Category Archives: Media

the folk-good song of the summer

Folk music is not dead.

I mention this on the eve of a folk festival that was originally slated to feature Neil Young, a man who apart from the song Ohio and an ill-advised album-length tirade against George W. Bush, has never exactly been a folk singer. Patti Smith, however, who in my folk-festival world would be headlining tomorrow night, is certain to direct our inward gaze to thorny issues. This is a good thing. And you won’t find much of it at Folkfest this year.

The mainstream has lost a few pop-music traditions in recent decades. Gone are the once-obligatory “answer songs” to hits of the day. Gone, for the most part, are the cash-in numbers recorded to capitalize on the latest craze, from streaking to Pac-Man to, uh, Wendy’s TV commercials. Gone too, it seems are instrumentals, once a common sight on the charts. Funny, given that today’s chart-toppers seem to have even less to say than the pop stars of old. Presumably, it’s just that today’s artists can’t shut up. And in the age of autotune, why would they? Topical songs, meanwhile — songs that chronicle this ever-changing world in which we’re livin’ — have long been absent from the mainstream. Continue reading

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what’s going on

I’ve spent the past week out of circulation, recovering from too much sun. True, it’s the same Sun we’ve had for ages. But for me, it’s just too much.

That has left me with time to alternate between hangin’ with Snorri, watching episodes of Secret Agent and The Prisoner, and becoming reacquainted with an old friend called daytime CBC Radio. And I’d like to take this opportunity to commend CBC Radio for its thoughtful, informative and heartrending coverage of events in Lac Mégantic. What happened in that small Québec community some 10 days ago is beyond horrid. And with little else to do, I spent the days following the tragedy, glued to the radio for each update, each in-depth analysis of the situation, each interview with those affected. And, ultimately, each addition to the number of confirmed dead. Throughout, I have trusted CBC Radio to provide me with the information I sought. Continue reading

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Filed under Media, Ottawa

Likers gonna like

I like Frisby Tire. I really do. Just check out the profile on my Facebook page for proof.

Now, I’ve never purchased tires from Frisby. I do not, in fact, recall ever setting foot in one of their locations… assuming they have more than one location. Though, I have long admired their jingle — one of the most boss jingles in jingledom. Continue reading

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the Murdoch mastery

You never forget your first Billy Bragg concert. Especially if it was at Porter Hall.

This impressionable student was already a convert to the politically-savvy folk singer. And on that night, everything he sang seemed to ring true. Moreover, everything he said — whether mocking Joe Strummer’s sincerity, calling out international injustice or joking that The Smiths were targeting the pro-life market in the U.S. by renaming one of their albums Masturbation is Murder — rang true. Even the bit I didn’t fully understand at the time: something about an evil man seeking to control minds in Europe and on the verge of doing the same in America. The push for total control by this mysterious Rupert Murdoch character, our prophet in blue jeans explained, was at present being thwarted Stateside due to strict laws that prevented newspapers, radio stations and television stations in a given market from being in the hands of a lone owner. “Just wait,” Billy insisted. “He’ll get those laws changed.” Continue reading

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Filed under Film, Media, Ottawa

Bluesfest unplugged

Yesterday, we were treated to the announcement so many Ottawans breathlessly await each year at this time: the official announcement of the intention to officially announce the date for the official announcement of the Bluesfest lineup.

It was an edge-of-seat moment that local electronic-music aficionados in particular had been eagerly anticipating. That younger demographic, after all, was the target-audience for last year’s Bluesfest, as the event boldly sallied forth into unchart-hitted territory. Oldtimers are still welcome to attend, we were assured, but the future of the festival belongs to the younguns. And the younguns prefer that their music be largely free of musicians. Live musicians, at least. Continue reading

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Filed under Media, Music