Sunday, November 28, 2021

Art and commerce and technology

 Yesterday I went to a friend's art show. They had some beautiful work for sale. Large and smaller paintings. Very well displayed including appropriate stands and lighting to highlight the great colours, form and creativity that was on display. 

I struck a conversation with another good friend regarding the development in online merch sales for bands. This includes the villainous Spotify (I use Spotify every day)  working in tandem with Shopify to allow bands to sell merch without ever having to touch it. ie. someone else makes it, sells it and ships it and then sends you a little money. 

It wasn't lost on me that these two models are almost the opposite of each other. One is all about money and one is all about art, love and people. I don't want to suggest that one is better or anything like that however I do think that both could be more successful if people could keep the two ideas separate. 

Just because you can buy all your Christmas gifts online doesn't mean you should and just because you paint with a brush on canvas doesn't mean that you shouldn't use technology to make money or save money.  That could help you afford your next purchase of painting supplies. 

So, maybe one way of dealing with these fast changing technologies is compartmentalizing. Try to spend a bit of time in both boxes, but stay out of the penalty box ;-)

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

gigs and teaching oh my!

 Seems funny to write about teaching tonight at a time of gigs are starting to return after the Covid drought. But, this is on my mind. Humans. Teaching humans in person and online. 

Most recently, I have been teaching private lessons in person again at my house. It is so great to be in person again. We wear masks but there is so much quicker results and we can actually jam; in real time!

I had no choice but to get good at teaching online but it will never replace in person human music making. I am grateful and proud of my students who stuck to it during covid. Many of them improved quite a bit over the last year and a half. 

The other new joy in my musical teaching activities is my new gig at Mohwak College in Hamilton. I am thoroughly enjoying teaching there even though I have only been doing it online for the first term. The students are super fun and talented. I am teaching both 5-string banjo and guitar and it is a pleasure. I feel like I have a lot to offer and they are interested in listening to what I have to say. It is also quite a two-way experience as I learn a few things from them every day too. 

If you are reading this and live in Toronto; please mark November 19 in your calendar when I will be performing at the Tranzac Club for the Video/Single launch concert for Collette Savard and the Savants. The song is another great one by Collette and it was mixed by legendary producer (our bassist!) John Switzer. The video is fun too and it was made by my pal and bandmate Ronley Teper. 

Stay tuned for upcoming gigs with Ronley (She has a brand new CD out now) and So Long Seven too!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game four (after re-watching)

A friend of mine who is Habs fan just forwarded me an article from a Montreal newspaper. He said, “this really sums things up perfectly”. Before I even looked at it I said; “let me guess; the Habs are terrible and the Leafs won’t go anywhere in the playoffs.” Of course this is exactly what the writer said (almost verbatim) in the first three paragraphs. 

So predictable;  Habs fans. It is all over Twitter. All Habs fans are saying the same thing. The other thing I loved about the article (no I didn’t read much further) was that it was describing all the Habs players in the past tense. Ha!

So, I am re-watching the Leafs vs Habs game four as I am known to do. The first period was a bit uneventful as there was no scoring. One thing I was reminded of is how well the third line of Mikheyev Engvall and Simmonds are playing together. Simmonds had a couple good scoring chances in this game. 

I am also liking the way Campbell is positioning himself when there is a lot of traffic in front of the net. I can never pretend to know much about goaltending but he is giving me cause to trust him even more. 

The second period starts with that beautiful three way passing play between Kerfoot, Galchenyuk and Nylander. Nylander made it look easy but a backhand like that moving at that speed can bit tricky. Yah Willy! Four goals in four games. (Hopefully you weren’t a Nylander skeptic as we like to call you a Nylanderthal) 

Leafs have been a good second period team all year. They are outscoring the Habs 6-1 in second periods in this series. 

Another thing I liked about game four was that Auston is getting a bit grumpy. He is initiating hits and not taking any guff (bet you haven’t heard that word in while) from the players who are checking him. (Yes it is usually two players checking him)

I would like to address the idea that the Leafs won’t go anywhere in the playoffs. First off, if we beat the Habs I think we have gone somewhere already. (It has been since 2004 since we won a round in the playoffs) Also, I think we can match up against some or all of the best teams in the NHL (of which we are one) I am watching the Lightning against the Panthers on my laptop while I pause last nights Leaf game on my TV and it is quite clear to me that there is not much that is radically different between the Leafs and the Bolts.  It is hockey. Same rules; anything can happen. Also I watched the Leafs beat Tampa in Tampa’s own barn last year before lockdown. ($5 beers and you can walk outside on the patio for intermission)

Galchenyuk’s saucer pass to Spezza was quite something. Again, Spezza made it look easy but that was a tough finish. I think Spezza has become one of the most popular Leafs with the Leaf nation. 

Joe Thornton has a nice PP goal with a pass from Spezza. Yes, the Habs took another penalty for crosschecking. 

I don’t think I will re-watch the third period. I was so relaxed that I already fully enjoyed it last night. 

Good night. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game 3 (after re watching)

 Leafs vs Habs game 3 (after re watching)

This second viewing of the Leaf games has been really fun. It answers some questions for me and it gives me new questions. 

For example, what is Keefe trying to achieve when he puts Simmonds out with Nylander and Nash. Usually a line switch like that is a reaction to our own power play or PK but this was not the case. I want to think it is like a double shift for Nylander. The players he is with are sort of a “best-of” scenario from the bottom six? Is it driven by analytics?

I do think people don’t watch the game very closely. (Of course it is just entertainment to some so why would they?) A number of misconceptions about game three were adjusted for me after my second time through. For starters; the Habs did NOT totally outplay the Leafs in the third period. If anything, they were a little more even than during the rest of the game. If you put your kids to bed and came back and watched the last two minutes after they pulled Price (and believed the shot totals at the Bell Centre)  you might think they outplayed the Leafs in the third. 

I have heard people say the Leafs can’t let up when they have the lead. They did not. We had many scoring chances. (Remember Jumbo all alone in front missing the net with a slapshot) 

The other statistic that is so misleading is the number of hits in this series. The Leafs have certainly been tougher than the Habs and in a smart way. 

What I am seeing is the Habs (mostly Price) doing a decent job keeping our top line from scoring as much as they usually do. The good news is that our top line is destroying the Habs defensively in our Dzone. Also, our second line is having its way with le Tricolore on both ends of the ice.  

The one thing that has been consistent on both ends is the goaltending. In my humble and slightly biased opinion after watching this game twice it looks like the Leafs vs Carey Price. I am very happy to say that Jack Campbell has played pretty much just as well as Price however the scoring chances by the Habs have been much fewer and less dangerous. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Leafs vs Habs game 2 (after re watching)

 Leafs vs Habs game 2 (after re watching)

I am enjoying the process of re watching the Leafs playoff games. I can’t remember if I did that in 2004 (the last time we won a round of playoffs) however it would have have been on the VCR.  I would have had a 5yr old and and a two year old running around so it seems unlikely. 

I don’t want to repeat much of what I said in my Posgate Postgame (on Facebook Live) last night but I am not totally sure I remember what I said. (Occasionally I do watch my own shows the next day but have not as of yet today)

The first thing I will address is the Habs fans complaining about the penalties. I would like to know which obvious crosscheck you thought was not a penalty. Certainly not your big ugly defensemen on Engvall because he was fined for it today by the NHL. Your little chippy Galagher crosscheck to the head of our defender? Kotkiniemi breaking a stick over our players body?…

You don’t want to make it easy for the refs to make the calls and you need to notice a trend in what they are calling. Habs did neither. Not so smart fellas. 

I liked what I saw from all four of the Leaf lines. I do think you will see Hyman continue to improve as he gets more games in post injury. 

I am really starting to love that cheeky smile that Auston flashes when things are going well. It is subtle fun for us wearing blue and white at home. 

I did think we had a little trouble with exiting our zone as the Habs had good pressure on us making it challenging. I am sure coach Keefe and his team will fix that before tomorrow. 

I am not big on (or good at) making predictions but I do think this Leaf team still has another gear that involves a little more speed, and a little dangle and a little more flow. 

Looking forward to playing back to back this week!

Go Leafs go!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Game one: Leafs vs Habs (Posgate Postgame?)

 First Period

The first goal the Habs scored came three shifts after the Leaf captain left the ice on a stretcher. Jack Campbell made the poor decision to leave his net and sweep away a broken stick at the same moment the Leafs turned over the puck in the offensive zone. (Caused by a bad bounce off a Habs player’s foot) Anderson happened to to have momentum in the right direction out of their zone that allowed him to get a jump on both Leaf defensemen (who were caught flat footed as the saying goes) and ultimately score on a breakaway. Had Campbell left the stick it would have impeded Anderson’s breakaway and would not have been rushing to get back into his crease. 

I wondered and I am pretty sure that coach Keefe did too, why was the accidental knee to the head was not a penalty? Intent is not what makes a trip a trip or a slash a slash. It is the action that you are penalized for. 

Of course the Leafs were still shaken emotionally at this point. Tavares had played a solid first period with his line having a fair bit of jump. Matthews, Marner and Hyman also looked good, testing Price on a few occasions. A few good shots to the top corner that Price had to get his shoulder on and Hyman just missed putting it upstairs. 

Our third line looked ok. Riley Nash had himself on a short leash and only once was on the ice for longer than 30 seconds. Simmonds could certainly have increased his physical presence and will certainly have to do so moving forward in the series. 

The old guys on the fourth line were a bit slow to get going. They got the puck into the Habs zone but failed at keeping it there even once until near the end of the period where they kept some pressure on, in the offensive zone. Thornton also had a decent shift wreaking havoc in front of the net on the power play just before time expired in the first period. 

Defense looked solid. No giveaways. No unnecessary pinching. Occasional offensive bursts but solid in our own end including good first passes to start the play out of our zone. 

Second Period

This was the period that made it obvious that Nylander was one of the Leafs’ best players in this game (as he is almost every game) His shift that he scored on was as good as it gets. He threw a big check on the forecheck. He stayed with it on the back check and dug it out again on the forecheck only be standing in the perfect place at the end of the shift for a simple tap-in. 

Our power plays were decent. One of them had two amazing scoring chances both missed the net by an inch (which probably means Carey Price was in perfect position) Our entry to the O-zone on the PP has been a problem but so far in this game it has been good. 

I have never seen so many dropped and broken sticks. I am not really sure what to make of that. The first of three delay of game penalties came in this period. Although we are able to kill the penalties it makes it hard for a team to get any flow. I did think Riley Nash looked good on the PK with Zach Hyman. 

Price continued to make some great saves this period as well. Any notion of him not being the Habs best player (and only superstar as I have said many times) is ridiculous. Active sticks and blocked shots have been quite good all game for the Habs. Many of the Leaf scoring chances were deflected. 

It seems clear after two periods that the plan of attack for the Leafs is to activate the Defenseman in the O zone. The idea being that the defenders don’t know when or where the attack will come from. It seems to work but our D men missed the net almost every time. 

Third Period

Yes, we got a third delay of game penalty in this period. The Leafs spent way too much time in the box however we can feel good about our PK going forward. Nash has been consistent for us there tonight too. 

The third really didn’t have any great surprises. Our top players had good scoring chances on Price and he continued to play a near perfect game. I think he has been the best goalie in the NHL for a long time. 

People love to suggest the Leafs aren’t tough enough. I don’t feel like we were out-hit in any way again in the third. No matter what the total number of checks was;  it is more about the quality and timing of the checks and I feel we may have had the edge or at least been even in that department. 

The winning goal by the Habs, by one of their “no stars” was a great goal. Definitely one of the best goals of the year. To stay that focused on the puck while falling etc. was a highly skilled move from a guy who’s name I can’t even remember. The how and why it happened while the Leafs were on the PP is much less interesting. I think Sandin our young defenseman did the right thing diving once he new he was beat. He almost stopped him without taking a penalty. Campbell wasn’t great on it. (Price would have stopped it)

Right down to the last power play the Leafs had great chances. Kerfoot did an admirable job filling in for JT. If the Leafs play half as well next game and stay out of the box it should be a fairly easy victory. Even Carey Price can’t stop this Maple Leaf lineup in a best of 7. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Troublemaker (Aka Rob Clutton) Music of Nick Fraser vol 1.

 Music fans! 

I finally got to hear the new solo bass record by Rob Clutton under his new project name Troublemaker. (I love the name of this project!)

What a great record. If you thought it was Thundercat who was doing the latest most innovative things on the electric bass you must listen to this record. 

The music had me locked-in from top to bottom of the record. Each track so special and unique in its own way. At times I thought Rob was channeling Squarepusher and then Hendrix (on bass!) but Rob is really just being himself; a creative musician with a special and unique approach to music and life. 

The ambiguity of where the composition (of Toronto drummer Nick Fraser) and improvisation occur is an added bonus for my listening experience. 

This record has a great home too on the All-Set Editions label. This is the work of Pete Johnston and you can find many great records on this label. A beautiful CD cover too by Mike Smith. 

I hate to spoil the surprise but the last track is totally worth waiting for. After hearing one of the worlds most creative acoustic bass players do his thing on the electric bass he gives us one live recording of him playing acoustic bass. (if you like that he has a couple solo bass records on the Rat Drifting label)

If you are a bass player or bass music fan this is definitely for you but I also think it goes way beyond being just a solo bass record. It is just good music. 

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