Head 'em up and move 'em out: Edmonton-style

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I’m the birthday, I’m the birthday, I’m the birthday boy or girl!

Well, it’s that time of year again, my birthday. This Saturday I shall be celebrating entering the very last year of my twenties; yay!

My birthday present to myself this year: two hot flamenco dancers…mmm. Actually, there were 7 dancers, but I had to settle for two to myself. Well, myself and 4 others. The Vivancos brothers of Spain were in town for Expo Latino and the enterprising K2 got us a private workshop with them! Rock!! And it certainly wasn’t settling to get Aaron and Josua. Brilliant dancers, and absolutely lovely guys (and all seven of them gorgeous, what a gene pool). A fine birthday present indeed…

I imagine this approaching date means I'm supposed to reflect on the year, but I’m not sure that I want to. Yes, there have been some pretty marvy things, I’ve met some great new people, had some amazing experiences. But I’d rather not dwell too heavily on the happenings of the last year, because there’s been some pretty crappy stuff too. So I think the best thing to do is just to drink copious amounts of crown floats at the regular haunt, say 9ish on the 26th. Y’all know where that is, and if you don’t, I’ll confirm via email, and if you don’t get one, guess you’re not my friend – hah!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Muddied waters…

Rant time.

Nothing irritates me more than when people treat me with kid gloves. Geezus, I’ve been around the block a fair bit and there’s not a hell of a lot I can’t handle. It’s not like I’m going to burst into tears if you look at me funny. Okay, sometimes I do, but generally it’s only when my entire world is crumbling around me; this not being one of those occasions. It just mystifies me when people think that they’re being nice by trying to spare my feelings; does it not occur to you that it has the effect of making me feel like a supreme idiot???

Grrrrrr...I need a beer.

PS Thanks Thelma…

Monday, August 14, 2006

Contented Sigh…Part II

So while the time since I’ve been back have been insanely busy, a little strange, and very topsy-turvy, I’ve got to say that there have been more than a few moments of genuine joy populating these months of summer.

This weekend was no exception. Megan & Jason’s wedding was absolutely wonderful. Simple, fun, classy, and heartfelt. It’s always so nice to go to a wedding that’s about the couple, not about how much debt they can go into for a single day. We all started off in the rain on the roof of the Stollery Center for a gorgeous ceremony complete with tons of umbrellas and the guitar stylings of Justin Rutledge (a hyper-romantic surprise from Jason).

I have to say, there wasn’t a soul at the place whose eyes weren’t at least a little welled during the ceremony and parts of the reception as well. What did it for me was when they went to sign the registry and Justin played “First day of my life” by Bright Eyes.

I guess one can’t help but be moved when you see how passionate they are for one another. Just makes you all warm and fuzzy inside.

"This is the first day of my life
I swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go

And so I thought I’d let you know
That these things take forever
I especially am slow
But I realize that I need you
And I wondered if I could come home

Remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange you said everything changed
You felt as if you had just woke up
And you said “this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”

So if you want to be with me
With these things there’s no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery
Besides maybe this time is different
I mean I really think you like me"

Friday, August 11, 2006


The Beatles 67-70 album has got to be one of the finest collections of music ever assembled. Sooooooo good on a rainy day.

Gotta get the smell of smoked salmon off my hands now and make myself all purty for our brolly wedding...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bend this, you bastard…

Why on god’s green earth is CBC Newsworld spending time talking to Uri Geller about the Middle East???? The guy’s a f******g liar who exploited people for money for decades.

And the host actually said, “oh I know you’re a paranormalist and not a magician, but if you could do magic, what would you do?” Well hell, since he’s a paranormalist (god only knows what that is), why doesn’t he just bend the frickin' rockets so they can’t fly? I can’t think of a better way to trivialize the suffering of these people than by inviting commentary from someone like this.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

By day I am a pillar, but at night I tend to sway…

I’m too tired to tag right now, but I will.

Up until Monday there was an amazing flamenco workshop here in town with Felicia German. She’s just an amazing dancer who lives in Jerez (originally from Baltimore), and we had her for the whole week. So for 7 days, I tappa tappa tappa-ed for 4 hours a day. And while my knee held up pretty well, it is feeling a little tired today. I figure it’s probably more my complete lack of sleep that’s making it feel sore. For some reason I was just too wired to get to sleep, it’s been a crazy crazy summer, it has.
The header is a great line from Stew . Check him out…

Voyage to Planet Electrolucy

Warning: long post ahead.

So it’s taken me a little while to gather my thoughts on my CFMF adventures. I don’t want to sound too gushy, but it was such an unbelievable four days! The title above is to reflect two changes in my folkfest experience from the days of Camp Granolagal. The first being that since I lost my tarp I was forced to purchase a $2.47 vinyl table cloth from Zellers, so I had my own little planet rather than camp happening. And the weekend really wasn’t particularly granola, and I mean that in a good way.

This absolutely has to have been the most eclectic and interesting folk festival I’ve ever been too. One of the workshops actually turned into a rave! But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Day one: I arrive on the lovely oasis that is Prince’s Island Park. I tell ya, if I could just live on that little island, I would. Anyway, the first act is some Scandinavian fiddling group I have no interest in, so I opt to check out the food situation. I quickly discover that the food stands are operating their own little economy where it’s considered completely rational to charge $10 (not including plate deposit) for two little skewers of chicken and tabouleh. Grr. However, at least the offerings are mighty tasty. Sunterra’s there, Shwarz’s, some yummy salad roll place, and of course India Palace. What is it about the festival setting that makes all suddenly become chicken bhoona addicts?

My old favourite Dan Bern then comes on. I love the guy, but I love him way more at the smaller stages, I find on the mainstage he’s kind of lost.

Return to tablecloth to hear the sweet, sweet tones of Nayaz. I realized seconds after hearing the singer’s voice that I’d heard her before in the opening minutes of the horrible movie Free Zone (how you can make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boring these days is beyond me, but this film manages to do it). Azam Ali, the lead singer, is absolutely mesmerizing. And together the performance was phenomenal. I had planned to buy their CD but sadly everyone had the same idea and they were sold out by the end of the night.

Their performance was followed up by Feist and Broken Social Scene who both put on a great show. It was marred only by a crappy sound system that had waaaay too much bass and blew out the left speaker for most of what remained of the evening. What is it with sound techs these days??? After the Son Volt debacle I’m starting to wonder if there’s just a generation of sound engineers who are all hard of hearing!!! Despite that, it was a really great start to the festival.

Day two: Spent the day wandering Calgary, see post below for results on that front. That evening’s line-up was probably the weakest part of the whole four days. Robbie Fulks, Jeff Healey (doing swing jazz nowadays) et al. were all a lot of fun, but on the whole it was a bit of a let-down really from the previous night. A lot of people were of course there for Macy Gray, and I figured she’d be worth seeing as well. But I was pretty disappointed. She’s just not meant for that kind of venue. Indeed, I think it’s the very the quality of her voice that makes her interesting that makes her completed unsuited for live performances altogether (from what I’ve heard from others). Unfortunately that kind of strained quality means she needs to be really well engineered. So while I enjoyed some of it, it was on the whole a pretty under-whelming show.

Days three & four: Holy crap. Wow. Whatta day and whatta night. Both days and both nights. Workshops-o-rama filled my days. I didn’t even have time for a moment to pause to think about the crap of regular life because I was surrounded by wall-to-wall frickin’ awesome music. Okay, where to start with the highlights:

Kris Demeanor & his Crack Band.
Okay. I can admit it. I am completely in love with Kris Demeanor. He has such a wicked sense of humour and he’s just such a cutie. Every workshop he was at he was so incredibly wicked. Even Dan Bern was giving him full props and was cracking up over some of his lyrics. I followed him to Word Up the next day which was hysterical as well.

Waxing Electronica workshop: Wow. Again. It featured That 1 guy (he’ll need his own explanation below), the DJ and tabla player from Niyaz, and Tanya Tagaq (a throat singer) with her DJ. It ended up being a massive rave with all of us dancing like crazy. People kept coming by and asking who was playing, and then being thoroughly disappointed to hear it was a jam session and as such there was no CD to buy! But man, if these 3 got together to record, I’m first in line for a copy.

Kris Kristofferson: What can you say really? It was probably the most honest performance I’ve ever seen. Just a regular old Rhodes scholar and his guitar. My dad pretty much raised me on Kris, Waylon, Willie, and Johnny, and I was totally overwhelmed by the experience; what an unbelievably cool guy. By the time he sang Love is the Way my eyes were welling. And by the time his last one rolled around on his guitar (dad's favourite song and saying) I was basically in a puddle on the ground.

They're killing babies in the name of freedom.
We've been down that sorry road before.
They let us hang around a little longer than they should've.
It's too late to fool us anymore.

We've seen the ones, who killed the ones with vision,
Cold blooded murder right before your eyes
Today they hold the power, and the money, and the guns.
It's getting hard to listen to their lies.

I just gotta wonder what my daddy would've done,
If he'd seen the way they turned his dream around.
I've gotta go by what he told me:
"Try to tell the truth and stand your ground.
Don't let the bastards get you down."

Mining roads
Killing farmers
Blowing up schools full of children
Fighting communism

I just gotta wonder what my daddy would've done
If he'd seen the way they turned his dream around.
I've gotta go by what he told me:
"Try to tell the truth and stand your ground.
Don't let the bastards get you down."

Totally unbelievably amazing.

Stew: Great poet from New York with super-wry sense of humour. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get the image of a mass of gay Ken dolls storming the doors of Mattel holding little Tom Cruise signs, out of my head. It was his first trip to Canada, I REALLY hope it’s not his last.

That1Guy: Okay, this is not going to be easy to explain. The guy is a classically trained bassist who wanted to find a way to be an interesting performance virtuoso with his instrument. So he did what anybody would: he went to Home Depot and made his own instrument out of plumbing, a/c, and electronic supplies.

So now he plays what he calls his magic pipe and a pair of electrified cowboy boots. Can’t say much more than that so hopefully the videos will help you to understand.

I became a That1Guy groupie for the weekend. The best part of the last workshop of his I went to was that Dan Bern hadn’t yet seen him perform and was absolutely flabbergasted by what he saw. The look on his face was priceless. He got up next to perform and the first thing out of his mouth was “goddam magic pipe players, they’re a dime a dozen these days,” followed by a sad little blow on his harmonica. Too funny. But Dan Bern is no shrug and had done a new ‘talkin’ blues’ this time dedicated to Ani Difranco. And while I do find Stephen Fearing a bit boring after a while, I have to admit his ode to the Friendly Giant was pretty darn good, and his second piece was greatly enriched by the fact that That1Guy played his magic pipe as a classical bass to accompany him. Finally, as smoke literally began to come out of his pipe, a crazy tornadoesque wind began to pick up and that temperature drop came out of nowhere.

The mighty wind (hah) did result in a couple hours of pouring rain which found me wrapped up in my table cloth like a crepe huddled with coffee. I can’t say I minded much for awhile as I find Matthew Sweet smug and boring. But I was much relieved to see the clouds part just in time for

Miss Ani D. Now I’d actually gone off of her stuff around the time of To the Teeth. I didn’t really like the direction she was going and I was finding her stuff a lot more miss than hit. However recently a friend suggested I revisit her stuff as he said she’d gone back to her old style. And happily, her performance proved him right.

What a great show. She played for a full hour and a half and we danced up a storm. She was in fine form. And she closed with one of my favourite Ani songs, (partly a fav because it was the very first song I ever learnt on guitar) Overlap. I’ve really been grooving on the lyrics lately…

I search your profile
for a translation
I study the conversation
like a map
'cause I know there is strength
in the differences between us
and I know there is comfort
where we overlap

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so I can see your silhouette
I hope
you have got all night
'cause I'm not done looking,
no, I'm not done looking yet

each one of us
wants a piece of the action
you can hear it in what we say
you can see it in what we do
we negotiate with chaos
for some sense of satisfaction
if you won't give it to me
at least give me a better view

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so I can see your silhouette
I hope
you have got all night
'cause I'm not done looking
I'm not done looking yet

I build each one of my songs
out of glass
so you can see me inside of them
I suppose
or you could just leave the image of me
in the background, I guess
and watch your own reflection superimposed

I build each one of my days out of hope
and I give that hope your name
and I don't know you that well
but it don't take much to tell
either you don't have the balls
or you don't feel the same

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so I can see your silhouette
I hope
you have got all night
'cause I'm not done looking
no, I'm not done looking yet

I search your profile for a translation
I study the conversation like a map
'cause I know there is strength
in the differences between us
and I know there is comfort
where we overlap

I have to say, this was a somewhat perfect ending to the weekend for me. The last (and only) time I’d seen Ani perform was in 2000, on the exact day my dad had gone into the hospital (unbeknownst to us for the last time) and obviously I was a bit distracted. I honestly do not remember a single thing from that evening, not one song. So it was really great to see her in this venue, at this time, when I really did feel like a “Joyful Girl.”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The City of Calgary: Where Yuppies Go to Die

(and spawn, and make money from exploiting human and environmental resources, and ignore the massive poverty and drug problems, and learn how to accessorize with tack gear and bolo ties)

I tried. I really did try.

Usually when I go down to Calgary my visit is pretty purposeful and it’s a quick n’ dirty foray. But this time I had a little extra time on my hands, so I figured I’d actually try and get to know the city a bit better, maybe I would come to not hate it. I’m afraid it’s just not to be, I just can’t warm to this city.

The area of town I was staying in was a wee bit sketchy, so it didn’t start off well. Okay, I was a little thrown off by all the poverty downtown, but I suppose that can be expected. It’s pretty much par for the course nowadays: massive economic boom = massive growth in poverty in downtown core. But what really threw me for a loop was the scale of the drug problem in the city. I had absolutely no idea it was so bad. And we’re not talking essentially non-drugs like THC. We’re talking hardcore crack, cocaine, and heroin. I had the dubious pleasure of startling a couple of meth-heads taking hits while walking home one evening (meth addicts of course being pretty much the last people you want to ‘startle’ doing anything).

And of course, there’s oppressive corporate feel of the Calgary. I’ve always kind of had that feeling when I’ve gone there. But as I wandered the downtown looking for a Starbucks (yes, I’m aware of the irony here, but I had a coupon and I’m broke, remember?) it became even more apparent. I stopped for a moment and looked up to see myself standing between “Banker’s Hall” and the “Oil Tower” and thought ‘nope, this is soooooo not the place for me’.

Kudos for the funky places on 17th, but I just can’t shake the feeling that despite the words on the ‘ole birth certificate, I just don’t belong in Cowtown.

But their folk fest is FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC! Details on that coming soon…

But hey, who says Calgary's homophobic?