Learning to live together, Till we die.” Overall the set reflected the Great American Jukebox… every night TTB plays a different show. Sometimes a song might be repeated, but show to show, night to night, anything could happen. CityFolk got two brilliant Bob Dylan covers, “Down in the Flood”, which had an incredible break down in the middle which deconstructed Dylan’s music and sent it into the stratosphere, and another cover off of 1974’s Planet Waves, “Going, Going, Gone”. A spiritual centre piece of the set, Susan was able to give us a “bring me to Jesus” moment. There was no shortage of musical highlights. Kofi Burbridge on flute and keyboards took out the Hammond B3 organ and the two Leslie Horn speakers for an early set break out that reminded everyone why vintage musical equipment is so magical. Derek spent most of the night nestled into the back corner near the bass player Tim Lefebvre, where both of them had the physical impact of those spinning Leslie’s at their feet. It seemed that every time Derek was not stepping out on a lead, he would venture to the back, and stand squarely between the Leslie speakers. Derek’s stage presence is so understated and his demeanor is so humble, it's easy to underestimate his real virtuosity. With a band with so many moving parts, the focus is still on the flow. The occasional trading of leads is mostly superseded by more organic exploration. Derek navigates the waters only captaining the ship when needed. His subdued stage presence speaks to his humbling approach to the big band sound. Where just a few years ago TTB was a solid bet for a great night of blues-infused music, we are now seeing the genesis of a live juggernaut. CityFolk will do well to have TTB return in future festivals. Set List Tedeschi Trucks Band September 12, 2018 CityFolk Ottawa, Landsdowne Park Anyhow High and Mighty Let me get by Midnight in Harlem Down in the Flood Let's Get Stoned Don’t Know What Shame Going, Going, Gone Sky is Crying I Want More Space Captain E: Made Up My Mind
  4. jimmy skyline

    Father John Misty Takes Us To Church

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  5. jimmy skyline

    Father John Misty Takes Us To Church

    I want to claim Father John Misty as our own. No, not as a Canadian, but as a voice coming out of Generation X. An argument can be made for this as he is born in 1981, and depending on how you map it out, he could be a Gen. X’er rather than a Millennial. Why is this important? I guess it really isn’t, but from my selfish point of view, I want bragging rights on Josh Tillman’s artistic vision, his sardonic wit, his world vision, and his cynicism. Either way, Josh Tillman has created an off hand brand, called Father John Misty, and is a badly needed light in todays barren musical landscape. He writes stories and narratives, poems and prose. He writes long winding sojourns into modern day society, lifting the veil back from the puke coloured concealment of todays state of ‘pure comedy’ found in the world. He’s sees the humour that is left behind from all the hopelessness. He attests to the failure of man. When all is laid bare, there is nothing left but laughter. The slow ride of mans demise is palpable now, we can all collectively see the absurdness in how the “machine” works, being able to identify the corrupt nature of big business, and politics, the failure of humans to know better, but not to do better, the realization that the environment, religion, personal relationships, and the distracting numbness of the entertainment industry all are fugazi and fucked up beyond recognition. Clearly, as with Father John Misty’s well publicized on stage melt down in Candem N.J. in 2016, a day after the presidents inauguration. Here, FJM completed a monologue espousing the great sins that have lead America to elect a cartoon celebrity of a President. This rant was punctuated with a Leonard Cohen cover, and a 13 minute version of “Leaving L.A.”, from his brilliant record “Pure Comedy”. He reminded everyone that we need to “take a moment to be profoundly sad.” Largely, this was met by the audience with disdain. Even by directly pointing out the “numbing effect” that the entertainment industry has had on people- (call it the opiate of the masses, if you will)-, the audience made it clear that he was to “shut up and sing.” Truly, profoundly sad. It’s not that i think the Millennial’s don’t deserve FJM, it’s more that he fits in with the cynicism and absurdness exemplified by the generation sandwiched between the ‘bloated, bustling ,and ultimately self absorbed failures’, called the Baby Boomers and the confusion of ‘what is the 21st century suppose to look like’, Millennial’s. If not by birth right, FJM fits in with the Gen. X’ers who wanted nothing to do with the “machine”. They held great disregard for material gain, and looked towards an entrepreneurial perspective and found a healthier life-work balance than most that came before or arrived later. Gen. X’ers got passed over, and that’s fine, because most of that generation saw the comedy and absurdity, and wanted nothing to do with it. Advertisers passed over Gen. X. as they couldn’t figure out how to sell to a bunch of cynics. Corporations and government employers passed over Gen. X. as the bloated numbers of Baby Boomers held onto their fiercely fought long climb to ‘middle management’. The entertainment industry tried to imbibe the voices of Gen. X. only to to blown away by the relative indifference of it’s strongest voices. The game was and is rigged, and Gen. X’er wanted little to do with it. Hence, the laughter. So, as Father John Misty walked out on City Stage Saturday night, his volatility proceeded him. For those who have been on this ride, watching the as the ex-Fleet Foxes drummer engaged the world with solo records, and a trio of FJM records, there was a sense of “edge of your seat” tension. What were we going to get? Would it be an introspective folk show with a stripped down vibe, a collection of songs from his ever widening body of work, a lush orchestrated musical ride, or a freak out, and lose it on the audience, type of show. What we got was an incredible ride through the better parts of “Pure Comedy”, a good smattering of his industry break out, “I love you, Honeybear”, and a touch of “Fear Fun”. The lead off four songs, “Pure Comedy”, "Total Entertainment Forever”, "Things it Would Have Been Helpful Before the Revolution”, and "Ballad of the Dying Man”, suggested a complete run through of his master work L.P., Pure Comedy. Alas, “Birdie” the next song on Pure Comedy was not to be played this night. What followed was a weaving back and forth song selection from his two previous records and a single called “Real Love Baby”. The impact of the first four songs set the mesmerizing tone for the night. The audience watched and listened with pin dropping silence and rapped attention. They were hanging on his words, being seduced by his lanky dance moves, the simple lighting, and the lush orchestrated sounds. T he mid set rollicking “I’m Writing a Novel”, felt so much like a take on the self eulogizing and self mocking song “Ballad of John and Yoko”, and was a relief from the intensity of the set thus far. What we didn’t get in Ottawa, was the six strings and three horns sections that has been with him on every show of the tour up to then. As good as the show was, the addition of silky strings and horns would have been the cherry on top. This was compensated by some additional synths and keyboards, and in actuality, the overall effect of the lush orchestration of the songs were held together by the seven piece band. Occasionally fitted with an acoustic guitar, FJM’s only prop of the night, was the lone microphone at the front of the stage. He is a charismatic showman posing with grand hand gestures, crossing of legs, and a twisting of limbs, all with a provocative nuance. Dropping to his knees, falling onto the stage, with a mocking tone of a religious fervour, it was almost too much to bare. He strutted, twirled his microphone, pranced and danced with an odd separation of the top and the bottom of his body. He showed off graceful Jaggeresque swagger but with loopy spindly legs. He is an enigma. His dancing is as above, as below, exposing that the seemingly contradictory forces are actually unified, similar to the idea that, within tragedy there is comedy. It is near impossible to narrow down his stage presence, his voice, and his songwriting. We can see some of the Randy Newman and Harry Neilson biting sardonic lyrics played over smooth as velvet pop song melodies. A voice that at times seems part Elton John, part Jimmy James, and all FJM. A stage presence and delivery that is some where between Glenn Campbell’s simplicity, and the ferociousness an intellectualism of Nick Cave. Josh was simply dressed in a dark blue thigh length jacket, with black pants soiled from the stage dust picked up when falling to his knees, and a button down black collared shirt, open to his mid chest, exposing just enough skin to be provocative. It is a look that is an everyday appearance for him, as if he had just walked off the street. Josh has recently re-bearded for the tour, a look that seemed to be mandatory as every member of the the 7 piece band had them. At one point, kneeling down at the edge of the stage he assured a young lady in the audience that any of the fine bearded men on stage could be a fine replacement for her bearded boyfriend, then reminded her that the boyfriend is the only one who matters, before continuing on with “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”. Seemingly self deprecating, FJM never lost the plot, and had little to say beyond “Thanks for being here”, and “drive home carefully”. On this long over due warm fall evening, the music did the talking. Any risk of appearing too clever, or court jester antics, were mitigated by his relative silence, and commitment to the songs. Beside the horns and strings, the only thing on my list for a perfect FJM show would have been the addition of Jonathan Wilson. Wilson is presently touring with that Pink Floyd guy, Roger Waters. Jonathan Wilson had set up a recording studio that has seen the collaborative exploits of Chris Robinson, John Stirratt, Gary Louris, Mark Olson, David Rawlings, the Dawes, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and Elvis Costello (among many others). Josh has been a regular presence there, and the Echo Park studio has hosted all of his FJM recordings. The two became fast friends, and are very close co conspirators on Pure Comedy. They are well on their way into creating a dynamic body of 21st Future Folk sounds filtered through the Laurel Canyon vibes. Wilson, slightly older then Josh, is accredited with the Laurel Canyon revival and is featured in the “Canyon of Dreams” book by Harvey Kubernik. There is no doubt that the relationship between FJM and Jonathan Wilson has shaped the current sound and allowed FJM to experiment and put “play” and creativity as a central force in the music making. Certainly, the micro dosing of LSD by the pair helped shape a lot of Pure Comedy’s tone and content. Echo Park Studios has allowed them to spend hours in the studio pursuing sonic directions and lyrical gymnastics with out restrictions. The unique aesthetic and the decidedly singular sound of FJM owes a great deal to his co producer, and collaborator Jonathan Wilson. Pure Comedy was a little more planned out and structured than the earlier FJM recordings, actually using outside musicians instead of the two of them playing everything on the records. But the lasting imprint of Wilson and Tillman is unmistakeable. Even though this is taken out of context, The Kris Kristofferson verse from The Pilgrim, Chapter 33, originally written about Harry Dean Stanton seems to echo some truth about Father John Misty….. “ He’s a poet, an’ he’s a picker, he’s a prophet, an’ he’s a pusher He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home ” — Kris Kristopherson There were no strings. There were no horns. There was no Jonathan Wilson. There was a shortened set, down from an average 22 song performance to an intense 15 song show. Even with out all of these things, Father John Misty delivered a memorable show, leaving just enough room for his next Ottawa appearance to even be more mind blowing. The Future Folk Sound is here. SET LIST CityFolk Festival Ottawa, September 16, 2017 Pure Comedy Total Entertainment Forever Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution Ballad of the Dying Man Nancy From Now On Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) When The God Of Love Returns There'll Be Hell To Pay When You're Smiling and Astride Me I'm Writing a Novel True Affection Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings Real Love Baby Holy Shit I Love You, Honeybear Encore: I Went to the Store One Day
  6. An hour was way too short of a set time for Broken Social Scene to hit their stride at Ottawa CityFolk Festival. Coming off a tour with sets being over two hours in length, the pacing at CityFolk seemed rushed. BSS missed turning what could have been another outstanding show into a quick run through of some of their best material. When BSS are in full flight, they are a jet plane who’s wings are about to come off. There can be moments of sheer chaos, a tearing at the seams, where the music and the band can be falling apart, right up to a cliff’s edge, looking down, taking that last step over the edge to end up where the audience and band are pulled back from the precipice, and then every thing, music, band and audience turn into a celebration of joy and ecstasy. These moments of musical mayhem, come celebration are hard to find in todays musical landscapes. BSS have long been purveyors of risk taking where the potential is great gain, or great loss. It was not from lack of trying or lack of focus, but more of a running out of any more road to drive on. With expectations of band members ranging from a lean six piece to the ridiculous 19 that have graced the stage in the past. A cool 10 piece band emerged on the Great Lawn City Stage. Lead by BSS stalwart guitarists, Kevin Drew, Andrew Whiteman, and Brendan Canning, and supported on the back beat and rhythm machine duo of Charles Spearin and Justin Peroff, they promised that they “came here to rock their guts out (Kevin Drew)”. The female singers were the wild card for the show. Ultimately Amy Millan and fellow Stars and BSS early member Evan Cranley were in fine form. They were joined by new singer Ariel Engle, who with husband Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir) are a folk duo AroarA. Both female singers suffered from being buried in the mix, and along with other sound issues, every thing seemed to get ironed out by the half way mark. The cacophony of aural riches continued with the addition of atwo piece horn section, and sometime additional drummers. Song high lights included 7/4 Shoreline, Stars and Sons, and the Cause=Time. at his last time through Toronto. A sign that BSS has reached far and wide. A memorable Stay Happy was sung by Ariel Engle, which appears on their latest Hugs and Thunder L.P. However, by the time BSS had to sign off on the show, they were just starting to leave the ground and soar. Hopefully BSS will pass back through Ottawa as they head out on a North American tour. Next time a longer set, smaller venue, and more risk and reward should be expected.
  7. jimmy skyline

    Top Picks for Marvest Festival

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    Highlights for Ottawa CityFolk Festival

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  10. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day Two

    August 19, 2017 Claude Munson There is a new Canadiana sound. Bands like Patrick Watson, Joe Grass, Jesse Mac Cormack and the Barr Brothers share a musical aesthetic that is coming to the forefront of contemporary Canadian songwriting. There is a new generation of alternative folk music that is at a ground swell, and is set to catch a fire in our music scene. Claude Munson fits this bill. The Forest stage was the perfect venue for experiencing him, and his on again, off again fellow band mates. Late summer sun, under a tent, in the woods and loads of fresh air, complemented this early evening serenade. Claude Munson’s travelling floating melodies, were enriched with a alto voice with a subtle trumpet quality to it. Both Claude’s band and his voice were fluid, and charming. The band hinted at being able to extend the music into swelling and crashing jams, but held back most of the time. Accented by some killer slide on a fender strat guitar, a Canadian made Godin hollow body, and a vintage sound coming out of Claude’s own red top Harmony Rocket guitar (amazing to see this guitar, and equally amazing to see it stay in tune for most of the show), the sounds were rich and warm. It’s a shame the band didn’t step out more, it was clear that they had enough depth to drive the well crafted songs to the limit. The back beat was muted by some red cloth on top of the drums to dampen the sound. The result was a magical blend of subtle sounds supporting an incredible voice. Harmonies of Stefan Stevens, Half Moon Run, and Barr Brothers abound. Fluid and silky. Photo: Jimmy Skyline Future States Again, being unfamiliar I came to this Barn stage performance with little expectation. What I got was a lush psyche pop sound. What I left with was a band who is looking back as much as forward. A Sixties sensibility of pop psyche, and complex four part harmonies, paired with layers of swirling guitars and keyboards. Sometimes quite trite melodies were followed by huge musical blowouts, giving an indication to the ground that Future States walk on. Evidently playing with a new drummer, they didn’t seem to miss a beat. The Barn was packed for their show, and some rabid dancers help lift the energy. The end of the set had every one pushed forward to the front of the stage, which must have been a relief to to Chuck Bronson as he started the show by asking people to come closer. They are touring around now in support of their record “Casual Listener”. Photo: Jimmy Skyline Deerhoof Rolf Klausener came out to introduce Deerhoof. He told a story about passing on seeing them in the mid 1990’s, and regretted it as it took another 15 years for him to catch them live. I have a similar story. I have missed Deerhoof by a hair many times over the near three decades of this legendary band. A band that defies description, that should have never survived, a band with out a leader, a band beyond description. There is too much to recap of their storied history. I am just thankful that Deerhoof came to town and slaughtered. Yes, slaughtered. Maybe I would have a more measured reaction if this was say the early 90’s when there was so much unstoppable creativity in the music scene. Or maybe I am missing my youth, where you could see just about any band tear it up and leave no prisoners. But Deerhoof exceeded my expectations. In a music fest that clearly had a particular curated sound, Deerhoof was the glorious exception to the rule. Born out of San Fransisco around 1995, a more singular ambitious art project to survive this long is nearly unimaginable. It felt fresh. It felt honest. It felt undeniable. It was relentless and punishing at times. Driven hard by the intertwine of the two guitars, chasing the lead lines in unison, then pulling them apart in angular, rhythmic directions. John Dieterich and Ed Rodríguez kept the guitar mayhem alive, as Greg Saunier pounded out the drum lines. A real heavy hitter. Greg took to the microphone a couple of times. His surreal story telling is improvised, and on this occasion he marvelled at the bands rider request for a carrot. Of coarse, Arboretum will be the only venue that could supply a perfect purple carrot directly from the ground. He said, “We got carrot straight from the ground from the venue.... backstage after show, there is a reward of a purple carrot,…. unless the other bands are eating it now.” Greg along with Satomi Matsuzaki on vocals are all thats left of the earliest stages of Deerhoof with John joining in around 1999. Satomi is a force of nature. Her diminutive size lies in contradiction to her massive stage presence. She has a timeless, ageless beauty. Her energy is infectious, playful and alluring. She danced, hopped, bounced, and hand jived to the angular musical structure, while sing over top beautiful and joyous melodies. Beefhartian at times, with a similar love for the poetic and absurd, in a word Deerhoof were crushing.
  11. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day Two

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  12. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day One

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  13. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day One

    August 18, 2017 Cadence Weapon Edmonton’s Roland Pemberton III, offered up a blistering hip hop set. Never taking himself too seriously, and clearly enjoying the vibe of the forest stage, his smiles were a counter point to some of the most astute lyrics in rap today. He’s got game. Although he was personable, understated (rare in the hip hop genre), and charming, his words were full of insight and social commentary. His diction was perfect, with rapid fire vocals not getting lost in the DJ’s beats. Perhaps, hip hops urban element was a bit misplaced with the farm atmosphere, but his clear strong voice carried rhymes that were melodic and varied. He took the mick out of some of rap’s more universal cliches like call and response, and the hilarious “wave your hands in the air, so we can pretend we are at Glastonbury.” A great start to the festival, especially after the underwhelming Un Blonde set. Photos: Jimmy Skyline Isaac Vallentin Even though he is from Ottawa, Isaac was not on my radar. Isaac seemed right at home, playing off the floor of the barn stage. Pushed slightly off to one side and framed by the old barn board and canoe he seemed to reflect a level of song craft found in the back rooms of Canadian bars. Wit and witticism came flying out of smart, tightly written melodies and serious hooks. Paced by indy guitar, a rich darkly toned voice, and cutting keyboard his songs seemed familiar, even though it was the first time I heard them. Infectious songs, all about song craft, smartly dressed melodies, and undeniable hooks. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan In terms of this festival, I only have two of the artists in my record collection. Along with Deerhoof!, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan are the only performers that I was familiar with. A near impossible to describe mash up of musical and cultural stylings that are a rare and refreshing musical endeavour in a land of mediocracy. I was a little worried about how their distinct studio sound would translate to the stage. A six piece touring band, complete with Kabuki type face make up, pounded out a set in a self described “Noh Wave” musical style. A contemporary opera, fusing metal, noise, folk and disparate elements of east meets west. I took zero notations during this performance, which speaks to their ability to immerse the audience into another musical journey. Yamanaka is sometimes characterized as a “conquer of Death”, with in certain schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Just like this lord of death Yamanaka//Sonic Titan played fearlessly into the night. Not to be missed. The forest stage was the perfect place for their brand of mystical performance. Captivating. Le1f Khalif Diouf, was provocative and gorgeous. This prince was commanding of everyones attention. Starting with a stage bathed in blue, his cape and hood framed a generous 6ft frame, with a bejewelled appliqué wife beater and spandex short pants body suit. Pushing the limits in the NYC hip hop scene, Le1f drew from rap, reggae, and EDM to spin a cycle of highly sexualized songs. Prancing, gyrating and vogueing his way through his set, he was teasing and playful. As the stage lighting went from blue to red, things started to heat up. At one point stripping down to just the spandex, tossing his cap and muscle shirt, he teased, “OH, you like that!”. At another point, Le1f crouched over a tall women, and simulated kissing and other sexual overtones, never appearing to threaten, but more of a celebration of hedonism. Provocative and confident, with rapid fire rants, and temptress attitude, Le1f dropped mad, disparate, and disjointed beats, similar to Cakes Da Killa. Occasionally, the flow was broken by Le1f pulling up the DJ’s beats and restarting the songs, but what was lost in flow, was made up with humour and charm. Claiming to have been awake since 4 am, his loss was our gain. Clearly, this didn’t slow him down as he leaped, danced, and vogued into the night. Wake Island A Montreal come NYC based electronic duo, of Lebanese musicians Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal rounded out the first night for me. I can say that EDM holds little interest for me, but i was making connections to the early days of New Order who filtered their music through the Hip Hop/ Rap/ Graffiti culture of 1980’s NYC’s through their English upbringing (Power. Corruption and Lies era). Here, with Wake Island I came to understand the same filtering process, one of blending Montreal, NYC, Lebanon, and Euro Trash influences to a highly danceable, melodic, and engaging sets of beats. Infectious and dancea
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