Upon arrival in Edmonton, I vowed to jump into the city’s music life, and the experimental/sound art scene in particular. I’d contacted my earlier acquaintances in the area, Shawn Pinchbeck and Gary James Joynes, to let them know I was here for any future happenings. So when I found out about SONAR, at the University of Alberta Museums Enterprise Square Galleries, it was a sonic treat I couldn’t refuse. The exhibition featured sound projects through recordings, interactive environments, and installations referencing noise, electroacoustic, experimental and minimalist sound art practices. And Shawn, Gary and Scott Smallwood were performing as Trio Latitude for the opening! I brought my camera and took some pics and video of the show. I didn’t get much time to view the artwork on display, but it did fuel some excitement for what kinds of inspired projects are being made – like cassette tape work from Parker Thiessen and accordions in various environs by Raylene Campbell. Afterwards, I went for celebratory beer and food with Trio Latitude and I spun a few Newfoundland tales. They all said they were glad to see me in Edmonton, and I couldn’t agree more.
So it’s been almost a year since the last post. Why? Life moves, y’all. And you move with it. Sometimes online social posturing takes a back seat while you manage other tasks or ignore them altogether. And lots has happened, inevitable as death itself. So let’s not recap, and I’ll instead tell you I planned to try my iPad app to let me post here after taking some choice shots of the last two nights of homemade burgers I made and devoured. Thing was, it was on my fancy camera, so I dropped the files to my Google Drive in the hopes of accessing the pics. To my dismay, no. So instead I put on display some earlier art I made from a beauty screenshot of Abe Vigoda, who’s been in the news as deceased. For real! On that note, I wish everyone a joyous National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, a thank you to February for all time, and I made another RPM record, suckas! More to follow!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’d returned safely to the ‘City Of Legends’, St. John’s, from my exploratory sojourn in Western Canada. And as much as I feel slightly defeated by my inability to securely transplant into those new surroundings, I feel okay about it because I am here. Not much has changed in six months, but enough for me to notice — the downtown construction of new buildings continues, and the landscape of businesses shifts ever-so-slightly. The things that haven’t changed are what keep me smiling here, which I’ll outline for you now.
Last week, after a rousing Beatles jam session with my good pals in Ad Lib To Fade (as a seven-year garage jam band drummer), I wanted to drop in on some Water Street sounds. I’d been curious to see how The Black Sheep was doing with their now regular lineup of musicians, and to hear how the room felt. My buddy Brad Jefford was playing guitar with his latest jazz trio ‘plus’ for his fresh Wednesday jam location, and they were really cooking, nestled in the front corner and mere feet away from my lean-to at the bar. I could see why musicians were playing there, cozy and intimate as it was with the patrons inside. It was also the week we hosted the East Coast Music Awards, so there were some early bodies floating about. Splendid time out.
On Friday I managed to catch some of the Rising Star Showcase at The Ship Pub, a favourite haunt. It was okay, but lacked the vibe I wanted. It certainly wasn’t like the ECMA’s I recalled from years ago. Saturday night was a better story. I crashed for the weekend with my friends Jon and Lo, and we went for supper at the Adelaide Oyster House, a new spot for downtown dining. The food was scrumptious, and the company was hilarious. Then we made it up the hill and out of the busy part of downtown for the busiest, strangest, non-ECMA show in the city. The hardened Peter Easton Pub, a live music venue in a previous life, now had party people spilling out into the street for Green & Gold, The Novaks and The Mark Bragg Band. I think the gig was more for the crowded spectacle than anything else, but what a time! A time enjoyed with more close friends I encountered there.
That’s what it comes down to — my close friends and family, good musical experiences and stimulating environments. Those are the important things I notice here that haven’t changed, and make me smile. The welcoming people that make my hometown what it is, and the community that has graciously accepted me back into the fold. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here making my way in this world. One day I’ll repay everyone in kind, and let’s say it’ll be sooner than later. Thanks for the support, everybody.
I make music every year, but February’s annual RPM album creation was slightly different for me. After many years, I finally went for a new geographic locale, which is nice. Then there are the thoughts of starting a fresh career direction in life when there’s an apparent recession in the area. So I’ve discovered a few things recently:
- bigger cities are artistically exciting and necessary for weird-scene seekers (yours truly)
- money, earlier not a priority issue for me, is actually really important to extended survival
- at my age, job seeking has become much pickier and more difficult
- the need for specialized skills is immense, and I seem to have the wrong ones, or not quite enough of the right ones
Thus the title and inspiration behind my new release, Future Success Stories. A life in flux is scary business for anybody, but also liberating in its freedom to choose whichever path you wish. I wonder how long before I know where mine leads, and how much debt that requires? Ultimately, artistry is a road to poverty, but I rather enjoy making art because I can’t help myself. So for now I’ll just give you that something I love doing, and deal with figuring out my most desirable day job at a time in the not-so-distant future. What a story. Maybe I’ll make my own.
So, January 15th saw lots of movement and music for me with the culmination of many weeks of improv dance rehearsals. The 4th year BFA actors Movement class had a final performance at the University of Alberta, and I provided electronic music to accompany three improvised dance numbers. I was initially invited by my friend Gerry Morita from Mile Zero Dance, who was part of a revolving door of equally awesome Improv Choreographers for the course, including Jeannie Vandekerkhove and Amber Borotsik. I loved the idea of creating evolving compositions for the students to vibe on, as I’d been interested in exploring music for dance. Everyone was really receptive to the idea, and provided some good feedback on the direction I would eventually go with it. I utilized layers of percussion, atmospheric keys, glitchy effects, abrupt playback speeds, and vocal captures from a microphone. Big thanks to Aiden Ware and Andrea Murphy for tech assistance, Dance Choreographer Marie Nychka for the love, and finally to Joe, Maxwell, Dylan, Kabriel, Nikki, Morgan, Natalie, Bobbi, Hunter and Zvon, who kept me on my toes and made it a pleasure every day to be a part of it all. Great show!
Below are a couple of vids I was able to take of two of the improvisations. Enjoy!