- Published on Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:05 14 June 2017
Perhaps the most passive-aggressive break-up song ever written, it's also one of my favourite songs by Bob Dylan. He'll be performing here in Vancouver in July so he's been on my mind.
I teach this song to a lot of my guitar students because it's a common fingerstyle pattern everyone should learn.
I recorded my own cover of it and posted it to YouTube. Hope you like it.
- Published on Thursday, 08 June 2017 16:53 08 June 2017
I am totally blown away by this new guitar, custom-made just for me by Vancouver luthier Jeremy Edjan! This is the second Edjan strat I own. This one is on par with the high-level Fenders, the ones that hang on the expensive wall at the back of the shop!
Not only does it look amazing, the sound from the hand-wound pickups is thick, meaty. And yet it still has that distinct Stratocaster tone. The playability is just as good if not better than the Fender Pro Telecaster I bought a few months ago.
I am truly honored to own this guitar. I can't wait to play a show with it.
- Published on Saturday, 20 May 2017 14:48 20 May 2017
In around 1980 a kid named Mike went to his high school gymnasium on a North Vancouver evening to attend an all-ages concert with a band called the Young Canadians. Looking back on it today, nearly forty years later, I asked Mike “Is that when you decided you wanted to play in a rock band?”
“No, I was just scared. There were real punk rockers there.”
In Vancouver in 1977 Art Bergmann, Barry Taylor, and Jim Bescott formed the K-Tels, inspired by punk rock from Britain and 1960s garage rock. But after being threatened with a law suit from K-Tel Records -- the company that released cheap compliations of the "hits of the day" -- they changed their name to the Young Canadians. Along with bands like DOA and the Pointed Sticks, they helped create a thriving Canadian punk rock scene.
The Young Canadians had a hit with their EP release, “Hawaii.” The song opens with a wailing guitar melody that is instantly memorable. Then Bergmann’s raucous voice enters with the words, “let’s go to fucking Hawaii, get drunk in the sun.”
Listening to Bergmann’s lyrics reveals the true depth to their music. Is it a critique of Canadian middle-class desires to act out the lives of the wealthy? Or to spend their hard earned money on something of questionable personal or spiritual value? Either way, you can hear instantly how fun it would have been to see these guys play live.
Let’s go to fuckin’ Hawaii
Get drunk in the sun
I wanna lay on Wai-ki-ki
Get a tan on my butt
Running from the rain
Thousands on the run
Make it like the rich
Headed for the fun
The Young Canadians only lasted about two years. But Art Bergman continued making music, first with Los Popularos and then on his own.
Through his solo career, Bergmann has become an artist so far beyond his punk rock beginnings -— great as that was. To my ears, he fits in the genre some call “singer-songwriter,” but biting, acerbic. Try his album Sexual Roulette, released in 1990, which explores drug addiction, death, HIV/Aids, and depression.
His latest release is The Apostate, which is musically much gentler, and still beautiful. Pedal steel guitar rounds out the sound on some tracks. Some speculate that may be an influence of rural Alberta where he's been living the last 20 or so years. But Bergman has said that it actually goes back to the time he first started learning music. It was folk and country songs he listented to then.
Bergmann is currently touring and I had the priveledge to see him perform in Vancouver last night. According to an interview with the Georgia Straight, his health problems make touring pretty hard on him. But watching them play last night at the Rickshaw you'd almost never know it. The guy still rocks.
After a killer encore, audience members were encouraged to come up on stage and join the band in a percussion based jam. It was a little wild -- exactly as it should be.
- Published on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 16:56 18 April 2017
The fourth draft of my novel is complete. Thanks to the people who have read it so far. I've made several changes based on their suggestions, though I'm really pleased to say there were no radical changes suggested or required yet. I really haven't changed it much from the first draft. Just added a little colour here and there.
I figure that either means that my first draft was pretty good, or that the readers were biased. I'm willing to accept both possibilities.
Which brings me to the point... just like when writing music, it's wise to have someone read or listen to your work who is impartial. Of course your Mom is going to tell you it's great (she loved my album Unlikely Rockstars).
Also, it really does behoove you to get the opinion of someone who works in the business. They have a deeper idea of what's good or what's just "good for you." Also, they might have some connections.
So now I'm looking for people who work in the book business. I used to work in that business, but I've since burned all those bridges.
In case you've missed it, Sonara: The Future of Music is a novel about a generation of people who grew up never hearing music. Then one day a young woman discovers a secret musesum full of musical instruments. Here's the back cover copy that's supposed to entice you to want to read it.
- Published on Tuesday, 04 April 2017 15:48 04 April 2017
A few weeks ago I got to play guitar for a video by Elza. We had a film crew come to my Vancouver studio to film her cover of the Cranberries "Zombie." I'm playing acoustic guitar on the track. Elza wrote the arrangement. I'm pretty impressed with what this film crew did.
cover by Elza recorded live off the floor
Elza - vocals and arrangement
Iván Fernandez - drums
Blue Morris - guitar, Franki Lemon - cello,