It’s Our Game! (The Hanson Brothers)

No, not Hanson, the boy band from the 90’s. The Hanson Brothers are the best band to ever put out a punk rock album, ever! All they sing about is beer, girls, and hockey. One of the best albums I’ve ever heard was the My Game album that came out in 2002. That and their most recent live album, It’s a Living, are two staples of my music collection.

So I’m celebrating Canada’s win by playing the Hanson Brothers and finishing up my writeups of the adventures over the past few days.

I’ll recap the past few days again.

Wednesday: Atlantic Canada House – On Deck
Julie Doiron, formerly of the band Eric’s Trip, was doing a solo show and I was excited to see what her music sounded like. She’s come through town a number of times over the past few years and I’ve never taken the time to check out one of her shows. Now that I’ve seen what a creative person she is on stage I’m kicking myself for missing all those shows she’s done. Damn! I feel like a fool for not seeing her sooner. Next time she does a show in Vancouver I don’t care what’s scheduled, it’s being dropped in favor of seeing her perform again.

After Julie opened things up there were 3 more bands, all excellent samples of the mountain of talent I’ve come to believe lives on the east coast. Jill Barber, who now lives in Vancouver, performed a stunning set of music that reminded me of the sort of singing that would come out of the 1940’s, but sassier and much more fun.

Catherine MacLellan followed with a down-to-earth folk set that I enjoyed, and Ron Hynes highlighed the evening with his storytelling and songs. He’s a folk singer that’s been around for over 30 years and had some great songs to share with us. I’m happy I got the chance to see him.

Thursday: Atlantic Canada House – On Deck
The first band was Shannyganock and although I thought they were talented, I wasn’t taken with their traditional music. The next morning I found I was playing their myspace playlist over and over because I couldn’t get it out of my head! Still not my style of music, but pretty good and sticks in your head.

Rose Cousins, who Sharon told me was one of the backup singers from my favorite Joel Plaskett song, Through and Through and Through, was fun to watch. Again, very singer-songwriter and folksy type music. What impressed me the most was all the fun stuff she talked about between songs. So entertaining!

Kevin Fox came on afterwards and was the highlight of the evening for me. He’s a cello player who’s incredibly talented and I was stunned at how good his show was! He normally plays as a session musician for more famous artists and I can see why he’s be in demand. Dude has crazy talent. Glad I got to see him!

Finally this band called Olympic Symphonium showed up to close the show. Another great band! Rose Cousins came on for a couple of songs since they had backed her up for two songs during her set.

Friday – blessed sleep!
After two weeks of almost straight bands and late nights Sharon and I realized we were totally wiped out and decided to catch an early night. Saturday morning was early and I even got out to go for a run at 6:30 in the pouring rain. The day cleared up and we spent a bit of time in the Saskatchewan house (kinda lame – big barn-like beer tent and very little about their culture or province aside from having Pilsner beer on tap) before going down to Atlantic House to try and get into the Matt Mays show. That was totally packed and we weren’t getting in so we retired to the Alibi Room to have beers with Reilly and the gang. Was fun! Alibi Room has the best beers on tap.

Today I got together with Reilly and everyone to watch the game at a local pub. We lined up at 10am and were barely able to secure a table at 11am when the opened and everybody stampeded through the doors to secure seating. Game was crazy, esp. when the US tied it up with 30 seconds remaining and it went to sudden death overtime. Good thing the Canadians pulled through. Downtown’s been a circus of honking and yelling ever since and I think I saw more Canadian pride in that bar than i have at any other time in my life. After the win there was a spontaneous singing of O Canada which got repeated when the anthem was played after the medals were handed out on TV. Wild! My ears are still ringing from the eruptions of noise whenever Canada scored!

Tomorrow I’m back at work and into real life again. I’ve enjoyed the last week, especially at the Atlantic House where Sharon introduced me to so many great bands. I’m looking forward to discovering many more great music acts with her this year.

Near the End

Tonight is our last night at the Atlantic House. I’m already starting to miss the neverending stream of great shows that we’ve been able to go to every night! Tonight we see Matt Mays at the Kitchen Party. Hopefully we’re able to get in and don’t have to line up too long.

Back to Wednesday night when we saw four more incredible bands! Oh wait… Sharon just put food in front of me. We’ll be leaving her place soon so I’m going to cut this off and (hopefully) finish my update tomorrow.

Matt Anderson Rocks the Kitchen Party

Monday night Sharon and I braved a 3-hour lineup to get into the Kitchen Party at Atlantic House again. We even had to put up with some boneheaded hippy in front of us who got incredibly annoying after a while. I’m generally pretty friendly and patient with people but after the first hour I started wondering if I could convince her that she’d be much better person to talk with if she had a strip of duct tape applied to her mouth.

The sore feet and the annoyance of dealing with stupid hippies melted away once we got inside and I had a glass of Gahan House Island Red Amber Ale in my hand. We were just in time to see Mary Barry again and I enjoyed her laid back jazz set even though her drummer didn’t appear this time. I was hoping to see him again since he was so talented when I saw him on Sunday night.

When Matt Anderson, a whale of a man who plays blues guitar, got onstage I thought it was going to be a good show but I had no idea! That dude can shred on his guitar! His band was solid and between him and his other guitar player they put on one of the best blues shows I’ve ever seen. I kept thinking of Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page while Matt made his guitar shriek and squeal at us.

Rawlins Cross was the headliner and the crowd noticeably thinned after everybody was pummeled by Matt Anderson’s performance. Their show was good too although much mellower than Matt’s. Their bagpipe player was my favorite to watch but the whole band was quite fun. I’m glad I saw their show! As the clock approached 1am Sharon and I snuck out. She had to work in the morning and I was feeling pretty wiped after being on my feet for over 5 hours.

Surprisingly I wasn’t as tired as I thought I’d be in the morning and I made it through the entire day without napping. Last night I showed up at Reilly and Miranda’s to provide some support for the German team as they faced the nearly-impossible task of playing against a desperate Canadian hockey team filled with top NHL players. The Germans put up a good fight the whole way though and even managed to get a couple of pucks past Luongo. Their goalie made a great save against Sidney Crosby during a penalty shot, which I expect he’s quite proud of.

Now I’m chilling out and catching up on my blogging while my car’s getting it’s oil changed. Tonight we’re back at the Atlantic House for more music!

A Week of Music

Tonight is the first night I find myself not going to see a concert since the Olympics started and I expect it will be a rare night off until the end of next weekend. There are so many great bands in town, especially at Atlantic House on Granville Island. Sharon is from the maritimes and knows about all these fantastic bands that I’ve never heard of so I’ve left myself in her hands to select our concert itinerary. Thus far it’s been great! Here’s a quick recap:

Saturday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Our first night at Atlantic House was a blast! Strangely the venue didn’t clue in that there were going to be 500 maritimers in attendance and only provided a single bartender to handle the huge lineup of people looking for beer. Fortunately the Atlantic House Kitchen Party venue sells beer imported from the east coast and has a proper bar to serve people. It wasn’t until last night that I found myself being able to get into the Kitchen Party to buy Gahan House beer.

The first act was kinda lame, the only dud performance at Atlantic House, but the next three were stellar! Amelia Curran from Newfoundland was up first. She’s a singer-songwriter who performed some amazing songs on her guitar. She had a percussive way of playing and it was great to listen to. After Amelia came this great band called Grand Theft Bus. I was reminded a little bit of Wintersleep in that they both have a way of jamming out some particularly moody music. Their drummer was great to watch. Very talented! I’m going to have to listen to more of them.

Following Grand Theft Bus was the headliner, George Canyon. After seeing two very different, yet equally awesome, bands already I wasn’t sure what to expect next. What I got was a strapping guy wearing a Canada hockey jersey and 10 gallon cowboy hat who was an incredibly polished country singer. You could tell that they were a big band by how tight they were and how they had in-ear monitors for a small show like this one. What made it memorable was George jumping into Stomping Tom Connors Good Ol’ Hockey Game early in his set. Ashley Macisaac snuck on stage to join in and the crowd loved it. They got so fired up singing that the band immediately went into Drunken Sailor before going back to their regular songs.

My favorite part of the show was when George pitted two of his bandmates against each other in a contest to see who could get the most noise from the crowd. The prize: the loser had to serenade the MC, Shaun Majumder, with the Tina Turner song Private Dancer! Atlantic House has it on YouTube now: Well worth watching.

I should mention that comedian Shaun Majumder stole the show as the MC that night, and has done so every night since at Atlantic House. Funny, funny guy.

Sunday night: Robson Street
On Sunday Sharon and I decided to keep it low-key and wander around downtown to see what was happening. We got lucky when we stumbled onto Robson Street next to the CTV booth just in time to see Canada’s first gold medal win at the moguls competition that night. Robson Street exploded into cheers when it happened! It made an already festive atmosphere even more fun downtown that evening.

Monday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Our original plan was (at my insistence) to go see Sloan at the Atlantic Canada  Kitchen Party, which is the smaller of the two Atlantic House venues, seating only 200 people. Unfortunately, if you weren’t in line by 5pm for the 10:30pm Kitchen Party you weren’t getting in! So we elected to check out the performance next door which was simply called Drum. I’m glad we did miss Sloan since Drum was a crazy good show! It’s a large multi-cultural troupe that performs a wide range of music all centered around percussive instruments. They rocked the place! Incredible performance.

Tuesday night: Livecity Downtown
Buck 65 was playing downtown so Sharon and I went over to meet up with her sister and see his show. I’ve seen Buck 65 once before when I was at the Pemberton Festival two summers ago. I thought his show was neat but wasn’t really that impressed. So I was curious to find out if he would be better in a small venue where he was the featured act. It took us about an hour of lining up to get in but we were entertained by the partiers in front of us who knocked back an entire mickey of Fireball Whisky and several beers before staggering through the security check at the entrance.

The venue had placed a large screen outside so everyone in the lineup could watch the show that was going on inside. I kinda wish they hadn’t because the opening band was one of the worst hip hop acts I’ve ever seen! I understand you want to feature Canadian artists but please, this is the band that makes people say things like, “you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap’.”

It was good we were lined up because we missed that band and made it in time for Buck 65, who killed it! Crazy lyrics, goofy dances, and so much fun to watch! I’m going to be going to see him again. I’m also going to pick up his new album when it comes out just so I can hear the zombie song he performed.

Wednesday night: umm… I can’t remember!

Thursday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Sharon really wanted to see Jimmy Rankin, of the Rankin Family, and I’m always up to see new bands so we went back to the Atlantic House, which by now was garnering rave reviews in the local press as the place to be during the Olympics. There were four east coast bands playing  that night and I didn’t realize that I was in for one of the best shows I was going to see.

The Once came on first. Led by their talented singer, Geraldine Hollett, the 3-piece from Newfoundland charmed us with their songs that would tell stories about life on the east coast. We were captivated by their music and just as we’d settled into it their guitar player started shredding on his banjo and the audience erupted in cheers. When they left the stage I, and everyone in the theatre, wanted them to keep playing.

Good thing Pascal Lejune, a French-Canadian from New Brunswick, came on next with his hipster 3-piece band. He’s a funny guy, his band was great, and the songs were in French with the exception of my new favorite of his, The Train, which he explained came from his failed attempt at starting a music career in Nashville. His is another album I want to pick up.

I wasn’t sure it’d be easy for the next band to top the previous two, but John Connolly and his band from PEI put on an outrageously good show. At first I wasn’t sure I liked them that much, and Sharon wasn’t taken with them for their first couple of songs either. But they quickly started to rock out more and more and until it felt like they were stampeding over us with their music! They’re another band I would go see again if I get the chance.

Jimmy Rankin came on with a lone guitar player who he introduced as his backing band. He tells stories with his songs but he comes from a background of playing dance halls and bars with the Rankin Family which has made him a master of working a crowd. It wasn’t long before everyone was on their feet and people filled the front of the auditorium to dance.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see so many fantastic bands in one show!

Friday: Alberta House
Well, we didn’t actually make it into the Alberta House. The Dudes were playing and Sharon knew I would love them so we lined up alongside the Alberta House on Robson Street to see if we could get inside to see the show. The stage is outdoors anyway so you can see it from the lineup and even though we didn’t make it in we got to see the entire show with the small crowd that gathered along the fence that separated Robson Street from the Alberta House bar.

Sharon was right, The Dudes rule! Their drummer, who has a mustache that fits somewhere between Tom Selleck and Lanny MacDonald was one of the most entertaining drummers I’ve ever seen. He’s become the standard to which I’m going to judge my performances now. Probably the most fun band I’ve seen over the Olympics.

Saturday: Germany House
Saturday we were intending to go to the Atlantic House again but we got so distracted by the beer and bratwurst at the Germany House that we didn’t make it over! I think we were a little burned out from all those shows too. Germany House was heaps of fun, especially with my friend Travis who decided he should bring this ridiculous beer hat for the occasion. It was a good conversation piece for all the people that sat with us at the large tables in the house. I had my Germany hockey jersey on and some of the Germans thought I might be from their country so they’d try and speak German to me. My German is pretty rusty so it quickly became apparent that I could not speak German. Still met some cool people from the old country though so it worked out alright.

And that brings us to Sunday, which I’ve already written about.

I have been having such a good time seeing bands over the Olympics. For me it’s more about the music than the sports! I’m going to find it pretty boring by comparison when the Olympics leave town next weekend.

Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down (Hey Rosetta)

Hey Rosetta played the Atlantic House Kitchen Party last night and they rocked! We stood in line for two hours with a crowd of Hey Rosetta fans while the Canada-USA hockey game raged inside and finally made it in to see one of the best shows I’ve seen during the Olympics. The band has a way of being very, very quiet and then building into a loud peak with all six members creating a wall of sound.

Mary Barry, “Newfoundland’s Jazz Chanteuse” came on before Hey Rosetta and she was fun to watch. What caught my attention was the drummer who was not only an exceptionally talented guy but he looked like Rick Rubin, the famous music producer who sports a monster beard and long hair.

My favorite part about the Atlantic House Kitchen Party was my discovery that they have two of the Gahan House’s finest beers on tap! Gahan House is a small brewpub in Charlottetown and they don’t sell their incredible beers anywhere but at their downtown Charlottetown location. I was sad to leave the Gahan House behind when I returned to Vancouver and I didn’t think I’d get a chance to taste their fine brews again before I get back to Charlottetown (hopefully sometime in the next few years).

Earlier in the day we went to another Atlantic House presentation called “Songs and Stories from Atlantic Canada” which featured 5 maritime musicians on stage. Each of them would take a turn telling us a little about their background and stories of living in their province and would follow up with the band performing a song they’d brought from back home.

One thing I’m amazed by is the depth of musical talent that lives in Canada’s east coast. I’ve seen nearly a dozen east coast bands in the past week and all of them have been incredible. Now I understand why they have their own East Coast Music Awards. I’m also lucky to have met Sharon, who has introduced me to all of this great music.

I’m going to write up the previous days festivities as well but I wanted to capture yesterday’s excitement while it was still fresh in my mind.

Toe Nibbling Is Also Available, Free of Charge

Today is the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and I’ve been watching the buildup all week in downtown. On Wednesday I took a walk down Robson at lunchtime and saw 4 camera crews conducting interviews and filming news segments. CTV had also set up their Olympic desk on Robson by the HMV for their downtown Olympic coverage. Tourists and team members from different countries have been piling in and I’ve heard a variety of accents and foreign languages on my way home from work every day. Waterfront Station, our meeting point for both Skytrain lines and the Seabus, has been getting steadily busier to the point that I was shuffling through a dense crowd yesterday evening.

I heard they expect 100,000 people to arrive downtown for the opening ceremonies today and I’m gearing up for a zoo tonight. Fortunately our company is closing for the next two weeks and today is my last day of work until March. There are so many free music events going on in the next 2 weeks that I’m going to be busy watching bands the whole time. There’s at least one act I want to watch nearly every evening during the games, particularly at the Atlantic House on Granville Island where they’re showcasing a number of great bands from the Maritimes. Sharon knows most of the acts playing there and my cousin Bronwen in PEI had recommended most of them as well so I’m looking forward to discovering some new Canadian music.

Tonight we’re heading to Kimli’s place to watch the opening ceremonies. A pack of our friends had attended the dress rehearsal and it sounds like it’s going to be amazing. Reilly mentioned he had even teared up at one point when he was filled with an overwhelming sense of patriotism. Reilly’s not the kind of guy to get sucked into feeling patriotic so I’m terribly curious to find out what’s so special about our opening ceremonies.

So yay for the Olympics – I’m excited!

Outside of the Olympics I’ve had a relatively quiet week. Last night we went out to The Eatery, our favorite sushi place with an outrageous decor and creative sushi selections, to celebrate Reilly’s birthday. On the way there we ran into the torch relay and managed to find parking just minutes before a young girl bearing the torch moseyed past with an entourage of police and hype-men bellowing Olympic slogans to get the crowd worked up.

Wednesday night I met up with a friend of mine I knew from school in Edmonton for a beer at the Alibi Room. He’s working with the RCMP security detail for the Olympics and is staying just down the road on one of the boats that’s been turned into a hotel for Olympic-related staff. It was good to finally catch up – we hadn’t seen each other since about 2001 when he last showed up in Vancouver. I got to hear all the news from the Edmonton crowd and their adventures in marriages and baby-making.

Now I’m heading to the gym and then I’m going to get through my last day of work until March!

Quasi – American Gong

As you all know, I think Janet Weiss is the queen of all things rock and roll. Together with her ex-husband, Sam Coomes, they’ve been making music as Quasi since 1993. In the last few years they’ve added bassist Joanna Bolme who Janet has been playing with in Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.

I’ve tried to get into Quasi’s music but it’s never clicked with me. Maybe because it’s mellower than Sleater-Kinney or Steve Malkmus, which is the expectation I have when I hear something that Janet’s playing in. I even dragged myself, suffering under a terrible flu, into Richards on Richards on a work night to see Quasi open for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The show was good and I went back through their old albums but the music still wouldn’t stick.

A couple of days ago Quasi posted a link to their new EP on iTunes and I thought I’d try it out. It was only $3 and I’m happy to support their music even if I don’t listen to it much. What I didn’t expect were three songs that I’ve had them on repeat constantly since I bought them! I can barely believe this is the same band! All guitar, super-catchy, and fabulous harmonies (which is the secret weapon in Quasi’s music).

Yesterday I pre-ordered the vinyl off Kill Rock Stars so I could get the DVD featuring Quasi doing an entire show of covers of songs by The Who. The digital copy of the album got sent to me today and when I spun it this evening I was blown away again by how awesome it is!

My friends make fun of me for what Shan has dubbed, “The Darren Enthusiasm” since I tend to get mildly obsessive about things I love, especially new albums and bands. So I am fully enthusing about this new album. I expect to be hard pressed to find a better album released by the end of this year. Hopefully the band makes a stop in Vancouver. Even if they don’t, they live in Portland and are bound to do a show in Seattle or Portland before the years out. I’m so going to go see that if it’s within a few hours drive.

The Curse of Having It All (Quasi)

Just returned from Kimli and Ed’s housewarming party. They’ve got a great place over by the PNE grounds. Loads of space, superb kitchen with a huge marble-topped counter, and a perfect spot to entertain a pile of people. I ate my weight in cheese and cupcakes too. Oh, and I learned stuff too! Guinea hens (a.k.a. guineafowl) originate in Africa. There’s a strange story behind this fact but it’s fun to have an iPhone so we can look such things up when needed.

Today was mostly an errand day filled with haircuts and household shopping. My stand mixer finally appeared at Sears and I’m going to be a busy monkey baking things up in the coming weeks. I’m excited to be jumping into baking-land again. I haven’t done a whole lot of baking in the past few years but having my own kitchen again, despite being a bit on the small side, has got me thinking about cooking again. Plus I want to cut down on the eating out habit I’ve developed over a bunch of years of living downtown with great takeout on every block.

I did buy one more thing which I’ve been coveting for the past several years (I figure since about 2005 or so) and finally jumped on. Probably not exciting to anyone but me but I’m pretty excited! It will be covered in a future blog post when I have some pictures and some time to give y’all a proper explanation of my excitement.

Friday night Sharon, myself, and a pack of friends saw Astronautalis perform at the Biltmore. Dude is awesome and owned the stage! It’s tough to explain his sound. Maybe try Tom Waits doing rap, if that makes any sense. He was the first guy on stage that night, opening for the headliner and their other opening band. I thought he should have been the headliner. His show was the best of the three by far!

Music news: I picked up Quasi’s new Repulsion EP off iTues for $3. It’s the lead single off their forthcoming album and I’ve put in a pre-order at Kill Rock Stars so I can get the extra DVD that’s being given to pre-order purchasers. The song rocks! They’ve added a bassist and have gone to a more guitar-based sound so the new song is more rock than their previous work. If you want to hear some great music hit this up on iTunes. Can’t wait for the album to drop in my lap in a couple of weeks.

You can hear the song Revulsion by Quasi at the KEXP song of the day blog.

I should also mention that Quasi features drumming by the incredible Janet Weiss formerly of Sleater Kinney.

The Weekend Starts Here! (Sharp Teeth)

I had a fantastic weekend with Sharon. We spent most of it chilling with each other and Saturday night we went over to Chris and Rachel’s for a BBQ with a few friends. Chris BBQ’d up a couple of sides of salmon which were delicious!

Last Monday Shan scored tickets to the Vancouver-Buffalo hockey game and since Josh (her boyfriend) didn’t want to go I got to go check it out.We started at the Lennox on Granville for a bite and a pint and followed that up with a hotdog from Costco. Costco has this hotdog place that’s open to the outside and it gets filled with people looking for a quick pre-game snack. For $2 it’s a sweet deal and I felt like a kid again when we went in.

The game was exciting. Vancouver’s been on a tear recently and this was the first game since they blew out the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the reigning Stanley Cup champions, 5-1 at GM Place. The Canucks outplayed the Sabres most of the game and kept hammering them right through the third period for the win. It was a great game to watch! Vancouver is heading out on the longest road trip in NHL history since GM Place is being outfitted for the Olympic games. We’ll have to see how they handle themselves with all the travelling.

Now that the Olympics are around the corner I’m seeing changes happening in our downtown. I was in Nester’s (the grocery store in the new Woodwards building) the other day and ran into a pile of people from a Swiss Olympic squad. Now on my walks to work I’m seeing all kinds of Olympic staff near the Convention Center. Signs for the road closures and Olympic routes have been put up and there’s even a security checkpoint on Waterfront Road that I’m watching as I write this! If they have 4 people sitting in sight of my balcony for 24 hours a day I can imagine there’s a mountain of other people who have been mobilized for Olympic security. I’m starting to get a sense of how much is involved in putting these Olympics on. At least it’s all done in a month and we can have our roads back!