Friday, 17 August 2012

Summerfolk, Summerjustplaincool

This installation begins in Vancouver. Beautiful, beautiful Vancouver. I have never been to Van when the weather has been so, dare I say it: Perfect.

So, The Beauties were hired to play the wedding of a celebrity. I was sworn under oath to not divulge the name of said celebrity on this blog...but just know that it was a comedian that I have the utmost respect for, and was honored to be in the company of so many actors and actresses I respect and adore.

Celebrity encounters have always fallen under the realm of the surreal for me. It's nice to know that most celebs I have encountered in my life have turned out to be fantastic souls. I don't gush over other musicians, generally...but comedians? I turn into a blathering mess. I have a deep appreciation for their timing and delivery. It's very akin to music in that sense. Plus, simply put, I just like to laugh as often as possible.

So, once the dust settles, I can probably divulge more names and tales. For now just know that it was possibly the coolest and most fun gig I have ever played.

But I digress...

After the wedding (which ended at 4am) we hopped on a plane from Vancouver to Regina. This was our first foray into The Regina Folk Fest, and they had us workshopping as soon as we hit the tarmack.

Workshops are exclusive to Canadian folk fests, and were originally used to keep traditional folk music and other world music alive. I've seen some of the greatest collaborations come out of these events. I've found more often than not that it's the least likely combinations that herald the most satisfying results.

We stared with a workshop hosted by Del Barber, and featuring us (The Beauties), Serena Ryder and the stacked lineup that is The Heartbroken. We were all pretty familiar with each others material, so the styles rarely strayed into unknown territory. Serena's new material I found to be very strong in particular. To hear her and Damnaiht Doyle harmonize is always a treat.

After that finished, we went off to another stage for a scheduled workshop with Great Lake Swimmers and Austra. Austra are kind of a wiccan-goth pop act, and GLS are a reverb-soaked folk/pop ensemble, so I was curious to see what we could collaborate on. I threw my hat into the ring first by throwing out "Play With Fire", a Stones song we like to play. It was the darkest version I have ever performed. The haunting voices of Austra enveloped the song with a shivering coo. Jay-Z recently tweeted that Austra was a band to watch. I'm curious to see where their output takes them.

We THEN played a "tweener" set...which I didn't get to do due to stage limitations...THEN we played the afterparty for the volunteers. 4 gigs in a day on no sleep can make for a peckish troupe. However, The Beauties realize that we could be doing something we hate for a living, so missing a few z's here and there can prove fun in the right state of mind.

I always get irked if musicians complain about playing too much. Have you ever worked drywall? Flooring? Built an olympic sized pool? I have. Suck it up, kids. We have it pretty good.

Fast forward. Tonight I played Summerfolk in Owen Sound with the incomparable Sarah Slean. I haven't played a show with her since our tour last year, so I was looking forward to playing with her, Paul Matthew, Karen Kosowski and Mark Mariash. Sarah always hires a band of the highest order and I am always honored to play with her. I am a fan of the consumate professional. Everyone shows up on time, knows the music inside out, and still carries a personal feel unique to the undividual. Stress is fleeting when these cards are in place.

"It's better to be an hour early, than a minute late."

Or something like that. Shakespeare, I believe.

Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Royal Wood and his band perform pleasing pitch-perfect piano pop.

Sorry, I couldn't resist writing that.

What a band Royal has compiled. Dean Droulliard is a tone collecter to the highest degree. Everything in his pedalboard is boutique, but with a place and purpose. If you don't know how to play to a song, no pedal in the world will bail out your sinking boat.

Steve Zsarai is a stoic bassist, and great harmonizer. More bassists need to sing. He's in demand for a reason. 

You want gigs?
Sing as well as you play.

This also applies to Royal's drummer Adam Warner. He's the perfect mix of flair and function. A lefty who plays on a right handed drum kit, "open-handed", will always catch my eye. Plus he sings. The whole band sang.

I think it's important to any live show to have everyone singing. It's so much more engaging for the audience.

There are no wrong notes, if they are always delivered with conviction.


May all of your Riots be of the Pussy persuasion.

Love your own face.


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