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.
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.
RPM Challenge 2014 has got to be some of the most prolific work I’ve crafted thus far, but has it been challenging? I did get an early start in February working with Ableton Live and the Launchpad Mini/LaunchControl in set preparation for Prototype 5, which I deemed productive idea creation for the album. There was, however, plenty of downtime for birthdays, family visits, nights out to party, watching the tube, etc. Instead of being stressed about being behind in the recording process, I took time out on a couple of weekdays (mostly in the last week) to finish up some working projects and polish the mixes. I also managed to record a Robot Scout session for RPM submission, too. Does it mean I like to procrastinate until the final possible minute? No, but it does seem to end up close to the wire most of the time. It’s always challenging to create under a deadline, but these days I’ve streamlined the process to make it easier to operate quickly and efficiently. Hence, I can afford to take my time with some things or choose to break from it with the knowledge that it’s simple to come back to. I’ve done the RPM Challenge for a number of years now, and likely would have made yearly records anyway, even if no challenge existed. We make our own challenges, and I consider this one to be more of a necessity. I make art, and that doesn’t change. The challenge is making art you’re happy with. And even though I endorse a certain amount of improvisation in much of my work, it’s satisfying when it sounds composed.