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Number three in our series of videos recorded at Guided by Robots on Saturday (Dec 15) night, this one featuring members of Vancouver band SK Robot with Aaron Trory. We met Aaron earlier in the evening and were excited to find out it was his first night attending the annual celebration of the Only Band That Matters, Guided by Voices. He rocked it on “Tractor Rape Chain”, too.
Video—SK Robot with Aaron Trory at the ANZA Club, Vancouver:
Okay, I’m getting around to this later than I’d hoped. This is night two in the roll-out of GBV/GBR videos from the ANZA Club Saturday night Dec 15. In other words, this is members of Vancouver band SK Robot backing Guided by Voices fans in the GBV-aoke portion of the annual Guided by Robots event.
We think one of the ladies is named Lauren.
Video—Guided by Robots with friends, “My Valuable Hunting Knife” (live):
Guided by Robots is now in its tenth year, which means that for ten years Vancouver-based fans of Guided by Voices have had something to look forward to every fall. This year saw some changes, however. Instead of mid-November, the usual time of the event, it was mid-December, when people are busy with holiday and Christmas things. And instead of the ANZA Club’s cozy basement, the band—members of local indie-pop outfit SK Robot with Kevin Perley on vocals—played upstairs, where there is no pool table in the way and there is an actual stage and sound system and lights!
A couple of the band members seemed a little nervous about the move, fearing that the more “rock-show” elements might deter the faithful from joining in on the GBV-karaoke portion of the evening, and that the timing of the event might deter some folks from showing up. Me, I was a little nervous because the bar upstairs is way more limited in its choices than downstairs.
Fortunately a good number, maybe 60-70 people were smart enough to ditch other Xmas plans for the event of the year. And the stage didn’t stop anyone, newbies and vets, from trying their vocal chords on Guided by Voices classics like “Gold Star for Robot Boy”, “Chasing Heather Crazy”, “Game of Pricks” and a whole bunch more.
As usual, there were a few repeats—the band had already torn through a substantial portion of GBV’s most popular songs during the two sets that kicked off the evening—as well as some surprises. These included the relatively obscure “Hey Hey Spaceman” (performed once by the band with Perley and again with someone named Geoff, according to the sign-up sheet my girlfriend grabbed on the way out) and “As We Go Up We Go Down”… I think.
Anyway, the night’s a bit of a blur, but that’s par for the course for Guided by Robots night in Vancouver.
I recorded some of the songs on my phone. Here’s the first; I’ll post three more in the next few days.
“Flat Beauty” (Guided by Robots featuring Kevin Perley):
Almost skipped this show but boy, am I glad I didn’t.
This was my sixth time seeing Bruce Springsteen and probably the best. Three hours of (almost) non-stop energy. Which is to say, “My City of Ruins” slowed things down considerably, but when the set includes “Streets of Fire” and “Darlington County”, I’m not going to complain. Much.
Anyway, here’s a few pics from the show, including a photo of Springsteen with a cardboard red-headed woman (a sign someone brought along to request the song”Red-Headed Woman”) where Bruce is playing with the articulated limbs, a photo of Springsteen and a Santa plucked out of the front rows (for “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”, during the encore), and the singer in the audience.
My girlfriend Robyn pointed out this gig poster last night at the Fairview (we were there to check out my friend Mike’s band, Beluga, more about which later). Never heard of any of the bands, but if they’re playing the Fairview they probably do a classic rock cover or two (Beluga played “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “L.A. Woman”, among others).
I checked The Harvest’s website and they’re definitely a blues-rawk outfit. They’re fronted by Shauna Meloche and one of their songs is called “A Pothead’s Life”, which means they could probably comfortably fit on a bill with last night’s headliner.
I thought about this album the other day. I had it on cassette – it came out in 1979 so I would’ve been 14 (Mas would have been 24). I might have bought it because it was advertised in Creem Magazine. I do recall a review, or at least a blurb, saying something along the lines of “We’ve been waiting for a female Springsteen and here she is”, or something.
Anyway, I recall playing the hell out of the tape… at least, a few of the songs, including “Stillsane”, “Quote Goodbye Quote” and “Sadie Says” all were instantly familiar when I heard them again recently on Mas’ website.)
I thought of this album (released on Mercury in the U.S. and Polydor on Canada) because of the song “Sadie Says”. In particular, there’s a line where Mas spits, “I like to piss away my pay,” and that’s exactly how I felt the other day, after I got my first paycheck for a new part-time job and I was sitting out on my balcony drinking an expensive craft beer. Not sure if that’s exactly the scenario Mas has in mind when she wrote the song, but there you go.
YouTube video – Carolyne Mas, “Sadie Says”:
There were some great songs on her second album, Hold On, as well. The title track (an “Everlasting Love” rip), “Stay True”, “Running From the High Life”, “You Can Not Win If You Do Not Play” (a Steve Forbert song) are all still fine rock songs; “Amsterdam” is a lovely, stripped-down ballad (Mas got a lot of attention for another ballad, “Snow”, off her debut).
A third record, Modern Dreams, featured Mas looking like an airbrushed Barbra Streisand on the cover. The music inside was slicker than on the first two albums; looking at the tracklisting, I can’t recall what one song sounds like, even though I had the record.
Then this happened – something I had no idea about. According to the bio page on her website:
JANUARY 1986: Carolyne shares the stage with Springsteen and others at THE STONE PONY in Asbury Park, NJ, in a benefit to help the workers affected by the closing of a 3M plant in Freehold, NJ. She performs at the STONE PONY again on the 22, with J.A.M. (more about them later), and just as things are finally looking up, in the early hours of January 26, she is rushed to a Jersey Shore hospital, fighting this time for her life.
Just who broke into Carolye Mas’s apartment, stabbing her 9 times, slitting her throat, then taking her prize Telecaster and her trademark hat, remains a mystery to this day. No cash was taken, though plenty was around. A half-eatten ham-and-cheese sandwich, a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup along with a can of tuna fish in a brown paper bag, and most disturbing, a copy of a Conan the Barbarian comic book, are all found at a picnic tabel outside her window. The door is forced open with a knife. She is stabbed in her sleep. She crawls to the door to open it for a neighbor who awoke for no explainable reason to check on her, and he calls the police.
Mas survived. She made a fourth record, 1989′s Action Pact, which was released in Germany. And then…
Well, there’s more to her story; it’s all there on the bio page of her website.
Anyway, today Mas sounds to me like a missing link between Pat Benatar and Bruce Springsteen. Some of these songs are worth hearing, so check out her website for more if you like what I’ve included here.
Video – Carolyne Mas, “Stillsane” (recored live at the Empire Theatre, Paris, Dec 1979):
Next: Holly and the Italians.
I hadn’t heard of Mark Haney before Tyee music editor Adrian Mack asked if I wanted to do a story on the Vancouver musician and sent me a link to his own (much better) piece on Haney from a couple of years back. Then, the double-bass player had completed a composition (or compositions) based on the life of Canadian daredevil Ken Carter.
Mack’s piece plus the promise of a whopping $50 for five hours of work convinced me. (Baristas, take heart; you make a better hourly wage than this professional freelance writer.) Also the fact that Haney will be working on a project with cartoonist Seth, which I can follow up on over at The Snipe.
Haney’s latest work is based around the life of Terry Fox.
For Mark Haney, it’s all about the numbers.
But don’t let that scare the math-challenged out there. Knowledge of trigonometry, algebra or even the ability to calculate HST is not necessary to access the Vancouver musician’s work.
A double-bass player who’s played with the VSO as well as local indie-rock outfits like The Beige, Haney, in fact, makes it easy. His 2010 project Aim for the Roses had a quirky point-of-entry — it told the story of Canadian daredevil Ken Carter. In Haney’s upcoming project 3339, which he performs as part of the Redshift Music Society Concert at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre next Friday (May 11), his subject is Terry Fox.
(Read the rest of Mark Haney’s Hidden Structures)
Last week I interviewed Lindi Ortega over the phone. She’s a formerly Toronto-based singer/songwriter now living in Nashville. The interview was okay – not one of my better ones, I must say; I’m always a little more stressed when I’m not recording the interview (my girlfriend had borrowed my mini-recorder). And, after doing hundreds if not thousands of interviews with musicians, it seems I have fewer and fewer questions for them unless we’re talking about something unrelated to music – for instance, I really enjoyed my interview with YACHT‘s Claire L. Evans because we talked mostly about science fiction. Although talking to Wes Marskell of Toronto band The Darcys was fun too because we could talk about Steely Dan‘s Aja, one of my favourite albums (The Darcys recorded their own version of the record).
Still, I like Ortega’s album from last year Little Red Boots, and thought it might be interesting to talk to her since she’s opening for Social Distortion, who are pretty popular in these parts (their first Vancouver show, on April 16 at the Commodore Ballroom, is sold-out, and a second show, on April 17, has been added). I was also hoping to get Ortega, who was nominated for two Juno awards herself, to say something about the fact that the winner of Album of the Year at the Canadian music industry’s annual circle-jerk went to crooner Michael Bublé for a Christmas record…
Here’s my Lindi Ortega interview in full.