Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Press Play> Vol. 4 Gordie Johnson - Big Sugar

Gordie Johnson plays guitar really well and really loud. I could leave the introduction at that but there's more, much more. Johnson has made a huge mark on the Canadian music scene with his reggae/rock/blues band Big Sugar and more recently with his cowboy metal band Grady. He has also been working as a producer with number of Canadian and American artists including the recent solo release of Gov't Mule front man Warren Haynes' Man in Motion as well as records by Taj Mahal, The Trews, The Joel Plasskett Emergency, Wide Mouth Mason and Reel Big Fish.

Gordie was born in Winnipeg and grew up in Windsor. These days he spends a lot of time border hopping - he lives in Alberta and Austin TX - but he is a proud Canadian as he proves every time he plays his screaming rendition of Oh Canada.

Gordie, his good friend Kelly "Mr. Chill " Hoppe and the rest of Big Sugar have regrouped and released a new record Revolution Per Minute. You can hear the first single Roads Ahead at the bottom of this page. They're also touring Canada this summer blowing the roof off a concert venue near you.

I am pleased to say that when I asked Gordie Johnson to Press Play > he did.


A lot of Ethiopian jazz. Mulatu Astatke and Tilahun Gessesse in particular.


My music is constantly being influenced by my environment. Lately, I would have to say that I have felt the effect of some early ZZ Top and some late 70s Jamaican sound system music

You can't possibly understand how many records I have. A friend who passed away, left me a Staples Singers gospel record that was formerly owned by Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. So it not only has great collector value, but even greater sentimental value.

Actually, the first record that I acquired was, in fact, a stolen copy of The Who, Live At Leeds. My parents bought me Black Sabbath Paranoid for Easter, the year that I got too old for candy. 

The Who, Live at Leeds


Right now, I would have to say I Don't Need No Doctor (by Ray Charles) covered by Humble Pie, or Walk A Mile in My Shoes (by Joe South) covered by Syl Johnson.

I, occasionally, get on a heavy metal kick. Soilent GreenInevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction is one record that I turn to when I'm in that mood. 


Junior Brown, Live at the Continental Club.


I recently bought a bootleg burn of a Stone Love dancehall session. Kinda got ripped off, but along with it, I lucked into an amazing Barrington Levy compilation that has extremely rare versions and mixes on it. So, in the end, I guess it was worth the gamble.

You can follow Big Sugar on twitter @Big_Sugar_Music

You can find out when the the band will be playing a gig near you here.

And you can find out about some of the gear Gordie uses here

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Press Play> Vol.3 David Gold - Woods of Ypres

I am sad to tell you that David Gold died December 22, 2011 in an automobile accident near Barrie, Ontario, Canada. You can find details here

David Gold RIP 

A new Woods of Ypres record has been released. It's called 

I met David Gold in 2003 in Windsor, Ontario when I worked for CBC. After years in radio I started learning about television production and was looking for story ideas. I saw two teenagers near the HMV in the mall. I asked them about the CDs they had just bought, they told me it was a local Black Metal Band Woods of Ypres. Windsor's music scene was small and I was fairly knowledgeable at the time but Black Metal was off my radar. I followed up with a call to David Gold and that was my introduction to and education about sub genres of metal. 

A description of David's band from a metal site:

Woods of Ypres plays a unique style of high energy black metal with deep, lasting melodies and a certain cold, flowing sorrow that appropriately celebrates that which you learn in times of sadness.

I recently reconnected with David and found out he is making music with a very different band than the one I saw in Windsor. Being a full time musician is a hard road at the best of times. Playing to a select audience whether it's folk, outsider jazz or metal takes hard work and dedication. I admire David for sticking to his very loud guns. I also think his new music is great. After you read about his influences, please watch the video at the bottom of the page. It's great -- and I will be eternally grateful to David for opening the metal door for me.

I knew he'd be an interesting guy to invite to my blog. I knew that when I asked David Gold to Press Play > I wouldn't be disappointed.


Robyn, the Swedish pop-star, her latest video Call Your Girlfriend, on YouTube. This song is dark and sad, and real, but the synth sounds and tones are so uplifting and inspiring. The video is great, too! Other recent favourites are Hang With Me, Dancing on My Own.

I need to buy some CDs, and I actually will. I'm starting to think I might be the last customer they have at my local HMV in Sault Ste. Marie, likely referred to as "That Beard Guy" by the staff in statements such as "Have you seen That Beard Guy in here today?" and "I hope That Beard Guy comes in and buys something soon. It's almost 8 pm!"  


I could only fire off as many as this, as a minimum, in order to start to answer this question properly. Here they are, in chronological order (when I heard them and therefore the order in which they influenced my development):

Social Distortion - White Light, White Heat, White Trash

Crowbar - Time Heals Nothing

Amorphis - Tales from the Thousand Lakes 

Jerry Cantrell - Degradation Trip 

Sentenced - The Cold White Light

Solefald - Pills Against the Ageless Ills  

Katatonia - Last Fair Deal Gone Down

The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs

Susumu Hirasawa - various (see Forces on YouTube)

I'm sure that I'll pound my fist on a flat surface and shout an obscenity later today or tonight, remembering a really, really important one that I forgot, that totally deserved to be here, but you know, I realize that I've just lived and loved a lot of records at this point. Just turned 31 here and still feeling like I'm "discovering" new sound all the time.


I first got into music as CDs had just started to be sold and tapes were still available everywhere. The first "real" records I remember owning were a Jimi Hendrix compilation called The Ultimate Experience, Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell II, Public Enemy - Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black, but before that I'm sure there were some Wierd Al Yankovic records, a Kriss Kross tape, and two M.C. Hammer tapes (I never owned any Vanilla Ice). In my teens, I bought a lot of whatever Much Music showed me, with various results, including buying The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride to the Pharcyde right when it came out, when I was in grade 6 I think, and that album still rules!    


One that stands out, is Don't Fear the Reaper by The Blue Oyster Cult, covered by the Finnish "Love Metal" band HIM. In my teens, I had always loved the haunting feeling of the original, long before that "Needs more cowbell!" skit on SNL made it famous. The HIM version plays the opening riff on piano (which is a Woods Of Ypres trick, to transpose piano parts to guitar and vice versa) and also features female vocals that create separate characters between the dialogue of the lyrics. Another stand out favourite would be Seals and Crofts' Summer Breeze covered by Type O Negative on the Bloody Kisses album.      


Rebel Meets Rebel - The collaboration between late Pantera guitarist and metal icon Dimebag Darrell Abott, Vinnie Paul and Rex Brown from Pantera and outlaw country music star David Allan Coe.

It has the heavy metal drums and guitar balls of Pantera, country lyrics like "A man with nothin' ain't got nothin' to lose" and even proposes some new questions to consider such as "I wonder if cowboys do more dope than rock and rollers?" A guilty pleasure, yes, in the context of this question here and now, but I really fun record that I am proud to own listen to and recommend.  


I don't think I have a favourite road record. In fact, towards the end of tour I prefer silence and some peace of mind over nearly anything else, and certainly over any and all metal music. Now back at home after a 40 day tour, I'm listening to two new purchases, While Heaven Wept - Fear of Infinity, Type O Negative - Dead Again (my second copy) and an old favourite... that might just be my favourite record to listen to on the road, The Wounded - Monument. At home, inside, closer to my computer than the van CD player, there's always a lot of CBC Radio 3 playing. A lot.  


Always the newest one of course! Actually, I like all of our records for different memories and reasons and because of varying degrees of hopeful expectations and desperation. I think I had the highest hopes for Woods III: Deepest Roots & Darkest Blues which was the best album sales wise but I believe was the biggest disappointment with the listeners and therefore with me, as well.

WIII was a massive record that took about a year too long to finish and regardless of how it could have turned out, it could have never lived up to the hype, and it didn't.

I had little to no expectations for 2002's Woods I: Against the Seasons - Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat and it has stood the test of time, being a nearly unanimous favourite among long time listeners, known as the album that gives you what you want with none of what you don't. It keeps getting better and better reviews the older is gets, the farther we get from 2002. I feel as though I did something right in these last 10 years, or at least, 10 years ago, I did.  

Back to your question, I think the next record will be the favourite, Woods 5 as in, my favourite and the overall favourite of our listening audience. Give it a few years and you'll likely see. Working on it now! Writing. Reflecting. Re-writing.  


Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies. The previous Arturus album, The Sham Mirrors is still widely considered one of the coolest metal albums from all the 2000's, and I was certainly a huge fan. I bought the next album based on the reputation built from the last one, a 9/10 review in Terrorizer magazine, but otherwise, totally faithfully, blindly. It sucked and sucks still.

There's maybe one good part on that whole album. I try to remember that this is the age of "always listen before you buy," but sometimes I still get excited at a record store and prefer to be decisive in the moment, hope for the best and sort out the consequences later.

Also, the first Grinderman album is much better than the second one. Same deal. Sometimes you love what a band is doing so much you want to support them anyways, rather than judge them and potentially withdraw that love because things aren't the same as they used to be anymore.

If a band ever gave me one album I loved, I'll never turn my back on them. That's what one great album is worth I think. You might have to buy eight albums to find one. That's the biz. That's reality.

You can follow David Gold on Twitter @DavidYpres

You can read about Woods of Ypres on Wikipedia

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Press Play> Vol. 2 Kelly "Mr. Chill" Hoppe - Big Sugar

Kelly "Mr. Chill" Hoppe has been a fixture on the Canadian and international music scene, starting with roots rockers, The Dougalls (1981 to 1986) and then with The Windsor Dukes (1986 to 1994). In 1994 he joined Toronto-based reggae 'n' blues rock recording act BIG SUGAR. Big Sugar released five CDs and one EP during his tenure with the band. 

When Big Sugar dissolved in 2004, Mr. Chill formed MR. CHILL & THE WITNESSES, and released in '06 "Mr. Chill's Cold Testament" a CD blending his passion for country, bluegrass, blues, folk, gospel and old school rock 'n' roll. You can hear Kelly's music on the Mr. Chill MySpace page. Mr. Chill has been busy as a studio sideman as well.

Big Sugar is back this summer. They're new record, REVOLUTION PER MINUTE, the first in about 10 years comes out in late June. You can see Kelly, Gordie Johnson and the rest of the band ON TOURThey are appearing in Calgary my home town at the Century Casino July 8 and 9, 2011.

I asked Kelly to take some time out of his busy Big Sugar rehearsal schedule to answer some questions about the records he likes and the ones that have influenced his harmonica, sax, keyboard playing and songwriting. Kelly Hoppe was kind enough to give me some answers when I asked him to Press Play >


Ron Leary's Dependent Arising. Ron's a great songwriter based now in Toronto who I play and record with from time to time.


Little Walter's Boss Blues Harmonica. Double LP that I bought at the Montreal Folklore Centre in the summer of 1972. Struck me like lightnin'. Can still remember askin' "WHO AND WHAT IS THAT?", as I heard it for the first time on the store turntable. Bought it right then and still listen to it for inspiration.


I was ten years young, and I bought Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, 45rpm on the Dot label. Think it was 2:06 in length. It was a big hit on WKNR, WXYZ and CKLW radio in Windsor ON, my hometown . 


Ray Charles version of Buck Owens' Cryin' Time. Honorable mention: Doc Watson's version of Gene MacLellan's Snowbird.


Don't know if I exactly feel guilty about it, but He's A Rebel by the Crystals would probably rank at the top of my list. I guess because it's sung by women, and I've always been a sucker for female groups and singers. From gospel singers Mahalia Jackson and Dorothy Love Coates, to the Marvelettes, the Shirelles and the Ronettes. And of course the Crystals!


Hard to pin down, but just yesterday travelling in Alberta, all of us in Big Sugar we're really diggin' a CD that belonged to Friendlyness (our keyboardist and freestyle lyricist) called The Wailing Souls: Classic Cuts 1978 to 1984. Wicked classic reggae!

You can find Kelly Hoppe on Facebook HERE.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Final Chapter: HMV v. Me and My Quest for the New BARK CD "Kings and Queens"

The final word on HMV and my complaint that they only stocked ONE SINGLE copy of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings' new CD "Kings and Queens" in their Chinook Centre store in Calgary on the week it was released.

It's interesting that they did come through in the end and did supply me with a copy to buy. HMV Canada, the company, wrote me a long email (previously  posted) which was essentially a Marketing 101 lesson in selling recorded music in 2011.

That was their idea of how to meet my complaint.

It took a young HMV employee to see my tweet and special order me a copy (because it turns out her location had already sold out its pitiful stock of THREE copies). I hope HMV gives @Jolty a raise for going above and beyond the call of duty to give me good service.

I printed HMV's response to my complaint word for word without editing, but I would like to address some of their justification and rationalizations from the avid (and rabid) music customer's point of view.

"I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the product mix we are now offering in our stores. HMV has been making changes to our inventory complement over the last few years after considerable market research and direct customer input."
I never said I was disappointed in HMV's product mix, if they mean the fact that they also sell video games, t-shirts, books and accessories and stuff along with their movies and music. One would have to be an idiot not to recognized the changes in the entertainment industry. I am disappointed that they haven't quite recognized the shift in the music buying public with more buyers with niche interests still buying CDs and vinyl as opposed to downloading. I remain disappointed that they didn't understand that it was worth stocking at least a handful of this important Canadian recording in all of their stores to meet the real demand.

"Our ‘point-location’ stores such as Robson Street in Vancouver, West Edmonton Mall, Toronto Superstore and Montreal Megastores will generally receive much higher quantity of new releases because their physical space and market demand for the merchandise makes it viable to hold larger inventory levels than most other locations.  I have addressed the matter of the limited stock in the Chinook store for Blackie & the Rodeo Kings with our Purchasing team.  They confirm for me that there is a replenishment order currently on the way...

You want to piss a customer off? Tell them there are lots of copies of the CD he wants for sale in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton NOT Calgary. The two bigger HMV stores in Calgary are downtown and Chinook. Apparently one of the hottest retail markets in the country doesn't warrant a major HMV store. I find that a little strange. Notice they also said they were going to replenish their stock at Chinook. Gee, one more copy of the CD to replace the one they sold? Lovely.

The sad fact for music junkies like me (and maybe you) is that alternative choices to buy new hard copies of  recorded music are dwindling. Small music stores that were shoved out of business by the likes of Chapters/Indigo, HMV, Best Buy, Future Shop and Borders (in the US) when they brought in huge music selections, are long gone. The niche stores are gone and music selection in all the bigger stores has shrunk. Thank goodness for Amazon and "cdbaby" who sell to the world a couple of copies at a time, for eBay which is a bit of a crap shoot and for the few small local specialty shops that manage to hang on.

Of course the best option is to buy your records at concerts and gigs. You get to see the show and you get the CD directly from the artist and maybe even an autograph if you're interested. 

You can't autograph an MP3 now can you.  


Thursday, June 16, 2011

HMV Responds to My OH HMV... Post.

Here's is HMV's response to my letter/blog post "Oh HMV, Where Art The New Blackie and the Rodeo Kings CD?"  It is reproduced without any editing. I will, however, write another blog post to respond to some of the explanation in this email.

Dear Mr. Rosenbaum:

Thank you for your well written and comprehensive account of the difficulties you have encountered whilst trying to obtain the new Kings & Queens CD from our Chinook HMV location. As someone who has identified themselves as being a passionate music fan, who loves the feel of a tangible product in their hands, (I also refuse to give up my vinyl collection!), I appreciate that you would take the time to write us with your observations and perspectives regarding our in store product selection.  Please allow me to start by acknowledging the fact that you must have invested a significant amount of time and resources into producing the enclosed information. Myself, not being nearly as eloquent a writer as yourself, certainly hope that my response back to you (albeit a bit long) will be equally as beneficial to you, as yours was to me.  

I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the product mix we are now offering in our stores.   HMV has been making changes to our inventory complement over the last few years after considerable market research and direct customer input.  What we have learned from our investigations and what has been stated to us time and again by consumers, is that not only do they want to continue to purchase their music and DVD’s from HMV, but they are also very interested in purchasing a wider range of entertainment-related items, such as video games, digital media, accessories and books.  

While at HMV, music will always be in our “DNA”, we have recognized that in order to remain a preferred shopping destination for our clients, it is important for us to evolve in a manner that is consistent with the needs and expectations of today’s shopper, and always with an eye to tomorrow.  As you have noted, this has lead to an obvious change in the amount of CD’s for both core catalogue and new releases, that are actively stocked in our shops. This is due to the physical space constraints of the retail environment prohibiting us from carrying quantity of titles that are not primary releases in every location, or having a full compliment of every item available within the artist/group comprehensive catalogue.

Our ‘point-location’ stores such as Robson Street in Vancouver, West Edmonton Mall, Toronto Superstore and Montreal Megastores will generally receive much higher quantity of new releases because their physical space and market demand for the merchandise makes it viable to hold larger inventory levels than most other locations.  I have addressed the matter of the limited stock in the Chinook store for Blackie & the Rodeo Kings with our Purchasing team.  They confirm for me that there is a replenishment order currently on the way from the supplier to have quantity of this CD sent to the store, so they should be receiving more supply on this title shortly. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have been caused by this title being out of stock on your visit.   

In relation to our digital tracks offered on the web site, the tracks and albums that are hosted on the site must be first provided to one of the one of the main aggregators that represent most of the independent labels and 7Digital (who powers our store) in order to receive the MP3 content.  If the electronic content is not available on our site, it is usually indicative of the fact that the content has not been provided to our service provider at this time, or it may not yet be licensed for distribution with one of our service providers.  Our various digital affiliates ingest upwards of 10,000 new tracks each week; so hopefully, this selection will become available to HMVDigital soon.  

HMV pays particular attention to the opinions of our customers on what they would like to see changed or added in our stores that would make their shopping experiences more beneficial. Certainly, we never want a customer to feel that their business is not appreciated by HMV, or feel unwanted in our stores or as an online customer by failing to have the item they seek available for purchase.  One of the primary reasons why HMV offers customers the ability to place special orders is to ensure we can connect customers to the more ‘hard to find, unique’ selections they desire. Unfortunately, most big box stores do not offer consumers access to these products or to genre's that are outside the top concentration played on most radio stations. Nor do they take the time or effort to make this level of service available to in-person shoppers, and in most cases, consumers who prefer to shop in person are only able to purchase the top concentration of best sellers or new releases at these types of retail establishments. 

At HMV, even though we may not physically have the selection you seek in the store at the time of your visit, we have access to, and can acquire for you, more than 350,000 titles that are currently available through the record labels.  Through our customer special ordering system, if the title is available through our suppliers, we can make that product available to you for purchase at any of our retail locations.  Our sales associates would be pleased to discuss this feature with you and apprise you of the services offered.  Please feel free to contact your local HMV for more information and our staff can assist you with your product enquiry.

You may be asking yourself why HMV bothers to offer goods for special orders considering that many people want instant gratification of a download.  There are hundreds of thousands of selections actively in production on a tangible format, not all of which are available electronically.   We believe that the pro's for making these products available to the music enthusiast who is passionate about owning a physical product far outweighs the cons of not providing customers with the opportunity to acquire music selections or films that they are really interested in obtaining.  

In closing, please allow me to conclude this message by once again expressing our sincere thanks to you for taking the time to write us directly regarding your concerns. Again, I hope that I have been successful at answering the points you have raised with us.  Being able to investigate the information presented has provided HMV with the unique opportunity to improve a weakness in our current service levels that may negatively impact our customers.  We sincerely appreciate your honesty and candour by bringing this to our attention. 

Do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance to you in this matter.


Lori Marshall,
Supervisor, Customer Service

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

OH HMV, Where Art The New Blackie and the Rodeo Kings CD?

Dear HMV Canada:

I went into one of your stores today to buy the new CD by Blackie and the Rodeo KingsKings and Queens. I hope you’ve heard of it. The band is made up of three of Canada’s top roots, blues and folk, and singer songwriter/musicians who have extremely successful solo careers. This band has a number of other successful and critically acclaimed recordings. You can find out more about them at their website
BARK - Fearing, Linden, Wilson

I wanted to buy their new CD because it came out on Tuesday and, from what I have heard on Youtube and social networking sites, it’s really good. Not only does it feature the three principal members of the band Stephen Fearing, Tom Wilson and Colin Linden, the record is full of duets with an amazing collection of American and Canadian based female vocalists:  Rosanne Cash, Exene Cervenka, Holy Cole, Emmylou Harris, Amy Helm, Janiva Magness, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Sam Phillips, Serena Ryder, Pam Tillis, Sara Watkins, Lucinda Williams, Cassandra Wilson and Patti Scialfa.

I am guessing that is why they decided to call the record Kings and Queens. Okay it's more than a guess.

You know, because the record came out on Tuesday June 14, 2011, I thought you’d want to sell lots of copies to fans like me, but apparently you don’t or somebody made a big boo boo. You see I went to buy it at the HMV store in Chinook Mall in Calgary, Alberta, Canada today but they didn’t have any in stock. I looked among the various new release displays, no CDs. I looked in the racks under their name and you know what? There wasn’t a single BARK CD old or new.
I went to the fellow behind the counter and suggested “Certainly you must have received the new Blackie and the Rodeo Kings record right?”

“Oh yes,” he replied. “We received ONE copy and we sold it earlier today. Funny thing, the fellow who bought it asked me if we had any more because he wanted to buy more but we only received the one.”
I further queried, “Any thoughts as to why you only received one copy to sell? (in one of the bigger HMV stores in Calgary?)

The fellow mumbled something about “central purchasing.” This encounter has inspired some curious questions.
  1. You want to sell CDs to make money. The label wants you to sell CDs. The band wants you to sell them. I want to buy one (at least one) and likely I am NOT the only person in Calgary who wants one. So why would you only stock a single copy of the CD the week it is released, a time when there are reviews out and buzz on the Internet?
  2. I understand you may not sell as many BARK CDs as you would say Bieber or GaGa. Don't you realize that you will definitely sell more than one copy at this store and probably more later on? I know this because, the audience for this music skews older and is more likely to buy CDs. And when the latest CD by Bieber is done, you will still be selling copies of this Kings and Queens record.
  3. I also wonder if this would ever happen on the release week of other major or even minor bands and artists from the States. Somehow, I doubt it.
You might suggest. “Hey Eric, why don’t you just download it?" It is available on  iTunes and another service I frequent Emusic.com. In fact when my subscription loads up again in a week or so I do indeed plan to download it from Emusic. And by the way I am curious why I didn't see it on your HMV download site with the other BARK albums?

I do also intend to buy the CD because I like this band a lot and I am funny that way (the generational thing again) I like to own discs because of the packaging and the booklets with lyrics and info so I can hold them in my hand because I am a music geek. I may also buy the vinyl. You see HMV, you make a lot of money off guys like me but today alas you didn’t.
Now I understand you may not be entirely to blame on this. Maybe the label didn’t print enough CDs and you are waiting for your order. It that’s the case I’d love to hear about it and I would love to set the record straight on my blog. Meanwhile I am a little angry and extremely disappointed with HMV.

Yours truly, angry and disappointed.
Musical Immigrant.

Eric Rosenbaum

ps. You can follow Blackie and the Rodeo Kings on twitter @therodeokings

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Press Play> Vol. 1 - Chris dela Torre, Axis of Conversation

Welcome to a new feature on my blog I have dubbed Press Play >. I sort of borrowed, the idea from the British music magazine MOJO and I have given it my unique spin. MOJO features three celebrities talking about their favourite records. I love it and it's the first thing I read when the mag arrives in my mailbox. Now that my music blog is up and running I decided to pose my own eight questions to musicians to find out about the records they're listening to and the ones that have influenced their music. I am posing the questions to musicians I know and admire, and hopefully, eventually I'd like to pose them to some musicians I don't know but admire. And of course I will publish the results here.

I am happy to bring you the premier edition of Press Play > courtesy of my friend Chris dela Torre. Chris is a singer songwriter and one of the principal members of Axis of Conversation. Chris is also a broadcast journalist.You can also hear him on CBC Radio ONE on the Calgary Eyeopener.

Axis of Conversation 

Here's how Chris' band describes their music: 

Axis of Conversation is a broken-hearted dance party made of strings, samples and stolen noises covered dust. Falling somewhere between Bowie, Brahms, The Books and Broken Social Scene, it’s a band that’s pretty difficult to pigeonhole.  Perhaps it’s easiest to call it a band full of surprises.  If you’re familiar with its introspective recordings and you’re seeing it live for the first time, you might be a bit shocked to find a confident collective in full control of the sweat-soaked dancefloor at its feet.  Yet, that’s exactly what you’d find.

Here's a link to one of their songs: Memorial Hall.  Chris wrote the song and is on lead vocal. 

And here are the answers from Chris dela Torre when the Musical Immigrant asked him to Press Play >


Between my turntable, my car speakers and my iPod buds in the last 24 hours... The GoGo's Beauty and The Beat, Foo Fighters' Medium Rare, TV On The Radio's Nine Types of Light and This American Life podcasts.


Radiohead's Kid A taught me that you don't need rock to make rock. The use of space, ambient sounds and unconventional song structures can produce music that's adventurous, rewarding and chock-full of pop sensibilities for those who wish to seek them out.

Christ dela Torre performing at the Calgary Folk Music Festival 

Platinum Blonde's Standing In The Dark. I still don't know how or why I convinced my mom to buy it for me. I was in the 3rd grade, shopping with Mom at Woolco. I had never heard their music, but something about the bad hair and tight leather on the cover drew me in. The first records I purchased with my own money were Public Enemy's Fear Of A Black Planet and Bobby Brown's Dance!! Ya Know It.


I love the Smashing Pumpkins' version of Thin Lizzy's 'Dancing In The Moonlight'. They slowed it down and played it with acoustic guitars and brushes. It did an unusual justice to the original by turning it into an introspective and almost somber summer jam.


Enya's Box of Dreams box-set. That shit is hype.


Jason Collett's Idols of Exile is THE summer roadtrip album.

I'm still very proud of the All We Make Is Enemies 7-inch. At 3 tracks and 12 minutes, it's a high-impact release for low-impact people.


Oh God, so many. While I appreciate the craft and the struggle that goes into making records, I have two crates full of records and CDs that smell so bad that I have to keep them in my shed.

Follow Chris on twitter @chrisdelatorre

Thursday, June 2, 2011

David Francey at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival

My introduction to David Francey came though the Calgary Folk Festival, well sort of. I learned about Francey and his music in a review in the folk roots magazine Penguin Eggs.

It was one of those glowing reviews and I remember thinking "Nobody is that good." Then I noticed the byline. I was written by Les Semeniuk the general manager of the Calgary Folk Festival. I know crusty, opinionated Les well enough that if he says it's that good, it's that good.

I ran out and bought the record.

Les' review was spot on and the next week I called up David's agency and arranged to have David Francey become one of our featured performer at at the folk club where I was artistic director, Windsor Folk in  Windsor Ontario.

The Saturday night he played our folk club, this song premiered on Hockey Night in Canada and remains an official song for CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada.

David Francey is performing at the Calgary Folk Music Festival this summer. He’s also part of the festival song writing boot camp.

David moved to Canada from his native Scotland when he was 12. He grew to love his adopted country during summer drives with his parents. He was a voracious reader as a boy. As an adult he made his living in the blue collar world, working construction jobs and such. You find this is reflected in his songs.

David is an extraordinary story teller His songs tell stories about Canadian working people, nature and are reflections of his life, his relationships and his view of the world. David didn't release his first recording until he was in his 40s but it was definitely worth the wait. He has won three Junos since his first record came out in 1999.

A few years ago David hitched a ride on a Great Lakes freighter and recorded a number of songs about his experiences and the people he met.. Here's a sample story and song.

David's newest recording is called “Late Edition” and apparently Les Semeniuk likes this one too. In his review Les says, "listening 'Late Edition' is like spending a perfect evening passing the time with a good friend and a few glasses of single malt, discussing love, the latest news and life in general." 

You can hear David and other Calgary Folk Festival performers on Calgary Folk Music Festival podcasts available at the Folk Fest podcast page or through iTunes.

You can follow me on twitter: @musicbaum .