What we’re listening to this week

30 10 2009

Warp 11
I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven as Long as They Have Vulcans in Hell (Reboot)warp11
So you saw the new Star Trek and then saw it again in IMAX and will soon be buying it on DVD. What to do in the meantime? Put a Starfleet spin on the latest Warp 11 disc—which, astoundingly, is the fifth album by this arguably one-joke band. (Although tracks like “Yet Another Star Trek Song” show they clearly have a sense of humour about themselves.) But hardcore Trek fans will dig Vulcans in Hell, which offers 13 more Starfleet-themed tracks guaranteed to rock the Horta off the most dedicated of fans. (Really, though, you have to be a serious follower to even appreciate the data behind a song like “Fully Functional.”) And while Warp 11’s Ramones-with-a-smidge-of-B52s-vocals sound is ideal for any sci-fi geek looking to fill their hitchhike across the galaxy with nerve-pinching, high-energy and often hilarious songs, it may not be the ideal thing for the average Herbert. Live loud and prosper, Warp 11.

Rick Wakeman
The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Live at Hampton Court Palace (Eagle Rock)Rick-Wakeman-The-Six-Wives-Of-485490
Good heavens. If you thought prog-rock concept albums had all but had their day—and well they should have, if this disc is any indication—you’re in for a rude awakening with Wakeman’s latest. True, he’s a legend in certain musical circles, but the best thing that can be said about this album is that it probably works much better on the concert DVD, where at least you’d get the visuals of seeing it staged at big Hank’s own castle. Beyond that, unless acrobatic guitar noodling is really, really your thing, this one deserves the big chop.

Love 2 (EMI)air-love-2
In case you thought French duo Air had simply dissolved into the electronica ether after their smash late-’90s releases like Moon Safari and Premiers Symptomes, you’ll be happy to hear they’re back with Love 2, which offers more of the same late-night-chill sound that first brought them to everyone’s attention. But much like St. Germaine’s Tourist, it’s hard to tell if Love 2 is a stronger album than their iconic earlier releases, since so many of us have those discs virtually imprinted on our audio subconscious. That said, the first few of these dozen tracks have a distinctly jazzy ’60s spy sound, while the latter batch fall into the more generically trippy category, making this ideal as a background album (whether pre- or post-consciousness raising) but not as powerful as an individual listening experience . . . beyond the obligatory, big-fatty-and-headphones spin, that is.

Alana Levandoski
Lions & Werewolves (Blue Lily)alanalevandoski
Gotta say, while Alana Levandoski‘s remarkable debut album Unsettled Down was on my 2005 favourites list, it’s taken me a bit longer to warm up to her latest, Lions & Werewolves. Perhaps that’s because she’s amped up the country twang on this strong collection of 12 original tracks, moving her slightly outside of my own crossover roots comfort zone, but there’s no denying the talent of this young singer-songwriter: she’s got an earthy voice that gets into your ear and  quickly becomes unmistakable, and her skill on piano and guitar easily matches her powerful vocal delivery. That said, while the Ken Nelson-produced Lions & Werewolves is an enjoyable package, there aren’t any outstanding tracks that leap to mind, even after repeated listenings over the past month. Still, anyone with a yen for Canadian country would do well to tune into Levandoski’s career; given her win-win track record so far, she’s absolutely a major talent in the making.

—John Threlfall

Welcome to Spooky Town

16 10 2009

If you’re looking to get in the Halloween mood over the next couple of weeks, or to start planning ahead for the deadly day itself, here’s a few things to get you started.

Rod Peter Jr. is the sinister Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (photo: Ariel Rubin)

Rod Peter Jr. is the sinister Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (photo: Ariel Rubin)

1) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde –  Celebrate 10 years of horror-themed, site-specific theatre at Craigdarroch Castle by catching the latest from Giggling Iguana Productions, an original adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale. As with any of the Castle shows (which have, over the past decade, included the likes of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Fall of the House of Usher, The War of the Worlds and I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe), audiences are led hither and yon throughout this spectacular local landmark while actors (and your own imagination) unleash the horror of Mr. Hyde. Good freaky family fun for anyone 10 and up who doesn’t mind walking up and down a whole lot of stairs. Runs evenings October 15 to 18, 22 to 24 and 27 to 31. Tickets are going fast on this one, though, so don’t delay. $25 plus GST general admission (or $22 plus GST for Castle members). Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be purchased by phone at (250) 592-5323. And you can also get in on a very special 10th anniversary performance on October 23rd at 9 pm, followed by a cocktail reception with the cast (tickets $65 for this event, which includes hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine or beer). Only 50 ticket available for this very special evening! Please contact Craigdarroch Castle at 250-592-5323 ext 31.

2) Festival of Fear – If going for a hay ride and picking your own pumpkin isn’t quite enough for you, stick around Galey Farms for their annual season of terror featuring the Cornfield of Horror, the Crazy Train (sorry, no Ozzy), Madame Isabella’s Seance and the PG-13 rated Carnevil. Runs  6 to 10 pm nightly through to Halloween night. $10 adults, $7 kids. 4150 Blenkinsop. 250-477-5713

3) Take a Ghost Tour – The haunting season is back and what better place to find the poltergeists and apparitions than on the Ghost Tour of the Maritime Museum, one of Victoria’s most haunted buildings? (No, it really is—it used to be the old courthouse and has plenty of skeletons in its historic closet.) Take the 90-minute tour at 8 p.m. October 16 to 18, 23 to 25, and 30, with a special tour at 3 pm on October 31 for children and families (it’s highly suggested for children to come dressed for Halloween at that one).  28 Bastion Square. $8-$12 or $35 for families. But if that sounds too active for you, just sit back and relax on a Haunted Horsedrawn Trolley Tour, which will take you down the dark streets of James Bay to hear about the scary events in one of the most haunted residential areas on the West Coast. They run hourly 6pm-9pm starting Friday, October 23, through to October 30, leaving from various venues downtown. $10-$20. 250-383-2207. Or there’s the ever-popular Ghostly Walks. No reservations required for these 90-minute walking tours around downtown Victoria’s most haunted places. Meet at 7:30pm nightly, plus 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays in front of the Visitor Information Centre at Government and Wharf. $12/$10 for students and seniors. But if that sounds too tame for you, try the Ghostly Walks Extreme! on November 14 and December 12 only.) But if you get tuckered out easily, just reserve a ticket for the popular Ghost Bus Tours on October 23 & 24 and 28 to 30.  Ghostly Walks – No reservations required for these 90-minute walking tours around downtown Victoria’s most haunted places. Meet at 7:30pm nightly, plus 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays in front of the Visitor Information Centre at Government and Wharf. $12/$10 for students and seniors. But if that sounds too tame for you, try the Ghostly Walks Extreme! on October 16, November 14 and December 12 only.) But if you get tuckered out easily, just reserve a ticket for the popular Ghost Bus Tours on October 23 & 24 and 28 to 30. But reserve early, as they usually sell out. 250-384-6698.250-384-6698. Finally, there’s the Voices from the Past Ghostly Walking Tours, where you’ll hear spooky tales of singing in the middle of the night and fleeting glimpses of dark figures in doorways—all part of the unexplained phenomenon experienced by former students, security guards and building staff at St. Ann’s Academy, one of Victoria’s oldest heritage buildings and former girls school and convent. Those run at 6pm and 8pm Friday-Saturday, October 23-24, at at the chapel entrance of St. Anne’s Academy, 835 Humboldt. $10-$12. 250-953-8829.

4) Go See A Show – In addition to the other plays listed below, you can also take in some seasonal zaniness at Atomic Vaudeville’s annual Halloween Show: Kevin Krueger presents Seed of Freddy (“Next I’m gonna cut the funding to your dreams, Bitch!”) running at 8 p.m. October 29-31 at the Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad (tickets $12-$18 at Rebel Rebel, 565 Johnson). Or, for something completely different, try Howl: The Musical, an original production by Stage West Players running November 6-8, 13-15, 20-22 at the Sooke Community Theatre in Edward Milne Community School. Tickets for this one run $13-$19.

5) Ride the Cyclone – Not a Halloween show per se, but considering it’s all about a group of teens who’ve been killed on a faulty amusement park ride—and whose ghosts then sing all about their unrealized futures—we’d say this Atomic Vaudeville production is damn well close enough. If you missed this hit show when it ran earlier this year, now’s your chance to catch it when Intrepid Theatre presents this tweaked remount, running from October 21 to 24 and 26 to 31 at Metro Theatre. Written by local playwright Jacob Richmond (Legoland, Qualities of Zero), who also directs along with Atomic Vaudeville co-founder Britt Small (My Chernobyl); music and Lyrics by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell. Tickets $20.  250-383-2663

6) HauntedTheatre SKAM and the Homegrown Collective (producers of Schoolhouse Rocks, Schoolhouse Rocks On and Bike Ride) join forces once again to freak you out this Halloween with a three-storey explosion of chills and thrills at this creative and creepy Haunted House. (Ideal costume? Provincial cultural axe-man Kevin Kreuger!) Admission allows attendees to wander the house taking in music, visual and performing art all at their own pace . . . except for when the zombies give chase. All are invited to stop at the bar and have a drink with a ghost or make their way down to the basement, if they dare. There’ll be a band in the attic nightly to close out the evening. Haunted features the talents of Cait Helten, David P. Smith, Declan, Ghosts, Ghouls, Kate Rubin, Kathleen Greenfield, Kelly-Dawn Dabous, Kolya, Leigh Peirce, Matthew Payne, Melissa Blank, Nancy Murphy, Peter Theunisz, Sarah Murphy, Shaye, Tom Stuart, Veronique Piercy, Zombies, and many more. Oct 23 and 24 plus 29 to 31 from 9 p.m. until late. Tickets are $20 at the door of Victoria College of Art, 1625 Bank Street.

Look up, look waaaay up, and I'll carve Rusty

Look up, look waaaay up, and I'll carve Rusty

7) Pumpkin Art – From October 30 to November 1, see hundreds of plastic pumpkins carved into the likes of Canadian Idols, cartoon characters, various prime ministers, the Royal Family, ‘60s television icons and more. This popular family Halloween event used to be held at Government House but now can be found on the grounds of the Victoria Truth Centre, 1201 Fort, in support of the Victoria Youth Clinic, part of the James Bay Community Project.  There’s also the Fabulous Fort Great Pumpkin Walk, in which Fort Street retailers plans to fill the sidewalks of Fort Street with jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating for family and friends. Stores will stay open to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 30 & 31, handing out treats, samples, and/or warm beverages like mulled cider, offering evening specials on Fall items, and dressing in costume.

8) The Pumpkin Yard – Better still, though, is Fernwood’s most organic (and fun) Halloween event. For the past 13 years, the front and back yards of the Pumpkin Yard at 2527 Fernwood Road (at Bay) have been filled with hundreds of real, hand-carved pumpkins, situated amidst a spooky display that has to be seen to be loved . . . as many, many Fernwood residents do! Alas, this is the final year for the Pumpkin Yard at this location, so come out and see it while you can on October 30 and 31.

9)  The Victoria Zombie Walk – Stagger and lurch your way through downtown on the which goes on the search for fresh brains starting at 2 pm on October 31 at Centennial Square and carries on to the Harbour Towers Hotel, where it will collide with the Victoria Comic Convention . . . which just happens to be home to the first annual ZombieFeast Film Festival (to which Zombie Walk participants will receive half-price admission).

Bruce Horak, Rebecca Northan and Tyler Rive in Evil Dead: The Musical (photo: Sean Dennie, Photoganda)

Bruce Horak, Rebecca Northan and Tyler Rive in Evil Dead: The Musical (photo: Sean Dennie, Photoganda)

10) Evil Dead: The Musical – Okay, this last one is in Vancouver, but if ever there was a seasonal show worth crossing the pond for, this is it. A musical send-up of Sam Raimi’s beloved Evil Dead movie series (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness), this hit Canadian musical is bloody great—literally, as there’s an infamous “Splatter Zone” where audience members are guaranteed to get hosed down by buckets of blood. Evil Dead: The Musical tells an all-too-familiar story (with toe-tapping songs and energetic dancing, of course): boy and four friends break into an abandoned cabin while on a weekend getaway; boy expects to get lucky; boy discovers an ancient flesh-bound book with the power to summon the demons of Candar; boy unleashes ancient evil spirit; boy turns friends into Candarian Demons; boy fights until dawn to survive. After playing in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and even having an Off-Broadway run, this hilariously gory tale of lust, love and dismemberment has been having audiences gushing wherever it goes. A musical in the same, uh, vein as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Urinetown: The Musical, Evil Dead: The Musical mixes the scenario of the first two films with dialogue from the third into one bloody great show.  Runs from October 20 to 31 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street. Tickets are $45 or $65 for the Splatter Zone. http://www.ticketmaster.ca 604.280.4444.

What We’re Listening to This Week

15 10 2009


I’ll admit to having a real weakness for the kind of piano-pop-rock that is the signature sound of Five for Fighting—I put it down to foundational musical memories of early Elton John albums—but for anyone keen on the style made famous by Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” (not a great song, granted, but pretty memorable), then Five for Fighting is worth checking out. And while FFF is the band name you’ll find on the album cover, it’s really all about John Ondrasik, who writes the songs, plays the piano and sings the vocals. Think of him as a more sincere, but perhaps less musically ambitious, version of Ben Folds and you’ll be headed up the right audio alley. With four previous studio releases and two live albums now behind him, FFF’s latest—Slice (Aware/Columbia)—definitely satisfies fans and serves as a well-produced intro to anyone tired of their old Billy Joel albums and looking for a new piano-rocker to follow. Of note here is the title track Ondrasik wrote with Stephen Schwartz (of Wicked and Godspell fame), an evocatively nostalgiac track that’ll appeal to anyone who grew up listening to ’70s-era AM radio. Sure, Slice is unlikely to hit anyone’s top-10 list for 2009, but Ondrasik is always great to listen to when you’re feeling introspective, or on a lonely, cross-country haul.

Speaking of piano, if you’re looking to uncover a relatively undiscovered rising talent in the West Coast jazz scene, be sure to track down Wait and See (Cellar Live), the latest from lower mainland-born-and-based pianist Amanda Tosoff. I say “relatively undiscovered” because Tosoff and her Quartet—Evan Arntzen (sax), Sean Cronin (bass) and Morgan Childs (drums)—have already picked up the 2007 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award for best emerging group, but that doesn’t mean this gifted 24-year-old has become a household name yet . . . even in jazz-heavy households where the likes of CBC’s “Hot Air” is mandatory weekend listening. And from the 10 tracks on Wait and See (all but one of which, bassist Cronin’s “Shorinji Kempo,” were written by Tosoff) there’s a lot here to, uh, hear. A graduate of Capilano College’s noted music program (where she studied under the likes of Ross Taggart and Chris Sigarson), Tosoff’s piano stylings evoke the likes of Bill Evans—notably on the track “Soaring”—and this thoughtful, engaging album is well worth repeated listenings. At times meditative, jaunty and wonderfully uncluttered by unnecessary vocals,  Wait and See is fine effort by this quartet, where all the artists compliment each other with no upstaging or grandstanding. Also worth noting is more great trumpet and flugelhorn work by the always inspiring Brad Turner (whose own career is well worth following, both on his solo projects or his steady supporting work for others), who also produced this strong album.

—John Threlfall

Rally for the Arts – October 20

15 10 2009

I’d like to think we here at Monday Mag have been providing pretty extensive coverage of the proposed cuts to arts and culture funding here in B.C.. Just saw this event posted on Facebook and wanted to pass it along. I’d be there if I could (Tuesday is a press day over here!) but if you can make it, go.

For the Facebook-inclined, the info is here.

Pertinent details are posted below.


Save BC Arts Funding!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
11:00am – 12:00pm
BC Legislative Buildings
501 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC
The BC Liberal government has proposed cuts to funding for the arts, in the order of 50% this coming year, 90% in 2011, and 91%-94% the following year.

We believe that arts and culture are an essential part of our society and are therefore rallying to show our opposition to these cuts.

So… artists of all shapes and sizes, please join us on the steps of the BC legislature! Bring an instrument, a work of art, or a sign!

UVic music students – if you have a class with Susan Lewis-Hammond, Jonathan Goldman, or Harold Krebs, you have their permission and encouragement to be a part of this event. We’ll be leaving the school at 10:30 and back by 12:30. Other students? Talk to your teachers and make it a field trip!

Let your voice be heard. It’s only an hour out of your day to show your concern for the rest of your (or your friends) careers.

And invite everybody you know!!! We need at least 200 people for this to be noticeable.

A good website? Check out http://www.stopbcartscuts.ca/

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