Saturday, 26 June 2010

Oops, behind again....

Eek, its the 26th already and I'm behind on posting again. Another bulletpoint of recent events is called for....
* We ventured off to Toronto for a weekend of music and swimming in lakes. The concert, organised by Broken Social Scene, featured Paul's chance to reminisce his teenage years with a sunset performance by Pavement. The venue was Toronto Islands so we got to paddle our feet in the lake and watch the evening light over the city skyline.

The concert was rubbishly organised, and bizarrely they confiscated all food, blankets and frisbees on the way in - security risks or a way to get you into the hour + queues for munchies on site?

On the way home again we diverted to Sandbanks Provincial Park for sunbathing, swimming in Lake Ontario and running down sand dunes. Lovely jubbly. It takes some getting used to that the water isn't salty, I still pulled sourpuss face everytime I got a mouthful as my brain could not accept the freshness.

* I have started training almost properly for my 10km back in England in July....eek, July as in the month that starts on Thursday - eek!

* I also finally cycled to the Wildlife Garden for volunteering this week - hooray! A saving of $5 on bus fair, a lovely 45 minutes by the canal and some more exercise. Bonus. I planted 8 trees this week and saw a fox, well worthwhile.

* We attended our first evening at the Jazz festival - see Paul's detailed review below, but here is a glimpse of the Keytar in all its glory: (much better without sound I assure you!)

Where’s the jazz? The three faces of Herbie Hancock.

Headed over to the Ottawa Jazz Festival last night for some good times with Herbie Hancock… almost. A fine venue in Confederation Park: free camp chairs, local Beau’s beer, a cool evening and a great atmosphere. We caught, sadly, only the end of the Mike Essoudry Octet who sounded very fine and would have been a fine way to enjoy some time in the park.

The main event, Herbie Hancock, was certainly interesting… I previously knew two faces of Herbie: the old-skool experimental jazzer, playing beautiful soaring piano pieces, and the 70’s jazz-funk wah-wah stuff. I was hoping for more of the former, but ready to experience a bit of the latter too. But wait, there is a new face to Herbie. I don’t know what happened - he got old, he lost his edge, he lost his ear – whatever it was, he is now purveying world-fusion cover-ballads with just a soupcon of jazz hidden underneath. Just image you’re in Starbucks. They play music; they most likely play this music. You can buy the CD there too. He plays the keytar on some of the tracks. Oh dear. There’s a bit of breathy vocal, then some slap bass. Oh dear. There’s some wah-wah, then some synth that sounds like part of the Grange Hill theme tune from the 80’s (IN GOES THE FORKED SAUSAGE - there's also an extended version!). Oh dear. There’s a version of Imagine sung in like foreign innit. Oh dear. There’s an impassioned speech about why can’t we all get along. Oh dear.* And so it went.

So I have learnt: do research before thinking that a jazz legend will be a safe bet for a gig. When people start winning Grammy awards beware. This is why.

(* Of course it’s true, worthwhile and all of that, but cut the cheese please. Or at least play some good jazz afterwards.)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Frog chorus....

During our walks by the river of late, we have been serenaded by the frogs, who were especially vocal last night.....

Not much to see in the video, but you can hear their dulcet tones pretty well, the picture is of one of the vocalists taking a breather from his choral duties.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Over thinking and DIrty Laundry

I don't hang our underwear on the washing line - apart from socks.
The line hangs over the carpark area out the back and I don't feel comfortable having my knickers dangling over the neighbours cars.

It has recently occured to me that whilst this may save my blushes, my neighbours may think that we don't in fact wear underwear.....or maybe that we do, we just don't wash it.

I am not sure which of these options is the worst.

That is all.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

What do you read? Books man, books.

Extra special staying out late on a Monday night dispensation last week as we headed over to our favourite cinema come music venue - The Mayfair - to see Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra.

What's this, a cinema hosting live music? It seems so, and not for the first time. Mayfair seems to have a pleasing side-line in gigs and also the burgeoning, new yet old genre of re-soundtracking whereby a film screening is accompanied by live music (and live voice acting in the case of Night of the Living Dead). It's a bit strange having an all-seated gig, but we're well past our pogoing heyday so it's all just fine and dandy to be sat and listening to some fine sounds.

The evening started off with Memoryhouse. A very pleasing dreamy synth-tinged sound, redolent of Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and, sometimes, Boards of Canada. We definitely want to know more of this group.

Already it was getting late, but not too late to have a second support act. I confess that I have no idea who they were, and have been googling in vain for the last few minutes trying to figure it out. Anyhow, they were just fine and dandy, although not so much to my tastes these days. They reminded me of early Verve stuff with some pleasing, drifting guitar which, once in a while, really kicked into gear.

Now, the main event. Not until 11 pm, well past bedtime, and oh so hot in the cinema, but, but, but... what are these trivialities compared to the ecstatic power of Thee Silver Mt. Zion? Nothing, that's what: nothing. The show was stupendous. The group comprised guitar, two violins, cello and drums, providing that satisfyingly complex post-rock sound which fuses everything from classical to metal (Pichfork mention "chamber-punk" and "orchestro-folk" in their review of the recent album). There's something amazingly compelling and transcendental about the music, it really sounds like nothing else. This is what music can be, what it should be; not the anodyne pennings of some tight-trousered Simon Cowell-alike, custom designed to fill bland pop radio and pass the time of day, but guttural, from the heart: born of life, not the boardroom.

So they played, and played some more, and it was fantastic. The audience was hot but enthused, apart from all those that seemed to have an 11.30 curfew and traipsed out of the room after the 2nd song. One guy even made the effort to get up and dance in vest and pants for most of the gig, which was possibly the non-musical highlight of the gig, if not a little disturbing. The other non-musical highlights were the impromptu Q&A sessions between songs (presumably there to fill in the longer than usual equipment fiddling required in this unusual venue and infernal heat) in which the usual rock group between-song ramblings/pontifications were replaced with "anyone have a question...?" and soon threatened to descent into playground arguments.

"What do you read?"
"Books man, books. We read books."
"Why are you so bitter?"
"Why do you think I'm bitter, you don't know me man...."