Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten acts to see at Bluesfest

I am going to assume that everyone, by now, knows the Bluesfest lineup. If not, you can click here for a full rundown:

And further, I am going to assume that everyone will want to go see the big ones - Jeff Beck, Joe Cocker, KISS (by the way - I have now taken down that vote-for-KISS link because they are already coming to town - well done, Ottawa, we finished ninth), Styx, Jackson Browne. And I would be loathe to recommend all of those artists, since I don't plan to go see Styx or KISS myself. But here are some lesser-known acts worth checking out:

8. Local acts: JW Jones might be the most fun of all the local acts, but Jeff Rogers, Becky Abbott, Tara Holloway, Steve Mariner and Ken Workman & the Union promise to be terrific shows as well. There is a ton of great local music out there, and Bluesfest is a great chance to see some of it before the headliners come on.

7. LeE HARVeY OsMOND: Tom Wilson's band. You know, Tom Wilson of Blackie And The Rodeo Kings? It should also be noted that Colin Linden, Wilson's Blackie bandmate, will be playing Bluesfest too. Here's a video:


6. Brian Setzer Orchestra: I don't know if Setzer is better known for his work solo or with the Stray Cats. Either way, a huge talent, an awful lot of fun, and an influential player who has inspired, among others, Trevor Finlay. Here is a video:

5. Divine Brown: My girlfriend is into all kinds of pop music R&B nonsense, which mostly drives me crazy. But when she picked up Divine Brown's CD, I was amazed. Old-school style, beats and melodies that could have come straight from the early 60s, and a fantastic voice. This Canadian singer is worth seeing.

4. Gov't Mule: A band featuring the Allman Brothers' star guitarist Warren Haynes. Here they are on late night TV.

3. Hubert Sumlin: One of the all time true Blues legends, Sumlin was the guitar player for Howlin' Wolf. I have included an interview with the man, because I couldn't find any great playing videos:

2. Ornette Coleman: Because they don't come much more legendary than this man. One of the greatest free-jazz artists of all time. And to this day, one of my favourite concerts ever was Sonny Rollins at the Jazzfest about eight years ago.

1. Toots and the Maytals: And lastly, the one act at the Bluesfest for which I would gladly skip my own wedding (and, depending on the day they play, I may have to). The Otis Redding of Jamaica, Toots Hibbert still has an amazing voice, and the Maytals are perhaps the greatest of all backing vocalists. Absolutely legendary Jamaican reggae artists, and - perhaps even more importantly - a really, really fun time. Here is a clip of them in the studio from the legendary Jimmy Cliff Jamaican movie The Harder They Come.

There are, of course, other big acts. I might check out Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, maybe even Ludacris. Ah, who am I kidding? I have a wedding that week. I won't be seeing anyone. Enjoy Ornette Coleman for me!

This is dang funny.

First, you have to see the original, idiotic and kind of frightening ad:

Now, the best of the parodies, Stephen Colbert's:

And there are other fantastic ones. Click on this link to see the others:

Ah, silly Americans. How scary you are.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please. Stop it.

Two things I would like people to no longer do...

First - stop cornering me at events and giving me a list of all the bands you like and telling me to play them on the radio. First, I have little to no control over the music that gets played. And while I may well enjoy the musical stylings of Captain Beefheart, I am fully aware that 99% of the people in the world would recoil in horror upon hearing Neon Meate Dream of A Octafish on the radio. Here is what you can do instead - in fact, by doing this, you actually have more control over the music than I do - click here:

OK. Now you can tell us what you think of the music we play, and whether you would like different music to be played. These surveys are actually kept, and there are a cadre of people (or maybe it's just Steve, I don't really know, but it's someone) who actually read these and pay attention. You don't have to be a CHEZ nation member (but if you are there is a bonus code at the end of the survey for you). Help us out!

And the second thing - please, everyone who forwards a ton of emails to everyone on your list - send me a funny video, or a joke, or a picture of cats in a basket, or naked pictures of a contortionist, whatever. Chances are, I will open the email, glance at it quickly, and delete it anyway. But please stop forwarding me those stupid, painful, idiotic emails about soldiers. Please. Every single one of them sucks. These emails are all the same. It's some "heartwarming" story about the Budweiser truck delivery guy putting some not-patriotic-enough guy in his place, or some Tim Hortons employee getting off a zinger at a person wearing a burka. First of all, these emails are, for the most part, ADS for companies that are considered "uber-American" or "uber-Canadian". Tim Hortons! Pepsi! Jean Coutu! Snap-On Tools! Ugh.

Next, they are all badly written. If Bill O'Reilly wrote in to Readers Digest, this is the staggering drivel that would spew out. Third - they all end with something that misses the point entirely. Like, "if you love your chicken fried beef, thank a soldier". Basically saying that your right to protest against the war, for example, exists only because soldiers exist. Except that the emails, without fail, suggest that anyone who protests against the war is the antithesis of a patriot, and the worst kind of person ever. And thereby they make the connection between being against war and against soldiers. NO ONE, you jackasses, ANYWHERE, is against soldiers. There are like eleven people in Canada who are against soldiers. But being against the war is not the same thing, and it's buying into the uber-patriot, truth-distorting kool-aid crowd to equate the two.

And lastly, and most importantly, these emails are racist. Without exception. It's always a brown person who "roots for the terrorists" who gets his comeuppance, whether it be from a Tim Hortons customer or a six-year-old girl. Or, a brown person who complains about Canada or the U.S. being in the war. It's never an 90-year-old World War II veteran who believes the war in Iraq is unjust and terrible who gets told. It's an evil brown person.

So. Please. Stop it.