Mother of.....

by Mark Zaugg 14. August 2007 01:29

So, lo and behold, I'll be double-damned and dipped in chocolate.... 

Remember a few weeks back and I saw Buddy Guy?  Wow...  What a great show.  Let me take you back to my comments...

"The warm up band was, I believe, Warehouse from right here in Calgary.  Which is a sadly unfortunate name because in Calgary, The Warehouse is also a venue that hosts live music.  Know nothing about them, haven't found a link via Google.  Decent enough band, certainly good enough to open for Buddy Guy, but it was hard to comprehend the vocals and much of it was lost on me.  Professional right to the point of prediction they'd play 45 minutes with a 20 minute changeover."

Well, my Lady-love hands me a CD tonight and says, "Here, you have to listen to this.  Track Two."

Warehouse is:  Rick Ware.  Dennis Green.  Mike Wall.

Their self-titled CD recorded at Moss Creek Studios in Bragg Creek in 2004.

They've got all the internet presence of Bertha Mettlemyer.  I just like the irony.

Buddy Guy

by Mark Zaugg 31. July 2007 09:41

The last time I was in the Palace it was to see a movie as a kid - I think it was some Disney family flick. 

This was my first time to evaluate what changes they've made to the place.  All in all, it's pretty decent in there.  There's only so much you can do with a small theatre space like that that isn't a theatre.  Sadly, Calgary is suffering a severe lack of theatres and art space in general at the moment, but a small theatre downtown just isn't going to be a draw enough to make it viable. 

We got down there pathetically early - technically before doors - so we well understood it was going to be a long wait for the show to get started.  Lots and lots of time to hunker down and look at the building and decor. 

The warm up band was, I believe, Warehouse from right here in Calgary.  Which is a sadly unfortunate name because in Calgary, The Warehouse is also a venue that hosts live music.  Know nothing about them, haven't found a link via Google.  Decent enough band, certainly good enough to open for Buddy Guy, but it was hard to comprehend the vocals and much of it was lost on me.  Professional right to the point of prediction they'd play 45 minutes with a 20 minute changeover. 

Okay, changeover was 30 minutes after all was said and done.  Buddy Guy took the stage right at 10:15 and immediately started blowing the roof off the joint.

If you don't know what you're going to get at all, prepare yourself to be rammed head first into a great wall of sound that's both music and noise and straight out wonderment.  Yesterday was Buddy's 71 birthday (I didn't realize that until someone to our left kept yelling out "Happy Birthday Buddy!") and I would never have believed it had he walked up to me on the balcony and stared me in the face. 

Trademark to Buddy, he walked through the aisles, including up to the balcony, where he paused long enough to play some viciously pleasing riffs while staring me straight in the face.  I think I finally got a sucky photo on my phone, I'll try to get that up later.

After what must have been a 10 minute sojourn through the crowd, he got back on stage and kept pounding out lick after lick of magic.  He brought it down, playing his guitar with a drumstick, he belted out finger fire of a showman guitarist, he performed pretty much the perfect bar gig for 80 minutes long to our adoration.  When exhorting the crowd to love and care for each other - because some day we're all going to need someone else - and getting the yells and screams, he got right back with "Shut the fuck up and listen" which probably drew at least as great a cheer from the crowd again.  He's a man that still carries massive club appeal and he's well versed into what makes a show work perfectly.

Muddy Waters allegedly told Guy, "Don't let them goddam blues die on me."  Buddy Guy lives to respect the blues, to keep the blues alive and relevant and important.  He's a legend, one that I'm proud to have seen and heard.  Fantastic show, I'm honoured to have been there.

Forgive me, I'm feeling a little Rushed.

by Mark Zaugg 19. July 2007 01:30

One of the best things about my Lady-Love is that my Lady-Love will drag my sorry ass out to concerts. 

Not to work them.  To go to them and enjoy the show. 

One of the really cool things about my Lady-Love is that my Lady-Love just happens to appreciate the best damned Canadian Progressive Rock band ever, Rush.  I can only say that because I happen to know for a fact that the Rheostatics couldn't make it 30 years.  Wimps!  (Ha!  You know I love you guys too!)

This was the first time I saw Rush since the Presto tour - what was that, 1990?  Presto still runs atop my list of favourite concerts; certainly without peer until the last year or two.  The part about Presto that grabbed me so much was this amazing transition from studio to stage and the integration of lights and a projection screen and Rush's quirky sense of humour that put me completely on ear.  Oh, and yes, the dancing bunnies pretty much left me astounded.

There is one thing that's stuck in my craw from the last time I saw Rush.  Geddy was as great as ever, Neil truly blew me out of the water with just how good he sounded live, but Alex..  Tha' wee Alex, he kinda let me down, see.  He played fine, but it just seemed "fine" to me.  It didn't sound great, it didn't sound bad, to me it felt like he was playing along and not pouring much emotion into it that night.

Oh my.  Absolutely no way, no now, not a chance tonight.  Alex absolutely stole the show to me.  Riffs were sharp, he was clearly enjoying himself, he was alive and into it, he was interactive, he positively shone.

I loved the show, it was very cool to hear some of the older and more obscure songs.  "Entre Nous"..  Oh my!  I was never much hooked on Roll the Bones or Vapour Trails, so there were wide swaths of music that I only vaguely recognized.  But the new songs off Snakes and Arrows seem like winners for me.  I'll have to go find a way to buy a copy.  How does one go out and buy music these days, anyways?  Are there still any stores left after Sam's closed?

I'm not much of a fader jockey, but I do know the sound was lousy.  Everything was hissy at the high end - it felt like getting rattled with a blast of white noise with drums underneath it.  I walked out of there with my ears hurting and barely hearing my Lady-Love's vocal range.  We were sitting in front of the sound board.  I know everyone mixes differently, but in all the years of hearing the NPG guys doing sound I've never come out with my ears hurting.

But there ya have it.  Since January of 2006 I've been to four great concerts that all are fumbling around my favourite shows of all time.  Rheostatics, The Who, Roger Waters and now Rush.  All very different shows that were put on with very different philosophies and they all worked very well for me.  Next up:  Buddy Guy!  Now just when DO I get to know B.B. King off my To-Do list?

A Watery Weekend - Part II

by Mark Zaugg 25. June 2007 01:32

Water.  Giver of life.  Salvation in a desert.  Cleansing.  Purifying.  Requisite for all things living on earth.  

Roger Waters.  One of the founding members of Pink Floyd.

The coolest thing about a Roger Waters show, of course, is that it's not simply a concert, it's an event and to really grasp the event, it's best to participate in the event.  There is a band, and they play on stage, but the event itself is part of what happens both on the stage and off.  Over.  Around.

Waters has the video screen backdrop.  Yawn.  Music is going on in the background.  Big whoop.  Hey, I see smoke rising up there,  I think it's video.  Well, interesting.

<Hand reaches up.  Radio static.  Song changes.>

Whoa!  Did I see that right?  Yeah, I sure did.

The single coolest feature of a Waters show is that everything - absolutely every detail - is choreographed to the absolute finest detail.  Everything has been thought through and plays literally right on cue.  He's a master showman, a performer in every sense while on stage, and giant of grace and style in the spotlight.  He is the Steve Jobs of the rock world, and I'm not talking the black turtleneck.  Or is that the other way around?

The best way to enjoy Waters is to immerse yourself in the show.  Get tickets on the floor.  While the crepe paper twirls and the pig soars overhead, remember that your job is to reach upward.  Grasp, gasp and soar.  {Or if you're the moron in front of us, "Duuuude, take some pictures.  He's got, like, colours on the screen again.  Let's make sure we get a shot of every single detail so we can be sure to look at the photos later and see what we forgot to experience.."}

I found "Wish You Were Here" very poignant.  I don't believe that's my imagination.

The single worst feature of a Waters show is also that absolutely every detail is choreographed to the absolute finest detail.  There is little crowd interaction as the show grinds out unceasingly.  The band finishes Dark Side of the Moon and the show "ends" - but the band has not been introduced, they've not played "Another Brick in the Wall."  What a silly little pretense we make, no?  The crowd will stay and demand more for as long as you're able.  We don't need the phony curtain call any longer, really.

Still, it's damned fun to sing:

    We don't need no edumacation.
    We don't need no volleyball.
    No faulty condoms in the bathroom.
    Hey, teacher, sit me in the hall.

Your parody lyrics may differ, depending upon your upbringing, of course.

With the CD and a really good sound system, you could likely replicate the audio experience of the concert.  They're amazingly adept at recreating the studio sound and living Waters' imagination on stage.  But there's no way you can replicate the experience of a Waters concert at home.  I don't have the lights, the pyro, the props or - well - the second hand pot smoke to make it turn out the same.  Maybe it's best we went to the Saddledome instead...

Waters Wash the Weary Wanderers

by Mark Zaugg 24. June 2007 10:22

Holy photo, Batman.  You've neglected the photo side so long you've forgotten how it works! 

Here's a teaser.  I'll fill in the details tonight.

Ce soir...

by Mark Zaugg 3. May 2007 23:23

Mesdames et messieurs, 

 For dinner tonight, Chef Zaugg has prepared a sirloin tip sauteed gently in a poivre Cajun sauce avec onion et mushrooms tossed in a crisp et dry oak-aged Chardonnay.  It shall be accentué together with riz brun et riz sauvage avec garlic roti and thinly sliced avocat

 After dining, you shall be graced with strawberries et pitaya (dragon fruit). 

 Please enjoy ce soir's gastronomic experience.  Chef is most pleased to present it to you because he really thinks his Lady-Love is particularly wonderful. 

 The mood shall be set through the melodious sound of The Vesitbules, the Grateful Dead, Screaming Jay Hawkins and, of course, the Rheostatics.

Appréciez, si vous plait.

Enter our hero into the Reality Distortion Field...

by Mark Zaugg 24. April 2007 23:59

I'm sad to say, but I have begun that long, distressing entry into that state known as the Friendly Happy People.  Living in the Reality Distortion Field.  Where everything is fine and dandy, we do everything with a single button, and the pablum is force fed to us through a tube. 

In this case, I finally got around to getting an iPod. 

Do I want an iPod?  I'm still not entirely sure.  My first problem - I'm a control freak.  Occupational hazard, I guess.  I don't want computers to be made 'easy' for me, I want things to be predictable.  I want to be able to determine what the problems are, should one occur.  "Easy" masks the control I want.

I distrust the "so simple you plug it in and go right away" mentality.  Computers are complicated beasts filled with pitfalls and compromises.  I want to make sure that the compromises I make fit my particular requirements.  I'd rather be secure than easy.  I'd rather have control than have someone guess what I want.  Your choices will certainly be different from my own.

So I plug in the iPod, download and install iTunes, put in my iCD (err..  I can tell I'm already getting carried away) and it starts ripping it into my library right away.  Only problem - I'm a bit of an audiophile.  I'm not going to tolerate my music ripped at crappy rates and have to hear a hissy "S" for the lifetime of my iPod.  It never once asked me how I wanted to rip the disc.

So the first thing I do is try to figure out just how the damned interface is supposed to work.  Not intuitive for me, sorry Mr. Jobs.  Perhaps I'm just dumb, or perhaps I'm a control freak, but the layout just doesn't work the way I want to use it.

In the case of an mp3 player, I want to rip my mp3's (or preferably, oggs) and be able to drag and drop them across to the device.  I mean, really, isn't that the very scheme that Apple popularized in the first place?  Now it's no longer good enough?

Of course, I want a simple way to rip an mp3 (or preferably ogg) at a variable rate, and don't even look at anything less than 256 bits.  I can't really compare an AAC, so for now I'm going to stick with what I know and trust.

Three pages into a help file and I'm told go to iTunes --> Preferences, click Advanced, and then click Importing.

Colour me stupid, but I'm not seeing it.

Close iTunes.  Open iTunes.  Look for ANYTHING that says iTunes --> Preferences, with an Advanced option.  Nope, nope, nope.

The only thing that's really helping me out at all here is my background.  "Okay," methinks to meself, "This is Apple now.  Based on BSD, I better put myself into a UNIX frame of mind."  In Windows, you're looking for your options settings under a Tools menu or some such.  In UNIX, you've typically got a "Preference" selection under the "Edit" menu.  Well, sure enough, there it is, right at the bottom in Edit.

It's one of my big fears about going to a Mac.  I don't want to get sucked into someone else's choices about how I'm supposed to do what I want to do.  I'm not afraid to "Think different" - after all, there is a certain logic in having Preferences under Edit to me, remember?  I'm afraid of the Apple mentality (TM) that "Thou shalt have only one mouse button because that is all thou shalt require."

Well, for what it's worth, I've decided the iPod is the best of a bad lot of mp3 players that don't meet what I want, so I'll try to fill 80 Gigs with music and see where it takes me...

&quot;You took the weekend off!&quot;

by Mark Zaugg 17. April 2007 08:22

Uh-oh. 

I thought I already said this wasn't supposed to be a Sunday Night Entry Only sort of thing.  If I get up at 6:00 AM on a Tuesday to let the dog out and feel like writing a blog entry, well, so be it. 

That and my Sunday night was filled between bouncing between Formula 1, hockey playoffs, and Holmes on Homes

Saturday night I saw Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies.  Ah yes, one of those wonderful shows I didn't quite know what to expect and walk away from happy.  The highlight for me was hearing Andy May playing the Northumberland pipes.  After sound check the kids ran up to me holding his CD, "The Yellow Haired Laddie."  I love it when the kids and I agree ahead of time.

Ooh, I guess I should mention my darkest secret...  I love the bagpipes.  I saw the band Rare Air back in my high school days and I never quite recovered from the shock that they were really, really good and they were actually playing bagpipes that didn't sound like (ominous voice) the bagpipes.  Seriously, with albums like Space Piper, you know that they were breaking out of the traditional piping but still retaining their respect for the art.

Now, I'm nae Scot, nor Irish, nor Celt of any strain.  (Well, I'm 1/4 English, so I can be pretty sure my ancestory probably draws from there someplace), but I must say I have a streak of love for all things north of Hadrian's Wall and across the Irish Sea.  I'm the sort of fellow that prefers to have my haggis apart from my Guiness so I can really savour the flavours the way they were meant to be enjoyed.  And play a wee bit o' Jez Lowe in the background for me, eh, lass?  If I'm going to offend by mixing the cultures all up in a slurry, I may as well go all the way out..

Aye!  'Tis grand!

Colin Hay!

by Mark Zaugg 4. March 2007 10:21

Well, yesterday was indeed a most-cool day. 

Colin Hay
returned back to the Bow Valley Music Club to play another show. 

Colin is the one reason I own a Palm m125 - tying in the last post of getting Time Management for System Administrators by Tom Limoncelli quite nicely, I hope.  The last time Colin played at BVMC I forgot the show was that night and it has remained the only show I missed due to me being an idiot.  I went out and got a Palm the next week and haven't looked back. 

The kids were with me and got to run and play at the club while we set up and a great time was had by all.  We had to run off and do a few chores - get lunch, go get washer fluid for the car, odds and sods stuff - and we got back in time to catch sound check. 

I happily abuse my position of volunteer bartender and roadie and attend sound check ostensibly to be there to assist the artist but in reality especially so my kids can get a taste of what the show will be without staying up to midnight.  Sometimes they get to meet artists who are or were influential in my life.

Men At Work are one of those bands from the 80's that has the story of a flash-in-the-pan.  They had two albums released one after the other and you can just feel the world jumping on the bandwagon at once.  The release of the third showed the band was washed up and nothing but hype was in the great Men At Work tour-bus and it collapses and we forget all about it and file it into the "Why ever did we listen to that crap?" category.

The spin is a little different from the actuality, of course.  Men At Work fell into the great marketing machine that is the part of the labeled music industry that makes it truly such an evil creation.  Ignoring the better sense that North America was just catching up with Australia, Men at Work's 'Cargo' got dropped on us 3 months after we got introduced to them.  The resultant flare was intense, but all that heat can't be sustained and the collective population burnt out.

By now I should have well and truly painted the picture for you.  A die-hard fan of Men At Work at a sound check with two kids in tow who haven't the faintest idea who he is, but they do know their Dad knows the lyrics to the songs.  I mention to Rebekk, "He plays guitar really well, doesn't he?  A lot better than your Dad."  "He's way better than you, Dad."  Thanks, kid.

During soundcheck, Colin complimented Rebekk's hair and asked if she picked out the colour for the streak herself.  He struck me as a guy I'd like to meet in a pub for a pint or two.  He signed two CD's - one for each kid - and we were out the door on our way to grab dinner and drop the kids off at my friend's place who was going to take them for the night.  Once we got to the car, there's a guy out in the parking lot with a stack of vinyl records asking Colin to sign them.

On stage, Colin bore the battle stories of being ground in the hamburger machine of music marketing.  People get stuck in time, and from their perspective Colin has been basking in the glow of their adoration for the past 15 years.  He's got some great war stories of people talking to him over the years, but it strikes me that if people are stuck in the past, they're missing out on the present.

Colin's been getting a bit more of an audience lately and getting some notice for his songwriting again.  His songs now are much more rich - I supposed that goes with the territory of continuing to hone his craft for 15 years.  "My my my, it's a beautiful world / I like swimming in the sea" has been going through my head since I heard it in sound check.  He didn't bring all his CD's with him this time round - I wanted his disc "Company of Strangers" if only for the song "Dear J" (you can hear a snippet there).  I suspect I'll order a copy when his latest CD gets released in April.

Thanks Colin, that was truly a wonderful day for me.  I'd love to know how the kids feel about it 15 years from now..

Attaboy, Gordie!

by Mark Zaugg 12. February 2007 09:30

The radio comes on first thing this morning and I hear there was one (1) Canajun winner at the Grammies. 

I care so much for the Grammies I'm certain to miss them each and every year.  But I'll certainly applaud the recognition it brings and I have to give a big cheer that Gordie Sampson shared in a bric-a-brac for co-writing "Jesus Take the Wheel" (sung by Carrie Underwood).

Now I'll confess, I absolutely loathe the song itself.  It's all that's wrong with drivers today, I don't like the implied fatalism and I'm just not a fan of the ponderous, overly dramatic way Underwood delivered it.  Obviously there are many who disagree with me and that's just dandy.  I wouldn't have mentioned it at all if I didn't detest the song so much.  I wouldn't have mentioned I don't like the song if it wasn't loved by millions.

On the other hand, Mr. Sampson is an amazingly wonderful musician and one of the best song writers we've got right now.  The added bonus is that he's a genuinely nice guy, a joy to work with and an absolute pleasure to spend a few moments with.  His album "Stones" is already getting pretty old, but it resides near the top of my pile of CDs.

All of my best wishes, Gordie.  Keep making me smile out here.

Welcome

Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.

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