Friday, February 20, 2009

Let's drink to the boys that we all left behind.

Last night, I made my way out to George's for a show that no one seemed to know whether it started at 9 or at 10. I got there a little bit after 9, and it was quite obvious that it wasn't starting then, but that didn't really matter. I just sat and drank. But before I knew it, it was 10, and the sound check was just getting underway. Still next to no one in the whole of the Roadhouse. It wasn't until nearly 11 that a small crowd of about 15-20 people showed up and the band got underway. The opening act, due to a storm, couldn't make it, so the United Steelworkers of Montreal played a double set.

Now I really liked these guys. There are six of them, creating a mess of acoustic guitar and mandolin and banjo and accordion and playing some simply wonderful blue-collar union country music. The personality of the live show and Gern's over-the-top shouting and banter, it's incredible. He's a big hulking tattooed man with a little travel guitar, and on the other side of the stage you have the red-haired vixen that is Felicity with her accordion and equally harsh voice. I loved the show, just loved it. I'll be seeing them again next week in Saint John, and I really can't wait.

USWM - The Ballad of Mary Gallagher
USWM - Three Hard Knocks

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The dead dead children were worth it: Vancouver/Whistler Olympic Games!

SUCH a fantastic concert, holy mackerel. I don't know where to start.

I'll give you this much and retire for the night: Geoff's set started off with a bottle of Jameson being passed around the audience and then back to the band. Singularly wonderful stuff, this concert was. The quote in the title is from a song about government cutbacks..

Now here I am, writing a day on, and still a little bit in awe of the whole thing. Between and amidst songs, Geoff would make little comments here and there, stop the music and get to talking. The whole thing was just so amusing, so much fun to be around. The atmosphere at Struts, with the carpets down etc, it made it feel like it was just these guys playing in somebody's basement. It was the three of them, Geoff Berner with his accordion and singing, Diona Davies on the fiddle and Wayne Adams with a djembe and cymbals. The three of them work so well together, they're all just so damned talented, and so much fun. Stories were interspersed on the subject of eastern-european tours and just, my word. Diona's fiddling was magical, it really was. I don't know how else to describe it. But I'm in love with the fiddle, and with the accordion... songs about drinking, songs about smoking, songs about living hard. Folk music, real folk music, played in a dirty klezmer tradition. He held the audience, his good-hearted stories and sarcasm and wit and alcohol. The songs have a piquancy, if I can turn a phrase, that make them so wonderful to hear.

That, and the fact that the crowd was in stitches through half the show, make this one of the best I've yet been to. I'll upload music sometime. Keep an eye peeled.


Today, CBC Radio 3 has announced the Top 10 live music venues in Canada.

The list has been pared down from 100 over the last little while, per votes at their website. Finding the best club is going to be done the same way.

George's Fabulous Roadhouse, right here in Sackville, has made the Top 10.

Get to the site and vote your pretty little fingers off!

Another blast from the past.

Hawksley Workman was my gateway drug into real music. I first heard him when I was in grade 7 or grade 8, and really got into his music in 2002 when I got to high school, and got myself a copy of The Delicious Wolves. When I saw him, I forget if this was when I did in 2004 or when I almost did in 2005 but the show was cancelled at the last minute, I picked up an album of early recordings he'd done, back in 1998, and just put out. For one who thinks The Delicious Wolves/Almost A Full Moon were the last good albums he put out, this was exciting. And the music is delicious. So now I'm going to share a couple of tracks with you. Do enjoy.

Hawksley Workman - Every Creepy Pusher
Hawksley Workman - I Can Be A Rock
Hawksley Workman - Your Naked Body

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Life, it's strange. I'm not a big fan of some of the things in my life, at the moment. There are enough beautiful things to make it worthwhile, but, you know, some things should just be evacuated from my world. Take them away! Off with their heads! &c.

I also wish things would clean themselves. And papers would write themselves. And midterms would un-exist. And lots of things. I wish people were in different stages of living, different stages of life.

I wish I could just live music. That would be beautiful..

Monday, February 16, 2009



1. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Last of the Curious Thieves
2. Adam Mowery - Dead Teenagers
3. Joel Plaskett - Down At The Khyber
4. Alicia Penney - So What Do You Think?
5. The Weakerthans - One Great City!
6. Boxer the Horse - Jackson Leftfield
7. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers - Soldier's Waltz
8. Geoff Berner - The Whiskey
9. Old Man Luedecke - Big Group Breakfast
10. Matt & Chris Time - That Someone Special
11. The Superfantastics - Lullaby Punches
12. Kyrie Kristmanson - Jump
13. Shotgun & Jaybird - Re:Tired
14. The Port City Allstars - Jenny With the High Socks
15. Hey Rosetta! - Handshake the Gangster

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I've got to stay alive and drunk and unemployed.

This Wednesday, 18 February, Geoff Berner is playing at Struts Gallery, assumedly around 8. I can't find a time for this anywhere. I've given his latest albums a few listens, and it's enthralling.

He's an accordion-player from Vancouver whose mandate is to "drag klezmer music kicking and screaming back to the bars". Really, this is all that really needs to be said. He plays jewish klezmer music in a three-piece with a violinist and a drummer, but with the mind-set of punk music. It strikes me as having a lot in common with ska, but maybe I'm just crazy. I'll write a full review after the show, but for now you'll have to settle for a couple of songs. Take a listen! Enjoy the music! Come out to Struts!

Geoff Berner - Fukher
Geoff Berner - No Tobacco

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stay Fabulous, Sackville!

Surely you've read by now if you have any history following this blog of George's Fabulous Roadhouse. It's one of a few venues for music here in Sackville, and I rated it my best of 2008. Jason Collett, the Tom Fun Orchestra, Justin Rutledge, Wintersleep, Olenka & the Autumn Lovers, Plants & Animals, and countless countless others!

Fact is, the CBC has picked up on the awesomeitude of George's, and in a Radio 3 contest has first named it among the 100 best venues in the country, subject to voting and then becoming one of the 50 best, and it has recently made the cut, along with only two other East Coast venues (none in Halifax!), to the TOP 20 in Canada! Voting is now on from this Top 20 list to discover the best venue in Canada, and you can vote in the poll here. Please note: you will have to sign up for a Radio 3 account, but it only took me about two minutes, so it's not that difficult!

For those of you in Sackville, this Friday night there is a concert at George's, featuring he who has been dubbed Sackville's mascot, Shotgun Jimmie, alongside Construction & Destruction and Roy Earlington. Come out and cheer on George's Roadhouse for the title of Best Live Music Venue in Canada!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Your voice is stronger than most, raised in a toast to longing

This post has been a long time coming. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers have been the band to leave the biggest mark on me without hearing the album before seeing them live. The music has an eastern-european feel, hailing out of London, Ontario and Vancouver, BC.

Alexandra (or Olenka, may as well call her by her stage name, but I don't do it for Fred, so who knows..) was there at the front of the stage, wearing a knit sweater and workboots, her hair bleached blonde--she herself is such an interesting and distinctive frontpiece to the band. Her foot started stomping on that wooden stage at George's, the music began with the glockenspiel and the accordion, and her voice, oh my gosh the woman's voice! You'll hear, if you take a look at the songs I'm putting up... but it is at the same time fragile and powerful, damaged and warbling and beautiful. The band as an ensemble works perfectly, the bandmates acting as a chorus (which you just don't hear enough these days) and just everything about this act was brilliant. The songwriting, both in terms of the music and the lyrics, is phenomenal, evoking the eastern european heritage of the writer. A friend remarked to me at the time that Iron Pump is written in 7/4 time, and it creates just... oh, its one of those ethereal things. The whole song is. I could get lost in her voice, in the music, in everything. This is what we need more of.

If you'll remember, I ranked their full-length as the 9th best album of 2008. It is brilliant. Available through CD Baby and iTunes. Check it out, and their myspace! The highlight for me on the album is a track called Soldier's Waltz. Starting with that intro, the plucked strings and the accordion and the glockenspiel, and cutting into some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard [See the blog title]. Do not let yourself miss out on this group. They are among my favourites about which I've blogged, and, like I said in a previous post, the reason that concert was the second best of the year was not just an exceptional Tom Fun Orchestra set, but hearing Olenka & the Autumn Lovers for the first time, and falling absolutely in love.

Oh, Canadian music, shall you never fail me?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blast from the past III

Way back when vampires disintegrated in the sunlight, I went down to Halifax for a tour of Dalhousie University. The open house weekend happened to coincide with the Halifax Pop Explosion--my first Halifax Pop Explosion! This was 2005. I was 17. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, I found out, they were playing an all ages show as part of the Pop Explosion. Obviously, I convinced my compatriots to accompany me to this evening of awesomesauce and beards.

Sharp Like Knives, I've talked about before. I think. I've played them on my radio show, anyhow.
Femme Generation, I've talked about before.

North of America, however, I've overlooked.

Their last record was put out in 2003, and that was technically the end of the band, but they've come back together a few times since then, most notably for that 2005 tour with Ted Leo, ending on the HPX date. They sound like the turn of the millennium. They sound like everything you once loved, and hopefully still do. They're a gateway drug, they're a straight-up indie rock band who put on an awesome high-energy show, when I saw them. Totally fab. I hear they reunited again at last year's HPX, but I missed them. I have no regrets about my 2008 HPX experience, though. I would like to see them again, though, and see how they're holding up four years on.

The show closed with a massive clusterfuck, I don't know what else to call it. Ted Leo and his band were on stage and joined by the whole of North of America--which means two drumkits were on stage--and members from the other bands got up there, too. They played something incredible, but this old brain, he ain't what he used to be, and can't remember what that song was. All I know is Ted disappeared at the end of it. Just vanished. Pouf!

North of America - Let's Get Sick To Our Stomachs
North of America - Keep It On The Download

Monday, February 9, 2009



1. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Throw Me To The Rats
2. Jenocide - Powerhouse
3. Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees - Girls You Love
4. New Royalty - Buttercup
5. The Organizers - Our Expedition Goes Missing
6. Matt & Chris Time - Lucy & Disasters, Too
7. Old Man Luedecke - Ain't Goin' My Way
8. Jenn Grant - Parachutes
9. Clinton Charlton - Unamused
10. Julie Doiron - Snow Falls In November
11. Al Tuck - That's How She Goes
12. Construction & Destruction - Thresheld

Apparently we had some technical difficulties on our web stream. So: I'm sorry! Out of my control.

For those of you who did hear, my guest host was Neil Bonner, who is applying for the Tuesday/11pm slot. If he gets a show, it will be absolutely ace. So, you know, keep your ears peeled.

You said you were going to a party in St John's.

I just had the chance to hear Jenn Grant's new record, Echoes. As hard as it seems to believe, I found it to be so much more wonderful than Orchestra for the Moon ever could have dreamt of being. Everything on this one, Jenn's voice, the instrumentation and arrangements, the songwriting, everything about it is so much more than the previous. It floats all through the folk and country spectrum like her previous one, but does such a wonderful job. The first time I heard Orchestra, yeah, I fell in love, but I did skip over a few tracks. With Echoes, there is none of that. Every track is solid. Every track is golden. I'm having a hard time deciding which of them to put up here, to be honest. Really, you should run out as soon as you can and pick up this record. Have your local record store order it in, if you can't find it, or order it yourself online. Check out Jenn's myspace and take in the music there. This album is such a thing of beauty. And like I said, I loved Orchestra for the Moon... but this! This takes my breath away.

Its hard for me to, like I said, pick a highlight out of the record but if I had to I think it would be I Was Your Woman, which reminds me quite a bit of Sarah Slean (whom I adore). Jenn's voice is at its best here, showing off that quality that made me fall in love with it. I can't even describe the sound she creates, it's something words just can't do justice to. And the music!

She also throws a Neil Young cover on the album in the form of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, and I think I'm going to make that a blog tag because it comes up so frequently. I would put it up here, but then I'd feel like I was sharing too much. Go buy the album!

Jenn Grant - Heartbreaker
Jenn Grant - Parachutes
Jenn Grant - (I've Got) the Two of You

I'm going to leave it there. I have things to do. I'll say that Fireflies reminds me a lot of Dreamer, from Orchestra, but Dreamer 2.0, a vast improvement on that one. But now, adios! And do tune in tonight at midnight (atlantic time) to CHMA in Sackville for my radio programme!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I've been gone from the blogosphere a while due to a death in the family. I will be on the air tomorrow. I will post daily next week, so as to balance out the manquage.

Listen in, Mondays at midnight (atlantic time!).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So this is the fate of the great north woods.

A friend of mine happened to mention this guy, this John Connolly, during a conversation about the wonders of the music of the Maritimes, and I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a musician so quickly. This is the sound of the Maritimes, coming straight out of Charlottetown. This bloke makes roots-rock, country-blues, whatever you want to call it, you know the sound. It's beautiful. The voice, it's stunning. His myspace describes him as Springsteen-esque, and I can hear it--but not the Springsteen of the "Born" songs (to Run and in the USA), the ordinary guy & his guitar Springsteen. I'm also told he's won 2008 Album of the Year at the PEI Music Awards for his self-titled record (which is brilliant), and I hope the rest of the country becomes more aware of this man and his music. His is the sort that really could have a broad appeal, the ability to jump into that sort of Gordie Sampson quasi-mainstreamivity, without changing a thing about the music.

The album is solid as a whole, but there are a few stand-out tracks. It opens on what I think is probably the best song of the genre I've heard in a long time. For Old Time's Sake is a beautiful example of what this radio programming director's son is leaning toward calling crossover-country; the breathy (and in Morgan's words, "manly") vocals on this track and all through the record is the top selling point for me, I think. He's put on here a folk ballad about the Miramichi and its current state, its current problems, I'd even call it a protest song. "This old town's being broken down since the paper mill is closed." It gives me chills, I don't even know why. The song is just so impressive in any way, so says this New Brunswicker. I suppose you'd call a lot of the music backward-looking, focussed on the near past or the distant past, and I like this, as a history major & family historian, this is the mindset I tend to take--maybe that's part of the appeal, for me.

So Morgan, thank you for turning me on to this record, this musician. It's absolutely gorgeous and I simply cannot get enough of it.

John Connolly - Indian Summer

Monday, February 2, 2009



1. London Symphony Orchestra - The Final Countdown
2. The Fedoras - The Pocket Song
3. Eric's Trip - Eyes Shut
4. John Connolly - For Old Time's Sake
5. Hey Rosetta! - Yes! Yes! Yes!
6. Laura Barrett - Rien à déclarer
7. Adam Mowery - Shavin' With A Dull Razor
8. Sebastien Grainger - Love Can Be So Mean
9. Femme Generation - Semper Fi, Little Guy
10. Hilotrons - Emergency Street
11. Rebekah Higgs - My Feet
12. Port City - Just Another Dollar, Just Another Dime
13. Okkervil River - Omie Wise
14. Ghost Bees - Goldfish & Metermaids

My second show was kind of a mess, but I'm told I sounded nice. I also experimented with background music for PSA reading. Which put me on a game show. Oh, Herb Alpert!

Topics I meant to bring up but didn't:
The Groundhog Gale
More of the Halifax Pop Explosion: The Rural Alberta Advantage
The Weakerthans/Constantines at George's, tickets on sale!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'd like to rest my head on yours with the horses right there beside us.

Last night was interesting and slightly spur of the moment. I hadn't decided whether or not I was going to the concert until about an hour before I left. I'm glad I made the decision to go, though. It was an altogether beautiful night, I think, and rather a perfect start to this perfect month that will be February.

George's is a little bit of a walk from anywhere, it's well down the road, but every time I've made that walk it's been worth it. This time, the snow was coming down, but not so heavily as it could be noticed. Just heavily enough to be lovely, that snow that is beautiful and unnoticed as an inhibitor to anything. And then I arrived.

The show opened up with what might as well be CHMA's house band: Field Museum, who had recorded a little EP especially for the occasion. The band is Mark Brownlee, Matt Sarty, and now Corey Isenor. It was a pretty decent three-piece rock show, and it looked to me like they had an awful lot of fun up there. I, as I do, picked up one of their records. Production quality isn't the greatest, as is to be expected, but it's a good little recording, I think. And they put on a good show. And they're good guys. So, take a listen to their myspace or to this track here:

Field Museum - Kids in Town

Pat LePoidevin, I honestly never know what to say about this fellow. He makes some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. This time it was just him, his guitar, and his ukulele. And his looper pedal, of course. He creates such beautiful, layered sound, and his voice is to die for. The most beautiful part, I think, was when we as the crowd began singing along. His album doesn't come out until March 13th, but just about everyone there knows his music. Oh, Sackville, you fosterer of beauty, of community, of music! Even hungover Pat was too pleased by the singing of his words back to him by the crowd, his joy was apparent. The atmosphere in that place became so... perfect. I don't know how better to describe it. The communal joy...

Pat LePoidevin - Toumba, Texas

I'll be honest. Before his set started, I had never before heard the night's headliner, Justin Rutledge, but apparently he's kind of a big deal. His Neil Young-sounding folk music was interspersed with stories about inappropriate jokes, about Halifax Donairs, about Michael Ondaatje (with whom he is collaborating on a 'production'), after which he proceeded to play a song written about Cooper, a professional gambler from Ondaatje's novel Divisadero. At a later point in the night, he called Pat on stage for an impromptu cover of Neil Young's Harvest, with Pat playing his tin whistle to Justin's guitar and voice. It was quite a lovely cover, it must be said. I'm still overflowing with the joy of that night and the magic of symmetry, as you likely can tell. The night ended on a sing-along, dozens of us sat on the floor around the stage there in George's Roadhouse, and Justin sat on the edge of it, feeding us the words to Don't Be So Mean, Jellybean as we sang them out. It was a lovely moment in time, and a lovely cap to the night. I am almost too glad that I made the last-minute decision to get out to this show... simply beautiful.