Music


I’ve been blessed with two incredibly good days.

Yesterday

First of all, it was my day-off. And I was feeling physically well. It was partly spent at Regent College, where Dot and I registered for a writing course to be taught by one of my favourite contemporary writers. Bought my required texts for the course from the very addictive bookstore there and then took the opportunity to check out the newly renovated and expanded library.

Because thefourthpotato happened to lunch at the University Golf Club nearby, we made plans to meet him in the atrium at Regent. He has come all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun to celebrate the J&J wedding this past weekend. Because he’s only staying for two weeks, we’ve been making plans to meet up whenever possible.

We also looked up Joe, who works in the IT department at Regent. He played host to us by treating us all to coffee and tea at The Well, a coffee shop that shares space with the bookstore. As we leisurely sipped our hot beverages, we amused ourselves and each other by talking piffle.

Afterwards Dot, Derek, and I went down to Spanish Banks for a walk. We walked as far as the concession stand, where we picked up some snacks to tide us over to dinner. Then we made our way to the beach, sat on a log to enjoy the view, and talked more nonsense.

Dot and I had an early dinner with Cat and Yvonne at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Derek came along for the ride and just watched us eat, as he had separate dinner plans. It was my first time there, and I was impressed. The toppings lean towards the gourmet and the crusts are not greasy at all, being made out of flatbread. Because I can’t stand the feeling of grease on my hands, I generally pooh-pooh eating pizza, unless I absolutely have to out of convenience. So I’m happy to know there are options out there for high maintenance people like me.

After dinner, we went to the end-of-the-season Chor Leoni concert held in the Bard on the Beach Mainstage Tent at Vanier Park. It was two and a half hours of good fun and music that I could relive over and over again. I’ve attended a few of their summer concerts over the years, and I notice that the performances have become more choreographed, cheeky, and playful. A very naughty rendition of the panto, “If I Were Not Upon the Stage,” had everyone in stitches. Some special guest appearances: Judith Forst and Dal Richards.

Spent from laughing so hard, Dot and I grabbed a late night snack at a HK cafe where we did some catching up.

So a very satisfying day it was, filled with good friends, books, and music.

I’ll try to write about today tomorrow.

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Yesterday, in between social engagements, I amazingly managed to squeeze in a trip to the Park Theatre to watch Once. I was first alerted to this movie by Nick, who asked me to pick up the soundtrack for him in NYC. A low budget production that won an award at the 2007 Sundance Film Fest, this modern day “musical” (if you had to call it something) stars musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who play a Guy and Girl whose relationship develops in a such way that seamlessly and brilliantly integrates the music with the storyline. Visually, it has a very raw and grass roots feel; parts of the film are shot like a documentary. If you like acoustic guitar music and appreciate the creative, collaborative process of music-making, this film is for you (especially you, coko). The music is achingly poignant and expressive, underscored by the unresolved (oh, did I just give it away?), romantic tension in the relationship between Guy and Girl.

Here’s a live performance by Hansard and Irglova of one of the more popular songs from the soundtrack, “Falling Slowly”:

Wowee! In addition to seeing Itzhak Perlman, Kevin Spacey in the Moon for the Misbegotten, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Avenue Q, I’m going to seeing Björk in New York at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem! I can hardly believe that I get to see her at practically the beginning of her tour. I fully expect a unique spectacle and aural experience! (Apparently, there’s going to be a ten-piece female brass ensemble.)

Online ticket sales started yesterday at 7am, which Anita, a huge fan, got up for. (She also got tickets to see Björk perform in Deer Lake Park on May 23rd a couple weeks after the NY concert.)

Björk in New York!” I love saying that.

The fellow I take transit with to work came back recently from NYC and highly recommended Avenue Q. I wasn’t sure about it at first because I had all these other things I want see (plus I’m on a tight budget), but after listening to the original Broadway soundtrack (which the library readily had on the shelf), I’m warming up to the possibility, especially after discovering a song called “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?”

The musical is quite obnoxious and offensive, full of black humour and edge, but it is clever and cheeky; it gets away with murder because it features puppets as main characters. My favourite number is “It Sucks to Be Me.” I crack up every time I hear it:

My itinerary is starting to take shape, with plenty of flexibility in between commitments. So far, I’ve got to tickets to see:

I only care because I’m a Sufjan Stevens fan. Apparently, only the state of Illinois recognizes Casimir Pulaski Day as an official holiday. It falls on the first Monday of March. Asthmatic Kitty Records has issued some background info on Pulaski as well as a demo of Sufjan’s heartbreaking song about a close friend who dies on this day:

Those lucky Illinoisans. Unless Easter comes early, we Canadians don’t have a stat holiday in March. Nor do we have one in February, making for a seemingly long winter.

Greenroom is one of my favourite local funk bands that I discovered through Jamie Hovorka, who used to play trumpet for the group. I don’t know if they are still around actually, but if you can, GO SEE THEM LIVE. Greenroom is a fun group of guys; they really know how to get a crowd going, especially when playing in their red track suits! I saw them perform only a couple times, once at the Arts Club Lounge, and the other time at the Jazz Fest (though they are not really a jazz group) back in 2003. My favourite tracks from their album Connect are “Dimentia Five” and “Milkman” (with Lindsay Davis, formerly of The Colorifics, aka Lily Frost).

Woot! NYC–here I come! Today, my boss gave me the green light to take 3 weeks off in May for my trip to NY-Philadelphia. I’m going to book my flight this later on this week. Went to my parents’ tonight to discuss the particulars with everyone going, including Rupert and Anita.

Originally, I was planning only to stay for a couple weeks, but decided to go an extra week earlier to be with my mom and dad. Though a little leery of vacationing with a family of adults (and the extra costs), I do think it’s special to be fully present with immediate family in NYC, especially since we have roots there.

Two of the musicals I really want to see (The Drowsy Chaperone and The Producers) are indeed running on Broadway, so here’s a cover performed by my favourite funk band that looks ahead to that:

On Broadway
words and music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
performed by: LMT Connection
recording: Outta Control (1999, Impression Records)

(If you visit their myspace site, be sure to play the video of their live performance on BB King’s 80th Birthday Tour. Leroy Emmanuel on his green guitar is hot stuff! Joel Parisien and Mark Rogers from NEWWORLDSON plays for the band as well.)

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