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Micah Erenberg Band-Sonic Sangria

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Micah Erenberg is a uniquely talented singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, MB. Micah has been playing music for years, refining his distinctive and original sound. His music is honest,playful and innovative. His presence is notable throughout the rich Winnipeg music scene. He is now outfitted with a powerhouse of a band and together they are Micah Erenberg Music.

The band’s debut album “Poor Mic’s Toe” is a cleverly crafted collection of wonderfully whimsical songs. Erenberg’s blunt poetry is charmingly juxtaposed with Tex-Mex and lo-fi sloppiness. His lyrical frankness allows one to dive into the music with no unnecessary quasi-intellectual wordplay, which is extremely refreshing.

Every song on the album offers a different tone, perspective and sound yet they are all consistently strong.The opening song “I Just Wanna Go To Sleep Forever” portrays the band’s ability to express the tragic humour of life.  The song “Jesus in LA” sounds like the sonic lovechild of David Lindley’s El Rayo-X (1981) and Mac DeMarco’s (2012). The track “Root Beer” is wildly addictive and offers both wisdom and sarcasm. The video for the song truly encapsulates the completely non-pretentious and genuine spirit of the band.

Erenberg’s music certainly pays homage to early Beach Boys and Pavement yet it’s something fresh all together.His lyrics are wise beyond his years yet his sound is youthful and unapologetic. His music is a refreshing cleanse of lyrical clarity and genuine expression. The sound is completely void of pretending to be interesting, it just is.

            The album Poor Mic’s Toe is now widely available- Micaherenberg.com

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The Winnipeg Folk Festival- Interview and Concert Highlights.

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The Hairy Prairies-Photo by Jenny Ramone

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is unlike any other music festival on this side of the globe. There is something about the combination of the balmy weather, the endless prairie evenings, the generous and diverse array of talent and the generally benevolent attitudes of those that attend that just feels right. I have been going to this festival for over a decade as it gives me a chance to revisit my hometown and spend four days in musical paradise. Every year I discover new talent and enjoy the sounds of returning artists. This is the real music lovers kind of event, the performers intermingle with audience members seamlessly, it is void of the us and them divide. This year was notably folkier and involved more new band’s than previous years known for hosting musical legends and box office bands. I personally enjoy this kind of lineup more and believe it is where the magic begins. The following is a collection of interviews and concert highlights from this year’s festival.

Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter is a profoundly talented, wildly sharp and a truly authentic individual from Nashville. As the son of musician Bucky Baxter, he has deep music roots,however he does his own thing and does it well. We spoke in between sets on the particularly sweaty Friday afternoon. Baxter is a musician’s musician; he is refreshingly transparent, uniquely gifted and consistently witty. His music is certainly a reflection of his hilarious and unapologetic personality. He crafts real songs woven from his very real life that he seems to love. He explained his aversion towards confrontation, which is made difficult due to his natural yet unwarranted leadership role in his band. He shared that Nashville is still bursting with eclectic talent and not just a collection of cliché cowboy bars. He is draped in picturesque tattoos; he refers to his arms as a tour scrapbook. His smile is infectious, he doesn’t take life too seriously, but he does take it seriously enough. His set at the main stage was completely paralyzing and hypnotizing. The audience seemingly avoided blinking, as they didn’t want to miss even a mere moment. His voice is complex just like his lyrics and his band commits to the heartache and poetry that his music is made of.

Jim Bryson 

Jim Bryson has an impossibly dense resume; he lives and breathes everything music. Bryson was the founding member of the late and great band Punchbuggy. He also played with Winnipeg’s own The Weakerthans, has a strong solo career and produces other musician’s material like no other. He is a Canadian music marvel who is constantly evolving and trying new things. What makes this all even better is that Bryson is incredibly emotionally generous, uniquely hilarious and notably easy to talk to; really talk to. We started our interview right under the wrath of the Winnipeg afternoon sunlight. We discussed anxiety and depression which we agree is an under discussed and important topic in the music industry.

Bryson has two young daughters that he talked about in a charmingly matter of fact, yet nurturing way. Everything about Bryson is genuine, from his approach to music to his sincere curiosity about those around him. Our discussion varied from existential to playful while remaining consistently interesting. Bryson loves the Winnipeg Folk Festival and speaks highly of his hometown Ottawa; reminding me that it is in fact cool and we need to give up Canadian city rivalry. He loves to tour and approaches it quite realistically. He admits he never got into music for the babes back stage and found it funny that I thought that was a possibility. He is deeply humble; the only people that put him on a pedestal are his fans. This makes sense when you see Bryson perform as his music and performance quality isn’t normal. Although the man is very human, his music is surreal. It’s not necessarily experimental or even close to performance art; it’s just really really really strong music.

He shared with me his difficulty with seeing people reading or napping while he is performing in the revealing nature of daytime outdoor shows. It blows me away that anybody can avoid being completely transfixed when Bryson performs. He understands the way instruments work beyond most, like how astronomers understand space. The best part is that he is completely unaware of his commanding power. He would probably just blush at this notion and pump out another extremely astute album.

 

The Hairy Prairies

 The Hairy Prairies are made up of some of the most compelling, hilarious, sweet and talented people who are crucial to the Winnipeg music scene. The five-piece bluegrass ensemble just debuted at the Winnipeg Folk Fest as travelling minstrels, which was a common theme this year. That stated, their performances took place liberally throughout various pockets of the festival, making the entire event better. They were like a one band travelling folk carnival. They are a stampede of talent, painting wherever they visit with joy and wonder. Every individual in the band has a larger than life personality yet plays their difficult instrument with tremendous sophistication and grace.

The connection to each other goes back to the early stages of a childhood that was musical for all of them. The one exception to this is their sharply talented upright bass player Lindsay Woolgar, who moved to Winnipeg from Edmonton for music school three years ago. Little did she know at the time she was going to get kidnapped by these boisterous and talented machines. Their lead guitar player and singer Cary Bilcowski decided to recruit them all for a jam one fateful night that also featured the added bonus of a barbecue. They admit to loving barbecued food almost as much as music. The band educated me on the clearly undervalued instrument; the shuitar which is a guitar that is treated like a percussion instrument. The shuitar is played by the electric Morgan Fiks in this project. The Woods Brothers, who are a great inspiration to the Hairy Prairies also feature the shuitar played by the amazing Jano Rix. The Prairies show off their talent in their cover of the The Woods Brothers’ song Honey Jar. Along with the gifted Lindsay, Cary and Morgan is the lovely Donovan Locken on mandolin and Derek Micholson on harmonica, they all own their craft with individual distinction and skill.

The Hairy Prairies love music in a way so true and rare that you can tell their fingers and minds would run completely restless without the opportunity to play and perform. It is remarkable that they are so exquisitely humble yet wildly talented and hardworking. They joked about their fan club the “fairy prairies” made up of now three people. The numbers went up 300% during the duration of our interview. They are great people making really great music and I can’t wait for you to see them in the packed venues they deserve to perform at.

The Brothers Comatose

The Brothers Comatose are a five-piece San Francisco based avalanche of sonic brilliance. I sat down with front man Ben Morrison in the middle of the conclusive Sunday afternoon wrap up, the ultimate musical comedown day. Any melancholic feelings I was experiencing towards the festival ending were instantly dissolved the second I started speaking with Morrison. The man emanates everything we love about the modern music maker; he encapsulates the old spirit of country and the contemporary soul of rock and roll. His personality is an accurate vehicle towards the music he and his band create. Their sound likely gets reduced to just folk music, yet we all know that doesn’t quite cut it. Ben plays lead guitar and sings while his brother Alex plays the guitar, banjo and sings as well. They are both fine tuned musicians that grew up with parents who played music frequently in their hometown of Petaluma,their musical roots show.

The band was previously on tour with the impeccably well-suited Devil Makes Three and is currently on an extensive tour that will take them to Alaska and Australia. They also quickly jet from the Winnipeg Folk Festival to the Calgary Stampede to meet and play for one of Ben’s greatest inspiration’s Mr. Huey Lewis who they cover in their wide bank of excellent songs. All of the band members love making and playing music and do so with distinction and charisma. This clearly takes them to all the right places. It is evident that Morrison is doing exactly what he should be, it’s as if his cells are music notes and even his spoken voice sounds like he swallowed an amplifier.

He shared with me that the career he feels he would be the least suitable for is stand-up comedy. This is interesting because he is naturally hilarious and magnetic. What he doesn’t do is put on a shtick, which does happen all too often with the genres of music the band plays. This sincerity is true amongst all of his band mates as well. Their music is a fusion of country, folk, bluegrass and even punk with gracefully threaded classic songwriting and modern storytelling. What is possibly the most prominent feature of the band is their flawless harmonies that sound as though they could lift ancient brick towers. Their music is a storm of vitality and takes listeners on a vacation from reality. Their performances visibly possess people with energy and havoc. With three albums under their belt that were recorded in various parts of the world; this is a band beyond a band-it’s a celebration of sound. A sound that crosses genres, melts minds and infuses people with the magic their music is made of.

 

New Legends-Who To See This Year At The Winnipeg Folk Festival

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Mikaela Davis-photo by Jill McCraken

The Winnipeg Folk Festival sets off its 42nd year this evening. The four day festival is renowned for it’s consistently strong lineup and boundlessly fun atmosphere. This year is notably folkier than the previous and features more local musicians. There are no massive names compared to past years but there are a sea of fresh, diverse and raw talent.Attached are my suggestions of who to check out this year…

Ryley Walker

Ryley Walker is a unique and viciously talented singer songwriter. He is a prodigious guitar player with a voice that resonates to the core. His wall of sound style of guitar playing combined with various elements of jazz instruments creates a complex sonic landscape that is easy and enjoyable to get lost it. His music resembles Bert Jansch, Van Morrison, and JJ Cale yet it’s something new all together. His music sounds like it could be from any era and I’m glad it’s from ours.

Ryan Adams

The truly distinctive and wildly gifted Ryan Adams headlines this year’s festival. Adams has been making music for two decades and the creator of 14 solid albums. His first album heartbreaker from 2000 is easily one of the most important folk and alternative country albums of our time. He is enigmatic to most, his songs are beautiful yet tortured lullabies and woven with deep and profound misery. However he is married to a bubble gum pop star and just covered the Taylor Swift album 1989 from front to back (which is somehow great). He isn’t really supposed to be “figured out” he is just meant to be heard. His performance will break your heart, make you laugh and everything in between.

Possessed by Paul James

Konrad Wert aka Possessed by Paul James is a one-man avalanche of talent and authenticity. I saw him at Pickathon a couple years ago and it is to this new of the best concerts I have witnessed. He plays various stringed instruments and sings with wild abandon, as if he is truly possessed. His songs are fun, wild and powerful void of cliché and cutting corners. He fully commits to being bizarre because he truly is, in all the right ways.

Son Little

Aaron Livingston aka Son Little is a hypnotic and commanding rhythm and blues singer songwriter. He plays slide guitar while singing homemade sultry tunes that are unparalleled. He sings about social justice, romance and the complex human experience. He is signed with Anti-records, the son of a preacher and unlike anybody else in music right now; don’t miss it.

Mikaela Davis

Mikaela Davis is the 24 year old prodigy who defies the rules of music. She is a hypnotic harp player and her voice is like a symphony of angels. We haven’t seen anything quite like her since Joanna Newsome, she is skilled beyond belief yet seems like a whimsical cartoon character. She grew up playing in grunge bands and refined her craft at the Crane School of Music in New York. Her music is gentle yet powerful she takes her harp to places beyond the realms of reality. Her music is charmingly indie yet infused with flawless classical elements. She said that the “harp can do anything”, she has redefined the use of the instrument.

 

There may be no classic legends this year but new one’s are brewing right before us.

Khari Wendell McClelland At The Queen Elizabeth Theatre

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Photo by Laura Murray

Anticipation was booming at the Sunday night Vancouver Jazz fest event that quickly sold out at the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The mostly local and always brilliant Khari took the stage before Ms.Lauryn Hill’s performance. McClelland is a hypnotic performer,he embodies the essence that commands large audiences just like legends such as James Brown or Mavis Staples.His voice is an experience,like swimming in the ocean or eating chocolate; it’s endlessly enjoyable and makes you want more immediately. I witnessed various audience members closing their eyes to soak in every second of his velvet and virtuosic pipes.The majority of his set list consisted of songs from his new solo debut album “Fleeting Is The Time” which is a true marvel and belongs in your album collection right now.His homemade songs are inspiring,honest,real and relatable in ways that stir one’s emotions in all the right directions.He makes people feel heard while they hear him, like a modern day music healer.He offered generous explanations of songs before he performed them with his profoundly talented band.This was most notable on his song “Damned” in which he asked the audience how they would spend the last week of their life to which one brave fan shouted “I would do this”. He also encouraged everyone to stay strong and tenacious when the going gets tough with the moving “Roll On”. He covered Bowie’s “Oh You Pretty Things” remarkably well,he didn’t merely hit the complex notes of the song he nailed them and resurfaced the power of Bowie’s voice.He shared his plans to travel to Jamaica this next week to work with youth through the Bob Marley Foundation. McClelland is filled with passion,bursting with love and booming with talent.His performance was my personal highlight of the night.He was gracious and generous,leaving the audience wanting more but gifted them with something they won’t soon forget.Do yourself a favour and check Fleeting Is The time and see this man perform any chance you get.

Levitation Vancouver 2016- The Highlights

 

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Levitation Vancouver feels more like a state of mind than a festival that you attend. It is a thrilling, exciting, slightly terrifying and mind altering explosion of psych rock , shoe gaze,trip-hop, electronica and metal. Various facets of the human condition are prevalent during this three-day, four night festival that takes place in the downtown core/underbelly of the ghetto in Vancouver. This is Levitation Vancouver’s second birthday; it is a lovechild of Levitation Austin and Timbre Concerts. Despite there being some serious hiccups before the event regarding the day time portion of the festival being moved from the beautiful and open Stanley Park to the confided walls of Commodore Ballroom, the festival was smooth as velvet. It certainly helped that the Commodore is one of the best looking and sounding venues in Western Canada. The lineup this year was exceptional and completely well suited to the nature of the festival. This included: Flying Lotus, oF Montreal, The Growlers, Tycho, Shabazz Palaces, White Lung, Holy F, Suuns and many more authentic, unapologetic and face numbing bands. The following is a list of my personal highlights from this brain-bending weekend.

oF Montreal

oF (yes, that spelling is intentional) Montreal played on Friday night in between Tycho and Fidlar at the Commodore Ballroom. The concert took place during the witching hour of somewhere between 8-9 P.M, it’s the end of the day and the beginning of the night and we seldom get our minds blown during this hour. There was something almost unsettlingly exciting about watching the five piece band from Georgia all dressed like stylish Muppets set up their stage. It is clear they come from a completely different universe; the same one the Flaming Lips and Peaches are probably from. Lead singer Kevin Barnes has a stage presence that could make buildings collapse and people faint. The bustling yet respectful audience were transfixed for the entirely of this generous concert. The band put every last speckle of their bizarre and wonderful energy into this performance. This was most notable with keyboard player Jojo Glidewell, who gracefully attacked his instrument with intense dominion that was impossible to ignore. Their set was glamorous yet lo-fi, grandiose yet gentle and aesthetically refined yet messy. It was everything the audience needed to either conclude their day at the festival or boost them into the evening or many more performances.

Holy Fuck

Holy F closed the stage at the Rickshaw on Friday night. The band is notably understated aesthetically, they all look and act like regular dudes from Nova Scotia and Ontario yet make music that is wildly contentious and innovative. However, they have managed to reach some serious musical peaks such as getting nominated for both a Juno and a Polaris, toured with MIA and were late Lou Reed’s  alleged favourite band. They are an electro-acoustic noise rock band, which is refreshing to witness this day in age with the abundance of laptops present at concerts. They make rich sonic soundscapes that visit various genres. They orchestrate powerful and haunting concerts and this one was particularly strong. The combination of the concert-taking place at the Rickshaw, which lends itself so well to complex music along with the stunning visuals, made this impeccable performance quite remarkable.

Flying Lotus

Steve Ellison aka Flying Lotus is a experimental electronic musician extraordinaire. He is impossibly talented in a highly misunderstood (especially by yours truly) and misrepresented (iPod addicts) genre but he is truly one of the finest in the field. The nephew of Alice Coltrane and life long jazz fan has a unique approach to sound manipulation. His set finalized the last show at the Commodore on Saturday night, which made this already highly anticipated performance even more exhilarating. The man puts on one hell of a show, it’s as if we are his puppets that he is controlling with his insanely fast paced fingers. Puppets that are extremely happy and in constant awe of his demi-god like potency dancing like wild to the soundscapes he creates in front of us.Moreover,his performances are more like magic shows than concerts. This performance was multifaceted and pulled from his early work to latest material; this lent itself generously to both burning fans and newcomers to his music. Additionally, the visuals were wildly beautiful and suited intuitively to the tone of his set. He had the audience essentially petting the ground quietly while taking deep breaths (to songs such as Do the Astral Plane) to manically jumping up and down in a hip shaking frenzy (such as when he dropped Busta Rhyme’s Gimme Some More). It was everything we expect from Flying Lotus and somehow even more…

Shabazz Palaces

Shabazz Palaces are one of the most interesting bands in modern hip-hop. The Seattle based duo consists of Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly from Digable Planets (Cool like Dat) and Tendai “Baba” Maraire. They played at the Imperial late Saturday night before Thundercat and after Charlotte Day Wilson. Their music is the epitome of jazz infused hip hop that we miss from the 90’s yet it has a contemporary power that encapsulates the evolution of the genre. Butler’s delivery and lyrical content are mesmerizing and meaningful, it’s somewhere between spoken word and gangster rap. Maraire played classic West African instruments and orchestrated intuitive electronic beats directly beside him. The two are perfectly suited, always pushing new boundaries and are the first hip-hop band to sign with Sub Pop records. Their performance was clearly and magnificently improvisational. At certain points both members seemed possessed by some grand and ancient spirit and who am I so say they weren’t?

 

 

 

From Sanskrit To Selfie Sticks- The Rise and Fall of Bohemia

 Disclaimer: sorry hippies.
Let me begin this potentially controversial article by stating that I completely recognize our entire society is powerfully and poorly affected by technology.I’m not referring to the access to a wider selection of knowledge at a highly efficient pace or the ability to communicate with loved ones almost anywhere.I am referring to the profoundly addicted generation we are currently in the throes of. The addiction to validation and disillusioned human connection we are constantly seeking though a screen. I am referring to the science of our brains being remodelled in that we now release actual endorphins when we receive positive alerts on these screens.I am referring to the desperation to fight loneliness and filling this gnawing chasm in our souls with the only way we now feel that we can.Yes,I know I am not exempt from this experience and I do see the irony towards the delivery of this message. That stated,myself and many others are aware towards the demise of our civilization and have generally accepted it yet try to utilize it in the best way possible. However,I do find it surprising that the social media phenomenon is so prevalent in the festival,rave,electronic and spiritual world,i.e: the hippie universe.
I get that being technologically focused also means being kinder to the environment but besides that,there is some major hypocrisy going on which is too bad considering this is often the argument against hippies ( and I’m on your side you crazy elves).
Isn’t this entire counter culture based on spiritual awakening,connecting with nature,not judging others and not feeling the need to be approved by society? Isn’t Bohemia all about truly connecting with one another and dancing like no one is watching,not to dance only if people are watching?I get there is a movement going on with twerking and body empowerment which I am in complete support of but this battle gets a bit lost in the filters of your photos scrambled all over the web. I see primarily aesthetics and current trends associated with electronic festivals that probably stand for much more. The dawning of the age of aquarius was once celebrated at festivals like Woodstock and the early stages of  Burning Man by completely disassociating with reality and focusing on mind expansion,human connection and being one with the environment. I know it’s a cliche argument to refer to how much more real things were in the good old days,but in this instance shouldn’t it always be like the good ol days? Isn’t hippie culture associated with connecting to ancient roots and spirituality?Isn’t that what yoga,meditation and energy alignment is fuelled by?Besides the spiritual aspect of it isn’t the fashion and lifestyle also referencing a time we were not zombies obsessed with technology and media?

I see more photos and videos of modelesque,primarily white and quite similarly dressed  people associated with electronic festivals more than any other kind.I see more selfies,Facebook updates and photo shoots from those who associate with this occult yet elitist world. I find it disheartening as at least mainstream festivals and the people that attend generally know that they’re part of the cooperate world.We count on spiritual people to inspire us to be less modern and shallow. We need you hippies,fight for your culture and get back to the garden.

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C.R. Avery- All The Angels Didn’t Scare Me

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The diversely and uniquely talented C.R Avery is soon to release a new album that will break your heart, blow your mind and melt your demons. Avery is one of Vancouver’s finest who has been pumping out powerful music and hypnotic performances for over 20 years. This is Avery’s whopping 17th album, the man is no stranger to rock and roll. Sometimes an unfortunate phenomenon occurs when an idiosyncratically local musician reaches a city’s musical plateau due to being drenched with ego boosts and easy bookings. However, I am happy to report that is not at all the case here, this is easily Avery’s best work yet. All Angels Didn’t Scare Me weaves the strongest aspects of several distinctive genres. To describe Avery’s music as varied and multi-instrumental is perhaps a tad cliché, however it’s essentially unavoidable as Avery manages to cross genres in the best way possible. In order to properly express this said diversity I will be more specific.

All The Angels Didn’t Scare Me is filled with the heart of a classic country album, weaving heartache and hilarity gracefully yet powerfully. His songwriting is infused with classic Americana and if I were to compare him to anyone here it would be Amy Grant and Chris Whitley. Each song is a narrative about a different character and references to what it truly is to live in East Van. Steve Dawson’s lead guitar playing emanates that of a blues musician from hundreds of years ago haunting the back of some freight train while achieving musical excellence. There is distinctive intelligence in the album and what one may even call “magic”; it reaches a place beyond the corners of reality.

Avery is enigmatically unstoppable music machine; he pumps out songs like a vending machine pumps out candy at a 4:20 rally. Over the years, Avery has collected wisdom not dust and I can’t wait for you to hear this album.

 

 

 

Festival Fever 2016-Where To Find Yourself This Summer

 

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Welcome to festival season my fellow music consumers. Congratulations, we made it through another gruelling winter that somehow seemed endless. However, summer always this charming way of coming back around. I now present to you, in my oh so humble opinion, my suggestions of where to find music this summer.

Levitation Vancouver-June 16-19

Levitation Vancouver is the love child of Austin Psych Fest (aka Levitation) and Timbre concerts. This is Levitation Vancouver’s sophomore year, which is quite impressive considering the lineup, organization and anticipation involved. Like Austin Psych Fest, Levitation offers the cream of the crop of shoe gaze, trip hop, experimental, metal and psychedelic music. During the day, the festival takes places in stunning Stanley Park placed conveniently in the centre of the city and encapsulates sheer natural beauty with ever-changing landscape and rich acoustics. At night an array of excellent downtown and china town venues open their doors to the festival providing a generous amount of options and variety. The lineup this year is incredibly diverse and wonderful. This year’s bill includes the electronic magician Flying Lotus, bass machine Thundercat, the Digable Planets continuation Shabazz Palaces. The brain bending Suuns, art rock phenomena Of Montreal, The late Lou Reed’s favourite band Holy Fuck, and the hypnotizing The Growlers. Not to mention the amazing Tycho, the Oh See’s and of my all time favourites’ Dead Meadow. Along with a spree of local talent including Did You Die, Dead Ghosts and returning to their home turf White Lung. Levitation Vancouver is one of the most significant, refreshing and innovative events we often complain that Vancouver lacks.

Winnipeg Folk Fest-July 7-10

I am potentially biased as Winnipeg is my hometown and this is the first music festival I ever attended. However, Winnipeg Folk Festival is a truly phenomenal place that always manages to be it’s own kind of special. The festival takes place after Winnipeg melts away and becomes a balmy, sticky, glowing masterpiece. It is held an hour outside of Winnipeg at Bird’s Hill Provincial park. You may camp all weekend-party all night and lie in the sun all day while intermediately witnessing widely diverse and mesmerizing music. You can buy one day passes and return to the festival well showered and slept or you can beat the heat and just watch the headliners at the main stage during the magic of the starry nights- whatever works for you.

This particular year is notably “folkier” than the previous which I believe was intentional and important. The lineup this year involves the heartbreaking Ryan Adams, the budding Andy Shauf and the hypnotic Possessed by Paul James. Additionally, the gigantic and impressive Lemon Bucket Orchestra, the one and only Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, The powerful Ryley Walker. Along the amazing talent Winnipeg is bursting with like the magnetic and commanding trio Red Moon Road and the deliciously home brewed Crooked Brothers. Additionally, some of the best food, drink and people in the Country are offered generously at this prairie paradise.

ArtsWells-Wells,BC-July 29-Aug 1

There truly is no other place like ArtWells, which seems to be the first thing most people say about this spectacular four day art explosion in Wells, BC. Wells is a small, beautiful and historic town located in the Cariboo region of Northern BC. That stated it is not particularly easy to get to and the fact that it is packed with thousands of people is a sign the festival is doing all the right things. The truth is, they are; this tiny town is completely taken over by the festival, which makes for various venues for the even more various artists including churches, a heritage theatre, a casino, pub, legion, community hall and pockets of outdoor spaces that are surrounded by mountains and river. Everywhere you look offers a different kind of extraordinary beauty with a different kind of creative force. Musicians, visual artists, theatre and spoken word are all part of this omni-presently satisfying paroxysm of creative freedom.The lineup will be announced shortly and is sure to convince you to make the trip

Pickathon-Happy Valley,Oregon- Aug 5-7

Pickathon is a profoundly magical place, not only is it surreally beautiful it also manages to pull off impossibly well-crafted lineups. Pickathon is located about 40 minutes outside of Portland in the wholesome Happy Valley which is as lovely as it sounds, it’s on a ranch that otherwise serves as a farm with a waldorf school. It is a beautiful, woodsy paradise that celebrates the perfect combination of scorching sunlight and dusty shade. Sounds arrange variably throughout each stage, which consist of: two barns with walls decorated from relics of previous year, the womb like woods stage made from an avalanche of branches, a fort made out of pallets and a main stage made out of several parachutes that reel you in. The Bars are actual tree houses, which offer Portland’s finest swill.

There is virtually zero waste, recycling and compost bins are everywhere and the campsite is like a support group. There are creative kids practicing their craft in every corner, no one gets out of hand yet everyone is having the time of their lives. This year Wilco’s front man and sonic genius Jeff Tweedy is playing solo which is a rare and spectacular experience in that he focuses more on the Americana lullabies and old timey tunes that are not as prevalent in his work with Wilco. The raw and innovative Wolf Parade, the shoe gaze resurrection Beach House and Vancouver beloved Black Mountain will also be featured. Everyone’s favourite dirty little brother Mac DeMarco, the renowned Yo La Tengo and lord of low-fi Ty Segall will also be playing this year. Pickathon is for genuine music lovers who come there to love genuine music.

Bumbershoot- Seattle, Washington -Sep 2-4

Bumbershoot is located downtown Seattle, Washington and packed with music, comedy and workshops. The festival is unapologetically mainstream and well funded, this is not the place you find yourself in the forest but it’s the place where you witness generous contemporary hip hop and drink amazing lattes. The lineup this year includes some of hip hop’s finest and freshest-Tyler the Creator, Anderson. Paak and G Easy. The mesmerizing Tame Impala, violin virtuoso Andrew Bird and our favourite honey bear Father John Misty will also be taking the stage. In addition to the musical performances; comedy shows, various workshops, and invigorating presentations take place to keep all your senses buzzing. The commitment required towards the festival is minimal as you can come and go as you please. If you are visiting from out of Seattle this is the best way to see the city and finalize your summer.

No matter where you find yourself remember that live music isn’t dead and neither is the art of the festival. Be excellent to each other, stop judging people for wearing wild outfits (unless it’s a headdress then judge away) drink lots of water and clean up after yourself.

 

Jack Garton- Move the Mess Around

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       Photo by Linsday Dakin

The unmistakable Jack Garton and his latest project the Demon Squadron will soon release their first remarkable album appropriately titled Move the Mess Around. Garton is originally from Vancouver and now resides happily in the inspiring Galiano Island amongst his wife and three children. Garton has been making music for over ten years and is known for his previous accordion, songwriting and singing contribution to the B.C beloved Maria in the Shower. Garton assembled the Demon Squadron in 2013, which is compiled of a spree of talented B.C based musicians. Amrit Basi plays drums, Brendon Hartley is on bass, Adam Farnsworth is on keys, Steven Drake on Lap Steel and Sage Trampleasure plays the violin. The Demon Squadron have been touring over the past few years, polishing and performing many of the tracks from this gem of a debut album.

Move the Mess around is a conceptual explosion of polyphonic precision. It’s vibrant and fun yet refined and sophisticated. One couldn’t work without the other and the band is intelligent enough to perfect the sound of straddling the balance between festival party rock and timeless roots music. Their sound is certainty eclectic but not scattered. Garton’s skill in accordion is ever-present throughout the course of the album, which provides a strong foundation for the multi-faceted instrumentation. On top of this foundation the musicality involves textured keyboard work, a polished horn section, brilliant percussive work, elegant violin and deeply echoing bass. On top of the complex instrumentation is lyrical marvel and resonating harmonies. Garton assembled a variety of relatable matter of fact stories to heartbreaking metaphorical lullabies all sung with vigour and astonishing range.

Each song sets a different tone, some make you want to dance around a barnyard and forget you are employed (Straight Line) while others make you want to brood in your man- made misery and figure out how to stitch yourself back together (Two Drops of Gin). Some songs are autobiographical such as 700 years which is about Garton’s relationship with fatherhood. The last song on the album Swim Across the River refers to advice his own father gave him which he didn’t take, and probably should have.

The album contains a common theme of commitment, offering various points of view on this highly contentious subject. Jack admits this has been challenging for him yet he is always learning and this experience has made him stronger.The album is an honest, vulnerable yet relentlessly fun body of work that commits entirely to being authentic.This refreshingly real approach towards songwriting is palpable throughout the album and something we can certainly all relate to. We are all trying to be better, or at least we trying to find a way to move the mess around. Move the Mess Around is a brilliant album that is arguably the most appropriate and honest soundtrack for our current generation that is just trying to walk in a straight line.

Move the Mess Around will be released on Father’s day-June 19

 

 

Layman Genres-Titles of Music We Need To Finally Retire

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Source: Layman Genres-Titles of Music We Need To Finally Retire