Sunday, August 11, 2013

Squamish Valley Music Festival

I figured I would share my crazy weekend that was volunteering at the Squamish Music Fest as I am home now and it was a pretty awesome experience and nice to be back in the world of event production. I'm still pretty sore and tired from it but all in all it was a great time and I look forward to doing it again that's for sure.

Day 1

I went up bright and early with another volunteer, Dani, who as it turns out is South African. Small world! We had a great drive up and chatted lots about careers and the world and hung out over the weekend as well, great gal. We got up there super early which was good as I needed to set up my tent before my shift started, so after meeting with a bunch of the other volunteers and the volunteer coordinator Michael (who is the best coordinator every by the way, did a great job all weekend) I went and set up my gear. The camp site was located in a number of huge soccer and baseball fields by the rec center in Squamish and the view there was gorgeous.

For my shift I was assigned to Production Assistant, and essentially it was to just help with the general setup of the site in whatever capacity was needed. Myself and some other great volunteers went back over to the site where we met with the campsite supervisor Sarah (also fantastic) and she told us they had decided last minute to start up a "general store" in the campsite to sell things that people had forgot, ice, etc. I volunteered to help get it rolling by doing inventory and itemizing everything and figuring out what they needed more of and so forth. So me and some other volunteers headed over and did that, got the little store set up and spent the day there, but after all that, well all anyone wanted was ice, and they bought a lot of it.

So my shift went by pretty fast and so when I was done I met up with Dani and we went to the Garibaldi stage to watch Dustin Bentall and Matt Mays. Dustin Bentall I had seen a while ago back in Edmonton but it had been a while. His set definitely impressed as they rocked out, and their fiddle player was phenomenal. The sound was fantastic and everyone was having a great time. Then Matt Mays closed the first night and while the beginning of his set was a little on the slow side, after the halfway point they just blew the roof off the place (which is impossible as it was outside, but still they were great). A fantastic closing set and I headed off to the campground to meet up with my friends Saifa and Melissa and there friends that came with them. They were the unfortunate souls though that were like the many that were stuck in a 3 plus hour lineup to get into the campground. We stayed up a bit chatting and eating asparagus and eventually I headed to bed, trying to ignore the insane partying that was happening, and apparently continued to happen mostly through the night.

Day 2

I was up at a pretty decent time on friday and felt moderately rested, at least enough for my first shift as backstage assistant. I wasn't sure where I would be posted and really didn't care, I was just excited to be working the festival and hopefully working with some sweet people. I was first briefly posted over at the Garibaldi stage and I just helped with loading in Jurassic 5's gear and met some of the production managers working over there. After I was done I went over to the Meadow stage to see what was needed of me. I got there and headed to the back of the stage and went to introduce myself to the stage manager, and it happened to be none other then Ryan Drabble! What luck! I haven't seen him in a couple of years at least but knew that he had moved out here but just haven't had a chance to catch up. Well we would have plenty of time to catch up as we got to work together all weekend.

Working as the backstage assistant I was mostly helping with meeting and helping out the artists, going and fetching anything that was needed, helping with setting up the stage and helping haul gear on and off the stage. Pretty much the usual stuff which was nice to help with as it's been a little while. The production team I got to work with was also pretty amazing, Rob, Lindsey and Kaley (unsure of the spelling, my bad) were all phenomenal to work with and I tried to help them keep things as smooth as possible, even with a few hiccups that should be expected at a big festival. So working was pretty fun and the bands I got to work with and see at the stage were phenomenal, especially The Chantrelles and Jordan Klassen, both were so good. Once I was done my first shift I headed back to the campsite to change and then watch some music!

When I got back to the grounds I got to catch a bit of Family of the Year, whom since the only song I've heard of there's was some slow jam on the radio I wasn't super interested but thought I would see anyways. They were actually really good and rocked out pretty hard which was sweet, a little folk rock-y and pretty sweet. From then on it was just a constant back and forth between the main stage and Garibaldi going to see Dan Mangan, who was great as always, to seeing Jurassic 5 for the first time who were so good. They brought the legit old-school hip-hop and with DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist bringing the beats they were on fire. The crowd loved it and they were so good to see, but we had to cut it short as we wanted to watch all of Macklemore's set. We headed back over and got a spot pretty close to the front of the stage just before the set started and it was so good. Ryan Lewis is not only a great producer, but one heckuva hype man. He was good, and Macklemore and his associates were on fire. There was maybe a little bit too much banter but it was generally entertaining and whenever the music started everyone was dancing, clapping, singing along and having some of the most fun I had seen people having all weekend. Highlight set of the weekend hands down. I got separated from my friends tho so wandered back to see Young the Giant alone, which was sad as it made me miss my wife a ton as we love them quite a bit. They were as good as they've ever been and the new songs sounded tight; looking forward to their new album whenever it comes out. I wandered back to see a bit of Vampire Weekend but was pretty tired so I wandered back to the campground, bought a waffle, and sat in a baseball diamond eating it and listening to Vampire Weekend (don't judge me, it was fantastic). I stayed up a bit later with Saifa, Melissa and everyone but headed to bed as I was beat.

Day 3

I had decided that I wanted to go back the Saturday night as I missed my family, so I woke up at 7 and backed up all of my gear. I then had a nice chat with some of the vendors that were next to me and their daughter. We talked about music, life, art, Vicar of Dibley (a great BBC show that everyone should watch) and generally had a nice relaxing morning. I headed over with all of my gear to report in for my last shift. They were starting late over at the Meadow stage so I got sent over to Garibaldi to help out. I went with Alex, another volunteer who was enjoying his time working backstage, and we reported to Andrea (of the Belle Game, you should listen to them if you get a chance) who was one of the Production Managers over there and then just did the basic early stuff. Cleaning out the green room/trailers, cleaning up the area, loading in Fitz and the Tantrums gear, the usual stuff. All in all it was a ton of work again but we got the place in tip-top shape and ready for Childish Gambino, the Matinee, Pretty Lights, all the artists over there.

After I was done there I headed over to the Meadow stage as they had a late start as we set up most everything the day before so it was mostly just waiting for bands to load in. I met up with Ryan and everyone and then got to work helping load in the other bands that had yet to show up and just tidying everything up. Compared to the previous day Saturday was a walk in the park. I felt a little bad as I felt like I wasn't doing much as compared to the day before, but Ryan gladly reminded me that he was glad I was there as he could focus on the stuff he had to do as stage manager and knew he didn't have to worry about anything going on as he could count on me, which was nice to here. That sentiment was repeated to me a couple of times so that made me feel pretty good. The friendly folks from the Ballantynes hung out quite a bit whom we had fun chatting with, as well as the guys from Bear Mountain, all great people.

I didn't get to see too many acts though on the last day though, mostly just the bands on the stage I was working at, and a bit of Yukon Blonde and the Heavy, who were both really solid. As I was leaving I did stop by the Garibaldi stage for a bit and watch Diamond Rings from backstage which was sweet, his set was super tight and the crowd was having a great time. Once I was done my shift I grabbed my things and then headed out to meet my wife. I missed Gogol Bordello, Band of Horses and Queens of the Stone Age but it doesn't matter too much, I was just excited to see my wife and son again. All in all though it was a fantastic weekend, full of great friends old and new, phenomenal music, a lot of hard work but just a lot of good times. It was also great to see how the festival worked from behind the scenes and the amount of work that went into it, and I am definitely excited to do it all over again next year.

Note: pictures to follow later. I just haven't had a chance to load some up but I'll post some later on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bringing It Back

It's been far too long I think since I wrote about music. I've mostly been writing about videogames in my other blog but I miss finding new music and discovering something new and something to really dig my teeth into. I am going to try making this a weekly thing and do this more regularly, so subscribe, stay tuned and hopefully we can go on musical adventures all over again.

For now, I want to introduce you to Greg Drummond. He's a Vancouver (by way of Port Moody) musician that's a little folk, a little rock and even a touch of old country in some of his tunes. I saw him play on Canada day and was aware of who he was thanks to the Peak Performance Project, and me and my wife both enjoyed his set. I should also note that his set was the first performance that my 9 month old son saw, so that's pretty awesome. Anyways here's a song, definitely give him a look. Cheers!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Media Democracy Days Fundraiser

So I just wanted to write a little something as it's looking like I will be helping out with a show coming up next month at the Railway Club here in Van, a fundraiser for a pretty sweet event Media Democracy Days. I wanted to get involved a little bit with some things this school year since I've started to wrap up my degree in Communications and this opportunity popped up, and I thought "hey, I could help out with a show, I can do those things." I'm pretty excited about it too as I'm digging some of the tunes thus far. The show is Thursday Oct 11 at the Railway Club and Brice Tabish and Che Aimee are playing, but especially this gal from Victoria is playing, Ciseaux. Check her out, I'm already a fan of her vocals, cello and sweet dancey numbers. It should be a fun evening and fun to work a show again. Here's a link to her bandcamp: and also a link to the Media Democracy Days website if you want more info on the events and workshops: .

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Pick of the Day: Adrian Underhill

I have been listening to Adrian Underhill's little EP this morning quite a bit, and have been enjoying it immensely. A relatively new face in the Canadian indie scene, this fine fellow out of Montreal has definitely got a bright future ahead of him. While there are only 3 songs up to listen to they all show a constant but varied range, with some truly delicate vocals but showing an influence from other Canadian heroes Chad VanGaalen and Neil Young in particular. I find his voice to be intriguing in the same capacity that VanGaalen's is, though Underhill's lyrics are a tad more grounded, but ones that tell the kinds of stories I like to hear in folk type songs. Another reason why I've been digging this so much is the slight world influences that comes out especially in the first track Back Asleep. He's still young but I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from this fine fellow and hopefully seeing him out West soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quick Pick of the Day: Jim Guthrie's Gaming Goodness

There's quite a few videogame soundtracks that I've enjoyed over the years, but most recently there is one that sticks out far more than any others. Jim guthrie's Swords & Sworcery soundtrack is chiptune brilliance even if it's not exactly chiptune. His use of keys, synths and drumloops is phenomenal and the ambience and tone that his music sets for the game transfers to the real world. I've been listening to these songs quite a bit in the office and they continue to transport me to a land that breathes 8-bit pixels. In particular, pay close attention to the track "the maelstrom" as Guthrie's minimalistic brilliance truly shines forth and that song in particular has moved me like nothing in quite a long time. Maybe since Aeris' Theme from Final Fantasy VII.

Truly the work of a modern day genius (and Canadian to boot). Check Guthrie out today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Music, Memories and 9/11

For me music has always played a huge role in my life. I've consumed quite a lot more music than most people I know (though there are definitely people that breathe music more than I for sure), and I have often had soundtracks to my life. There's been certain phases and parts of my life where I listened to one type of music more than others, and then things change and it's on to something else. I've had some tough times as well over the years and my favorite songs have been there for me no matter what.

I've just been thinking the last couple days leading up to today, September 11th, about what I was listening to then and why. You see, on 9/11 now 11 years ago, my grandfather had just passed away and I was taking a week or so off work to just kind of relax as it was a pretty big blow to me. I was woken up by my mom who was going crazy saying that someone had crashed a plane into the World Trade Center. I then spent a good chunk of the morning and day glued to the news watching the craziness that had been happening. Don't get me wrong, I know that there is plenty of injustice around the world and many people die due to the actions of insane people with outrageous agendas, but for that to happen here in North America, it was pretty shocking.

I spent a lot of time that day thinking about what was happening, thinking about all those people and what was going on. It was already a pretty rough time and this continued to blow my mind. Then, I did what I have done so often and wanted to retreat into a structured world, full of soundscapes and the audio escape I generally preferred to what was going on around me. I made a trip to the nearest place that sold music and just kind of headed to the new release section. My purchases for the day were P.O.D.'s Satellite and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals Life From Mars, and in general I'll probably never forget what I picked up that day.

While I definitely have moved away from the rap-metal stylings of P.O.D. (and heaven only knows why I picked up that album, though I was listening to a lot of Linkin Park still at that time so there's a clue I guess) Ben Harper has always been the kind of musician I like to grab when I'm looking for some nice chill music. That live album has been one of my favorites and I remember walking back from the store, and soaking in some new tunes and enjoying a crisp day much like today.

Music has often been a little more on the escapism side for me more so than movies or books, I love getting lost in good music. I also love good music on a day when it is needed as much as some human comfort, a hug or a "how are you doing?" For all those remembering 9/11 here's a great cover by Ben Harper for those who need something beautiful in their day, enjoy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taylor Swift or Old Crow Medicine Show?

I grew up listening to quite a bit of folk music, and once I got a bit older I found out about country music legends like Johny Cash and Hank Williams that I instantly latched onto. I like down home kind of music, songs about people and landscapes, about the good things in life and the bad, but especially I enjoy banjos and acoustic guitars and the like. I really love old country music, but I definitely have a bad taste in my mouth that has been left by so called country music stars who are generally nothing more than generic pop singers who happen to have a slight twang or an extra acoustic guitar on an album.

I was recently reminded of Old Crow Medicine Show and I forgot how much I love them and their sound. This group from down south sounds like they just crawled out of some moonshine powered time machine from the 1930's and grew up inspired by the hillbilly legends that most people barely remember to this day. Country, folk, bluegrass and more, there's always something inspired that comes from listening to this group, case in point their version of Wagon Wheel which is one of my all time favorites.

This being said, I have already been introduced to the new Taylor Swift song and I can safely say I am not a fan of it, and wonder how Swift especially can even remotely be considered country music. First impressions of the song We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was actually that it was a new Avril Lavigne song, and then I was informed that it was in fact Swifts new song. I understand I'm not the target market, but it is hands down one of the most generic pop songs I've heard in a long time and doesn't remotely qualify in my opinion as a country song. Yet, she will still have a cross over appeal and people will love her which is fine, but what bugs me is that artists like Old Crow will still be overlooked and are making infinitely greater country music than Swift ever has.

I'll definitely continue passing on Taylor Swift, but I can't wait to track down some more reinvented country classics that is for certain.