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Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Snow Of March

We are told by reasonably reliable people (TV weather forecasters - the modern-day equivalent of gypsy fortune tellers, and about as accurate) that today will be the last day of snowfall for March.

I can actually believe that, what with the month being over by tomorrow...


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Artists' Collective Theatre review: "Fat Pig"

Artists' Collective Theatre
Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig"

(photo courtesy of Leanne Williams, Red Shoe Photography. Pictured: Peter Dorrius, Amanda Liz Cutting, Tanner d'Esterre. Missing: Stephanie Orr)

The Sunday Morning "Before-Noon" Theatre Review: 

Artists' Collective Theatre presents Neil LaBute's 

"Fat Pig"

MOTEL, in the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts

When the final "fade to black" concluded yesterday's performance of "Fat Pig", I thought "well, that was great, but what - 35, 40 minutes?" When I got out into the lobby and checked my phone, I discovered that the production had run an HOUR and 45 minutes, non-stop - no intermission. 

That's how deeply you get pulled completely into this thought-provoking exploration of human nature and sensitivity (or lack thereof) regarding people that may be different, however and by whomever that perception might be concluded.

Set in the intimate MOTEL theatre in Calgary's Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, the audience surrounding the performers in their seats by less than a few yards away truly completes the immersion into this drama. From the first scene where the two main characters meet, the dialogue is authentic - a gentle verbal ping-pong match between plus-sized Helen and rake-thin Tom as they quickly move from awkward through nervous, to inquisitive, and on to tentative. It doesn't take long for both these actors to foreshadow where this will lead, but the audience is rewarded for the journey by the rich, real-life characters that populate the story.

Showcasing a tenuous grip on self-confidence tethered by a facade of bubbly personality, Amanda Liz Cutting as the full-figured Helen takes the audience on her emotional roller-coaster ride from start to finish. As her nervous, similarly lacking in self-assurance beau Tom, Peter Dorrius is equally talented at making his character's relationship questions of confidence and failures relatable.  

The sand in Tom's oyster of confidence is provided by two co-workers, his gregarious pal Carter (Tanner d'Esterre) and colleague/almost girlfriend Jeannie (Stephanie Orr). Again, as with the early meeting of Helen and Tom, the dialogue and reactions are truthful and believable. LaBute's writing doesn't drift into contrite or pretentious - you have likely heard a person, or even spoken like this yourself with close friends about others.

All of which makes this play work so well, and speed by in such a manner that you feel like you want to stay for a second act after it ends. In nature, sand in an oyster makes pearls. In weak wills, and under peer pressure from multiple directions, you may not get that perfect, hoped-for ending. 

There are so many interesting elements in "Fat Pig" - the societal and closer personal peer pressure, judgment over choices, the subjectivity of what or who a person is. And the political correctness that hovers over everything we choose to accept as "normal" or appropriate. One scene uses descriptions long relegated to the graveyard of societal acceptance: "fags", "cripples", and "retards". The only thing missing was the "n"-word. 

Can Tom find peace with his inability to come to terms with love despite the clear lack of acceptance by everyone he knows? I'm glad we don't get to find out by the end. 

Kudos to the crew for making everything work convincingly in a sparse stage design. Final  thought - not being familiar with this production before yesterday, I can't say if it was in the original script or a decision by ACT, but the Renaissance elements (the promotional poster, the Mona Lisa socks, and the book on the beach) were a reminder that society hasn't always held skinny women in the highest regard. Subjectivity, and people change with time...

"Fat Pig" runs March 26  - April 5

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Calgary Folk Club 03 28 14 review: Fearing & White

Calgary Folk Club
March 28, 2014
Fearing & White

The "Before-Noon" Folk Club Review:

Calgary Folk Club,

with "Fearing & White"

(Stephen Fearing & Andy White)

Talk about commitment - one arriving from Halifax, the other from Melbourne, both bringing pervasive warmth among their songs and self-deprecating exchanges with each other and the Calgary Folk Club audience last night....

With a history going back to my hometown Winnipeg Folk Festival (meeting up there in 1998), and years each on stages before forming Fearing & White, these two award-winning singer songwriters showed no evidence of the gruelling efforts (and travel hours) needed to make it in to the club for their performance. 

Talk about world music - each having an Ireland connection, blended with Fearing's Canadian residencies and White's now in Australia. The end result is certainly a diversity of riches lyrically and melodically. Trying to come up with some sort of comparison if you're not familiar with either, it was to me a bit like John Prine singing alongside George Harrison. A depth of talent to say the least...

(Stephen Fearing)

Touring a brand-new release Tea And Confidences, the first set opened with tracks from their 2011 self-titled album. 12 string guitars, bass, and about a half-dozen instruments from Fearing's Mobile Six-String Collection brought together songs like "Say You Will", "Shake The Hand"and "This Isn't Hollywood".  I have to say, I've become an awfully big fan of resonator guitars that are being used frequently now, sans slide - especially with haunting tremolo added for effect. Song after song, guitar after guitar, no surprise there was a rush to the merchandise table at the break for this music...

Hard to pick favourites from songs that stand on their own so well, but for me at least a few of the high points of the evening had to have been "October Lies", "Italian Girls On Mopeds" (along with the hilarious stories around that one), "If I Catch You Crying", "Mothership", along with the ethereal wonder of their closer "Emigrant Song". 

Well, plus one more that I couldn't quite catch the lyrics for . I jotted down "Out On The Baest West", but I'm pretty sure I'm completely wrong on that. Hopefully I'll figure it out when I listen to both those albums later today...

As I mentioned earlier, their sound combines word, folk, roots, rock and even a bit of pop. Together, it's just a winning combination. 

As it happened, I ran into the two during the break between their sets. Genuinely nice folks, and in that very short time we talked about their Alberta tour, how Fearing's Irish accent was less obvious than White's, and I got a few terrific recommendations for some music-related books and movies.

I did ask how much juggling they have to do, what with each having solo careers, their duo project, and Fearing's involvement with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings (also just releasing a new album "South"). We also heard that there's photography (Stephen) and poetry (Andy)!

Stephen suggested that it's all different parts of the "hard drive". 

For fans of all their projects, we can only hope that those hard drives never crash...

Some vital links you will need to have:

Fearing & White (if you can't catch them on their current tour, the albums are all on iTunes)

Stephen Fearing  (Incidentally, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings appeared on the legendary Grand Ol' Opry earlier this month!)

Andy White (His new solo album is "How Things Are", and check out his published work as an author!)

The Calgary Folk Club has just one evening left in this season. However, they are currently selling season passes for the new one. Try and catch the last show, and find out more...


Friday, March 28, 2014

The Snow Of March

I'm not sure you'll be able to find anyone east of Hades that isn't going to complain about this year's relentless winter. As I type this right now, snow is falling, and we are well below Zero. Celsius!

However, parts of the country are getting far worse measures of this relentless Jack Frost OD. The Maritimes got hammered yesterday, and even folks I follow in Florida have had to put on long-sleeved shirts to go for a walk at night. It's virtually playing on everyone's last nerve - if those nerves still have any feeling.

Global warming?? Fire it up - and while you're at it, send out a search party for the sun. I've roasted enough of my chestnuts over an open fire....


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Inside A Real Estate Office

Every organization known to mankind may eventually get large enough to start an in-house company newsletter.

My latest REM column is probably not what a real office would put out (better judgment aside), but I think it's a lot of fun nonetheless:

Monthly Newsletter



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wild Horses (Couldn't Keep Bees From Hay)

It is a truism that has endured the ages. If you want to want to discourage bees from loitering around your hay, wild horses have proven time and time again to be an ineffective deterrent.

Playing Barry Manilow music has some effect, but bees do hum, so eventually they will get right into those classic hits, and again, you won't keep them from your hay.

Cayenne pepper has some success, but will also make your horses sneeze if you leave it on the hay too long. Never mind what it does to the droppings - Holy Nuclear, Batman!!

In my opinion, there is only one effective solution to keep those pesky bees from your hay. Automated scarecrows with very sensitive motion detectors, armed with flamethrowers.

Bear in mind, even you may not be able to get near your hay. But you will get rid of those bees!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I've Been Thinking...

In that old hit song, do you think that a flower was ALL that Delta Dawn had on??

Did we ever find out what that flower was?

Was the song writer a botanist, or horticulturist, in that they didn't care that a flower was all she was wearing? That's dedication to the craft...

Hey, what if it was flour she had on? That would make a lot more sense.

To me, at least....


Monday, March 24, 2014

King Kong's Allergy...

Sure, most primates live and play in trees - but I think that if we really examine why King Kong spent so much time scaling tall buildings when he came to live in the civilized world, I think it's not much of a stretch to conclude that he had an allergy to asphalt.

After all, he was barefoot, so all he would have encountered in the city would have been sidewalks and roads at the street level. Therefore, the Empire State Building provided much needed relief, in the absence of a pharmacist that would have just provided him a prescription for antihistamines.

Wonder how things would have played out if Obamacare had been available at the time???

Mystery solved!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Surviving Extended Winter Weather

Even in Canada, we have our limits. Continued snowfalls and sub-zero weather can even get on our polite dispositions. FYI, Ole Man Winter - I'm looking at you - capeesh?? You and me, long walk, short pier.

PS - You will be walking further than me....

That said, despite the tulips covered in three feet of snow in the last couple of weeks of March, we have to find ways to cope.

Here's a few thoughts:

1) Burn an effigy of Ole Man Winter, while playing The Beach Boys greatest hits on a boom box, full blast. If you choose to wear shorts and a tank top while doing so, consider leaving a freshly heated Hot Pocket in your boxers..

2) Rope enough Canadian Geese to a tree so that their flatulence will raise the temperature at least a few blessed degrees...

3) Dance like no one is watching. It's very likely with the ski wear, scarves and frozen glasses, no one will be...

4) Quarantine yourself indoors, return to work in June. Except for Manitoba and Minnesota, where you will have to wait for the August thaw.

5) Visualize that you are in a warmer climate, like Pluto, or Siberia.

6) Invent trendy, fashionable snow clothes, that make this cursed abundance desirable instead of the relentless nuisance that it really is.

7) Marry A penguin.

8) Positive Affirmations: "I Can Regrow Those Frostbitten Toes", "I'm Warm, I'm Happy, Now I'm Going To Stop Crying"...

9) Huddle in groups - great way to meet new people, but consider introducing ourself first!

10) Keep your hands in your pants. We males do this by instinct anyway, and it sure has proven effective over the years...


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)




Breathe man, BREATHE!

Wut the cluck wuz ya doin'  in tha freezer??

Hang in there buddy - I'm callin'  a medic!


How come yer skin's so shiny.....



where's yer extrem-atees?????????




I gotta get help - cluck fer now!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Angry Hogs

Today is National Pulled Pork Day, in case you're wondering why every pig you happen upon in your travels is VERY suspicious of your intentions.

That said, feel free to pull a pigtail when you pass one today!!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day Of Spring

Yes, despite the fresh snow falling outside today, it is apparently the first day of spring.

Which leads me to believe that statement has nothing at all to do with the season.

I have a spring in my step - maybe that's the deal?

There's springs in my mattress, my car, my watch, and my extensive diving board collection.

There are springs in things, just not the weather yet...


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Driving In Calgary (Despite The Obstacles)

Just gathering a few random thoughts today after our brief but robust icy snowfall that occurred just in time for yesterday's commute to work:

* Bees? Honey. Ants? A picnic. How do you attract reckless, irresponsible asshats? Snow and ice on the morning roads. Bad tires? Going too fast - who cares! If I drive a truck or a BMW, I can go as fast as I want, and you are only in MY way. Sure, I may spin out of control after passing you on sheet ice, and almost kill everyone waiting at the nearby bus stop, but I have surely proven I am the most superior being of all, and most importantly, I got ahead of YOU!!

* Synchronize traffic lights? As the good folks at Calgary Traffic Planning state in their daily mantra, "Synchronization is for swimming, bitches!!" Bear in mind, these pinheads can't even synchronize the few lights on an overpass, ironically planned to speed up the flow of traffic...

* Clear the roads? Put down salt or gravel? Ha Ha Ha!! Hey, the sun will come out tomorrow, right??

* I am positive that even though a green light in the far distance will stay that way for the 15 minutes it takes me to approach it, the motion detectors ensure that they will turn red as soon as I get close enough to almost make it through that intersection. The amber will appear, briefly -  timed perfectly to force my frantic braking right through the pedal, down to the asphalt...

* Hey Alberta - remember when we had that Distracted Driving law come into effect a year or so ago? Good times, those couple of weeks where people at least tried to hide checking for emails and calling their besties to discuss urgent matters, like how they forgot to do their nails that morning. Seems like now the problem is twice as bad as before they tried to correct it. Maybe the province should consider deputizing responsible drivers.

I'm sure I've got more, but I better quit so that I can brace myself for another brush with Darwin's dullest this morning....


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Snow?? Again???

Can somebody find a suitable candidate for Mother Nature to date, so we can get her attention refocussed, and foul mood wrapped up for this winter??

We could see the grass yesterday - now the whole damn outside world is covered in snow again!!

Failing that, remind me why I live in Canada again??? "Hello, Hawaii, are you still accepting loooong-term visitors??"



Monday, March 17, 2014

Blog Anniversary!


Back on March 17th, 2006 I took my first stab at posting in this online forum called a weblog.

Clearly, I had no idea what I was going to do with a blog, and certainly had no idea that I would eventually end up posting daily, even if daily often meant a wide variety of content lengths.

For quite some time, the most comments I had for something I wrote came back from a one-word post! I think I jotted down "butter", and then clicked "publish". There's literally no telling what will connect with readers, but that silly bit sure did.

Since then, I've posted daily musings, brief bits of humour, the odd rant, links to my weekly newspaper humour column when it ran - and my national column when that went into the online world.

Concert reviews, travel blogs, theatre, interviews - the list goes on and on.

Recently, my actual writing career has turned 360 degrees, back to my first publication credits - I'm doing music writing again, for now in cyber-space primarily. That is going to change, I believe, but I'll just leave you with that teaser for now.

Up at the top, you can click the photo montage to watch or listen to my interview series - that feature has been running since 2009. Even more recently, I've taken a more serious stab at developing a YouTube channel - which you can click on just over to the right.

Oh, and of course there is that recurring chain-smoking alcoholic chicken that continues to be among my top viewed offerings. There's really no accounting for taste...

I am determining that I need to rebrand, to try and focus my efforts to gain more readers, but for now, the scattergun approach continues.

Thanks for being part of this ride, and I hope you continue to check in when you can.

Here's a couple of links, my first post, and the year following...


March 17, 2006

March 17, 2007


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)




Oh mah cluckin' hot claws and spindalee knees!!





Ah think ah juss dropped a rib....


Lemme catch mah breath - so ah kin explain.

I think ah left it about 3 kilometres back - kin ah ask ya ta go pick it up fer me??





Funny, ah juss got on this blasted contrapshun - ah've only juss tried to turn it on!!!



Ah think ah need ta press mah lungs back inta place....

Or lay mah ass down fer a coupla hours...

Cluck fer now - this is radikilous!!!!!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Calgary Folk Club Review 03 14 13

Calgary Folk Club
March 14, 2013
The Arrogant Worms,
West My Friend

Calgary Folk Club Review, 
March 14, 2013

The Arrogant Worms, with West My Friend

The rumours are just not true - The Calgary Folk Club is NOT sold out for every performance. But the club sure was for this one last night, featuring Canadian folk icons The Arrogant Worms, with newcomers (and award-nominated) West My Friend. The house was packed with appreciative fans, and I don't think a one of them left disappointed...

Victoria-based quartet West My Friend launched the festivities, along with their new CD "When The Ink Dries".  Featuring Eden Oliver on guitar, flute and vocals, Alex Rempel (mandolin, vocals), Jeff Poynter (accordion, vocals), and bassist/vocalist Adam Bailey, the group showcased all that's great right now in modern folk.

While suggesting during their between-song banter that they were perhaps the serious, sombre counterpoint to the Worms, there were still moments of subdued humour, with their opening song about an ethno-botanist. As they suggested, not a lot of bands can say that about their songwriting inspirations...

But it was in the subdued and the serious that West My Friend really sparkled - the top-notch "Go Straight Away", the personal "Thin Hope", as well as "Ode To Sylvia Plath". As good as those were, "Tic-a-Toc" may have been the best of the bunch -  a fine, robust bit of folk there!

After being brought back to the stage for an encore, the crowd was rewarded with rich harmonies in an A cappella performance. 

To learn more or find out about buying their music, check out their website...


What can you say about The Arrogant Worms? Canadian folk icons? Fellows Of Funny? Darn Good Performers??

Whatever your leaning, last night's two sets did not leave anyone wanting - music from their own new CD "Space" fit as comfortably as any of their back catalogue, of which much was performed to laughter, cheers, and/or moments of inappropriate singing along. The ease these gentleman have on stage after all the many, many years shows - in a good way!

Blending ample (OK, extensive) humour into fun melodies, The Arrogant Worms have won over audiences for 20+ years - but like others in this genre (Moxy Fruvous and The Heebee-jeebees just to name a couple), there's plenty of vocal and musical talent to back up the silly. Which is why they continue to slay listeners with hilarious tracks like "The Guy Who's Always Out Of Tune", "Uncle Lou", and "Jesus' Brother Bob". 

The laughter and the catalogue were relentless last night. "Yoga Pants", "A Manly Song", and "When Canada Rules The World" are terrific additions to their library from that new album. "Rocks And Trees", "Celine Dion", and their "hit" "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" were all crowd favourites. Not to mention the chastising that same crowd receiving for not following instructions for "The Mounted Animal Nature Trail". I suspect we did exactly what we were supposed to, after all...the laughter sure seemed to indicate that.

While the Worms have undergone personnel changes over the years, this combination with Mike McCormick (guitar and vocals), Chris Patterson (bass and vocals), and Trevor Strong (Vocals. Occasionally guitar. But mostly vocals...) is a well-oiled machine of merriment and mirth. 

If you've never seem them perform, they are at their best on a stage with an audience to bait and cajole.

However, you could do yourself (and the boys) a favour, by stopping by their website to find out more, and maybe order an album or two - there's lots to choose from! 

There's only two more shows this season, and next year is now on sale - so another reminder - stop by  The Calgary Folk Club yourself. Quit missing out!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Today's Commute...

Some congestion on my commute to work today. I had left two cases of soda pop at the top of the stairs, which I had to evade in my efforts to get downstairs to my office.

Scenery nothing to scream about, I really need to hang a few pictures along that stairway wall...


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Negative Aspects Of Weed.

I'm not sure why so many people across Canada and the U.S. are wanting to legalize weed, or in some cases, already have.

In my garden, the damn thing literally chokes out what I'm TRYING to grow - and don't even get me started on my lawn! Those dandelions are a blight - A BLIGHT I TELL YOU!!

Why would anyone in their right mind want to encourage weed, instead of removing them when they poke up uninvited??

Legalize? We need to literally stamp out weed, thistle by thistle, root by root! Gardens shouldn't have to suffer trying to grow around this culprit that clogs valuable soil. Even in potting...

Just say NO, to weed!!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Goldilocks Was A Brunette!

This is just starting to hit fake news sources, but new evidence is shaking up the worlds of make believe and fairy tales.

Testing on hairs found on the scene in the Three Bears' home shows that Goldilocks was clearly just a name adopted after a dye job - "Goldi" was born a brunette!

This changes nothing really. She still slept in their beds, ate their porridge, and left with their big-screen TV - for all we know she may have been Rapunzel out on a day pass.

Now, the dirty cover-up story is out!

Shaking up the world of children's stories today...


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)

Howdy hoomans!

Juss ra-hearsin' with mah new band, tha Side A Fries - fer sum reason tha uther members uv tha band thought that wuz a good name - who am ah ta argue??


We gots a gig comin' up next week, and ah need ta be in mah best from - ah'm tha vocalist.

Basikelly, ah'm tha vocalist cause mah chicken wings is too small ta hold a instrumint...


Ah guess ah could shake a tambooreen....

Anyhow, we cover all kindsa populer songs - "Country Fried", "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" "Chickens A'Crowin' On Sourwood Mountain", and uv course, tha "Chicken Dance". Them cluckers is pretty good pluckers!


So, fer now ah better git back tah rehearsin' - tha yodel sections iz gonna KILL me otherwise!!

Cluck fer now...

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Paul Slade Smith - "Unnecessary Farce"

Paul Slade Smith
Actor, Playwright
"Unnecessary Farce"
Stage West Calgary

In my first-ever Skype video interview recording, I have a brief conversation with actor and playwright Paul Slade Smith about his career as an actor, his award-winning comedy "Unnecessary Farce", and what he has coming up.

A very authentic and forthcoming individual - enjoy!

(Only on YouTube right now, but will be loaded onto my podcast site and iTunes as soon as my maxed storage limit is cleared!!)


Friday, March 07, 2014

Income Tax Time!

Well, here we are once again - that time of year where we await our income tax slips from our employer, and gather up RRSP statements before we prepare our taxes.

In the U.S., there's the IRS to contend with. Here in Canada, it's the polite barracudas over at CCRA.

Herein, I share some recent correspondence with the latter - just for shiggles!

Dear CCRA, Eh?



Thursday, March 06, 2014

Bad Local Commercials

Every city I've ever lived in has had some local business owner earnestly flogging their wares themselves, occasionally in an unknowing horrific way, but sometimes taking the criticisms for poorly written, produced or unwanted commercials, and converting that into intentionally tongue-in-cheek terrible ads.

For example, years ago in Winnipeg there was Kern-Hill Furniture Co-op, where the owner was entirely over the top in pitching furniture sales. His commercials became regularly nutty, and eventually his son took over in that tradition.

In Calgary, there's Flaman Fitness, with a fitness superhero spokesperson, and a local Realtor who has a line in one of his ads that sums up his approach: "Cheese?".

Cheesy indeed...

How about YOUR city? Is there someone that drives you crazy with agonizingly amateur commercials, but you never forget what their business is? Granted, you may never use that business because of the ads, but you do tend to remember the enterprise nonetheless...


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Valerie Boyle Interview: Stage West Calgary - "Unnecessary Farce"

Still not able to post a link yet to my podcast version, but here's a YouTube link to my interview with actress Valerie Boyle!

"Talkin' With"



Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lesser-Known Greek Gods

You know the old 80-20 rule, how less than 20% of people are successful as some endeavour? Well, seems the same thing goes for Greek gods!

I came across a few in some "research" recently, and I'd like to share those with you now:

1) Sofacles - the god of evening lounging furniture - funny, I thought he might be more popular than some of the others, but many not in Greek heaven...

2) Coffeeteetee - Goes without saying, we'd all be missing the best part of waking up without the contributions of this oddly obscure Deity...

3) Broccoliopolis - Well, I can see why this god was rightly doomed to unpopularity! Maybe if there was a god of dip...

4) Thighrashtophles - Ugh! Nuff said!!

5) Diarrheanees - OK, I think we've discovered just about enough unpopular Greek gods for one morning...


Monday, March 03, 2014

Where's The Bouncing Balls??

Remember when commercials had chipper musical soundtracks, and a little bouncing ball that bounced over the lyrics so that you could sing along to the song?

Either we've gotten more literate over the years, or we lost the last bouncing ball lyric animator...

Someone ought to Google to find that out...


Sunday, March 02, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)


Programs fer children an youth...

Programs fer adults...

Ah huh...



Wut kinda dumb-ass librerry duzn't offer poultry currikilums??

An fer anuther thing - Crowfoot??


Well, ah guess ah'll hafta put on mah fake mustache, an register as an adult.

Wut a cluckin' way ta start tha month off!

Better run, an start collectin' hairs offa tha pillows upstairs....

Cluck fer now!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Calgary Folk Club 02 28 14 (Ellis Paul, Rebecca Loebe)

Calgary Folk Club
02 28 14
Ellis Paul, and Rebecca Loebe

The "Before-Noon" Entertainment Review: 
Calgary Folk Club, 
February 28, 2014
Ellis Paul and Rebecca Loebe

On a cold Canadian evening in which even polar bears and penguins were checking into Holiday Inns for a reprieve from the polar vortex, a couple of talented American artists treated hardy attendees to a robust helping of modern folk music that warmed the crowd up quite nicely.

Rebecca Loebe started the evening off with a joie de vivre that was not blunted at all by the cold she was battling to sing through. There is no doubt she loves what she's doing, and the stories she shared between songs gave the audience glimpses into her sense of humour and a world observation view that seeps into her songwriting.

That sense of humour was most evident in songs like "Married Man", while her insightfulness showed in songs like "The Chicago Kid", and "Swallowed By The Sea".  

An alumnus of the first season of NBC's The Voice, her rendition of Nirvana's "Come As You Are" turned around the chairs of Christina Aguilera AND Adam Levine, taking her already active performing career into even more exposure, and bringing some juggling challenges with pre-booked shows overseas.

Loebe made an interesting confession towards the end of her set regarding that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of national TV exposure. Her line about the "four judgmental pieces of furniture" ran a line between doing what you do for the opinions of others, and doing what you do because it's what you love to do.

Eliciting a standing ovation, her sing-a-long encore of "Redneck Karoake Bar" was a fun lead into the break...

Check out Rebecca's website, or download her music from iTunes!

Ellis Paul is multiple award-winning American musician that was embracing his "almost-Canadian" side last night, with plenty of references to Canadians, and iconic Canadian themes. He teased about our two Gold Canadian Olympic hockey teams. He strung a thread of Neil Young through a delightful guitar story. And he ended with an encore of Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game", with the support of Rebecca and the Calgary Folk Club Sing-A-Long All-Stars.   

As a storytelling songwriter, he is only slightly overshadowed by his masterful work on the guitar. During songs like "Chasing The Beauty", or when he outright created the illusion of a three-piece band on "Maria's Beautiful Mess", Mr. Paul showcased a melodic virtuosity on "Guinness" that was the solid foundation for his vocals and lyrics.

For me, the clear winners for "Moment Of The Night" were the lovely "Home", and the insightful "Hurricane Angel". 

"Angel" reminded me of another American roots artist and a similarly themed song, slide guitarist Spencer Bohren's amazing remembrance of Hurricane Katrina in "The Long Black Line". Both haunting, both should have both of those in your collection...

However, I have to admit, when you introduce a song as a "Texas Roadkill Christmas Song", and you pen it with lyrics that include snow, cactus, and armadillos, you've got something pretty darn original there. That one was "Snow In Austin", from Paul's Christmas album. Just one of many available on his website...hint hint!

If you haven't already, you REALLY need to check out the Calgary Folk Club - these nights (even in sub-arctic conditions) are always amazing!