Category Archives: music

Sunfest Soundtrack [2018]

Just a few songs from some of the acts at Sunfest this year:

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A Tale of Two Independence Days

In honour of the two Independence Days celebrated just days apart (i.e., Canada Day on July 1st and the Fourth of July), here a couple of photos from Sunfest 2017 that seem relevant to the subject:

sheldon-ziggy-sunfest-056

Second-generation reggae musician Ziggy Marley

At first glance, it might seem odd that the oldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley would be wearing the Stars and Stripes in concert. But Ziggy, whose hits include “True To Myself”, has demonstrated an independent streak in recent years.  In addition to living in the States (in Beverly Hills, CA), I suspect the attraction for Ziggy to this particular shirt was the quote “Land of the Free” from “The Star-Spangled Banner”, since freedom is a lyrical theme that is highlighted in a number of his recent songs.

Frontman Mike Reno

Loverboy front-man Mike Reno

In addition to The Strumbellas on Day 1 of the festival, America’s northern neighbour was also represented at Sunfest by ’80s pop-rock band Loverboy on the afternoon of Day 4. This group is best known for its hit single “Working for the Weekend”, and the Canadian colloquialism for a long weekend is a “2-4 weekend”, a reference to the number of beers in a case (i.e., 24), so presumably Canadians work even harder for those weekends. This year, Canada Day fell on a Saturday but was observed on the following Monday, so the 150th anniversary of Canada’s independence was indeed celebrated with a proper 2-4 weekend. Loverboy would have it no other way.

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Sunfest 2017 Day 1: The Strumbellas, Snoop Dogg, Weezer

Weezer -- Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo, Scott Shriner

Weezer musicians: (l-r) guitarist Brian Bell, frontman Rivers Cuomo, bassist Scott Shriner

Check out  my blog post on the 2017 festival’s first day to read more about the performances of Canadian folk-rockers The Strumbellas, rap legend Snoop Dogg and alt-rock veterans Weezers.

 

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Interview: Friction Farm

Christine & Aidan at the Library

Christine Stay and Aidan Quinn in the back cover photo of the album “I Read Your Book”

I sat down with acoustic duo Friction Farm at a Rocco’s Tacos on February 2nd, 2014, Super Bowl Sunday, just prior to a gig the group was playing at the Boca Raton library. We were there for guacamole, margaritas and a conversation about the group’s current release at the time, I Read Your Book.  While the discussion mainly centered on specific tracks from that album, it often progressed into a more general talk about certain themes embodied in the songs such as politics, religion, the environment, creativity, books and who has the say in what Friction Farm lyrics say. Not to mention the mysterious Laundry Cycle…

The interview lasted nearly eighteen minutes and yielded 3,000 words, which are transcribed below in three parts:

Part I

Part II

Part III

 

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Interview: Friction Farm [Part III]

Christine & Aidan at the Library

Christine Stay and Aidan Quinn in the back cover photo of the album “I Read Your Book”

In this final segment of the interview, we discussion playing in libraries, the value of reading, and the accidental Friction Farm Laundry Cycle.

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Interview: Friction Farm [Part II]

Friction Farm West Palm III

Christine Stay and Aidan Quinn performing at the West Palm Beach Library, January 2016

In this segment of the interview, the discussion of the track “Somewhere In The Nowhere” is continued, then the conversation moved on to the track “You Always Bring Me Down” and lyrics that may or may not make Aidan uncomfortable.

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Interview: Friction Farm [Part I]

Christine Stay

Friction Farm bassist/vocalist Christine Stay

“We’re going to do this as a way to spark our creativity”

In the first segment of the interview, we discuss the album cover photo and concept, and we also talk about the specific tracks “Normal”, “Let It Rain” and “Somewhere In The Nowhere.”

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“The band you’ve known for all these years…” [June 2007 Article]

Sgtpeppergatefold

The Sgt. Pepper gatefold [Photo by Robert Fraser]

Can it really be forty years since Sgt. Pepper first taught the band to play? On June 1, 1967 in their native England (and on the following day in America) The Beatles released what continues to be the most critically-acclaimed album of the rock era, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Still, it seems hard to believe that four decades have passed since the world was first introduced to a work that has remains timeless through the years. Chalk that up to an effective combination of  the group’s creative talents with producer George Martin’s diverse musical and recording background. An innovative blend of rock with classical, jazz, Indian and avant-garde influences, Sgt. Pepper always feels like an album out of time,  evocative of its era even whilst transcending it.

I personally experienced the timeless appeal of Pepper about fifteen years after its release. Prior to listening this album in its entirety, I was merely an accidental Beatle listener, like everyone else in the ’70s that grew up within range of a radio. But after hearing the orchestral crescendo of A Day In The Life for the first time, I passed into the realm of serious Beatle fandom. So happy fortieth, Sgt. Pepper, and thanks for helping a young Jamaican music acolyte understand what the fuss was about an English group that had disbanded before he’d even made it to kindergarten…

“Someone asked me the other day would I ever have changed anything. No. I would never have changed one thing.”

— Geoff Emerick, Beatles sound engineer, on the Sgt. Pepper album [St. Petersburg Times, May 31, 2007]

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It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…

Sgt. Pepper Alternate

An alternate take from the Sgt. Pepper album cover photo shoot [Photo by Robert Fraser]

Traditionally, the articles for the Ad-lib To Fade section have been short and sweet. But how often does one of the most famous rock albums turn fifty? On June 1, 1967, after spending months in the studio, The Beatles released its landmark album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fifty years later, this album still generates lots of ink, as music journalists strive to say why it is or isn’t important. While there’s no need for me to add anything to that debate, I’m still inclined to add a personal note to the proceedings to celebrate the occasion, especially since I’m only a few months away from the same milestone birthday.

But for me, my Sgt. Pepper moment wasn’t fifty years ago, it was thirty-five. In 1982, I was a fifteen-year music fan living in Jamaica with only a rudimentary knowledge of The Beatles, who had fallen apart before I’d turned three. But I can literally remember the exact moment when I became a Beatle fan. I was over at a friend’s house playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time, when he put on the Sgt. Pepper LP. I had heard the first side of the album before, at my brother’s college apartment in Canada, but my dad made me take it off when we got to George’s Indian-music track “Within You, Without You.” So we bailed out before I got to hear the album’s magnificent coda, “A Day In The Life”,  and it was another couple years before I got to hear that thrilling, chaotic orchestral bridge, which, to this day, still doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. And still manages to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

So thank you, “Chippy” McGregor, for changing my life by playing a phenomenal four-minute song. And thank you, Beatles, for being so damn creative…

Check out what I wrote about Sgt. Pepper for its fortieth anniversary, in the June 2007 issue of Type M…

 

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Why We Write — Again [Intro, Summer 2012 Issue]

 

Does the fact that this is a music-oriented magazine make it okay for me to toot my own horn? Earlier this year, I had the pleasure on two separate occasions to run into local musicians who then introduced me to their friends as both a fellow musician and a “really good writer”. I must admit I was really touched by those compliments, particularly since at the time I hadn’t done any music journalism in a while. The previous incarnation of this magazine hadn’t been published since 2009, and its companion blog, The Music Type, had only been updated twice in 2010. So to me the kudos were strengthened by the fact that the passage of time hadn’t diminished both musicians’ impressions of my writing.

But I relay these unexpected compliments not to give myself a big head, but to explain why I’m reviving an online magazine that only had a modest readership in the best of times. Unlike the performance of music, writing is a solitary craft. I liken it to the late-night deejays of old, spinning records after midnight, all the time wondering “Is there anybody out there?” So receiving unexpected praise for this thing I do, mainly in my living room, all by myself, feels like reason enough to keep on doing it.

But that’s not to say that the wider potential audience  from having Type M join the The Music Type on the WordPress site didn’t also factor into its revival. Shortly after TMT’s 2008 debut, its visitor totals soon surpassed that of its parent magazine, so I’ve been thinking of this move for a while now. Add to that the numerous choices for look-and-feel, and a re-hosting on WordPress seemed like a no-brainer.

So I believe this move would have happened sooner or later, but those unexpected compliments certainly helped pave the way. And I’m not so modest that I wouldn’t mind a few more of those, either, so feel free to check out the writing here and let me know what you think…

S.I.R., Sept. 2012, Boynton Beach, Florida

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