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In the Aeroplane over the capital

October 16th, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with Ottawa’s Bronson Centre; they get such terrific music acts coming through and the seats are cushy… but I don’t think I’ve ever heard mushier acoustics. Counter that with my unabashed appreciation of Dan Mangan — you might have noticed it in some of my past posts about him.

So this past Friday, I ambled over to the Centre to catch Dan’s show in a pretty excited state — it is, after all, a lot rarer for me to be going out to see a concert with girlfriends, since having a 5-month-old has somewhat changed my social calendar lately.

To be honest, the sound did get in the way of my enjoying things as much as I would have in another room; but the show was still terrific, and the evening was made worthwhile by the encore set alone — from which both the videos below I took…

Dan’s cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”:

And crowd favourite “Robots” — featuring two kids in the crowd who dressed up for the occasion:

It’s been so great to see Dan’s popularity grow over the past couple of years, from bigger shows to cover features, and even a Polaris nomination. This is one particularly hardworking and down-to-earth, not to mention talented, fella. Check out his new album, and best to do it somewhere with good sound.

More about that 5-month-old soon :)

music

Honeymoon punched by Jenn Grant

March 12th, 2011

After not having ventured out to a live show in months, I finally got my butt out to Wakefield’s Black Sheep Inn recently to see Maritime sweetheart Jenn Grant… boy, am I glad I did. I’ve seen her play a couple of times — the first being at a house concert in 2008; I always got a kick out of the her quirky, coy humour, and how it played against her heartwrenching tunes.

Here to promote her Honeymoon Punch album, her endearing stream-of-consciousness rambling between songs is still hilarious, but the music is a complete shift to sheer giddiness. Back when I got my first glimpse of her Getcha Good video, I could hardly believe my eyes or ears, and I wondered how she’d perform it live… well, she (and her all-male band) did just great:

(The sound quality of all the vids I took that night is sub-par — maybe due to where we were sitting in relation to the speakers…? So this is the only clip I posted from the night.)

The opener was Hooded Fang, whom Jenn had handpicked from having heard them on cbc3; they kicked things off with buoyant tunes that brought me back to the 80s. I have a feeling I’ll be hearing about them again.

Jenn’s set kicked things off in another way — there was a veritable dance party in my belly… this baby seems to be a fan of Ms. Grant! Like I said, she pulled off all the new, upbeat songs as though she’s been doing so for years. She also dipped back into her older material, and the transitions were seamless.

During one of these more sombre songs, my ear caught a perfect and delicate harmony that made me wonder “Whoa, is that a mic effect??” Only when it happened a second time did I scan the stage and realize that it was her bass player; as someone who’s not usually a fan of falsetto, I was blown away at how terrific he sounded.

Overall, a really nice night out. I was looking for a worthwhile and inspiring break from my too-long hiatus from seeing some live music…? Wish Granted. (Thanks for bringing me, Manders ;)

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Hot off the press & touring the country: t-shirts for Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans

February 13th, 2011

I’ve written about and posted videos of singer/songwriter Jim Bryson here before, and also about him playing with The Weakerthans here too… so obviously I’m a fan. You can imagine how excited I was when Jim approached me to do a couple of t-shirt designs for his cross-Canada tour with The Weakerthans, promoting their Falcon Lake Incident album.

Jim and his Winnipeg buddies recorded the album at a cottage on Falcon Lake in Manitoba, and named the album after a 1967 UFO sighting in the area. It was a secluded spot where they were visited by deer on a regular basis.

I submitted four initial concepts, and we ran with two…

1) The Camp design — I did the below deer illustration in Corel Painter, then added in all the other elements (trees, RCMP report of the UFO sighting and text) in Photoshop; the tilted square on the top right is a zoomed-in shot.

Props to my husband — as a reference for the first design, John let me use this image of a deer he’d recently taken when we were at Parc Omega:

2) The Chesspiece design — My original mock up had a couple of variations of this very rough concept, which I did in Adobe Illustrator:

Jim came over to work on the designs and we boiled them down to the essentials. For the Camp design, we removed the RCMP report, played with text placement, and decided to print it on a Heather Lake Blue polycotton tee with a darker blue ink — something like this:

The Chesspiece design got its name from how we cropped the deer, plus I went back and redrew the silhouette to be a little more finessed and detailed; the final graphic was printed in white ink on black tees and hoodies:

I don’t have actual pictures of the shirts, because they were printed and shipped just in time to make it to the first tour date in Barrie, Ontario… I’m itching to see them in person. I bumped into Jim’s partner at a wedding yesterday, and she told me that apparently the first round of women’s tees already sold out.

The tour just finished its first leg through Ontario and Quebec, but they’re picking back up at the end of the month in BC and the prairies, with a final show — where else? — in Falcon Lake. If you’re able to catch a show, please say hullo to the merch for me :)

horn tootin', music

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