Biking Around Stanley Park

I’ve been lazing around like a sloth in the heat this week. It’s been challenging getting to sleep when you’re roasting like a Thanksgiving turkey which then makes it tougher to get up in the mornings.

Yes. I’m whining.

So anyhow, rather then continuing to whine about it I got off my fattening rear end and tore around the seawall on my bike. I got the bike fit adjusted last weekend since my wrist had been complaining after rides. Now everything seems fine and I’m looking forward to much, much more bike time in August.

Last night we had a good jam in the surprisingly cool jamspace downstairs. Our bassist bailed on account of the heat which thickened his blood to the consistency of molasses and he was having trouble moving anywhere. Our band’s been toying with a cover of Polyester Bride by Liz Phair and it’s sounding really cool although we have a lot of work ahead of us to polish it up and make it tight. I’m going to start working up the drum parts this week and hopefully I’ll have it nailed for jam next week.

Wednesday I watched the film Moon over at Tinseltown. It’s a damn good film! A little weird and somewhat eerie. Stylistically it reminded me of 2001.

Oh, Clint’s just arrived from Calgary for the weekend. Gotta run and let him in!

So Many Bands, So Little Time

Sunday I got out to the Virgin Festival to see some of my favorite bands all play in Deer Lake Park on the same day. I got there just in time to see Jarvis Cocker (the dude from Blur doh! I meant Pulp — thanks Joy) who wandered on stage looking more like a university prof than a rock star. He’s a fun dude to watch with all his goofy dance moves and deadpan delivery. He even gave out European chocolates to people! His show turned me into a big fan. I even texted Shan to tell her about his dancing since she’s all into dance.”Shan — Jarvis Cocker is doing those tut moves you showed me!”

So I already felt like I got my money’s worth with Jarvis’s show but Sonic Youth was up next on the main stage and they brought a wall of guitar noise to the place. This was my third Sonic Youth show and I think each show has been better than the last! They were on fire at this festival. Sonic Youth has been one of my all-time favorite bands ever since I discovered them in the mid-90’s when I was living in Calgary. Knowing I’d never have a chance to see Sonic Youth if I stayed in Alberta is one of the things that prompted me to head west. I’m so glad I made the move since you don’t get festivals this awesome in Alberta!

I didn’t realize that Metric was playing and was surprised when I realized they were on the schedule. The last time I saw them at Richards on Richards I wasn’t terribly impressed even though their previous show (opening for Sam Roberts at New Music West) blew me away. I’d written them off but was happy to check them out again since there were some good songs on the new album. Well they brought the thunder to the stage and I was impressed by the enthusiasm they brought to the show. All the press I read tonight pointed to Metric as the festival’s highlight.

After Metric I finally got to see Gomez, who played on the second stage in between Metric and Ben Harper. Gomez is a band from the UK that I listened to back when I moved to Vancouver in 2000 and I’ve always wanted to see them perform live. Everyone who’s ever seen them play has raved about their live show and I keep missing them when they come through town. So their set was as awesome as I’d heard that it would be and they even through in a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Bron Y Aur Stomp, which is my favorite Zeppelin song ever!

When I went to the Sasquatch festival earlier this year the last night was headlined by Ben Harper and his new blues-y band the Relentless 7. About half the crowd at Sasquatch had bailed since it was a Monday night and presumably people had to work the next day. Those of us who stayed were treated to an amazing performance by the band and it remains one of the highlights of my Sasquatch trip this year.

I was looking forward to seeing him again and, as I expected, he ripped! He threw in a cover of Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times which was a treat to watch. Mid-set there was a bit of a slow jam where I started losing interest but they jumped back into the heavy blues again and I was pulled back in.

So every band I saw was awesome and I count this as one of my musical highlights for the summer!

If anyone’s curious about Ben Harper’s new band I recommend the Relentless 7 show that Moshcam recorded in Australia earlier this year. Moshcam is my new favorite site and my friends are already getting sick of me constantly going on and on about how rad it is.

High Weirdness

On the way home from the Irish Heather this evening I came across this intriguing piece of street art. I talked with some other people who were wandering by and we speculated that this was the remenants of a party where the watermelon had been infused with vodka and the husk made into this piece of artwork.

What is this Creature 2I will have more tales of the past week tomorrow but now I am sleepy.

Who You Gonna Call?

I’ve just returned from dropping Amanda off at the airport so she can get back to life in Calgary. It was good having her out, especially on such a beautiful weekend.

Last night we met up at David Lam Park to watch an outdoor screening of Ghostbusters. Now I’ve never seen Ghostbusters. When that film came out I was living in Summerland and the town wasn’t big enough to warrant building a movie theatre. We didn’t own a VCR until we moved to Vernon, long after Ghostbusters had come and gone and I never took the time to watch it when I got older. So I was excited last night to finally see this classic film!

I’m glad I saw it in a crowd of a couple hundred Ghostbusters fans. Cheers and applause would erupt whenever one of the classic lines came out, people sang along to the Ghostbusters theme song, and there was a pack of fanatical girls who would screech at all the exciting moments. It was way more fun to watch it in such an enthusiastic crowd rather than sitting at home.

Yesterday we all drove up to Cates Park in North Van for an afternoon of kayaking. Takaya Tours has pretty good prices on kayak rentals and they’re at a good jumping off point for exploring the bottom of Indian Arm. We took a leisurely paddle up to Deep Cove and back and enjoyed the sunshine and scenery. Deep Cove is one of the most beautiful spots to be on the water in the Lower Mainland.

We were pretty hungry after kayaking so we hit the Raven Pub for some of their pizza, which is some of the best pizza in the area. That evening I didn’t have heaps of energy to go out so I wandered down to the Reel Bulldog video store to pick up a copy of Apocalypse Now, which was recommended to me recently. I’ve been meaning to check out Reel Bulldog since it looked like a funky little place that stocks all the interesting films instead of rows of crappy Hollywood paint-by-numbers type films. I’m glad I checked it out! The owner, Mike, is a super nice guy who gave me a comprehensive rundown on Apocolypse Now (apparently his favorite film) and I’m looking forward to going back in for some more recommendations. I love going to places where people are passionate about what they do.

Friday evening I joined Reilly and Miranda at the Folk Festival to watch The Weakerthans and Iron and Wine. The Weakerthans were awesome! I swear their shows are better each time I see them. During their set I realized that sitting in the sun watching The Weakerthans at Jehrico Beach is about the best place in the world to be. There was a funny bit during the show when John, the singer, started talking down the Olympics and someone from the crowd yelled out, “what’s wrong with the Olympics?” John responded by saying they were going to displace people and then said they should head to the beer gardens afterwards for a debate! I doubt that happened but it was fun to imagine.

Samuel Beam, performing as Iron and Wine, walked on stage dressed in brown old-man-pants hiked up past his belly button and a red button up shirt that would have been right at home in a 70’s disco club. I saw him at the Sub Pop 20 festival last year and wasn’t particularily impressed but this time I found his music really compelling. He also had a whole bunch of funny stuff to say in between songs and got into some particularily hilarious banter when someone called out asking if they could “have his beard.” Sam said he figured it was cool that drugs were legal up here but if you went around asking people if you could have their beards then you had a problem!

Thursday night was another great show with the New Pornographers and Death Cab For Cutie over at the Pacific Coliseum. I had an extra ticket so Amanda joined me, which worked out well. We met up with Josh and Kimli for some sushi beforehand and then headed down Hastings to the PNE for the show. I was glad to catch the New Pornographers again since they’re one of my favorite bands. Their sound was a little muddy and bass heavy, but I still enjoyed their set. Death Cab was awesome and they’re another band that I like more and more every time I see them. Their new single, Little Bribes, is a great song and I loved it when they played it! They had a funny story about playing the Starfish Room about 9 years ago when the promoter took them over to see the New Pornographers after Death Cab finished their show. The promoter said to help themselves to a cooler full of beer backstage at the Pornographers show and the Pornographers came in to find the Death Cab guys smashed in the back room with all the New Pornographers beer having been consumed! So Death Cab thanked the Pornographers for not being totally mad at them after that.

Small Town Bars

This weekend’s highlight was our Saturday night trip to the Lynnwood Inn pub which is reputed to be a sketchy place. One of our friends had spoken highly of it so we thought it was time to check it out.

The best way to describe the Lynnwood Inn is to think of the small town bars you’ve been to in your life. Now put in a bad cover band, fake stone facade on the outside, and fill the place with a mix of drunks and cougars and you basically have the Lynnwood. Everyone in our group had grown up in a small town and we were all transported back in time to when this was the only type of place you could go to have a beer.

Some girls tried to convince us to come over to their table but we’re all married (with the exception of me, and I’m not looking to pick up some girl in a small-town bar) so we declined.

The craziest part of the evening happened when we left. We were standing outside the pub when a loud screech of tires, followed by a loud crash and a large dust cloud prompted us to hustle back over to Main Street to see what happened. Some drunk guy had been roaring down Main at high speed and tried to stop at the red light. His tires locked up and he slid through the intersection, hit the opposite curb and skidded along the sidewalk until he smashed into the red light camera. The car was destroyed and the red light camera, which is anchored in the ground with a 4′ tall concrete foundation, was uprooted and thrown onto the sidewalk! The guy lurched out of his car, unharmed, while the emergency vehicles rolled towards the scene. Reilly got some photos:

The Camera

The Car

The Uprooted Camera

Sunday morning I got up bright and early to have a loud jam with Reilly in our new jamspace. We made a pile of noise and we might have the makings of a new song from it. Post-jam we met up with everyone else for some breakfast at the Alibi Room, who have the best french toast in the city. Afterwards I thought about joining the gang at the beach but decided to hit the gym instead to try and work off some of the Stellas I’d had the previous evening.

Monday I headed straight to the Grouse Grind again. I wasn’t feeling terribly energetic so I went up at an easy pace and enjoyed the climb. Then I took advantage of the rest of the day to do some software stuff. Mostly research and ripping into some newer technologies. I’m enjoying my Mondays when I get to do something different, but totally relevant to my career. I also thought I might dig into WordPress themes and plugins to see how those work. Maybe I’ll find a niche that I can build one for and make a bit of money off it.

The rest of the week’s looking pretty packed. Our band jams in the new space on Wed night. Thursday I’m going to check out the Death Cab For Cutie / New Pornographers show with Amanda, who’s in town for a few days. Friday we’re going to see the Weakerthans and Iron and Wine at the Folk Festival. Then I’ve set aside the weekend for whatever camping, hiking, or 4x4ing adventures we get up to.

Goodbye Foxy

Last week I got a call from my Mom to say that her dog, Foxy, had her tumor flare up again and it was unlikely she’d survive much longer. Foxy was 13 years old and had already had a recent operation to take care of the tumor. Now that it had returned and was causing her much discomfort my Mom made the decision to put her down, which I think was the right thing to do. It’s always hard losing a dog, especially one that has grown to become a part of the family. 

I’ve made several trips to Vernon over the past couple of years and I’m glad I got to spend as much time with her as I did. Most mornings I’d get up early, leash up Foxy and head over to the schoolyard where I could let her off in the field and watch her tear around. I’m also glad I bought my camera when I did because we have a good set of photos of her. 

Foxy

Goodbye Foxy. We’ll miss you!

Quiet Week

It’s been a relatively quiet week this past week. There haven’t been any shows or goings on and I’ve used the downtime to explore Ruby (a software language) and do some drumming. 

Our little band now has a permanent rehearsal space since I managed to score keys to the rehearsal spaces that are part of my building. This Wednesday we have our first jam in the new space and we’re all pretty excited. 

I’ve been feeling a little sluggish this week so there’s been no Grouse Grind adventures. I was going to go up this morning but I think I’m going to go tomorrow morning instead. 

Next week promises to be more exciting since Amanda’s coming into town for a few days. We’re going to go see the New Pornographers and Death Cab for Cutie on Thursday. Then on Friday I’m seeing my third Weakerthans show with Reilly and Miranda at the Folk Festival.

Slow Going This Morning

After a busy week I’m lounging in bed surfing around on my macbook and getting hungrier by the minute. I was out kinda late last night at the Mats Gustafson show at the Ironworks Studio, which is conveniently right beside my building! I discovered that the Ironworks is one of the funkiest little venues in town and I’m going to be spending more time there seeing jazz shows. Last night’s band was incredible, noisy, and chaotic. I’ve discovered this week that I love the crazynoisy free jazz stuff where the drummer is ripping around the kit and the band is freaking out in a cacaphony of screeching, squealing, and thumping. It’s kinda like playing Frank Zappa records at double speed and high volume. 

So it wasn’t a show that most people would have enjoyed :) I’m musically inspired by it though and will be hopping on my kit quite a bit over the coming weeks to get my speed and timing up to par. 

Earlier in the afternoon I biked over to Granville Island to see Chris and the other students at this week’s improvised jazz workshop put on their final performance. Again, there was a heck of a lot of noise, which I enjoyed, but we also discovered there is a whole new way of composing and orchestrating these improvised performances. The band is given sheets with different graphics that represent sonic ideas and then the bandleader will use hand signals to indicate which sonic idea the band is to follow. Looking at these diagrams I can see that it gets complicated quickly, especially since you only have guidelines and have to come up with your melodies and sounds on the fly. 

After the performance we had some dinner at the Cat’s Meow, then biked back into downtown to get some dessert at Melriches Cafe on Davie. Finally I went home just before Chris arrived  to go for a couple beers before the Ironworks show. So it was a good full day of jazz and friends, which is all one needs to have an amazing day.

Thursday was much quieter since I was actually at work all day. It’s been weird to have this week of working a couple of days in the middle. You never feel like you really get into a work routine. Anyhow, Thursday night I dropped a couple of things off at Shannon’s, collected my Don’t Need You – The Herstory of Riot Grrrl DVD and had a quick BBQ before heading home. I was a little less energetic so I fired up Rock ‘n Roll High School, the 1970’s movie featuring the Ramones and laughed my head off until I went to bed.

Kenny Werner’s Band Blew My Mind

Kenny Werner is a jazz pianist and his show last night was the best I’ve seen at the festival this year. He had an amazing band backing him up, most notably his drummer, Antonio Sanchez, who re-inspired me to get my drumming together. They guy was a drumming machine! Kenny Werner has a great sense of dynamics in his music and I found myself so pulled into the music that it seemed like the show was ending just after it got started.

This morning I hit the Grouse Grind again. I’m glad I went early because I found the parking lot packed when I returned to my car. I’ve never seen it that busy.

After that I went home and started to work on my drumming technique, which has totally changed after seeing what Antonio played last night. I’ll obviously never get to his level but it’s made me want to get much, much better than I am right now.