Just Who Is This Al Dimeola Guy Anyway?

My friend Chris came through on another jazz band recommendation. Tonight we hit the Centre to see the “Al Dimeola World Sinfonia” which, being that I’m not tied into the jazz scene, I have never heard of. Well it turns out that Al Dimeola is on of the premier jazz guitarists in the world!

Before I get into that show, let me talk about the opening act, Celso Machado. Celso is an older Brazilian guy who came on stage and dove into some great songs on his acoustic guitar. We were expecting a really good show with him and his guitar but then he put it down and started slapping his hands on his body for a percussive effect while he warbled and called out these sounds that would make you think you were in the Brazilian jungle! At one point he even started drumming on his bottled water.

After Celso we were introduced to Al Dimeola who, like I mentioned before, is one of the world’s top jazz guitar players. His enthnically-diverse band was amazing too. The Hungarian accordion player nearly stole the show from him and it was tough to focus on one player since they were all outstanding.

I need to cut this short and get some sleep since we’ve got another show tomorrow night. It’s another band I’ve never heard of but I expect it’ll blow me away too. The thing I love about these jazz shows is the calibre of musicianship is through the roof. It’s going to be tough to be impressed by the next couple of rock bands I see.

Hockey Night at the Roundhouse

I began yesterday with a hike up the Grind and did alright. I wasn’t terribly energetic so I took it easy, falling in behind an accountant-looking dude who was doing a reasonable pace. It was a bit of a muppet show on a Saturday morning so I’m glad I hit it early.

On the way home I stopped by Red Cat Records on Main to pick up some tickets to see Sunny Day Real Estate who’ve gotten back together after splitting up in 2000. One of the first shows I saw when I moved to Vancouver was Sunny Day and I was hoping to see them once more. Unfortunately they broke up and I thought that I wouldn’t have the opportunity ever again.

After Red Cat I met up with Chris and Rachel to wander through Gastown and check out the jazz festival. It’s been great to live by Gastown since they close the whole area to car traffic yet I’m just a half a block outside the road closure.

Today was a little more mellow. I was feeling a little rough this morning so I slept in and then spent the rest of the morning doing some reading, laundry and around the house stuff. I’ve got a lot more to do to get this condo whipped into shape. One thing at a time is what I keep telling myself. So then I brought my old BBQ over to Shannon’s and we grilled up some tasty foods (and had some amazing cheesecake) before I had to bolt to meet up with Chris at the Roundhouse for the Mats Gustafsson Canada vs. Sweden show.

Canada vs. Sweden is an event that took a dozen avant garde jazz players, formed them into two “teams” and then they had an improvised performance. Mats Gustafsson, the renowned free jazz saxaphone player, headed the Swedish team while François Houle led the Canadians. I’m not sure how to describe the show other than to say it was a chaotic yet amazing cacaphony of squealing horns, thrashing drums, and guitar noise. Definitely not a traditional show that I think most people would enjoy; however, I thought it was amazing! Mats is doing another show on Friday in the Ironworks Studio right next door to my building so I’m going to scoop tickets to that.

Change Was Coming It Would Be Alright

I’ve been working up drum parts for this new song the band’s written. Man our singer sounds good! Reilly’s been coming up with some cool chord progressions too. I’m excited to have this song put together so we can present it to the world. Or our friends at least.

So I started this week with another Grouse Grind hike on Tuesday night. I managed to shave almost a minute off my last time and I’ll be hitting the Grind again tomorrow morning. I feel like I’ve figured out my pacing so I know about how fast to climb it. Now it’s just a matter of hitting it twice a week and slowly working my time down. I’m not really obsessed with my Grind time (although it must sound like I am). Instead I’m loving the twice a week cardio blast that it gives me. I’ve neglected my cardio the last couple of years and it’s good to get it back into shape. 

Wednesday night Reilly came over to my pad and we recorded a few more pieces of the new song which is titled, “London.” Monday night we had loaded my music gear up into Reilly’s truck and brought it all back here. Now I’m back to having half empty boxes scattered around my living room. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get those organized.

Thursday was pretty chill although we did meet up at the Black Frog to talk about artwork for the band with our cool schmool illustrator friend Stephanie. The most interesting thing that came out was a drawing of a “pandelion” which is a lion with a panda’s head. This probably won’t be used for the band, which I feel is a great shame. 

Tonight I’ve been sleeping (yay!), banging around on the drums, and wasting time watching Michael Jackson clips on youtube. I never really got into MJ’s music save for a short period around grade 4 when the Thriller album was all the rage. I find his music interesting, certainly catchy, but ultimately not my sack of tea. There’s no doubt he did change the musical playing field in the 80s for which I’m grateful. The thing was when I was in high school my musical tastes revolved around metal and, in the last year, Nirvana. Michael Jackson was way too pop for me back then. It’s only now that I’ve opened my sonic tastes up that I can go back and discover some of the bands I poo-poo’d in my teenage years.

This weekend promises to be busy again. Tomorrow I’m hitting the Grind first thing and then meeting up with the Bailey clan to check out some of the free jazz shows in Gastown as part of the jazz festival. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I’m going to be seeing jazz shows as well, all on Chris’s recommendation. I expect I’ll be musically saturated by the time Wednesday rolls around.

Sunday or Monday?

I just got confused about what day it was. This Monday off thing is great, but it’s totally messing with my head.

This was a busy, busy weekend. Saturday morning I left to go to Tom Lee and get a new microphone for recording the drum cymbals on Sunday. Even though it was one of the cheapest condenser mics you can get,  it came in a plastic case that’s big enough to carry a power drill. I met up with an old friend from high school at the dragonboat races and he thought I had a drill with me. Cuz, you know, one should always carry a drill!

Dragonboats are kinda cool. I got to hang out with Brian and his wife, who was racing that day. They taught me all about dragonboating. Looks like a fun sport although I have zero time to get involved in anything new this summer.

After that I went straight over to Shannon & Vanja’s to help celebrate Vanja’s 30th birthday. Tonnes of people I haven’t seen in quite a while. It was my last chance to chat with Matt, who’s moving to Montreal this week.

Sunday morning I got up bright and early to go over to Reilly’s where the band did our inagural recording session. It was a day of fooling around with microphones, doing take after take of our songs, and cursing at Cubase (our recording software). Think we got some good stuff although I haven’t revisted it yet. We’ll have to mix it down soon and get it online somewhere for the world to hear.

That evening I went out with some friends to check out that film Hangover. My expectations were low but the film was surprisingly good. It was like a blend of 40 Year Old Virgin and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. If you want a strange film filled with buffoonery then this is the film for you!

I Am the Best Person In My Own Head

I had intended to hit the gym this morning and the Grouse Grind tonight but when I woke up I realized this was a terrible idea! So much so that I rolled over and got another hour of sleep. The bonus was I felt really strong on my hike tonight and made a personal best time. It also helped that I made sure I ate enough today to fuel the Grind and I didn’t get fatigued halfway through like I did on Tuesday night.

Once I got back Reilly and I went over to the Frog for coffee (for him) and Cranberry Thunder (for me). A “Cranberry Thunder” is a cranberry and soda drink, non-alcoholic, named the Cranberry Thunder one evening when the bar staff were teasing me about drinking non-alcoholic drinks and they decided the drink needed a more hardcore name.

Anyhow Reilly and I mostly talked about recording some stuff this weekend for the band and how we were going to approach it. I’m going to get a cheap small condenser mic tomorrow so we can get decent sounding cymbal recordings when we do the drums. Then on Sunday we’re going to set everything up and see how much we can lay down in a day. It’ll be a good learning experience.

And We Shouted Anarchy!

Reilly has come up with the awesome idea of covering Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkmen. Since our band is an acoustic act we’ve slowed the song right down to the point where it’s barely recognisable. It’s not until you hear the “punk rock girl” refrain that you realize what song it is. Then during the fast bits (like the “we went to the village pizza company and ordered some hot tea but the waitress said well no we only have it iced” part) we speed everything up and there is much shouting and standing on top of drums. I’m expecting this to be the song that people talk about after they’ve seen our set. It’s so much fun!

This morning I’d intended to hit the gym but I’m feeling a little sniffly so I’m skipping that. Still doing the Grouse Grind tonight though. Maybe I’ll hit the gym tomorrow morning if my legs are feeling up to it.

It’s Friday today too! Four-day weeks go by quickly. I found this last week really intense at work becuase you feel like you’re behind when you start on Tuesday. My mind still expects that I’ll get 5 days of work done but there’s only 4 days to cram it into now. Yesterday I went heads-down all day and walked out of work feeling like a zombie at 5pm. The Grind should cure any zombie feelings tonight.

Grouse Grind Week 2

Last night I waddled up the Grouse Grind again. I’m hitting it twice a week which should give me a great cardio blast each week and get me in shape for hiking season. I wasn’t terribly full of energy last night although my time was 1h 1m 37s which is 1m 38s slower than Friday’s ascent. I’m not really trying to beat the clock since I need to let my body adapt to the new workload before I up the intensity.

What I’m finding as I ascend is I feel good at the beginning but at the 1/4 mark I start to feel sluggish and even a little lightheaded. This happened yesterday so I took a couple of quick stretch breaks to let my body wind down a little bit. Once I hit the 1/2 way mark I start feeling more energetic and I lock into my pace to finish the hike. When I’ve hit the top and taken some time to stretch and cool down I feel as energetic as a puppy and am ready to do the whole thing again!

This morning I’m going to hit the gym and then our little band is jamming tonight. Only 3 days of work until the weekend, sweet!

Chilling With Winston

Today does not feel like Tuesday at all. Yesterday felt like Saturday and yet I only have 4 days of work to deal with before my next 3-day weekend! I’m quickly getting spoiled by the 4-day weeks.

Sunday we hooked up with a pile of people for a BBQ and hang out session over at Kits beach. Reilly brought his banjitar (a banjo that’s strung with 6 strings and tuned like a regular guitar) and one of his acoustic guitars so we jammed out while I rocked the guitar case as a drum kit. Our friend Chris LeMay, who’s a very talented musician, was there and pulled some crazy good sounds out of the mighty banjitar. He’s also my mortgage broker and if you’re looking for a first-class mortgage broker, check out Chris. He’s who I used and he’s great! Very straightforward and easy to work with.

Monday I tied up a whole pile of loose ends that needed to get done. I also managed to squeeze in a brunch at The Reef on Commercial Drive and then hit up Chill Winstons in Gastown with Tamara to catch up on her adventures. Chill Winstons is an incredibly tasty place! I had a mushroom stuffed ravioli that was divine! They have a great big patio on the corner of Carrall and Water where the action is. I’m starting to fall in love with Gastown.

Tonight after work I’m heading up the Grouse Grind again. I figure I can hit it about twice a week which will keep my legs in good hiking shape.

Bikes and BBQs

I’ve just returned from a bike ride down to Richmond and back. I wanted to check out the route to work because I’m intending to start riding to work next week. Not every day, but I’d like to mix it in so I get some cardio into my routine. Looks like there’s an excellent bike route down Ontario and then over on Kent which takes me to the Knight Street bridge. The bridge crossing is fine since I’ll be riding on the pedestrian walkway that’s seperated from traffic by a large concrete barrier. Once in Richmond I can sneak down past the IKEA onto a side street next to the Westminster Highway and into work.

I’m also planning to hit the Grouse Grind on Tuesday and Friday night next week. Between that, going to the gym, and biking, I should be pretty whipped into shape by the end of the summer!

Yesterday I met up with Matt and Emily for breakfast before they make their big move to Montreal. They’re so much fun to hang out with and we chilled at my new place afterwards. I’m hoping, after I go visit my sister in Dubai, to spend a week in Montreal. It’s going to be that much more fun now that I know people who live there!

That afternoon a bunch of us piled over to Kris and Lisa’s new house for a housewarming BBQ. One of their friends, Cory, owns Ristorante La Piola in Victoria and he put together a pile of incredibly tasty ribs. It was like throwing meat into a den of wolves. I think the ribs lasted about 5 minutes. So good. Next time I’m in Victoria I’m definitely going to check out Cory’s place.

Alright, I’ve gotta get showered and out the door again. We’re having another BBQ over at Kits for Kimli’s birthday and I’m doing the breakfast thing with Reilly and Miranda shortly.

I Will Grind My Legs Until They Are Reduced to Stumps

Last night I broke the 60 minute mark on the Grouse Grind. This was my third hike up the Grind although Thursday’s hike was a relaxed hike that took us 1 hour 40 minutes. I had gone up with Tamara who’s nursing an injured foot so we ended up sauntering up and chatting the whole way. It was kinda nice to check out the scenery without pushing yourself to race up.

Yesterday I’d started out at the gym, gone to work, and then decided to hit the Grind again. It’s becoming an addiction because it’s such a great outdoors cardio workout. It’s also low impact so the risk of injury is that much less than running. I bought a timer card that you can swipe at the bottom and then the top and it records your time which you can look up online. Friday’s time: 59 mins and 59 seconds. My first ever Grouse Grind, last Friday, was around 65 minutes. So I feel my “base” time is 60 mins and I’ll be hitting the Grind at least once a week to see if I can shave that down by the end of the summer.

Wednesday night I was jamming with the band. We’ve been sporadically jamming the past couple of months so our set was a little shaky but it was tonnes of fun and I feel like we were getting into a good groove by the end of it. Aaron bought a fancy new Fender Jaguar bass guitar and it sounds great! Soon we’ll be in the jamspace at my building where we can make heaps of noise!

In other news our company got approved for the EI Work Sharing program which means we’ll be doing 4-day weeks and collecting EI for our 5th day. Bottom line: I get Mondays off starting next week (i.e. this Monday) and will be getting a bit of cash from EI to cover it. It’s better than laying off more people. The government dudes who worked with us said that they’re swamped with companies applying for this program. It’s great because people get 4-day weeks during the summer and companies get to retain their key people instead of letting some of them go. Odds are we’ll be on this program at least until the end of the year so I’ll be finding things to keep me busy on Mondays. I have a long list of stuff I want to do so this won’t be a problem at all!

Alright, I’m meeting some friends for breakfast soon and they’re coming to check out my new place so I’d better get all my camping gear out of the living room!