Maybe it is the first real sign of spring. Who needs a ground hog looking for his shadow? A jam packed weekend of live music may just be a better indicator. I attended three venues of live music over the weekend and who knows there may have been more spread around town. The Heid Out in Cranbrook (Friday), The Creekside Pub (Saturday) in Kimberley, and The Stemwinder Bar and Grill at the Kimberley Ski Hill (Sunday) were all alive with “live” music.
Dave Prinn, at the Heid Out in Cranbrook, Friday March 21, 2014, 7-10pm
The Heidout is a noisy room but one with great ambience, great food, superbly crafted beers and, on this particular night, graced by one of Cranbrook’s finest interpreter of classic rock and folk/rock. Dave ripped through two sets for a very responsive audience before inviting his partner in crime from the duo Vested Interests, Bill Renwick, to join him for some bluesy classic tunes and originals. Bill has one of those voices reminiscent of Neil Young but much better. If Neil Young had a good voice he would sound like Bill Renwick. It seems that Heidi’s intends to make live music a staple on the Cranbrook scene and it it most welcome. Let live music rule!!
TUCKERS TROUBADOURS, at BJ’s Creekside Pub in Kimberley, March 22, 2014 7-11pm
I’m not a big fan of “star-spangled Nashville” country music but I do like the rolled up sleeves down to earth country music that favor great songs and great tunes delivered with impeccable musicianship and style. Tuckers Troubadours fills that criteria to the nth degree. The usual line up (Larry Tuck- bass ukelele, Doug Simpson – rhythm guitar, Dave Carlson – mandolin, and Bud Decosse – lead guitar) was on stage at BJs, and a fine group of individuals they are, but for this evening they were outshone by the guest appearance of Bud’s daughter Stacey. She has been kicking around the local music scene for many years, in fact ever since she was a teenager, and it was good to see and hear her in such a pleasant setting. Let’s hope we see and hear more of her at BJ’s Creekside Pub in the future
APRE SKI JAM SESSION, at the Stemwinder Bar and Grill (Kimberley Ski Hill), Sunday,March 23, 2014, 3-8pm. This was part of the ski resort’s regular apre live music session. There was a great turn out of local musicians in age groups that spanned the spectrum from teenagers to the geriatric. The music was mostly classic rock with some folky stuff and a few Irish tunes on Cittern thrown in for good measure.
“T’was a dark and stormy night”, and then some. The drive out to the metropolis of Wardner was like driving on the inside of a black hole. Every glimmer, every reflection, every photon of light seemed to be literally sucked up in the black void of night. Staying on the road was a matter of keeping one’s eyes glued to the white line on the edge of the highway and adjusting one’s navigational skills accordingly. Strangely enough this was my first visit to Wardner and I didn’t know what to expect. Although I have only had a passing acquaintance with the notion of traditional dancing this trip to Wardner was a chance to enlarge my experience. The town was so small that I was through it and out the other side of the “city limits” before I even ventured to look around to see if I could find the Community Hall. As it turned out it was on a side street, there is only one, and once on it there was no mistaking the Community Hall. The street was jammed packed with vehicles and finding a spot to park was a challenge (parking difficulties in Wardner on a Saturday night who would have thought it was possible). In this black void of night the hall was a blaze of light, with the walls pulsating to sound of stamping feet, laughter and the wail and screech of fiddles, mandolins, guitars and banjos. To use an old jazz expression – the joint was jumpin’. And, as such, for most of us, it was not a normal situation. It was a reflection of circumstances and situations of a time long gone. By that I mean there was a time when music had a social context and a lively night of live music was a more normal thing. It was a time when music was a social cement that bound together families and communities. It was different to our modern concept of music in clubs, discos and pubs. Although even those situations, for most of us, also seem to be fading into the past. There was a time when music was more entwined with our daily lives. A time for friends, family and straight forward socializing. A time when a night out at a dance or picnic meant a trip to the local school house or community Centre and, heaven forbid, LIVE MUSIC. It was a time for friends, family and heaven forbid (again) a night of fun unadulterated by the commercial motives of image and spectacle. The Square Dance at Wardner Community Hall was a throwback to those simpler times of music, dancing and socializing. The actors in this grand mish/mash of fun were the dance caller Leslie Gotfrit from Calgary, the dancers (of course) and a collection of local musicians collectively known as The Kootenay String Benders that appeared to be led by Mike and Anie Hepher. The band also included Van and Shelagh Redecopp, `Gus` MacDonald`, Shauna Plant, Drew, `PotLuck Steve`, Steve Jones, Rod Wilson, Reg Parsons, Heather Gemmell (trying her hand on fiddle) and many, many more. The large number of young musicians in the ensemble proved that the fate of acoustic music, particularly mandolin players, in this area is in good hands. The musicians kept dancers on their toes with lots of those familiar melodies that must be encoded in our DNA. Such tunes as The Soldiers Joy, Blackberry Blossom, Swannoa Waltz, Big Sciota, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Old Joe Clark, Squirrell Hunters, Nail the Catfish to the Tree, Liberty, etc. The steady pulse of familiar melodies and rhythm kept the feet moving. The flow of bodies was controlled by the deft instructions of caller Leslie Gotfrit. The dances may not have been familiar but that didn`t matter. Just follow the shouted instructions to avoid the traffic hazards of dances such as The Torpedo and after that just have fun.
Apart from the fun objective the dance was a benefit to raise money to support 14 year old Jenna Homeniuk in Calgary’s Childrens Hospital. Jenna is receiving treatment for Leukemia. So apart from the good cause it was a chance to re-establish something that has been long lost. The chance to give music it’s true value as a social cement in our daily life. And, you never know, it was just so much fun that we will want to do it again.
ps. Need a dance caller contact Leslie Gotfrit at 403-200-3300 or Lgotfrit@me.com
“A real acoustic revival is going on now ………. guitars, mandolins banjos and ukeleles are making a comeback. The sales of high-end and custom acoustic guitars have risen by 39 percent since 2009 while electric guitar sales have plummeted, according to the National Association of Music Merchants. More than half of the guitar sales are now acoustic as trends in popular music shift from rock to more acoustic-focused country, according to the Music Business Journal”. …………….. Jenny Lee in the Vancouver Sun, Saturday March 8, 2014, pages D1 and D2.
(That reminds me of when my son was a young teenager. He was cracking his neck to acquire an electric guitar. And yet by the time he was in university he had switched to an acoustic instrument “because you don’t have to lug around a heavy amplifier”)
It always comes as a shock when a legendary musical figure suddenly passes away. More so when, in this day and age, 66 years is not considered old. Recently the news has been littered with the passing of a number of very significant musicians. Pete Seeger at 94 years passed away a few weeks ago. Jazz guitarist Jim Hall at the age of 83 years also slipped away a few weeks prior to Pete Seeger. Last year Dave Brubeck at 91 years passed away and not too far back in 2009 Les Paul also passed away at the age of 94 years. Unfortunately Paco didn’t have the longevity of his colleagues. Pete Seeger, Dave Brubeck and Les Paul were household names. Jim Hall maybe not so much and outside guitar circles Paco de Lucia probably would elicit the response ?Who. Paco de Lucia in the post Sabicas, post Carlos Montoya flamenco guitar eras was probably the most significant flamenco guitarist of the past thirty years. Paco de Lucia Wikipedia entry . For his innovations in “New Flamenco” Paco was a towering figure in Flamenco circles but outside Spain he is probably better known for his collaborations with John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola in the The Guitar Trio. This was a very successful group on the international touring circuit in the 1980s. It was based largely on the marketing strategy that three incredibly fast guitarists would be a box office hit. On that basis it definitely was a success but from my perspective I didn’t find the music particularly attractive. John McLaughlin’s huge body of work in his East/West collaborations with Indian musicians is probably way more significant than his work with the Guitar Trio. Al Di Meola never figured large in my sonic universe. The whole idea of three guitarists playing super fast never really appealed to me. Even Paco expressed the opinion that he preferred “controlled expression to velocity”. In regards to Paco, his innovations in New Flamenco, including the introduction of the Peruvian Cojon (box drum), far exceeded the musical values of the Guitar Trio. Outside of The Guitar Trio one of the high points of his career was his performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez in 1991. Until asked to perform the piece Paco was not proficient at reading musical notation. “Biographer Pohren, however, at the time of writing his biography in 1992, said that he was still not proficient and had found a bizarre way of learning the piece, locking himself away. His performance with the orchestra under Edmon Colomer was highly acclaimed, a sensitive, atmospheric rendition that composer Rodrigo himself praised, describing it as “pretty, exotic, inspired” … I might add that Paco plays it with a great deal of feeling, far more than is normally heard. And that goes for the orchestra that backs him up.” – wikipedia. After having heard numerous recorded versions by some of the great classical guitarists, and having heard the piece numerous times in live performance I can only underscore the notion that Paco’s version is probably the most exciting. If you want to hear his version click on the following link The Rodrigo Concerto . While you are at it check out any of the hundreds of YOUTUBE entries in the side bar. Also of interest is Michael Meert’s documentary Paco de Lucia – Light and Shade (A Portrait) on YOUTUBE. Click on the following link Light and Shade Documentary . It is also available on DVD.
On February 25, 2014, while vacationing in Mexico Paco de Lucia died suddenly after complaining of chest pain.
For most of us it would be before our time. By that I mean a time when music had a social context. And I don’t mean a time at the local disco, club or pub. Although those situations, for most of us, also seem to be fading into the past. There was a time when music was more entwined with our daily lives. A time for friends, family and straight forward socializing. A time when a night out at a dance or picnic meant a trip to the local school house or community centre and, heaven forbid, LIVE MUSIC. It was a time for friends, family and heaven forbid (again) a night of fun unadulterated by the commercial motives of image and spectacle. Although I have only had a passing acquaintance with the notion of traditional dancing I do have a hankering for the experience. Well, this coming Saturday evening that hankering is about to become reality. A group of well known local acoustic musicians and friends have organized a Square Dance. The event is a benefit to help raise money to support 14 year old Jenna Homeniuk in Calgary’s Childrens Hospital. Jenna is receiving treatment for Leukemia. So there’s the motivation of a good cause but more than that there is the chance to re-establish something that has been long lost. The chance to give music it’s true value as a social cement in our daily life. And, you never know, it maybe just so much fun that we will want to do it again.
So, DARE TO BE SQUARE and come out to the Square Dance at Wardner Hall on Saturday March 8, 2014. There will be fiddlers, mandolins, banjos, guitars, dancers, callers, kids, families and fun. And, to paraphrase and old saying, BE THERE AND BE SQUARE.