September has been a blast! The Accordion Noir fest was a winner (isn’t it always, though?) — in promotions it was nice hearing ourselves described as “festival favorites” on the CBC’s North by Northwest, and if you like you can find a link to (and, ahem, extensive analysis of) the debut of our interactive choose-your-own-adventure song suite performed over here. (Note: performance recording is not interactive.) Then we played a special dance set for Planks alumnus Venus Soberanes at the local reception for her wedding with Jeremy at the Little Mountain Studio, rounding out a variety show spiked with Al Mader himself! Hopefully we will be manifesting at the Horace Phair party this Columbus Day, but we’re getting a bit beyond the scope of this post — which is about our next public local gig you can enjoy!
You are cordially invited to the Spookeasy HallowSwing Cabaret party on Friday Oct. 25th, a Prohibition era-themed Halloween Party!
It’s time to heed the bell’s toll for ghastly, ghoulish and grim Halloween partying with Vancouver’s Electro Swing Clubr.
Come in your best retro-horror garb: top hat & tails, flapper, Victorian asylum lunatics, boudoir, silent horror film characters, Carnivale freaks, steampunk, horror circus, Satanic burlesque, Voodoo, Day of the Dead, hospital horror, haunted forest animals, evil clowns, Halloween masks… etc.
In the Cabaret room:
* Every time the Tim Sars Band plays a show, they know it might be their last. While the band is swingin’ hot, the lyrics always seem to go to the dark side. The very talented Brendan Krieg on drums and vocals, Roisin Adams on piano and vocals, and Russell Sholberg on bass are complicit in Tim’s evil musical plot, and those on the dance floor shall be the victims. During their set we’ll have a Hot Beat Swing Dance and Black Bottom Stomp performances.
* Burlesque retro ghost number by Riannaconda
* Sword-swallowing sideshow by Kata Sita, Human BlockHead, Bug eating and more… If this performance doesn’t give you goosebumps nothing will!!!
* Haunted Go-Go Flapper Girls
* VooDoo DJs: From Montreal, Speakeasy Electro Swing gang Eliazar Hason. From the Island – AppleCat and local crew Rudy.
* In the Hideaway Room we’ll have 3 bands: The Creaking Planks, Meg A Tron and Sound Architecture:
The jug band of the damned, the Creaking Planks, salvage festering songs from the mass grave of popular music, binding their festering choruses together with a thread spun from extinct instruments, making them move once again by perversely introducing the strange spark of life.
* In the Tiki room, we’ll have the bad boys SideShow, Doe Ran and DJ Spaz. They’re guaranteed to rattle your bones… and reanimate your zombie hearts It won’t mean a thing until the zombies start to swing!
Also expect the visuals to captivate and twist your mind with images from the past and future blended together in one cocktail.
Advance tickets are $15, $20 at the door. Here’s the Facebook event announcement.
Whoops, never got around to making a post about tonight’s show on our own website! We’ve been very, very busy working on our debut performance piece for tonight.
The show will be great all-around; the out-of-towner performers are simply phenomenal and this chance to see them shouldn’t be missed. So, ah, here’s the promotional boilerplate from the festival’s website.
This year’s Festival kicks off with the Accordéon Café, a presentation of accordion artists who boast equal gifts as storytellers, humourists, and genre-bending instrumentalists. Featuring casse-croûte by Crêpe Bohèmethe Café is a chance to slow down, listen close, and be transported by the special intimacy that flows whenever musicians and audiences gather under the influence of each other.
Award-winning Francophone accordion legend Steven Normandin from Montreal makes his hotly anticipated return to Vancouver, following his hit performance at the 2011 MusicFest Vancouver. Fans of Normandin know to expect riveting renditions of traditional chansons from France and Québec, enlivened by touches of jazz and swing and performed with a uniquely theatrical flair. Audiences discovering Normadin for the first time will find themselves in the hands of a true master: an artist who can make you laugh, cry and dance in the space of one set of music. Equally accomplished as an instrumentalist and as a songwriter, Normandin has performed in work by Robert Lepage, appeared as a soloist with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, and toured internationally with a host of musical projects and theatrical productions. The raw feel of blues and country music meet the sensibilities of a first class storyteller in renegade accordionist David P. Smith. Hailed as one of Victoria’s most captivating and original songwriters, Smith is known for visceral, often hilarious narratives that crack open the boundaries between humor and despair. Appearing with his talented accomplice, violinist Rachelle Reath, David P. Smith’s performance promises to reveal why EXCLAIM! Magazine went so far as to call his accordion music a “siren song.” The Creaking Planks, East Vancouver’s jug band of the damned, are the best at what they do. (Not coincidentally, they are the /only/ ones who do what they do.) A well-heeled crew of folk music misfits, they bring their instruments together to challenge the ghettoizing expectations of their respective traditional repertoires through détournement, the mash-up, and their specialty, the outright train wreck. This festival’s program sees them boldly charging off into uncharted territory (as usual) with an unprecedented audience-interactive suite of songs inspired by the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure children’s book series of the 1980s.
(And a tip ‘o the hat to Erin & Abe, whose wedding reception we performed at late on September 7th at The Ticket downtown!)
It’s been eerily quiet here, though we’ve actually played quite a bit of private functions since we last wrote… Matt Kennedy and Meagan’s Canada Day yard party on June 30th (thanks, Lucy!); the West Van klezmer birthday party on July 14th (mazel tov Mark!) and David’s wedding to Jennifer at the Fat Moose in Merville this past weekend, just outside of Cumberland on Vancouver Island — a great time at an amazing venue (…plus perhaps most importantly of all — the first time we’ve ever played on the island without totally taking a bath on ferry expenses.) Private functions, alas — we can’t pack our audience along! But here, finally, we have a gig we can tell you about — the first in months:
It’s true — we had so much fun last year, we had to come back and play another installment in this free outdoor concert series. There’s really nothing else like it. Against a backdrop of incomparable natural beauty, sixty empty chairs are set up. An extension cord is run out from the community centre, and then a band sets up a PA and plays two sets, beginning at 6:30. Somehow, from somewhere, sixty bottoms find those chairs and occupy them until the sun goes down. It’s magical. Heck, it might even be fun for the audience members!
Hope to see you there! 6:30 pm, Wednesday August 7th, at Trout “John Hendry Park” Lake.
Tom Waits night at the Rio has come and gone. The Wednesday morning before the show Blackbox got an excited phone call from his mother about the Planks’ newspaper appearance and he had to raise his eyebrows and scratch his chin, then (as those are both inaudible) profess his bafflement verbally. It seems that though there were several higher-profile and bigger-drawing acts on the bill that night, none of them had as sufficiently Tom Waits-ian photos in their press kit, as with this proven winner Robin Hunt took of us at the Steamer Tea party back in ‘09.
We knew the show had good buzz on Facebook, but you always know when you appear in the paper because someone’s parent will catch it. We never had an inkling! Conventional media: it hasn’t quite gone away entirely, yet!
We got in early on in the show to make our mark and then make way for broader strokes. Time and again over our musical voyage people have suggested we lift up Tom’s substantial mantle and promenade around beneath its considerable shade. But in tone and intention we are already similar enough to Mr. Waits’ work that engaging him leaves us essentially imitators parading around in bad Tom Waits drag — since you can’t out-Tom-Waits Tom Waits and we have so far to travel to escape his iconic renditions in order to hash out a truly novel presentation. You can’t just strap on the Cookie Monster voice and expect it to work. (We have a bit about the Tom Waits voice: that it’s the wet sound remaining of the bark of the enraged dog after hours of baying, after the bark is gone but the evil intent remains. In human terms it’s simpler, vocal chords reduced to two sticks of beef jerky slapping crudely against each other.) It had been several years since we participated, in any form, at a Tom Waits night — Blackbox and Pavel making Misery Is The River Of The World substantially different by backing up Katie Go-Go on lead vocals, the very opposite (impatients?) of Waits.
But here we had an opportunity to indulge our penchant for the impish and perverse: as with the surreally-presented works of Al Mader, the lyrics to the ominous monologue “What’s He Building” revealed a quite-conventional metered and stanza’d song structure lurking just beneath the surface, obfuscated beneath a smoky, noisy layer of free jazz. Here we could scratch that goofy Spike Jones Western Swing itch and give up the arrangement of this song that it was originally written for before going down the path less traveled. Instead of making an arrangement by distressing and tormenting the original tune, we could overcome expectations and buck the trend by cleaning it up and sending it out in its Sunday best! Detourne the creepy by making it banal!
Tom has spoken of his inspiration from the song mills of Tin Pan Alley; if not 100% achieving that evocation, we like to believe that here we at least managed to bring listeners for a foray down Aluminum Pot Lane. With, yes, a couple of obligatory nods to the standard version. For lack of an actual innocuous “thing he was building in there” (a cuckoo clock?) to produce at the end of the song, we contemplated performing with this curious construction footage rolling behind us on-screen, but ultimately we went full-bore for the musical presentation on its own:
And with that we took our bows (well, Wyoming Johnny took his) and departed the stage before the sold-out crowd, exciting many and baffling a few (with a lucky handful achieving both states simultaneously.) So let us leave Mr. Waits behind (though you may be fortunate enough to catch us revisiting this arrangement!) and we’ll just note that we’re currently on-track to next be performing in public back at Trout Lake (sorry, John Hendry Park) starting at 6:30 pm on August 7th. But you’ll hear more about that as it approaches. Cheers, and vive la différence!
This won’t strictly speaking be our first time up for one of Jess Hill’s epic Tom Waits tribute nights — Pavel and Blackbox previously backed Katie Gogo of Hoko’s fame on a wacky and sweet take on “Misery Is The River of the World”.
The enigmatic genius of the dusty hobo messiah and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Tom Waits
This time around, the venue is larger — moving from the confines of Cafe Deux to the palatial expanses of the Rio Theatre — and the roster of East Van luminaries paying tribute to their favorite Rain Dog is truly all-star: C.R. Avery,
The Tailor, the Broken Mirrors, Antiparty, Company B, Poly Hatchet, Familiar Wild, Christie Rose, Chelsea Johnson, Jess Hill, Khari Mclelland, Jesse Waldman, Corbin Murdoch, and Lindy Gray. Plus, of course, your friendly neighborhood jug band of the damned.
Doors 7pm /Show 8pm
Tickets $12 advance / $15 door. Proceeds from the show are earmarked to benefit the battered women’s shelter.
www.riotheatretickets.caThe enigmatic genius of the dusty hobo messiah and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Tom Waits
This time around, however, the venue is considerably larger — moving from the confines of Cafe Deux to the palatial expanses of the Rio Theatre — and the roster of East Van luminaries paying tribute to their favorite Rain Dog is truly all-star: C.R. Avery, The Tailor, the Broken Mirrors, Antiparty, Company B, Poly Hatchet, Familiar Wild, Christie Rose, Chelsea Johnson, Jess Hill, Khari Mclelland, Jesse Waldman, Corbin Murdoch, and Lindy Gray. Plus, of course, your friendly neighborhood jug band of the damned.