Saturday April 8, 2017, 7:30pm – SWEET ALIBI at 5768 Haha Creek Road, Wardner.This is the last concert of this season’s Home Routes House Concerts.
It seems that Winnipeg is possibly the geographical center of Canada and at the same time it is the center of Canada’s musical universe. Maybe it is the cold winters that drives everybody indoors to play and appreciate music. Over the years the quality of musicians that have come out of this city has proven to be exceptional. For this last concert, the trio Sweet Alibi – Amber Rose – vocals, guitar, ukulele and a little percussion on the side; Michelle Anderson – vocals, banjo and guitar; Jess Rae Ayre – vocals, guitar, harmonica and a little percussion on the side has once again demonstrated that musicians from Winnipeg are top draw. Most of the music presented was original material written by the trio with an occasional cover of lesser known songs such as Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody (it was a new song to me but it maybe better known by everybody else)
Gotta Serve Somebody
You may be an ambassador to England or France You may like to gamble, you might like to dance You may be the heavyweight champion of the world You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief
Also there was Khari Wendell McClelland’sSong of the Agitator. It is a song that remembers the Underground Railway of African Americans fleeing from the USA in the mid 1800s. It is a song that, with the current Moslem immigrants illegally crossing the border into Manitoba had some sense of deju vu . “Every thing changes but some things seem to just stay the same”. As per their website – ” The appeal of Sweet Alibi’s sound hinges on their ability to mix elements of folk, roots, and country, then present it in the context of a tightly-structured pop song.” I think that is true. Their vocal harmonies are strong and their spartan accompaniments take the music way outside the narrow confines of current pop/rock music. The mix of the banjo and the heavy vibrato of the electric guitar provides a unique background to their songs and takes them even further away from run of the mill pop music. Three songs that had great appeal where Dark Train, Walking in the Dark and Bodacious (a famous rodeo bull forced to retire because he was way to dangerous for cowboys to try and ride). Here are some images from the evening:
Jess Rae Ayre Michelle Anderson
So ends the marvelous musical series for this past winter. The musicians and the venues were were exceptional and the weather, at times, was a little bit of a challenge but that comes with living in the back blocks of Canada. I wish to thank the hosts, Van, Shelagh, Patricia and Gordon for opening their homes for these wonderfully intimate musical concerts and for providing the wine and treats. I am looking forward to next winter and, hopefully, another Home Routes Concert Series.
Certain musicians, or groups of musicians, often have “a lock” on a genre or a particular musical approach. For instance Blue grass and old timey musicians own banjo music. After all they virtually invented the instrument and the appropriate styles so it only stands to reason that they should “own” banjo music. Similarly, for a multitude of reasons that I could bore you to death with, “Classical Guitarists” have a lock on Guitar Duets, Trio and Quartets. “The Brazilian guitar duo João Luiz and Douglas Lora are one of the most exciting and recent chamber groups to emerge on the music scene. These two talented young guitarists combine energy and technique with a dazzling musicality………. the duo shows maturity, talent and perfect technique in their interpretations and executions of intricate Brazilian rhythms……. Their sonority is exceptional, robust and varied and their whole repertoire is played with verve and enthusiasm, with stylistic balance and sensitivity …….. Excepts from Wikipedia – Amen to all of that.
Classical music, and classical guitar may have a reputation for being stuffy, “uncool” and uninteresting. I think this piece, Bata Coxa, by the Brazilian composer Marco Pereira (born 1950) played by this very energetic duo should dispel some of those notions. CDs by the duo are expensive and hard to come by…… thank God for YouTube for giving me a chance to experience their music.
Spellbinding!!! Yep, that’s the word for the musicians and the performance. This is The Sultans of String third tour of the East Kootenays and their second performance at Centre 64. On their last trip to the area in February 2014 they performed with the Symphony of the Kootenays. Prior to that in January 2009 they performed here in Kimberley at Centre 64. They are currently on their 10th anniversary tour. Of course things do change and the musical configuration known as The Sultans of String has changed and evolved over the years. Having said that Drew Birston on electric bass and Chris McKool on 5 string violin are the constants in the ensemble. Back in 2009 the guitarist Eddie Paton was a member and somewhere along the way the ensemble enlisted the aid of Kevin Laliberte and his flamenco/rhumba guitar in developing the signature sound of The Sultans. The current core of ensemble includes Drew Birston, Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberte. Depending on the tour and circumstances the core ensemble is augmented with the addition of Cuban percussion, Oud (the Arabian ancestor of all guitar like instruments), Ney (Middle Eastern end blown flute) and for this tour Anwar Khurshid on Sitar and Jeff Faragher on Cello. The signature sound of the ensemble is a genre-hopping mixture of Celtic reels, flamenco, Gypsy-jazz, Arabic, Cuban, and South Asian rhythms all played with their trademark brand of virtuosity.
They kicked off the evening’s music with their original tune Enter the Gate with its wonderful melodic mix of violin and Sitar backed with a flamenco flavored guitar rhythm and bass line. Neil Gow’s Lament for the Death of his Second Wife is a well known Scottish lament written by the master Scottish fiddler Neil Gow way back at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was nicely paired with the Rakes of Marlow. There is some dispute about this second tune. Normally it is considered a standard Celtic tune but Anwar insists that he was taught the tune way back in his youth as a traditional Indian melody. Most of the Sultan’s music is instrumental but there was room for for the likes of Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind and Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. Throughout the evening they also played Luna the Whale, Hills of Green, Josie, Stomping at the Rex (a swing tune) and a sitar tune about snake charmers, an original about Nova Scotia’s Sable Island and my favorite Road to Kfarmishki. I felt that this was some sort of Turkish tune in an odd time signature (11/8, 12/8 , 14/8 or something like that) but the bass player Drew informs me that it a 4/4 tune with repeated two bar phrases. Oh well, I am not often right so I guess I am wrong again. Never-the-less it is a wonderful hypnotic tune that I really like. Here are some more images from a night of spellbinding music.
The patrons and the musicians would like to thank the Stone Fired Pizza for the food, A B&B AT 228 for the accommodations, Ray for the sound and all the organizers and volunteers that make the concert series possible.
Some Musical Notes:
Drew Birston plays a 1978 Fender Precision Bass.
Chris McKhool (no he is not Scottish) plays a five string violin tuned C G D A E (low to high) with an installed pickup and effect pedals. It is slightly larger than a conventional violin and allows the musician to cover the full sonic range of both the traditional violin and viola.
Kevin Laliberte plays a carbon fiber Blackbird guitar with a somewhat unconventional shape. From their web site: The Blackbird Rider Nylon’s one-piece, carbon fiber construction with hollow head, neck and body allows the entire guitar to resonate—–enhancing loudness, bass and sustain. You will never again face humidity or durability issues with the Rider carbon fiber nylon string guitar. With the optional Neck-up guitar accessory, your Rider is securely anchored– no footstool required! Plug it in and the optional MiSi or RMC individual string pickups accurately amplify your dynamic acoustic tone. BUILD TIME EIGHT WEEKS.
Anwar Khurshid plays a traditional Indian Sitar with installed pickups. Anwar tells me the instrument was built in 1479.I don’t know if I believe him. If it is true then it is in remarkable condition.
Jeff Faragher plays a standard symphonic cello with installed pickups and effect pedals.
I’m not a child of the Classic Rock Era. The sound track of my youth tended to be Jazz, Folk and later Celtic music. Having said that it would have been hard to ignore the revolution that took place in Pop music in the mid 1960s. I was in my mid twenties and although I was listening to the likes of Miles Davis and The Modern Jazz Quartet the electric guitar ruled the pop world and singer / song writers were shuffling the crooners and Tin-Pan Alley composers off into the sunset. Sure I knew the new rock sounds were there but I didn’t pay much attention to them. My rule of thumb was “if they are any good I will get to hear them eventually”. The Doors fit into that category. They were a little different from the run of the mill rockers and eventually they caught my attention. Although they had a rock persona and image they were not over the top. Essentially they were a bunch of minimalists that came came together in Los Angeles in 1965 with Jim Morrison as the vocalist and writer for the band; Ray Manzarek on keyboards; Robby Krieger on Guitar and drummer John Densmore. For recording purposes they would call upon highly skilled studio musicians to play bass and fill out the sound. The band got its name, at Morrison’s suggestion, from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception” . They were unique and among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison’s death in 1971 at age 27, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973. The Doors released eight albums between 1967 and 1971. When you stop and think about it they were not really on the scene for very long and yet they have persisted and ended up selling over 100 million records over the years. Recently the keyboard player Ray Manzarek has released a number of videos on YouTube that give some insight into band and how they worked. This is the first one with that wonderful Rhodes Keyboard sound.
To put in in context here is the Doors doing the song:
Here are other YouTube videos by Ray Manzarek.
All the videos are an interesting peek behind the scenes of one of the most influential rock bands of all times.
Post script 2017/04/21 – I have just come across this really cool version of RIDERS OF THE STORM
Postscript May 24, 2017 – Another marvelous solo acoustic guitar version