Inspiring Practice Spaces Make All The Difference

Every artist needs an inspiring place to write and practice. Hal Ryckman came by my office with the idea of renting some space for the various bands we are in. Wanting to really have a place to play were the band could hear itself and nobody would care how late we played had a lot of appeal to me. His son’s band has a practice space in a building near our office downtown. So…off we went to check out what was available. We found this space and knew right away it was perfect. I suggested to Hal that we pickup some fiberglass panels and wrap them in material. One Saturday we headed to Mitchell’s Fabrics in downtown Winnipeg and went straight down to the bargain rack. There we found three colours of the same fabric and right away knew this was the ticket. The next Friday right after work we set out to create 30 panels and mount them on the walls. The spray glue we used was a tad intoxicating and when I went to the bathroom during a break as I stood washing my hands I found that I was literally stuck to the floor. Opps. As I lifted my feet the tiles started to pull from the bathroom floor. I hope the building super doesn’t read this blog!

My Favorite Top 3 Recordings of 2008 – #1

Sometimes its worth picking up those little free download cards from Starbucks. I happened upon the song “Asking for Flowers” by just such a download. As soon as I heard the song I knew there was something very special going on with this record.

My favorite recording for 2008 is Kathleen Edwards, “Asking for Flowers”.

Song writing, perfect guitar tones, compelling and unique vocals. I just keep playing this record. You know you have something special when a record sounds better and better to you with every listening. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for sad songs. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for broken and evocative vocals. But listen to those guitar sounds, semi-distorted, layered, and throbbing with lush tremolo . Fantastic!

There is nothing flashy about his record. If you are looking for shredding, you are not going to find any here just beautifully composed, recorded, and executed parts and counter melodies. Colin Cripps, who has worked with Bryan Adams and Sarah McLaughlin, shows how its done. It doesn’t hurt that Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) plays organ or Greg Leisz (Wilco, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow) play pedal steel.

The record opens with “Buffalo”. I love how you can hear the creaking of the piano and the squeak of the pedals. From the opening bar you know this is not going to not be the usual sanitized pop album. The vocals haven’t been tuned to death and the raw emotion comes through.

The title track “Asking For Flowers” is a brilliantly crafted tune. The guitar solos have this scratchy bite that captures the frustration and anger of the tune perfectly. “Alicia Ross” is the true story of the murder of a young women in Markham, Ontario, one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.

“I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory” with lines like “Your the Great One, I’m Marty McSorley” this is a piece of true Canadiana. Great pedal steel playing on that cut. Every tune on this record is strong ending with the atmospheric “Goodnight, California”.

Great music moves you and this record moves me every time I listen to it. The palpable mornfullness of these songs make this my #1 pick for 2008.