solarbird: (korra-excited)

Back from beautiful British Columbia, and on to Conflikt! We came back with cider and bagels, as is tradition, and a good time was had by all.

Here’s a pretty good shot of the three regular members of Le Vent du Nord – I didn’t get a great photo of the substitute fiddler (here’s the best of them), but he did a very nice job. And got fired four times in one night! That’s pretty good too.

Three out of four isn’t so bad

Busy loading gear at the moment so I can’t make a big post, but hopefully I’ll see some of you at Conflikt. Here’s the schedule; my show is at 8:30 tonight. Day memberships are available, and it’s a two-show bill with Betsy Tinney opening at 7:30. TOTALLY WORTH IT C’MON OUT.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (Lecturing)

Off to Vancouver for a show! Not one of mine tho’, we’re seeing Le Vent du Nord tonight at the Rogue.

I mentioned that the instrument pickup I built last week sounded really good if I used my finger, but terrible using their standard attachment methods. I tried attaching it using a plastic clamp, but at first, that didn’t seem to help, so I rebuilt the piezo portion of the device, without the double-sided tape which had confused me the first time around.

That’s had an interesting effect. Held on by hand, the sound is definitely different – lots more low-end – but I think I like it less. But at the same time, using the clamp now works – it sounds the same with the plastic clamp as it does held on with finger, which is a huge improvement, and makes it usable on stage.

This is definitely something which requires more tinkering, but I’ve got it far enough along to try using during Friday’s show. Because SURE UNTESTED GEAR WHY NOT right? Well, you have to test it sometime. XD

Time to fly. See you at the Rogue?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (Default)

solarbird: (korra-excited)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada just made it easier to book gigs – the work-permit requirement to perform anywhere serving food and drinks as a major part of their business model has been removed! Well, mostly – you can’t work anywhere on an ongoing basis without a work permit, and that includes bars and restaurants. But still!

This is a big deal for some of us. Everyone else, carry on as usual.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (molly-content)

Before the show on Tuesday, we went hiking up in the hills around Cumberland, then came back into town and ate a late lunch, and played some because we good. Anna saw Simon getting ready for the show out the living room window – being next to the venue has advantages!

The show photos, I posted on Friday, but here, have some hiking:

Sketchy Sign is Sketchy. Also six years old.

Into the Woods

One of the effects of having been under and up against the ice shield is that the topsoil – like that of many rainforests – is thin topsoil, particularly in mountains. The rock you see here is actual bedrock. These mountains pushed back the glaciers, but everything else was pushed away:

How Thin Our Soils

There’s coal in these hills, along with other minerals;
this was not far from a mine operating into the 1960s.

Another stream; more bedrock

Lovely without exception

Further down the hill we walk past the site of the former Cumberland Chinatown – this used to be a much larger town, back in the mining days – and get down the slough. It’s a bit mosquito-heavy in the summer, I’m told – particularly for Cascadia! – but this time of year, no such problem:

The Slough

After hiking around all morning, we stopped at Tarbell’s for lunch – Anna didn’t quite buy the hot chocolate with sortilege (feeling it’s a bit early to be drinking at 2pm) but the pastries were all quite good, were the sandwiches. Anna had a breakfast biscuit with egg she quite liked, too.

Lecturing after Lunch at Tarbell’s

After that, of course, the show at the Cumberland Public House. Then next morning we headed back to Vancouver for bagels and cider and then home. Lots of fun all around.

This photo came from that trip back, but still on the island, the last time we stopped before hitting Victoria on the way to the ferry:

The Coastal Stream

I didn’t really have anywhere else to put it so it’s here. So how’ve you been? ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (music)

Up late until 1am comping mandolin. So it’s PHOTOSPAM DAY!

The primary reason Anna and I went up island was to see Le Vent du Nord – Anna had bought tickets to the symphony show they were doing with the Victoria Symphony almost a year ago, and friends bought tickets to their more typical bar show up in Cumberland which followed.

The symphony show was a little too respectable for my tastes. The group tends to the conservative – lots of Bach in the programme this year I see, oh look, you’ve got a Beethoven show – and I was in the washroom queue before the show listening to the somewhat older regulars saying things like, “Well, it’ll be different” with a small about of disapproval.

No photos allowed during the show

They won the crowd over, in the end, which was a bit of an achievement. And it’s a nice theatre.

Anyway, after that, we headed up island. The Cumberland show was in a local pub in the actual traditional sense – they have a Dominion-era license from the 1840s and it is indeed a public house. Anna brought Jean-Claude, of course – it’s required!

Jean-Claude Mamut stands in rapt attention!

As you can see, we were front row, again. Anna is a huge fangirl and will not be denied; I’m mostly brought along for the ride. XD Camera conditions were difficult, but I got a few nice shots:

You might recognise this stage from a couple of days ago.

Dark is a supervillain’s favourite colour. Also Batman’s. Think about it.

I got this

The microphone was not actually spring-loaded and did not actually thwock Simon in the eye. It merely looks like that’s what happened. I was not involved. No, honestly, I wasn’t.

The only shot of Olivier that came out.

The energy was good in the pub and we had a lot of fun. After this we went hiking before heading home; I’ll post some nature pictures next.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (montreal)

First: I got the CD orders shipped this afternoon! So if you’re waiting for those, you should have email with dates. ^_^

Okay, now, to the rocks. I’m not a geologist, and being all Fire Nation Asshole, not much of an earth-bender sort, but the south coast of Vancouver Island will turn anybody into a geologist.

We actually discovered this kind of by accident. Trans-Canada Highway 1, one of the longer highways on the planet, starts in Victoria. It heads north up the island, then ferries over to the mainland, then goes back to BC and makes its way east eventually via bridge and ferries and such alllll the way out to St. John’s, Newfoundland. And I knew there was a marker monument at the road’s start, so we went to see that.

So on Sunday after the symphony show, we went to High Tea:

Anna at High Tea

And before going to play at Norway House – which I did later that evening – we went to see Mile 0. On the way there, we found this:

Comfy Cement Mattress Bench is Not Actually Comfy

Now, Mile 0 is obviously pre-metric, which is kind of hilarious, since everything else is metric. But more hilariously, TC-1 gets really tiny on the way to the end. In town, it’s a large city street – like Aurora, only not as big and far better controlled – and at the end, it’s basically a park access road.

That’s from the sidewalk. The only car you see is parked.

And after wandering through the very nice Beacon Hill Park, we got to Mile 0 and Terry Fox’s statue.

Mile Zero

Terry Fox

And while taking pictures, we saw someone run somebody else off the seashore road. We were already going to explore that a bit anyway, since it’s the meeting really of the Salish Sea and the Pacific Ocean, but the near-accident pointed us to a stairwell down the cliff, where we found this insanity.



I mean seriously, what.

See how all those pretty much unlike rocks are crammed up against and into each other and shit? That is madness. Welcome to the subduction zone. According to Fishy, Vancouver Island was actually – many millions of years ago – torn off from Alaska as the Alaskan plate moved north. So it’s violent and different and merged and mixed up in all sorts of crazy ways. To wit:

Go Home Rocks, You Are Drunk

And some places it just looks like a volcano went off. Which… arguably it has. Fairly recently. But that’s not what made these rocks. All these rocks are dozens of millions of years old.

Not a Lahar, Not Lava Either

I’m telling you, the Doctor Who episodes you could film here would be epic.

We hiked around for – I don’t know, really, I’m bad at time. A couple of hours, climbing up and down things. As everywhere in Cascadia, they have beach logs, one of which apparently belongs to a giant robot.


(Larger versions of all these are on my Flickr photostream.)

After that we hiked on back to the hotel, from which we headed north to the show. And I’ll post about those bits tomorrow, while the water heater is being replaced. My first stage experience in four and a half months! How did it go? Find out tomorrow. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (montreal)

We’ve about wrapped up our Victoria adventures for this trip and will be heading up island later today; the town had been great as always, and south island will make anyone into a geologist.

I mean look at this insanity.


The Le Vent du Nord symphany show was pretty good, but way too respectable for me. The crowd pre-show particularly seemed a bit dismayed. It’s a fairly conservative programme here, with a… somewhat elderly audience, and I kept hearing things beforehand like, “well, it’ll be different,” with a bit of a “what exactly have I signed up for here?” air. That the boys managed to win that crowd over was a bit of an achievement.

Then last night I went up to Norway Hall and got my first stage time since GeekGirlCon and round one of emergency eye surgery; they’re big into singalong at the Victoria Folk Music Society, so I loaded up heavy with singalong-able choruses. They are the most sing-alongy audience i’ve ever seen, which is saying something.

(photo courtesy Anna ^_^)

Nice hall, too. Loads of fun. Thanks, VFMS!

Next: further north!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-grar)

Heading north again tomorrow, to Victoria and then up the island to Cumberland. This time I’ll try to remember to take the camera, tho’ I’ll have less, sadly, to photograph. Ah well, such is the way of things.

MIDI is still giving me problems on Ardour; everything works (including the on-screen mouse-click keyboard) except it’s ignoring/not seeing my actual MIDI keyboard, the one pictured yesterday. I know the keyboard works, I used it with Garage Band a week ago when using those other chimes. I don’t suppose anyone has experience with this, do you?

On the other hand, I’ve been shown Sound Fonts. Sound Fonts are like fonts, but for sound, and are plug-in/software independent (to the same degree typography fonts are) and this is super awesome. Imagine that you had to get a different company’s word processor to use this other typeface you like, and that’s what instrument VSTs seem to be like. Then someone throws typefaces at you and suddenly you’re all I LOVE YOU FORVER.

That’s what sound fonts are, for sound font supporting plugins. It’s so obvious and yet soooooo cooool. Or will be, if I can get Ardour to see my @&$#(*!!! keyboard.

Separately, the water heater has sprung a leak. It’s not much of a leak, but any leak is much worse than no leak. That’s what I get for playing with the 15 tesla pocket magnetic field generator in the basement, I guess. Live and learn. And mutate some genomes. But really, that goes without saying.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (music)

Back from Maillardville and Festival du Bois! Here, have a bunch of festival pictures. I saw things exploded and posted about it, but it was over in six hours, making it possibly the shortest-duration F&SF explosifluffle I’ve ever seen.

And how was your weekend?

Vishten. I forgot my real camera so all these are cell phone. You can see what kind of lighting I was up against.

The Puppetmasters do crowd control. Or something like that.

“Do not EVEN post that to Facebook!”

De Temps Antan, with Eric, not to be confused with Le Vent du Nord, with Simon. My Beaudifferentation skills are poor, but Eric is the chatty one.

Famillé Leger

I was doing Frog Mitten Boxing all weekend.

Serene Anna is Serene

It’s'a Shadowbox a’Mario!

(The forecast was for snow. It turned to rain.)


The Gang at the Rogue

My stupid phone camera wants to turn all spotlit stage performers into columns of light, particularly if there’s a dark background. I could defeat it, but only at the cost of Holga emulation.

Thanks again to Geri and Robert for putting us up, and putting up with us. Next week, Victoria and up the island points north!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (molly-happy)

Off to Festival du Bois for the weekend, soon; won’t be back until late Monday night. I feel strange heading out after four months mostly stuck at home recovering from eye surgeries, but a little stranger stepping out while the Bone Walker soundtrack is going so well! My calendar feels like one unending game of Jenga sometimes.

I’m keeping the collective noun for a group of microphones poll open until I get back. If you haven’t seen that list, do – everybody came up with great suggestions, and some of them are really funny. The poll for favourite is surprisingly close.

Meanwhile, I’ll be on twitter and stuff, but have some links to keep you busy ’till I get back.

Enjoy! And see you Tuesday.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby


Oct. 9th, 2013 11:08 am
solarbird: (Lecturing)

Experiencing VCON from the programming side… isn’t all that much different to experiencing it from the attendee side. Which is good, since I love attending the convention and didn’t want to lose that part.

Anna and I drove to Vancouver – and yes, we did go to Vancouver, even if the hotel was in Richmond – which we never do. I vastly prefer to go by train, but with all the cargo we had this year? If you’re bringing me in to do panels and a show, I am coming prepared. Handouts, multiple costume changes, gear for the show, bits to show during howto panels, extra instruments to be extra lively at panels – I don’t screw around.

Programming front-loaded me pretty solidly, with three presentations and panels on Friday. From 6-8pm I was talking about building an audio kit on the cheap and, with the help of Joe Fulgham from The Caustic Soda Podcast, the Home Recording 101 panel. We had a funny moment when a few people showed up asking where the knitting panel was – they came back a couple of times until we all figured out what was going on.

Bloginhood gave some very positive feedback, and yeah, I did kind of go off briefly on condenser vs. magnetic-field-vibration microphone head technologies, but dammit, how are you going to do mad science if you don’t know how these things work? Still, I can probably save that for second quarter.

After that, I hopped over to the Kaiju Konfessions Monster Movie Sing-A-Long, which Stan Hyde runs most(?) years, with updates and new material. Stan is a monster kaiju fan (ar ar ar) and really, really knows his kaiju flicks; he’s a lot of fun to listen to. I also ran into Jax, who came as a late-80s Software Pirate, and who lugged a (working!) Commodore SX-64 around all weekend and set it up for games several times.

Did you know Commodore made a luggable?

Friday night’s “Collaborative Filk Creation” panel mostly just turned into a jam, but really, isn’t that kind of the point? I met Greg Cairns there, and we ended up hanging about some at music panels and jamming in the con suite on Sunday. He’s a guitarist and vocalist, and also does DJ work on the side.

My biggest worry on Saturday – the Songwriting Workshop – actually went really well. I’d never hosted one of these before, but had three people (of the four maximum allowed), so it took the form of a presentation followed by work on individual songs. Since it’s an F&SF kind of crowd, that meant I could talk wave physics, so I did. Also maths. I went in all I DO WHAT I WANT and fortunately the audience turned out to be quite receptive. XD

Also, Conflikt have asked me to rerun it at their convention in January, and I’ve said yes. You’d almost think I was getting a reputation for songwriting or something. ^_^

This has got awfully long, so I’m going to post the next part tomorrow.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)

Hello, VCON attendees and members of the West Coast Science Fiction Association! Click here to download your very own copy of the Kitting Out Cheap handout, in convenient PDF form. You’ll also probably be interested in the Studio Buildout Series of blog posts, and maybe the the Home Recording 101 outline.

This post is going up before VCON even starts! If you see it before or during, my concert is Saturday at 10pm, in Sea Island Ballroom A. That sounds like a very large room. Please come fill it or I will be lonely and sad. Also, I have a fifteen tesla magnetic field generator, and I suspect many of you have vehicles. Don’t let me get bored. I’m just saying.

Regardless, enjoy our new free-download single, “Kaiju Meat”, and the Cracksman Betty bonus free download track, “The S-100 Bus.”

Welcome to the Lair! Oh, and, try not to die. (That’s supervillain for “I like you.”)

eta: And here’s songwriting workshop supplemental material version 0.1 alpha.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Heading off today, north! To festival! To Harrison Hot Springs! Back on Monday. I’ll probably be tweeting a lot tho’. Remember: send any geekmusic news you have for the podcast by Monday if at all possible! If you don’t have any, forward that link around to people who might.

Here, have an awesome link – I actually already knew some of this but not this particular early outright-digital state. Ironically, I think this process got more analogue before it got less – there were comparably-small machines in the 60s and 70s which did more or less this, only with a single copy of the photo print. But they sent over ordinary phone lines, and I think those machines were varying tone in a more analogue fashion. But I could be wrong; maybe they were digitising down to these same five-bit images. Anyway, enjoy:

How Photos Were Cabled Across the Atlantic Ocean in 1926

Finally, welcome Radish Review readers; I think you’ll find this post on harassment in person vs. online trenchant. It’s called “Power and Supervillainy.” And my regular readers may also enjoy Scalzi’s Q&A on his anti-harassment-policy policy, including complaints made by some calling his policy anti-free-speech, an idea about which I can only giggle sadly, not manically. And if I’m not giggling manically, you are doing it wrong and I have a heat ray. Shape up – or else.


Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (toronto)

Apparently I have an opposite number here in Victoria – the male version of me, musically. A bunch of the audience were all, “We have GOT to get them both in the aame room!” But then others were, “No! No! That would be very danerous!”

I guess that makes me the gatekeeper and him the keymaster? I’m not sure. THERE IS NO MUSIC ONLY ZUUL.

Either way: STEWART IN VICTORIA! THERE IS A NEW SUPERVILLAIN IN TOWN AND SHE IS CALLING YOU OUT. By whom I mean mean me. I’m calling you out. See how that worked there?

Anyway that went well, my just-over-the-head-cold voice let me make it though my songs, if just barely. (Halfway through Anarchy Now my throat said, “TWO MINUTES! That’s all I got!”)

I want to embed a picture Anna took, but it’s not letting me, because ARG DIE. So here’s a link. Fernwood is great. Cornerstone Cafe is also great. Victoria: so far, you’re kind of awesome.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (toronto)

On the Clipper ferry heading to Victoria! I’m not as fond of the Clipper as the other ferries; it’s not bad but it… it’s kind of airplanish. Not as bad as an airplane, not at all, but there’s no lounge or anything like the train or the peninsula ferries.

My head cold seems to be letting up, so I might do an open mic at Cornerstone Cafe, but no promises. I haven’t played since Monday, between replacing hard drive – we’re up to five, honestly, what is this – and this cold, and the post-convention cleanup.

Oh, and I managed to get Ubuntu to reinstall the 3.2.0 kernel, and this time it worked! So I’ll be putting that through its paces as soon as I get home, but in initial teating, we look pretty good. Most importantly, my weird hardware is still working. The funny part is that the more modern version of Jack sees, complains about, and reports the device enumating things wrong – the problem which crashed the 2.x kernels (!) which prompted the 3.1.5 install to begin with.

All of which means basically nothing to anyone! Except that it means things should work better in general in production. And I can use other plugins I couldn’t use before, which is awesome. I’ll be downloading those on Monday. :D

Anyway, have a good weekend, everybody! Anybody going to be at the Le Vent du Nord show tomorrow?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (cascadia dance dance revolution)

First: Wednesday’s DIY post is going to be special. We have a guest appearance by Pegasus-award-winner Jeff Bohnhoff, of Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff. Jeff has been performing for 30 years, and has recorded and engineered literally dozens of albums from the studio he built in California.

Jeff brings far more experience and theory to it than I have, but is still delivering an affordable approach to the topic. If you’re into DIY and home recording, you will want to read this column.

As for me; Anna and I are back from VCON! Being all the way out in Surrey, it was Far Far Away times this weekend – I mean, I had to take a bus to the Skytrain – but the hotel was nice, and we brought home the usual collection of books (via a Friday morning run into Vancouver proper), bagels (courtesy Geri, who drive two dozen out to us all the way from Kitsilano, omg thank you!) and cider! Yum.

Lots of kaiju programming this year, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and the El Rons were funny as usual. We had to leave too early to make the Turkey Readings, though! So sad. I love acting those out. Schedule those before Sunday afternoon next year, guys! Some of us have to catch trains. ;_;

There was an extended panel on the pulp aesthetic which talked I quite enjoyed as well; I have a theory now that a lot of what broke the Action Hero Scientist – alive in well in the 1930s, mostly dead by the early 1950s – was the Nazi movement and World War II. Seriously, I mean it; that whole Ubermench/superman thing was entirely the point, and I think they threw it out of fashion for decades.

Before you say Jonny Quest: Jonny Quest tried to square the circle. He had two dads (and no mom: exploitable), effectively; Race was the physical half of the adventurer, Dr. Quest (Sr.) was the scientist half, and Jonny, the child of both, was of an age where he wasn’t either yet, but had the potential to be both. It’s a nice finesse, and I think has a lot to do with why it works. (Despite all its very, very, many problems.)

(And before you say Superman qua Superman: I think Superman survived because he isn’t human. But even with that, he went from “super-evolved/optimised super-man,” the pinnacle of ubermench achievement, to, effectively, “otherworldly demigod.” It’s a different category.)


Strangely, I saw no music programming on the grid. At opening ceremonies, a couple of different people asked what was up with that, and it turns out that their music lead had had to drop out on short notice before the convention, as had a couple of their music pros, so: no filk! But they also said that spontaneous filk was welcome.

And since, as Anna put it, she “can’t take me anywhere,” I found VCON Programming Head after opening ceremonies. Her first words to me were, “NO MORE CHANGES,” so I said, “Just gimmie a room, whaddya got?” She hesitated until I added, “You don’t have to do anything. Just give me a room.”

So she did and I, um, kinda, fixed the hotel printer (you’re welcome, Sheraton Surrey) and Doctor Who-ed my way through VCON Ops for supplies. And that’s how there were eight hours of filk programming and notices and wayfinding signs, and if I’d had any of my own equipment around (or wanted to fight the hotel’s systems some more) there also would’ve been branding, because that’s the kind of shit I do.

Then I went back to the restaurant, finished dinner, and had dessert. Custard. It was lovely.

Actually, creme brulee. Not so different.

I have to admit, I love Doctor Whoing my way through an organisation. And I love that fannish organisations tend to make it easy. “Hi, I’m the Musician. I desperately need gaffers tape and a marker of substance. What’ve you got?” XD

Friday night was a bit thin and only ran two and a half hours, but Saturday filled the Cypress Room. Hopefully everyone had a good time – we were going until something like 1:30 so that’s certainly a good sign. I certainly did. (Overdid it a bit, to tell the truth – my voice on Sunday was a tad… gritty.)

Sadly, I missed the Battlestar Galactica fan club party! I got there literally 30 seconds before they closed. I wish I’d got up there earlier, guys! I honestly didn’t expect Saturday filk to run so late. Thanks for the cupcake, though; it was yummy. ^_^

Anyway, that’s what I did. I hope you had a good weekend, and tell anyone interested in studio DIY about Jeff Bohnhoff’s guest post on Wednesday; they’ll want to give it a look. See you next time!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (montreal)

The last day in St. John’s didn’t involve any playing at all, in the end – tho’ I did have a couple of people come up to me saying they loved that pirate song I did on Friday. :D This last day was nothing but soaking in the sun and hanging out at festival. PREPARE FOR PICSPAM!

Yet another sunny day on the tropical island of Newfoundland

Morning! We went to the Francophone tent. It was fun! Note the bouzouki. I always have to explain what the instrument I play is, in Cascadia, and even moreso in the States. Here? Yeah, they play that. <3

Even the Francophone tent!

Then we went to lunch, and caught some of the buskers at the Busker Festival also going on that weekend. Did I mention these people like their performing arts? This guy was hilarious:

On spikes. Not quite on fire. But on spikes.

We made it back up to the festival, and basically just kept it relaxed and groovy, because it was the end of the tour, and because the festival was just awesome, and we knew we were going to be there until close.

The Raw Bar Collective

I resisted the urge to add, “and Spinal Tap.” Barely.

When we went off site for dinner, we walked down to George Street, like y’do, and picked a place that looked good, like y’do, and one of the Irish Descendants popped in to do a set.

Yeah, like they do. Just like that, why not? It’s George Street.

Then into the our last evening before flying back! I gotta tell you, not without reservations, because I really didn’t want it to be over. At least I’d already bought THE BEST T-SHIRT EVER:

Disagree? You’re wrong. Sorry.

We saw The Once, who are an up-and-coming deal, and who – in rehearsal… played the zouk just a little like I do. Which is a first, frankly. Not identically, but I was very much in a “…I have to hear this” mood after that. Sadly, the song they were doing in rehearsal and sound check they did not do in their evening set. Dammit!

Still good tho’

And as the last official act of the night, Darrell Power’s band The Seven Deadly Sons! Featuring Young Bill Gates on drums.

Am I wrong? No. I am not wrong.

We were really interested in seeing them, since part of the point of Darrell leaving Great Big Sea was that he simply didn’t want to tour anymore. So his new band doesn’t! Not as a group, not outside the Atlantics, anyway.

Fifty Shades of Green

And everything was awesome and fun and stuff, and we were in that sleepy kind of good mood where you’re totally wiped out but in a good way, and then I heard Darrell start to say something about how he’d done something the night before he hadn’t done in ten years, and something about the way he said it made me go, “…no fucking way.”

And I wormed my way as close to stage as I could just in time for the other three founding members of Great Big Sea to walk on stage and do a number with as the old band again, just for the locals.

And us.

Because we were there. And I had a camera.


God dammit, I wish my still camera did better video. I tried to pull the white back in, but there’s just no data there to retrieve. I looked. At least the sound is good.

And that was the last of it, the impossibly good end of the festival.. or almost the end. The festival organisers brought all of the scheduled performers who were still around back on stage to say goodbye, and this is how they did it, with the entire crowd singing along:

We Love Thee Newfoundland

Yeah. We really do.

And that’s the last of the tour posts. Next Monday? Honestly, I’m not sure yet. The last few weeks have mostly been either about nwcMUSIC – this is a crunch time for us – or getting the house ready for winter. Most of the music I’ve been doing myself has been working on my bass skills and trying some new vocal technique lessons, the kind of thing you do when your day jobs have your life. Thursday, though – DIY day! Yay! ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (montreal)

And then we left for Newfoundland.

small airport; small plane

I didn’t have any playing set up in St. John’s; the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival had been the starting idea that got this whole tour+trip going, and it’s for maritimes musicians. But Anna’s wanted to hear Newfoundland music on Newfoundland soil for a long time, which sounds good to me (ar ar ar), and besides, with the third book in the Free Court of Seattle series being set partly in St. John’s, she wanted to see it for herself.

So that formed the nucleus of the original trip plan, and everything else I’ve typed about got bolted on to that.

Pretty much as advertised

We spent the first day mostly wandering around downtown, getting a feel for it. A big theme in Faerie Blood and its sequels to come is that warders of towns – magical protectors, more or less – know their towns by walking them, and that comes straight out of, well, that’s what Anna and I do, whereever we go. I also take about a zillion photos.

Which is why this post is mostly photos. :D

We stayed at the B&B on the far right

Strongbad’s new business

Downtown by the waterfront

Trekkies Only Need Apply

So many row houses, so many colours

Of course, we hit George Street

No sign of Captain Blue or Captain Scarlet

I mentioned that this was a musical culture, and I carried around my zouk a lot of the time. Not all the time, but a lot. So when we stopped late for ice cream at Moo-Moo’s:

Stop here, seriously

…the guy who took our order was all, “What’s in the instrument bag?” and when I told him it was a zouk, he didn’t need to ask what it was – he got all excited and wanted me to play it right there. Which, of course, I did, and people were all excited by that.

They have music festivals there all summer; we’d just got in late for one on George Street, and were arriving for another that was coincident with a busker/street performance festival.

So, yeah, already, my kind of town.

We’d arrived too late in the day to get to either Fred’s Music or O’Brian’s:

Pilgrimage stop achievement: unlocked!

So we hit both of those the next day. Anna bought CDs, I noticed they were selling the Quebecois spoons I’d got in Joliette, we nattered, and got advice at Fred’s about the more interesting hiking paths up Signal Hill.

Now, if you don’t know, Signal Hill is a big historical deal, in part because it’s the site of the first battle of the Seven Years War, and guards the entrance to St. John’s, the easternmost harbour in North America, and was all strategic and such during the Napoleonic Wars and even later.

But more relevantly to my interests, it was also the reception point for Marconi’s first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission – a supposedly impossible feat, due to the curvature of the Earth. (They didn’t know about the ionosphere yet, which bounces radio waves, which lets you transmit around the world.)

The original receiver set is long gone, of course. But a shortwave station is maintained at Cabot Tower, and if you’re wondering: yes, they do contact postcards. I have one now! In person doesn’t entirely count, of course, but I had to.

Trail up!

Oh look, the lowlands of Skyrim!

Easy-peasy. Hop up this like a goddamn goat.

No, really

Green means gold mine, right?

The hiking was really pleasant. We took the more aggressive routes – you can pavement it all the way up to the old gun fortifications and towers and everything if you want – but the trails are really just nice. It feels like you’re really pretty far out there, even though you’re not.

Napoleonic Wars Gun Emplacements

Nice views, too:

St. John’s, from about a third of the way up

Lighthouse at the Narrows

The fog was rolling in pretty thickly.

Music from the Edge of Heaven

Cabot Tower

After touring the museum (which is mostly placards and such; super interesting, but not hugely photoworthy)…

Well, okay, one

…Anna and I went back outside the tower and played like we were shooting a goddamn music video. It was awesome.

Okay, I want the musicians in that courtyard, and we’ll bring the helicopter shot up the hillside on the right. See it?

Eventually we headed back down the hill. We stopped at a geology centre, ironically for food and not rocks…

No, Anna, put it down

The boring way up the hill

There are lots more, but the photo count here is crazy already. So we went home for dinner, ate at a little Chinese place, wandered downtown a little more and went on a ghost tour.

Hey! The Atlantic is cold!

Down the hill from our house

One second exposure, handheld

Next up: Festival! I sing stories about how you don’t become a pirate! And! Great Big Sea in Torbay!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

And so we left beautiful Montréal!

G’bye, island! G’bye, Montréal!

We took viaRail overnight to Moncton, and had a sleeping room, which is actually a room, which means we had a room on a train, which is kind of amazing – like, there was enough floorspace to pace if you wanted to – but sadly I was not able to photograph it well.

But seriously, floor space and a closet and our own washroom and AC power and a fold-out desk. And two bunk beds. And a door. With keys. ♥

The Quebec countryside is pretty and mostly farms. Here’s one:

And then the sun set, prettily:

So we watched that for a while, and I wrote a little in my paper journal (but not as much as I’d meant to) and we went to dinner, which was fantastic, and where I discovered I’m rather fond of ice wine, which would also be fantastic if it wasn’t $90 a bottle.


Back in the room, Anna wrote into the night.

…while I headed back up to the lounge car to – well, my plan was just rehearse. But I picked up an audience, and it turned into a little late-night concert! Small but enthusiastic, which seems to be kind of a theme for my shows this trip. Hopefully I can turn that into larger and enthusiastic at some point, but small crowds are great if they’re actually involved and paying attention.

Right after the show, the train stopped and a chunk of it separated off to go to Gasbé, which is where everyone in Quebec goes for vacation. Seriously, everybody. But we kept going, after dropping them off, and awoke to the low forests of New Brunswick!

Facing east, difficult to photograph

We went up to get breakfast (and found we’d missed it, thanks to our phones not picking up the timezone change – hello, Atlantic Time!) but got something in the lounge car instead. And a surprise concert by someone else!

Joanna Barker

After her show, we chatted and traded CDs. She was also playing her way across Canada, but doing it entirely on the train! She’d started on Vancouver Island and was heading back home to St. John’s. Guys, I so need to do this. Seriously.

It took me a while to figure out this name:

Not みらみち. Mir-ra-ma-shee, as in “where you’re tied up to a tree.”

Around noon, we arrived in Moncton and were met by our gracious hosts, Pauline and Neil and the adorable Miss B! Who totally looks and sounds like Boo from Monsters, Inc. They took us home, then out to THE FOOD OF THEIR PEOPLE! Poutine Rapeé.

I have to admit my first thought with the rapeé was that it was a sweet, and that the outer coating was sugar? But it’s a savoury – the outer layer is potato, and on the inside, smoked meats! It’s very much like hombow, only because it’s boiled (very traditional, you say?) it kind of has a slime layer. Which you scrape off, and then it’s actually pretty good!

Miss B and Dad, Neil

Seriously, she’s Boo incarnate. We kept waiting for her to shout KITTY!

We had a whole day, so Pauline and Neil drove us around to show us the countryside. New Brunswick is unsurprisingly also lovely countryside:

Click here for closeup

Click to enlarge

…albeit infested by GIANT LOBSTERS:

Acadian! Lobsters! Of! Unusual! Size!

She’s Et, Jim

Et too, Anna?

And then back to town and off to do a house concert! Again, small but enthusiastic; there were some last-minute cancellations due to the best weather of the last two years and impromptu camping and other outdoors excursions. But, again, enthusiastic. It’s a theme, really. At least one person took some video, hopefully I can get it from him! I need to get off my ass and ask about that… XD

Right about here I started figuring something about the differences between cultures and how much they do or do not value music.

Cascadia’s not particularly music-hostile. Some places genuinely are, and not just fundamentalist environments either. (Singapore is, from what I’m told, rather music-hostile. Just as an example.)

But it’s not a thing that people do, in general. And it’s a little weird if someone does do it; it’s a little spooky, or a little magical, and a bit discouraged, socially. Recorded music is everywhere, but performers are… not generally welcome. I’ve been treated very roughly at farmer’s markets where I’m supposed to be playing, because the farmers – as one put it, too my face – think I’m a “parasite” for not being, well, a farmer.

For not being productive, really, because what I make isn’t important. And it’s socially okay to make that very clear. I’ve had people ask what I was happy about, and when I tell them about it and it’s some music thing, they abruptly changed the subject.

That’s not the norm – in that it’s not the most common reaction – but it normal, in that it happens often enough to be unremarkable. It’s not worth noting.

Unless, of course, I’m explaining the differences between places, like I am now.

So it’s not suppressed – and classical is outright approved of – so there are instrument stores here, and some very good ones! (Dusty Strings in Fremont, Seattle; American Music in Bellevue both come to mind.) But, well, they’re niche. They’re quirky. In a positive sense, absolutely! But… quirky. Off-beat. Off-path. Certainly not something you’d find sharing a big-box store parking lot with Costco or, oh, Home Depot.


Yeah. It’s like that.

Every instrument store I went into starting with Montréal and heading east had more variety – not necessarily total stock, but overall variety – than anything I’ve ever seen before this trip. Even the small ones.

That only happens if you have economic demand. And that economic demand tells you, as clearly as can be told without being there, how far down that difference goes. Music is productive; music is something people do.

I’ll talk more about this later. Thank you again, Pauline and Neil, for having us in – and next up: St. John’s!

ps: I bought a xaphoon in Moncton. I’d never seen one before. The first noise I got out of it sounded like a moose call but it really sounds like a hybrid of oboe and sax.

Also in Moncton:

OMG DO WANT. Godin. Particularly the A5 (5-string) version. Droooooooool.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

September 2017

3456 789
1011 12 13141516
17 1819 2021 2223

Most Popular Tags


RSS Atom