Folking things up made for summer’s bright spot
Music: The Vancouver Folk Festival 2018
We celebrate the summer that was with a fond look back at what proved to be the highlight of Vancouver's smokiest season ever: A fully reinvented Folk Music Festival featuring acts that rocked, rattled and rolled young and old alike.
By Rod Mickleburgh
The line-up was skimpier than past years. Sunday clashed with the final of a riveting, month-long World Cup and the sun was hot enough to boil a monkey’s bum, but once again, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival cast its magic over me and thousands of other attendees with its annual mix of good vibes, a setting to die for and outstanding music. Even at my increasingly creaky and cranky advanced age, I found myself dancing, most notably at a wonderful, spirited workshop jam session involving Little Miss Higgins, Les Poules à Collin and Petunia & the Vipers. Thankfully, there were no cameras in sight, and the young people politely refrained from giggling.
There were other highlights:
Michael Joplin remembers a happy Janis
Interview: Michael Joplin
Though Janis Joplin's surviving siblings don't occupy huge amounts of screen time, Michael and Laura Joplin's presence brings a new dimension to Amy Berg's new documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue, premiering tonight on PBS
Art Bergmann plays The Apostate
Music: Interview with Art Bergmann
The former Vancouver punk icon says his joints are sore, his back aches and his neck breaks, but the release of his first new LP in a decade proves Art Bergmann is more than a survivor, he's close to folk hero
By Katherine Monk
For the first few minutes, we talk about sciatica, arthritis, spinal surgery and who’s dead. That's just what happens when you're over 50 and you haven't spoken to someone in 20 years. Even if that someone is Art Bergmann – the iconic face of Canadian punk rock turned apostate.
Make that “The Apostate,” because after an extended recording hiatus that witnessed the release of just one EP and a lost recordings collection over the course of a decade, Bergmann has a new LP, The Apostate, what he calls his “response to living in the west."
Bouncing from Vancouver to a small parcel of Albertan landscape situated near “the beige town of Airdrie,” Bergmann started a new life with his wife Sherri a decade ...
Horns of a dilemma
Movies: A trumpet player's take on two new brassy biopics
Searching for a proper trumpet movie proves problematic when Hollywood insists on blowing all the false notes in a bid to cook up drama and romantic heroes
by Charles Gordon
Trumpet players hardly every get to have movies made about them — unlike, say, ninjas. As luck would have it, there are two big ones out at the same time, Born to Be Blue, a fictionalized version of Chet Baker’s life, and Miles Ahead, a drama about Miles Davis.
As a trumpet player, woefully amateur but serious about it, I have to say that the real star of Born to Be Blue is not Ethan Hawke, the Hollywood star, who plays Chet, but Kevin Turcotte, the Toronto trumpet player, who plays the music of Chet on the soundtrack. More on that later.
In the jokes that are made about musicians (drummers who slow down, guitarists who play out of tune, unemployable trombonists) the stereotype of the trumpet players is the arrogant show-off. The trumpet ...
Truth Forced Stars to See the Light
People: Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen on I Saw the Light
The good lord was willing and the creek didn't rise, but taking on the challenge of playing Hank Williams, the American icon who gave a nation its own lonesome sound, gave Tom Hiddleston and co-star Elizabeth Olsen a fresh lesson in authenticity
By Katherine Monk
TORONTO – “Last time I checked, I wasn’t born in Asgard,” says Tom Hiddleston. Indeed, the English actor was born in Westminster, the central chunk of London, a far cry from the celestial birthplace of Norse gods such as Odin, Thor and Loki, the latter representing Hiddleston’s ticket to the Hollywood big-time.
In 2011, Hiddleston played the bitter little brother to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in the continuing Marvel franchise, bringing true gravitas and drama to the comic book universe and causing a gravitational bend to the spotlight’s beam. Hiddleston went toe-to-toe with Anthony Hopkins and Robert Downey Jr. in Thor, but that same year ...
András Schiff conquers gridiron goliaths
Rod Mickleburgh: The Super Bowl vs. Classical Piano Recital
How a 62-year-old pianist in a knee-length tunic made one lifelong sports fan forget about the Super Bowl, and feel the magic of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert
By Rod Mickleburgh
The treasured Leila Getz, described in the program as “Head Honcho” of the Vancouver Recital Society, welcomed us with her usual enthusiasm. “Thank you for choosing András Schiff over the Super Bowl. The magic begins.” And indeed, it did.
Moments later, the stately, 62-year old master pianist, wearing a knee-length black tunic, walked out from the wings, acknowledged our applause, sat down on the cushioned bench, rested his hands on the top of the piano for 20 seconds of contemplation, and began to play.
While gazillions tuned into the greatest annual event in the history of the world, aka the Super Bowl, which surpasses even the Eurovision Song Contest in global importance, I sat entranced, with hundreds of others at the packed ...
Rod Mickleburgh’s Cool Yule Top Ten
Music: Christmas Carols
A devout atheist reveals an unrepentant penchant for Christmas carols, and offers a list of top yule tunes, as well as a few nasty disasters from the past
By Rod Mickleburgh
A confirmed atheist from birth, I nevertheless fell under the spell of Christmas carols early on in my twisted, hippie life. I well remember a time when, in the days leading to Christmas, CBC Radio would broadcast the singing of carols every morning from the Timothy Eaton’s Store in Toronto. And this was no professional choir. The singers were the shoppers, and whoever else showed up to carol at 8.30 a.m., when the half-hour live broadcast began. Complete with coughing, the grave, echo-y announcements of the next carol, the audible rustling of the carol sheets and finally, the glorious sound of all those voices raised on high, it was an indelible part of my “child’s Christmas in Newmarket”.
I can tell you they never did Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the ...
Adios, Buena Vista Social Club
The venerated Cuban act made famous by Ry Cooder's chart-topping recording are on their final tour, but even as octogenarians, the surviving legends send chills through the nervous system
By Rod Mickleburgh
It was a magical night, mixed with a heavy dose of poignancy, as the vaunted Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club made its final appearance in Vancouver. There will be no more tours. Many of the aging Cuban music stars we got to know and love from Ry Cooder’s venture to Havana in the 1990’s are no longer with us. Only five Buena Vista originals are left, and one of them, the incomparable diva Omara Portuondo, will soon be 85. She could barely walk onto the stage at the Chan Centre. As soon as the music started up, however, her fountain of youth kicked in, transfixing us still with the haunting power of her voice and an aching ability to caress the lyrics. Spanish really is the loving tongue. For most of her short set, we were on our feet, showering her with the adulation ...