ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms


Music and News05 Dec 2006

Harry Manx and Michael Kaeshammer are on tour together. One is the “essential link” between Indian classical music and Mississippi blues (and a big favorite of mine), the other is a boy-wonder jazz pianist. It seemed like an unlikely pairing but it worked very well.

Each played a short set of on their own, and then after intermission they played a set together.

I can’t say enough good things about Harry Manx. His CDs are great but they are nothing compared to hearing him live. I had goosebumps through his whole set, and the crowd response to his songs was huge. You can hear some samples at his website.

I hadn’t heard Michale Kaeshammer before. He’s quite an energetic piano player, and he did a lot of baning on / reaching inside the piano in the course of his set. He also played “with one hand behind his back” a bit – reaching behind him to play some notes on an electric keyboard set up behind his grand piano.

The first thing you realize when these two are on stage together is that they both have the same sense of humor: lame jokes mixed with the absurd.

Michael: “We traced my great-grandfather all the way back to Marie Antoinette. In fact, my great-grandmother traced him there several times.”

Harry: “I think I’m getting a call” *removes shoe, places it to his ear*.

And on and on in that vein.

Their combined set was very good, with a lot of interplay between them. They mostly did Harry’s blues songs with Michael accompanying, but he took the lead on a couple as well. Wonderful show, my only complaint was that it seemed a little short.

Music and News25 Mar 2006

Took the bus to Nova Scotia today, which was long, boring and tiring, as usual.

Mom picked me up at the bus station and we went and caught Spirit of the West playing live at the Casino.

More about the show in a minute. First: the casino. I’d been there before (for a Jeff Healey concert a few years ago) but had kind of forgotten. It’s a bit dreary, lots of older people in sweatpants sitting at slot machines. Mom said “In the ads, they always show people having lots of fun”. She insisted we walk around and look for people having fun. We saw a couple smiling faces at the blackjack tables and in the poker room, but mostly the mood was pretty sombre.

Friday nights at the casino are special nights: they have a chorus girl on floor. One solitary girl in a feathery green bikini and headdress. I always thought chorus girls operated as a group? As a chours, even? Apparently at the Halifax Casino chorus girls fly solo. And hand out strings of beads.

Anyway: the concert. We found our seats about 20 minutes before the band came on stage and looked around. And saw a lot of grey hair. I estimated I was the youngest person in the room by a good ten years. It looked like the crowd was just gamblers from the casino and not SoTW fans. I was worried there would be no energy for the band to feed off of and as a result the show would suck. I’ve liked Spirit of the West my whole life (that’s not hyperbole: they’ve been playing together for 23 years) and always wanted to see them live but never had the chance.

As they start time approached a few younger folks made their way into the room. Mom ran into a former student and two of her friends, and they sat with us. One of the girls knew the band and the another “had followed them on tour when I was fifteen”. Being there with a group of other fans really added to the experience.

The band played a great, high energy set. They mostly played their well-known stuff, but mixed in about five songs from their latest album. They are a fantastic live act and their songs have a whole new kind of life when being performed in front of you.

By the end I was up and dancing in front of the stage. Yes, you read that right: me, dancing. I was so close to the band I could have spit on John Mann’s shoes if I’d wanted too (he was drinking red wine between songs, hehe). I even slow-danced to a song. With a cute girl. :D

Music and News03 Mar 2006

Today I bought my first ever album from iTunes: “What the Toll Tells” by Two Gallants. I heard their song “Las Cruces Jail” on cbc the other week and was initially alarmed, convinced that the singer’s throat was going to explode at any moment. At the same time I was struck by the lyrics. “That’s some very assured song-writing for a couple 20-year-olds”, I said to myself.

After listening to the steaming audio from their website a few times I became less bothered by the vocal-chord-shredding singing and more taken with the music. There’s a wicked lyric in “Las Cruses Jail” (which is about a young man sentenced to die): “Desperate times call for desperate men / I’m just a kid but I’ll pretend”.

My rationale for buying the album was that I’d finished my marking early this week, and endured the form-filling-in that goes along with applying for a passport. Clearly I deserve a reward.

On the subject of exploding throats, I’ve had a sore throat since last Sunday which I’ve been expecting to turn into a full blown cold any day now. So far it hasn’t, and in fact the throat-soreness itself seems to be on the retreat. Hooray for drinking orange juice by the gallon.

Completing the passport application process necessitated a trip to the local passport office. I quite like government offices. The air inside somehow smells Canadian and every aspect of the place feels like it was very carefully constructed to specifications written over the course of 18 months by a six-member committee. In English and French.

The surveillance camera had a big sign under it that said “This area is under surveillance” for crying out loud.

So, why was I applying for a passport? Thought you’d never ask.

I’m going to Crete at the end of March! I didn’t really plan it, it just happened. My dad is going for work and I’m going to tag along and soak up all things Greek for a week. I’m quite excited.

That covers half the rationale for buying the new album. The other half (getting my marking done early) is because I’m leaving on Saturday to go to Nova Scotia for a few days. This, of course, means a long and tedious bus ride, but I can listen to my new music and read my new book on evolution (not to be confused with my old book on evolution. I know it would make sense to finish the old book before starting the new book, but the new book is thinner and thus more convenient for the bus. Besides, I’m in the middle of Copleston’s History of Philosophy Volume 1 Greece and Rome as well (speaking of Greece) so I figured that if two books on the go was good, three was better).

The new Evolution book came from my supervisor. I ran into him in the hall the other day and he said “Do you have any books on Evolution?”

“One or two” I said.

“Here, you can have this one” he said, and pressed a copy of The Theory of Evolution by John Maynard Smith into my hands. It’s a bit of a classic, which Smith says he wrote “for myself aged twenty, when I had a great curiosity about evolution but no formal training in biology.” Perfect for me, in other words.

The downside of the trip to Nova Scotia is that I’m going to miss Paradise Now at film co-op. Dang it. There are always trade-offs.

Links and Music01 Feb 2006

(Unless you’re in the habit of listening to Sweet Home Chicago, in which case, all bets are off).

I find Jian Ghomeshi to be vaguely irritating, but I’ve got hooked on his show The National Playlist. There are some good songs in the current top 10, including KD Lang doing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, but the song that’s been rattling around my head lately is “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens. I’d never heard of the man or the song until hearing it on the radio, but I guess that’s no surprise given my general aversion to keeping up with what the cool kids are into. If you click the preceding link you can have a listen for yourself.

Music and Musings13 Nov 2005

Normally I don’t like surreal stories. I usually don’t think they are interesting enough to be worth the effort. However, there are a few exceptions, and this webcomic is the latest: A Lesson is Learned, but the Damage is Irreversible.

Favorites include Getting Over Women and the Exclusive Interview with the Moon that accompanies this comic.

Normally I don’t like Hip Hop music. Yesterday I listened to DNTO and they played some hip hop by female Scot named MC Soom T (though presumably her parents call her something else). Her band has some sample tracks to download, and I’ve been listening compulsively.

Normally when I dream of unrealistically giant ocean waves rushing to drown me I wake up in a panic. The only difference between the tsunami dream I just had and the others is that in this one the waves came in the daylight.

Normally I am chased by giant walls of water in the dark.

Movies and Music and News04 Oct 2005

Went with some friends to see Serenity tonight. I haven’t watched firefly and I don’t always like Joss Weadon’s sense of humor, so I was a bit worried. I was pleasantly surprised. Except for some usual sci-fi physics screw ups (I’m sorry, you’re afraid to go through a region of space half the size of the solar system because there are a few Reavers floating around? Space, in case you hadn’t noticed, is really really big. You probably wont even meet a lot of hydrogen atoms, let alone a Reaver ship..) and some predictable elements, it is probably the finest space western you will watch this year. I was disappointed by the lack of cowboy hats, however. Also, strangely, I think I liked it more for having not seen the series – I could consider it as a stand-alone work and not suffer some of the minor irritations my friends reported. It actually seemed pretty self-contained, and for that reason didn’t really make me want to go out and watch the series.

The villain in Serenity was the best movie villain I have seen in ages.

Music! I ordered some cds from amazon and they arrived today. I got some new Harry Manx, a Dan Bern cd I’ve been wanting for a while, and some E. C. Scott. Right now I am listening to Mr. Manx play “That Irish Raga by Van Morrison” (crazy love) on his 20-stringed Indian slide guitar. I think this is what heaven sounds like.

Music and News and Photos18 Sep 2005

More Harvest Goodness.

Went to a Blues Guitar workshop with Colin Linden. This prompted me to want to put light strings on my acoustic guitar (been using mediums) so that I can finger pick more easily. With that in mind we went to the music store. While we were there I bought a new amplifier. Just like that. Going to guitar stores with Jamie is always a good time.

Ah, the infectious air of the harvest festival. Last year it prompted me to buy a guitar, so I guess this year I actually saved some money. Except, that rationalization doesn’t work because someone else paid for the guitar (thanks Aunt Marg!). Try this rationalization instead: it’s a tube amp (my old is solid-state) and it makes me sound like BB King.

We saw Redeye Mojo, who were decent, and Fruteland Jackson another time. He’s awesome. It was during his introduction to “Dust My Broom” that he uttered the line I borrowed for the title of this post.

New Amp Pics!

New amp
The new beast.

Epiphone Ad #1
It’s an Epiphone, like my guitar. Yay brand loyalty.

Epiphone ad #2
More home-made Epiphone promotional material.

Playing guitar.
I am playing very quietly because it is midnight.

Red vs Blue
Jamie’s guitar and amp. Mine is prettier.

He has manners, really.
He innocently said “Hey, we should try out that amp…”

Music and News17 Sep 2005

Saw a bunch more stuff today. Also, Jamie arrived on the bus, where he apparently had a deep conversation about the meaning of life with some random cute girl he met. Why doesn’t that ever happen to me on the bus?


Harry Manx simply rules. He started off by playing “An Irish Raga by van Morrison” (Crazy Love) on his many-stringed Indian slide guitar. He has a new hot-shot harp player sidekick who was very good. Crowd loved him and he got recognition applause on a couple songs. I love Harry Manx.

He played a Muddy Waters tune called “Can’t be satisfied”. Trouble is, Harry Manx is too nice to play that song (played properly it should knock the listener on his/her ass). Fortunately, Mr. Manx knows this, and made fun a little of himself. The harp player played “you are my sunshine” for his solo on that song…

They also played Hendrix, but not on a banjo this time.

Bought two new CDs: Fruteland Jackson and Dawn Tyler Watson. Both were good acts.

Saw Paul Reddick. I like Paul Reddick. Last time I saw him he had a less-than-good band and the show was so-so. This time he had an awesome band (Colin Linden, anyone?) and the show was… well..

When the hell did Paul Reddick decide to be a country western singer? :/

We liked some of the stuff he did, we just wish he’d done more blues and less twanging.

Tomorrow we will go hear him give a workshop on how to play blues harp.

Music and News16 Sep 2005

Harvest Update #2

I saw 5 bands tonight.

Matt Anderson. Local boy with a guitar and a big voice. Rather good. Also my age. *cries*. I also saw Little Feat, but I only stayed for a couple of songs. They didn’t make a huge impression on me.

I then made my way to the Mojo Tent for the second part of the evening. First up was the Marc André Léger band. Another local boy. Wicked good guitar player, decent vocals, did some cool stuff. At one point the lights went out in the middle of their set, but they just kept right on going, heedless of the smell of melted plastic that filled the air. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. I saw him last year when he was playing flamenco on a steel guitar. This year was pretty straight-ahead blues.

The next guy to come on stage was a cat from Louisiana by the name of Tab Benoit. He brought an alligator head on stage with him. His bass player looked like he was an extra in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”. He played his guitar with gusto and had a good voice too. He popped like 4 strings during the course of the show, but that didn’t seem to phase him. In fact, he had a guy with him whose whole job was restringing his guitars. The crowd liked him a lot and really got into it.

Up next was Mr. John Lee Hooker Jr. Waiting for him to get on stage I was a little nervous. I was thinking “He’s going to have to be pretty f***ing amazing to top the last two guys”. I was still pretty excited to see him, as John Lee Hooker Sr. is one of my favorites, but you never know with these youngsters using daddy’s name…

For the record: John Lee Hooker Jr. is pretty f***ing amazing.

His band (“The Hookers”) was damn hot too: guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, and only one white boy on stage. Man, even the guitar players got better and better as the night progressed.

I’m not actually going to try to describe the show he put on. I don’t have the words.

When he played “Boom Boom” (one of my favorite John Lee Hooker Sr. songs) I just stood there with an idiot grin on my face. Yeah, this is what I do instead of going to church.

I shook his hand and got an autographed CD. Go me.

Music and News14 Sep 2005

Harvest Fest! W0000t

Right. Preliminaries. Saw the STU Jazz ensemble. They weren’t bad. They had one girl who could sing quite well. Unfortunately for them she’s going to England to do a PhD. They’re going to miss her. They did one Louis Armstrong sing and the guy who sang did a pretty good impression of the man himself.

Bob Walsh. Bob Walsh! I think if his was the only show I made it to this week I would still feel like I had a good festival. He played a lot of blues standards and played them with authority. The only downside was that his guitar player didn’t really know how to play the blues. In fact, he didn’t even solo until about 5th song, which was a BB King tune (and it’s illegal to play BB King without a guitar solo). I was quite willing to overlook the guitar player, however, as the harp player seemed to know how to walk on water. The keyboard and bass weren’t bad either.

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