HISTORICALLY HIP

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THE TRAGICALLY HIP NATIONALLY BROADCAST LAST CONCERT FROM KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, Saturday August 20, 2016

On watching the concert there was something that had never really occurred to me before. My son Brendon belongs  in the same generation as Justin Trudeau and as such was exposed to the music of the Tragically Hip during his high school and University years. My son was raised in Cranbrook, graduated from the Engineering School at Simon Fraser University and the MBA Program from UBC. He went on to work in the Caribbean, Ireland, Vancouver, Silicon Valley. He is married to an American girl (Ashley) who he met while going to school in Britain. They have one daughter and are currently living in San Jose, California. Here is some email correspondence we kicked around following the historic Tragically Hip Concert broadcast from Kingston Ontario.

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Hi Brendon,

Way back when, I decided that rather than try to follow the in and outs of pop/rock music I would just go on my merry way and ignore it all. My philosophy was, then and now, if the music had any real merit I would get to hear it eventually. By and large I think it worked. I didn’t waste time sifting through a lot of dross and the quality stuff usually won out in the end. Case in point : The Tragically Hip – it seems that they have finally penetrated my conscious and I now get it. They are the sound track of your generation. I just got back from my gig with SHEVA in Rotary Park in time to pick up the second half of the Kingston concert. Some of the tunes I am familiar with because they pop up at open mics sessions (Ahead by a Century and Wheat Kings). The sound of the broadcast was not good, but what can one expect from a hockey arena, but on listening to some of their recorded stuff I was much more impressed. So I am placing their CDs on my Christmas wish list.

If nothing else the concert pointed up the a glaring difference between Harper’s government of the last eight years and the fresh wind that is blowing in with Justin Trudeau. The damage the Harper government did will take years to repair. I recently read a biography of the man (PARTY OF ONE: STEPHEN HARPER AND CANADA’S RADICAL MAKEOVER) and he is a nasty bit of work who had nothing in common with the Canadian ethos. He is another Trump without the bravado. Talk to you later.

rod

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In response to my comment  “They are the soundtrack of your generation”.

Too right. Watching Saturday night was fairly emotional, on many levels. Thinking back, I’ve followed The Hip since somewhere around 1991, so about 25 years. I think I had heard a few of their songs on CBC and the like, but it wasn’t until I listened to Road Apples (I borrowed Kirsti Medig’s copy), that I really started paying attention.  And later it was their songs I played at open mike nights, or played with my buddy Drew when we go together. So yes, some part of it was emotional because here was a band that I had followed for most of my late teens and adult life. And now it was coming to an end.

On another level, I think everyone watching was also contemplating their own mortality in the face of Gord’s imminent demise. We had all thought The Hip would go on forever, and here it was: The End.

And on yet one more level, a big piece was that there was something definitively Canadian about the moment. I was watching Twitter during the concerts, chatting with friends all over the world as we watched the concert. There was drone footage of the town of Bobcaygeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VS8UeF2pok&sns=tw), showing the incredible extent of the turnout for a town of only 3500 people. A friend of mine attended a viewing up in SF, and the crowd spontaneously broke out into “O Canada” at the conclusion of the concert. Positively seditious. 😉

As Trudeau rightly pointed out, there was always a singular thought in the back of mind of Hip fans: when will they “break out” and go big, go global? The Hip’s somewhat bizarre appearance on SNL (fellow Kingstonian Dan Ackroyd had made it a requirement of his willingness to appear on the show) was not the leaping off point everyone expected it would be. There was Gord, all weird, fronting a band that looked like they accidentally shuffled out of a bar gig and onto stage at Rockefeller Center. And the song choices – “Grace, Too” and “Nautical Disaster” – were not exactly the rocking numbers that Hip fans wanted the world to hear. And yet, at some point I think Hip fans realized that sure, they could go big, they could be an international stars, etc…but in the words of Joey “Da Lips” in “The Commitments”, “that would have been predictable”. Instead, they stayed uniquely ours. They were a gem of Canadian-ness that we were happy to let the world ignore.

I found it especially interesting to hear Ashley’s perspective on The Hip. Of course she’d heard the music from me, and we’d gone to a few of their concerts (one of which was a ludicrously small event at the Fillmore in SF). But I never really expected her to get them, or have much of a connection to them, given how briefly they had been a part of her life. But she too was quite emotional about it. To her, she saw The Hip as one of the main takeaways from her time in Canada. They were, in many ways, what she knew of Canada and reflected the country she had come to know. Even the affection shown by the band before the show (you didn’t see, but there were hugs and kisses on the mouth from Gord to the band members) showed a group that was clearly comfortable with themselves and their place in the world, as weird and awkward as it might appear to outsiders.

While the Hip may not have been a big band on the world stage – none of that mattered. They were a big band on the stage in our hearts, and in our minds. They have earned their place in Canadian history.

Brendon

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Here are some images off the web:

Hip in Kingston

Outside the arena in Kingston

Trudea and Hip

Justin Trudeau at the concert

Gord

Gord Downie

 

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Read Any Good Books Lately (#5)? – Crime / Murder / Mysteries

The keys to a good murder / mystery novels are a good plot, interesting personalities, interesting locations, and, of course, a good writer. There are a number of authors out there that have the gift to pull all those ingredients together . The Scottish writer Ian Rankin with his dysfunctional hero John Rebus  and his stories set in Endinburgh is one such writer. He was my first real introduction to the genre. The Swedish writer Henny Mankell  (1948-2015) who chose Yarstad in southern Sweden as a location for his, once again dysfunctional hero Kurt Wallander. The novels were so successful that the BBC turned them into a mini-series staring starring Kenneth Branagh. Another Swedish writer of note is Steig Larsen  who, in the astonishingly successful Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, created the memorable characters Lisbeth Salander and Michael Blomkvist. All novels were published posthumously and sold 80 million copies. They ended up as highly successful movies in Swedish and English. Maybe we should add Michael Genelin  to the list with his five Jana Matinova  novels . Apart from his writing skills he seems to have the necessary legal background needed to bring an air of authenticity to the plots.

Check his resume:

Michael Genelin (born January 6, 1950) is an American author and former Los Angeles Head Deputy District Attorney in the Hardcore Gang Division. Genelin has been involved around the world in Penal Code reform, Anti-Corruption reform in government, including legislative drafting, Ethics Establishment and Training, Freedom of Information laws, Witness Protection Practices, Trial Advocacy, Investigation and Trial of Cases, particularly homicides, Judicial Procedures, Reform and Creation of Evidence Procedures, Human Resources, all aspects of training, including Anti-Corruption Investigation and Prosecution and the general operations of law enforcement/prosecution/criminal court programs, Investigative Journalism Training, and Interactive Governmental Communications. He has written five novels, mostly set in central Europe, and centered around investigations conducted by Jana Matinova.

  • Siren of the Waters (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2008)

Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The Communist regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter’s respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice.

Now, she has risen to the rank of commander in the Slovak police force and is based in the capital, Bratislava, a crossroads of central Europe. She liaises with colleagues across the continent to track a master criminal whose crimes include extortion, murder, kidnapping, and the operation of a vast human trafficking network.

This investigation takes her from Kiev in Ukraine to the headquarters of the European Community in Strasbourg, France; from Vienna to Nice during the Carnival, as she searches for a ruthless killer and the beautiful young Russian woman he is determined to either capture or destroy.

  • Dark Dreams (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2009)

Prudent Jana and impetuous Sofia were best friends when they were schoolmates. One day Sofia approached a man in a car when she shouldn’t have and ended up being raped by a nefarious Communist Party bigwig. Jana pursued the culprit’s car, identified him, and vowed someday to bring him to justice.

Now Jana is a commander in the Slovak police force and Sofia, having made her name as a reformer, is a member of Parliament. Jana has fallen in love with an upright government prosecutor and Sofia is carrying on a notorious affair with a suave, married fellow MP.

One day Jana finds an enormous diamond dangling from a string fixed to the ceiling of the living room of her house. Was it put there as a present? Or, more likely, to entrap her? Where did this magnificent jewel come from? And why was it left for her to find? The answer leads Jana across Europe to unravel a criminal conspiracy involving multiple murders which has entangled her hapless, impulsive friend, Sofia, in its web, and ultimately to the criminal mastermind, the onetime Communist Party boss.

  • The Magician’s Accomplice (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2010)

Devastated by her lover’s death in an explosion—on the same day an indigent student was shot and killed in sleepy Bratislava—Jana is transferred to The Hague, headquarters of the international police force Europol. On the flight she encounters a retired magician, the dead student’s uncle, who is determined to help Jana investigate his nephew’s death. And his help is indeed needed as Jana faces an international criminal conspiracy emanating from Europol itself.

  • Requiem For A Gypsy (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (July 1, 2011)

When the wife of one of Slovakia’s most prominent businessmen is killed in a very public assassination, it looks like the bullets were meant for her husband. But could she have been the primary target? Commander Jana Matinova must push through her own government’s secretiveness and intransigence to discover what connects the murder of Klara Boganova to an anonymous man run down in Paris, a dead Turk with an ice pick in his eye, and an international network of bank accounts linking back to the Second World War.

  • For the Dignified Dead (A Commander Jana Matinova Investigation) (Nov. 3, 2015)

When the wife of one of Slovakia’s most prominent businessmen is killed in a very public assassination, it looks like the bullets were meant for her husband. But, could she have been the primary target? Commander Jana Matinova must push through her own government’s secretiveness and intransigence to discover what connects the murder of Klara Boganova to an anonymous man run down in Paris, a dead Turk with an ice pick in his eye, and an international network of bank accounts linking back to the Second World War.

So that’s Amazon.ca basic synopsis of the series.

One of my criteria for reading enjoyment is how long it takes me to actually read the material. The shorter the time it takes me to read then, obviously, the more I have enjoyed the book(s). It doesn’t necessarily follow that they are great literature, just that I enjoyed reading them. That is the case with this series of novels. I read the entire series in under three weeks – turned lots of pages and missed out on some sleep. I found the plots were good, although, my wife only read the first and the last in the series and she felt that the plots could be tighter. There were interesting personalities spread through out the stories. They included the chief protagonist Jana, her boss, her associates and a super villain that drifted in out of a couple in the series. The locations were places that I felt had been under represented in recent fiction. Most of the action takes place in Eastern and Central Europe including  Czechoslovakia and the two member republics, then Switzerland, Austria, Hungry, Slovenia and France with side trips to the Ukraine and Germany.  Judging by the geographic detail outlined in the novels I can only assume that the author is very familiar with the locales. Although there is a chronology of events that suggest that the novels should be read in sequence, it is possible to read the them as stand alone stories.

All in all, if you are into Crime / Murder / Mystery novels then I suspect you will enjoy them as much as I did.

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SummerSounds: Clayton Parsons

SummerSounds presents Clayton Parsons in Rotary Park, Cranbrook, Saturday August 13, 2016, 5pm. Clayton’s special guest is Joelle Winkel

112. Clayton and Joelle

The value of the average Singer / Song writer is in serious decline. It is not a question of quality, although that is part of the equation, but rather a question of supply. There are just too many singer / song Writers out there looking for gigs. It seems that every high school kid who plays guitar has ambitions to be a singer / song writer. Even if the quality was over the roof the market cannot absorb an unlimited number of such performers. There are some reasonable word smiths out there who, given time and maturity will put out some reasonable material. One of the kickers is that most only  play guitar at a very modest level. Most are just three chord strummers. What we need are superior word smiths with above average guitar skills. I think Clayton Parsons is a performer who fills that bill. Clayton is young man in his early twenties raised here in Cranbrook with an an honest artistic pedigree. His father, Reg,  is the well known for his bronze sculptures, his sister  Jani is a concert pianist and, I believe he has a brother who plays banjo. Clayton is an honest heir to the singer / song Writer tradition that stretches back to the beginning of the last century. He is following in the footsteps  of the likes of Woody Gutherie, Rambling Jack Elliot, Bob Dylan, Ian Tyson and John Prine. He has a strong clear voice, killer acoustic guitar chops, great stage presence and, above all, songs that reek of authenticity. He seems to have the uncanny ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. A midnight shift at the Skookumchuck pulp mill during shut down would seem to be a pretty ordinary life experience and yet in his hands it becomes a classic piece of art called September Sunday. He also freely plunders the tradition with such classic re-interpretations of C.C. Rider, Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky, and a wonderful reworking of You are My Sunshine that segues back and forth into Gershwin’s Summertime. His partner in crime for this particular performance was Joelle Winkel with some pretty sweet backup harmonies. If I have the story right Clayton and Joelle are just back from a 20 concert tour that stretched from Winnipeg to Victoria. Here are some images from a very pleasant summer evening at Rotary Park.

100. Clayton Parsons118. Joelle and Clayton116. Clayton Parsons  120. Clayton114. Clayton Parsons134. Joelle Winkel   128. Clayton Parsons

An Appreciative Fan

An Appreciative Fan

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KIMBERLEY KALEIDOSCOPE FESTIVAL – Breakwater

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The stellar “Celtic Band”  Breakwater (Jeff Faragher – Cello, Guitar & Vocals; Aurora Smith – Fiddle & Vocals;  Ben Johnson – Drums;  Rob Fahie – Bass) performed in two concerts, one in Cranbrook, one in Kimberley,  in March of this year – see the review below:

“It’s all in the mix”………… BREAKWATER

Two weeks ago they performed at the Kaslo Jazz Festival. Since we last heard them in Kimberley they have “kicked it up a notch” with tighter ensemble playing, blistering solos and new material. The fact that they continue to expand their repertoire and are constantly bring new material on board gives them a distinct edge over their contemporaries. There was no sitting on their laurels for this band on this tour. Their older material was well represented with the sly segue from the traditional Canadian Log Driver’s Waltz to J.S. Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. Similarly with Cold Play’s , Viva La Vetta sliding into Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony. But it was not all Classical high jinks. There were healthy doses of traditional fiddle music that included a set of jigs – The Roaring Barmaid / Morrison’s Jig / The Swallow Tail Jig; the Lunasa Set of the Spootiskerry Reel and the Road to Bagra . I couldn’t let the tune with the weird name pass me by so I looked it up in the The Sessions and in the comments it was described as “composed by Shetland fiddler Samuel Ian Rothmar Burns in 1980. Spootiskerry is the name of a farm in the Burns family. A “skerry” is a group of rocks which is covered by the sea, but can sometimes be visible depending on the tide.” So there you have it – my little bit of trivia for the day. Although the strength of the band is in 124. Aurora Smithinstrumental music they did throw in a few vocals. Aurora did a fine job on the classic highland ballad Wild Mountain Thyme (Will you go Lassie go), and Scarborough Fair.  Jeff lead the audience in a soulful version of There is more Love Somewhere. What was missing from the evening was Jeff’s version of the classic Maritime song Song of the Mira ……. maybe next time. There was TV Music – The Theme from Dr Who; film music – The Curse of the Black Crow from Pirates of the Caribbean and a rip roaring version of Amy Cann’s the Catharsis Reel. Aurora and Jeff are very much front and centre in the music but they would not be as successful as they are with out Rob Fahie providing the solid bass parts and the outstanding drumming of Ben Johnson. I have a personal dislike of drummers performing in Celtic bands. I feel they are trying too hard to tap into the pop culture ethos and as a result the music suffers. Drummers always have a tendency to play way too loud without any sensitivity or thought to musical dynamics. Ben is not like that. He is more like a percussionist searching for the right textures to enhance the music. Way to go Ben!. The band finished the evening with an encore version of The Ashokan Farewell from the Ken Burns PBS documentary on the American Civil War. For some unknown reason the light during the performances was a little “dodgy” never-the-less here are some more images from the evening.

102. Aurora and Jeff  108. Jeff Faragher110a. Ben Johnson116. Aurora Smith126. Jeff Faragher   142. Jeff Faragher138. Ben Johnson184. Rob Fahie120. Aurora Smith  118. Aurora Smith010. Cello

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KIMBERLEY KALEIDOSCOPE FESTIVAL – The Selkirk Trio

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AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE SELKIRK TRIO, Studio 64, Kimberley BC, Sunday August 7, 2016

112. Selkirk TrioFor most people the idea of Classical Music usually means symphony orchestras, opulent concert halls, musicians in formal attire and patrons dressed to impress. It doesn’t necessarily follow that the symphony is the be all and and end all of classical music. The great virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin, no stranger to large orchestras and concert halls, is reputed to have expressed the notion “that the true essence and application of music is to be found in chamber music”. If there is any doubt to that concept one has only to spend time with The Selkirk Trio. A couple of hours with Sue Gould (piano), Nicola Everton (clarinet) and Jeff Faragher  (Cello) and you should become a true believer in chamber music. Over the years I have attended at least three concerts of the trio and each time I am impressed with their program selection, their technical virtuosity and their musicality. The strength of the trio, and chamber music in general, is the lack of filters. There is no sound re-enforcement to get in the way and distort the true sound of the instruments. The musical arena for chamber concerts tends to be human scale with the audience and the musicians all within hand reach of each other. The nuances of musical dynamics and shading are right there in and around the audience. The trio kicked off the concert with the Cuban classical composer and jazz musician  Paquito D’Rivera’s Afro. Jeff doubled on Djembe  to provide some authentic 142. Clarinetatmosphere. This was followed by Ludwig Van Beethoven’s  Trio in B Flat Major, Opus 11, the second movement. My favorite item in the trio’s program is the 7 Balkan Dances  by the Croatian composer Marko Tajčević. Nicola obviously revels in these short but intricate pieces that bounce around the essentially odd rhythmic elements of Balkan music. I have tried to find a recording of these particular pieces but so far I have not been successful. I only think it fair to suggest that the trio needs to record them at some future date.

Sue and her coat of many colours

Sue and her coat of many colours

Pavel Karmanov is a Russian rock musician with musical credentials that go way beyond the limits of that style of music. Sue Gould selected his minimalist composition Birthday Present to Myself. The Minimalist School of classical composition is a recent innovation and is best exemplified by the music of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Minimalist  compositions usually consists of repetitive melodic motifs that need to be comprehended as part of the larger composition. A friend of mine declared that Steve Reich’s classic minimalist piece  Six Marimbas to be  some form of advanced Chinese water torture. Of course I beg to differ. It is one of my favorite pieces of music. I am looking forward to spending more time with the music of Pavel Karmanov.

Nicola kicked off the second half of the program with some Klezmer compositions by the Canadian composer Milton Barnes (1931-2001). The pieces were scored for clarinet and piano duo.

Nicola's Freilach dancing shoes

Nicola’s Freilach dancing shoes

In this day and age we all have toys. For Jeff it is the looping pedal. Jeff has just completed a solo CD recording project entitled Voices Within. One of the object of the exercise was to give Jeff the opportunity to experiment with a looping pedal. This is a device that is very common in pop music circles. It allows a performer to lay down  tracks of music in an orderly fashion to create a complete solo performance. In this case Jeff chose a number of cello pieces where he performs all the parts. To give some idea of how the process works Jeff gave a working demonstration by using the looping pedal to first lay down the melody of The Largo from Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos, BV351. He then went back and, while the melody was playing, he added the bass part. He followed this up by finally adding the harmony part thus completing the piece. “Boys and Their Toys”……… Sue was not to out done. Her toy was a relatively simple device attached to the iPad containing her musical scores. With a tap on the foot pedal she is able to turn the pages, thus overcoming a major nuisance for pianist playing off the printed page. Nicola did her “party piece” with the Klezmer tunes, Jeff did his “party piece” with Vivaldi and the foot pedals. Sue’s “party piece” was a solo performance of Bela Bartok’s Romanian Dances for Solo Piano. The trio came together to perform Nino Roto’s  (of God Father film music fame) Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. For the encore the trio  played an arrangement of The Ashokan Farewell from Ken Burn’s CBS Civil War Documentary. It was a hauntingly beautiful end to a great afternoon of music.

084a. Cello100. Jeff Faragher   126. Sue Gould

Happiness is a sun tan and a good clarinet reed

Happiness is a sun tan and a good clarinet reed

“Jeff, what are you doing down there?”

"I'm playing with my toys"

“I’m playing with my toys”

162. Jeff Faragher  164. Jeff Faragher

154. Sue Gould124. Sue and Nicola  135. Nicola Everton

The concert is over .... I can lay myself down and sleep

The concert is over …. I can now lay myself down and sleep

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KIMBERLEY KALEIDOSCOPE FESTIVAL – The Love Bullies

THE LOVE BULLIES on the outdoor stage at Centre 64, Saturday Evening, August 6, 2016, 7:30 pm500. The Love Bullies

The Love Bullies – Shantal Vitals (guitar, vocals), Kevin Herring (Telecaster guitar), Joni Brent (Bass guitar, vocals), Caroline Connolly (lead vocals and flute) and Paul Jahn (drums) are back in town and this time I knew what to expect. They performed on Stage 64 (Centre 64) back in March of last year. At that time I was completely taken aback by the big hair, boots, and the polyester fashion statements from a bye gone era. Well on Saturday evening the ladies appeared just as tacky as the last time; Kevin Herring was still doing his best impression of “a man in black”, and the working man in the back was still the same drummer. As with their last visit they dished up a solid  evening of vintage pop that included Tunnel of Love, Stupid Cupid, Shake it all Over, These Boots Were Made for Walking, Uneasy Feeling, Hernando’s Hidaway, plus a whole lot of other well known songs of the pre-classic rock era. Sprinkled among the old pop standards they squeezed in  a couple of their original songs. The weather, despite heavy rains in the morning, was co-operative and gave the organizers a nice mild summer’s evening. Once the band got going the crowd showed their appreciation by getting up and dancing the night away. Below are some images from the evening.

216. Shantal Vitalis  222. Shantal and Kevin228. Caroline Connolly  236. Kevin Herring230. Joni Brent246. Caroline Connolly  250. Caroline Connolly254a. Kevin Herring258. Time to dance   300. Time for dancing256. Paul Jahn   260. Joni and Kevin268. Kevin Herring274. Shantal Vitali276. Kevin and Joni  284. Shantal and Kevin282. Joni Brent286. The ladies334a. Joni Brent292. Shantal Vitalis304. Caroline Connolly  310. Caroline Connolly308. Kevin Herring312. Joni Brent316. Joni Brent  318. Joni Brent324a. Joni Brent326. Caroline Connolly332. Shantal Vitalis  330. Joni Brent338. Kevin Herring   340. Caroline Connolly360. Kevin Herring353. Kevin Herring  336. Joni Brent368. Kevin Herring364. Joni Brent

So there you have it. A great show by a band that is most likely the “Most Entertaining Rock Band on the Planet”.

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SummerSounds: Red Girl

SummerSounds presents Red Girl, at Rotary Park in Cranbrook, 5pm, Saturday 2016/07/30

314. Red Girl

The band Red Girl comes in a number of configurations. On this beautiful summer evening the core duo of Annie Hepher (vocals, claw hammer banjo and guitar) and Mike Hepher (mandolin and vocals) were joined by the multi-talented guitarist Keith Larsen. Although Keith also plays mandolin and dobro he managed to keep him self in check during the afternoon by only playing flat pick guitar. He left his rock and roll and country personae at home in his basement. Both Annie and Mike are very well known in this area. They originally came to local fame in the pop/rock/folk band As the Crow Flies. Since that time Annie has mostly switched to claw hammer banjo as her instrument of choice. As anybody in the area can testify Mike is an extraordinary mandolin player. But that is only the surface of Mike’s talents. If you ever have the opportunity to come across Mike in a late night session then stick around until the wee hours of the morning and you will be more than amply rewarded as he explores his huge repertoire of tunes and styles.

Red Girl cruises on the stylistic edge of BlueGrass with more than a significant amount of “old timey” songs and tunes. It is basically a  style of music they have appropriated from the USA but without becoming too overtly American. The emphasis is on crystal clear vocals and top flight musicianship. Without a doubt there is not another band in this area that performs with such flair and vigor while steering clear of the machine gun approach of most blue grass bands. During the evening there were lots of good tunes and songs with great vocals, claw hammer banjo, brilliant mandolin solos and the very clean flat picking of Keith Larsen. The evening kicked off with the well known Bluegrass tune Lazy John then worked their way down the set list pictured below. My favorite of the evening was the extended medley of Stephen Foster’s Angeline the Baker and the Irish tune/song Whiskey Before Breakfast. Annie dusted off one of her original songs, Our Town, from her period of intense song writing days while performing as a member of As the Crow Flies . Our Town is a tribute to small town life. Below are some images from just another a great way to spend a pleasant summer’s evening in Our Town.

400. Set List206. Anie Hepher  212a. Anie Hepher210. The sound guys218. Keith Larsen  220. Clawhammer240. Annie and Mike012. Red Girl Header230. Annie Hepher  232. Mike Hepher

"Behind these shades and pearly whites is a man having fun"

“Behind these shades and pearly whites is a man having fun”

Just a couple of good ole' boys

Just a couple of good ole’ boys

228. Annie Hepher242. Annie Hepher240. Annie and Mike   244. Mike Hepher300 Keith Larsen276. Annie and Mike   278. Annie and Mike290a. Annie and Mike002. Redgirl Header

312. Red Girl

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A YouTube Pick (#6) – Smaro Gregoriadou

In the classical music world the ladies comprise a significant number of the professional musicians out there. Maybe not at the conductor’s level of course, but among pianists and string players their numbers are very notable and noticeable. Up until very recently that was not the case among the Classical Guitarists.  Considering that there were not to many Classical Guitarists around in the first half of the 20th century that is understandable. The first significant female guitarist I became aware of is Ida Presti (1924-1967) and her performances with Alexander LaGoya in the Duo Presti-Lagoya. As a duo they set the standard at a pretty high level. When Julian Bream and John Williams recorded their duos around in the 1970s they were following in the footsteps of Ida Presti and Alexander LaGoya. Also in the 1970’s the Canadian Liona Boyd came to prominence and, although a very competent performer I always found her to be a bit of a musical light weight  –  “she played like a girl”.  That rather derogatory phrase took on a whole new meaning when the American guitarist Sharon Isbin also launched her career in the late 1970’s. She had the looks and demeanor of a New York fashion model and a guitar technique that literally over shadowed all her male and female peers. She was no musical light weight (just check her recording of the Bach Lute Suites) and if what she was doing, “playing like a girl”,  then God bless us all with the ability and power to “play like a girl”.  In the late 1980s the Brazilian Badi Assad emerged on the scene with an  original approach to Classical Guitar. Although raised within a strong classical tradition, her two brothers are a famous Classical Guitar duo, her approach has been more folkloric and Brazilian. Badi is also blessed with extraordinary good looks and marvelous technique. It seems that stunning good looks is a prerequisite for female classical guitarists. After cruising YouTube one would think that is definitely the case (is that being sexist?). The ladies on YouTube, Leonara Spangbenger, Julia Lange, Tatyana Ryzhkoua and Ana Vidovic, just to mention a few, are all beautiful young women who do not “play like a girl”.

 The latest female guitarist to come to my attention is Smoro Gregoriadou. This Greek Smaro Gregoriadoulady is virtually re-inventing the guitar. She plays a wide range of interesting classical guitars that include, double course instruments, high strung FLAM-CLASS-FRONT DETAILinstruments, instruments with scalloped finger boards (a’ la John McLaughlin), guitars with odd shapes and styles. This lady is absolutely brilliant. I have yet to hear another classical guitarist that is more spell binding in performance. Check the YouTube selections below. I find her technique and musicality absolutely astounding

Cueva Del Gato is a composition by the famous flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia. She literally outshines the original. I believe the instrument is tuned higher to an A (equivalent to playing with a capo at the 5th fret) and also note the scalloped fingerboard).

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WILL THIS TECHNOLOGY BE A GAME CHANGER?

Water is the stuff of life. Without water there is no life. When we send probes to distant planets the first thing on the search list is water. Here on planet earth fresh water resources are being stretched to the limit. Deserts are expanding, under ground aquifers are becoming seriously depleted and droughts are becoming more and more  pronounced.  Agriculture in a significant part of the world is threatened. As a result the spectre of war and wide spread famine in the not to distant future is very real. What if there a technology that could increase our water resources? It just so happens that there is at least one technical solution out there. This is a reprint of an article in Scientific America ……….

ISRAEL PROVES THE DESALINATION ERA IS HERE

One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs

By Rowan Jacobsen, Ensia on July 29, 2016

Ashkelon-21

Askelon Desalination Plant in Israel

July 19, 2016 — Ten miles south of Tel Aviv, I stand on a catwalk over two concrete reservoirs the size of football fields and watch water pour into them from a massive pipe emerging from the sand. The pipe is so large I could walk through it standing upright, were it not full of Mediterranean seawater pumped from an intake a mile offshore.

“Now, that’s a pump!” Edo Bar-Zeev shouts to me over the din of the motors, grinning with undisguised awe at the scene before us. The reservoirs beneath us contain several feet of sand through which the seawater filters before making its way to a vast metal hangar, where it is transformed into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people.

We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and re-use Israel’s meagre water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.

Bar-Zeev, who recently joined Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research after completing his post-doc work at Yale University, is an expert on biofouling, which has always been an Achilles’ heel of desalination and one of the reasons it has been considered a last resort. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. But microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Bar-Zeev and colleagues developed a chemical free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It’s just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.

Driven by necessity, Israel is learning to squeeze more out of a drop of water than any country on Earth, and much of that learning is happening at the Zuckerberg Institute, where researchers have pioneered new techniques in drip irrigation, water treatment and desalination. They have developed resilient well systems for African villages and biological digesters than can halve the water usage of most homes.

The institute’s original mission was to improve life in Israel’s bone-dry Negev Desert, but the lessons look increasingly applicable to the entire Fertile Crescent. “The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.”

That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause.

Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge, through joint ventures,” he says. “And one of those ventures is desalination.

Driven to Desperation

In 2008, Israel teetered on the edge of catastrophe. A decade-long drought had scorched the Fertile Crescent, and Israel’s largest source of freshwater, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped to within inches of the “black line” at which irreversible salt infiltration would flood the lake and ruin it forever. Water restrictions were imposed, and many farmers lost a year’s crops

Their counterparts in Syria fared much worse. As the drought intensified and the water table plunged, Syria’s farmers chased it, drilling wells 100, 200, then 500 meters (300, 700, then 1,600 feet) down in a literal race to the bottom. Eventually, the wells ran dry and Syria’s farmland collapsed in an epic dust storm. More than a million farmers joined massive shantytowns on the outskirts of Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and other cities in a futile attempt to find work and purpose.

And that, according to the authors of “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought,” a 2015 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the tinder that burned Syria to the ground. “The rapidly growing urban peripheries of Syria,” they wrote, “marked by illegal settlements, overcrowding, poor infrastructure, unemployment, and crime, were neglected by the Assad government and became the heart of the developing unrest.”

Similar stories are playing out across the Middle East, where drought and agricultural collapse have produced a lost generation with no prospects and simmering resentments. Iran, Iraq and Jordan all face water catastrophes. Water is driving the entire region to desperate acts.

More Water Than Needs

Except Israel. Amazingly, Israel has more water than it needs. The turnaround started in 2007, when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed nationwide and the national water authority built innovative water treatment systems that recapture 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain and use it for irrigation — vastly more than the second-most-efficient country in the world, Spain, which recycles 19 percent.

But even with those measures, Israel still needed about 1.9 billion cubic meters (2.5 billion cubic yards) of freshwater per year and was getting just 1.4 billion cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic yards) from natural sources. That 500-million-cubic-meter (650-million-cubic-yard) shortfall was why the Sea of Galilee was draining like an unplugged tub and why the country was about to lose its farms.

Enter desalination. The Ashkelon plant, in 2005, provided 127 million cubic meters (166 million cubic yards) of water. Hadera, in 2009, put out another 140 million cubic meters (183 million cubic yards). And now Sorek, 150 million cubic meters (196 million cubic yards). All told, desal plants can provide some 600 million cubic meters (785 million cubic yards) of water a year, and more are on the way.

The Sea of Galilee is fuller. Israel’s farms are thriving. And the country faces a previously unfathomable question: What to do with its extra water?

Water Diplomacy

Inside Sorek, 50,000 membranes enclosed in vertical white cylinders, each 4 feet high and 16 inches wide, are whirring like jet engines. The whole thing feels like a throbbing spaceship about to blast off. The cylinders contain sheets of plastic membranes wrapped around a central pipe, and the membranes are stippled with pores less than a hundredth the diameter of a human hair. Water shoots into the cylinders at a pressure of 70 atmospheres and is pushed through the membranes, while the remaining brine is returned to the sea.

Desalination used to be an expensive energy hog, but the kind of advanced technologies being employed at Sorek have been a game changer. Water produced by desalination costs just a third of what it did in the 1990s. Sorek can produce a thousand liters of drinking water for 58 cents. Israeli households pay about US$30 a month for their water — similar to households in most U.S. cities, and far less than Las Vegas (US$47) or Los Angeles (US$58).

The International Desalination Association claims that 300 million people get water from desalination, and that number is quickly rising. IDE, the Israeli company that built Ashkelon, Hadera and Sorek, recently finished the Carlsbad desalination plant in Southern California, a close cousin of its Israel plants, and it has many more in the works. Worldwide, the equivalent of six additional Sorek plants are coming online every year. The desalination era is here.

What excites Bar-Zeev the most is the opportunity for water diplomacy. Israel supplies the West Bank with water, as required by the 1995 Oslo II Accords, but the Palestinians still receive far less than they need. Water has been entangled with other negotiations in the ill-fated peace process, but now that more is at hand, many observers see the opportunity to depoliticize it. Bar-Zeev has ambitious plans for a Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018, which will bring together water scientists from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of the minds.

Even more ambitious is the US$900 million  Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal, a joint venture between Israel and Jordan to build a large desalination plant on the Red Sea, where they share a border, and divide the water among Israelis, Jordanians and the Palestinians. The brine discharge from the plant will be piped 100 miles north through Jordan to replenish the Dead Sea, which has been dropping a meter per year since the two countries began diverting the only river that feeds it in the 1960s. By 2020, these old foes will be drinking from the same tap.

On the far end of the Sorek plant, Bar-Zeev and I get to share a tap as well. Branching off from the main line where the Sorek water enters the Israeli grid is a simple spigot, a paper cup dispenser beside it. I open the tap and drink cup after cup of what was the Mediterranean Sea 40 minutes ago. It tastes cold, clear and miraculous.

The contrasts couldn’t be starker. A few miles from here, water disappeared and civilization crumbled. Here, a galvanized civilization created water from nothingness. As Bar-Zeev and I drink deep, and the climate sizzles, I wonder which of these stories will be the exception, and which the rule.

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Here is a re-print of another article

AIDED BY THE SEA, ISRAEL OVERCOMES AN OLD FOE: DROUGHT

editor Wednesday 3 June 2015
 From:

By Isabel Kershner.. JERUSALEM — At the peak of the drought, Shabi Zvieli, an Israeli gardener, feared for his livelihood. A hefty tax was placed on excessive household water consumption, penalizing families with lawns, swimming pools or leaky pipes. So many of Mr. Zvieli’s clients went over to synthetic grass and swapped their seasonal blooms for hardy, indigenous plants more suited to a semiarid climate. “I worried about where gardening was going,” said Mr. Zvieli, 56, who has tended people’s yards for about 25 years.

Across the country, Israelis were told to cut their shower time by two minutes. Washing cars with hoses was outlawed and those few wealthy enough to absorb the cost of maintaining a lawn were permitted to water it only at night.

“We were in a situation where we were very, very close to someone opening a tap somewhere in the country and no water would come out,” said Uri Schor, the spokesman and public education director of the government’s Water Authority.

But that was about six years ago. Today, there is plenty of water in Israel. A lighter version of an old “Israel is drying up” campaign has been dusted off to advertise baby diapers. “The fear has gone,” said Mr. Zvieli, whose customers have gone back to planting flowers.

As California and other western areas of the United States grapple with an extreme drought, a revolution has taken place here. A major national effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and to recycle wastewater has provided the country with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts. More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced.

During the drought years, farmers at Ramat Rachel, a kibbutz on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem, took water-economizing measures like uprooting old apple orchards a few years before their time. With the new plenty, water allocations for Israeli farmers that had been slashed have been raised again, though the price has also gone up.

desalination_plants

Israeli desalination plants

“Now there is no problem of water,” said Shaul Ben-Dov, an agronomist at Ramat Rachel. “The price is higher, but we can live a normal life in a country that is half desert.”

With its part-Mediterranean, part-desert climate, Israel had suffered from chronic shortages and exploitation of its natural water resources for decades.

The natural fresh water at Israel’s disposal in an average year does not cover its total use of roughly 525 billion gallons. The demand for potable water is projected to rise to 515 billion gallons by 2030, from 317 billion gallons this year.

The turnaround came with a seven-year drought, one of the most severe to hit modern Israel, that began in 2005 and peaked in the winter of 2008 to 2009. The country’s main natural water sources — the Sea of Galilee in the north and the mountain and coastal aquifers — were severely depleted, threatening a potentially irreversible deterioration of the water quality.

Measures to increase the supply and reduce the demand were accelerated, overseen by the Water Authority, a powerful interministerial agency established in 2007.

Desalination emerged as one focus of the government’s efforts, with four major plants going into operation over the past decade. A fifth one should be ready to operate within months. Together, they will produce a total of more than 130 billion gallons of potable water a year, with a goal of 200 billion gallons by 2020.

Israel has, in the meantime, become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86 percent of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is second to Israel, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent, according to Water Authority data.

Before the establishment of the Water Authority, various ministries were responsible for different aspects of the water issue, each with its own interests and lobbies.

“There was a lot of hydro-politics,” said Eli Feinerman of the faculty of agriculture, food and environment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who served for years as a public representative on the authority’s council. “The right hand did not know what the left was doing.”

The Israeli government began by making huge cuts in the annual water quotas for farmers, ending decades of extravagant overuse of heavily subsidized water for agriculture.

The tax for surplus household use was dropped at the end of 2009 and a two-tiered tariff system was introduced. Regular household water use is now subsidized by a slightly higher rate paid by those who consume more than the basic allotment.

Water Authority representatives went house to house offering to fit free devices on shower heads and taps that inject air into the water stream, saving about a third of the water used while still giving the impression of a strong flow.

Officials say that wiser use of water has led to a reduction in household consumption of up to 18 percent in recent years.

And instead of the municipal authorities being responsible for the maintenance of city pipe networks, local corporations have been formed. The money collected for water is reinvested in the infrastructure.

Mekorot, the national water company, built the national water carrier 50 years ago, a system for transporting water from the Sea of Galilee in the north through the heavily populated center to the arid south. Now it is building new infrastructure to carry water west to east, from the Mediterranean coast inland.

In the parched Middle East, water also has strategic implications. Struggles between Israel and its Arab neighbors over water rights in the Jordan River basin contributed to tensions leading to the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel, which shares the mountain aquifer with the West Bank, says it provides the Palestinians with more water than it is obliged to under the existing peace accords. The Palestinians say it is not enough and too expensive. A new era of water generosity could help foster relations with the Palestinians and with Jordan.

The Sorek desalination plant rises out of the sandy ground about nine miles south of Tel Aviv. Said to be  the largest plant of its type in the world, it produces 40 billion gallons of potable water a year, enough for about a sixth of Israel’s roughly eight million citizens.

Miriam Faigon, the director of the solutions department at IDE Technologies, the Israeli company that built three of the plants along the Mediterranean, said that the company had cut energy levels and costs with new technologies and a variety of practical methods.

Under a complex arrangement, the plants will be transferred to state ownership after 25 years. For now, the state buys Sorek’s desalinated water for a relatively cheap 58 cents a cubic meter — more than free rainwater, Ms. Faigon acknowledged, “but that’s only if you have it.”

Israeli environmentalists say the rush to desalination has partly come at the expense of alternatives like treating natural water reserves that have become polluted by industry, particularly the military industries in the coastal plain.

“We definitely felt that Israel did need to move toward desalination,” said Sarit Caspi-Oron, a water expert at the non-government Israel Union for Environmental Defense. “But it is a question of how much, and of priorities. Our first priority was conservation and treating and reclaiming our water sources.”

Some environmentalists also say that the open-ocean intake method used by Israel’s desalination plants, in line with local regulations, as opposed to subsurface intakes, has a potentially destructive effect on sea life, sucking in billions of fish eggs and larvae.

But Boaz Mayzel, a marine biologist at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, said that the effects were not yet known and would have to be checked over time.

Some Israelis are cynical about the water revolution. Tsur Shezaf, an Israeli journalist and the owner of a farm that produces wine and olives in the southern Negev, argues that desalination is essentially a privatization of Israel’s water supply that benefits a few tycoons, while recycling for agriculture allows the state to sell the same water twice.

Mr. Shezaf plants his vines in a way that maximizes the use of natural floodwaters in the area, as in ancient times, and irrigates the rest of the year with a mix of desalinated water and fresh water. He prefers to avoid the cheaper recycled water, he says, because, “You don’t know exactly what you are getting.”

But experts say that the wastewater from Israel’s densely populated Tel Aviv area is treated to such a high level that no harm would come to anyone who accidentally drank it.

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So that’s one solution to the problem. Waiting in the wings, admittedly a long way off centre stage, is the prospect of unlimited freshwater as a by-product of Thorium based Nuclear Reactors. When fully developed these radio-active waste neutral (in fact they will burn radio-active waste) plants will produce almost unlimited energy with fresh water as a by product. See, its not all gloom and doom. See the my past blog entry on the subject of Thorium based reactors

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Dave Prinn – Troubadour

Dave Prinn at the Heid Out in Cranbrook, July 21, 2016, 7pm

122a. Dave Prinn

In the Middle Ages the term Troubadour was applied to singers of lyrical love poetry. Of course in this current era of sex and lust it is a term that can longer be applied to any performer. The nearest modern day equivalent to the ancient troubadours is the modern day “singer/song writer”. There was a time during the sixties and 70’s when that gave rise to some sterling material. The likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the Beatles may never be equaled. Since the creative hey day of that era I think the quality of material has gone some what into decline. There is till some original and interesting material out there but by and large singer/song writers with a modest amount of technical proficiency are a dime a dozen. Usually they are modestly talented performers looking for their big break into the entertainment industry. Although Dave does write the occasional song that is not his forte. He is not really a singer/song writer in the classic sense. To my mind he is an interpreter of the music that is all around us. In this day and age that is mostly classic rock and folk / rock.  He brings to the stage a huge repertoire of material that he manages to re-interpret, re-fashion and re-create into his own personal mix. He works hard at his craft and it showed on Thursday evening when the old musical gems of the recent past absolutely sparkled with his personal stamp. Having said all that he did kick off the night with his original Going Round in Circles before he settled into an evening that included Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding), Drift Away, Ahead by a Century (The Tragically Hip), Better Think Twice (Poco), With a Little Help from my Friends (The Beatles), Angel Eyes (Jeff Healey), Gong to be Home Soon (Crowded House), The Ballad of John and Yoko (The Beatles), and that is just a taste of what was in the first set. Always the consummate professional Dave only took a few short breaks throughout an evening of music that stretched from 7pm to 10 pm. Here are a few more images from a night of sterling music.

052. Dave Prinn100a. Dave Prinn050. Dave Prinn's guitar100. Dave Prinn  120. Dave Prinn  124a. Dave Prinn

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