Sitting down with Aidan Knight

Another amazing West Coast musician has dropped by The SoapBox. Extremely talented, and incredibly humble, Aidan Knight was kind enough to give up some of his time. It's also the first audio interview here, and I'm fully abusing the term "podcast". Check it out :)

*I apologize for the less than perfect Audio quality. It was supposed to be a podcast, downloadable and such, but I can't figure out how to post it appropirately. If you would like an MP3 version, I can email you one no problem, just send me a message!*

Here are a few sites of interest as well.


A name you should know now... Steph Macpherson

It's amazing how things have a way of falling into place isn't it? For Steph Macpherson (@stephmacpherson on twitter), the pieces are falling quite nicely.
Fresh off the heels of her top 20 inclusion in the Peak FM Performance Project (http://p3.fm @thepeak), Steph has been announced the winning "Ourstage Artist" at Vancouver's Lilith Fair, on Canada Day. Not a bad spring so far.
"It feels very good, and especially rewarding when you feel like there is a lot happening." she told me recently at a show at The Fort St. Cafe in Victoria.

That was before the Lilith Fair announcement, so that rewarding feeling can only grow. Of course if you've had the opportunity to see her live, this was only a matter of time. She's another very talented West Coast Singer/Songwriter and it's truly a treat to see her play. Her combination of keeping the audience involved, and pure musical talent leads to a memorable set time and again.

"Your live show is so, so important. Especially now. You can have great songs, you can have great songs on the radio, but if people come to see you play and don't feel like they connected with you in some way, and they don't feel like they wanna come back to your show, you're kinda dead in the water."
"A Strong "hometown following" is really important. People need to know what you are doing, and who you are at home. I love playing at home, because I get all of my friends and family out at my shows as well and I'm always seeing new faces too which is pretty exciting. Especially in Victoria which is fairly small, where I grew up and I never really expect so see new faces."

It's this attitude that makes you want her to succeed. Speak to anyone around her about her, and you realize she's just extremely likeable.

"I love Steph Macpherson. I have encountered her in person a bunch of times in Victoria, around the city, the odd house party or live venue dive. She is always friendly, humble and sweet. I think right away one of her strengths is her personability. If you meet Steph, you like her." Zone 91.3 host and owner of "The Morning After" blog (http://spintheblackdisc.com/) Jeremy Baker (@Jeremy_Baker) said.

"Stephs great, she's a really great musican and a great writer. Just a really nice person in general you know? I have a lot of fun touring with her, we always end up doing songs together, it always turns out being real fun." added Saskatoon Musician Zachary Lucky (@zacharylucky) at the Fort St. Cafe.

With her talent being recognized more and more by the day, we can look forward to hearing more of her in the future. The Peak FM Performance Project is an excellent opportunity for finalists to learn and expand each and every area of their musical careers. Cash prizes are awarded to the top 5, and a lot of loot is up for grabs (the winner receiving 6 figures). For starving musicians, cash is king, but this competition serves more purpose than just giving up money.

"I can tell you that the experience last year was wonderful for the artists and created a real sense of community that has survived the program. The goal is to help each of the Top 20 reach their potential. The artists who work the hardest in all areas of the program and show that they have not only the talent, but also the business sense and marketing drive will reach the program summit." that from the Executive Director of Music BC Industry Association, Bob D'Eith.

With this mega-talented group (including Said the Whale, Vince Vaccaro, Aidan Knight, Debra-Jean amongst others), Macpherson undoubtedly belongs, but will certainly be in tough. As for what she has to do?

"Steph is an artist and she works hard perfecting her craft and writing beautiful songs. To be a top 5 contender on The Peak, Steph Macpherson needs to write a great pop song that caputures the Peak audiences' imagination in the first listen and demands a repeat listen. I think she has done that with a couple of her cuts (already)." says Baker.

"I think she just needs to stay calm to be honest. She gets really worked up over things, and they are things she often doesn't have to worry about, I think she'll be just fine." Lucky said with confidence.

Macphersons' eyes light up at the mention of the competition. It's clear that she is extremely excited, and humbled about the opportunity.

"Everyone is saying (other artists in the competition) is as much as it is a competition, it's also so great to be devolpoing such a community with each other, and I think we will create some really great things as a group as well as individually for ourselves and each other."

"To You" her debut E.P. was released last year. She says she has been working on new material, and another E.P. is likely.

"EP's are great, cause it's not too much music. I know it's weird to say too much music, but it sort of leaves people with "that was great, I'm ready for more" feeling."

Well Steph, I think it's safe to say that everyone is ready for more. As for how she comes up with her songs?

"Most things inspire me in some way. The way it is, I don't even really know where a song comes from. Sometimes I like the sound of words together and it'll go from there, sometimes I have a melody in my head and I'll go on that, sometimes Im just strumming on a guitar or recording on a piano or something and magic will happen and I'll just have it flow out, and its just an indescrribingly beautiful experience."
It certainly is...

You can check out her myspace (http://www.myspace.com/stephmacphersonmusic) for music and up to date tour information. Almost unbelievably you can still catch Macpherson at a "coffee house" venue for as little as five bucks. Do yourself a favour and get out to a show soon, the chance to see this act at a cafe around the corner may soon be replaced by the theatre downtown.


The Complete Game One-Hitter

Jim Joyce is clearly one of the most respected umps in the game. The comments that have poured in since the missed call get that message across without doubt. He missed a call. Another no-doubter. Armando Galarraga finished the night with a complete game shutout, allowing 1 hit. No Perfect Game.

Let's face it, everything has to go just so, for a perfect game to occur. Pitchers need to get calls going there way, they need players to make outstanding defensive plays (boy did he), it has to be...perfect. Bad calls are a part of baseball though, and this one just happened at the worst time. Imagine if Joyce blew the very first call of the game, and then Galarraga went perfect from then on. I wonder if the reaction would be the same? Part of me says yes, part of me says no. I think it would be much easier to accept. Jim Joyce may be the reason that it was not a perfect game, it would be great to put a players name in that spot, but it isn't so.

The fact human error changed the game is actually why I like baseball. Crazy as it may sound. I like that strike zones change from ump to ump, and that guys miss calls. It reminds me that it's not perfect, and that perhaps we shouldn't be putting these items on the pedestals we do. They're just dudes playing a game. Armando has an awesome story for the grand kids. With the drama around it, how he was looked at as nothing but classy with the way he handled the situation, one of the most respected umps looked him straight in the eyes and told him he messed up, and it was tearing him apart. He'll be treated as a hero from the hometown fans regardless, and rightfully so.

Nobody died. Right?

To top it all off, I like that Bud Selig stuck by the call. Every little leaguer, beer leaguer, or semi-pro leaguer can learn a lot from this. Sometimes bad calls happen, but you have to handle it like a big boy and move on. Galarraga was amazing, not only did he keep his cool initially, and therefore kept himself in the game, but he got the out. To top it all off, right after the game they shoved a camera in his face, and he still kept it cool. Baseball is to be a gentleman's game, and Galarraga has shown the definition of gentleman. He pitched an amazing game, but the stars weren't in line this night, and it wasn't perfect.


This is "This is Franco"

Hanging out at the Ocean and playing Ultimate Frisbee are two things Marcus Abramzik loves to do when he's not playing bass for This is Franco. That sounds like a pretty good time, and gives you the impression immediately that the Vancouver musician is "down to earth". Having toured across the country in a school bus (playing for kids help phone), their song "Forever" chosen as a theme song for CBC Radio Almanac, and just recently recorded with "Vertical Studios" in Vancouver, it's wonderful to see these guys are still humble.

The band has embraced the online culture, frequenting their @thisisFRANCO twitter account, even hosting a fan competition to make a music video for their song "Crowded House". They work hard to get their music out there, and keep their fans involved. "It seems the trend is for musicians to have more control over added aspects of their careers, but I think it's always been a challenge for any band to get their music heard. The size of Canada definitely makes getting heard very difficult." Abramzik tells The SoapBox.

With two tours planned right now (one this summer, another after the release of their new full length towards the end of the year), This is Franco is doing everything they can to make sure you hear their music. Great work ethic from a group of 22 year old musicians.

The music sounds extremely polished. You would think these guys have been all over the radio for years. Marcus says the new album is a real reflection of the entire group, with much more collaboration this time around. "The new album has a lot more co-writing within the members of the band. We also had a member change as well, with the addition of Alex on guitar the songs have a more broad and full sound."

"We were extremely lucky to have Kristen Cudmore of Language Arts feature on the single "Shelter" and are open to more collaborations but it's just the one for this album." www.myspace.com/thisisfranco has shelter available, I really suggest checking it out. There is also downloadable content on their website www.thisisfranco.com, just check out the electronic press kit section. This is Franco is another example of a band putting music out there for free, that leads to you just having to buy it. With a whole summer of touring lined up before the album release, I think it's safe to say the next album can't come soon enough.