Jul 012011

I just realized that the Phillies were playing the Blue Jays today and, while working from home today, I could have watched their wild come-from-behind victory on TV. Shoot! The fresh-0ff-the-keyboard game report also reminded me that today is Canada Day and we’d done nothing to honor our Townspeople up north. Better late than never, better never late: today we honor Canada by saying something nice about early ’90s Montreal band Bootsauce.

We here in the Halls of Rock Town are sometimes taken to task for being overly negative, snarky, hyper-critical, and all too often, just downright rude. As part of our collective efforts to bring a bit of sunshine and light to the world wide web, we occasionally make an extra effort effort to find something good to say about, you know, stuff that is clearly godawful.

It is in that spirit that we embark on yet another effort to bring some positivity to our proceedings. Please spend some quality time with the video above, then — if you can — please find something nice to say about it. You’ll feel a whole lot better, I promise you.

I look forward to your comments. Just remember, if you can’t say anything nice about this video… please don’t say anything at all.

Feb 162010

At Mr. Mod’s request, Rock Town Hall’s self-proclaimed Official Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Correspondent, NorthVanCoveMan, is on the scene, bringing you the rocking news from north of the border an attempting to fashion it into a rock-related discussion..with yet to be determined results.

Yesterday I had some dumb luck. As many of you may be aware, and some of you may be avoiding completely, the 2010 Winter Olympics are happening in my fair city. I have made a point of pushing aside any misgivings or general grumpiness and really trying to get out and enjoy the whole thing. It has not been hard to do; the town is electric right now! And there’s alcohol!

Tonight is the first night I have nothing on tap (literally and figuratively) but I will be back in the swing of things Wednesday and Thursday with a trip to see some speed skating and hockey. The corporate pavilions, such as the ones set up by Molson and Heineken (50-75,000 sq. foot beer palaces) are at least as much of a draw.

But back to yesterday. A friend from back east who is in town for the games called with an extra ticket to the men’s moguls event up on Cypress Mountain. Turns out, the first Olympic event I have ever attended would be the one to break Canada’s gold medal drought on home soil (We were shut out in Calgary ’88 and Montreal ’76). Anyway, It is a really big deal up here. A virtual unknown, a young man from Quebec named Alexandre Bilodeau, took the gold. He seems to have been ordered from Central Casting under “Modest and Respectful Canadian Hero.” They gave him the gold tonight in front of a football stadium full of people. Twenty thousand more were singing “Oh, Canada” outside.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I don’t give a shit about moguls. And like most Canadians I didn’t know Bilodeau from Bordeaux at the beginning of this past weekend. But being there in the moment makes me feel different about it, I am drawn in. I’m hooked on the feeling.

Has a charismatic person or unexpected electric moment ever gotten you out of your comfort zone? Find yourself listening to reggae or jazz when you hate reggae and jazz? Who in music came out of nowhere and rocked your world and had you listening to stuff you normally wouldn’t?

Who is your Rock and Roll Bilodeau?

Jul 012009

To Townsman Northvan and other Townspeople north of the border, we wish you a happy Canada Day! Americans have long had a hard time figuring out who’s Canadian in the entertainment world and other walks of life. Along these lines, I’d like to know the answer to the following question: Who is the most Canadian of Canadian rock ‘n rollers?
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Dec 302008

Never heard of Nardwuar the Human Serviette? Then you haven’t been near Vancouver, BC in a long time. I first met Nardwuar in the early 1990s, when he had a radio show Friday afternoons on the local college station. Since then he has become, against all odds, a beloved figure in certain circles; his popularity has steadily risen in Canada for almost 20 years here.

As I mentioned Nardwuar (real name John Ruskin) has made a name for himself as a celebrity interviewer of sorts. He has interviewed Alice Cooper, Beck, Snoop Dog, Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, and Franz Ferdinand, amongst others. His non-music interviews include former Canadian PMs Paul Martin and John Chretien. He once asked faith healer Ernest Angley if there was a cure for the Summertime Blues. Another time, he asked Mikhail Gorbachev which world leader had the biggest pants. A media person once commented that his interviews are fascinating because he is the only interviewer he had met who honestly doesn’t care about what his celebrity subjects think about him.

There is probably going to be something about Nardwuar that annoys you. It may be his voice, his clothing or his band, The Evaporators. Like me though, I think you will come to appreciate Nardwuar. His love of music is matched only by his encyclopedic (get ready for some bizarre facts) knowledge of it. Nardwaur has been treated poorly by many of his subjects, but others, such as Snoop Dog, Thurston Moore, Jello Biafra, and Pharrell have really warmed to him.

In 1999 Nardwuar was hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage and the outpour of goodwill towards him was unbelievable. Even David Lee Roth sent a “get well soon” note. Nardwuar got well, dropped a bunch of weight, and continued on. As he enters his 40s he has become something of a squeaky, tartaned, pop culture fanatic national treasure.

Do doot a loot doot! (You’ll understand after the first interview.)

Dec 152008

Having crossed Canada several times and lived in half our provinces, I can tell the mostly American patrons of Rock Town Hall one thing for sure about rock and roll in Canada. While Ottawa may be our capital, we have a hands-down, undisputed capital of rock and roll: Winnipeg.

In Winnipeg you either play hockey, play in a band, or both. Neil Young grew up there, The Guess Who (also known in Canada as “The Prairie Beatles”) were all from The Peg, and more recent artists like Chantal Kreviazuk, Remy Shand, and Bif Naked all picked up and instrument and headed to the basement on cold winter nights.

Whatever you think of Winnipeg, and the reports are not all good, Peggers are extremely proud of their hometown and their is a bit of an island mentality to the place. The best way to illustrate this phenomenon, and the point of this post, is a movie called The Phantom of the Paradise.

The Phantom of the Paradise is a 1974 “comedy-horror-musical tragedy” from a young director named Brian de Palma. The movie is generally regarded (when it is regarded at all) as a precursor to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie flopped across the world and even in the rest of Canada. In Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary the film lasted a week and never returned. In Winnipeg, well…

Phantom is the biggest movie ever in Winnipeg. I first learned of this after three rocker friends of mine of a certain age referenced the movie constantly, as though it were The Godfather or Star Wars. They did not know that us non-Winnipegers did not know what the H-E-double hockey sticks they were talking about. I was sat down and forced to watch it. Better than I imagined, with a great soundtrack by Paul Williams. Of course, I didn’t like it enough to put on a massive party called “Phantompalooza,” like they do in Winnipeg every year. Oh yeah, pretty much the whole cast, including Paul Williams, attends this event. In case you’re wondering, this is not “hipper than though” digging on this movie; this is genuine love from people who were 8 to 12 years old when the movie hit.

I wonder, could this phenomenon happen in today’s Internet world? Probably not. Did it happen with another movie or record in your town? I am interested to hear…


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