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Posts tagged “blue buses

This is NOT a pub crawl

Okay, maybe a little. I prefer to think of it as a “leisurely cocktail walk“.

I have been blessed with many things in this life; a good cocktail bar was not one of them. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the Squarerigger Pub, my “local” (Crystal and Scott pour a mean “dirty”), and I will still go to pretty much any venue to see/hear good music but I wanted a cocktail bar, somewhere hip and cool and ridiculously overpriced. So last night, I started holding auditions.

5:30 pm – The Squarerigger Pub, 150-1425 Marine Drive, West Vancouver.

Beer. A pitcher of Sleemans Original $9.99. $13 after tax and 16% tip.

I like the Rigger. Anyone who knows me knows I spend most of my time out here. It’s a great place to watch a game and the downstairs section is just itchin’ to host your party. I recommend coming down during the day for a cup of coffee and annoying the manager, Scott, while he tries to get some work done. It’s my new favourite thing.

7:30 pm – George Ultra Lounge, 1137 Hamilton Street, Vancouver.

Aviation: Beefeater gin, maraschino liqueur and fresh lemon juice, served up and finished with violet liqueur. $11. $15 after tax and a 22% tip.

Essentially a Mike’s Hard Lemonade made with Gin. It is simple but good. It was also my server’s favourite.

I have no idea what an Ultra lounge is but whatever it is, I have a sneaking suspicion that George is it. The lighting is at the perfect setting for apres-business or pre-sex. Take your pick. The staff are all beautiful (women and men) and clad in black. It’s definitely Yaletown in here. As I continue to sip my cocktail (apparently in places like this, sipping is appropriate – not a lot of beerpong going on in here), it actually gets better. My heartburn doesn’t but that’s not the cocktail’s fault. The lovely Alexandra brings me my bill and I am off. I am coming back to be sure. George also gets an extra point because it is a chip shot away from my lawyer’s office. Always handy.

8:10pm – The Morrissey Pub, 1227 Granville Street, Vancouver.

Classic “dirty” martini. $12.05.

1516 beer. $5.50 (after tax)

$25 after tax and a 31% tip (and a free beer).

This one was a bit of a cheater. I’ve been here before and really quite like it. It really isn’t a cocktail place either. But that doesn’t stop them from serving some of the best martinis I’ve ever had. According to the bartender, they are more of a “beer and scotch” type place. And they’re pure rock and roll. You’re going to find more lip piercings and plaid in here than you would suits and Italian shoes. The stereo sounds like my iPod and the bartender is a slightly shorter, bearded version of Graham Myrfield in appearance and attitude. This is a good thing. I get the impression that a lot of the customers have forgotten more about Vancouver’s music scene than I’ll ever know and I have to stifle a sigh as the two lovely young ladies beside me drink Jameson’s with beer chasers… Honey, I’m home!

9:45ish pm – The Keefer Bar, 135 Keefer Street, Vancouver.

I don’t know. I just said “Dealer’s Choice” and got this: Famous Grouse scotch, sweet vermouth, artichoke vermouth, maraschino liqueur, with Peychauds and Angustura bitters. $12.50 after tax. $15 with 20% tip.

Now THIS is a cocktail. Plus service with a smile.

Now, for starters, the Keefer Bar is small. It’s cozy and great, but it’s small. If you plan on going there, go early. I meant to be there around 9:30 but the bartender at the Morrissey Pub queered the deal by comping me a beer. So I pour myself in at around 9:45ish and the place is packed. The burlesque show starts at 10. There is one empty stool at the bar. I asked if it’s being used and the woman kindly responds that she’s pretty sure it is but she’s not sure by who.

The MC takes to the stage. She cracks wise and plays some tunes to get the crowd primed. Lola Frost does her routine to Mancini’s “Pink Panther”. It’s killer. I think this is the third time I’ve seen Lola perform. The other two times, she was dancing with Villainy Loveless (as “The Switchblade Sisters”) as part of Shiloh Lindsey’s stage show. There was a routine with a wind-up doll that made me happy in all the right places. Good times. Great hootch and pasties? How can you go wrong? After the set, the woman I spoke to about the stool earlier comes over and tells me the stool is free. I thank her but tell her I’m quite enjoying being in everyone’s way. It was standing room only and the ladies on stage deserved it. So did the Wee Keefer for that matter. I chase my nameless-but-awesome cocktail with a Blue Buck lager and hit the streets once more.

11:05pm – Bus.

11:20pm – The Squarerigger Pub, 150-1425 Marine Drive, West Vancouver.

Beer. Sleemans Original. $6.15 with tax and 15% tip.

So I’m back at The Rigger for about five minutes when the wild & wonderful Miss Lori Roberge comes rumbling in. After surviving her harrowing drive across North America, she has returned to Vancouver only to have someone swipe her glasses. So if you know someone who frequents Darby’s Pub (2001 Macdonald Street, Vancouver) who suddenly has a new pair of glasses that look like these:

Kick some ass WITHOUT breaking the frames and let me know.

All in all it was a fun night. I’ll let y’all know when the next round of auditions is being held and we can go for a “leisurely cocktail walk” together.


Two Weeks of Vancouver Fun: Femke van Delft, The Pack AD, and Shiloh Lindsey

I wish I could tell you I’ve been really busy but, truth be told, I’ve just been sluffing off, watching TV, and gaining weight. Joy. The last two weeks have actually brought a few things that I should have been writing about so I will do that now.

Thursday before last (June 3rd), I was at the Railway Club for the opening party of Femke van Delft’s exhibit, “The F-Stops Here”. If you couldn’t figure it out from the clever title, it’s a photography exhibit, specifically concert/live shots.

Femke is the first to say hello when I get there. We take a moment to remind each other where we know each other from (standing too close to the Railway Club stage on a few occasions) and she thanks me for coming. Femke works the room, saying hello to anyone and everyone who doesn’t say hello first, with the self-deprecating yet strangely confident air of an artist. Later on, she sits with me (while her salmon burger gets cold), flipping through a portfolio of her work. Her photos require little or no explanation but the little stories behind the photos are great. These are the pictures I want to take. They are not just a case of access; she certainly has an eye for this. Paparazzi in LA get paid for badly framed pictures of Jennifer Aniston buying sandals whereas photogs like Femke don’t get paid for taking amazing shots of not-so-famous people doing what they do best. It is a real shame. That’s why it is so good to see local talent have nights like this. It’s a chance for friends, acquaintances, and strangers to get a first hand look at how good they really are. A friend had gone to see Ricky Powell at the Fortune Sound Club the night before and said he was a drunken, stuck up mess. Femke is by no means sober; this is her party and she enjoys it. Unlike Powell, however, when she gets up to address the crowd, she is funny, welcoming, and above all gracious.

Femke introduces the first musical act for the evening, Alexa Bardach (who also plays guitar for the East Vamps). I have no idea what to expect when the music starts and my first reaction is, “Oh… Okay.” To me it’s not so much music in the “record store section” sense; it’s more of a sound poem or picture. It’s about choices: why this sound with that effect. If you surrender to it, and just let it be what it’s going to be, it washes over you like a warm wave and is nearly trance inducing. I would be very interested to watch (hear) the process of putting this piece together. I assume it might be like my afternoon sessions in my kitchen, playing with tastes in a dress rehearsal, a week or so before the dinner party, finding what does or doesn’t fit together. It’s cool stuff.

I wish that I could stay longer but I must be off. I say goodnight to Femke and give her my congratulations again. We promise each other it won’t be another six months before we see each other again.

Friday (June 4) finds me sucking back cheap cans of PBR at The Biltmore Cabaret waiting for The Pack AD to take the stage. The Biltmore is sold out tonight and slowly begins to fill. For those of you who still haven’t made it out to The Biltmore for a show, for gawd’s sake, go! It’s still dark and downstairs but by no means the cesspool dungeon it used to be. It is a venue with a bar, not a bar with a stage.

The Pack AD start their set around 9:45. They’re awesome, okay? I’ve seen them play a few times and they keep getting better, closer, tighter. I know what you’re thinking but your wrong. The more a band plays is not always a guarantee that they’ll get better. I’ve actually seen bands that get worse the longer they play. I once said before that where most people eat, sleep, and drink, “The Pack AD tour.” It’s true and their stage act has been honed into a well-oiled but thunderous Rock ‘n’ Roll machine. They have a new album out, We Kill Computers, and the new songs are awesome.

Watching these ladies play live is something of a marathon. Maya’s kick drum and snare work alternately as artillery and infantry and get right into your skull. And I’m still trying to imagine how such a large sound (guitar & vocals) manages to erupt from such a slight package as Becky Black. Becky, I’m certain, is the reason sound guys/gals bolt their gear into racks. Every compressor in the room wants to run for cover when Becky leans into the mic and gets ready to let loose. The Pack AD slay and there are no two ways about it.

Again, I have to ditch before The Sadies play. It’s nothing personal of course. If it weren’t for my ongoing battle with North Shore buses, I’d of stayed to catch what I’m assured would be an awesome set.

After a less-than-entertaining downtown footrace, I manage to catch my bus at the last possible stop because a couple of tourists don’t take the driver’s word for it that the fair box doesn’t accept bills. My favourite part of the night? Sprinting, two steps at a time, up the immobile centre escalator at the Granville Skytrain station (yeah, that one) and still missing my freakin’ bus by 30 damned seconds.

The next few days pass uneventfully except for painting a bar one night. Let me tell you: beers, shots, and wood stain make for one hell of a hangover.

Thursday (June 10) and I’m back on Main Street headed to the Anza Club to see Shiloh Lindsey play for her record release party.

Eldorado kicks off the evening with a great set. I’ve missed seeing them by five minutes a few times. Tonight I arrive early enough to make sure I see the whole thing. I’m glad I did. The music is fun. Now, I don’t mean “fun” in the “church groups wearing matching shirts singing Jesus camp songs” fun. I mean put a smile on your face and enjoy your life fun. The bass player is so relaxed he reclines on a stool. That’s what it looks like until I kick myself for not noticing he’s got a broken foot. Yay me. By the end of the set I have convinced myself I’m in love with Angela Fama.


SWANK! takes the stage as The Swank String Band. Kirk Douglas makes his way out from behind the drum kit and joins the rest of the boys of the front line. It’s a loose but energy packed set. Swank are incapable of “phoning in” a set; they’re too good to be bad. But with all the smiling and impromptu banter going on, one soon gets the impression that The Swank String Band are here tonight to have a great time with their friend Shiloh on her big night. If you’re looking for one hell of a party, make sure SWANK! rsvp’s. If you’re looking for the best damn campfire sing-a-long known to human existence, invite The Swank String Band. Also, for the record, Bone Rattle Music is not the place to go to swipe sunglasses if you’re so inclined.

Earlier in the evening, I hear Shiloh discussing “the dress” and whether or not she’s going to wear it tonight. She wears it. It’s a beauty and a throwback  to the days when Country & Western music had royalty, unlike the jesters that seem to be holding court these days. Shiloh’s set is the best I’ve heard from her, and that is saying something. Shiloh’s voice has always been able to cut through me and tonight is no exception, but there is a point in “Figurines of Faith” where her voice takes a tone I haven’t heard before. One name jumps to mind: Melanie Safka. Yes, she’s the one who sang that ridiculous “Rollerskates” song, but I’m thinking more of the deep tones of “Candles in the Rain” here.


Up until tonight, I would never heckle Shiloh onstage, but after watching how a rowdy “fan” was wrestled into submission by The Switchblade Sisters (burlesque performers Villainy Loveless and Lola Frost), I’m seriously considering it. Shiloh uses the comedic interlude to change into the more recognizable jeans and western dress shirt. She apologizes that the costume change took longer than expected and explains, “There’s boys in there,” with a nod over the shoulder to the backstage area.

The rest of the set is pure Western romp. James Wood and Graham Myrfield join Shiloh on stage to sing background on “Tired of Drinking” and Chad Taylor lends his trumpet (which any Ennio Morricone fan can tell you most certainly is a western instrument) to add the ghosts to “Head In My Grave”.

The Switchblade Sisters make another appearance and I can’t figure out why, as I look at the rear display on my camera adjusting the settings, my auto-focus servo continually whines as it locks and unlocks, until I look up and see two sets of pasties swirling in front of the stage. I can understand why the camera can’t focus as I seem to have the same problem at the moment. I think I just fell in love again. Sorry Angela.

I hit the road after Shiloh’s set (apologies to Rich Hope). Us West Vancouver boys don’t turn into pumpkins at midnight but our buses sure as shit do. As I walk down Main Street towards the Skytrain station, I ask myself the same question I always ask on this particular and all too familiar walk: Why the hell don’t I just bite the bullet and move out here?

It is certainly food for thought.

Read more music related posts HERE.


Granville Pt. 2: fashion

I’ve always been interested in people’s sense of style. This is just a sampling of the people who walked past in the hour or so I was sitting on Granville. I once heard that if you sit in one spot for long enough, the entire world will pass you by. Really quite boring when you think about it. Heh.



Granville Pt. 1

First thing, I need a new lens; people hunting without a good telephoto can be problematic. Candid shots are always the best shots (for my dime) but when people find out you’re taking their picture one of two things tends to happen: either they pose or they get pissed off. The later creates some good pictures but the resulting mayhem isn’t always fun. Keep in mind, however, that so long as you’re on a public street, The Charter favours my camera over your privacy.

The day starts with a pack of smokes.  Jump off the bus in Dundarave to stop into Harry’s. Harry is long gone but Harry’s remains. Any stop in Dundarave means a visit to Jim’s Hardware. It’s got more soul than the Vatican and very likely any weird thing you need but can’t find in that kitchen drawer.

Next stop, Granville.

Granville, as per always, is jumping with people. Let the hunt begin…

File this one under “Things You Don’t See Everyday”

More to follow…


Looking for shots in Vancouver or on North Shore

So, as part of  unleashing The Year of Baron on Vancouver and the surrounding area, I’d like to document as much of this city as I possibly can with my camera. It’s always exciting to explore and find your own shots but if there are any spots in this city that you feel are worth taking a snap of, please let me know. Also, beyond the pictures: Where do I get a great cheap meal? Where do I get a good expensive meal? Best cup of coffee? Best loaf of bread? Etc?

The Year of Baron will be the Year of [Re]Discovering Vancouver. Let’s do it together, shall we?


I've certainly been drier…

It’s been a long time since I’ve noticed puddles. Living in Vancouver, noticing a puddle is like thinking you hear a rumble standing on the tarmac as a 747 rolls by. With the past economic crisis fresh in my mind, I think of the “staycation,” the recession-fuelled vacation in your backyard. Vancouver is truly one of the world’s most beautiful cities and there are still a lot of interesting things to do if you’re willing to peel away a bit of the veneer. An old school friend and new e-muse delights in puddles. She also knows things about this city I never picked up on, despite the fact that I’ve been walking these streets close to 15 years longer than she has.

It is time for my “staycation.” I ended the year (well, very nearly) walking the streets of Toronto, trying to take it in. I think part of “2010: The Year of Baron” must include more of this city. With the Olympic invasion force knocking at our gates, I think this will be the year to find out just what this city is capable of: good, bad, or otherwise.

Armed with a camera, my pen, my five senses, and a desire to strip these streets bare, I will rediscover the town that has always been my home, one walk at a time.

I start with a pier and a coffee and I smile as this city can turn any colour photo black and white when it feels like it.