The Sochi Winter Olympics has changed the language



Also the phrase “Canada owns winter” will take up permanent residence in the English language. That’s a good thing. It’s about time that Canada stopped looking south and accepted that we are a northern country and we are a northern race of people. Lets get rid of the silly spectacle of people trying to look hip by wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals in sub-zero temperatures. 


Beannick Subscription Series #7 – The Last One

Terry Miller and Gord  Johnston have just released the line up for the Beannick Subscription Series #7.
Monday March 24, 2014:  MARTYN JOSEPH,   Marty  returns – he performed in the second concert and left a huge impression and it will be good to have him back. Click on Review of Martyn Joseph Concert
Martyn Joseph - Copy
Monday April 7, 2014: MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE is a highly acclaimed and recognized roots musician. Check his website by clicking on Michael Jerome Browne
Michael Jerome BrowneWednesday April 30, 2014: DAVID FRANCEY. One of Canada’s most revered folk poets and singers”, David is a multiple Juno winner who performed in Cranbrook some years back. This is a fitting finale for the series.
David Francey
All shows are at 8:00pm at the Stage Door.
Note that this is a fully subscribed series but occasionally a few tickets may be available at the door.
Series 7 of the Beannick Concert Series will be the final series.
Gord Johnston is retiring from his career at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club and is ready to move on to new adventures. It’s been a good run we can’t thank Gord and Terry enough for enriching Cranbrook`s cultural  landscape. We should also thank the audiences  who`s support of the series and made it such a success. Thanks too, to Ben Blomander for keeping things sounding great, to Jean Ann and Joe Debreceni for keeping us in drinks, to Kris Aasen and Rusty Gahr and a few others for keeping the lights on.
Thanks again and keep on supporting live music at every opportunity.


Quote of the week – Martin Simpson


[Martin Stewart Simpson (born 5 May 1953) is an English folk singer, guitarist and songwriter. His music reflects a wide variety of influences and styles, rooted in Britain, Ireland, America and beyond. He has been nominated 23 times in the 11 years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including nine times consecutively as Artist of The Year, which he has won twice. His album Prodigal Son was named album of the year in 2008 and a song from that album, “Never Any Good” was named best original song of the year. Martin Simpson is regarded by many as one of the most skilled folk guitarists currently playing on the British and American folk sceneWikipedia. Martin Simpson lived in the US for a number of years and in his travels from Santa Cruz to Edmonton he stopped in a number of times in Cranbrook and performed a number of memorable solo concerts at the Studio / Stage Door.]

Martin Simpson There, somebody has finally said it – nobody really knows how to play melodies any more. There is a reason for this and I’m not just hankering after the good old days. In the Swing Era and before, instrumental music was the predominate mode of expression and the primary melodic instruments in pop music were trumpets, sax, trombones, etc. Somewhere around the 1950’s pop music went into a transition and things started to change. The major melodic instruments had retreated from popular music into the esoteric world of Jazz and Be-bop. Now, apart from the occasional horn section, the major melodic instruments are mostly absent from pop music. The crooners and popular singer/songwriter have moved to center stage. By the time Bob Dylan and his colleagues  had finished exerting their influence the song had become king in popular music. But there is a difference from the golden days of ‘tin-pan alley’ pop songs. Moon, spoon and June are no longer the primary lyrical motifs. Songs had moved into the realm of politics and personal statement. Lyricists and tune writers no longer work in tandem. The usual mode of creation has become the almost sole preserve of the singer/songwriter. And, as near as I can tell, the creative process, seems to revolve around the lyrics. The words come first and the melody and harmony arrive later. Nobody seems to write and harmonize a great melody then attach lyrics. The net result is that writing good strong melodies is secondary. Of course there were (are) exceptions. The Beatles being the most notable. Melodic expression comes in the form of instrumental solos inserted in the performance. The only problem with that, despite some magnificent exceptions, is that the solos tend to become fairly generic. A kind of one size fits all.  Music has become more and more predictable and is basically the servant of the commercial world. It is now an “industry”.  Musicians are notoriously conservative  and none more so than your average rock/pop musician.  The old image of the outlaw anti-establishment rock musician is basically a myth. When pop music is used to sell everything from toothpaste to automobiles it is hardly rebelling against anything. It is basically the servant of the commercial world. When was the last time you heard pop music that was really interesting? Nobody is really taking any musical risks anymore. We all know that revolution and rebellion are the life blood of change and pop music is in need of a significant change. There are a wealth of melodies (old and new), rhythms, harmony, styles and even pure noise (long live John Cage) out there that could rejuvenate the popular musical world.   So let the revolution begin.


Geoff Berner at Lotus Books

Geoff Berner at Lotus Books, February 8, 2014, 8pm.  Check Geoff’s website at  Geoff Berner and also Youtube video Play, Gypsy, Play. Also his wikipedia entry Geoff Berner wikipediaGB-tour“Geoff Berner (born in Vancouver 197) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and accordion player from Vancouver, British Columbia. Due to his insightful humour, politically inflammatory compositions and showmanship, Berner has gained a cult following over 134a. Geoff Brennerthe years, especially in Canada and Norway, where he recorded his first live album, Live in Oslo (2004)………” –  Wikipedia entry.

The “show” at Lotus Books was as much a literary event as a musical performance. Although he is labelled as a singer / songwriter, with the publication of his novel Festival Man last October, he has also established his literary credentials. He is a more than a step away from the run-of-the-mill guitar totting songster. His performance, although in no way manic,  lives up to  “a wild combination of menace, madness, and genius… .” – Vue Weekly, Edmonton. His music has been described as “new Jewish drinking songs” or “Klezmer Punk” but despite some Jewish elements in the music I don’t think Klezmer is a good descriptor. Maybe, when people see the accordion they feel the need to apply some sort of ethnic label to give the music a specific dimension. Rather, I think his music is more geocentric than ethnocentric. By that I mean his music  comes specifically out of the politics and geography of his home base, Vancouver. His interpretations of that milieu , while personal, definitely have universal applications.  His The Official Theme Song of the 2010 Winter Olympics  with its somewhat chilling chorus “the dead children were worth it” expresses a sick notion that continues to be played out when ever big sport events displace priorities (and money) away from the public good. The song That’s What Keeps the Rent Down Baby is another edgy piece that could easily be associated with the East Hasting Street area of Vancouver  Youtube version. Something with more of a Jewish overtone would be the Russian song Dalloy Polizei (literal translation “Fuck the Police”) Youtube Version of Dalloy Polizei . Interspersed though out the evening were several readings by Geoff and Ferdy Belland from Geoff’s novel Festival Man.  Ferdy was in his best “Papa” Hemingway mode. Here are some images from the evening. Ferdy Belland Geoff Berner   Ferdy Belland  Geoff Brenner Geoff Berner 200. Geoff Berner   Ferdy Belland   Geoff Berner

This was a more than pleasant evening spent in the intimate confines of The Lotus Book Store listening to a unique performance . Thanks should got to Geoff Berner for his unique brand of music and satire and his low keyed accordion playing. Also, of course, thanks to Ferdy and Erin for bringing Geoff to the bookshop. Please also note that the novel Festival Man is available from the Lotus Bookshop.


Symphony of the Kootenays: Sultans of String

Symphony of the KootenaysSymphony of the Kootenays and the Sultans of String rehearsals, Key City Theatre, February 1, 12 noon, February 1, 2014.

” And then the man, he steps right up to the microphone.
And says at last, just as the time bell rings,
“Goodnight, now it’s time to go home.”
And he makes it fast, with one more thing:
“We’re the Sultans,
“We are the Sultans of Swing.” Songwriter: KNOPFLER, MARK

Mind you there is no connection between the Dire Straight album and the Symphony of the Kootenays concert. There is just the resonance of the song title and the name of the The Sultans and SKOsymphony orchestra guests – THE SULTANS OF STRING – that has so much appeal. Dire Straights was a rock band singing about musicians from another era. The Sultans are not about rock music. Their musical arena is more about a whole mixed bag of World music, Latin, Gypsy, Swing etc. Chris' 6 string violinThe Sultans of String are Chris McKhool (6 string violin, mandolin), Drew Birston (electric bass),   Drew BirstonKevin Laliberte (carbon-fibre guitar) and Alberto Suarez (percussion). This rehearsal was the fore runner of what promised to be a very unique night of music. Unfortunately I was double booked (again) and not able to make the Saturday night concert. However, I did make the afternoon rehearsals and the Sunday Fiddle Fire (concert for kids). It was pretty exciting and entertaining stuff to hear the Symphony exploring a whole new approach to making music. The music is the brain child of Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberte Kevin Lalibertewith orchestrations by Rebecca Pellett. Although the rehearsal didn’t present the music in a program coherent form there were enough snippets to entice the visiting rehearsal audience to maybe come back later that evening for the full concert. For me there were a number of outstanding moments. In the exploration of the mandolin the unexpected and joyous snippet from a Vivaldi mandolin concerto was so amazingly fresh and startling that it certainly made me sit  Alberto Suarezup. Kevin Laliberte’s guitar solos were some other high points. His Carbon-Fibre guitar, with it’s odd shape, looked way different from a conventional classical guitar yet, despite the on-board amplification, produced, when required,  a pure classical sound. It also appeared to be amendable to the sound manipulation that we associate with most electric guitars. His technique ran though the whole spectrum of guitar music – flat pick, finger picking, classical, jazz, flamenco etc. Drew Birston’s electric bass is, obviously, a central part of the Sultan’s Sound and added a different bass dimension (pizzicato bass melody) to the orchestrations. Being an amateur musician who tinkers with percussion I was completely captivated by the Cuban musician Alberto Suarez’s rhythmic excursions on the Peruvian Cojon (basically a wooden box), snare drum, brushes, cymbals, rattles and the middle eastern Darbuka (Turkish Goblet drum). His role in the music was re-enforced by the symphony percussionists  Robin Clegg, Sven Heyde and Bruce Hunter. Their arsenal of drums and percussion would be enough to fill your average basement. The Sultans of String were obviously having fun playing with a symphony and the orchestra pit was just a sea of smiling faces. I am sure the evening concert lived up to the promise of the rehearsals. Here are some more images from the rehearsal – enjoy:

Chris McKool    Kevin Lalberte  Alberto Suarez  Chris McKool   Kevin Laliberte  Jeff Faragher    Chris McKhool  Jeff Faragher  Sophia Smith  Lena Ruiz Anne Scott       French Horn - Dale Green  Alberto Suarez  Alberto Suarez Chris McKool  050.  Sophia Smith  Robin Clegg   Ruth Langevin and Catherine MacKinnon  Sven Heyde  Jeff Faragher Alberto Suarez   Ruth Sawatsky   Alberto Suarez Chris and Kevin      Kevin Laliberte Alberto Suarez   Wendy Herbison  Alberto Suarez  Chris and KevinChris McKhool’s Fiddle Fire, Key City Theatre Sunday February 2, 2014, 2pm.

The KidsKevin Laliberte  Chris McKhool  Alberto Suarez Sophia Smith  007.  Violins Jeff Faragher Kevin and Chris   Orchestra Chris McKhool  Anne Scott  410. Percussion  Brass   Woodwinds Bruce Hunter   Sophia Smith  Chris Mckhool Jeff Faragher  Kevin Laliberte  Alberto Suarez    Kevin and the kids    Jeff Faragher  Chris and the kids  Chris McKhool  Jeff Faragher  Chris McKhool  Jeff Faragher  Manuscript    Gong  700. The Kids@@@@@@@@@@

Anja / Dan / Hannah at Centre 64

Anja McCloskey poster.These three musicians are definitely CFAs (“Come from Away”). The fact they kept  their outside jackets on for the sound check should have been the first clue. Anja McCloskey (vocals, pianio and accordion) is a German American girl originally from Des  Hannah, Dan and AnjaMoines, Iowa, now resident in Hamburg Germany; Dan Whitehouse (vocals and guitar) is a singer song writer from Birmingham; Hannah Moulette (cello, vocals and guitar) is from Sommerset, England. How these three CFAs originally got  together is probably a story worth telling but it suffices to say that this tour was probably thrown together on a whim. Anja has a brother in Vancouver and the only way she could make the trip was to tie it in with a concert tour. So she trolled through her musical friends and managed to line up Dan and, at the last minute, Hannah to commit to an off the cuff tour of Canada in ……. January!! What were they thinking? They say ignorance is bliss and it could not be more true than in this case. They landed in Canada, rented a cello and guitar for fifty bucks, borrowed Anja and Hannahan accordion, rented a vehicle with all- season radials and hit the road. On mentioning the all-season radials you could hear an almost inaudible gasp from the audience. So far they have been to Banff, Calgary, Pincher Creek, Kimberley and are heading further west for the rest of the tour – snow, ice and avalanches be dammed. So far no problems. As I said “ignorance is bliss”. Appropriately, Hannah and Anja kicked off their portion of the evening with Songbird, a charming vocal duet about traveling. Hannah, with her impish looks and demeanor  could have stepped  out of  a J.R.R.Tolkein novel. The red cape picked up at thrift store en route Hannah, Dan, and Anjawas an inspired touch. The on stage persona she projected well suited her musical style. Hannah continued the show with a number of solo pieces that included The Night is Young (“and there is plenty of rum”), Devil of Mine, Circle Song, and Blood and Thunder. Anja returned to the stage for an accordion/cello instrumental entitled Seven and continued with Too Many Words, Italian Song, and, with piano accompaniment, Cross the Seas. The trio, Dan, Hannah and Anja, came together for The Calm and Instigated. The final selections of the evening featured Dan’s songs including A Light, The Fire of Lust (“an Ode to Testosterone”), Three Bodies (about tourist photographs), Born to Run, Somebody Loves You, Sleeping and probably the strongest song of the evening Why Don’t We Dance. That last mentioned song deserves a view of the YouTube version. Here are some images from an evening of music that was definitely “outside the box”.

 Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette   Dan and Anja Hannah Moulette  Anja and Dan  Dan and Anja Anja McCloskey  Dan Whitehouse   Hannah Moulette  Dan Whitehouse Anja McCloskey  Anja   Hannah Moulette Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette  Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette  134. Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette   Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette   Anja McCloskey  Hannah Moulette  Dan Whitehouse.  Anja McCloskey   Dan Whitehouse

Special thanks should go to the opening act Daze of Grace (Sharon Routley, Jubal Routley and guest percussionist, yours truly, Rod Wilson); sound techs Ray and Marty; Terry on lights; the MC Keith Nicholas, and all the staff and volunteers of the Kimberley Arts Council. Also extra special thanks should go to the corporate sponsors The Burrito Grill for feeding the musicians and Mountain Spirits for provide accommodation for the CFA musicians.

 Keith Nicholas  the critics