Saturday, 12 September 2015

Snake River this Saturday live in the Sunshine Laundromat

Tell me about your tour: Where have you come from and hoe far have you yet to travel?

We are in Montreal tonight
This is as Far East we'll get to. We're heading back west beginning tomorrow

How long has the band been going?

The group has been together for two and a half years. It started as a solo project for me a little before that. The guys came in originally to learn some of the songs I'd recorded, but it has since morphed into a full band. The new record is the first to feature all band members. 

. What kinds of bands do you play with

We're playing with a lot of our favourite bands on this tour at various locales. Bands like radiation flowers, rah rah, basic nature, living hour, the backhomes.  We're lucky that there is such a rich musical culture in Canada and that it's easy to connect with likeminded musicians. 

What are some Influences on the sound of your group?

There are a lot. 13th floor elevators. Robyn Hitchcock. Xtc. Scott walker. Syd Barrett. Television. But those are just mine. Everyone else in the band has their own things that they're into as well. Our tastes are all very disparate. 

Do you thrive on diner food or find it hard to eat well on the road?

It's extremely hard to eat right on the road. Can usually manage for a day or two then things get askew. But maybe life at home is the same. Who can say. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Genus of Valued Customer

It must have been a brisk autumn night, as the weather was ideally inclement for a stroll through the back ways and lanes of Toronto's downtown west side, along the curves and dips of the Garrison creek, formerly called the Bull creek, south from Davenport to Queen, into the still beating heart of Parkdale's musical magic hour.
The first time I brought the gang from Valued Customer down to Not my Dog, it was an appropriately synchronistic occasion. I carried a boombox and described to them the ideal James Brown sourcebook, which I would find in a used bookshop later that same week. Serendipity is not chaos, as I might have argued a few years earlier in the same bar.

"They remind me of me. "
Said Johnny awesome.
"I hate them"

I first met Patrick Power, guitar and vocals, through Craigslist. I had posted a call for scores composed for violin cello flute and oboe, having no real means to present any such music.

Patrick invited me to hear his string quartet, performed at gallery 345 as part of Torontiad 2. He gave my sister guitar lessons. We had tea and talked about jazz. I sensed that the pedigree of instrumental proficiency  and thero-storical background possessed by VuCu refracted through their native classic rock and post-millenial rap

would find fertile modes of sonic articulation in the mid-century black American avant garde.

Then  came Torontiad three, a workshop in which we both rehearsed brass duets for french horn and tuba. Due to an allergic hyper sensitivity, my eyes were bleeding during most of this time, and somebody else had to turn my score into a PDF format acceptable to the players. Patricks piece sounded like Stravinsky vs Zappa. Mine sounded like medieval mush.

Justus Gustus is an enigmatic, well-coiffed sort. I admire his savvy lyrics and the frenetic trance of his powerful delivery. He plays his guitar through a golden JVC boombox I left on Patrick's doorstep last time I moved and downsized my collection. He lives in cinespaces and dates projectionists.

The Victory Café open mic was another happy time. Few jammers actually discovered this jam during its ill-fated three month run, and I was often left to entertain in marathon sessions with the rapman. Unless VuCu came in, and then it was a lovely romp of an evening. One of my best moments in Mirvish village was killing it free styling to a Bran Van "Drinking in LA" instrumental. ( L A, L L A, L A W Y E R S...)

Just as much fun as playing the Elvis Costello Challenge with my aunts Ann and Leah, or getting goofy and doing pratfalls during a zombie rap jam called "bodies on the ground".

I also got to jump in on a VuCu set at the Holy Oak a couple years back, in the midst of a sexy song called " perfect body"

Essentially VuCu serves, in my timeline, to justify and encourage my shamanic status as a goofy, wise, dirty old(er) man. I enjoy quipping that I am the Satie of whatever this post-jazz rap thing is called, and that they will outshine me as its Debussy, but that's just me being all cute and musico-historical.

O how i love their merch! They design their own stylish shirts,  sometimes stiched together from multiple sources. 

My birthday party recital, "so long summer" farewell parties, and a one off open mic, all held at the Belljar Café, were also graced by VuCu members.

I did a session for Patricks solo project: the "piggga" album, my first studio rap after a dry period away from the jams and the joints. I mustered some rambling shout outs over a 6/4 beat and was offered more future collabs.

If you're still reading this without having heard the music of Valued Customer, now.might be the time to mention that they are on some next level. Look up their bandcamp. Turn off the Netflix and chill.

When valued customer came to visit us in the Soo last summer, it all came back to me. Bohemia. Vast art-historical pipedreams. Distortions in my perception of time....

Vucu are growing up, and hosted the Gore Street open mic as a full blown new thing panmodal jazz combo. Actually, their show in the Sunshine laundromat last summer was possibly the best we put on last year. If only I could find the videos...

A couple days later Vucu trumpeter David Baldry was back in town with Reenie  and rocking Gore Street once again. At 180 Projects, I confessed to him that since the Holy oak I didn't think the band could maintain their hip hop approach without a drummer, and that the laundromat show had changed my mind.

But the last time I met up with my boys at the dog for my now-regular xmastime gig, things went a bit awry. A buddy of theirs had smuggled some outside beers into the open mic on Wednesday, and their act was barred for insulting the owner. Steve Mozarowski showed up at the last minute to replace their set. I think they'll come back again this summer to visit and play. I think their next album is going to astound:-) I think next time the cypher is going straight to video;-)

The Backhomes play Gore Street Cafe Sept 14

Kees Dekker of the Backhomes 
talks to the Tinderblog:

Tell me about your tour: 
Where have you come from and how far have you yet to travel?

This current tour takes us from Victoria where we live, 
across Canada as far as Montreal and back. 
Staying in Canada, means you have to zig zag strategically 
to make sure you don't hit the same place twice 
(which is tricky in a few spots due to geography).

How long has this band been active?

The band has been active since 2010. 
We put some songs together and played a show 
in Montreal ... and then moved west, 
where we really cultivated our sound and direction.

What kinds of bands do you play with?

We play with all kinds of bands, 
from garage rock to electronic music, 
but we tend to make connections with people playing 
"cosmic or cosmically inspired music".
photo: @fisheyefoto

What are major influences on the sound of your group?

I would say that depth and texture in music is big to us, 
more so than technique and musical dexterity. 
Repetition and fuzz are your friend! The music of Rick White (Elevator/Eric's Trip), 
JJ Cale, Primal Scream, Pete Kember, 
Flying Saucer Attack resonate with us greatly.

Thoughts on car culture: what's the parks-to-parking lot ratio like across the country?

Well on the highway and coming into towns its all box stores and lots, 
as that's where the cities are expanding most, 
but once you get into the heart of the city 
you can usually find some refuge in green spaces. 
It is important after day long drives and crummy service stations...

Do you thrive on diner food or find it hard to eat well on the road?

We can't really do diner food, cause you are what you eat. 
We try to stop at grocery stores and not fast food.
 If we have time we will try to find a good sit down meal. 
It can be a challenge in smaller places and where the highway tends to take you, 
but we'll try to plan for those stretches.

Do audiences dig your grooves more in certain parts of the country?

This tends to surprise us. 
At first we might have thought that the bigger cities would be our bread and butter, 
but being a little different than the typical fare that hits smaller places 
can help in getting into peoples ear holes. 
That being said, we have played more in western cities, 
so people probably know our name a bit more there.

What are your favourite music scenes to connect with across the country?

Anywhere where people get into what we are doing is great.
 We have had some amazing times in Edmonton and Saskatoon 
and have made really good friend bands there. 
photo: f@fisheyefoto

What challenges does your group face with media exposure:
getting your music to sympathetic ears?

I think we face the same challenges most small DIY groups experience, 
especially living in a smaller city. 
We mainly self release our records, 
so it's all about getting on the road and getting in front of crowds of people. 
Good things come when you are active and open, 
and enjoying yourself as much as possible.

Is college radio still alive in this country?

Most definitely! 
We rely on Campus/Community stations a lot, 
as they play the music and get it into the right volunteer DJ's hands.
 We have made a lot of good friends 
and gotten a lot of help and opportunities from many Campus stations. 
Victoria's CFUV is a backbone of the music community here. 

Are musicians, fans, and the industry still adjusting to 
the impact of online media on the music business?

Sure, but it's time to get on with it. 
Just pay for music, 
so musicians can continue to make records, 
so you can buy them.
 Buy music directly from musicians as much as possible. 
It's easy and you don't have to get into some silly internal dialogue 
about how downloading music for free is not hurting anyone, 
especially when you can preview entire records online before you buy. 
Grow up.

What's the music scene(s) like in Victoria?

Well the music scene where we live is small and eclectic 
like most smaller cities, 
but not very competitive which is nice. 
The scene that I grew up with in Moncton N.B. 
was really creative and inspiring while I was there 
and gave me the confidence to make my own art and not be too afraid of judgement.