Category Archives: Music

Rooftop Release

Getting ready to move to the music. Watch the video here.

Last night at 5:45 Dave and I were doing our best to look cool and find our groove on the rooftop of our condo building. What were we up to? Well, yesterday our favorite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe released their newest album Sidelining. Since our son is a member of the band we have attended the debut of other Royal Canoe albums and we always have a great time watching them perform their newest music.

Our family posing outside the Burton Cummings Theatre before the release of Royal Canoe’s album Something Got Caught Between Here and the Orbit in 2016

Of course, the pandemic meant there would be no big release event. So the band came up with a neat alternative. They asked their fans to blast Surrender, a single from their new album from their porch or balcony or front step at exactly 5:45 yesterday. We did exactly that. We had a few technical difficulties but managed to record two videos of us moving to the beat of Surrender.

Watch my solo Surrender moves here.

There is lots of great music on this latest Royal Canoe album. I have already listened to it a couple of times. Royal Canoe is always trying new things and I think that’s one of the reasons they have so many fans. In fact, Royal Canoe enthusiasts from four continents signed up for last night’s event.

You can read an interview our son did with reporter Jordan Ross about the new album here.

You can also read all about their new album in this article in The Winnipeg Free Press.

The band is hoping things will open up soon so they can start performing their music in person for their fans but for now, you can download their album from one of the major music providers or watch the videos for the album which were released prior to its debut.

Sidelining Trailer

Butterfalls

Scratching Static

Photo from the Royal Canoe Twitter account

The pandemic has been challenging for musicians and we are so proud of the way our son and the other members of Royal Canoe have stayed creative and productive through some pretty tough times.

Other posts………

Recognition for My Favourite Winnipeg Band

WAVER- A New Album From Royal Canoe

So Cool

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Solstice-A Time for Comfort, Gratitude, Creativity and Generosity

Henteleff Park Winnipeg

Today is the winter solstice. We will have the longest night of the year, the longest period of darkness. And this year that darkness is particularly deep and daunting as the death toll from COVID-19 rises around the world and as the economic and social impacts of the pandemic take a dark toll on people and families and communities.

Bois-des-Esprits  Trail Winnipeg

I think the perfect song to mark this day is The Solstice Carol by the Winnipeg group The Wyrd Sisters. The lyrics of The Solstice Carol remind us that during the longest night of the year we are to comfort one another, think about our blessings, remember to dance and share what we have with others. That is the true spirit of the solstice and it will get us through to the spring when there will once again be more light than darkness.

A fire is burning

The long night draws near

All who need comfort

Are welcome by here

We’ll dance ‘neath the stars

And toast the past year

For the spirit of solstice

Is still living here

We’ll count all our blessings

While the Mother lays down

With snow as her blanket

Covering the ground

Thanks to the Mother

For the life that she brings

She’ll waken to warm us

Again in the spring

The poor and the hungry 

The sick and the lost

These are our children

No matter the cost

Come by the fire

The harvest to share

For the spirit of solstice

Is still living here

Comfort one another, think about your blessings, remember to dance, and share what you have. A mantra to get us through perhaps one of the darkest winter solstices we have ever experienced.

The Bunn’s Creek Trail Winnipeg

Unfortunately, The Solstice Carol was only released on a cassette tape and there is no way to get a hard copy or even download it now. Believe me, I have tried. But someone has put a copy of the song on YouTube so you can hear it there.

There is also an interesting version of the song by Winnipeg Group Antiphony. It was arranged by Scott Reimer and can be heard here.

Other posts…….

A Time to be Slow

Sun Dogs and Steam

 

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Listening To My Son’s Radio Show

Some of you may remember that my word for the year is ‘listen’ and so I thought it might be time for a little update on my progress.  One of the things I’ve been listening to every week in recent months is a radio show my son hosts on CKUW 95.9 FM called Binky Pinder’s Fun House. 

On his show, Bucky has introduced me to lots of new music I would never have listened to otherwise.  Bucky is a professional musician and before the pandemic toured and performed with his band Royal Canoe at venues around the world.  He knows quite a number of the performers featured on his radio program personally or has performed at the same musical events with them. So it is interesting to hear his commentary and stories as he introduces the various artists.

He also connects many of the songs to personal experiences and so I am learning some new things about my son as I listen to the show.

 During a multi-episode series, we listened to the songs that were in Bucky’s top ten rankings each year for approximately the past decade.  During another series, the radio show toured North America vicariously.  We stopped in at various cities along the way to listen to music that originated in that particular city.

I listened to a show with just instrumental music, another with loud music, one with quiet music, and another where Bucky interviewed different people who are devoted fans of the album Left and Leaving.  It is by the Winnipeg band The Weakerthans. 

One October program had songs that featured the autumn season in some way.  In a recent show,  Bucky interviewed Free Press columnist Ben Sigurdson and several other guests about their affection for an album by Radio Head called Kid A

I look forward to having my musical tastes enriched and often challenged each week when I tune into the program.  Here are just two examples of the songs my son has introduced me to that are now part of my music library. 

2000 Places by Polyphonic Spree

Some of the words of this song are just what our world needs right now. 

You gotta be good.
You gotta be strong…..
And time will show the way
And love will shine today
 
Muscle n’ Flo by Menomena
 
Some of the words of this song really spoke to my time of life
 
Oh in the morning,
I stumble my way towards the mirror…….
Face just what I’m made of.
There’s so much more left to do,
Well, I’m not young, but I’m not through.

Other posts……….
 
 
 

 

 

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Bliss Point- Something Good?

The Problem We All Live With- by Norman Rockwell- Rockwell shows Ruby Bridges on her way to an all-white school in 1964 accompanied by US deputy marshalls enforcing new desegregation laws

I learned about a ‘bliss point’ this week while listening to an episode of the podcast This American Life called Nice White Parents.  The episode was about school integration in the United States.  The narrator of the podcast said the ‘bliss point’ was the percentage of a population of a school that needed to be white before most white parents would consider sending their children to that school.  

That bliss point is apparently 26% for white parents of middle school youngsters. So if white parents know that about a quarter of their children’s school mates will also be white they are comfortable sending their child to a racially integrated school. In an article I read about school integration the authors say the ‘bliss point’ for white parents of elementary school children is much higher at 60%.

Dave having ice cream on a food tour in Toronto 

As I was looking for more information about  ‘bliss point’ I found out it is also a common term in the food industry. The bliss point is the amount of a certain ingredient in an item of food be it salt or fat or sugar that makes that food optimally delicious sending endorphins to our brains that make us want to continue eating that food. Of course, food manufacturers are eager to find the bliss points of their products because being sure they have one is the best way to increase sales. 

Bliss point is kind of a tricky term.  It sounds like something good. But in actual fact bliss points can slow social progress and make you eat in an unhealthy way. 

Other posts…….

Lagom- Just Right

Double Bubble and Other New Words

Gift From God

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Afternoon Delight

tuba piano concert“I haven’t listened to live music for such a long time.”  That was one comment I heard at an outdoor concert I attended yesterday afternoon.  With most music venues closed and most music groups on forced hiatus due to the pandemic, it hasn’t been easy to find opportunities to hear musicians performing live concerts. 

backyard concert

Host Ted Redekop welcomes us to the concert.

Yesterday Ted and Marilyn Redekop hosted a delightful afternoon musical performance in their backyard which looks out onto the Red River.  It featured two musicians who are both pursuing PhD degrees.

tuba piano performance

Maddy’s Mom Millie kept her daughter’s music pages from flying off in the breeze and turned them at the appropriate time

Madeline Hildebrand the pianist who performed for us is a PhD candidate at Stony Brook University in New York.  Jakob Uschold the featured tuba player is pursuing his degree at the University of British Columbia.  Both musicians have a long list of remarkable musical accomplishments to their name but both have had their studies and regular performance plans interrupted by the pandemic. 

The Redekops thought the concert they hosted would give these all-star musicians a chance to perform and we were invited to make a donation to show our support for them.

tuba playerThe concert was unique and so interesting.  I had never heard a tuba played as a solo instrument and the pieces chosen showed it off to advantage.   We were treated to a tuba concerto by Vaughn Williams, a Bach sonata originally written for the flute, three pieces by Robert and Clara Schumann and a sonata for tuba and piano written by Canadian composer David McIntyre. We also heard a piece called Fnugg written especially for tuba by Norwegian composer Øystein Baadsvik. 

river view during concert

I had this beautiful view of the river from my chair and right behind me was a unique stone fountain. The sound of the water flowing augmented the music in a lovely way.

Our outdoor setting meant at different times gulls, crows, squirrels and blue jays added their unique sounds to the musical pieces.  We were served scrumptious butter tarts, sausage rolls and cheese and vegetable skewers during the intermission and we could bring our own beverages.  Chairs had been set up in groups that were appropriately socially distant. 

tuba piano showThe situation for Canadian musicians is actually quite dire as a recent report from Music Canada details. Without the opportunity to perform live many musicians have lost a vital source of income.  The wonderful concert I attended yesterday gave two of those musicians a chance to perform but was also a rather sad reminder of what has been lost because of the pandemic. 

As my blog readers know, my word for 2020 is LISTEN.  The tuba and piano performance I attended yesterday added a delightful new listening experience to my year.  

Other posts…………..

BrewPub in the Livingroom Concert Hall in the Bedroom

Word of the Year 2020

Recognition for My Favorite Winnipeg Band

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A Different Kind of Folk Festival

At the Folk Festival in 2011

If 2020 had been like other years Manitobans would have been attending the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park this past weekend.  The event was cancelled due to the pandemic but the Folk Festival organized a virtual concert for July 11 and encouraged people to get together outside on their yards to watch it on Saturday night. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a country property near Lowe Farm for an alternate Folk Festival evening hosted by our friends Roger and Ruth. A screen and speakers had been set up on the yard for watching the performers and listening to the music. We parked our cars alongside the grain bins. Tie-dyed sheets billowing in the breeze and a painting of a quilt on the barn gave the farmyard a ‘folkie’ kind of feel.


Before the festivities sponsored by the Folk Festival hit the big screen Roger our host favoured us with four numbers he had written himself, accompanied by two members of his family.

Roger tells us about the songs he has written

One of Roger’s songs had been inspired by a trip on the Trans Siberian railroad, another by a trip to South America and one celebrated a barnstorming baseball team from the American Negro Baseball League that came to play a game in nearby Roland Manitoba when Roger’s father was a young man. Roger’s band also shared a piece about his father’s perspective on the world when he was over a hundred years old. The evening included a fabulous meal and………….. an opportunity to explore a labyrinth that had been cut into the field behind the house. You could pick up some stones, that represented your hopes or wishes to hold as you made your way down the paths. I was all alone in the labyrinth as I wound my way through the beautiful wild prairie grasses and flowers.  I basked in the beauty of the yellow fields in the distance, the sound of the wind in the grass, and the endless blue sky above me. 

labyrinth entryAfter the music was over some of the guests engaged in games of catch with ball gloves and balls supplied by Ruth and Roger’s neighbour.  We left as the sun was going down. 

It wasn’t the same as being at Bird’s Hill Park for the Folk Festival but it was a great alternative in a setting every bit as beautiful. Thanks, Roger and Ruth. 

Other posts…………..

Knuckleball- Think Mennonite Corner Gas

Inspiration at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Winnipeg Folk Festival- It’s Who You Know

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Gloria

I was really rocking it on the elliptical trainer at the gym yesterday morning. I was listening to a new playlist of workout music I’ve compiled and the song Gloria by Laura Branigan came on.  What an inspiring beat! There were only three of us in the whole gym so I sang along, mouthing the words and fairly dancing on the boat-like pedals of the trainer.

laura branigan

Laura Branigan

Listen is my word for 2020 and one of the ways I have been trying to live up to that word is by adding lots of new content to my music library.  I downloaded Gloria after listening to an informative and entertaining podcast by Mo Rocca about Laura Branigan the recording artist who made Gloria famous. In 1982 the song stayed atop the pop charts for 36 weeks and earned Laura a Grammy nomination. 

Laura died in 2004 but just last year in 2019 her signature song earned her another claim to fame. It became the unofficial anthem of the St. Louis Blues as they made a historic comeback from last to first place in the NHL over the course of the season. Some players had been in a bar listening to the song repeatedly the night before they clinched an important victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. So after the game, the players listened to Gloria in the dressing room as they celebrated. They figured the song had brought them luck.

Some St. Louis Blues Fans even sported Laura Branigan jerseys with number 82 the year her song Gloria was a hit. 

Soon the DJ at the Enterprise Centre, home of the Blues, began to play Gloria on the speakers whenever the Blues won a game. As the team launched into a winning streak that took them to the top of the NHL standings local radio stations in St. Louis started playing Gloria regularly and soon it had become the official anthem of the team. Immediately after they won the Stanley Cup Gloria came blaring through the speakers as the team celebrated their exciting Game 7 victory. 

Last year Laura’s Gloria inspired the St. Louis Blues to give it their all on the ice and this year she’s inspiring me to give it my all during my workouts at the gym. 

Other posts………..

Mobituaries

Word of the Year-2020

Trying to Become A Winnipeg Jets Fan

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Recognition For My Favourite Winnipeg Band

 Our son Bucky is a member of the  Winnipeg band Royal Canoe . They had two honours come their way this past week.  Their album Waver has been nominated in the recording of the year category for the Western Canadian music awards. The producer of the album John Paul Peters has been nominated for producer of the year. The awards ceremony and an accompanying music conference were to have been held in Winnipeg September 25- October 4. This year the awards ceremony will be virtual.  Royal Canoe won a previous Western Canadian music award in 2014 for their album Today We’re Believers.

Royal Canoe on the red carpet at the Juno awards in 2014- photo purchased from the Winnipeg Free Press

The band was also nominated for a Juno award in 2014. 

Royal Canoe performs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 2017- photo purchased from The Winnipeg Free Press

In honour of Manitoba’s 150th birthday, the Winnipeg Free Press cover story yesterday was called Sounds Like Home. It listed and described the 150 most important songs by Manitoba artists. Royal Canoe’s song Bathtubs was included in the list. You can watch the very cool video of that song here. 

Royal Canoe just before their phenomenal show on ice instruments at The Forks in Winnipeg in January 2020

In a year when touring and performing is on indefinite hold due to the pandemic, Royal Canoe has managed to garner some well deserved recognition.  In January they performed a show entirely on ice instruments to huge crowds at The Forks in Winnipeg and in May a documentary film about that performance called Glacial had its debut. 

Other posts………

Waver A New Album From Royal Canoe

So Cool

Glacial

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Radiohead and Plato

My son hosts a weekly radio show and listening to it every Thursday introduces me to lots of interesting music.  Recently he played a song by Radiohead called Daydreaming. I liked it and so I looked up the lyrics. They talk about someone who doesn’t want to learn or venture out into the sun.  I found out the inspiration for the lyrics came from a story the philosopher Plato told 2,400 years ago. 

Ted Ed video of The Cave

Illustration from the Ted-Ed video of The Cave. It’s great!

Plato talks about some people who have been chained up in a cave since they were children. They can’t turn their heads. A fire behind them gives off a faint light and so when other humans and animals pass in front of the fire the chained people see images of things on the wall which they give names. These shadows seem real to the prisoners and shape their entire view of the world.

Then one of the prisoners is freed and leaves the cave to go outside. The sun hurts his eyes and he doesn’t want to believe all the new things he is seeing can be real. He is being introduced to a whole new world and it is scary but also wonderful and provides him with a completely new view of reality.  He feels sorry for his friends back in the cave with their limited ideas about the world and he goes back to them to share what he has learned. 

But they laugh and say he is crazy. The shadows they see in the cave are real, not the world he is talking about.  The prisoner who has been outside the cave and seen the sun and all the things it illuminated, can no longer adjust his eyes to see the shadow reality. The other prisoners say their companion who has seen the sunlight is stupid and blind and they refuse to allow him to free them. When he tries they get hostile and violent. 

Plato's Cave by Lalita Hamill

Plato’s Cave by British Columbia artist  Lalita Hamill

What does Plato’s allegory mean? That many people are comfortable in their ignorance and hostile to anyone who points it out? Plato spent much of his life promoting rule by philosopher kings, learned people who had read and studied and ‘seen the light’. Are those the kinds of leaders we would do well to elect?

As we go through life are we resolutely certain that we know what is right or are we open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things and doing things?  What if allowing ourselves to think in those new ways challenged the norm?  What if thinking in new ways could endanger us or cause us to lose friends or alienate family members?  Are we open to seeing things in a new light? 

Other posts………..

Laughing at the Suffering of Others

Elegant Words

Hairnets and Helmets

 

 

 

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Masked Portraits, An Unusual Instrument and the Sunset

If you haven’t already checked out the watercolour portraits by Winnipeg Free Press photojournalist Mike Deal you should go to his Instagram page.  Mike is painting his newspaper colleagues at the Free Press in masks.

Niigaan Sinclair-Mike Deal's Instagram

Niigaan Sinclair-  from Mike Deal’s Instagram page

Columnist Niigaan Sinclair is using his portrait as the profile picture on his Twitter page.

Grant Burr-Mike Deal's Instagram

Grant Burr from Mike Deal’s Instagram page

I loved Mike’s portrait of Grant Burr my former editor at The Carillon.  Grant now works for the Free Press and did the first story for the amazing COVID and the City feature the paper ran showing twenty-four hours in the life of Winnipeg on May 6th.  

Melissa Martin- Mike Deal's Instagram

Melissa Martin from Mike Deal’s Instagram page

Each portrait of Mike’s is very unique.  Here is the one of Melissa Martin my favourite Free Press columnist. 

Hopefully, masked people won’t remain the norm for our society, but when we tell future generations of our families about the pandemic we may want an image of ourselves in a mask as a way to explain this strange time. 

lynda barry comicsAs many of you know during the pandemic I’ve been working my way through Making Comics an instruction manual by Lynda Barry which attempts to get even the most reluctant and artistically challenged person drawing and exploring their life through sketching.  One recent assignment was to draw self-portraits of ourselves looking at an object and then write what both we and the object were seeing from our own points of view. self portrait with a maskThis was one I did.  I was at the Thrift Store where I volunteer and was sorting and pricing Christmas goods. harmochord

When I was working at the Thrift Store yesterday this instrument came in as a donation. I had never seen one like it. It is a harmochord and was made by a West German company during the 1960s.  It is kind of a cross between a harmonium and an accordion. The sound comes from the grilles on the top of the instrument and it uses a motorized blower instead of bellows. The instrument’s reeds are activated as you press the keys.  My friend Velma who is a pianist tried it out and it works. sunset condo roof topWe were sitting on our roof top last night having a glass of wine with friends and were treated to this gorgeous sunset.  Amid a global pandemic and a week of processing troubling and heart-breaking images of racism and the anger and frustration it has caused, it was nice to have a soul-satisfying moment courtesy of creation.  

Other posts……….

Sunset Walk in America the Beautiful

Musical Instrument Museum

Dave Makes a Mask and We Make a Movie

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