Dean Smith Quartet at Frank’s Restaurant

A fine and mellow Christmas at Frank’s Restaurant in Cranbrook with the Dean (Dino) Smith Quartet featuring Dean Smith on Guitar,Trombone and Vocals; Zach Smith on Alto Sax;  Ben Smith on Bass and Guitar and Jared Zimmer on Drums. The favorite Christmas carols, pop songs and show tunes of past eras were all there – We Three Kings, Let it Snow, Frosty the Snowman, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Dreaming of a White Christmas, Joy to the World, Jingle Bells and Greensleeves and many, many more. 

  

Saturday, December 23, 2017 may have been very frosty outside (minus 20 degrees centigrade) but inside Frank’s it was was warm, cosy and very “Christmassy”.

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Deja Vu all over again

From the get go, it was a full night of rock and roll and reggae. Even the poster had a 1968 vibe. The first band up was The Choice,  featuring James Neve – guitars and lead vocals; Rick Parsons – back up vocals and multiple keyboards and Brian Hamilton – drums and back up vocals. They served up a full platter of rock and roll favorites and in the process punched a lot of nostalgia buttons in the audience. James Neve is probably better known as a singer / song writer and was a key member of the band 60 Hertz. He also masquerades as a wayward solo performer known as Lonesome Jim. I get the impression that for this night James was living the dream of a 1968 rock and roll musician. He looked so happy………  Rick is also a well known local musician who just loves to hammer away at the keyboards. That gutsy, funky organ sound is no longer a feature of modern rock and roll and the scene is the poorer for it. It’s nice to have it back in the sonic arena and hear it bouncing off a dance hall wall. Who needs a bass player when you can have a full throttle organ doing the job?  Brian Hamilton is just back in the area and rounds out the band with his “in your face drumming”. For just a trio this band generates a lot of music and a lot of excitement.

  

The Choice traded off one hour sets with the Reggae band The Meditations. The band featured the young Moroccan musician Mehdi Makraz on lead guitar and vocals. Mehdi has been in the area for a while and at a recent Summer Sounds concert in Cranbrook he played electric bass with The Dark Fire Cloud and Lightning Band. The back up vocalist Syama Mama was also featured with that band. The drummer with the mandatory dreadlocks was Morgan and along with the well known local musician Peter Warland on electric bass locked down the rhythm section. Randy Tapp is a local musician and dance instructor and he played Alto and Tenor Saxes. Normally the band has a keyboard player (Landon) but he was not available for this performance.

  

At the intermission, if that’s the right word, the catering crew from the Green Door dished out Tacos for the dance patrons. After that it was back to the music. More vintage rock and reggae spiced up with some original compositions from Mehdi and his band mates. Here are some more images from the evening.

            

The only thing missing from the evening was a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, but as James Neve explained, there were so many great tunes and so little time that with much regret the CCR tune had to fall on the cutting floor. Better luck next time.

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SWEET ALIBI – House Concert

SWEET ALIBI HOUSE CONCERT Wednesday November 15, 2017, 7:30pm at 5768 Haha Creek Road, Wardner.

With the possible exception of Classical Chamber Music, small group truly acoustic performances are pretty rare these days. Even “folk” musicians “plug in”. The expectation of audiences, regardless of the music genre  or the performance venue is for the music to be amplified. The Sweet Alibi  house concert at Van and Shelagh Redecop’s place on Wednesday night is about as close as one can get to an acoustic performance.

The opening act, Mismatched Socks,  was 100% acoustic. No one plugged in and none of the vocalists were “miked”. This local family band  of related siblings and cousins have been performing around the area for a couple of years now and features Grace Cleland on mandolin; Rachel Cleland  on upright bass; Jason Cleland  on violin;  cousins and fellow siblings Rachel and Meaghan Gaudet on percussion and guitar. All musicians double up on vocals. This was the perfect venue to hear the sweet harmonies of the vocalists against the soft musical back drop of the accompanying instruments. They did a short set that included Rip Tide, Muddy Waters, Phillip Phillips  Home,  and the Lumineers  Hey Ho.

        

On the other hand Sweet Alibi did “plug in” their guitars but the vocals were 100% acoustic and the balance between the instruments and the vocals was absolutely perfect. The vocal harmonies were to die for. Having performed in the area last April this is their second concert at Van and Shelagh’s place. The band of Amber Rose – guitar, vocals and percussion; Michelle Anderson – banjo, vocals and guitar; Jess Rae Ayre  – guitar, vocals, percussion and harmonica were joined by bass guitarist Alistair Dunlop (It is rumored that Alistair first met the ladies in a Winnipeg North prison). The band performed  selections from their numerous recordings and it included their wonderful version of Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody and their tribute to the undefeated rodeo bull  Bodacious.

Here are some more images from the evening.

            

Thanks should go to the musicians of Sweet Alibi who spend so much time on the road touring to entertain such small, but welcoming audiences. Thanks to the “Cleland Clan” for coming out on a school night to perform  and thanks also to Shelagh and Van for hosting the concert, housing the musicians and providing the wine and delicious snacks.

We should do this again some time……..

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Stage 64 (Kimberley) Winter Jazz and Blues Concert Series – Melody Diachun

STAGE 64 WINTER JAZZ AND BLUES CONCERT SERIES  : Melody Diachun and her Quartet.  Saturday October 28, 2017, 8pm  

Black Orpheus (Portuguese: Orfeu Negro) is a 1959 film made in Brazil by French director  Marcel Camus and starring Marpessa Dawn and  Breno Mello. It is based on the play  Orfeu da Conceicao by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice , set in the modern context of a  favela in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval. The film was an international co-production among    companies in Brazil, France and Italy. The film is particularly noted for the musical soundtrack by two Brazilian composers:  Antonio Carlos Jobim , whose song “A Felicidade” opens the film; and  Luiz Bonfa, whose  Manha de Carnaval  and Samba de Orfeu  have become bossa nova classics. ….. Wikipedia.

In the early 1960’s that Brazillian film made its mark on me and the world of cinema and music. On it’s release it won an Oscar for the best foreign film of the year and the sound track introduced the world to the wonders of Brazilian music. I remember the film well. After all, I saw it on the big screen about seven times in the first year of it’s release, and over the years I wore out a VHS copy and I still have a DVD version on my shelf at home. For Jazz players the music was a revelation. Here was a form of music that used jazz harmonic language and improvisational techniques along with new sophisticated melodies and rhythms. The words may have been in Portuguese but the musical language was challenging, sensual and, in some ways, the antithesis of the Hard Bop jazz style of the day. Brazilian classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida and Californian saxophonist Bud Shank had explored and recorded Bossa Nova as early as 1953 but it was the album Jazz Samba by the jazz tenor sax player  Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd, along with the hit single  Desafinado,  that was the start of Bossa Nova as it is now generally understood. Stan Getz gained the benefit of Charlie Byrd’s 1961 serendipitous tour of Brazil. Byrd had fallen in love with the music while on tour there and when he returned to the USA he sought out Stan Getz, played him the discs he’d brought back from Brazil, and suggested they get together and record their own album in a Brazilian style. The rest is history. The  Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd collaborations were monumentally successful and Jazz musicians adopted the style with a vengeance. They were the first of many musicians to do so and to this day Bossa Nova still continues to hold a grip on the imagination of jazz musicians. It may have been a craze at the time but it is one I knew would last.

On, the other hand, around that same time “The Fab Four” (aka The Beatles) launched their own musical craziness on the pop world. At the time I didn’t think the music would survive the teeny-bopper hysteria that almost drowned it out. Another case of music so loud you can’t actually hear it.  I couldn’t see the hysteria or the music lasting. I guess I was wrong. The hysteria faded away and the music did survive the craziness and in this day and age their songs are standards that rate right up there with the tunes in the  “The American Song Book”.

That brings us to the Melody Diachun concert on Saturday night at Stage 64 in Kimberley. Her premise for the evening was to bring together the music of the Bossa Nova era (mostly the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim) and the music of the Beatles into a night of pulsing rhythms, beautiful melodies and great lyrics delivered with artful arrangements and solo improvisations by a group of stellar musicians from the Nelson area. The drummer Steven Parish and bass player Mark Spielman anchored the band for the rhythmic, melodic  and harmonic  adventures of Melody Diachun on vocals and shakers, Clinton Swanson  on tenor sax and flute  and Doug Stephenson  on nylon and steel string guitars. Most of the Bossa Nova material was from the pen of Antonio Carlos Jobim and included Quiet Nights (Corcovada), If You Never Come to Me, The Girl from Ipanema, Samba do Aviao, One Note Samba, Dindi,  and a nice mish/mash of  Insensitive with the Beatles tune Yesterdays. Most of the songs were sung in English with the occasional foray into Portuguese. Although not exactly a Bossa Nova song, but never-the-less appropriate for the evening, the group performed Horace Silver’s jazz classic  Song for my Father. Horace’s father came from the Cape Verde Islands that, coincidently, has a rich Portuguese based musical heritage similar to Brazil. Interspersed among Jobim’s songs there were the following Beatles songs Hard Days Night , Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird, Let It Be,  All you need is Love and John Lennon’s Imagine. The only song that was really outside the box was Cole Porter’s Night and Day and that was still a good fit for the evening. Melody’s vocals were in top form and the soloists were a joy to hear. Doug Stephenson’s nylon string and steel guitar work was a revelation as, in previous Kimberley concerts, he had been  masquerading as a bass player. Because he looks like he is having way too much fun to be legal I do worry about Doug. Clinton Swanson has performed in Kimberley a number of times and his full bodied tenor sax solos, as always, were spot on. Melody’s introductions to the songs were delightful and entertaining.

Here are some images from a magical evening of music.

      

   

The band and the audience would like to thank Keith, the organizing committee, the volunteers, Ray on sound and lights, the Burrito Grill, A B&B at 228 and the Stem Winder for the support that made this concert series possible. On a final note a comment from my buddy Bill St. Amand summing up the evening  …….

IT DOESN’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS”.

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AUTUMN TONES

AUTUMN TONES is a chamber music ensemble of local musicians with Nicola Everton on clarinet, Sue Gold on piano and Martine denBok on violin and viola. All three musicians are associated with the Symphony of the Kootenays as either members of the orchestra or as visiting soloists. Nicola and Sue have performed many times in the area, along with cellist Jeff Faragher, in the classical chamber music ensemble THE SELKIRK TRIO. In both the Selkirk Trio and Autumn Tones the intent seems to be to explore the modern edge of classical music as well as excursions into the realms of the traditional classical repertoire, Jazz, Latin, Klezmer or anything else that strikes their fancy. On this beautiful fall afternoon in the lobby of the Key City Theatre that is the musical realms they set out to explore.

They kicked off the afternoon with Darius Milhaud’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano. For me it was a moment of unbelievable synchronicity. On the drive to the theater I had been listening to some Brazilian Choro on the car CD player (yes, some of us still listen to CDs). On this beautiful fall afternoon what could be more appropriate than bouncing down the highway to the warm rhythms of Brazilian Choro. From the opening bars of the Milhaud piece the choro music I had just been listening to immediately came to mind and I began mentally adding in the percussive sounds of the Brazilian Pandeiro to the trio on stage.The Pandeiro is a Brazilian tambourine that is the heart beat of  samba. That mental notion is completely understandable when you consider Darius Milhaud’s musical associations with Jazz and Brazilian music.  He was one of the most prolific modern classical composers of the last century and was influenced by the sounds of Jazz and Brazilian music. While it is not his only claim to fame he was a musical mentor to the Jazz musician Dave Brubeck. So much so that Brubeck named his son Darius after the composer. One of Milhaud’s former students was the popular songwriter  Burt Baccharach. Milhaud is reported to have told Bacharach, “Don’t be afraid of writing something people can remember and whistle. Don’t ever feel discomfited by a melody.”.  This Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano lived up to that standard with lots of melody, rhythm and musical interplay between the instruments.

Popularity in music usually means world tours and mega arena performances. Modern classical composers do not rate that sort of popularity or attention and yet, in the realm of classical music, Arvo Part is probably the most popular modern classical composer of the last few years. This Estonian composer of classical and religious music uses self invented compositional techniques in the minimalist style (think Phillip Glass with darker Eastern European overtones). For this afternoon’s performance the trio selected Part’s popular Spiegel im Spiegel written in 1978. “Spiegel im Spiegel” in German literally can mean both “mirror in the mirror” as well as “mirrors in the mirror”, referring to an infinity mirror which produces an infinity of images reflected by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads in the composition are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth. The piece was originally written for a single piano and violin. Other versions exist with cello or viola, double bass, clarinet, trombone, flute etc.  This performance is for piano, clarinet and violin and is in F major in 6/4 time.

Aram Il’yich Khachaturian (1903 – 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor and is best known for his composition  the Sabre Dance. He was the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century and is considered one of Soviet Russia’s  leading composer. While following the established musical traditions of Russia, he broadly used Armenia and, to a lesser extent, Caucasian, Eastern & Central European, and Middle Eastern peoples’ folk music in his works.  His style is “characterized by colorful harmonies, captivating rhythms, virtuosity, improvisations, and sensuous melodies”. The trio performed movements 1 and 3 from his Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.

In the vernacular the clarinet has been referred to as a liquorice stick. Maybe it is the colour of the instrument but I like to think it is because of the liquid smoothness of the music of Mozart when played on the clarinet. Autumn Tones pulled us away from the “edginess” of contemporary classical music into the smooth mainstream of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, K498 in E flat Major for piano, clarinet and viola. No composer before Mozart had written for this combination of instruments. The origin of the nickname Kegelstatt is interesting. The German word Kegelstatt means “a place where skittles are played,” akin to a bowling alley. Mozart is reputed to have written this while playing skittles. At the time the clarinet was a relatively new instrument and in the first performance the then vituoso Anton Stadler played clarinet, Mozart the viola, and Franziska von Jacquin the piano. This trio composition, along with his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet concerto helped increase the instrument’s popularity. The piece is in three movements: Andante /  Menuetto /  Rondeaux: Allegretto

 

For the final piece the trio took us back to the edge for a little slice of Yiddish Klezmer in the tune Moldavanke. This style of music is mostly associated with Eastern European Jewish traditions and is performed in a lively bouncing style with overtones of Jewish humor and melancholy. Nicola has fallen in love with the style and wants to put together a Klezmer band.

  

Autumn Tones would like to thank The Kootenay Cultural Alliance and sponsors that have made this tour possible.

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A BONUS: By it’s very nature music is of the moment. As soon as the musical note leaps into the air it is in the process of dying and until the invention of sound recordings that was it. All we had left were memories.  The recording industry has changed all that and performances can become more permanent if they are recorded. Unfortunately not all performances make it “onto wax”. This concert by Autumn Tones is now but a pleasant memory. Perhaps some day Autumn Tones and The Selkirk Trio can be persuaded to record those musical gems that over recent years they have cast to the winds. To make up for that here is a bonus for you from YouTube –

Darius Milhaud: Suite op.157b for Clarinet, Violin and Piano – Cologne Chamber Soloists

ENJOY

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HOME ROUTES HOUSE CONCERT – Sweet Alibi

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
 
etc…………………………..
Also there was Khari Wendell McClelland’s Song 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:

Amber Rose

Jess Rae Ayre           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.

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Studio 64 Spring Concert Series – Sultans of String

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.

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Studio 64 Spring Concert Series: The Silver Screen Scoundrels

THE SILVER SCREEN SCOUNDRELS at Centre 64, Saturday March 18, 2017, 8pm

There is a long tradition of comedy duos in the cinema that have included the likes of  Laurel & Hardy; Abbot & Costello; Bing Crosby & Bob Hope; Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. These performers have all been a feature of the cinematic landscape from way back since the beginning of film making. In this day and age there are probably other personalities out there that still  fit that bill but have escaped my awareness. Also in the silent film days it was not unusual for musicians to play accompaniments to the action on the screen. So, The Silver Screen Scoundrels are part of a legacy, albeit, with a bit of a twist. They not only do the comedy bit and play the music they are also the actors, producers and directors of the silent films that are interspersed throughout the evening. The two featured scoundrels are Keith Picot  singing and playing a very beat up 1947 Kay upright bass. Although the introduction of the electric bass guitar largely replaced the acoustic upright bass in the 1960s, in their day Kay basses were the “goto” bass. The other member of the duo is Brandon Isaak (aka Yukon Slim) on vocals, drums, harmonica, acoustic and slide guitar.  The music the scoundrels perform is mostly blues based swing that is a good fit for the slapstick black and white videos up thrown up on the screen during the evening. Brandon plays wonderful “four on floor” rhythm guitar interspersed with great single string jazz solos. Keith is the raconteur of the duo. With only one the exception, a train song,  all of the tunes and songs performed were originals by Brandon Isaak.  The songs and tunes have such an old texture they end up coming across as very fresh and new. There is no modern pop music here. It is music you don’t really remember having heard before but in actual fact you have because it is buried deep in our cultural memory. The duo just bring it back to the front of our brains. Some of the original tunes included Back to New Orleans, Up and at Them (an old Twisters song) and Time on my Hands. Keith  is a masterful bass player and natural raconteur and the result is a relaxed verbal and musical conversation between  two fine performers. The show comes across with an amazing degree of humour and spontaneity and just plain old fashion fun. I think every member of the audience came away from the evening with a huge smile on their face. It was a night of great music and wonderful entertainment.Oh, before I forget, there is one unsung performer of the evening. Mostly she is off to the side and largely out of the spot light.  That is the duo’s female pal Cup Cake Betty.  I hate to break it to Keith and Isaak but I don’t think she has been entirely faithful. She seems to have been somewhat promiscuous and is known far and wide as Muffin Mary. Read into that what you will.

Here are some images from the evening:

                    

Thank you Mr. Marty Musser for bringing this duo to the attention of the organizing committee . Thanks to Nancy at the Burrito Grill for feeding the musicians and “A B&B at 228″ for providing the accommodation.Thanks to Randy and  Al for the lights and , projection. The musicians also offer a special thanks to ” Raymond, the patron saint of pain in the ass musicians” (their words) on sound.

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Don’t forget the next concert in the series, THE SULTANS OF STRING who will be performing on Wednesday April 5, 2017, 8pm. This is a return engagement for this very special group.

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BREAKWATER – The New Edition

Cello player Jeff Faragher does not need an introduction. He is probably the best known professional musician in the Kootenays. He is the musical director and conductor of the Symphony of the Kootenays. He is a classical cello soloist and teacher of the first order as well as a performer in number of classical  chamber music configurations. And, if that is not enough he the driving force behind a “celtic mish-mash” called Breakwater. This group plays in a somewhat  Celtic style but, in Jeff’s own words, it is “a mish-mash” of everything from traditional fiddle music, classical, jazz, pop, film music and pretty well anything musical that comes to hand. Over the past two years the group has toured the region extensively. First in a configuration that included Aurora Smith on violin; Jeff Faragher on cello; Ben Johnson on drums and percussion and Rob Fahie on double bass. This was a tight, exciting and well balanced performing unit.  That was last year and, of course, as always, things move on. Aurora moved to Victoria; rehearsal travel became an issue for Ben (he lives on the remote east shore of Kootenay Lake); Jeff is now splitting  his time between Nelson and Calgary, and Rob, although still available, has a number of other projects on the go. To keep the “mish-mash” mix bubbling Jeff has enlisted the aid of two top flight Calgary  musicians. James Desautels has taken over the fiddle chair. James is a full time professional musician and teacher with many, many  years experience in a multitude of circumstances and geographical locations including residency in Austin, Texas. Similarly, Rob Maciak is also a full time professional musicians and is best known as a percussionist and teacher. He is currently on the faculty of Mount Royal College in Calgary. Although, in Breakwater Rob plays drums and percussion, he is also an outstanding classical performer on tuned percussion (tympani, chimes, marimba and the like). He performs as a marimba soloist in classical symphony orchestras. He will be the featured soloist with the Symphony of Kootenays this fall performing Neg Rosaaro’s Concerto #1 for Marimba and Strings.

There is an old notion that classical musicians cannot play outside the box. That may have been true sixty or more years ago but now that is no longer the case. Often a sound formal music education is a basis to move onto the exploration of a whole plethora of musical options. A quick research of the resume any number of of top flight musicians will reveal an extra ordinary number who have formal academic and performance  credentials out the ying-yang. All musicians in this ensemble would fall into that category. This new incarnation of Breakwater is different from the first edition. For a starter it is a trio rather than a quartet and while it does not have the mellow polish of the first edition it does have more of an edge and a higher entertainment quotient. The current repertoire draws from the same arrangements and sources but with a few more entertainment  motifs thrown in for good measure. The “mish-mash” of Bach’s Jesu of Man’s Desire overlaid on top of the the old classical soprano tear jerker  Ave Marie is still there to give new life to a couple of classical staples as  the trio seamlessly slides into the old fiddle tune The Ash Plant. Other songs and tunes  during the evening included Jeff Faragher’s version of the maritime ballad  Song of the Mira coupled with the fiddle tune Stolen Apples; Jeff’s version of this ballad is probably one of the best around. James Desautels did more than justice to the old American fiddle show pieces The Orange Blossom Special, The Arkansas Traveler and  The Soldiers Joy  and a series of waltzes that included the Tennessee Waltz and the Shannon Waltz. As promised, the evening’s “mish-mash” contained a little bit of everything from Beethoven through some fiddle tunes in 7/8; Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind and Running Through Tall Grass; Natalie McMaster’s Volcanic Jig; the traditional Southern Song There is more Love and my all time favorite fiddle tune The Pelican Reel. It was quite a night of good food, good cheer and great entertainment and one that I hope will be repeated at some time in the not too distant future. Here are some images from the night.

  

Heidi Khani – road manager

              

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Studio 64 Spring Concert Series – Don Alder

Studio 64 Spring Concert Series – Don Alder Saturday February 11, 2017, 8pm.

Don Alder is an acoustic guitar player who performs in a style I describe as “”two fisted percussive”. The great Canadian acoustic guitarist Don Ross would probably describe it  as “Heavy Wood”. It is  a funky, take no prisoners style of music that owes much to rock and roll sensibilities albeit with more highly developed guitar technique and musicality. The style has developed over the past thirty years and has virtually stood conventional guitar technique on it head. Rather than restricting the left hand to fretting the notes and the right hand to strumming or picking there is a new role for the right hand for fretting and tapping the fret board for the desired notes and adding percussive effects by tapping the body of the guitar. The first time I came across this approach was in the playing of Stanley Jordan in the mid -1980s.   Stanley was a jazz guitarist who played electric guitar  by using both hands to tap the frets to get the required musical notes. It was a style more akin to a keyboard instrument than a guitar. He tuned his guitar in fourths (E A D G C F) and developed an harmonic approach based on that tuning. Although there were some percussive elements in his playing the whole thing was more pianistic than percussive.

The percussive elements in acoustic guitar playing have been around for a long time. In Flamenco guitar playing guitar  body slaps and taps have been an integral  part of that style of music for many, many years. Percussive guitar playing is nothing new for flamenco guitarists.  Modern acoustic guitarists such as Don Ross, Tommy Emmanuel and Don Alder have developed a percussive language that takes it to a whole new level. It is best explained by Tommy Emmanuel in a TED TALK (click on the link at the bottom of this blog). Essentially the acoustic guitarist now tries to  emulates a drum kit by tapping on various parts of the guitar body to create the sound of the snare and bass drums. To this he will add bass runs on the strings to emulate a regular bass and, of course he adds the melody on top to create a full band effect. To expand melodic possibilities modern acoustic guitarists have taken to tapping the fret board  (a la Stanley Jordan) to sound specific notes and create melodic runs that would be difficult or nigh on impossible to obtain using conventional techniques. They have expanded the role of artificial harmonics in their musical landscape to create ringing bell like cascades of notes.  (The production of artificial harmonics is a technique of touching the guitar string in a specific way, generally with the right hand,  to produce notes that are an octave or more above the usual fretted note – the overall effect is a series of bell like sounds that adds interest to the music).

Don Alder is originally from Williams Lake and is a master of this style of acoustic guitar playing. As near as I can tell Don, like Tommy Emmanuel, is a self taught musician who has arrived at his style of playing though diligent exploration, experimentation and practice.  Tommy Emmanuel tends to favor the reinterpretation of popular well known songs and tunes. Don, on the other hand plays mostly original compositions that have evolved out of his personal experiences, memories and musical explorations. On Saturday night at Stage 64 he took us on a tour of these memories and experiences with such evocative tunes as The Wall (based on his experiences with Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour), Dancing With the Spin Doctors (reflections on the recent elections in the USA), Not a Planet  ( Pluto’s decline in status), Wok the Dog (where upon Don learned that the Wok is not a Chinese invention or even a Chinese word), Going Rogue, Haunting Me, Armed and Dangerous (an excursion into the rhythmic realms of 6/8 time), Sophrosyme (a tribute to his grand mother), and Arrows will Fly. These  last two compositions  he played on the Brunner  Baritone Guitar. This is a lovely mellow instrument and on Arrows will Fly there were some lovely pizzicato effects . Another very lyrical piece was Marshall’s Lanai  (memories of a friend).

Don’s instrument of choice is a Yamaha AC-3R. The instrument he plays is a stock model straight off the shelf with an additional magnetic pickup in the sound hole. He also plays a Brunner travel guitar. This Swiss made instrument is fairly unique in that it has a detachable neck that allows the instrument to be folded down to fit in a small suitcase suitable for overhead storage in air lines. He has it set up in a baritone tuning.  Like his fellow Canadian guitarist Don Ross, Don seems to favor glue-on acrylic nails but unlike the other Don he does not use a thumb pick.

As always this Studio 64 concert was a stunning success. More so because of the Yamaha FG800 guitar  given away as a door prize. The lucky winner was Sonya Parker (I am sorry to tell you John your wife has nor intention of passing the guitar on to you).

         

The Studio 64 organizing committee would like to thank Nancy of the Burrito Grill for feeding Don, thanks also go to Keith and Kate Nicholas for providing Don’s accommodation  and Ray of Ray’s Music for providing the sound and organizing the guitar give-away door prize.

Here is that Ted Talk Bonus link

And if you have never heard Stanley Jordan then here is a treat for you –

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