Gregory Alan Isakov @ Lee’s Palace

Gregory Alan Isakov
Gregory Alan Isakov @ Lee’s Palace

. : : November 10th, 2011 : : .

 

It seems about ten years ago is when I started to get overwhelmed with sorting, editing, and posting live concert recordings, and a lot of them didn’t make it online to the blog.

 

You may have noticed that I’m been picking away at the backlog with weekly updates for about 7-consecutive months now(!!), and luckily we’re past the point of scratching the surface (but still plenty to go!).

 

This particular recording slipped away from me after being taped ten years ago this week. I was recently reminded of it when I was discussing music with a client at work. I asked who his current favourite artist is, and he replied, “Oh, you’ve definitely never heard of him.”

 

“Try me,” I challenged.

 

“No one around here knows who he is: Gregory Alan Isakov,” He said with resignation at my presumed befuddlement.

 

“Oh, yeah! I saw Gregory perform like, ten years or so ago!”

 

I couldn’t remember exactly who I saw him open for or where the venue was, but how do you forget a name like that?

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Hatfield-Robertson @ International Space Station

Hadfield-Robertson
Hadfield-Robertson @ International Space Station

. : : February 8th, 2013 : : .

 

Chris Hadfield is best known as a Canadian astronaut, but he’s also an acclaimed musician and author, and has built strong friendships with some of Canada’s finest artists.

 

This blog entry goes back to the beginning of his explosive career, where he collaborated with Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson and the gleek club from my high school alma mater, Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts on a live performance.

 

Which, wouldn’t be so unusual if Hadfield wasn’t performing his contribution from the International Space Station in, you know, SPACE.

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Blue Rodeo @ Glenn Gould Studios

Blue Rodeo
Blue Rodeo @ Glenn Gould Studio

. : : October 29th, 2012 : : .

 

Blue Rodeo celebrates their 34th anniversary as one of Canada’s most-beloved band this month, so now seems as good a time as any to look back at this recording of the band’s celebratory performance of their 25th anniversary, performed 9 years ago on this very day.

 

Performed at the beautiful Glenn Gould Studio, I can only look back and wish I had been able to attend this one.

 

Almost reading like a who’s-who of Alt-Country and Roots-Rock in Canada, there were performances by Whitehorse, Ron Sexsmith, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, Cuff the Duke, Skydiggers, Great Big Sea, the Sadies, and more.

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Andrew James O’Brien @ Rivoli

Andrew James O'Brien
Andrew James O’Brien @ the Rivoli

. : : November 8th, 2012 : : .

 

Newfoundland is a province drenched in a deep-rooted tradition of folk music.

 

So (although I’ve never been) when I think of Newfoundland, I imagine great big ocean waves crashing on rocky beaches, fishing boats out in the rain, gulls circling overhead in grey skies, and pubs filled with patrons talking over proudly strummed acoustic guitars.

 

Guitars strummed to songs performed like those of Andrew James O’Brien, who I saw open for Amelia Curran back in 2012. He was promoting his debut album, Through My Days, and an initial Google search to see what he’s been up since then had me a bit disappointed.

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Sloan @ Echo Beach

Sloan
Sloan @ CBC Music Festival

. : : May 25th, 2013 : : .

 

OK, I need to buy myself a bit more time.

 

Luckily, I have another short (1 track, 1 interview) 8.5-year old Sloan recording from the inaugural CBC Music Festival at Echo Beach in Toronto. This is a quick audio clip and recording of the band’s opening song (and massive nation-wide hit) Money City Maniacs.

 

Sloan was super huge in the late-90s in Canada, but I resented the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission)’s mandate that 30% of all music played on radio and television be Canadian content and took my contention out on the bands benefiting from the bylaw. Now that I’m older, I do get it — but the loophole still all-too-often employed by the media conglomerates is to play the same half-dozen or so songs and cycle them every couple of hours to fill the quota. The quality of the music was secondary, and felt perpendicular to the music of the international bands that book-ended these tracks. Maybe it has something to do with Canadian Identity or whatnot, but it felt weird, dated, and forced to my ears. In retrospect, it ultimately just wasn’t what I was into at the time, and I let my politics colour my opinion.

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Sloan @ CBC Studio 11

Sloan
Sloan @ CBC Studio 11

. : : September 17th, 2014 : : .

 

It’s been a crazy week, and I don’t have the time to jazz up this story with a lot of narration — but this post officially marks 26-weeks (HALF A YEAR!) of weekly, on-time posts. I wasn’t about to miss it because of things like work and familial obligations!

 

So, here’s tape also celebrating an occasion — it’s six-year birthday was this week! Here’s Sloan previewing songs from their then-new album Commonwealth (billed as essentially 4 solo EPs combined into one LP)!

 

As with all of CBC Backstage Pass’ programming, much of the music is talked over with interview snippets that are rarely of any importance whatsoever — but the sound quality is standard broadcast quality and is worth a listen for Sloan fans. The McCartney-esque Three Queens is especially worth your time; check it in the sample below and grab the rest if you like what you hear.

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The Organ @ Festival Internacional de Benicassim

The Organ
The Organ @ FIB

. : : July 22nd, 2006 : : .

 

What if Morrissy was a lesbian, and the Smiths were an all-girl band from British Columbia, Canada?

 

Well, if you were a fan of indie rock music in the mid-2000s, you might not have to wonder very hard. Especially if you were exposed to The Organ.

 

Had you blinked, you might’ve missed it. If you hadn’t, you might have caught the band’s debut EP Sinking Hearts, or the follow up Grab That Gun (the latter essentially a re-recorded and expanded version of the EP).

 

Grab That Gun spent “more time on top of the Canadian campus-radio charts than any other record released that year” (Wikipedia), and with good reason. The band’s titular instrument heavily encompasses the retro-inspired new wave pop and frontwoman Katie Sketch‘s dour lyrics boldly pay tribute to the influences that made it feel like they could’ve been The Smiths for the Millennial generation.

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The Good Life @ the 360

The Good Life
The Good Life @ 360

. : : May 17th, 2005 : : .

 

You know that album that you hear at just the right time in your life? The one that hits you in the feels every song, from top to bottom? The one that you listen to obsessively for weeks / months on end, almost exclusively?
 

There’s been a few of those for me, but one of the biggest was 2004’s Album of the Year by The Good Life.
 

The Good Life is often diminutively noted as Cursive‘s front man, Tim Kasher‘s side project. One where, for the first two albums, he explored with keyboards and drum samples; lo-fi productions that sound like they were recorded intimately in bedrooms, whispered so as to not wake a roommate or neighbour. A sharp contrast to the angular, aggressive emo of his other band.
 

But the band’s third album took a hard turn into folksy Americana. Album of the Year is a play on popular phrasing — rather than an award or accolade, it’s accounting for a year of an all encompassing and then self-destructing romantic relationship.
 

The subject is not exactly new territory for Kasher; Cursive’s Domestica is famously the only-slightly fictionalized story of his divorce, released four years earlier. But the years between seem to have opened him up to a more balanced, reflexive view that replaced anger with regret.

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The Grenadines @ Drake Underground

The Grenadines
The Grenadines @ Drake Underground

. : : November 13th, 2011 : : .

 

Guess we might as well keep the Birmingham, Alabama-based bands who opened for Maria Taylor theme going.

 

I posted about Dead Fingers last week, but since discovered that I also neglected to post the night’s first opening band, The Grenadines.

 

You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of them. Looks like after a couple of lowkey EPs, a self-titled LP on a small indie label, and maybe about four active years, the band called it quits. There’s little online of the husband and wife team of Lauren and Michael Shackelford (not to mention guitarist David Swatzell) that hasn’t been scrubbed, but what there is appears to be overwhelmingly positive.

 

Their pop-infused psychedelic rock is infectious, hook-filled and fun that captured the attention of influential indie stalwarts such as Jenny Lewis, Jim Eno, and Andy LeMaster.

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Dead Fingers @ Drake Underground

Dead Fingers
Dead Fingers @ Drake Underground

. : : November 13th, 2011 : : .
 

Speaking of bands that opened for Maria Taylor that I haven’t uploaded in the better part of a decade…

 

Maria’s sister, Kate Taylor, and brother-in-law Taylor Hollingsworth formed an alt-country “cowpunk” bluesy husband-and-wife band known as Dead Fingers. Some four-months before their debut album dropped, with only a three-song sampler to their name, Maria took the duo on the road with her to help generate some buzz.

 

It must’ve been effective, because the duo was listed as one of the top 12 bands you should know in Alabama by Paste Magazine shortly thereafter. A follow-up disc, Big Black Dog, was issued in 2014, but the band has been radio silent since. While Hollingsworth continues to regularly release as a solo artist, Kate seems to have transitioned to a part-time role in the scene (perhaps to care for the couple’s daughter, born shortly after the eponymous debut).

 

A shame, really, because both spouses have the support of indie rock darling Conor Oberst, who has featured both, separately and together, in various incarnations of his bands and has even released a cover of Hollingsworth’s song Dominos with Phoebe Bridgers.

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