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Musician profiles

UNISON Music Fest – Night #2

After the way Gonch Messiah polished off Friday night, I knew Saturday would be insane.

The room filled quicker; the familiar faces were everywhere; it was insane.

The evening started with Mark & John (from The Get Down) playing a wonderful set that too many people didn’t see. This is why you come early to shows people.

Next up, JP & The Black Sheep got the room spinning with a high energy set.

Filling the middle slot for the evening was I’m Not Frank. At this point, I officially lost count how many bands Jon Fredriksen and Hamish Thomson play in together.

As Upper Levels took the stage, you could feel the room buzz. I’d spoken with all of them earlier and they were nervous. Nervous that they should have rehearsed more. Nervous that they just couldn’t cut it any more. Nervous. My response? “Fuck you. You’re Upper Levels.”

Ian Fergusen, sound man from The Sandy Cove introduced them. And then it started, the audio mindfuck that was, is, and always will be Upper Levels… all cranked to 11, of course. I snapped some hurried pics of the first bar of the first song because I wasn’t going to spend this set snapping pics. No sir. The time machine had cranked up to full power. Stephen Hawking says you can’t go back. I’m sorry sir, but you’re wrong. Almost two decades disappeared in an instant. Gone. Washed away by music that hasn’t aged a day. They just opened the bottle and it poured out from where they had left it.

Hamish Thomson has never made a bad decision about music. Until now. Whatever possessed him to ask a reeling, long-winded drunk to introduce them is beyond me. However, I was flattered by the request and graciously accepted.

In my introduction, I said that even with all the years I’d known them and all the years I’d been writing, I was still at a loss to describe Big Tall Garden. I still am.

They simply are the best. Even that isn’t good enough for them.

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UNISON Music Fest – Night #1

Last night (Friday, November 26), the North Shore Music faithful packed themselves into the Eagle’s Hall @ 170 W.3rd, North Vancouver.

It is all “Hall”, the kind of place you’d have a wedding reception for 100 people or so, but Hamish and his set-decorator/guitar impressario Duane Murrin, had the place looking awesome by showtime.

Laura Smith takes the stage around 8:30, her elfin frame barely filling the stage, but her voice certainly filling the room. It’s a great set of well-played toe tappers, all ending with an endearing smile and a quiet, “Thank you.”

Black Powder Toys power their way through a heartfelt accoustic set. They finish their set with a tip of their hat to The Sandy Cove, the West Vancouver beer hall where most of the people in the room tonight met in one way or another, and “Alive” by Pearl Jam. More than a few grey-haired heads crack a wistful smile.

Nearly two decades ago, I hung a straight jacket-clad Joe Hoskins upside down under a bridge. It wasn’t a fetish phase; it was a video shoot for Dead Head Miles’ track, “Suffocate”. So, when I heard Joe would be drumming tonight for Baked Potato, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Five minutes later, Twitter told the tale: Baked Potato: C- name. A+++ band. They are KILLING it. And they’re having fun too!

It was an absolutely amazing set that could have gone all night. I also wondered if the bass player’s moustache was a regular feature or a Movember thing because that piece of facial awesomeness could have single-handedly cured prostate cancer.

Ten Suns are, from what I could glean from Hamish, moving forward from where The Hermit left off because he wants to take The Hermit back to its origins and continue down the path it was on with Ten Suns. Yeah, I’m confused too. Anyway, none of that mattered when they play. It is melodic and high energy (Lead singer, Red, could get a rave going in an old folks home). In short: Kick ass.

*photographer’s gripe: fucking mic stands

Gonch Messiah… It was so good to see these guys back on stage again. About midway through their set, I think I finally got (after 18 or so years) what Gonch Messiah means as a band name: once they cut into the funk that is their living legacy, a lot of underwear was being led to the promised land on the dance floor. Love.

So a wonderful night was had by all. AND they’re doing it all again tonight (Saturday, November 27).

If this was the opening, I cannot wait for the close.

Tonight’s line-up:

Big Tall Garden w/ Upper Levels, I’m Not Frank, JP & The Black Sheep, and Mark & James

North Vancouver Eagles Hall, 170 West 3rd, North Vancouver. Doors @8. Music @ 8:30


SWAN[K!] Song

When I was 15, I went to Europe with my parents. We took the “Grand Tour” and I found myself face to face with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I also found myself in another of my bell-ringing arguments with my father. At the end of it all, stubborn and moody, I refused to climb the tower with the other tourists. A couple of years later, the tower was closed to the public for safety reasons and I had missed an opportunity that was truly once in a life time.

Twenty years later, I was at a sold out show at the Commodore. The Town Pants were having their first Boozapalooza to celebrate their 10 year anniversary as a band. I didn’t miss SWANK! that night; I kind of got so drunk that I forgot them. Unlike Pisa’s stone banana, however, it was an omission I could rectify.

Boozapalooza

The release party for Campfire Pslams remains the best album release party I have ever attended. The Railway club was filled with well wishing friends and partiers who got exactly what they came for. SWANK! played an acoustic set, followed by their friends singing karaoke versions of the songs from the new album (the karaoke disc came as an extra with the actual CD). The evening was capped off with SWANK! blowing the doors off the club in all their amplified glory.

SWANK! circa 1996

Why the nostalgia?

This Friday (Oct 1, 2010), SWANK! will play their final show. After 18 years of wearing out dancing shoes the world round, SWANK! are powering down the amps for the last time. They’ll be closing the second of the Sound Lounge Presents Concert Series with The Jardines and Jonathan Todd.

The Jardines will be playing with the full 8-person compliment on stage and Jonathan Todd, a stranger to me, who managed to wow the socks of Kirk Douglas recording at the Sound Lounge; not an easy task to be sure. It is destined to be an evening of Vancouver music legend.

In Ireland 2006

I lost my only chance to see Pisa from her leaning tower. I’ll be damned if I miss my last chance to see SWANK! perform as a band. For those of you who find this the first, last, and only chance to see SWANK!, do yourself a favour and head down to the Anza Club this Friday and write yourself into legend.

The Sound Lounge Presents

SWANK! w/

The Jardines & Jonathan Todd

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Anza Club

3 W 8th Ave
Vancouver, BC
(604) 876-7128

Tickets: $10


A Chat With The Jardines

Here’s a clip of the highlights from an interview I did with Cherelle and Ajaye Jardine, along with Michael Flunkert and Kirk Douglas at Sound Lounge Productions in Vancouver.

You can find out more about The Jardines HERE

Visit Sound Lounge Productions HERE

Come and see The Jardines play live with SWANK! (it’s their last show, their SWAN[K] Song I suppose) and Jonathan Todd at The Anza Club on October 1, 2010,


The Stumbler's Inn, Shiloh Lindsey, and Melissa Mills open the "Sound Lounge Presents" live concert series.

The first thing you notice about talking to Kirk Douglas is that Kirk Douglas talks to you. His hand gestures are no surprise. He is a musician and, therefore, speaks what he truly feels with his hands more often than not. But when you sit across the table from him, his blue-grey eyes lock on you from behind conservative glasses and you know he is telling you the truth.

We chat at Sound Lounge Productions, the recording studio he built from scratch, by hand, with his wife and father-in-law. Recording studios are like Narnian wardrobes: an unassuming facade (usually cinder block) hides a world of magic within. The Sound Lounge is no exception. Douglas is a musician who knows the value of a dollar and the absolute necessity of honesty. The albums produced in his recording studio are evidence of that. As we spoke, I glanced around at the albums hanging on the wall.

“I have that one,” I think to myself. “And that one, and that one…

A lot of amazing talent have sought out Douglas for his. He has a compilation album showcasing some of the musicians who have recorded at The Sound Lounge and tonight begins the first of “The Sound Lounge Presents” live concert series, three shows highlighting nine of the bands who have worked with Douglas.

Tonight The Stumbler’s Inn descend on the ANZA Club (3 West 8th, Vancouver) to release their new album, “Get It Right”. Recorded with Douglas at The Sound Lounge, “Get It Right” is a ten-song outing of pure Canadian music. It’s not blues, rock, or country but a well blended mix of all three. Alec Myrfield (vocals, guitar) pens tales, often sweeping or charmingly coarse. Once painstakingly arranged and orchestrated by the band, they finish as music best suited to grass underfoot than the stained hardwood of beer parlours.

Though there is no grass at the ANZA Club, it is a dance hall, and all the songs on “Get It Right” can be danced to. If they wanted to, The Stumbler’s Inn could play for over five hours and never play the same song twice. If your legs could take it, you could dance for all five hours.

Shiloh Lindsey returns to the ANZA stage having celebrated her album release for “Western Violence and Brief Sensuality” there in early June. If Lindsey is a songbird, she’s a hawk: Awesome to behold, soft to the touch, and equipped with talons that could rip your heart out without stopping for the ribs. I refer to her as music style as “Concrete Country” and to hear her play you’d know exactly what I meant.

Melissa Mills opens the evening with music from her recent release, “I Am Victorious”, recorded, of course, at Sound Lounge Productions and released June 4th, earlier this year. Her music is described as a “stunning, intricate tapestry with electronic, folk, and rock persuasions” and I for one cannot wait to see her play live.

The Sound Lounge Presents Concert Series #1

The Stumbler’s Inn with Shiloh Lindsey and Melissa Mills

Friday, August 6th at The ANZA Club, #3 West 8th, Vancouver, BC

For more music/musician related entries, please click HERE


Stumbler's Week Part 4: Alec Myrfield

Who are you? Alec Myrfield
Where are you? at home
Primary instrument? guitar
The  Stumbler’s Inn

First instrument? Sax
First public performance? Grade 6 band
Stage fright? No
Favourite show? Smokey and the Bandit
Least favourite music story? Emergenza
Favourite band/musician (at the moment)? Biggy Smalls
Favourite band/musician (all time)? Stompin’ Tom Conners
Ten years from now, where will you be (perfect answer)? Living like a hermit on my private island
Ten years from now, where will you be (probable answer)? Living like a hermit on my private island

The Stumbler’s Inn play Friday, August 6th, at The ANZA Club in Vancouver. It is the first of the “Sound Lounge Presents” concert series and the release party for their new album, “Get It Right”.  Shiloh Lindsey and Mellisa Mills open.

For more music/musician related entries, please click HERE


Stumbler's Week Part 3: Graham Myrfield

Who Are You? Graham Myrfield
Where Are You? The Milky Whey
Band? The Stumbler’s Inn

First Instrument? I started playing bass guitar and drums when I was 11 years old.

First Public Performance? I can’t remember a first show, but I know it wasn’t good, and I’m sure there were crying children.

Stage Fright? I become impatient before playing a show. I love playing music and need a lot of attention.

Favourite Show? My favorite show will always be the next one.

Least Favourite Music Story? Many moons ago when The Pic pub was still alive, the Stumblers and I had planned a CD release party. When we arrived to set up, they told us they were closed. Luckily in those years I was a drinker…hahaha

Favourite band/musician (at the moment)? Elton John, Fishbone, The Kinks, Leonard Cohen, Madness, The mamas and the Papas, Paul Simon…. my ADD loves variety. My indie artist list is too long, and I listen to the radio too.

Favourite band/musician (all time)? I do not have an all time favorite, but what I like, I love.

Ten years from now, where will you be (perfect answer)? My dreams for ten years from now are so large, words would not give them justice.

Ten years from now, where will you be (probable answer)? Falling asleep in a bowl of cereal.

The Stumbler’s Inn play Friday, August 6th, at The ANZA Club in Vancouver. It is the first of the “Sound Lounge Presents” concert series and the release party for their new album, “Get It Right”.  Shiloh Lindsey and Mellisa Mills open.

For more music/musician related entries, please click HERE