The great 12-String Guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke started out his high school musical career as a trombone player and, for whatever reason, he later switched to guitar and the world became a better place. Similarly, Dani Strong also started out in high school on trombone. I believe her father had other ideas and gave her a guitar. Once again, the the world is a better place. I have nothing against trombone players but I imagine it is hard to develop your song writing skills on a trombone. Dani moved to the Cranbrook area about 18 months ago and, between tours and performances, she works at the Top of the World Ranch out near Fort Steel. Apart from her day job Dani is cruising under the radar as a country music artist but, in fact, she is much more than that. She is a very talented singer / song writer. She avoids all the usual cliches and tags of country music and does what all good writers do. She writes about what she knows. With the exception of a cover of Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay she presented an evening of original material. Accompanied on guitar and keyboard she played such songs as Run to the Hills, Walk the Mile (Top of the World Ranch), Dirt Road Mountain, Wishing Well, Daddy Called me Pumpkin, Gold Fever, Ashes, Out of Darkness, Mrs Jones, What You Need, Free to Be, Healing, etc. There was not a gin soaked lyric or truck driving song in the whole batch. That’s not entirely true. I think a truck was mentioned in one song. With her stage patter Dani brought the whole package together for a completely entertaining evening. Singer / songwriters always run the risk of bombarding their audience with unfamiliar lyrics and tunes. First and fore most, a good song is a story and sometimes the back story needs to be presented so the audience has a context to allow them selves to be immersed in the song. With lots of stories, dark moments and humor Dani delivered context in spades.
It was a sold out crowd. So much so the organizers had to move the show from Studio 64 to the larger space upstairs. Once again thanks to Keith, Ray and the volunteers who made the evening possible. A special thanks goes to the new guy on the lights. He did a superb job.
FIRST CONCERT OF THE FIFTH SEASON – January 22, 2020
OPENING ACT – TALL TIMBERS featuring Drew Prinn on vocals; Ken Vargas on guitars and vocals; Landon Vargas on guitars, Ukulele, congas and vocals.
MAIN ACT – KOOTENAY LATELY featuring Pam Ruby on vocals; Theresa Reichert on upright bass; Bryan Reichert on guitar and Chad Andriowski on drums and backing tracks.
Thanks must go to the organizing committee of Fisher Peak Performing Arts Society, Key City staff and volunteers and all the sponsors of this series.
SECOND CONCERT OF THE FIFTH SEASON – Wednesday February 19, 2020
OPENING ACT – Douglas Francis Mitchell: Vocal, Banjo, Guitar and Songwriter extraordinaire
Over the years Canada has been blessed with many, many singer/song writers who often defy pop culture expectations to produce songs and stories that entertain and truly document the extraordinary richness of the Canadian cultural mosaic. To the list of Gordon Lightfoot, Valdy, Murray McLauglan, Ron Hynes, Stan Rogers and others we can now add the name Douglas Francis Mitchell. Just the name of his songs tells a story. Heiden Guitar pays homage to a recently acquired instrument from the master Creston Luthier Michael Heiden; Rocky Mountain View is a happy reflection of local geography; Open Happiness and ode to demon drink (Coca Cola); Laughter of the Heart, Three Chords and the Truth, Change of Pace and the comic masterpieces Plumber Troubles, Prairie Oysters and Sibling Rivalry. With his songs and stories this open act was a tough act to follow.
MAIN ACT – CARMANAH – all the way from Vancouver Island with a musical mix that I can only describe as Van-Isle Reggae (what ever that means). The band featured Laura Mitic on guitar, vocal and fiddle; Lo Waight – back up vocals and percussion; Mike Baker – Keyboard and vocals; Pat Ferguson – guitar and vocals; Jamil Demers – bass and Graham Keehn. They presented a program of mostly original material.
Piano players and, to a lesser extent, guitar players are lucky. Without the need of having any one else in the room they can sit down and play unaccompanied music. Depending on their individual skill level they can do it all. Melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics and sonic shadings. It’s all there under their finger tips. Horn players, woodwinds, string players, drummers and bass players are not that fortunate and usually have the need for other musicians in the mix to complete the musical picture. At an individual level that is a drawback but it does force those musicians into ensembles that can go beyond the limitations of individual solo performances. One such musical configuration is the jazz combo and lucky for us in Cranbrook-Kimberley area we have been recently blessed with another Jazz group. TAKE 4, featuring Randi Marchi on trumpet, fluegelhorn, valve trombone, guitar and vocals; Jim Cameron on electric bass; Steen Jorgensen on drums and tenor sax and Tim Plait on piano. All of these musicians are locals. Some, Randi Marchi and Tim Plait, have been away to other parts of Canada and the world and have returned to the Kootenays and our little slice of paradise. The group is newly formed and, I believe, this is their second engagement. For well schooled musicians such as these the advantage of playing jazz is that there is a vast standard repertoire of tunes that players can easily access. From simple tunes way up to very technical, and very complex music there is a lot of music out there to explore. Last Thursday night at Soul Foods the group served a varied mixture of tunes that included Beginning to See the Light, Satin Doll (Duke Ellington’s masterpiece), Summertime (from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess), Blue Skies, King of the Road ( Roger Miller’s 1964 Hit song), All of Me (written in 1931), Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin’s 1959 hit) and my all time favorite, A Day in the Life of a Fool, or as I prefer to remember it as, Manha de Carnival (Morning of the Carnival) from the magnificent 1959 Academy Award winning film Black Orpheus. This film introduced western audiences to the wonders of Bossa Nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa.The second set kicked off with The Way You Feel Tonight, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (it is a 1940 classic by Duke Ellington originally called Never No Lament), and Quando, Quando, Quando ( originally a 1962 Italian Pop song written in the Bossa Nova Style).
Here are some images from the first set:
Towards the end of the evening Take 4 was joined on stage by Randy Tapp on tenor sax and Shindo Murata on valve trombone to play the tunes Flip Flop and Fly, Route 66 and Van Morrison’s Moon Dance. During these performances a young musician from the audience sat in on drums while Steen Jorgensen moved up front to join the horn section on tenor sax. For me the resulting sound brought back memories of the magnificent Gerry Mulligan Concert Band recordings from the 1960s. Bobby Brookmeyer’s valve trombone was part of the signature sound of that band.
Soul Foods seems to have become a hot bed of live music with live performances every Thursday evening 7-9 pm.
The First Stone by Carsten Jensen (Author), Mark Mussari(Translator)
It seems like Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of war and violence. It has been that way “forever”. The locals have fought and killed each other in tribal disputes for centuries. In the 19th century they fought the British to a standstill in the wars of the North West Frontier. In the 20th they defeated the Russians before renewing their own inter tribal conflicts. Following the expulsion of the Russians the Taliban rose to the top of heap and ruled with a religious ferocity. Following the terrorist attack on the “Twin Towers” in New York the country caught the interest of the USA and were perceived to be a haven for Islamic terrorists. Rightly or wrongly, in the American world view they needed to be eradicated. To that end the US embarked on a military adventure to win “the war on terror”. By invading the country there was a hope of pacifying the country and ushering in an era of democratic peace. Under US patronage and with the help of an international military force the occupation has lasted eighteen years. Think about it! Eighteen years. During that time attempts have been made to introduce democracy into the country and protect the rights women and, despite the best of intentions, that seems to have failed. Like the British and the Russians before them the US is now preparing to leave. The golden rule of any occupation is that the occupiers eventually have to go home. The other part of the golden rule is that all insurgents know this. They just have to keep up the pressure and wait until the time is right for the occupying force to come up with some face saving pretext to leave the country honorably. The only occupying force to achieve a measure of success against insurgents has been the British in Malaya in their fight against the communists in the 1950s.
Like any war there have been a multitude of novels, war stories and pages and pages of political analysis. In most publications the context has been one with an American perspective. The Americans were perceived as the only allied heroes, and villains, fighting the Taliban. This is despite the fact that the allied partners from many counties have participated in the “war on terror” and suffered significant casualties. One of the partners in the “adventure” is Denmark. Danish, Canadian, German, French etc soldiers have fought and died in Afghanistan and their stories need to be told. One of the partners in the “adventure” is Denmark and this is an Afghan story with a Danish perspective.
Carsten Jensen is a leading literary figure in his native Denmark. He is the author of the international bestseller We, the Drowned, which has sold more than half a million copies in twenty languages. As well as being an acclaimed novelist, essayist, newspaper columnist, and political commentator, Jensen has reported from war zones in the Balkans and Afghanistan. He has been awarded many prizes for fiction and nonfiction, including Denmark’s coveted Golden Laurel for the travelogue I Have Seen the World Begin, and Sweden’s prestigious Olof Palme Prize for his “work, in words and deed, to defend the weak and vulnerable in his own country as well as around the world.”
From a recent book review …… “This is an amazing trip into the Afghani culture and countryside and explains a little bit of why the wars over the last 40 years have come to naught in this country. Living the story through the eyes of the Danish soldiers provides a very unique point of view. The story starts in a very different place from where it ends. The soldiers gradually learn about a culture and people whose roots go back thousands of years in a country where change is not relished. Things start slowly as their daily expeditions into the countryside which is always followed by the return to the safety of their fort. Their commander believes that his political skills, honed in his Danish community, will work just as effectively here. He soon learns how wrong he is. Soon their Fort is no longer a safe place and one of their own is not what he appears. Their journey goes down the rabbit hole and into places, both physically and mentally, that are as alien as any fictional planet……. The mindset of warriors, the Taliban, The children, the women and the men who have spent their lives living in a war zone is presented in a relentless fashion. The horrors of war never stop shocking the reader whether imposed by a drone, a fighter jet, a mother or a medieval weapon. This is not a book for the faint of heart. However if you make it to the end you will be rewarded by a story you will not soon forget”.
I agree with the reviewer’s summation that this of the best Afghan novels he has come across. I highly recommend it.
“Live in the Gallery” with Jazz Guitarist Don Glasrud
This new series of pre-concert performances has been made possible by a grant from the BC TOURING COUNCIL, BC ARTS COUNCIL and THE BC GOVERNMENT. The grant has been made available to support performances by BC musicians. Don is a well known Jazz Guitarist in the community and has been a fixture on local scene as a teacher and performer for around 20 years. For the evening’s performance Don was playing his new GODIN Nylon Strung guitar. His repertoire, as usual, consisted of tunes from the Great American Song Book and well known Jazz standards. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear Don up close and personal in the Centre 64 Gallery .
Andrea Superstein – Jazz and Blues Fall Concert Series #3 – Stage 64, Kimberley 2019/11/23
“Andrea Superstein is a Montreal born, Vancouver based artist. Her music combines the jazz sound of the east and the indie scene of the west. She has been featured on a Women in Jazz compilation, has received international radio play, on top of being interviewed for a number of jazz publications. She was also invited to perform at the first jazz showcase at Canadian Music Week in 2012″. On this tour she was supported by fellow Montreal native Elizabeth Shepherd on piano and two young musicians, James Meser on bass and Kyle Hutchins on drums. James is a full time professional musician from Vancouver while Kyle works out of Montreal.The performance was mostly a mixture of originals from Andrea’s CDs with a few cover songs added to the mix. Of the originals the French song De Temps en Temps was the standout with some great textural percussion by the drummer Kyle Hutchins. Thoughout the performance he switched from jazz brushes to mallets with lots of sonic shadings before finishing with traditional sticks. Elizabeth Shepherd was responsible for the arrangement. A jazzy version of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright was a novel interpretation of a well known Dylan song. Elizabeth also added to the mix with one of her originals Feeling Good from her CD release Rewind.
As always, thanks to the MC Keith Nicholas, the volunteers and staff of Centre 64 and the merchants around town who donated their food (The Burrito Grill) and accommodations ( )for the musicians. Together they make this series possible .
Elizabeth Shepherd is a Singer / Song Writer, Jazz Pianist, Composer, Arranger and all round superb musician. Elizabeth is from Montreal and, despite the great distances and weather challenges of this vast country she manages to visit and perform in this area on a regular basis. She was at Stage 64 in Kimberley last Saturday (November 23, 2019) as part of the Andrea Superstein band.