Wednesday, April 28, 2010

May flowers

Seeing as I'm a Montrealer, two things seem mandatory to start this blog post:
1) Holy hell, yesterday's snowstorm was freaky, and today it's still too cold for it to all have melted away. [Insert generic complaint about the weather]
2) Go Habs Go!

Now that that's out of the way...

Next Thursday, May 6, Trio Bruxo will be partnering up with Global NTT for their Over-Exposed series at Jupiter Room (3874 St. Laurent). It will be an all-Brazilian night, with Syli D'Or nominee and good friend Isaac Neto playing an opening set, Bruxo continuing, and then a few songs with all of us together. WeFunk's Professor Groove will be spinning selections between and after sets. Mike and Peter of Global NTT have been strong supporters of mine for years, and have been helpful to Trio Bruxo since its inception. We're happy to be part of their new showcase night.

Isaac Neto - guitar/voice; Trio Bruxo: David Ryshpan - keyboards; Nicolas Bédard - bass; Mark Nelson - drums/percussion.

Friday, May 7 marks the return of Michael Reinhart to Centre Ste-Ambroise (5080-A Ste. Ambroise). It's always a treat to play with Michael, and now that he lives mostly in Edmonton it's a less frequent occurrence. It's also the only group in which I play accordion - Michael's accordion! In an accordion extravaganza, opening the night will be Ottawa (also via Edmonton)'s Marie-Josée Houle.

Michael Reinhart - guitar/voice; David Ryshpan - piano/accordion; Jérémi Roy - bass.

Friday, May 28 is the reprise of Ardesco's Motown and More! show at the KoSA Centre (5325 Crowley, metro Vendome). I unfortunately had to miss the first one because I was in Calgary, but I'm honoured that they've asked me to be the musical director for this edition. I have been friends with the vocalists in Ardesco for many years, going back to when we were all affiliated with McGill's Effusion A Cappella.

Ardesco: Amelia McMahon, Melina Bikhazi, Elizabeth Burnell, Andrew Mangal, Othniel Petit-Frère - voice; David Ryshpan - keyboards; Dave Goulet - guitar; Shaun Ryan - bass; Mark Nelson - drums.

Monday, April 19, 2010

World Skip the Beat Playlist - April 19, 2010

King Sunny Ade - "Kiti Kiti" (Odú)
Steve Reid - "Don't Look Back" (Daxaar)
Jali Bakary Konteh - "Combination" (Konteh Kunda)
Bassekou Kouyate f/ Toumani Diabaté - "Timeni" (I Speak Fula)
Lionel Loueke - "Ami O" (Mwaliko)
Yinguica - "Mine a uni tendere" (Marrabenta)
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars - "Gbrr Mani" (Rise and Shine)
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - "Sé wé non nan" (The Vodoun Effect)
Bob Ohiri and his Uhuru Sounds - "Ariwo Yaa" (Nigeria Afrobeat Special)
Fidel Sax Bateke & The Voices of Darkness - "Motako" (Nigeria Special 2)
*Souljazz Orchestra - "Agbara" (Rising Sun)
Puerto Plata - "Guantanamera" (Casita de campo)
Maestros del Joropo Oriental - "Guacharaca" (¡Y Que Vive Venezuela!)
Eugenia León - "La Tirana" (Rough Guide: Mexico)
Torreblanca - "Nunca acabo lo que empieza" (Defensa)
Tumulto - "Tú, yo y nuestra amor" (Love Peace & Poetry)
Pedro Aznar - "María Landó" (A Roar of Southern Clouds)
Rubén Blades - "First Circle" (Mundo)
Papi Brandao y su conjunto Aires Tableños - "La Murga de Panama" (Panama! 2)
Yerba Buena - "La candela" (Rough Guide: Latino Nuevo)
Forro in the Dark - "Lilou" (Light a Candle)
Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition - "Vandanaa Trayee" (Apti)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ring the alarm

Montreal has seen a wave of gentrification in the past couple of years in the traditionally low-rent, artist-friendly neighbourhoods of the Plateau and Mile-End. This influx of new affluence has led to the closures, either temporary or permanent, of such lynchpin venues as Main Hall (still closed, though its sister venue Green Room has re-opened), Casa del Popolo (sans music for many months, including during last year's edition of their June festival, Suoni per il popolo), and Zoobizarre. These closures stem from noise complaints filed by neighbours, which lead to investigations into the liquor licenses of said establishments, most of which did not have the proper permit to have live music in an establishment serving alcohol. I don't know what the exact language of the by-law is, sorry.

Recently, it has taken on a whole other level of stupidity, moving its sights towards venues right in the heart of downtown Montreal. First, L'Escalier (which existed as Cafe L'Utopik, and before that Cafe Ludik, a hub for Francophone progressives, alternative jazzers and singer-songwriters, and some pretty decent veggie food) was busted for not having a proper license. Now, via Karnival don and recent RBMA alum Ghislain Poirier, comes a brilliant open letter to our mayor concerning an incident at the Société d'Arts et Technologies (SAT). The letter is in French (EDIT: English translation here); I will briefly summarize. (Incidentally, the SAT was supposed to be a major partner in the Biennale Montreal 2009 until Stephen Harper's first round of arts funding cuts decimated its operating budget. Sigh.)

During the anniversary mini-festival of electro promoters I Love Neon on March 25, someone filed a noise complaint against the SAT, located on Saint-Laurent and Rene-Levesque: the gateway into Chinatown, a stone's throw from the eastern edge of the Jazz Fest site, and smack in the middle of what the city is building up as "le Quartier des spectacles." When the cops showed up, the SAT complied with the request to turn down, but I Love Neon has moved its events elsewhere. As much as I advocate protecting one's hearing and sensible volume levels, the electro and dubstep that I Love Neon were likely rocking that night is meant to be played loud (I wasn't there)!

The SAT is not really a residential neighbourhood; bordered by other huge clubs such as Metropolis and Club Soda, as well as the legendary strip bar Cleopatra's across the street, it's not like there's a rave going down in the middle of a placid suburb. I'm sorry, but if you want peace and quiet, live in the West Island. If you file a noise complaint against a club at the intersection of two of the most important streets in the city, you should have a psych evaluation. What's next - someone who buys one of the condos going up around the renovated Place des Arts filing a noise complaint against an outdoor show at Jazz Fest or Francofolies (edit: which at least director Pierre Fortin agrees is a bit much)? Someone calling the cops on Divers/Cité or Nuits D'Afrique? And at what point will this administration ever listen to the residents of the city it's supposedly governing - how many failed projects must Mayor Tremblay launch without public consultation?

One of my most vivid memories of New York City was walking to the subway with Darcy James Argue and David Adler after the 2007 Vision Festival. We passed the freshly boarded-up ruins of Tonic, and stood for a moment lamenting its loss. (Hat tip to Steve Smith for re-tweeting this article about the inflation on the Tonic block.) I knew in that moment if clubs like CBGB's and Tonic were being demolished in New York, it would only be a matter of time before such things happened in Montreal. And sure enough, shortly thereafter we had the aforementioned clubs silenced, not to mention the sucker-punch of losing the Spectrum.

It is vital that we protect all elements of culture, not only that which condo developers and public servants deem suitable and palatable. Especially in a city that prides itself on being a thriving artistic metropolis, in a city where arts and culture account for much of its tourism revenue. For anyone that gives a damn about any festival, venue, promoter, or musician in Montreal, it is imperative that we make our voices heard. In the next municipal election, this should become a talking point.