Music

[Music] Andrew Cash – Time and Place

I SCORED a Master Grail list item!!

Surprise, everyone! I am happy to announce that on one of my initial CD forages, I found an album that I have been searching for a LONG TIME: Andrew Cash’s Time and Place!

I would be shocked if anyone knows anything about this very talented Canadian recording artist outside of Canada. But, Andrew Cash was all over the radio in 1988-1994 in Ontario, even in my Northern town (thanks, Can-con!). He was also on Much Music quite a bit. His music made a lasting impression on me in the dark recesses of my mind.

My hunt for this album started as an exploration for a source of an earworm I had picking my brains back in the early 2000s. Back then, it was a conversation with a friend of mine about 80s music. In the era of Napster, I searched and found a lot of 80s music, and feverishly burned CDs to add to my piddly 80s CD music collection. Our conversation turned to obscure music we heard on the radio from back in the day, when we spent an evening using each other like a human Shazam, singing each other excerpts of songs that were swirling in our heads in the hopes the other would recognize it and say, “Oh, that song is X by Y”.

I sang, “I-go o-ver my sho-houlder…hee- hum you sa-a-a-aid…” Ha, I didn’t give her much to go on…and there weren’t any lyric websites like what we have today. Needless to say, she couldn’t get to the bottom of the earworm.

It was randomly one day around 2010, when a radio station played the source of my years-long earworm: Smile Me Down by Andrew Cash. Riiight! I thought. I remember that name! Not Johnny Cash, not Roseanne Cash, but Andrew Cash (no relation!). I took to the Goggles searching for Andrew Cash music anything – videos, info…anything! It was scant. A Torontonian, Andrew Cash played in a band called Etranger with fellow musician Charlie Angus in 1980 before pursuing a Solo career. Time and Place was released in 1988, which had some success in Canada. Cash later released Boomtown (another one I am searching for on CD. I do have the cassette format version, thanks to a care package courtesy of Aaron from keepsmealiveread about that here), as well as Hi in 1993. After that, Cash sort of fell off my radar. But, as it turns out, he has been quite busy, continuing to perform, even forming the Cash Brothers with Skydiggers’ alum (and his sibling), Peter Cash, as well as having a stint in Federal politics (as did Charlie Angus).

Andrew Cash has been holding his musical property close, not allowing iTunes and Google Play to sell most of his music, nor having a Vevo account on YouTube.  Thankfully, some rogue YouTubers have posted some grainy Much Music videos from back in the day. A few years ago, I wound up happily paying for the .MP3 of the song, Time and Place, via his website; a transaction he thanked me for personally via email. The desire for the full physical album never abated, so when Aaron from keepsmealive asked people to crowdsource their music wishlists via the Master Grail List, I added Andrew Cash’s first two albums. I am also a bit of a hunter on the cheap, so I could search for wanted items via used CD sites and find what I’m looking for…or I could search and find what I want inexpensively. In my case, I found Time and Place for $1.00 at a junk shop in Whitby. As Bop puts it: BAMMMM! GRAIL GOAL ACHIEVED!

Time and Place is a rock album with acoustic elements and thoughtful lyrics. The listener is drawn into upbeat ditties with pensive messages that touch on life: the insecurities of ageing, mental health, a mother’s grief… There is a simplicity and earthy feel to the album – guitar, bass, viola, harmonica and drums, you feel right at home listening to this album.

The first hasty strums of an electric guitar begin the first song on the album (and source of my earworm) Smile Me Down; an effective starter. The chorus goes a little differently than what I remember:

“I-go o-ver my sho-houlder…hee- hum you sa-a-a-aid…” is actually,

“I look over my shoulder, hearing you say we’re older now.” Oh well, I almost remembered!

The other track I am familiar with, Time and Place, is one I would unabashedly sing along to in the car at 13, while my sister drove us around, embarrassed I was singing along to some old “fogey”.  At a time when INXS and George Michael were burning up the charts and competing for my attention, this song was one that had a memorable melody and was just lovely to sing to. I know Cash was being ignored by my contemporaries, but I was paying attention. And now, as an old fogey myself (ha!) I am elated to add Andrew Cash’s Time and Place to my music collection, and was not the least bit disappointed in it.

Listen for yourself:

(Smile Me Down at 0:00; Time and Place at 9:50)

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[Music] The Catch and Release for September 2017

As many of you know from last week’s post, I have started to reconnect with my music collection, as well as acquire choice CDs to add to my collection. I have listened to / owned some of these albums in the past, but I have also chosen to explore some new-to-me artists.

This series –  The Catch and Release – showcases a choice sample of these finds from the past month; some of these albums I’ve “caught” will happily be part of my collection forever. But, there are albums that I acquired on a lark, that upon a listen or two have not resounded with me, which I have chosen to release back in the wild.

Here we go!

This past month, I made the decision to add some female musicians to my pretty male-dominated CD collection…I had some success and some failure…

The Catch

Sarah McLachlan – Touch (1989)

This charming album by Canadian songstress, Sarah McLachlan, has always been on my want list…even back in 1989 when her hit, Vox, was rising on the charts. I first watched McLachlan’s music video on Much Music and was instantly taken in by her angelic voice and awesome dangly earrings. Aside from the two of us sharing a first name (including the “h”, thankyouverymuch), I couldn’t help but get drawn in by her stylings at the time there were so few female Canadian artists doing what she was doing. It might have been the same day when my friend, Jenny B, and I went downtown to the local record shops in Sudbury to search for Sarah McLachlan. Alas, Sudbury, Ontario was an underserved music hub in 1989, and her album was very difficult to find…and it was expensive to buy elsewhere. I had to settle for Jenny B’s cassette recording off of Much Music via cable radio so I could listen to the song in any capacity.

Fastforward to this past month when I found this album on my travels for $2.99. And – thank goodness – my instincts were right…I was not the least bit disappointed, by any of it! This debut showcases her opera stylings, which might be a little too classical for some, but I think it’s a great listen. Hits: Vox, Steaming, Ben’s Song.

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Bonnie Raitt – Nick of Time (1989)

It was a trip to my local grocery store about 10 years ago when I first heard the song, Nick of Time, play over the PA. It hooked me in right away, especially the lyrics that concern the big questions of life – getting married, having children, growing old, and running out of time to do all of it. Bonnie has her slide guitar on the pulse of life. Each song is rich with warm pure sound. And Bonnie’s voice – wow! This is my first Raitt CD, and it definitely won’t be my last. By the way, this also has her other mega hits: Thing Called Love, Have a Heart.

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Sass Jordan – Racine (1988)

I must have been asleep when Sass Jordan’s music was making a dent on the radio. I was not paying any attention to her albums at all. I knew she had a string of hits, and I know her from her work with the Montreal band the Box. When I found her album, Racine, on my travels, I decided to give Sass a try – hey, she’s female, she’s Canadian. Well, Holee Sheeeitt! Jordan has some set of smokin pipes, yo! People have compared her stylings to the Black Crowes, and that must be why I loved this album so much. It’s rockin! \m/
Familiar hits: Make You a Believer, I Want to Believe, Go’in Back Again.

The Release

TLC – Fanmail (1999)

I never owned anything by TLC back in the day, but I do love that Waterfalls song. This Hip Hop album happens to have three “hits” I recognize – Silly Ho, No Scrubs and Unpretty. I am not the biggest Hip Hop fan that ever there was, but when done well, I can certainly get behind it. Fanmail is very Hip Hop, utilizing loops, samples and scratches throughout – and not well in a lot of cases. Try listening to a song with a half-time buzzer on a constant loop? I was about ready to stab my ears out! I do like that No scrubs song though, but not worth keeping an album for one song.

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Garbage – S/T (1995)

When Garbage broke out on the scene, I enjoyed Stupid Girl. I didn’t really follow the band’s career back in ’95 (too busy following the Watchmen’s career!). It was the first time listening to this self-titled album, and I was surprised – and not in a positive way. Some might like this album for the liquid adrenaline dripping from the speakers on every track…points for consistency, but I needed a breather.

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Exposé – Exposure (1990)

This trio had a string of hits in the 80s, including Point of No Return, Seasons Change and Come Go With Me. So, when I found this at the Mission thrift store for $0.50, why the heck not? Exposure, a greatest hits album has included these hits; the other 7 songs on the album are not familiar, no that great and oh so 80s….I never thought I’d say this out loud but some albums can be too 80s, even for Sarca (the hubs almost had a heart attack when I muttered that sentence…)! Yeah, it’s a pass…

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In conclusion, not too shabby this month. I am trying to be selective, and not just keeping something for the sake of it. I am still enjoying this experience. We shall see what next month will bring…

 

Just When I Thought I Was Out, The Music Pulls Me Back In…

I have had a hankering to listen to some tunes from my collection of CDs for a long while now. I never realized it would be such a big deal, but when you store your collection in large Rubbermaid containers, it can become a pain. To pull out the ol’ bin from the dark corner of the basement seemed like a very daunting task. Overwhelming, in fact:

So much good music in this bin, but it weighs a ton…and…oh man, forget it. I’ll just listen to music on YouTube…

When my iPod went belly-up two years ago, at the time I said to myself I was going to do something with those CDs once and for all. Rip ’em onto the terabyte so I could reacquaint myself with them. Well, it hasn’t happened, folks. For years, we have been concentrating on gaming and house renos – putting the CDs away, favouring instead other avenues to get music – Sirius Satellite radio, online streaming services like Google, Groove Music and Accuradio – and plain ol’ .mp3s fulfilled the need. Whenever I’d think of reacquainting myself with the CDs, the thought of moving around furniture again to make room to display them seemed impossible.

It was one Sunday in August when the hubs and I were at the mall on the hunt for the game Spot It (highly recommend!) when he said he wanted to go into Sunrise Records. Understand, we don’t do the mall. The last time we stepped foot in a mall was back in March when coincidentally, HMV, the only record store for miles was closing its doors. Sunrise has since opened in its place, and this August was the first time we checked it out. I haven’t bought physical music in a long while (I purchased Man Machine Poem by the Tragically Hip last fall).

Honestly, I have been out of the CD-buying game for a LONG TIME! I have been gleefully watching from the sidelines as Mike, Bop, Aaron, Geoff, Deke, 1537, J., JHubner73 (see blogroll for a who’s who), and the rest of you great music bloggers search, buy and review music. I haven’t bought music on a regular basis in years, partly because of my own self-imposed austerity, partly because of gaming, partly because of the wave of digital media, and well, I seem to get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that accumulates versus the lack of time and energy to enjoy it. I have written on this blog how music changes my mood; it inspires, it entertains! And I have been feeling like I need to connect with my music again! So when we set foot into Sunrise, I found myself perusing the racks. And you wouldn’t believe what I found:

What?! U2’s The Joshua Tree, remastered!?!

I was in awe. The hubs said, “Well, that’s it, I don’t care what you say, we’re buying it.” Boy, am I glad we did.

The reissue was crisp-sounding, and since I hadn’t heard the Joshua Tree album in a long while, it was fun getting reacquainted with all of those songs. It brought me back to 1987 when Where The Streets Have No Name was hitting the charts. The first half of the album is well known to radio, while it’s also the last half – Trip Through Your Wires, In God’s Country, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared – that I love the most. Yes, this is good! Yes, it inspired me.

Following that trip, the hubs and I have since pulled out our three bins of CDs, alphabetized them, and catalogued them using Discogs. Now, I am looking at my current collection more critically.

Lotsa CD-Rs…

Not so amazingly, when we went through the collection, we discovered at least 1/3 of it is burned CDs created from downloading! Looking back, I can’t believe how much effort went into downloading, printing covers and burning the CDs – a whole large Rubbermaid container full! Granted, some of the music were bootlegs or hard-to-find collections, but certainly not all of it! I couldn’t help but feel a bit of guilt.

I have started to legitimize my collection by acquiring the actual physical media of my favourite albums. My preference in media is for the CD (more accessible to me – I can listen to it in the car!), while the hubs is getting the vinyl fever (natch!). Regardless, if there is a remaster available on an album of interest, I will certainly consider that purchase. The ones I have purchased lately have been worth it.

The Majesty!

This newfound interest in my music collection has led me to explore some albums that eluded me back in the day. While I can freely peruse the stacks at Sunrise, the thriftin’ bug also catches my attention. What with CDs as little as $0.50 to $2.99 at the junk shops and used media stores, I have managed to gain some headway on this front, quite cheaply. Many people are dumping out of their physical media, which works out great for me. I’ve been using my two-hour daily commute to my advantage too, by taking my music spoils for a spin in the car and have discovered some really awesome new-to-me albums…and I have also found some no-so-great albums…which I can cast aside, guilt free!

I hope to talk more about my love for the tunes here on the blog. For now, I am just really enjoying this experience.

[Film] On an Endless Loop: Heavenly Bodies (1985)

Have you ever had one of those memory flashes triggered by something – music…a film…even a commercial where you see it or hear it and all of the sudden you recall a film from a long time ago…but the name eludes you…It’s driving you crazy…until the answer arrives when you least expect it?

In 1985 I loved nothing more than to dance around to music (the hubs would say I still do – ha!). My sis and I would come up with faux dance routines, and sing along like we were rock stars on MTV. My mom had decided that September 1985 was time to put this energy and interest to use. Aside from having our necessary weekly piano lessons, we took dance classes – Jazz to be precise. I took dance consistently for years well into high school until school work and jobs competed for my time and energy. I really did enjoy that time I took jazz and learned a lot about physical balance, coordination and timing – big things for me as I can be unsteady on my feet. I always wished I was good at team sports, but I just…am not. Dancing, however, was fun and physical, and in my own way, I was being sporty…with jazz hands.

Back in the 80s, Jazzercise as a theme was a big thing in films (see Flashdance, Staying Alive, Perfect, Dirty Dancing…). There was a succession of dance-themed films, and I knew about all of them. If there was dancing in a movie, I was watching it. Time has faded the memory of these films to a certain extent, however…until one of them caught my eye in my satellite guide recently… and those memories came flooding back.

Anyone remember a little Canadian movie called Heavenly Bodies from 1985? This gem used to air on Canadian TV so often from ’85 to ’88 that the dialogue, music and scenes of this film were burned into my brain. I couldn’t tell you if it was a movie channel I originally watched this on, or just plain old Canadian network TV Can Con fare, but regardless there was a time it seemed to be on every month, and I would catch it every time.

Samantha and her friends are dance fanatics working the day-job grind in gritty 1985 downtown Toronto. They have met their limit with their secretarial jobs and decide to quit. They find an old warehouse to rent, and open their own Jazzercise studio they name Heavenly Bodies. The place gains media attention as the hot new “it” aerobics studio; everyone is going, and Sam and her pals are watching the cheques come rolling in. Business is great, which is drawing ire from the big boss of the big hot-shot fitness club in town that used to have the curb on the workout market. Now his patrons are choosing to spend their dollars at Heavenly Bodies instead.

Sam, the main instructor in the studio, is a lifelong dancer, and has endless energy to jazzercise all day. Believing in her abilities, her friends encourage her to audition for the top spot on a new TV fitness program pilot. She is soon picked as host above a number of contenders, including the hot shot fitness club owner’s girlfriend. Her success irritates him and his jealous girl enough to threaten Sam to shut down Heavenly Bodies…and he can do it because he owns the property on which Sam’s studio sits! In typical fashion, no 80s dance movie would be complete without duelling fitness clubs having a danceathon, and Heavenly Bodies does not disappoint.

Heavenly Bodies is true 80s in style and soundtrack. Plenty of flammable leotard and leg warmers here! Some might say Heavenly Bodies is for mature audiences…for sure, when we are talking about people barely dressed, you will have the camera panning a little too long on some areas of the human anatomy, and no one sex was spared. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention other social factors addressed in this film, such as Sam being a single mom, and there being some surprising violent scenes that were impressionable on me as a kid. Being raised by a single parent, I could easily connect with Sam’s struggles raising a young boy alone. Thankfully, the violence bit never came into play at my house growing up.

Aside from the themes of sexuality and violence, there is something sweet and hopeful about Heavenly Bodies‘ story. The “dream come true” shallow easiness of the plot is appealing. With so many dance-themed movies at the time, it’s easy to draw comparisons between this film and Flashdance (another great film). But, what sets Heavenly Bodies apart from Flashdance is Canadian actress Cynthia Dale who played Samantha. Unlike Jennifer Beals who in Flashdance, had a double for most of her dance scenes (using cut shots of moving legs and her sweaty face to make it appear like it was her dancing…). Dale is a trained dancer who did ALL of her own dance scenes and stunts, and did them WELL, might I add. That girl worked her ass off for this film and gets kudos from me today. Even at age 11, she earned my respect: She could grand jeté, plié and spot turn anyone under the table – and I wanted to dance just like her.

The music is something that I definitely remember from my childhood. It’s not all good, let’s be honest. One song by the Sparks called, “Breaking Out of Prison, Baby” is pretty bad, and is unfortunately played several times in the film. Other artists, such as the Tubes (known for “She’s a Beauty”) and Gary Wright (“Dreamweaver” fame), also make an appearance. Of note is a song by Toronto New Wave band, Boys Brigade, whose song “Into the Flow” is probably the best song on the soundtrack. A little known fact about this song: it was produced by non other than Geddy Lee! You can sample the soundtrack here.

Heavenly Bodies is quite a rarity. I haven’t been successful in finding it anywhere for sale on DVD, to download or to stream (at least in Canada). Hollywood Suite (a Canadian movie network) seems to have an old VHS copy they must have pulled out of the dumpster somewhere as that print they aired is pretty darned gnarly. I’d love to find this cleaned up for sale somewhere. For now, I’ll have to settle for the recording of Heavenly Bodies on my PVR. Heavenly Bodies is for sure a hidden gem that brought up some great memories in me. If you are Canadian and subscribe to Hollywood Suite on Satellite or cable, be sure to check this blast from the past!

Heavenly Bodies
Starring Cynthia Dale
1985

[Docudrama] Soaked in Bleach (2015)

I have been on a Kurt Cobain film kick lately, but this is my last post for now. In case you missed my other three posts on Kurt films, check them out:

Kurt and Courtney

Last Days

Montage of Heck

download

Soaked in Bleach is a film I had never heard of until one day I was reading a thread on Reddit that talked about conspiracy flicks (that site is always a fun source…). I checked out the trailer and it sucked me in right away.

In the Spring of 1994, Tom Grant, a Private Investigator, was hired by Courtney Love to locate her husband, Kurt Cobain, who had gone missing shortly following his escape from a rehab centre he was in for heroin addiction. This film documents, in Grant’s own words, the play-by-play of his dealings with Courtney during this period, as well as Kurt’s best friend Dylan who helped Grant gain access to Kurt’s home to search for clues of Kurt’s whereabouts. The whole film seeks to prove that Kurt’s suicide was a murder, and tries mightily to implicate Courtney in the murder.

Soaked in Bleach is a docu-drama; real-life interviews are juxtaposed with lookalike actors used to reinact Grant’s experiences. Because Grant tape-recorded all his conversations with Courtney, the film was able to fashion a somewhat hokey, yet drama-filled story that reminded me of a TV movie. Let me tell you, this film is engrossing…For all the films I have watched on Kurt Cobain recently, and some addressing the possibility that Kurt’s suicide could have been a murder, Soaked in Bleach presents the strongest argument to that claim by picking apart the evidence at hand, including Kurt’s drug levels at death, the suicide note and even more morbid, looking into how Kurt was found holding the rifle he used to kill himself, complete with mockup and animation (not an easy watch). Grant has his own ideas of how things went down, and also a lot of questions that make him want someone in the Seattle Police Department to re-open the case. His questions are further supported by major strongholds in law enforcement and forensics, including the former SPD Police Chief, Norm Stamper, and high-profile Forensic Pathologist, Cyril Wecht.

Grant himself was once a very respected Los Angeles Police Officer, and later became a P.I., considered by many he worked with to have staunch integrity and a real nose for the truth. Grant comes off as egotistical, yet several character witnesses are interviewed in the film that corroborate his history and integrity. Of course, all this is used to bolster his case in an attempt to provide an impression that he is no flake.

But, I have to be honest here: although he brings up some interesting questions supporting his cause, I am not convinced Kurt was murdered, let alone by his wife. I only had to watch the way Grant told the story and how every actor on screen who was NOT Tom Grant acted guilty. No one person was above suspicion here – one might even think watching this film that Grant’s business partner murdered Cobain. At the same time, I have to remember, this story is being presented through the lens of a former police officer- an eye that naturally looks at everyone as suspicious from the start. If one were to listen to Courtney on those tapes, she sounds desperate, affected and coming down from a huge high. Was she able to plot a murder in that state? It’s possible, but in my opinion, doubtful. I have never been Courtney’s biggest fan, but being a drama queen does not a murderer make, and the evidence that attempts to implicate her just isn’t that strong, in my opinion.

The facts as we know them is that one of the most influencial musicians of the 20th Century is dead and the official word is suicide. Should Kurt Cobain’s case be re-opened? If there is any creedence to Grant’s suspicions, I think the truth has a way of worming out without Grant’s obvious witchhunt. Until then, I personally think we need to let Kurt rest in peace.

3.8 / 5

Soaked in Bleach
Dir. Benjamin Statler
2015

That Night in Markham: My Tragically Hip Story (1993)

Group post! 

Today our community of bloggers has come together to write about the Tragically Hip. In the wake of Gord Downie’s news last week, we wanted to come together and share our experience with this household name in Canadian music. Each story is unique, but with a common theme. Hope you enjoy it!

This is the story of how I got to see the Tragically Hip live in concert.

Summer 1993 was a time of new beginnings. I had just graduated from High School, and had accepted an offer to attend the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario for Visual Arts. Going to Western was something I had worked hard to achieve, and made it. I was looking forward to the change of scene by moving away from my Northeastern Ontario town of Sudbury, and was also looking forward to moving in with my sister, who at the time was also attending Western. Some big changes were afoot – new geography, new faces…a new life! And I embraced it all.

I remember the day my sis called and asked if I would be interested in attending an all-day concert of mostly Canadian bands. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as it was two days after my 19th birthday, and I was planning a visit with my sister before I made the big move down south. My musical tastes during this time were pretty eclectic – marry Led Zeppelin and Clapton with the Smiths and Canadian radio, and you pretty much have it. Canadian rock was in my repertoire. So it should come as no surprise that I was salivating at this concert’s line-up. Called Another Roadside Attraction, it was chock full of bands I was very much familiar with: Andrew Cash, Midnight Oil, Crash Vegas, Hot House Flowers, 13 Engines, Thomas Trio and the Red Albino, Richard Seguin, Daniel Lanois and the Pursuit of Happiness. Even more exciting that it was headlined by the Tragically Hip. At this point, my exposure to the Hip was radio and MuchMusic. Having had a few albums under their belt, Fully Completely had been released in the Fall of 1992, and Locked in the Trunk of a Car, as well as Fifty Mission Cap were common songs heard on the radio. I recollect, their song, Courage (for Hugh McLennon), was scorching up the Canadian charts, and I loved it. I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard fan at this point, but I very much enjoyed their music. This was gonna be one fine concert!

The concert was to be held in a remote part of Markham, Ontario, located 20 minutes north of Toronto. The venue was the Markham Fairgrounds; basically a dirt field amid farmland.  The date was two days after my 19th birthday – July 24, and my Step-Dad offered to drive us to the event, and even pay for a hotel. A shuttle bus would drive us back to civilization to the Markville Mall’s parking lot where my Step-Dad would pick us up afterwards.

The day of the concert, my Step-Dad dropped us off early enough to catch the first act, Andrew Cash, on stage. The day was hot and humid, and not a cloud in sight. Hats and sunscreen were in order. At this point, it was easy to get into the venue; It wasn’t yet packed full of people, and my sis and I were able to get right up to the stage to see many of the bands play. The fairgrounds were dusty with a hard dirt floor. To be honest, everything was pretty non-descript and bare-bones. I don’t remember much about it other than there being food stands with a 200% mark-up (because we had to buy water), and a bank of smelly johnny-on-the-spots (because…well…y’know…). I have no take-away from the day – no pamphlet, or poster…I don’t remember there being CDs for sale there, but maybe there was…? And back then, they didn’t like people taking pictures during concerts – so, no pics!

The acts before the Hip were amazing, and because the venue was small, it felt intimate. It was a long day being in that heat. At one point, bouncers got out the water hoses to cool down the crowd. There wasn’t much shade, either but we persevered. The Hip were the last act of the night and we weren’t about to miss it for anything. As the time came to them coming out on-stage, the place really started to fill up, as though the Hip were all they paid money to see, and just showed up in time to see them; the Oils be damned.

And when the Hip took to the stage, it was complete pandemonium.

My sis and I stood somewhere in the back of the mostly male crowd when the Hip started, and moved a bit closer to the middle to get a better view. A mosh pit had developed almost immediately close to the stage. Meanwhile, the crowd at the back were moving their way closer to the front. Without even trying, thanks to force from the crowd my sis and I were being led forward. We weren’t noticing initially, as we paid more attention to the Hip. It wasn’t until they started in on their fourth song of the night, the Hundredth Meridian, that the crowd lost their minds, and became one large mosh pit, pushing and shoving each other. Next thing I know, I am there in the middle of this giant mosh pit! In an instant, a big guy shoved me, I lost my balance, and I hit the dirt. The scary part was when others involved in the mosh pit used me as a rug and stepped on me. I tried to pull myself up by grabbing people around me, but then I’d get stepped on and I would fall back down. Out of nowhere, this hand reached down and grabbed me by the t-shirt and pulled me to safety. It was my sis who said, ” That’s it, we are out of here!”

The incident was mere seconds, but felt a lifetime! I got away with little damage – only some cuts and bruises. I wanted to stay longer, but there was little crowd control. As it was, the crowd were almost preventing my sis and I from leaving the concert, as the whole area was now a mosh pit. I agreed – it was time to go.

Today, I live 15 minutes away from Markham Fairgrounds, and pass it by weekly. Amazing how this seemingly nondescript swath of land had a venue that hosted the Hip and a number of other bands I liked at the time. Another Roadside Attraction was one concert I won’t soon forget.

Now go read from others in the community who have shared their stories on the Tragically Hip:

Boppin from Boppin’s Blog
Aaron from Keeps Me Alive
Scott G (Guest post) from Mike Ladano
Geoff from 1001 Albums in 10 Years
Deke from Stick It In Your Ear
James from Keeps Me Alive

Thanks for reading!!

[Film] Last Days (2005)

Being someone who creates and who is supportive of those who create, I sometimes find myself conflicted when I encounter a piece that rubs me the wrong way, or that downright turns me out. At the same time, my stint in Art School taught me that it’s okay not to like every painting, every installation, every work of cinema. But, it’s also important to look at art with a critical eye, good or bad. You don’t have to like every piece of art you see. Gus Van Sant’s films seem to conflict me in this way.

Case in point, Last Days; a Van Sant film from 2005 that was inspired by the last days of Kurt Cobain (this was even said in the credits), but this was very much a work of fiction (Van Sant’s words). Being a minimalist filmmaker, Van Sant chooses for the imagery to speak for itself. If the camera pans on a driveway for five minutes, that is supposed to say something. If it stares at an actor sitting on a log for five minutes, that also says something, or so I am made to think, as Gus Van Sant’s take on Cobain’s final days is full of scenes like this, where not much really happens. That said, not too many character-building details are revealed in Last Days, but enough clues are provided that your mind can fill in the gaps.

Cobain’s fictional doppelganger goes by the name of Blake, a guy with shaggy blonde hair who just escaped from rehab and returns home to his delapidated rock mansion where his loafing freeloading strung-out “friends” are sleeping off last night’s orgy. Through bits and bobs of near incoherent dialogue we learn that Blake is a musician who is trying to dodge everyone in his life, including someone named Blackie (which I assume represents Courtney Love here), and record execs who are pressuring him to get back out there and tour. His friend Donovan (who represents Dylan Carlson, Cobain’s best friend) arrives with a Private Investigator to the house looking for him too…and Blake somehow manages to hide out from them all while slamming doors and dashing out the back until they leave. Sooner or later he hangs out with the interloping friends staying at his house who shamelessly ask him for money. This is all interspersed with scenes of Blake eating Cocoa Rice Krispies and Kraft Dinner, beating up on a drum set, or sitting on the floor in a drug-induced high, grunting nonsense. The plot does not evolve much until the last eight minutes when (spoiler alert) he is found dead in the greenhouse by the gardener.

Van Sant used relatively unknown actors to play in Last Days. About the only substantial actor of recognition is Lukas Haas who played one of Blake’s interloping friends. Interestingly enough, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame was also pulled in to play one of the record execs, begging Blake to return to rehab.

One thing I hand to Van Sant is that he manages to give the viewer a sense of suspense without trying too hard, but where I find fault is there was no climax, reveal, or “ah-ha” moment. The viewer can tell something “ain’t quite right” with Blake, yet Van Sant’s “…wait for it…” method of suspense made me impatient with this film. Showing a person for 5 minutes doing nothing more than sitting there didn’t move the plot along, and definitely frustrated me. Some might perceive this as a work of genius, and that’s fine. I prefer more meat on them bones. Not providing a full picture on the character development and focusing plainly on sweeping scenes alone made the film feel empty and pointless. But, maybe that was the point…

2/5

Last Days
Dir. Gus Van Sant
2005

**Full movie is on YouTube for those interested