The Nickelodeon folk club hosted these guitarists last night to a sold out show. This is a quaint venue and by all accounts…this act deserves a bigger arena. They are seasoned pros with decades of guitar playing experience with Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier operating in tandum since the mid nineties. Jake Lauzon has proved to be a travelling companion producing yet more gel to the stage chemistry.
There’s so much material in addition to yet another release titled “Leather and Dust” that fan favourites “Kelly’s Mountain”, “Molly May”, and “Leaving Charlottetown” didn’t make the set list. Not only did they bring the house down but Dave Gunning’s dry humour with his soft spoke voice left some patrons in fits of laughter.
J.P.’s roots started out by winning fiddle and guitar contests in his youth. From there basic training involved acclimatizing to the fast tempo of bluegrass in the southern U.S where mandolin and banjo chops advanced in the company of the Sullivan family.
Dave Gunning is simply a work horse with melody emanating oftentimes in an octave altered from the lead playing of JP. Dave is ribbed among “String Theory” enthusiasts (weekly guitar talk show hosted by J.P) for how high he capos the guitar. The personality differential between these two is obviously broad adding to the appeal.
The guitar playing is something to behold. J.P exhibits scale mastery along the neck and utilizes open strings and altered chords for piquing interest. Then there is the dynamics and flow of a song that shows how extremely synchronized these two have become.
We don’t know Jake well yet but the word is that he’s also a multi-instrumentalist at the ready for whatever flavour needs added to a song.
The Western Canadian portion of the tour is underway and dates are posted on their web site “gunningandcormier.com”.
The acronym stands for “State of The Union” and it is an annual message from the President of The United states in front of sitting members of the Congress. The Constitution mandates the event in order to update citizens.
You would think it would be an apolitical affair instead of a cheerleading session given the mandate. The United States of America carries an enormous debt of $31 trillion. The country spent 28.5% more than it received in revenue in 2022. These are critical financial facts applicable for describing the “state of the nation”. In other words, as of this date of writing….every American citizen carries a debt burden of $94,325. That’s right…the citizens, many of which receive foods stamps, income support, and minimum wage pay carry this debt burden which if unable to ratify within their lifetime then becomes the burden of future generations. Is it conscionable to overspend my 28.5 per cent during a time when espoused by Joe Biden himself that the unemployment rate in America is at the lowest it’s been in 50 years?
With this kind of enormous debt, how is it that so many profitable corporations in America go without paying tax as referenced? What kinds of loopholes are they deploying in order to avoid paying tax and why is it that this country cannot close loopholes to help save their solvency?
Of course there was the dismay at watching political elite hob nob around the assembly with their phony smiles and handshakes all while Turkey and Syria endure the enormity of death and despair amidst the ruins of a devastating earthquake and while young innocent soldiers heed the call of their nations to serve battlefields in Ukraine. Given the backdrop, one would expect at least some decorum instead politicking and cat calling from back benches and solemnity instead of hubris upon delivering news of the state not so candidly.
When I first heard Danielle Smith speak back in the days of the Wildrose Party….I was impressed. She has the capacity to think and she has admitted to mistakes. Her biggest blunder of course was crossing the floor to the conservatives prior to the formulation of the “UCP”. In a word, she “blew up” and high tailed it right out of politics.
Years later…her constituents were willing to let bygones be bygones.
Last week as premier she spoke again in defense of the Oil and Gas Industry. She makes strong arguments and is an admirable stalwart in representing the industry as she has characterized Ottawa’s “just transition” dogma.
However; COVID is coming back to haunt her. An election campaign promise to pardon rebel anti-covid campaigners from legal breaches wasn’t so well thought out now that it’s been determined legally that pardons are untenable. Most recently, there is rumour that her office had reached out to prosecutors assigned to the Coutts crossing blockade which transpired during the height of the pandemic.
Serious conservatives are left wondering if her pandering to lunatics on the fringe is going to get the better of her and once more put us right back in the position of an NDP agenda. I envision much head shaking in downtown Calgary board rooms as we wonder if this will be yet another government imbued in scandal rather than good governance.
Policy initiatives to help her gain our trust:
Get to the very bottom of the health care crisis and implement strong accountability measures (including professional bodies) while carefully budgeting new federal transfer moneys.
Clean up runaway crime working with cities
Enact policy to shore up a housing shortage
Clean up abandoned wells ensuring tight admin for reclamation deposits
There was a travel fiasco during Xmas of 2022. It’s about values and conscientiousness. If values have been eroded and folks don’t care, service levels suffer. If an ego is so activated, there is trepidation with communication in fear of culpability. In a nutshell, this is what would have happened in the airline industry during Christmas of 2022. Things were off the rails and folks were patronized instead of treated with dignity. Let’s be clear. It’s undignified to basically hold one hostage with an absence of information.
Today the big wheels convene to sort out the mess and review the “Passenger Bill of Rights”. This amendment will be interesting in the context of competing interests and international differences in standards.
Generally, there has been a wholehearted movement away from the telephone. The telephone is brilliant technology much more adept at handling multiple topics quickly without the need for typing skills. It has been a conduit for conducting commercial transaction for over a century. In fact, vocal tones in and of themselves along with what is not said provides for positivity in an exchange. Yet, newer generations swipe dismiss and fail to check their voice mail.
Just today I spoke in consternation with a firm which has also admitted to dropping the ball in their relationship with me. Of course, all of the particular wheel spinning could have been avoided with a transparent adroit phone call.
You are right now involved in relationships with large corporations which do the following:
They send you emails with the term “no-reply” in their email address.
Do not provide a 1-800 number for service.
Require you to deploy a smart phone to conduct a transaction only when an in person or voice telephone means is practical.
Receive emails from service agents who do not include their name and /or phone number in the signature of an email.
Have failed to notate relevant particulars to your account therefore requiring its repeat on subsequent outreach.
Take up your valuable time with their propaganda in an outgoing phone message prior to providing a prompt.
You have mostly thrown up your arms in apathy because you feel there is no recourse. Then you become the one sleeping on an airport floor with your two year old.
Victimhoood abounds and group think is having an effect on those tasked with putting up internet headlines and then the drivel that follows. It’s come to light that there is a First Nations Group dismayed that they weren’t counseled in B.C.’s decision not to go forward with a 2030 Olympic bid and the press is giving them a voice. It’s ludicrous and argued by this group in the context of recommendations made by a commission dealing with “Truth and Reconciliation”.
Here is what I’d like to see happen in the context of truth and reconciliation. I’d like to see every indigenous citizen in our country leave tax exempt reserves and pay tax through work like everyone else. Temporary transitional housing and job training should be provided at a cost to taxpayers. Reserves should be put back to nature just like the requirement bestowed upon natural resource firms once operations cease. There should be a complete excavation of these grave sites with accountability. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be amended restricting the liberties of those who cannot care for themselves due to mental health and addiction issues so that they can be rehabilitated. The democratic process should be updated to reflect discourse through strict regulated administrative means as opposed to scenes of intimidating road blocks. In other words, I’d provide apprehension powers to the state for unlawful protest apparently more strict than what’s currently available. I’d encourage the complete removal of any affirmative action protocols at every level of government, industry and schools. The new stat holiday “Truth and Reconciliation” day should be abolished. I would amend school curriculums at the secondary level to include compulsory course work in personal development, free enterprise, economics / industry, business administration, capitalism, and capital markets.
Gordon Lightfoot’s 2022 Calgary performance was unforgettable. Twenty seconds into the opening number, Gordon Lightfoot needed a dose of oxygen and there was some awkwardness in the crowd. At 84 next month one questions what keeps him going especially considering emphysema having been a smoker. However; once he found a chair and regained his composure with the aid of his caring support group…the music started to take shape.
They played all the hits familiar to you with some brevity. Lead guitarist Carter Lancaster provided some lyrical support to “Sundown” but with all other songs…Gordon was right there with all lyrics to all songs despite a voice past its peak. The Grey Eagle venue in Calgary does have good acoustics and the levels were set perfectly. Ian Tyson seemed to be with us throughout the evening with mentions of the ’88 Olympic performance for which they teamed as well as credits toward closing pre encore number “Early Morning Rain”. The band was tight and acoustic guitar support and short solos from Lancaster made for the perfect blend with Gordon. In select songs Lancaster played a ES-355 style semi-hollow with nice fat tone.
You could feel the audience light up once “If You Could Read My Mind” came around and it had a great sentimental feel in addition to the clarity of delivery. Honorable mention goes to keyboard player Mike Heffernan for harmonizing with Gordon beautifully. Speaking of “Beautiful” it was beautifully done. This is a finger picking song and Gordon is still up to the task despite having had a hand issue. In fact, Gordon’s guitar playing was much better than expected…especially on his 1942 Martin. He nicely introduced songs with poignant opening single note melodies.
Every song kept me interested. It was more than the music. It was the witnessing of a Canadian music icon at work at his age that brought mystery to the evening. In fact, once the standing ovation waned at set’s end and Gordon opened up the closing song with a defining lick from “Rainy Day People”, the simplicity of the song colored with melancholic movement spurred emotion and the surreal sense that we all were lucky to have seen this man and his band live given his contribution to Canadian music.
It’s August 13, 2022, thirty-one degrees and a little warm for tennis. I ponder the dark side of man and liberty without limits as I listen to the haunting opening track to Above and Beyond’s live acoustic performance at Porchester Hall from some years ago.
I digest the news. It impacts me and simmers in my subconscious mind upon going about my affairs. I think about those who actually believed that Donald Trump was good for America and were duped. I wonder about the blind eye we turn to the homeless. I question the conduct of our police and the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. I wonder about the creeps stained by social aberration unable to find their place with a propensity to commit evil deeds. There are the weak minds amenable to anti-social agendas while religious sects quietly confront. We speak of war with rules as we normalize the invasion of Ukraine. Underpinning man’s propensity to inflict harm is the hopefulness of youth perplexed about what the future holds in store served by a smattering of unfiltered opinions, propaganda, and deceit blabbered through “platforms” of “social media”. Free speech although virtuous in theory has unfortunately been central to hurt and consequent suicide. In fact, I postulate that the ultimate quest for liberty without limits has stained the consciousness of a society by leaving the addicted and mentally unfit to their own devices ultimately.
Nobody is immune from the potential of chaos brought by circumstances beyond one’s control. There are those who espouse such righteousness at times in life when seemingly in control. Unfortunately, destiny serves all despite inklings of immortality and resilience. The internet has brought a forum to all but not all speak responsibly and not all possess capacity. Activism run amok sponsored in part by internet access presents the plight of an author speaking his mind, the ghoulish fandom of populism, the irrational refusal of facts, and cowbells in a town square on a Saturday afternoon. The thoughtful amongst us are quiet because notions of reprisals are real. The quiet majority feels queasy.
The homelessness mess stains the first world. I’ve seen the look on faces of people stumbling upon homeless folks underneath downtown Calgary underpasses. It’s one of troubled disappointment. It’s just a moment of their day which passes whereby the mind becomes dispossessed quickly upon returning to daily affairs. There’s not sufficient intrusion on the mind for passersby to engage wholeheartedly. However; tomorrows arrive and incidences have become more frequent.
Upon returning to train station on foot (Chinook) from Long and McQuade today…I came across three lonely souls with their shopping carts in tow. None of them looked like what one might presume to be a homeless person. Stopped and spoke to a man who looked to be 40 or so. He mumbled as he spoke but he was coherent. The train of thought had logic. He didn’t look that bad in terms of hygiene and did acknowledge his shortcomings. (don’t want to divulge specifics). You can imagine probably most everything and anything as to why people end up on the street. When I asked if anyone spoke to him with a barrage of questions like I posed today….he replied no. I left him on his way.
Down the road a ways a police van was stopped on the side of the road. I approached it and spoke to the two officers. I shared that I had spoken to this homeless man and asked what the city is doing about them. He said they receive “AISH” (Alberta Income for The Severely Handicapped) and help is available. However; it’s apparent that many of them don’t reach out for help. I shared that this man said that he had never asked for help. Reference was made to restrictions and limitations imposed on the police with my ultimate suggestion that the “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” requires and update in order to effectively deal with the problem. One officer concurred but opined that few have an appetite to seriously consider the political challenge of such an undertaking.
Next I went for a beer and fries at Joey Tomatoes at the Chinook mall and then to Staples for office supplies. Upon arriving at my office I found a lady sleeping behind my office building. I checked for her respiration. Another set of officers arrived just as I had left her and I pointed her out to them. Then onwards to some Options Trading review in the office on a long weekend Sunday afternoon.
It’s quite the conundrum for musicians spawned by the era of virtual streaming and Napster’s historic foot hold. As of yet, I’ve never subscribed to Spotify. My reading of Johnny Cash’s autobiography has been inspired by the “Life In Music” series of Canadian bluegrass / folk guitarist J.P. Cormier. It’s been interesting to learn of dysfunction and cronyism behind the recording industry which may have produced my hesitancy in subscribing to Spotify. The Neil Young disconnect with Spotify and Joni Mitchell’s follow on weaves its semantic influence of my perception on the consumption of music. Context is such that my own musicianship has been on the rise of late.
I never understood the Napster appeal. I never understood why folks surmised that they deserved good music for nothing. Convenience is one thing and fair remuneration is another. We are apparently inherently self interested enough to circumvent the financial welfare of those who feed our id. The Spotify membership is affordable for all and this was a business model which obviously generated mass appeal and has consequently led to a monopolistic landscape for music consumption. It’s the reality and what is often the case for the masses generates hesitation by yours truly. The general sentiment for those with some semblance of taste is that music on the radio right now is uninteresting yet somehow the business side of radio has come to learn that this style of music aligns with advertisers. CDs and vinyl are now becoming tougher to access. Musicians are not necessarily adept at the distribution side of their own work. Production runs on vinyl require minimum orders which may exceed demand.
The consumption model for receiving music may be under scrutiny right now. That’s not to say that the Neil Young / Joni Mitchell spat with Spotify has initiated such but the egregiously low streaming royalty rates have not been sitting well with artists for some time. Undoubtedly times are changing and musicians such as blues comer Samantha Fish who seems savvy around business may start becoming the instigators of a modern form of the “label”.