Monday, July 25, 2022

Fallen Comrades and Heavenly Hot Dogs: In which John Prine, Townes van Zandt, Johnny Cash and Mr. Chi Pig are invoked at the 2022 Folk Festival, via Fortune Block, Ford Pier, Alejandro Escovedo... and Bev Davies, Bob Hanham, and Erik Iversen!

1. Alejandro Escovedo, Townes van Zandt, and Fortune Block

As Fortune Block finished "Hot Dogs (in Heaven),” Alejandro Escovedo looked over at them – this at the Heartworn Highways Vancouver Folk Festival workshop on Sunday, July 17th – and said something on mic to the effect of, “Man, Townes would have loved that.”

Escovedo knew Townes, and was also awarded the Townes van Zandt songwriting award awhile back. We didn't get a chance to interact much - so I didn't get to ask for some Townes stories from him - but maybe someday?

Alejandro Escovedo, Ford Pier, and Allan MacInnis by Erik Iversen, not to be reused without permission. Is that Amber from Fortune Block in the hat? I think so! \

To stick with Fortune Block, the first time I’d heard "Hot Dogs (in Heaven)" –  watching it in the spare arrangement you hear on the video I linked above, before the festival even started -  Fortune Block’s Richard Inman‘s fingerpicking reminded me precisely of Townes van Zandt, to the extent that I half-expected, before the vocals began, that it was going to be a cover. I can’t put my finger on which song I was expecting. “Rex’s Blues” came to mind - "ride the blue wind high and free" - though the humour of the song is closer to the goofier, less frequently heard side of Townes, like “Heavenly Houseboat." Or, well, perhaps you’d like some German mustard on those hotdogs? (Weird that two of Townes' goofiest songs tie into heaven and hot dogs, but surely this has no bearing on the Fortune Block song...?). 

While it is no secret that Townes had played the folk festival himself in the past, I think if anyone realized that last Sunday, when all this was taking place, was the 40th anniversary, to the day, that van Zandt appeared there, on July 17th, 1982, they would have mentioned it. Vancouver cultural treasure Bev Davies was there - the first Folk Festival she ever shot - and took photographs.

Townes van Zandt, July 17th, 1982 at the Vancouver Folk Festival by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

There were several other acknowledgements of departed greats during the Folk Festival – most frequently, John Prine, whose songwriting is the most overt influence on “Hot Dogs (in Heaven),” to the extent that one of his songs, “Spanish Pipedream,” is referenced in the lyrics, as is Prine himself. 

At their main stage tweener on Friday, Fortune Block - who also did a concert of their own, and a workshop, and apparently sold a ton of CDs at the Neptoon tent (suggesting that I wasn't the only one taken by them) - told a story about getting drunk together the night after Prine died (of COVID, in 2020) and writing the tune.  

Borrowing a table in the media tent during one of the festival's mild showers, I asked Inman to elaborate on the influence of Prine. Inman - as imposing in his bulk as Amber is diminutive - sat to my side, still wearing his cowboy hat, while Amber sat across from me. “If you’re a songwriter, doing the singer/songwriter thing, and you don’t know who John Prine is, you probably just don’t get it,” Inman says.

Inman figures that like most other people, “Angel from Montgomery” was the first he’d heard of Prine, perhaps as covered by Bonnie Raitt. 

Amber chimes in: "Similar to Richard, probably the first time I heard a John Prine song, it was somebody playing a John Prine song, and me being like, 'Is that your song?' And it's like, 'no, no.'"

Richard: "That's the mark of a true songwriter, y'know? You hear it through somebody else." 

I observe that I've even enjoyed hearing John Prine busked outside a liquor store (usually this song, of course). 

"That's the thing about his music," Amber responds. "Anyone can play it, and it's really nice to play, and it's fun. I don't know, there's something about songwriting like that that makes you feel good."

Richard: "That's what the song is about, the feeling you get when you listen to John Prine, that everything's gonna be all right."

Fittingly, the true formative experience with Prine's songwriting, for Richard - not the first he'd heard a Prine song, but "when I first sat up and took notice" - was a cover of ‘Sam Stone.’ "I didn’t even hear that through John Prine, I heard it through Johnny Cash. And he changes the words! He says, ‘Jesus Christ died on Sunday, I suppose.’ John Prine’s version is, ‘Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.’”  (note: the clip linked above has a slightly different lyrical alteration, but I do recall the version Inman is mentioning). 

Heartworn Highways workshop, with Ford Pier, Alejandro Escovedo, and Fortune Block, plus their bands and ASL interpreter (on the right margin). Photo by Allan MacInnis

I observe, "So Cash chickened out?" It is, I swear, more of a question than a statement, a "So what you're saying is..." type-thing, rather than my own final analysis of Cash's lyrical alteration. 

But Inman bristles - grins, but you can tell some part of him is serious, too. “He’s Johnny Cash. You’re not allowed to say that." 

I briefly worry that I'm in trouble, but everyone is soon laughing. "It's true," Amber agrees - but listening back to the recording, I am unsure which of us she's agreeing with! 

Richard thinks about it for a minute, and, apparently deciding he can't rebut me outright, comes up with another tack for defending Cash's honour. "He had songwriters' backs totally, like Kris Kristofferson," Inman observes. "He didn't chicken out with 'on a Sunday morning sidewalk, I'm wishing lord that I was stoned." And that was actually a big deal. He did that right on TV in front of everyone. So he's allowed to chicken out once!"  

Richard, if you are reading this; I actually think there's a better way out, which is another way of saying that on reflection, I think I was wrong: Johnny Cash wasn't chickening out, he was probably just refusing the image out of a principled belief in the moral example of Christ. Christianity has become messed up enough of an edifice that it's hard to say things like that publicly - like you'd see people pulling back a bit, thinking, "What are you, some sorta Christian?" - but whatever you think of Christ, Johnny Cash has written some of the best songs ever about him; "Redemption" in particular gives me goosebumps. It couldn't have been written by someone with a less-than-serious investment in Christianity. 

Of course, whatever  John Prine felt about Christ, that lyric - "Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose" -  was not meant to express it; he observes in an interview that to him, the line meant that "there's no hope. If a veteran is going to come home and be treated like that, and nobody's gonna help him with his drug habit, then what's the use in living?" But Cash's need of the whole Christian thing was deeper and greater than Prine's, maybe, and he just wasn't going to broach disrespecting Christ's sacrifice (any more than Richard would broach my disrespecting Johnny Cash!). 

By way of atonement for my lazy slight on Mr. Cash, here are some photos that Bev - the selfsame photographer who took the pics of Townes, above - took of Johnny Cash in Vancouver at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in 1985 (my first concert ever was seeing Cash and the Carter Family some years prior, I think at age 8, at the Pacific Coliseum in August of 1976, but Bev wasn't at that one. I know he did "A Boy Named Sue" that night - the only song I really remember, because it was a funny story for an eight year old to hear; it is not listed on the setlist for Setlist FM, but there seem to be several songs missing). 

Johnny and June Carter Cash by Bev Davies, 1985, not to be reused without permission

So what's the weird building behind Fortune Block in that video, anyhow? "That's the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. And it's really funny, because my idea for merch, years ago, was..." He trails off, takes a step back, and brings me us to speed: "I had a band called the Madtrappers, and we just did outlaw country stuff. We'd get drunk and play at this bar in Winnipeg called The Times Change(d). So that building, to me... like, a bunch of money went into that. And Winnipeg's got such a big homeless problem, so I'm like, 'Oh, great, all these federal funds went into this, but they couldn't go anywhere to the homeless people that are freezing, or baking in the plus-40 heat?' Because Winnipeg's got two speeds, plus forty and minus forty. So I really don't like that building! And, like, to me, it always looked like a hand giving the middle finger."

Everyone is chuckling, including Richard. "So what I wanted to do is make merch that said the Madtrappers up top and have two middle fingers [on either side] and have the museum right between them, and at the bottom say, 'Fuckin' Rights, Manitoba.'"

Are they doing stuff on human rights in Canada, or internationally? 

"They're probably not talking about Canada, that's the thing. They had a Mandela exhibit for a long time, which was just a white box, and you'd sit in this white box for twenty minutes and reflect. I was kind of like, 'Yeah, that's super important that people know he was in prison for a really long time, but there's kind of shit goin' on here, especially in Winnipeg. To me, it just rubbed me the wrong way."

The building makes a great background for a hot dog song, anyhow. Amber agrees. But what was it she was saying during the tweener about eating a roasted carrot in place of the hot dog, come the end of the video?

"So when did that video, they gave us hotdogs, but I'm vegan, so they gave me a roasted carrot. It actually was really good! They barbequed a carrot and might have marinated it in barbeque sauce." 

Talk turns to the new album, and Amber takes the lead: "We went out to Picture Butte in Alberta and used a house that was empty, and rented all the equipment. We had a really good friend named Kevin Peters come and set up all the mics and everything." 

"He also played on every track," Richard adds. "He's a country music genius. And then we had other players, too - Megan Brown, she's a great player from Medicine Hat. No, wait, she's from Belle Plaine, but she lives in Lethbridge."

A final question returns to the realm of cover tunes: the song "Clean," by Jonathan Byrd, which closes the album, sounded like it had an interesting backstory, when they introduced it during the 'tweener. 

"It's funny, actually," Richard says. "We had recorded everything, did the mixing and mastering, and then we were like, 'Oh, shit, we gotta ask for permission,' so the day before we were going to release it, Amber called him and we did one of these video meetings."

"I feel like he's gonna hear some of this," Amber cautions.

"...because I've been telling it all day!" Richard chuckles. "But we're paying mechanical royalties on it, so it's okay. 'Clean' for me is..." Richard has a way of starting a sentence and then backtracking to provide the context, before finishing the original statement. "My mentor is this crazy guy from Texas. He died in 2019. That was one of the first songs he taught me. I looked over at him and asked, 'Did you write that?' 'Aw, nah, that's a guy named Jonathan Byrd from North Carolina.' But it was big. I remember, I covered it once, around the fire - because that's what we'd used to do, we'd sit around the kitchen table or the fire, and we'd play songs all night. I'd show him my new songs, and he'd go 'That's good, that's good... that's not good,' or whatever. He was kind of like Guy Clark in that documentary, you know - he would hold court, almost. And one day I sang 'Clean,' because he taught it to me, and he was like, 'Nn-hn. Let me handle the covers. You keep writing songs, let me handle the covers.' I never sang it front of him again."

His mentor's name? Inman helpfully spells it out - Aaron R. Schorzman - and though he notes he was not a "well-known musician," it turns out there is footage of him performing on Youtube. There's also a solo song of Richard's posted in his honour

"He would be on a Jason Ross album, playing mandolin," Amber offers. "I actually played on that album as well." (It takes some finding but the album is on Spotify, and called Life Without Sophia. A few tracks are on Youtube, too. It's pretty rude, pretty funny - at least as much profanity as Showdown). 

It was Fortune Block's first time at the Vancouver Folk Fest, but I suspect it will not be their last. 

2. Ford Pier and Kendall Chinn, AKA Mr. Chi Pig. 

While most of the festival's acknowledgements of fallen comrades took in country music, Ford Pier, also part of the same workshop, made sure Kendall Chinn – known to the bulk of us as Mr. Chi Pig of SNFU – also got represented (punk is a sort of folk music, after all, in the truest sense of that word - a music of the people). Chi died two years ago, on July 16th, 2020, the anniversary being the day of Ford's solo concert, after years of health problems brought on by hard living, which gives him something in common with Townes. (He also was known to do a karaoke version of Johnny Cash's interpretation of "Hurt," though I'm not sure how that will play to someone who was more of a Johnny Cash fan than an SNFU one). During both his Saturday solo set and the workshop, Ford spoke from the stage about his history with Chi, whom he had called Ken, and roomed with in Edmonton very early in the start of his career. He also played two songs in respect of his departed friend: "Boyfriend" (a song told from the point of view of an exploited sex worker in the DTES, which he played during his Saturday concert "for no reason other than that he [Ken]  liked that one"), and the song "Thursday" at the Sunday workshop. 

Ford didn't recall exactly what he said by way of introduction to that, but replied to an email later, explaining that "sometimes you write something without fully understanding it or knowing where it comes from, and then later on in life you might have an experience or a set of feelings which is totally new to you, but for which the general sentiment of this earlier product of your imagination seems a good fit. There's nothing in 'Thursday' which is about the death of a friend, it just has a sympathetic colour to it, I guess." 

I found it very moving. 

Ford Pier and Kendall Chinn by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

Chi was lesser when he passed, as Ford acknowledged during one of the two shows. My last interaction with him had him signing SNFU  records for me at Pub 340, where he kept a stash of art supplies and spent many an evening. The first part of that experience tickled me to no end - see how happy I am in Bob's photo, below - but afterwards, Chi turned on me, demanding I buy him a drink in payment for his work. I would gladly have bought him food, but it was well known that alcohol was killing Chi, so I balked, whereupon he got ugly with me, told me to burn the records, basically throwing a little tantrum in the bar. I eventually buckled and bought him a Jagermeister, probably fucking up his order - he used to favour some sort of mix of Jagermeister with something else, but I only found out later. Chi would be dead eight months later, with an iPod that had been donated by a fan getting nicked from the hospital, so he spent his last weeks with no music at all, and friends like Chris Walter being turned away because of COVID protocols. Never saw him after this night. He was only six years older than me.

Kendall Chinn, Mr. Chi Pig, and I at Pub 340, Nov. 10, 2019 by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

Ford also got a bit of a challenge from Richard Inman during the Sunday workshop, in a way that generated a fair bit of tension in at least one audience member. Y'see, there’s not much of Townes van Zandt, John Prine, or Johnny Cash in Ford’s songwriting, which is quirky, cerebral, literate, and at times owing a debt to his prog-punk comrades in Nomeansno or the artful, ambitious rock of the Rheostatics, another acknowledged influence. While being a singular and fascinating singer-songwriter, he's not really roots music; I am not even sure there is a subgenre for him ("math folk?"). Teamed with Alejandro Escovedo and Fortune Block, Pier was going to be the odd man out from the start. 

I should clarify that what I write below represents my own interpretation of things, not Ford's, but I think that he must have known that his music would stand out ("Which of these things is not like the other?" and everyone looks at Ford). So when he introducing his first song,"Angels on Horseback."  he set fairly loose boundaries for himself. He talked about the concept of "Heartworn Highways" - the title of the workshop, and the theme that everyone was supposed to work with - and expressed some puzzlement as to what it might mean, giving his statement a kind of "who knows, it could be anything" flavour (which he'd kind of also done in talking with me about the Escovedo 101 comp; incidentally, he was also tapped to do something on that comp, and was going to whip out the Nuns' "Child Molester," which never happened. It, too, would have stood out). 

After Ford's song, and prior to starting their own, Inman directed a burn at Ford on mike, deadpanning that “Heartworn Highways is the name of a pretty well-known documentary on country music of the 1970’s, so,uh, I’m pretty sure that’s what they were goin’ for, bud. Mystery solved!” (In Ford’s defense, I haven’t seen it either, except for a couple of clips on Youtube of Townes van Zandt performing in a kitchen.)

Ford rallied well enough, shooting a goofy double thumbs up to the audience but being no less Ford Pier-like in his next two songs (why would we want him to be anything but?). But I was in real suspense, waiting to see what he would do: "Oh no, will Ford crumble under pressure? How will he rally? Ouch!" 

I mean, I did know that Heartworn Highways was the name of a documentary, even if I hadn't seen it. And I had not pointed this fact out to Ford after our Escovedo 101 interaction, where you could infer that maybe he didn't actually know the film. I felt culpable!

Stressed out, worrying about Ford, I paid poor attention to Alejandro Escovedo's first song (which I think was "Wave," prefaced by a story about his father, which I cannot do justice to, and will also add to the "maybe ask Alejandro someday" pile). Alternating with Fortune Block and Ford, Escovedo also did "Sensitive Boys," dedicating it to Chip and Tony Kinman, and "Always a Friend" which inspired one of the most effective clapalongs I've ever heard, both during the workshop and his main set later in the evening, where he repeated it.

I am now actually a bit puzzled as to whether it was Escovedo or Fortune Block that did Adam Carroll's "Rough Side," though whoever it was prefaced the song by saying that as a songwriter, Carroll was "better than I'll ever hope to be." I think that it must have been Richard who said that. The song moved me to tears, unexpectedly ("I used to be an able-bodied man" has some resonance for me since my last surgery, which left me with this fuckin' weird speech impediment that I feel I have to explain to everyone I interview now). 

As for Ford, his next round, the one I was freaking out a bit about, turned out to be his seldom-played crowd-pleaser, "Great Western," which surely has to be the most Prine-ish song in his catalogue, a bittersweet tale of love among bingo players that ends before you know what really happens. Do they really just watch the news? I doubt it. (Ford and I talked about the song for the big Straight interview we did). 

It was kind of gutsy, I thought, playing a song about bingo to an audience made up mostly of people in their 60's and 70's, since they might have taken it the wrong way. I doubt there were many bingo players in the crowd, but there might have been people sensitive being mistaken for being a bingo player. Hell, even I was having a bit of a crisis of confidence, surrounded by people with white hair: "Have I become old? Is there where the old music fans of Vancouver end up?"

In any event, I have previously mentioned my delight at seeing friend Judith Scott at the Festival, but did I mention that she was the person who introduced me to "Great Western"? I actually knew who Ford Pier was at that point, had seen him open for Nomeansno, had seen him with Tom Holliston in the Show Business Giants, had bought stuff off him at Red Cat Records, had seen him as part of a pick-up band backing Daniel Johnston at Richards on Richards, but as I recall, listening to the song at Judith's old Grant Street apartment, I was shocked with her answer to my "Who was that?" The song was so toe-tapping, charming, and easy to access that - save for Ford deciding to leave us in suspense as to what happens next - it was my "Ford Pier, I never knew ye" moment, the first moment of conversion to fandom. (The second, "Lions and Tigers and Bears," while having more in common with Nomeansno's "Victory" than roots music, was a very welcome addition to his concert the day previous). 

Ford Pier on Saturday, by Allan MacInnis

I do not know if Fortune Block enjoyed "Great Western." I do like that Ford threw a bit of a barb of his own back at Richard, adding “since you’re the guys with the answers” – when asking them to explain the name Fortune Block. I had been meaning to ask them that question myself! (Ford has commented that the "'tension' cited at the HH worskhop went unnoticed, I'm pretty sure, by anyone actually on stage," but for me, it was almost like watching a hockey game).

Amber, chattier onstage than in our interview, told a story about looking up at a bar where they were having a conversation about what to name the project and seeing the words in neon over the bar, Fortune Block. The way she told the story got laughs from the crowd, but I can't do it justice. I still have no idea what a fortune block is - it sounds like bad luck, a curse on wealth: "You'll never get rich playing roots music." Let's hope it isn't so.  

The best photo I took of Fortune Block. Sorry!

For all the tension - perhaps because of it  - I think the Heartworn Highways workshop ended up being my favourite show of the festival, and the Frazey Ford/ Allison Russell/ Clerel workshop earlier that day my second. The big concerts were great - especially Allison Russell and Alejandro Escovedo - but there was a real warmth and intimacy to the smaller combinations, and they were actually a bit more physically comfortable to see.  

Walking away from the Heartworn Highways workshop, trying to find my wife, I ended up chatting a bit with photographer Erik Iversen, who graciously donated a few photographs to this blog. Erik remembered that the previous folk fest he'd been at (2018 - was that, in fact, the last folk fest before the two year COVID break?) had been the last time he'd seen Sherri Decembrini, Art Bergmann's recently departed wife, a vibrant, supportive, lovely woman, by all accounts (I never really knew her but I was her Facebook friend and liked her posts). Art's been reeling with the loss - his social media postings have been painful and pained, because he's lost his muse and life-partner of 30+ years, and there are no magic words to make the pain of losing her stop (people keep trying but it's undoable). I've told him that offered a choice between what I've gone through with my tongue cancer and new speech impediment, and what he's going through with the loss of his love, I'd pick the tongue cancer. But it doesn't make things any easier. 

Erik didn't take any photos of Sherri that fest, but found a couple of photos for us from 2018, of Art Bergmann, Kathleen Nisbet, and Paul Rigby. RIP Sherri Decembrini. 

Art Bergmann, Kathleen Nisbet, and Paul Rigby (with the hat) at the Vancouver Folk Fest, 2018, by Erik Iversen, not to be reused without permission

Not all absent comrades were absent because of death, of course. At his main concert, that night, Alejandro Escovedo gave a big shout out to John Armstrong of the Modernettes, asking us to tell him, if we see him, “I love him and I miss him and I probably owe him some money,” prior to covering “The Rebel Kind.” (Modernettes version here, True Believers version here). 

People who don't know that John is working on a new album are directed to my big interview with him and two clips that I posted on Youtube, the last time he played Vancouver.

Alejandro Escovedo at the Heartworn Highways workshop by Erik Iversen, not to be reused without permission

Escovedo apparently also namechecked Randy Carpenter, or Randy Valentino, as he was known during his Modernettes stint, but I missed that (Carpenter features in that Escovedo 101 piece). Somewhere afterwards I heard a story - from Alejandro? Erik? Ford? ....Some Facebook friend? - that Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin had another American album lined up when Cash died, and that "The Rebel Kind" was being considered for inclusion. That would have been quite something. 

Really, it's hard enough for some of us just getting through the day lately, so it's quite magical that something as healing and wondrous as this festival can happen again, and I think we all realized this. Everyone who spoke from the stage was full of love and gratitude for the audiences and the festival and the music. Terrific weekend - thanks so much to the organizers, the volunteers, and the bands. 

Let's hope we don't all catch COVID off each other. 

Amber, a volunteer, Alejandro and Richard by Erik Iversen, not to be reused without permission

A final note: you see that there are no good photographs of Fortune Block performing, except those that I lifted from their video. If I'd known that there would be any difficulty securing such photos - had I known that I would a) have a dead battery for their 'tweener, b) screw up and miss their main show on Saturday, and then c) get lost before the workshop and be too far back while d) Erik was over on the wrong side of the action, I would have e) asked them to pose for a candid shot when we spoke! I did with Quote the Raven - a very sweet, sincere, smart, and witty East Coast duo (I was racing about so much that I didn't get to hear their full set, but I really liked what I heard. I think they might have mentioned John Prine, too, come to think of it.)  Welcome to Vancouver, Quote the Raven! Y'all come back, now, ya hear?

Quote the Raven by Allan MacInnis

Allan MacInnis' previous articles on the 2022 Vancouver Folk Festival are here (the Escovedo 101 preview), here (mostly about Friday) and here (mostly about Sunday). Fortune Block continue to tour - their next date is in Winnipeg, on July 29th; you may also want to check if Sweet Alibi (Amber's other project) or Richard Inman have dates, since they tend to trade off shows. Not sure where Richard's FB is- there are lots of Richard Inmans! - but this is his bandcamp

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Eugene Chadbourne - last night at LanaLou's, and again tonight at Central City!

Eugene Chadbourne last night at LanaLou's, by Erika Lax

Awesome night at LanaLou's last night. People really liked Red Herring, which I was very happy to see, and they did really cool versions of a bunch of their best songs, starting with a little Stephen Nikleva workout with Kenan on drums, a few duets  between Enrico and Tania (including "The Monkey Song," a favourite of mine), and a set with the full band (minus the bassist, but Id Guinness filled his parts on keyboards). It ended on a stunning version of "Julia," one of the songs that Tania really knocks out of the park. (The link is to the official video, I shot no vid of them last night). 

Stephen Nikleva with Red Herring, by Erika Lax

Eugene, starting at 10, was pretty intense! He began with an instrumental I did not recognize, but his set included Tim Buckley's "I Must Have Been Blind," Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak," the Circle Jerks' "World Up My Ass" and then a few songs on the banjo, including an amazing "Old Piano" (which I didn't record, but there's a similar (buyable!) version online, audio only). Did I really hear "Paranoid" adapted for banjo last night? 

Sometimes it's like waking up from a dream.

He took a moment in choosing the last song, so I requested "Let's Go Back in Time," and he took me up on the idea, picking up his guitar again. He began by talking about touring Eastern Bloc countries back when - that's the context of his opening remarks.

Eugene Chadbourne by Erika Lax

Red Herring resumed after 11, but Erika and I had to duck out to drive Eugene back to his room shortly after their third or fourth song, which was "If You Work For Me." Erika has had some work stress of late so she really enjoyed hearing that song. If you haven't seen Red Herring before, I believe some variant on the band will be performing on Monday at the Princeton as part of the Red Herring Collective's residency there. Try their Latin-infused story-song, "Consuela," for a taste of what to expect, but they're actually pretty eclectic, and  you never can quite tell what the residency will spawn. 

I sent Enrico this link to an EJ Gold thing, set to music, which is fish rap (I almost wrote "fish wrap") reminded me of.

Meanwhile, if you missed Eugene last night, he is playing a gig at Central City Taphouse tonight... after which he'll be gone for another couple of years, probably! Will live music even be a thing in 2025? About the show: it's Eugene solo, on guitar and banjo; there is no cover, but you gotta, like, be eating or drinking, eh? 8-10pm is the planned set time, incorporating a break. Right across the parking lot from Surrey Central Station - not hard to find at all! 

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Cult of Chadula presents: DAWN OF THE CHAD, as postered around town by, uh, me

As I sit here, questioning my strange devotion to the music of Eugene Chadbourne, playing at LanaLou's tonight, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" booms from a car stereo below my window. It is surely a sign...

Without being asked, I spent about fifty bucks on gig posters to put up around town. Finding no one to join me, I did it on my own. My wife is surely hoping Doc Chad doesn't tour here again soon, though she is being a very good sport here thus far 

Dr. Chad has some weird fuckin' fans, I bet. I mean... whose minds run like this? (That's Eugene in Vancouver, shot by Clay of Eargoggles... before the Cobalt Mach 1 closed down. He was kind of acknowledging the Sahota situation at the time with this song - "I hate the man who owns this building."

I mean, it wasn't that big a deal, my one-man advertising campaign - I got to see some of these 70's films, got a nice tan, got some exercise. I can understand that were I a musician, doing it for every gig every month would get tired very fast, but it still had novelty value to me - what a ridiculous, but enjoyable thing to do! 

And it was all in part to give Erika some time to work on a project, get some me time. Being around me all the time is not always something she craves, especially when I am in a Eugene Chadbourne frame of mind... It is possible that the circumstances were weird enough that I'm not sure they didn't distract her from her purpose. 

She may have felt like I was leaving her for Eugene or something. 

But, like, there's stuff I wanna DO out there! I gotta carpe the motherfucking diem here, right? We are mortal! We are mortal! And I just know that I am gonna have way more fun at this gig tonight if people actually come to it. Pat's Pub it was like Me, Nick, Ed, and maybe ten other people. 

Its been a fun few day's project, and while it would have been cheaper if I stayed home and watched movies here, it would have been far less fun. 

Y'all should see what'll happen if Peter Stampfel tours this way, but I hold it unlikely that he will. 

Dawn of the Chad posters designed by Allan MacInnis, produced, facilitated, and otherwise cut-to-size by Erika Lax. White collage art poster by ARGH!! I hope I don't get in trouble for any of this, whatta I know about postering...?


Tunnel Canary flies again!

So if you have an interest in aggressively avant-garde music... if you like music to induce hallucination, to affect your perceptions, to provoke you to find a new way to listen to the world...if you've listened to Metal Machine Music more than once this year, or if you just want a taste of a very unusual slice of Vancouver musical culture, the band that used to send punks scurrying into the parking lot for a smoke break, the only band I'm aware of to lay claim to the descriptor of "Spiritual Noise music," Tunnel Canary will be performing this Saturday, with Nathan Holiday, the leader, reuniting with original vocalist Ebra Ziron and original bassist Dave Sheftel, but also joining forces with Joshua "Magneticring" Stevenson on electronics...  

 I think Nathan and I covered most of the basics of the band's early history in our big Bixobal interview, which later ended up in slightly altered form on the Big Takeover website.  I will not be able to be at the gig, since I'll be out in Surrey, seeing Eugene Chadbourne at Central City; I'm helping out with Eugene's visit and feel like I should be on hand, and I only get to see Eugene once every few years (a bad excuse, since I've only ever seen Tunnel Canary once). If you'd like to do some homework before the show, if you haven't seen it, the band was the subject, awhile ago, of a 40-minute documentary, going back to the mid-1970's and Nathan's time in art school. The Facebook event page is here... this may be the only chance you'll get to see the band in action, since they play very infrequently... don't waste it (unless, like, you're coming to Eugene Chadbourne. 

Hell, if he wasn't already playing that night, I'd bring him to see Tunnel Canary!