Tears In Oshawa

I’m going to say the unpopular because that’s what I do. I simply say what other people are thinking because without the voice of reason, society is destined for continued mediocrity.

Whenever I go to get my GM car fixed in a dealership, I witness indifference to my needs until I bark. I see snooty people without a post secondary education carving out agendas of mini power trips. I see checkout clerks unprofessionally dressed. I’m quoted over priced parts.  I see a laissez- faire modicum of operation. My car’s make and model steering mechanism had been deemed responsible for multiple deaths but its ultimate recall was delayed and only actuated after outrage from interested parties.

Workers in Canadian assembly lines of automobile manufacturing typically require no formal education in order to conduct menial assembly line tasks. Yes, some tasks require dexterity and on the job training, but an individual need not bring a mind equipped with astute analytical skills or a body of knowledge to deploy. Auto plant workers when factoring in benefits and pension plans oftentimes out earn those who have invested much more in professional development. 

The taxpayer has bailed out the automobile industry in the face of hardened union agreements. The Quebec based Bombardier has also benefitted dramatically from public funds.  When market forces and financial crises have struck non-auto, and non-airplane manufacturing sectors, these sectors succumbed to the market. Yet, your federal government has opened your wallet to the aforementioned two groups unabashedly. When other Canadians at times have been hit by unemployment, a system of Employment Insurance could be systematically deployed to their benefit. However; with the news of an Oshawa plant closure, it would appear that politicians are all too eager to expedite the waiting period or elongate the benefit period maximum. 

It’s an event like today with this news when we come to learn exactly where your federal government and opposition politicians stand within the framework of capitalism, individual responsibility, free markets, and the perviousness of the public purse.

My message to auto workers facing layoffs… get registered for the January session at your local community college and learn more about competing in the free enterprise system. Oh yes, you may need to put that boat or cottage up for sale as you invest in yourself.      

       

Shoegaze and Slowdive

Shoegaze music became a shadow or back seat genre of the grunge scene during the 90s. Typically played in the minor keys, the name came from lead guitarists’ fixation on their feet due to the operation of numerous effect pedals daisy chained on stage. Thanks to KEXP radio, I discovered Slowdive which may be the preeminent band associated with the genre. To the band’s surprise upon reuniting in 2014 after a long hiatus due partly to unflattering reviews, audiences hailed them dearly in London and Barcelona. Their return has been invigorated with a hot new album self titled “Slowdive”.

 My characterization of the music is “sombre mood”. If you’re willing to go into the darkness, you’ll shimmy in calm. Just make certain you come out while not over cooking your playlist with it. While the distinction of chord movement is oftentimes muddled given the heavy use of reverb, the unrushed melodies can be impactful and pointed.

Much of my attraction to Slowdive is the modest stage presence and obvious band cohesiveness lead by lead song writer and front man Neal Halstead. What his childhood chum Rachel Goswell lacks in vocal range – she makes up for in musicality on guitar and keyboard.  Her voice tonality is actually fitting to the eclectic ambience illuminating live performances. Critical to the sensitive nature of the genre, the rhythm section has a strong feel for dynamics with Simon Scott intuitively in sync with bassist Nick Chaplin. Christian Savill rounds out the troupe on rhythm guitar.                

Jose James Plays Calgary

It was a show in tribute to jazz icon Bill Withers last night at the Jack Singer. As you can see, I had a choice seat. I got to say that one of my highlights was witnessing the pure joy of an audience in awe of this rising star, Jose James. One particular young woman simply beamed in delight and in fact one memorable moment was our eyes colliding upon intercepting witty stage talk. Tracks “Who Is He”, and “Ain’t No Sunshine” particularly stood out along with the groovy closer which turned a classy looking opera hall into a speakeasy lookalike. This fellow, James, possesses a stage charm inviting onlookers into his act from the outset. His voice is stellar with a wide range and particularly appealing in tenor like phrasing.   

The band was strong with frequent solos from lead man Brad Allen Williams. The only pedal featured that I could see from my quaint corner spot during the evening was a wah brandished in “Grandma’s Hands”. All members had their solo spots. James’ admiration for Bill Withers was genuine and lucky for us all in the end, James encored with one of his own. 

 

       

Wynterland Band Review

With tickets sold out at the Blues Can last night, I headed over to Mikey’s Juke Joint on 12th Ave SW with a friend and enjoyed classic rock from Red Deer’s Wynterland.

This is an energetic cover band that does remarkably well at capturing popular riffs of yesteryear. I stayed for their first two sets and enjoyed classics such from Fleetwood Mac , Boston, April Wine, Pat Benatar, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Toto, and Journey among others less familiar. It’s a fun stage presence hosted by vocalist / guitarist Wynette Johnson. The biggest take away of the evening was song selection. I don’t know if they had kicked in all of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams, “Rhiannon”, and “Go Your Own Way” because of the news of FM’s concert postponement but if so, that was intuitive. Patrons obviously took to the rhythm section filling the dance floor from the outset. “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” from April Wine definitely had me reeling in Nostalgia as these guys delivered on this track pretty much note for note. 

When coming away from such an occasion, I reflect on the hard work that local musicians put into recreating popular songs for our enjoyment and the breadth of commitment required for band members to operate cohesively in this part time endeavour while maintaining full time careers. Although reduced …thankfully, Calgary has venues still available for these gigs. Go out and show your support. These bands need us.