Thursday, February 01, 2007

While hanging out at the backroom of the Tranzac last night here in Toronto I was having a great chat with one of my favourite internet figures/cultural critics, Mr. Zoilus; Carl Wilson. While waiting for the music of visiting artist Rhys Chatham and many talented Torontonians I discovered that we had a number of things in common including speaking some mediocre french.

I was telling a story to him from earlier in the day where my partner was making fun of me for cooking from our son's cookbook for four-year-olds. This led me to realize that I was taking an intro (it is actually called intermediate) french course and took a banjo lesson which ended up being like a beginner's banjo lesson (and was great...more on that later) in addition to cooking from a kid's recipe.

I suppose I am going through a mid-life crisis without the crisis. Only the french class has anything to do with age or aging as my pal Rob mentioned once that if you start studying a second language before you turn 40 it will slow the decay of your brain. So, if suppose if my brain doesn't decay as fast as it potentially could I may "grow up" to be able to play the banjo really well, cook from adult cookbooks and even speak with my kids in our countries other official language.

My banjo lesson with the great banjo player Chris Quinn was really interesting. I haven't taken a private music lesson in about 17 years. (back when I was at York U I had a few lessons with Lorne Lofsky) It is kind of amusing that I was a bit nervous seeing how I teach about ten or so private lessons every week.

Anyways, I had no reason to be nervous as Chris is a really nice guy and a really good teacher. The fact that he took me back to square one in playing the banjo was a bit of a shock to me at the time but since then I see how great and important it is. In order to be the banjo player I want to be it is really important to make sure my technique (which equals tone) is really good.

I went to the Rhys Chatham show partly because it was a nice short winter walk from my french class to there and I am glad it was. There were about 6 electric guitarists (that I could see) a string section, bass and drums. They played single string (low e string) drone pieces that were as loud as I had ever heard music. It was a bit odd to me that music that was all about the guitar really only featured the great drumming of Glen Milchum. I did quite enjoy how the visuals worked with the very static music.

The combination of the music, the interesting people performing and in the audience, the lovely and always friendly Heather serving at the bar and of course the man of the hour Ron Gaskin's presence made it a really fun show for me.

Unfortunately I got there a little late to catch all of Eugene Martynec's video/sound improvisation but I loved what I saw. It was like Warhol meets Paul Dutton in a church full of jello....huh?

It seems like every time I am right ontime for a show they start a half hour or more late and when I try to be a little casual and slide in slightly after the listed start time I miss the opening act...c'est la vie.

p.s. Leafs won again! (three in a row)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

when one is receptive to the joys of synchronicity you also have to be prepared to take the bad with the good. I will offer the following example:

Today I went to hear some friends playing music at the Pilot. (Great show...David French Quartet...beautiful!) Jerry, who I hadn't seen in sometime (we went to York together) came up and said hi and told me he happened to be listening to my podcast, right at that moment, right there in the club...which was great for me as I had decided earlier today to get back to my podcast and " up the stakes" a bit. (stay tuned for more on this)

So then, for those of you who know I am playing a lot of banjo these days...I get an email tonight while I am practising from someone sending a joke to their email is Saddam Hussein holding a five string banjo. AAAAAHHH!!

Maybe I should give up and become a poet. (or a psychic?)


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