Posted by: Joe | April 24, 2009

…either that or Governor of Alaska.

Miss California might have missed out on her shot at Miss USA, but I wouldn’t rule out a gig on Fox News in Carrie Prejean’s future.

The GOP base will grasp at *anything* these days.

Posted by: Joe | April 14, 2009


Almost 4 years ago, my friend Josh had his 30th birthday party at the Drake Hotel.  While most of the night is a Manhattan-induced blur, I clearly remember Keifer Sutherland entering the lounge with young looking skinny guy and a guitar case.

At the time 24 was at the height of its popularity, and virtually all eyes in the room were on Jack Bauer.  But shortly after the guitar case opened, everybody’s attention was on Rocco DeLuca and his Dobro.

I’ve enjoyed his debut album over the past couple years (released by Ironworks Music, co-owned by Sutherland), but to understand what he’s about, you really need to see him live.  The depth and richness of the acoustic slide Dobro just doesn’t come through in the studio.  Neither does it convey the immaculate control he has over his voice, which changes from a Buckley-esque crooning falsetto to a Robert Plant wail in a heartbeat.

Last night Rocco DeLuca and the Burden were at the Horseshoe last night to support their new album, Mercy.  I was expecting the full 4-piece band, but apparently some band drama has led to a split, and drummer Ryan Carmen was the only accompaniment.  I barely recognized him as he took the stage.  The jeans-and-tee have been replaced by the requisite black jacket and skinny tie.  Bearded, worn, a little heavier and a little more tired, he looks like a bluesman.

But the sound hasn’t changed, and personally, I was more than happy with a two-piece–DeLuca is the focus and the fewer things that distract from him, the better.  “Bright Lights(Losing Control)”, “Swing Low” and “I Trust You To Kill Me” were epic.  It’s a shame the crowd was so small.

I haven’t grabbed the new album yet, but I’ll probably download it tonight.  I can’t wait to see if Daniel Lanois was able to do a better job of capturing the sound on CD.

Posted by: Joe | April 3, 2009

“I think I got drummer sweat on me.”

Sheila, my curling buddy Jeff, and I decided to head downtown even though we didn’t grab tickets for the show ahead of time.  We had a curling game to get through early, then took off for downtown.  There were plenty of tickets left at the door.  To Ticketmaster:  Eat. A. Bag.

We arrived at The Opera House in time to catch the last couple songs of Sky Larkin‘s set.  I had listened to their MySpace tracks a couple days before the gig, but didn’t realize until we got there that they were a 3-piece.  Their drummer beats the skins like they owe him money.  Katie Harkin is one of those cute girls that become an order of magnitude hotter holding a guitar, and moreover she knows how to use it.  Wow, she can play.  They’ve now been added to my “music to buy” list, which has become somewhat long in the past couple weeks.  I need my eMusic subscription to roll over with the quickness.

Considering they’re from Wales, LC! have spent a fair amount of time in Toronto, due to Arts & Crafts being their North American label and having recorded their first album here.  This wasn’t even their first trip to this venue–“The International Tweexcore Underground” video was taped on The Opera House stage.

This was the fourth time I’d seen LC! in the past couple years, but the first since their more recent album release. While We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is slightly less sugar coated than their debut, there are still more than enough handclaps and glockenspiels to have a lot of people reaching for their insulin injectors. They’re like a Welsh Arcade Fire hopped up on goofballs.

The set was a pretty even mix of songs from both of last year’s albums, and exhibited a polish that I hadn’t seen in previous shows.  But while the songs seem tighter, that polish has taken some of the edge off of the barely-in-control rawness that I enjoyed about their prior performances.  The intro to “You! Me! Dancing!” nearly made my brain reboot at The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace–it seemed to get swallowed up somewhat by the larger venue.

Gareth sang most their usual closing song, “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”, from the middle of the crowd (corded microphone, be damned), the rest of the band teetering atop the stagefront monitors.  Once his presence was no longer required behind the kit, the sweat-soaked drummer joined the crowd to dance and sing along.

Word is they have another album in the works for release sometime mid-year, so I’m sure they’ll be back in Toronto soon.

Posted by: Joe | April 1, 2009

Reason #3,190 Why Ticketmaster Sucks

On Monday a friend of mine drops me an email to see if I wanted to go down to The Opera House to see Los Campesinos! on Wednesday night.  I’ve already seen them a few times, but Sky Larkin is opening who I’ve heard good things about, so sure, let’s do it.

So yesterday I head to and see tickets still available, click through to the Billing page to find a $7.50 Convenience Charge on a $15 ticket.  That alone is enough to piss me off–50% of the ticket price?  Come on.

But then I scroll down to the Delivery Options and see that because the show is the next day, the only option is “Canadian Retail Outlet Pickup”.  No “e-ticket”.  No option to pick up the ticket at the venue.

ProTip:  THIS IS IN NO WAY CONVENIENT.  Please change the label of “Convenience Charge” to “Bend You Over The Barrel Just Because We Can Charge”.

Thanks, I’ll take my chances on somebody scalping outside the door.

Posted by: Joe | March 31, 2009

Rules to live by

I don’t know who is writing 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son, but I think we’d get along.

Posted by: Joe | March 24, 2009

View from the front office

Travis Snider is likely the Blue Jays future franchise player.  He’s playing great so far this spring, and really has nothing left to prove in the minors.  So we should be seeing him in the starting lineup on Opening Day, right?

Probably not.

A lot of sports decisions don’t make much sense to most fans.  Now that former Jays Assistant General Manager Bart Givens has some free time on his hands, he’s writing Inside The Majors,  a new blog discussing baseball from a front office perspective.  It’s an interesting look at why MLB teams make some of their day-to-day moves.

Posted by: Joe | March 23, 2009

“Great Expectations”

The ’59 Sound was one of my favorite albums from the end of last year, and I’ve really been looking forward to seeing The Gaslight Anthem live.  So we were off the The Opera House on Friday night, despite the pile of work we should have been doing for the kitchen renovation.

When I bought the tickets for this gig I was hoping that Heartless Bastards would be providing support, as they’re joining for the rest of the North American tour, but once I saw them listed on various SXSW info I knew that wasn’t the case.  When we got to the venues the question was soon answered by a big “Saint Alvia” stencil on the side of an amp.  One of their songs got some play on CBC Radio 3 last year, and my friend Scott has a connection with one of the guys in the band and had told me good things about them.

The first opening band was Windsor’s Orphan Choir.  They were loud.  And growly.  And otherwise unremarkable.

Saint Alvia was up next, and banged out a quick, high-energy set that got the crowd pumped.  They didn’t play anything that I recognized, but I’ve added them to my eMusic “Save for later” list.  I love when a supporting act understands their role.  Set up your equipment and sound check with the quickness, rock 5-6 of your best songs, get the hell off the stage.  Bravo, lads.

GA hit the stage and launched into “Great Expectations”, a mosh pit erupting before the first chord change.

Imagine Springsteen fronting a punk band–that’s what The Gaslight Anthem’s sound is like.  Their songs are somewhat classic New Jersey, blue-collar rock, managing to maintain a balance between punk anthem and melody.  If you’re the sort of indie music fan that have tried and failed to like The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem might be worth a try.

As I was coming home from one of several trips to Home Depot today, the radio happened to be on the Strombo Show (I had forgotten my iPod).  GA’s frontman Brian Fallon called in to the show to request “Soon Enough” by The Constantines, citing them as a large influence on his music–“If we can only be as good a band as The Constantines I’ll know we’ve made it.”

I knew there was a reason I liked these guys.


Saturday afternoon I put off more kitchen work playing in the Silver Tankard zone playdowns.  We started off slow (we were down 4-0 after two ends in our game), but got close by the 5th end break, after which our opponents never scored again.  Our partner team won their game as well, so in a couple weeks we’ll have a chance to repeat last year’s provincial championship.


Today I had no ways left to procrastinate, so kitchen assembly started.  Sheila got a bunch of painting done the day before, so we were ready to start hanging cabinets.  However once we got going, we realized that one of the cabinets that Ikea had included was the wrong size, so we made a trip out to return it and gather few other supplies.

After that setbacks were relatively minor, and we got all of the wall cabinets up, some more assembly complete, and the electrical supply for the new dishwasher routed.  Not a bad day’s work for a couple amateurs.

Posted by: Joe | March 20, 2009


I grew up in St. Andrews, NB until I was about 6, and spent a part of most summers there growing up.  The herring fishery has always been an important part of the economy for towns along the Bay of Fundy, and St. Andrews has always had several herring weirs just off the beach.


The Google Earth imagery for Wales must be a lot more detailed than my old hometown because researchers have discovered the remains of a 1000-year old fishing weir just off of a Welsh beach using Google Earth.

I can barely see the wharf in St. Andrews on Google Earth.  Maybe Dick Cheney has bought a summer home.

Posted by: Joe | March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Posted by: Joe | March 16, 2009

He’s like the anti-Hemingway. just explained why I’ve never been able to finish reading anything by David Foster Wallace.

However, he has missed one important step to DFW-ifying a sentence:

9.5 If you can read through the entire sentence without being distracted by something, pick a random phrase and expand it into a paragraph-long footnote.

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