Soul to Soul

25 11 2009

In this kind of job, you get used to having intersecting lives—brief moments shared with people, often artists, that can have a lasting impact on your own life. Maybe it’s that blatant fan interview where you get a few minutes with a seminal rock star from your childhood (thank you, Pat Benatar) or maybe it’s using your media platform to support artists as they emerge, develop and blossom into mature members of the arts community (numerous theatrical talents leap to mind here). And sometimes it’s just another assignment your editor hands you, but one that turns out to be a conversation that lingers through the years.


Such was the case with Haydain Neale of Jacksoul fame, who passed away in Toronto on November 22 at the age of 39 following a seven-month battle with lung cancer. I interviewed the Hamilton-born singer twice during the past decade, most recently back in 2006 in advance of Jacksoul’s JazzFest appearance promoting their latest disc, MySoul—which, no word of a lie, has since become one of my favourite albums of the past few years. Partially it’s because of the material (a surprising mix of covers for a jazz-soul artist—Blue Rodeos “Try,” the Guess Who’s “These Eyes,” Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come” and one solid original, Neale’s own “One Song”), and partly it’s because Neale himself was involved in a serious traffic accident not too long after the album’s release. (A vehicle hit him while he was riding his scooter in his Toronto hometown.) Every time I slipped that disc into my stereo, I would wonder how he was doing, how his family was coping, how long it would be till I heard his seductively sandpaper sound once again.

But it wasn’t just his voice that made him special. While talking to Neale, it became clear he put a lot of true soul into his sound—and I’m not just talking about the style of music. “For me, soul isn’t just about a type of groove or having horns in the background,” he told me. “It’s also about making you feel something through the lyrics and the melody. Back in the ’50s, soul music was black and pop music was white, but we live in a very different time—and a great time to make music—where everybody is trying to be more emotive and really speak from the heart.”
A CBC favourite, the story of Neale’s accident and hopeful recovery was never far from the airwaves, but even when word came that he was fit enough to start completing the album he’d been working on at the time of the accident—Jacksoul’s fifth full-length, Soulmate, due to drop December 1—there was no public hint of the lung cancer which would soon take his life. And while the haunting single “Lonesome Highway” that was released a couple of weeks ago may have lacked the usual Jacksoul pizzaz, it now plays as a reflective memorial for yet another artist taken from us too early.

A quick flip through MySoul‘s liner notes reveals an almost prophetic statement by Neale: “If Jacksoul never makes another recording, I’ll always be proud that our music was a positive force for not just love between couples, but love of self, community and the world.” And it was during that last interview when I asked Neale if we could all use some more soul in our lives. “Music can be used to help people have better days and get through hard times,” he replied. “It’s always been a powerful motivator for me that way.”

Now it can be one last gift Neale has left us all.

—John Threlfall

Haydain Neale is survived by his wife and daughter, and all proceeds from the upcoming release of Soulmate will go to the Haydain Neale Family Trust. Messages of condolence can be left at jacksoul.com.





Ho Ho Ho already

19 11 2009

Ah, the Santa Season is nearly upon us and, like many people, you’re likely already feeling overwhelmed by the amount of festive offerings on tap. To help you steer your way through the reindeer herds, here’s our best bets for the weeks ahead. For a complete list of seasonal markets and events, see our annual Christmas Guide on the stands now. (Or, if you can’t find one, swing by Monday HQ at 818 Broughton and just ask for one.)  We’ve split things into three sections—”Shopping” (offbeat or one-shot seasonal markets), “Events” (things happening around town, usually free) and “Shows” (on-stage offerings, be they music, dance or plays)—and they should be at least vaguely chronological, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for, just keep scrolling down.

SHOPPING

Get yer ho on with bad Santa at the Rock, Rock, Rock and Roll Market

Knitted Owl – This popular and funky two-day market at the Fernwood NRG gym boasts live music Friday night, clothes for all ages, jewellery, passport sleeves made from maps, handwoven textiles and much more. Proceeds go to the Mary Manning Centre. November 20-21 at the Fernwood NRG, 1240 Gladstone. Email info@eaphoto.ca for more details.

Out of Hand – The mother of all artisan fairs, this weekend-long event celebrates 21 years this year. With 130 booths showcasing everything from painting and sculpture  to body-care products and home decor, this is truly a one-stop shop for everyone on your list from roommate to grandma. Also featuring tasty treats by Truffles. November 20-22, now at the Crystal Garden, 713 Douglas. outofhand.ca
The Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock ‘n’ Roll Market — Four years in the running, find nearly 40 original vendors plus musical entertainment by the Angry Snowmans at Logan’s in Fernwood. Shopping starts at 3 p.m. and bands are at 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 28. It’s $5 for the market, $8 for the bands or $10 for both with all proceeds going to the Out of the Rain Youth Shelter. 250-360-2711.

Noel Bazaar – One of the city’s funkiest markets, Rebel Rebel’s annual market boasts some of the Island and Lower Mainland’s favourite indie designers and artisans—plus, there’s a cash bar! December 1-3 at the Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad.

The Fringe That Stole Christmas – Where else can you bid on an appearance on the cover of Monday Magazine, a house concert with famed local pianist Anne Schaefer or a private glam night with the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue, amongst many other cool items? Only at this special fundraiser for Intrepid Theatre, featuring an evening of cabaret-style entertainment with local performers and a silent auction. From 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 6, at the Metro Studio.  Tickets $10 online (intrepidtheatre.com), by phone (250 383 2663) or at Intrepid Theatre (Fisgard at Blanshard).

Moss Street Holiday Market – The beloved Fairfield market heads indoors for its holiday edition. Expect all the great local produce (well, what’s in season, anyway), foodstuffs and arts and crafts you’d get at the summer market with a wintry twist. December 12-13 at the 1330 Fairfield. mossstreetmarket.com

Dickens Craft Fair – Shop for unique homemade, homegrown or handmade items at this 29th annual fair, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 5 at James Bay Community School Centre, 140 Oswego. By donation. 250-381-5323. jamesbaymarket.com

Tribal Market – Get your holiday gift shopping done in one groovy place with five awesome vendors including a fine selection of crystals and gems, bamboo clothing, leather work, jewellery and original clothing designs, December 5-6 at the Base Lounge, 1303 Broad. 250-590-1816

EVENTS

Hey, Christmas lights look much better on the water than when they're obscured by rain!

Children’s Christmas Festival – Looking for something fun to do before the Island Farms Santa Light Parade? Festive carolers and holiday musical performances will bring Spirit Stage to life. Warm up with a free cup of hot chocolate while the kids make assorted decorations under heated tents. Santa and his helpers will make a special appearance. Bring a non-perishable food item for the Mustard Seed Food Bank. Rain or shine. (But what about snow?) 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 21 at downtown’s Spirit Square (formerly Centennial Square). victoria.ca.

Santa Light Parade
– Then you can see Santa make his grand entrance with this great Christmas parade through the festively decorated streets of Victoria. You won’t be alone with over 40,000 spectators generally attending this event. Non-perishables or donation to the Mustard Seed Food Bank graciously accepted. 5:30 p.m. November 21 along Government Street. Free. 250-382-3111.

Victoria Gallery Walk
– Join Victoria’s downtown galleries for an evening of art, food, and company. Start at any gallery and walk or take a free horse-drawn trolley to the next one. View Art Gallery, Alcheringa Gallery, West End Gallery, Winchester Galleries and Legacy Gallery all take part in the show. Exhibitions and light refreshments continue Friday and Saturday during regular gallery hours. 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, November 27.

Spirit Square Christmas Tree Light-Up – The DVBA is fronting some serious festivity at this family event, so bring the kidlets and leave your bah humbugs at home. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, November 27, you can catch the Magic of Christmas on the new Spirit Stage followed by the grand light-up (no, not that kind of light up, geez) at 6 p.m. Be sure to hang out for the dramatic Fire and Light show to polish off the evening. Free. downtownvictoria.ca

Oak Bay Light-Up – Thousands of lights have been hung on buildings, trees and lampposts for the Christmas season. Family entertainment begins at 3 p.m. with a kids flower arranging workshop, giant games, roasted chestnuts and more. Quicksbottom Morris will perform a Mummer’s Play and enjoy upbeat musical entertainment featuring the energetic, upbeat sounds of the Getting’ Higher Choir, Daniel Lapp’s BC Fiddle Orchestra, and a special appearance by Adrian Dolan of the Bills. At 5 p.m., the lights come on with help from Santa Claus and Oak Bay’s town crier. Following Light Up, several stores are holding special receptions: Rogers Chocolates will be serving hot apple cider and treats from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Eclectic will be serving cookies and specialty tea from Metchosin’s Happy Valley Herb Farm from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.. All of it happens Sunday, November 30 at Hampshire & Oak Bay Avenue.

Butchart Gardens Christmas Magic – December 1st will mark the start of the 23rd season of festive Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens. Tens of thousands of colored lights combine with evergreen swags and wreaths of holly and winter berries to line walkways and festoon lamp posts. The popular Twelve Days of Christmas displays are tucked away about the Gardens and the new Children’s Pavilion and Rose Carousel will be open and running. From 5 p.m.-9 p.m. in the piazza you will find lively performances featuring traditional caroling and music. Lights are on from December 1 to January 6, 2010. $23.50. butchartgardens.com

CFB Naval Fleet Light-Up – The Canadian Pacific Naval Fleet decorates eight ships as a food-bank fundraiser, and you’ll also be able to visit the Admiral’s residence. No admission charge, but visitors are encouraged to bring a donation of cash or non-perishable food. Don’t forget to cast your ballot for favourite display. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly throughout December. 250-363-4006.

Christmas Starlight Cinema – Every Tuesday and Wednesday in December before Christmas watch a free Christmas movie on the Harbour Patio at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort. Bring your blanket and lawn chairs and enjoy a Christmas story under the stars. Hot Beverages will be for sale and donations to Santa’s Anonymous will be greatly appreciated. Free.

Lighted Truck Parade
– Don yourself in warm winter garb and join the crowds to watch this delightful display of heavy-duty trucks inventively decorated with lights. Don’t forget to donate to the Mustard Seed Food Bank at one of the drop-off points along the route on December 5. And yep, it’s free! Here’s the route, but be sure to allow for traffic delays: trucks leave the parking lot at Ogden Point at 5:45 p.m., arrive Oak Bay Village 6:30 p.m., arrive at Yates and Douglas 7 p.m., arrive at Helmcken and Trans Canada overpass 7:30 p.m., and end up at Western Speedway at 8:15 p.m.

Lighted Ship Parade – Watch a magical parade of ships, dressed in their finest colours tour through Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Happening in the evening on December 5.

A Global Christmas Celebration – Experience how different cultures celebrate Christmas.  Enjoy carols performed in their native language, traditional dance, and a variety of children’s entertainment on downtown’s Spirit Stage. Make unique cultural crafts, and warm your taste buds with delicious treats from around the world. Santa and his helpers will make a special appearance. Bring a non-perishable food item for the Mustard Seed Food Bank. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, December 12 in the Spirit Square (formerly Centennial Square). Free. victoria.ca

Santa’s Pancake Breakfast – What could be better than pancakes and Santa? Pour some syrup on your ho-ho-ho, 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, December 12, at Burnside Gorge Community Centre, 471 Cecelia Rd. Fun for the whole family—live entertainment, crafts, a family play zone, plus Santa’s gift and photo area. $4 or $8 for family. 250-388-5251.

Christmas Lights Bike Ride – Decorate your bike and head out on this perennial family fave with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. Colourful Christmas light displays and crisp air awaits on your leisurely ride. Leaves at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, December 19 from the CNIB Building, 2340 Richmond, and returns at 9:00 p.m. for free refreshments and door prizes. The ride is approximately 20km. Participants must wear helmets and bicycles must be in good mechanical condition. By donation. 250-480-5155

SHOWS

Don't miss Alberta Ballet's splendid version of The Nutcracker, complete with the Victoria Symphony

Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker – The definitive performance of this classic is back in Victoria. See the Alberta Ballet perform the new Nutcracker choreography. 7:30 p.m. November 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. November 28 and 29 at the Royal Theatre. $58-$98. 250-386-6121.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier – Four Seasons Musical Theatre presents their latest original family musical by Stan and Nancy Davis, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a tin soldier who falls in love with a ballerina and vows to protect her from an evil Jack-in-the-box. Runs November 21-22 at St. Ann’s Academy, November 28-29 at Sidney’s Charlie White Theatre and December 5-6 at Langford’s Isabelle Reader Theatre. Tickets $8-$10. 250-478-0329. fourseasonsmusicaltheatre.com

Allison Crowe’s Tidings Concert – The Nanaimo-born Crowe will be covering old Christmas faves with her unique blend of jazz, folk, rock, and gospel, and will be joined by special guest Ellisa Hartman. It’s warm holiday cheer at the Alix Goolden come 8 p.m. Friday, November 28. This annual holiday season fundraiser supports Artemis Place and HepCBC. $15-$20. 250-386-6121.

A Vinyl Cafe Christmas – Thanks to Stu, cooking a turkey will never be the same. One of Canada’s most treasured storytellers, Stuart McLean, is back for another classic Christmas performance with new laugh-out-loud tales of Dave and his family. This year’s tour will also feature music by the Vinyl Cafe Orchestra, featuring East Coast Music Award winners Jill Barber and Matt Andersen. 7:30 p.m. November 30 to December 1 at the Royal Theatre. $31.50-$54. 250-386-6121.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Kaleidoscope Family Theatre presents this hilarious story concerning the efforts of a woman and her husband to put on the annual church Christmas pageant despite having to cast the Herdman kids—the meanest, nastiest, most inventively awful kids in the history of the world. Catch this wholly wholesome mayhem at 7 p.m. December 5 & 11, 2 p.m. December 6 & 13, and 4 p.m. December 12 at the McPherson. $21.50- $23.50. 250-386-6121.

Inspired by Java – Take in this concert to support Indonesian Earthquake Relief and catch performances by the likes of Sutrisno Hartana and the Busy Island Gamelan Orchestra, plus the Jon Miller Jazz Trio, Niel Golden, Tim Gosley and the Victoria Puppet Zone and more, 8  p.m. Sunday, December 6 at St. John the Divine, 1611 Quadra. Tickets $12-$20. 250-598-1430

What A Wonderful World – The Victoria Symphony, conducted by Tania Miller, will perform this Christmas Pops concert, with Landrecht as the featured soprano. This concert is bound to put you in the Christmas spirit. 8 p.m. December 11-12 and 2 p.m. Dec 13 at the Royal Theatre. $31-$69.250-386-6121.

Christmas with the Kennedys – Local sister act jazz up the holidays, with Kelby MacNayr and guests, 7:30 p.m. December 11 at the Metro Studio, 1411 Johnson. Tickets $15 at Larsen Music, Long & McQuade or the door. cjkennedy.com

Jon and Roy Holiday Show – Jon and Roy will be joined by a host of friends and guests at this festive all-ages concert blow-out. Gracing the stage you can expect the likes of Current Swell, Hey Ocean, Dan Mangan, Sgt. Strumalong, Hannah Georgas and more. 8 p.m. December 12 at Alix Goolden Hall. $22. 250-386-6121.

A Christmas Carol – Acclaimed Canadian actor Scott Hylands plays Mr. Bah Humbug, in this one-man performance of Scrooge. Christmas just isn’t the same without this classic tale, and really, how is he going to play all those past present and future ghosts and Tiny Tim and the turkey and all that at the same time? Find out at the Mary Winspear Centre. 8 p.m. December 17-19 and 21-23 plus 2 p.m. December 20. $12-$20-$25. 250-656-0275.

Handel’s Messiah – The Victoria Symphony joins forces with the Victoria Choral Society for a majestic performance of Handel’s iconic classic. This performance features a brilliant cast of soloists. 8 p.m. December18 and 2:30 p.m. December 20 at UVic’s University Centre Auditorium. $26-$41. 250-721-8480.

Michael Kaeshammer’s The Days of Christmas – Toronto-based piano-playing jazz star Michael Kaeshammer makes his orchestral debut with the Victoria Symphony. Be prepared for a knock-out, up-beat performance of Christmas favourites and Kaeshammer’s stellar originals. 8 p.m., Saturday, December 19 at the Royal. $35-$75. 250-386-6121.

Jingle Bell Rock – Rock your way around the Christmas tree with AFI, Tegan and Sarah and Jets Overhead. 8 p.m. Monday, December 21 at Memorial Arena. $37.50. 250-220-7777.

Cinderella – Ballet Victoria returns with one of fairy tales’ most loved princess! Witness the magic of the fairy godmother and enjoy a laugh or two at the expenses of a few villains. The imaginative and humorous choreography of artistic director Paul Destrooper, showcases the brilliant technical skills of the dancers as well as their immense dramatic talent. If you missed it the first time, catch it at 7:30 p.m. December 27 to 30 at the Royal Theatre. $31.50-$56.50. balletvictoria.ca

The Nutcracker Suite and The Sugar Plum Fair – Christmas without The Nutcracker is like plums without sugar, and Canadian Pacific Ballet puts on a sure-to-please performance. Don’t miss this chance to enjoy all the classic Nutcracker moments, with the additional magic of a Sugar Plum Fair—yeah, you read right, it’s an interactive transformation of the McPherson lobby where children, young and old, can enjoy the sweets of the land. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec 29 at the McPherson Theatre. $36.50 to $46.50. 250-386-6121.





What We’re Listening To This Week

19 11 2009

7 Worlds Collide

The Sun Came Out (Sony)
If it’s getting close to Christmas, it must be time for benefit albums—and this latest incarnation of the 7 Worlds Collide project offers some tasty tunes for a good cause. Originally organized as a series of  2003 New Zealand benefit concerts in support of Medecins Sans Frontieres by Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, this new 24-track double album brings together a number of the original participants with some new players (and their families) to benefit a whole new cause (Oxfam). Strongly anchored by members of Radiohead (Phil Selway, Ed O’Brien) and Wilco (Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Pat Sansone) plus the likes of Johnny Marr (the Smiths, Modest Mouse), Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing), KT Tunstall, Tim Finn (Split Enz) and New Zealand favourite Bic Runga, among others, the best thing about The Sun Came Out is the collaborative nature of the project—rather than the usual “here’s my track” offering, we get a real sense of musical melding here, with most playing on each other’s tracks. Another factor that makes this project notable is that all the songs had to be original, and indeed many of them were made up on the spot once the players assembled at Finn HQ in New Zealand. (Be sure to check out the website, where there’s a series of informal videos capturing the sessions.) As eclectic a batch of songs as you’d expect, given the back catalogue of some of the artists, it’s hard to pick favourites out of such a strong batch of songs; better to just put the whole darn thing on for a spin and enjoy it en masse.

Various Artists

Amchitka: The 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace (Greenpeace)
The introduction by Irving Stowe (dubbed by many as the father of Greenpeace) sets the tone for this fascinating slice of West Coast music history: “Brothers and sisters in green peace. Green peace is beautiful, and you are beautiful because you are here tonight. You came here because you are not on a death trip; you believe in life, you believe in peace and you want them now. By coming here tonight, you are making possible a trip for life and for peace; you are supporting the first green peace project, sending a ship to Amchitka to try to stop the testing of hydrogen bombs there, or anywhere.” Which, in a nutshell, was the genesis for both this 1970 fundraising concert at the PNE Coliseum and what would become the internationally recognized organization Greenpeace—raise some money to send a ship to protest nuclear testing. Invited to make that happen were noted ’60s-era folk activist Phil Ochs, rising Canadian star Joni Mitchell and surprise guest James Taylor, who was there at Mitchell’s invitation rather than Stowe’s and was just starting to make his own mark on the musical scene. (Also on the $3 concert bill, which attracted some 10,000 people, were Vancouver stalwarts Chilliwack, whose set is sadly not included here.)

Remastered from the original reel-to-reel archival recording, this 26-trac double album (plus 45-page commemorative booklet, including the original poster art, some great images and a lovely gatefold cover) nicely captures the sound and spirit of the concert by focussing on the performances more than the roar of the crowd. Ochs gets eight songs (including “The Bells,” “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” and “No More Songs”), which serve as a great introduction for listeners who may have grown up after his era but are curious to hear one of the originators of activist music, while Taylor puts in a seven-song set, which plays like an early James Taylor greatest-hits package (“Something in the Way She Moves,” “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina On My Mind,” “Sweet Baby James”) . . . but it’s always a pleasure to hear his smooth voice when it’s young and strong. No big surprise, Joni Mitchell‘s 10-song set is the strongest—including “Big Yellow Taxi” backing into “Bony Maroni,” “Carey,” “The Circle Game” (or at least most of it, as the tape ran out during the original concert!), “Hunter,” “My Old Man”—and while it’s all naturally Mitchell’s early work on display here, it shows the talent that is to come. It’s also great hearing her perform “Woodstock” less than a year after the event itself. Ideal for aging hipsters looking for two hours of early ’70s flashbacks—or as an audio memory for anyone who was actually there—but for the rest of us, it’s simply a strong live album, much like George Harrison’s noted Concert for Bangladesh (which the Greenpeace gig predated by a year). This one’s available exclusively through Greenpeace’s website, where you can buy it as a physical album or as MP3 downloads.

Imogen Heap
Ellipse (RCA/Megaphonic)
The third full-length album from this busy British songstress and two-time Grammy nominee who tends to pop up on other people’s projects more than her own, Ellipse is a solid contribution to Heap’s stunningly sort-of-spooky signature sound. (There must be something in the English water that keeps producing the likes of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Heap herself.) The perfect album for housebound rainy days, introspective early mornings or moody evenings with a candle and a lover, there’s a lot here to keep your ear intrigued; the 13 songs here definitely make this anything but a single-play disc. Tracks like the plucky “Earth” bounce around like a canary in a cage, while the appropriately tagged “Tidal” washes you down with its smooth melody and “Half Life” sweeps you up in atmospheric lushness. If you want to play the comparison game, I’ve been enjoying Ellipse more than anything Amos has put out recently, and will continue to spin it in the months to come.

Billy Bragg
Mr. Love & Justice (Cooking Vinyl)
Okay, so this one was released last year but I’ve been listening to it now in advance of Billy Bragg’s date in town this week. That said, Mr. Love & Justice is another strong album in an already impressive catalogue of work, offered here in both full-band and acoustic solo versions. Personally, I prefer the fuller sound offered by his supporting band the Blokes (who backed him on ’02s England, Half English), as it’s more musically satisfying; check out the lonesome trombone on “M for Me” for a good example. (Even Bragg himself admits that the acoustic set, while offering good “value for money” didn’t quite work; they were originally record for a promotional video project that didn’t really come together. “My only regret is that some of the songs were brand new and I hadn’t really played them in,” he says of the acoustic tracks. “I don’t play ’em like that anymore.”) Featuring 12 solid tracks ranging from the pop-y (the Morrisey-esque “I Almost Killed You”) to the usual social-justice anthems (“O Freedom,” which easily stands among his most powerful songs), Mr. Love & Justice is a must-have for any serious Bragg follower who has been just itching for an original follow-up to his recent greatest-hits package—or a good introduction for anyone looking to discover what makes Billy Bragg stand out from the late-20th century singer-songwriter pack.

—John Threlfall








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