George Crumb’s BLACK ANGELS

  La Cafamore String Quartet at the Knox Presbyterian Church,

April 20, 2013, 7:30pm

La Cafamore posterCollectively musicians and their dedicated audiences are a conservative lot. It seems that the music we are introduced to between the ages of fifteen and thirty years becomes the sound track of our lives. If you are a baby boomer then the chances are that Classic Rock is your sound track. For those born a little later probably it will be Heavy Metal. Likewise musicians reflect what they have been exposed to either as a listener or as a journeyman while they are learning their craft. Jazz musician usually rattle around in the cage of be-bop or the immediate post bop schools of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Classical musicians are completely embedded in the Romantic and post Romantic schools of music. So, I guess, it explains the popularity of Tribute Bands, the never ending revivals of the same La Cafamore String Quartetpopular  musicals and the stagnation of the Classical Symphony Orchestra Repertoire. So it is like a breathe of fresh air when the local ensemble La Cafamore String Quartet (Carolyn Cameron, Angele Synde, Jeff Faragher, & Alexis Moore) attempts to blow the wax out of our ears with some pretty adventurous programming. They tour through the Kootenays every spring and fall and during each tour they bring to audiences music that is fresh and challenging. For me the high light of their program last spring was Steve Reich’s Different Trains. This spring they have tried to out do themselves with George Crumb’s  “Black Angels” and Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor – “Death and the Maiden”.  On the surface this would seem to be sombre fare for an evening’s entertainment. And yet, by no stretch of the imagination was this program a “snoozer”. The stage with its black backdrop and the Black Angel motif set the atmosphere for the processional entrance of Gabriel’s Message (a Basque Christmas Carol). I am not sure how a cello player manages to master the art of holding and bowing his instrument while marching but, whatever the technique required, it did not appear to be a  Tuned Crystal Glassesgreat challenge for Jeff Faragher. The stage props of crystal glasses, cymbals, gongs, metal thimbles and a displayed score that looked like a work of art were an intriguing teaser for what was to come. Make no mistake Black Angels is a very modern piece of music. The opener for the composition was entitled Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects and it would have been right at home on the sound track of John Cronenberg’s The Naked Lunch. This was not tuneful music, and as Jeff mentioned in his introduction, it wasn’t meant to be. The composer’s intention was to make us feel uncomfortable. The full title for George Crumb’s Black Angels is “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land”. Here is a quote from the CD liner notes of the famous recording of BLACK ANGELS by THE KRONOS QUARTET: “BLACK ANGELS is probably the only quartet to have been inspired by the Vietnam War. The work draws from an arsenal of sounds including shouting, chanting, whistling, whispering, gongs, maracas and crystal glasses. The score bears two inscriptions: in tempore belli (in time of war) and Finished on Friday the Thirteenth, March 1970. BLACK ANGELS was conceived as a kind of parable on our  Jeff and the Scoretroubled contemporary world. The work portrays a voyage of the soul. The three stages of the voyage are Departure (fall from grace), Absence (spiritual annihilation) and Return (redemption)”. George Crumb is an American who composed this piece at the height of the war in Vietnam so the darkness of the music is understandable. During the intermission the quartet’s cellist Jeff Faragher  walked the audience through some aspects of the composer’s score. It was a fascinating document that looked more like a piece of art than a musical score. In the second half of the program and  Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” the quartet returned to the readily recognizable musical vocabulary of the Romantic Era. The second movement of the quartet uses the theme from one of Schubert’s songs of the same name. Overall the mood of the evening may have been dark but the execution of the music was full of interesting musical techniques, sounds and explorations. The music was a far cry from polite string quartet wedding music and a planet away from your standard FM Classic Rock radio music. This was an evening of truly adventurous music.

The Stage Setting             Tuned Crystal Glasses  Tuned Crystal Glasses and score     The Score   Carolyn Cameron     Jeff Faragher     Carolyn Cameron  Death and the Maiden Score                                 Stage Setting   Angela Synde     Jeff Faragher and some unorthodox bowing     Carolyn Cameron bowing the crystal glasses       Jeff Faragher     Alexis Moore     Jeff Faragher   Alexis Moore              Carolyn Cameron

La Cafamore String Quartet - Angela Synde, Carolyn Cameron, Jeff Faragher, Alexis Moore La Cafamore String QuartetLa Cafamore String Quartet La Cafamore String Quartet La Cafamore String Quartet Black Angel Header@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

David Newberry and the Nautical Miles at The Driftwood Concert House


Nautical Miles Poster

Way, way back in the days before laptop computers were even in the realm of SciFi Gunther Schuller coined the phrase “Third Stream” to describe the emerging musical hybrid of Jazz and Classical music. The idea has probably lost relevance in this day and age and yet, the idea of “musical streams” is as good a way as any to describe the music scene. In the local sense there is “mainstream” music that is largely the focus of the Key City Theatre, various educational programs and associated festivals. Without wishing to be unkind this is a somewhat bland amalgam of just about anything that passes for music these days. Then there is the testosterone driven “heavy metal rock” stream that seems to have found a new home in the Byng Roadhouse. This music is  certainly not bland but rather goes to the opposite extreme where audiences risk deafness and burst eardrums at almost every performance. Then down a notch from that is the “open mic / jam session” stream  that is mostly classic rock with bits of folk/rock and country thrown into the mix. There is a fourth stream that flows mostly under the radar stream. This is usually very original, intelligent,  and, usually, acoustic music (whatever that means these days) and is practiced by a huge number of wandering performers and troubadours who scratch out a marginal living as travelling musicians.  Over the years Gord Johnson and Terry Miller have promoted a superb number of concerts in the Beannick Subscription Concert Series  that utilizes this important source of talent. Also over the last few years the La Cafamore String Quartet  from Nelson has toured the area regularly with classical programs that are definitely outside the box. All of the above utilize established concert halls and licensed Darin Welch - hostestablishments. What is new on the local scene, and one that opens up a whole new palette of sonic sensibilities, is the house concert series sponsored by Jen and Darin Welch at the Driftwood Concert House. Jen and Darrin also dip into that pool of travelling musicians and their primary focus appears to be the promotion of the singer/song writing tradition. Dave Newberry and the Nautical Miles was the fourth house concert in the series. I attended the previous concert by Belle Plaine and that was a wake up call for me as to the potential of the house concert concept. For this, the latest concert in the series, David Newberry and the Nautical Miles from Vancouver delivered an evening of superb acoustic music. A step away from the almost worn out standard rock quartet (bass, drums, rhythm and lead guitars) the band utilized the talents Tim Tweedaleof Tim Tweedale on a Weisenborn guitar Weissenborn ) and Lucus Schuller on a muted drum kit to give musical textures that are virtually unheard in this day and age of over amplified music. The music was subtle, well Lucas Schullerrehearsed and arranged with a wide dynamic range that was very pleasing to the ear. The band was rounded out by Corbin Murdoch playing a beautiful guitar built by Ed Bond of Vancouver (Tinker Guitars ) and Simon Rotheisler on electric bass. Song writing and vocal credits were shared by Corbin and special guest David Newberry both of whom drew inspiration from accident, incidents and the world around them. Their world seemed to be full of humor, issues and, thankfully, an absence of youthful angst. There were some whimsical songs  such as I’m Sorry Dude, a song about Jack Kerouac (So it Goes), a murder ballad (Slow) and a wonderful anthem She was my Lover, a Pretty Good One for a While, that  featured a rousing chorus. The songs were excellent, the sound superb and it was a thrill to hear every whisper and nuance of the music that was being spun out before your very eyes (and ears). Tim Tweedale’s playing on the Weissenborn was exquisite and I would have liked him to have done more than the one featured instrumental.  Of special mention is the drummer Lucas Schuller. It is extremely rare to hear a drummer who actually knows the meaning of the phrase “musical dynamics”. From whisper soft strokes with brushes and bundles to accented sticks and mallets he is a drummer well worth a listen.  Try and take in one of these house concerts over the next little while and I guarantee you will be reluctant to ever again attend concerts in any other venue. Here are some images from the concert (click for a larger view) : The next Driftwood House Concert  will be on Sunday, April 28, 2013: Christa Couture w/- Jess Hill from Vancouver. Check their websites at Chris Couture  Jess Hill

Corbin Murdoch       Simon Rotheisler      David NewberryTim Tweedale      Corbin Murdoch      Simon Rotheisler In the audience       David Newberry     Tim Tweedale  Corbin Murdoch's Tinker guitar       In the audience      Lucas Schuller  In the audience      Simon Rotheisler     630. David Newberry Weissenborn guitar drum kit          


PS :  a  special note – The  Rayco Weissenborn guitar played by Tim was built in Smithers BC  ( Rayco )


Enchanted April

Enchanted April PosterEnchanted April, full dress rehearsal at the Studio/Stage Door, Wednesday April 10, 2013, 8pm.

It’s a fairly common theme in life and in art. Women, mostly middle aged,  become disillusioned with their hum drum  life and husbands that no longer pay attention to them. They look for a way out, or at least some diversion to color their existence, and often this comes in the form of travel. To turn the old saying on it’s head “a holiday is as good as a change”. I suspect there is a whole sector of the travel industry that caters to these needs. In Australia the The Australian Woman’s Weekly, now a glossy monthly magazine with a circulation of over 500,000/issue,  for years sponsored guided world tours for these jaded ladies. Any casual observation, and an ear for Aussie accents, will detect  hundreds of these ladies getting off the tour buses in Jasper and Banff during the summer. In art, the play and the movie Shirley Valentine explored the jaded female theme. If you remember Shirley had resorted to talking to the wall until she packed her bags and headed off to Greece for a bit of sunshine and whatever to spice up her life. She leaves behind a well  Lottemeaning, but unaware, husband who she hopes will get the message. The play Enchanted April revisits, with some variations,  that same emotional territory. Lotty Wilton, played by Tracy Maguire, after a chance encounter with Rose Arnott, played by Jennifer Inglis, schemes to use her pin money to head off to Italy for some much needed R&R. To defray the cost of the castle they wish to rent they enlist the help of a very  Rose Arnott (Jennifer Inglis)colorful but  jaded socialite, Lady Caroline Bramble, played by Michelle Lemay,  and an older lady, Mrs. Graves, played by Nicola Kaufman. The first half of the play revolves around their schemes, anxieties and apprehensions.  Lady Caroline (Michelle Lemay)Lotty is all gungho while Rose is not so sure. Meanwhile the husbands Mellersh Wilton (Sean Swinwood) and Frederick Arnott (Peter Schalk) are mostly oblivious to the ongoing emotional dynamics. The play is set in the years immediately following World War I and the great ‘flu pandemic of 1919. There is sense of loss and aloneness that pervades the first half of the play. The director Terry Miller has done a great job of enhancing these emotions as well as invoking a dreary England with it’s never ending rain and dull interiors. He skillfully moves the first half of the play through nine scenes and eight  Mrs Graveslocations with only slight variations of a single set. All of that changes when the action moves to sunny Italy. I wish I hadn’t left the room for the intermission when they changed set. The contrast between dreary England and sunny Italy is astounding.  I spent a good portion of the second half of the play trying to figure out how they changed the set so quickly and dramatically. The Italian sunshine, the castle, the Anthony and Constanzasetting, the maid Constanza (Andrea Grossmand)  and the owner Anthony Wilding (David Popoff) all work their magic on the ladies as they slowly undergo their respective transformations towards happy resolutions at the end of the play.

Even before the play started, while waiting for the curtain to rise (so to speak), the choice of music, prepared me for a wonderful evening. The choice of Dick Hyman, one of my very favorite  piano players, created the appropriate atmosphere for the opening act. For those of us who notice these things Dick Hyman, although not a household name,  is a favorite of Woody Allen and has often been featured on the sound tracks in many of his films. He is an incredibly skillful musician whose repertoire virtually run the whole gamut of jazz piano. Later, in keeping with the switch to sunny Italy, Dick Hyman took a rest and the music became decidedly Italian with a great selection from the  Italian operas. Even the piano music, though not Italian (maybe Spanish),  that Mellersh Wilton was “playing” off stage towards the end of the play was a delight.

Here are some more images from this delightful play – first dreary England
(click on the images for larger views).

Lottie (Tracy McGuire)      Rose      Lady Caroline      Lotte       Fred Arnott (Peter Schalk)       Anthony Wilding (David Popoff)   Lady Caroline, Lotte and Rose                Lotte and Mellersh     Rose and Frederick      Frederick Arnott      Rose         Rose    – and in Sunny Italy:

Anthony Wilding (David Popoff)         Lady Caroline       Rose Rose        Lotte        Lotte and Rose Mrs Graves        Anthony       Mrs Graves Rose         Frederick       Constanza (Andrea Grossman)      Mellersh and Lotte Wilton in the moonlight


Cara Luft at Lotus Books

Cara Luft: Live at Lotus Books, Cranbrook B.C. 7:30 pm , Wednesday April 3, 2013

Cara Luft

On her resume Cara probably lists her occupation as “Professional Folksinger”. I know for a fact that is how she described herself to the US Customs personnel. But that is another story and it is one she tells in the song It’s Not Mine. There are not too many people in the world that could be included in the select group of “Professional Folk Singers”. Woody SocksGuthrie was one. So was Pete Seeger. These were musicians that basically wandered the country, and the world, making their living by singing and writing songs that arose from that huge body of work, documented and undocumented, described as “folk music” or “traditional music”. They are basically a modern extension of an occupation that goes way back, and probably beyond, medieval times. Troubadours of old literally sang for their supper. As did the pipers, instrumentalists, story tellers and hedge poets of the old world.  Cara is in pretty select company. She comes by her profession honestly. Cara LuftCara was born into a family of traditional musicians. Her father is a well known banjo player and mentor of young musicians in Calgary. Cranbrook is pretty lucky to have been associated with Cara over the years. Years back she performed at Doug Erickson place out at Mayook. She has toured through the area with THE WAILING JENNINGS and done numerous solo gigs in Cranbook, Creston and Fernie over the years. Everything from a headliner act at St. Eugene Mission Casino to small gallery and small stage venues. The engagement at LOTUS BOOKS  is a perfect example of Cara performing in a small intimate environment. Erin and Ferdy, the new owners of Lotus Books, re-organized the kids book section to accommodate a small performance area for the evening. Fifty five very excited patrons showed up for this the first of, hopefully, many future intimate concerts. There are not 150a. Cara Luftenough superlatives in the English language to truly capture the essence of a Cara Luft performance. Joyous and brilliant are two words that immediately came to mind as Cara wove a rich tapestry of stories and song into a very memorable evening. Her clawhammer banjo playing sparkled on an original piece called My Darling One  as did her encore performance of The Huron Carol . In the past Cara resisted the pull of the banjo but now that  she is well down that road and it is a joy to hear the steady bum-ditty-bum clawhammer banjo rhythm, the tapping of feet and the delicate melodies floating over the top of it all. If a musician must play banjo this is the style to play. And, if one is a banjo player, then one must accept that  huge repertoire of “banjo jokes“ as part of the baggage. The prize of the evening came from a member of the audience – “ a terrorist group took a busload of banjo players hostage and threatened to release one every hour until their demands were met“. On guitar, Cara restored Led Zepplin’s Black Mountain Side to it`s rightful place as Bert Jansch`s interpretation of the traditional ballad Black Water Side. Also on guitar Cara revisited Davy  Cara LuftGraham`s interpretation of She Moves Through the Fair. It is great hear credit being given to such ground breaking acoustic guitarists as Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. Both of these musicians have recently passed on but their legacy is still with us. Cara has a number of strong traditional songs, including The Plough Boy and the Cockney in  her repertoire. In addition she has some some original songs of her own. Her song, It`s Not Mine, is a recounting of a particularly difficult encounter with the US Customs Service. It was a tour de force of joyous audience participation and humor. The audience obviously enjoyed the evening’s show with a call for at least three encores (I lost count). For this inaugural concert at Lotus Books Ferdy and Erin chose a winner. A Cara Luft concert is an unforgettable event.

Cara Luft        Cara Luft       Cara Luft  They call it clawhammer  Dave Prinn - musician   Cara Luft       James Neve - musician      Cara Luft   Cara's Thompson Guitar (Vernon, BC)                      Steen Jorgensen - musician  Cara Luft      Trevor and Janice       Cara Luft


 PS – I forgot to mention Cara’s rousing clawhammer version of Guns and Roses’  Sweet Child of Mine. Rock and Roll never sounds this good.


Joshua Burning at BJ’s Creekside Pub

Joshua Burning at BJ’s Creekside Pub, Saturday March 30, 2013, 7:30 PM

Joshua BurningThis is probably the finest configuration of acoustic musicians in the area. Over the years Keith Larsen (singer / song writer, guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo), Garnet Waite (singer / song writer, guitar, mandolin and vocals) and Jon Gerlitz (guitar, vocals and bass guitar) Keith Larsenhave been staples on the local music scene and only recently they have come together as the alt/country/roots band Joshua Burning. As a duo Keith and Garnet have performed under that banner for a while but recently John Gerlitz has joined them on bass guitar to fill out the sound spectrum. Keith Larsen brings to the group some of the most formidable guitar and mandolin playing to be heard in this area. He has a lot of musical experience in just about  Garnet Waiteevery genre one would care to name. He is part of Elena Yeung’s BlueGrass band; He has played in rock bands; performed as a solo act; Done recording session work with Heather Gemmell and is always ready pick up an instrument in any musical context.    Garnet Waite has a great country voice, great song writing skills and is no less of maestro on guitar and mandolin. John Gerlitz is best John Gerlitzknown for his old time jazz and honky-tonk vocals and finger style guitar playing. For Joshua Burning he steps out of the shadows and plays bass guitar. The band was in fine form on Saturday night and that is an understatement. They were hot with a great repertoire of rootsy/country fare, great vocals, blazing guitar and mandolin runs and arrangements that included some spectacular double leads on guitars. At one stage Keith got into some syncopated mandolin breaks that came out sounding like pretty hefty banjo playing. Although most of the repertoire was covers of mostly, to my ear, relatively unknown pieces, there were some of the usual favorites there (for instance Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheels, Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watch Tower, and The Doobie Brothers Blackwater) that had the audience rocking along with band. Garnet was playing his dad’s old Gibson acoustic guitar and he threw a few of his originals into the mix. His High Water Channel, The Wind is a Liar were there as well as his Summer Nights with the classic line, “summer nights in a small town used to be, summer nights in a way back fantasy”. Keith also threw his original  called Best Laid Plans. This was an evening of exceptionally fine acoustic music, in a fine acoustic environment,  in probably one of the most comfortable little pubs into the area.  The pub’s winter music program will be winding down over the next few weeks. James Neve will be hosting the last open mic session of the season on Saturday April 6, 2013.  Don’t miss it. Also note the following

Friday / Saturday April 5/6 2013, 9:30pm: JOSHUA BURNING at the St. Eugene Mission Casino. This is part of the Casino’s on going showcase series and the resort provides a shuttle service to and from the Casino.

Here are a few more images from Joshua Burning’s performance.

  Garnet Waite       John Gerlitz       Keith LarsenKeith and Garnet