“Novelty music for the humiliated… laughing gas for music geeks.” — The Nerve

2015-03-25: at Skinny Fat Jack’s

Posted: March 18th, 2015 | Author: Blackbox Squeezebeard | Filed under: Show announcements and recaps | No Comments »

Next Wednesday night — one week from tonight! — a small but tight and dedicated cadre of Creaking Planks will be taking to the Very Small Stage at Skinny Fat Jack’s, around the back alley entrance of 3475 Main St., to play a few sets of their committed musical strangeness. The action starts around 8 pm and will run probably about as late as the neighbourhood will allow. Admission by donation, but suggested donation $10 — and don’t miss out on the sweet opportunity to pick up a dashing Creaking Planks t-shirt at a discounted live-music-fan price!

And don’t forget you can double your pleasure with dinner and drinks at Slickity Jim’s Chat & Chew around front before the show!

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Thanks to Mike Chow for providing the swell photograph we so ham-handedly bowdlerized!


2015-2-13: Creaking Planks T-Shirts

Posted: February 19th, 2015 | Author: Blackbox Squeezebeard | Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

We now have Creaking Planks T-shirts available for sale to the general public! If you are impulsive you can buy a shirt (or 2, or 3) here.  If, however, you prefer to research products extensively and/or enjoy purple prose, keep on reading…

What Do You Need To Know About The Shirts?

  • For the time being, they are only available in one colour scheme: white ink on black shirt. Sorry, friends: octopus ink. That’s just how it goes.
  • The T-shirts are sourced from Fruit of the Loom: less ethically produced than American Apparel, but with less flamboyantly problematic baggage. They have been holding up well in band members’ trial wearings and washings, so if you insist on distressed band t-shirts, you may have to distress them yourself. (May I recommend the — distressing! — William S. Burroughs technique?)
  • Sizes available: S, M, L, XL — men’s and now women’s cuts, please specify! We have been asked about babies’ onesies and are considering the option; please let us know if there are any shapes, sizes and styles of garment you feel we have unfairly excluded. (Please note: this design will not fit on a thong. No tentacles there, no box squeezing, and certainly no organ grinding.)
  • The price is $15 for a shirt, plus shipping. Shipping within Canada or to the US is $10 per shirt (different countries, but by Canada Post logic…about the same amount) and to Europe… ehh, we’re figuring that out. We’re investigating making a bulk order to Toronto to save our fans there some cash (in exchange for some mild hassle), so if that describes you, please let us know and we’ll refer you to our distributor there.
  • How are you supposed to pay for it? PayPal! or if you don’t have that, contact us, we’ll work something out. Like an octopus, we’re flexible! (Well, OK, not that flexible.)
  • In Vancouver, they’re currently available at Spartacus Books (3378 Findlay Street), but if you know of a shop that needs to carry some of our shirts, we obviously need to know about it! Currently our fabulous Creaking Planks t-shirts are not carried in any other brick & mortar storefront. (Or our buttons, for that matter. Or, heck, our music. Genuine Creaking Planks™ however are available for purchase anywhere lumber is sold!)

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SpongeDev SquarePlanks demonstrates this season’s fashionable garment sensation!

And now… The Pitch:

Some pairings are eternal classics just waiting to be discovered. Like balsamic vinegar with strawberries, taxidermied trophy fish with Al Green, and politicians’ faces with pies, from the moment they are first combined one reels in shock that the ecstasy of their meeting has been unfairly denied to past generations.

Another of these fundamental pairings unjustly denied our ancestors: octopi and accordions. Prior to 1829, there simply were no squeezeboxes to juxtapose molluscs with, and even since then, one being an aerophone and the other aquatic… their paths have rarely crossed, belonging to different worlds. But in this brave, strange postmodern world, the lid has been blown off of Pandora’s box, and there at the bottom, intrepid artists have discovered a consortium of octopodes entwined with button-boxes, pumping away at Piazzolla tangos in a passionate cloud of inky Oblivion. (And Hope. They also found a very small quantity of Hope at the bottom of the box, stuck to an octopus’ beak like a wad of chewed gum. At least, I think that was hope… maybe it was ambergris?)

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Making up for lost time, visual artists and graphic designers (thanks, Simon Warner, Doc Colour, Bethany Hockenberry, Andrew Schnoor, Amber Lamb, Kirsten Beneke and more!) are combining these two disparate elements as though the clock was ticking, like their subject might suddenly fall out of fashion. (But we know, of course, that the accordion is rebounding from strength to strength after its 50 years in free-fall, so … are the 8-armed invertebrates in any risk of shedding their eternal appeal? You tell me: optimised for their niche, they have been evolutionarily stable for 95 million years, yawning during the disappearances of the dinosaurs and the dodo.)

As you may recall, we recently (Jan ‘15) printed a run of handsome t-shirts perhaps epitomizing this appealing, absurd juxtaposition, the accordionic octopus. The art was made by our very own Daisy-Jones Locher to be used on the poster for our 7th anniversary concert, and though we always knew it was destined to end up on a t-shirt, realizing this manifest destiny took somewhat longer than we’d anticipated. They were available for sale exclusively at our 10th anniversary concert, and though we sold a bunch … the quantity of shirts printed was in excess of the venue’s capacity, so since nobody bought multiple shirts, we do have a few remaining in every size. We will still be carting around a limited selection of shirts to our upcoming gigs for fans to purchase directly from us, but in the meantime we are also officially opening ourselves up to orders for delivery via Canada Post. (If you hurry, they may still be able to deliver to your door!)

Accordion Octopus T-shirt Trivia: the accordion is upside-down! You know what, the octopus really doesn’t care. That’s actually the way that Blackbox first learned (well, taught himself) to play the squeezebox, only correcting himself after seeing an accordion played in the proper position on TV — an option this octopus presumably doesn’t have! Anyhow, existing technique and posture for accordion playing assumes a vertebral torso and only two digited limbs; with eight tentacles to work with, octopus accordion style is far more versatile than the B or even C system. Forget bellows shake; this bad mother will tear the bellows right in half!

More Trivia: wouldn’t it be bubbling if air was being squeezed out of it underwater? Maybe it is filled with water, underwater, ruining the bellows and rusting the reeds. (And where will an underwater octopus find a rig to melt more beeswax with which to repair the reeds? Oh, don’t trouble yourself.) Maybe the octopus is aboveground, holding its breath while it squeezes out a merry jig on a bather’s unattended instrument. Or maybe the octopus is like Grace Jones (what, you want me to qualify that comparison?) and is merely posing with the accordion, pretending to play it. Maybe.

In conclusion, now you can go ahead and buy a shirt.

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2015-02-06: Bernerland: the Songs of Geoff Berner!

Posted: February 2nd, 2015 | Author: Blackbox Squeezebeard | Filed under: Show announcements and recaps | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Though our paths have not crossed all that often (usually at the ArtsWells festival!), local accordionic songwriter Geoff Berner nonetheless looms large in our band’s history, inviting us to headline his show at the first annual Accordion Noir Festival, after which he sagely proclaimed: “every night some band is the best band in the world for that night, and tonight I think it was you guys.” We debated long and hard whether to perform his “Dalloy Polezei” when we performed at the fundraiser for the Police Museum. (The verdict was unanimous: we totally should, and we definitely wouldn’t.) In fact, a turn-of-the-century appearance opening for folkie weirdo Dan Bern at the Britannia Elementary auditorium was entirely responsible for Blackbox Squeezebeard being inspired to pick up the accordion in the first place.

So finally we have an opportunity to give back some of what he has given to us: we didn’t take the chance to cover any of his numerous amazing original songs on the Festival Man album, but we will be giving up two at the fabulous Bernerland roast / tribute show coming up this Friday night!

Berner Poster PRINT

The roster is a gallery of big talent including his old friends in the Burnettes, Jeff Andrew, Dave Lang, Demon Squadron, E.S.L., Ford Pier, Carolyn Mark, Rae Spoon, fellow Monster of Accordion Jason Webley… and us! All hosted by Ken Gordon… one night only, 8:30 pm at the WISE Hall (1882 Adanac St. at Victoria), tickets will be $20 at the door (only $15 advance!) and all proceeds will be generously donated to the WISH drop-in centre. It has no option but to be quite a show.

January was unexpectedly busy for us — in addition to the big 10th-anniversary blowout, we performed two more gigs last week you never found out about here. First off was Support Resistance!, a brief but punchy appearance at a fundraiser for the Carnegie Newsletter on Jan 24th (at which Mr. Berner also weighed in!), and then on the 29th we had a fascinating chance to provide ambient and improvisatory instrumental wallpaper for a pecha kucha at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC, where we drifted among cello pedal loops beneath the skeleton of a blue whale.

Show business! Even after 10 years, it can’t help but surprise you!


2015-1-16: 10th anniversary concert update!

Posted: January 15th, 2015 | Author: Blackbox Squeezebeard | Filed under: Show announcements and recaps | 1 Comment »

Greetings to the Plank Nation! The time is nigh upon us! Tomorrow night, Friday, January 15th, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our first meeting at the inaugural performance of the Creaking Planks at the Western Front’s “raw and cooked” showcase curated by Sarah Macdougall, along with Chrystalene Buhler, Joanna Chapman-Smith, and the freak performance poetry revue “That’s My Brain… And You’re KILLING It!” There the Planking of Ole and Heather — “a droney song, a noisy song, a short improv; all with a touch of pirate” — met Rowan’s arrangement of Al Mader’s “I’m A Lousy Lay” … and the rest was, if not exactly history, ten years of occasionally-inspired obscurity.

We celebrated the decade-long musical experiment on the Accordion Noir radio program last night, featuring a series of rare recordings and concert bootlegs from various nadirs and zeniths of our varied history, and you can enjoy them as well… by following that link. We’ll be breaking into the vault of time and playing a few similar selections from our vast back catalogue Friday night.

So, you know that it’s all going down at the Emerald, right? 555 Gore, upstairs at the site of the old dim sum restaurant the New Diamond? Here, perhaps the poster that Ehren Salazar designed will help to cement the details in your memory:

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That’s right: not just the Creaking Planks, but also their Jewish wedding band klezmorim alter egos Der Royshiker Krokves opening! The prime mover Al Mader, the Minimalist Jug Band! New tunes from Victoria’s newly electrified improvised genius, Ehren Salazar! Plus a set of magical tricks from Travis, gosh wow! Ten dollars (for ten years) — two dollars per act — is basically a criminally undercharged rate, and audience members will be getting away with, well, a very good deal. Speaking of good deals… do you like accordions? Of course you do! Do you like octopuses? Duh! Why not both at the same time! “You got your octopus in my accordion!” “You got your accordion in my octopus!” “Heey….”

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“…NOT BAD!” But wait, this is a pointless digression!

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That’s more like it. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, for the low, low price of another ten dollars, you could go home wearing this — the first in what will assuredly be a long, long line of Creaking Planks fashions. This t-shirt is from the fabulous 7th anniversary poster design by Daisy Jones-Locher. No longer need you wear the tattered poster! Spare yourself the paper cuts! But that’s not all… for further whimsical and otherwise-unavailable goods that will be sold at our concert, read on!

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That’s right, it’s the 2015 edition of Renee de la Prade’s long-running Accordion Babes cheesecake pin-up calendar/album. We’re not represented therein, as the “Accordion Dudes” beefcake calendar has had a long and bumpy trip getting off the ground, but we are great friends with the Babes and run on similar wavelengths as their strange sensibilities. Each month’s babe is represented by a track on the accompanying CD album, so you can buy it to listen to and then later on you can pull out the magnifying glass to better examine which make and model of squeezebox each babe is rocking. A handful of these will be for sale for $20 a piece, and we can guarantee you won’t find them in any store in town. Only in the strange chaos bubble surrounding the Planks do these bizarre alternate worlds manifest.

See you there!


2015-01-16: the Creaking Planks’ 10th anniversary extravaganza!

Posted: December 31st, 2014 | Author: Blackbox Squeezebeard | Filed under: Show announcements and recaps | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Our first anniversary went entirely unnoticed. Our second, likewise. By the time we had reached our third anniversary, we’d seen fellow traveller acts throw in the towel and several of the vital musical venues who had given us our first struts and frets upon the stage closing their doors, launching under new management or (worst of all) changing format to exclude live music in favour of MMA on numerous big-screen TVs. We felt we had achieved something merely by hanging in there and keeping on keeping on. Our third anniversary was an occasion worth celebrating, and celebrate we did (well, tried our hardest to), with a star-studded cabaret at the Western Front, one of the first posts on our blog here — before which, we tracked our gigs on MySpace and on a long-extinct bespoke Geocities page. (Geocities? I know, Internet time moves so quickly, it’s hard to believe music existed at all back then. We liked to bang rocks together and hit tanned animal skins with Smilodon tusks of different lengths.)

Now we are ten. We have been a going concern for over three times as long as that naive band of three, excited to be invited to play on the radio and basically trying to trick people into giving us opportunities to play for free as many nights a week as possible. We’ve played individual gigs whose fees have netted us as much dosh as entire years of playing for exposure got us; we have flown on airplanes to perform at festivals in other countries we never even applied to appear at. We have gone into studios to make recordings and then forgot about them. The level of success we have achieved has exceeded any heights we might ever have reasonably expected to reach with our improbable format, and yet, not a single one of our dozen-odd members is able to make a living in Vancouver making music. It’s a funny, contradictory existence, to be true.

Whatever other beats we have and haven’t been able to hit (gonged off stage: check; provided soundtrack for a live sex show: check; played on the soundtrack to the video game World of Goo: almost, but didn’t quite happen), one constant for the last several years has been that we’ve had at least one show annually where we get to have it our way, on our terms — to play on a bill stacked with acts we will enjoy, getting to pick our set times to accommodate our numerous twisted schedules. To wit: our anniversary show. Members turn up out of the woodwork to play just this one show all year round. We expect to be playing with 4 Planks and end up performing with 11, thereby kiboshing any chance of performing any material picked up since the previous anniversary show! We know that whatever we earn will end up as bus fare when split a dozen ways, so we ensure that we are paid amply in the only other currency with any weight to the unruly band of loose cannon musicians: fun.

For the first few years we were too scattered in our neurotic attempts to give away all the music as often as possible to worry about occasions on which to have shows that were guaranteed to be good, and for the first five years, that 3rd anniversary was the only one we celebrated. (It gave all anniversary celebrations overall somewhat of a bad aftertaste in our collective mouths, but eventually we learned to love again.) For the second five years, it has been mandatory: we had great, fun shows for our sixth anniversary, our seventh, our eighth, ninth and now, coming up next… the tenth anniversary of our first gig… to be our greatest, most fun anniversary show yet?

And now, apropos of nothing, I’d like to casually drop in a random photograph that assuredly has nothing to do with anything I’m talking about:

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Here are the vital details you will need to know:

    Accordion Noir presents
    the jug band of the damned
    Friday, January 16th, 8 pm
    THE CREAKING PLANKS
    10th anniversary extravaganza

    plus Ehren Salazar,
    Al Mader, the Minimalist Jug Band,
    Der Royshiker Krokves,
    magic by Travis
    and special guests!

    at The Emerald (555 Gore Avenue)
    Admission $10 (for ten years!)

Bring at least a $20 bill along, because for the first time anywhere, we will also be selling Creaking Planks T-shirts featuring the poster artwork from our 7th anniversary concert, at very competitive prices.

What more is there to say?