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Found 6 results

  1. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day Two

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  2. 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.
  3. jimmy skyline

    Arboretum Festival - Day One

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  4. 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
  5. Arboretum Festival Photos: Jimmy Skyline Music and Food. I have spent my life dedicated to these two pursuits. These are the cornerstones for humanity. They distinguish us from the kingdoms of other animals. Before words, it was music and food that established the constructs of human culture. These are the parts of culture shared by all peoples, of all times. They are pre-language. The modern celebration of these noble arts is everywhere, but seldom are they the focus of a singularly well-planned event. The Arboretum Festival held on Rideau Pines Farms took it’s first steps of transforming it’s illustrious past into a forward thinking celebration. Quietly, Arboretum has left the confines of the Ottawa cityscape to the pastoral landscapes of a well established farm and country side. Last year, Arboretum held a sprawling 68 band festival, with workshops and chef’s in tow, to a much more downsized, intimate, and joyful festival tucked just outside of Ottawa, in North Gower. Rideau Pines Farm has been a family owned and operated Fruit and Vegetable farm for over 30 years. The Vandenberg family rescued an abandoned dairy farm and turned it into a pick your own fruit and vegetable haven. Today, Rideau Pine Farms services fresh produce to the finest restaurants in Ottawa. Some of the best places to eat in Ottawa, take daily deliveries from the farm. At one time, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ottawa was a food waste land. Nothing of any real consequence was going on in terms of food dynamics. As a chef myself, it was the main reason I left the city. If you wanted to cook on a serious level, Ottawa was not the place to be. Little did I realise that at this time, some of the foundations for the vibrant food scene that we enjoy today were being laid. Slowly, what has emerged is a vibrant, locally driven, food culture that has entrenched itself deeply enough to be the new rigour. Most festivals have woken up to the importance of food in relation to music. More and more variety is offered on festival sites. Arboretum takes this to the next level. The number of food vendors were small at this years fest, but you could just as easily make your way into the extensive gardens to pick your own fruits and vegetable, or journey up into the farm’s store front market to buy local honey, maple syrup, and a wide variety of super crisp and fresh produce. The on-site vendors included late night superstars Two Six (Ate), House of Targ’s Pierogies, Sea Sells Sea Shells Oysters, Elliott Gosselin’s Great Glebe Garage Sale Taco’s, and Dash Mobile Cookery Truck. There was some super fresh corn on the cob, that could be washed down with a fine selection of Beyond the Pail Ale, Top Shelf Distilled Spirits or followed by an on draft Buchipop Kombucha. My personal favourite was the Blue Barn Roasters whose hot or cold locally roasted coffee kept me going over the weekend. The vendors were rotated out over the weekend, and depending on the time of the day the selection varied. The longest lines were reserved for House of Targ’s 9 pm to 2 am pierogi blow out. Having the late night sweet spot on Saturday proved to be the only line up of the whole weekend. The festival was kept to a perfect number of attendees, which allowed a smooth transition from stage to stage, and a real feeling of hanging-out-with-friends vibe. Smiles were everywhere. The crowd that gathered were in high spirits, where kindness, and courtesy was the rule and not the exception. This felt like a house party, more than a festival. The change of venue made for an audience that really wanted to be there. A bus shuttle service from city centre helped the mostly millennial crowd have access, with no need for a car. The shuttle service was a great success, and organisers should be honoured for this forward thinking approach of how to get people around safely. The venue has a “build it and they will come”, past. As with any destiny, the right forces needed to partner up to make the best out of disparate talents. The last great unforgettable ice storm made ruin on the farm of a section of great red pine trees. From this loss, Matt Vandenberg (one of the sons of Rideau Pine Farms who started working the land at 3 years old), chopped, milled and constructed what was the structural foundation of the event sight. Out of these trees came an incredible bar, stage, and other small outhouses. Tucked off the road, and beside the open fields, was a concert venue as intimate and as inviting as you can imagine. The main stage easily held the festival goers, and was framed by the handcrafted bar on one side, a small group of trees on the other, and food vendors towards the back. Another sitting area that doubled as a outdoor late night movie theatre was a few feet away. The landscape throughout the farm was accented by temporary architecture and whimsy, especially striking were the floating umbrellas hung from the trees. The second stage was a second floor of a barn that was beautifully lit by the suns rays pouring in from between the opened slats of the aged barn wood. The third stage was tucked well behind the farmhouse, down a long path that opened up to a pond. The Pond stage had to be put on hold as the rain soaked land would not have faired well with all the foot traffic. This late night stage performances were transferred to the “After Party” on the main stage. A wonderful aspect of keeping the number of performers to a reasonable few (about 20 acts), was that the show times were staggered perfectly so you could jump from show to show and not miss a thing. Rolf Klausener, the main force behind Arboretum and his local band The Acorns, recognized the value of Matt Vandenerg’s (and families) work and envisioned a rebirth of the original Arboretum Festival… one built on the notions of intimacy, friendship and togetherness. Pulling back and making a festival smaller may seem to be counter intuitive in a time where bigger is seen as better, but this is what makes Arboretum 2017 such a great success. The music felt like a personally curated show. Rolf was clearly the tastemaker here, with a unity of musical sounds and genres playing out. The aesthetic was personal, and this lead to the feeling like we were at a giant house party. The festival was like a mixtape, driving with the top down along a country road, on a sunny day, with trees a green, and bountiful fields. Along with Vandenbergs opened arm welcoming, a warmer, more personable event could not have been imaginable. In this case, smaller was way better. The Vandenbergs, the musical acts, Rolf Klausener, and food vendors mixed openly with the attendees, the goats, pigs and the chickens. A real scene stealer was the one horned 2 month old baby goat Willy. I found him wandering around on the Friday night show, seemingly undeterred by the people invading his home. After brief talk with Paul Vandenberg, I discovered Willy was an escapee, penned up earlier, this baby goat was ready to get down with the extended family vibes. His compatriot, an older goat Phoebe seemed equally chill, and eventually the two found their way to the front of the farm, and were the unofficial greeters of the festival. Tucked along the fence by the store front the goats held court outside the pen of the most magnificent pig, Florence. This six year old sow was named after Florence the Machine, and recently birthed a set of piglets, all named after music artists and celebrities, like Kevin Bacon, Chris Farley, …. the infectious humour and charm of Matt underlies his love of land and music, as he enthusiastically gave a run down of the farms animals and operations. There are few people in this world that exhume joy and love, and Matt has this in spades. His mother, Barbara, enthusiastically related a story of how an informal meeting between Matt and world famous Chef Jamie Oliver ended up with a day long romp through their farm, complete with television crews catching Jamie Oliver driving tractors, and picking produce. Matt’s infectious personality was undeniable, familiar, and unstoppable. I can only hope that Arboretum will continue along this pathway, and hold more festivals on Rideau Pine Farm. Keeping it small will be a challenge. It is only a matter of time before people start to hear about this great festival’s new direction. In a way Arboretum is going back to their roots, where throwing a great party, with great music, with great friends, was only bettered by an even nicer venue.
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