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Showing posts from July, 2007

I can handle a jigger, I cuts a fine figure

Had a pretty bad case of the lazies, but at long last here is the first of a few entries about our Newfoundland trip.
A while back, we’d told my parents that the next time they returned to Newfoundland we’d like to tag along, and a few months ago they gave us the heads up that they were going back. It was a family reunion, but not really. One of our cousins caught wind of a seat sale and alerted the rest of the family, and then everyone made plans to go but completely independent of one another. I’d only been twice before, once when I was about six (nearly no recollection), and once when I was twelve (and I was bored to tears because there was sweet F.A. to do). We’d actually tried to go the year prior to that, but just outside of Kingston our Winnebago burned down on the side of the 401. (That’s a story for another time.)

We were invited to stay with my Dad’s cousins who live in Upper Gullies (about twenty-five minutes outside St. John’s). They practice an “our house is your house…

How the other half lives

I'm in the Executive Class lounge in the St. John's airport right now, and if I can find a way, I'll live here the rest of my life. Our original flight has been delayed, so they switched us over to another flight and bumped our tickets up to El-Swanko class. There's a self-serve bar complete with scotch, screech, port, and draft beer, internets are free, magazines are free, food is free: this is the very definition of good times.

We've been in Newfoundland since last Thursday. For those of you who keep track of our comings-and-goings solely through this blog (and I doubt that there's that many of you), I know it looks like we died pretty abruptly near the end of Bluesfest. Not the case, obviously. We missed the Friday and Saturday (due alternately to exhaustion and apathy), and then we caught Sam Roberts (freshly shorn and no less awesome for it) and the Solid Gold Dance Party (including such acts as Peaches and Herb, Anita Ward, and the Village People--th…

Didgeridoo or didgeridon’t?

So I’m a day behind, but Wednesday was a one-band day so I haven’t totally screwed myself. Bluesfest fatigue is setting in something fierce. We’re enjoying ourselves a lot, but damn I’ll be glad when this is over.

Wednesday was especially tiring because we played soccer before heading over. Our rec team (nameless no longer—we are The Wünderdogs!) played its first game of the summer season, and we kicked some serious ass. In the interest of full disclosure, the team we played had only met one another ten minutes before the game started, and we’d just picked up a new teammate who’s been playing soccer for 17 years, but whatever—our having won is the important part. And then we dragged our asses out to Lebreton to see the Steve Miller Band. They were fantastic, man. They sound exactly the same, and they played everything you’d want them to. Sarah’s favourite song is “Jet Airliner,” which is now also my favourite song. Just by the title, I always get it confused with something slow and psy…

Holy crap, was Randy Newman ever kick-ass

I would never ever have bought tickets to a Randy Newman show before seeing him last night. I considered it up there with going to see Jimmy Buffet; adult-contempo at best, novelty at worst. But he was funny, he was smart, and he was really engaging (unlike the shut-up-and-watch-me-perform styling of Bob Dylan). I would totally see him again and I would recommend him to pretty much anybody. Going in, I had this clip from the Family Guy pretty firmly entrenched in my head, and I think I sniggered through the first two songs, but then I was hooked. He’s got great stage patter: “This next song sums up the last 400 years of Western Civilization in two and a half minutes.” “A friend of mine had three sons and then a daughter. He told me once, ‘Randy, if we’d had the girl first, I would have thought the boys were retarded.’” He’s also, obviously, a pretty talented songwriter. There’s a darkly comic side to some of his stuff that I hadn’t heard until last night, “Political Science” …

Ah, to be an uninhibited Swede

Last night was a little lighter than Sunday, thank jebus. The first band we caught was In-Flight Safety out of Halifax. I knew them by name but nothing about them otherwise, and as it turns out I recognized about two of the songs (but didn’t catch the titles). They’ve got a Sam Roberts esthetic going on, lots of hair, beards in various states of completion. They were great though; they’re a really solid rock band. I always feel a little bad about the lack of dancing I see at concerts (which is a stupid way to feel because you couldn’t get me to dance unless you were dressed up as a cowboy and shooting at my feet). I see and partake in a lot of what I’ll call the Canadian Concert Dance, which involves bracing yourself on one foot, bouncing the heel of your other foot, and nodding your head to the beat. I can’t help but think that there’s more energy to found in audiences abroad. If we were all, I dunno… Swedes, then maybe we’d be jumping up and down and losing our minds. But s…

Seven bands, four stages, too many drinks

Last night, we caught seven different bands, some for a whole set but most for just a few songs. Clearly, it was our busiest Bluesfest day so far, and probably the busiest one there’ll be.

We showed up in the early afternoon to see Joel Plaskett. He actually played two shows yesterday—lucky for us, because the first show was in a small theatre inside the War Museum. Which only seats about 230 people. And we were 258 and 259. Bo-urns, we said. But then we walked over to the Black Sheep stage and caught a few songs by hometown band My Dad vs. Yours. They’re a hard-rocking instrumental group, and I really liked what I saw. Too bad the music was drowned out by my bellowing “Ottawa represent!” over and over and over. (This did not happen.)

After this, we saw Fight, Fight, Fight over at the River Stage, great venue, mediocre music. I guess they’re a punk band, but the line between rock and punk to me is pretty indistinct at times. I guess what makes them punk is that their lead singer was ter…
This'll be brief, because I'm pretty wiped out and we have a damn full day tomorrow. We caught three acts today. First it was Sarah Harmer, who played pretty much every song of hers that I know (and who's super hot, BTW). Rest assured that there is no studio trickery involved in producing her albums because she sounds exactly the same live. Great stuff. Sadly, the memory I'll really take away is of this douchebag who sat down near us about three songs in. He was probably in his mid-forties, half in the bag (I hope), and he would not shut up. He offered such insights as: "This isn't blues." And: "I came here to hear some blues." And: "Is it too much to ask that I hear some blues?" He was there for about half an hour, until Sarah Harmer started to talk about Canada becoming too militaristic. Then he offered this rebuttal: "Fuck off and play some music," and an older dude in front of him turned and had some very angry…

Cougar Rock

George Thorogood looks a hell of a lot better than last time I saw him, which wasn't actually in person but on a pay-per-view preview for one of his shows. (I saw the preview on illegal satellite TV if that makes the story spicier for you.) Back then, probably five or six years ago, George was carrying another fifty pounds. He was also rocking this sleeveless black shirt with neon green piping. And he had a pretty bad case of bye-bye arm. He's not exactly svelte these days, but he's looking a damn site better.

When we arrived, Sarah's first words were, "This is a different crowd tonight." True, indeed. A lot of... George's contemporaries, shall we say? But surprisingly, there was a huge youngster contingent. Some of them there to enjoy the show in an ironic way, I'm sure, but just as many there to rock out.

I recognized every third song, the classics like "Move It On Over," "Who Do You Love," and "One Bourbon, One Scot…

Eaaaaayyyebaady muss geht stooooooone!

I’m writing this very quickly over my lunch break because if I don’t do it now, I never will. It’s Bluesfest time in Ottawa, and after two years of saying we should go and totally not going, this year we’re actually going. I’ll try to keep up the daily updates, hence the urgency. If I end up getting four or five days behind I’ll be doomed.

The fest opened on Wednesday and Van Morrison was the headliner. Although we have festival wristbands, he was a late edition and they were charging extra for that show, so we said frig it and held off until last night. The whole thing is being held at Lebreton Flats, right beside the War Museum—a bit of a hike from our apartment but still doable. Thursday’s headliner was Bob Dylan. We didn’t recognize any of the acts, so he was pretty much our reason for going. I’m neither a fan nor not a fan, but how many times are you gonna get a chance to see that guy in your life?

We got there about forty minutes before Dylan came on, so we got to hear par…

Inside the Blogger's Studio

Welcome to the newest feature at Touch You Last: Interviewing the Blogroll. One by one I’ll be probing through the psyches of all the folks that I link to, lowering their defences, revealing their inner demons, possibly even rendering them incontinent.

My first interviewee is the smart and lovely Beth, from the blog formerly know as Thesis Writing Is Hell. I caught up with the good doctor at Au Bar, where I convinced her to climb down from the risers and answer a few quick questions…


You've been described as a freelance scientist, an educator, an artist, a model, and a social engineer. Which of these distinctions do you find impresses people the most?

Definitely social engineer. And I really do have some mad social engineering skillz - although I use them more for fun than profit. On the other hand, being able to say "I'm a scientist" has been a good pick-up line when a hot boy asks me what I do for a living. And I'm still astonished that the odd person appears to b…