Aged to living room perfection...

So there she is, our sweet "new-to-you" floor model record player.  Pretty excited about it, but I don't have a lot of experience with vinyl.  It was a bit of a process to get this baby working, but she spins like a charm now, and with a fresh coat of paint, it looks pretty nice too!

So this brings me to the point of this blog.  I want to know what you guys think of records? Anything and everything!  What are some of your favourite records?  Maybe you think record players are dumb, and wonder why people still spin them?  Do you have a funny moving day story about one of these bad boys? This particular player had the original manual, and was dated 1976.  What year is yours from?  Feel free to comment below, or email me, feel free to send pics and I will post them!

I only have four records right now (well six, but the two John Denver one's will be making their way back to a thrift shop :).  They are:

Frank Sinatra - My Way
Dean Martin - I can't give you anything but love
Gordon Lightfoot - The Way I Feel
Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels + Bonus Live at Trinity St. Paul's 7"

All comments/emails by Oct. 6 at 11:59 pm will be entered to win an autographed album, and a CBC Radio 3 T-Shirt!
Tell me your vinyl stories people! :)


Island SoapBox Reviewlandia?

(Our view from beside the Fudge shop at Market Square)

Day 1

We took in our first Rifflandia experience at Market Square on Thursday evening.  It really was everything that we had hoped for.  A bit of shitty weather gave our first West Coast festival the right feel, the bands on stage didn't disappoint, and Rifflandabräu is terrific.

Sunday Buckets opened, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy them.  We headed to the beer tent upon entry (Beer Tent entrants 3 & 4, thank you very much ;), which was great for table selection, but all the tables we're behind the standing area where you could watch from.  So we listened emphatically to the first set, but didn't see much of the stage act.

I was really ramped up for Brasstronaut.  We found a spot beside the stage to take it in and set up shop. They were good, but I think I got myself too excited, as I found the show to lack the energy I thought these guys would bring.

(Brasstronaut in Market Square)

The energy I missed out on, Grand Analog brought tons of to the stage.  He has an old-school sound, I really enjoyed it.  You know a set is good when it's already over.

(K'naan headlined Thursday night at Market Square)

K'naan has had an interesting month, and after singing through the first two tunes of his set without much life, I was starting to worry.  That went away quick, as he really warmed up with the crowd, and gave everyone the headlining act they had come to see.

Current Swell was definitely my favourite surprise of the evening.  I didn't know anything about them, but they kicked off their set with some pretty wicked guitar riffs, and I was hooked right away.  They had a super cool vibe to them, that reminded me of several artists at points (The Tragically Hip and Sublime kept coming to mind).  I'll be seeing them again for sure.

Day 2

Friday evening brought 4 bands that were "must-see's" (personally speaking of course) and three different venues.  It was time to experience the uniqueness that is Rifflandia, and get to venue hopping.

(Treelines playing in The Victoria Events Centre)

The Victoria Events Centre was stop 1, for CBC Radio 3's Song of the Summer winners Treelines.  Playing in the always tough 7:30 timeslot, the boys put some asses in the seats!  I thought the crowd was great, the show was excellent with really good energy.  They truly are a lot of fun to watch.  Maybe it was the venues I was at afterwords, but I thought the sound quality could have been better.

After picking up my sweet new Treelines T-shirt, it was up to Metro Studio for Steph Macpherson.  We walked in roughly halfway through what I believe was her first song (she introduced herself at the end of it), and took the first two seats we spotted.  I didn't get to see much of the stage behind her because of the stack, but otherwise it was great.  It was the first time seeing her live that she had a band behind her, so that was nice to see.  A stand-up bass is a quick way of impressing me.  I just love those damn things.  I don't need to say it, but I will anyway, Steph was awesome like always.

(Steph Macpherson with a band at Metro Studio)

Onto Alix Goolden Hall, right around the corner from Metro Studio.  We got in for the majority of The Whitsundays.  Not my cup of tea... :)

The reason we had made the trip to this Cathedral of sound was for the next two acts, and boy oh boy were they good.

(The Wooden Sky on stage at Alix Goolden Hall

The Wooden Sky killed it.  People were eating it up, including me.  The sound quality in that building is excellent, and you're basically sitting on stage with the band.  I really enjoyed watching all the different instruments played.  I've liked this group for a while now, and to hear them telling the story of first coming to Victoria way back to play Ocean Island Backpackers Inn, to see them in Alix Goolden killing a crowd like that was really cool.

(Great Lake Swimmers on stage at Alix Goolden Hall)

After an act like that, having the Great Lake Swimmers come on was just way too awesome.  Again the sound in that building is incredible, so when you put a group like this on stage, you can't lose.  It was a captivating set, Tony Dekker held the stage solo for a song (for http://www.swimdrinkfishmusic.com/ and all that it stands for), and the room felt very attentive. The venue is super intimate, and Great Lake Swimmers, along with all the acts, really used that well.

Oh, and I was also super excited to buy "Lost Channels" on vinyl.  Apart from a Gordon Lightfoot album, and "A night with John Denver", this is my first LP purchase.  

How many of you are listening to records these days, and what are your favourites?

Day 3

Well I've noticed something about the acts I like, they all seem to be playing all ages venues.  I think this means something about what I'm listening to.  It also means that I'm never the shortest person :)

That being said, I was really looking forward to Pawnshop Diamond, so back to Alix Goolden for me. Thinking back on the sound quality from the evening earlier made this choice even easier.  I may have forgot my camera, but at least that meant I could just listen.  And what a treat that was.  Another band that exceeded my expectations.   My only wish was they could have played more!

Reid Jamieson was up next.  Dude can sing, I will say that!  He played a really fun set, he set up his songs with humour well, and had the crowd following his stories with smiles.  He's getting married next weekend, and was fortunate enough to have his wife-to-be sing a few songs along with him.  She made some jokes as well, and they seemed to share the moment quite well.

Hayley Sales was up next.  Armed with nothing more than a busted Ukelele at times, Sales had her voice bellowing through every nook and cranny in that place.  It was a super impressive vocal performance, and along with her surfy acoustic guitar, there were plenty of heads bobbing along.  She got the crowd involved as well (the hall sounds really great with audience clapping, stomping or singing, I really can't stress how good it sounds in there enough!).  In fact, everyone enjoyed it so much, she earned the first encore I've witnessed at the festival.  One last catchy tune, a standing ovation, a successful set.

That was it for me on day 3.  With my partner in crime at work, and having to work myself in the morning, I thought this was a great "quit while you're ahead moment".

Well Sunday evening just didn't work out for me.  After sending a co-worker off with some beers after the shift, the relaxing confines of home were too much.  Looking forward to next year now!
I really think the festival was done great.  With all the extra's available, like Artlandia and Winlandia, not to mention the free acoustic sets, it looks like this festival is just going to get stronger and stronger.  The Rifflandia organizers know what's up, can't wait to see what they do next year.


It's not climate change, but Treelines have moved south...

(Treelines plays a show at RailRoad Club in Vancouver)

A quick note before we start.  Treelines has two songs up for voting in CBC Radio 3's "R3-30 Song of the Summer".  You can check those songs out and vote here.  Please do, I promise everyone will appreciate it!
** Quick Edit, Sunday September 26.  Treelines has in fact won Song of the Summer! Thanks to all who voted, make sure to congratulate the boys!**

It's no secret Island SoapBox loves Treelines. Having been featured twice already, it's about time for round 3. With the bands recent move from Kelowna to Vancouver, it made it nice and easy to meet up with the boys for some breakfast, and find out how life is shortly after relocating.

With a great spot looking out onto Commercial Drive, the people watching is as good as the interview. Matt Kelly, and brothers Steve and Matt Lockhart are the three migratory members of Treelines, and they seem almost antsy about being in Vancouver, right from the get go. The excitement for this next step is evident in their eyes as they speak.

"Definitely excited to not be in Kelowna. I like Vancouver a lot. It’s almost more that I’m happy more to be out of Kelowna, than I’m happy to be here. I’m excited to be here, love our house and our area and everything." Kelly tells me.

"I think we're all stoked to be in Vancouver, cause there’s just way more happening. Like this week I’m going to three shows. And that would take, I'd maybe go to one show a month in Kelowna kinda thing. So I’m far more entertained here. We have an awesome house, where we can jam, which is awesome. Cause for the last two months in Kelowna we just didn’t have anywhere to play, and that was a bummer. And moving here, we thought we'd probably have to pay for rehearsal space and that’s just such a foreign concept to me. Paying so I can practice? You know? Practice is moderately fun, but sometimes it certainly feels like work, and I don’t want to pay for that you know? We just threw up a couple of walls in our house and we have a jam space which is awesome. That’s gonna be huge for us just from a writing perspective.

"Besides the fact that we were all just ready for a change of scenery, it was also a practical move. It’s a natural step that every band in Kelowna has to take. We've pretty much done what we can here, so let’s go somewhere else, and usually that place is Vancouver. Despite all its cultural dryness in Kelowna, there's been a ton of bands that moved to this town and done very well here. In a nutshell we’re stoked."

Matt Lockhart seems like he's busting at the seams while he discusses the move. For his brother Steve, this is the first move from home.

"First time not living in the same city as mom and dad. I feel all grown up now. I’m excited to be down here. I think it’s gonna be great. The fact that there is so much music and culture down here, and Kelowna is kinda like a dry spot for that. Some days, working on band stuff, there’s nothing really inspiring, you kind of have to fight through it there. But here there is just so much going on, it's just more inspiration to get us more involved in what were doing."

Young Man”, the 6 song E.P. released this past Canada Day, was the bands second recorded album. Reception has been good, but that doesn't mean they aren't looking forward either.

"I always find it interesting after you release something, to re-approach it after a couple months. Having written some other material, and kind of looking at what you released. Once something is on an album it’s a point of comparison for your new material, and it’s always weird for me to see how things change even quickly. Like the albums been out for two months, and we’ve already written some songs that definitely have a much different feel than that album. And I think that’s what actually prompted us recording “Young Man” in the first place. We were just so excited about this new sound and this new direction that we were evolving into, that we were like "We have to get these down on something". As soon as you release an album you can’t picture where your music is going to go after that point, you just have no idea. I really like the album still that we just released, I’m really proud of the songs on there.  But I’m already getting an itch. We have these new things now that we want to get out you know? And it’s weird because I mean, we're still bringing this album to a lot of new places, to a lot of people it's brand new still, but to us the band, it's not. We just passed it out to college radio last week, and they're just putting it in their rotation now. So it's this weird thing where on the one hand it’s like “We gotta new album out, check this out” but then creatively, we’re moving in kind of this different direction and that’s really exciting. So it’s this, dynamic between the two that I find really interesting. I think we're really happy with how the album's been received. We’ve had a lot more traction with this record than the first one, which is what you want to see. Our first 100 units sold way faster than last time, which is great. It’s not the end all, but for us they're just like little sign posts of progress, and that’s been really encouraging."

Although there is no ego present, it's still clear that Matt Lockhart is the leader of this group, both on stage and off. Taking the reins and happy to answer all questions, it eases the burden on Kelly and brother Steve, allowing them to chime in when comfortable. Kelly goes on further about the progress the band has made.

"There are so many ways you can measure your progress. It’s a lot easier to stay motivated if you’re measuring yourself based on things you can see. You could wait to sell all one thousand albums we pressed, but that doesn’t make any sense when we can celebrate the couple we sell every show. Sort of like Steve was saying, being around these bands, it’s a great way to stay motivated. Trying to measure yourself in ways that allow you to feel good about what you’re doing."

The younger Lockhart points to a show like Rifflandia, and how their inclusion shows the band is on track.

"We’re pretty excited, as we were saying earlier it’s those little steps of progress that you see along the way. You can see you are going in the right direction. Last year we probably wouldn’t have been asked to play at this festival, this year we are.  So I mean we’re obviously heading down the right road right now. It’s just encouraging that people enjoy what we’re doing. It gives us motivation to keep making it."

With a member change in the works, and the band talking about how much their music is evolving, fans may worry that Treelines sound may be on the way out, but the lead singer squashes that worry quickly.

"If you can look at the first record to the second record and say the band is still Treelines, I think that’s a much larger jump then where we're at now. That’s not to say that might not change. I think there is so much to it, that makes our band sound like our band, and it comes down to the honest musical taste of the members coming together. The sound will change because we had a lineup change. Ryan decided to stay in Kelowna, which is totally rad, we’re really happy for him. But we'll be bringing someone else on to play drums. Style wise, it’s gonna have a big effect on the music, and I think it will certainly still sound like Treelines, a lot of the core songwriting components will still be there. I’m not sure what fans expect. I think as a music fan myself, I go into a new record expecting it to sound like the old record. And when it doesn’t at first I don’t know if I like it, but then I end up liking it more because it shows growth.

"Our biggest thing has always been, don’t try to define what we're doing. We just play what we feel at the time and put it out. At the end of the day being honest with what we're doing is probably the most important thing, we’re always gonna do that. Whether we lose some people along the way or whatnot, that’s just kinda gonna happen. I think you can always hear an honest record from a band, and you can also hear a record when it's not."

The group comes to Victoria in just one weeks time for Rifflandia, playing Friday night at the Victoria Events Centre (September 24, 7:30 P.M.). A great show for the boys to tune up their act for their Western Canadian Tour starting towards the end of October.

It's wonderful to see a group of young guys so well organized and staying so true to themselves. In today’s age of music, with seemingly endless choices of listening out there, Treelines plays it simple and old-school, honesty is the best policy.

Oh, and by the way Mrs. Lockhart, your boys wanted to say hello. They thought you would like that...


Mr. Jones and Me

It's amazing what a voice, a guitar and a street corner can do.  Mind you that voice is an extremely hard working, talented and relentless artist, out to make his own breaks.

Bodhi Jones is soft spoken and polite.  And an awesome, like really, really awesome musician and busker.

I caught up with the 29-year-old musician recently on his home turf, at Robson and Howe in downtown Vancouver.  Although there is a man offering books for change on his usual corner, Jones makes sure we stay close, as he has promised tickets to fans.  An awesome first impression of the man, worried more about getting these fans free tickets than anything else.

Fans of Bodhi know he has no issue writing and releasing music.  His latest record "Where does the Time go?" is set for release Tuesday (September 14, 2010).   It's more solid work from the Native of Salt Spring Island, true to the sound that his fans have come to love.  Although this time around his fans will have to wait a little longer for the next album.

"I write all the time, and I want to get music out there.  I'm on the street corner cause I'm actually selling the music. I want to get it to as many people as possible and keep giving my fans more. But I think the next time, whenever my next album comes out, it's gonna be a little bit longer away I think.  I’m gonna work a bit harder at the songwriting.  I usually just let it come naturally and quickly and easily, but I think I can get a bit more in depth.  I think I haven’t really scraped the surface of what I’ve got to say.  I’m gonna try a bit harder, maybe a year.  This time next year I'll definitely have an album out. 1 year. Instead of every 4 or 6 months or whatever it is."

I think fans will happily accept this, sounds like Bodhi taking his time will benefit everyone.  It will be fantastic to see where this talented artist takes his music next.

Jones is musically maturing before our very eyes.  Beyond being naturally gifted, he's had the benefit of The Peak Performance Project assisting him.  Merging natural talent and technical knowledge, the project has been rewarding.  A 6th place finish last year has earned him a spot in this year's top 20, but maybe more importantly, he's been here before.

"I guess I was a bit of a veteran (at band camp), which was weird because just 1 year ago I was so green.  I was freaking out and puking before my performance.  The showcase there.  It was my first time ever performing on a real stage by myself. So I've come along way, pretty crazy. Its developed me for sure.
Last year, I don’t know if I was naive, but I really thought I might be able to get in the top 3 or 5. I worked really hard.  It’s a disadvantage for a solo artist I think personally, compared to having a full band possibly to delegate different tasks. So last year I really killed myself.  
This year I’m coming in, work a little smarter, a little less frantically.  Just soak it all in, learn as much as I can which I did at boot camp. I learned a lot this year, faculty was great, much better than last year. This year I don’t have hopes of winning, if I do that’d be cool, but I just want to use this media attention, meeting all these new people, I'm learning and I'll just take it in stride.  This year it seems the new batch of peak artists is just nuts. So we’ll see."

Jones is right, the talent level at this years contest is insane, but the VanCity Busker fits right in.  At Band Camp in Princeton, BC this past August 27-September 3, The Peak FM must have understood just how lucky they were to have these creative geniuses under one roof, and really ramped up the program.

"It was boot camp this year.  Last year it was like a vacation.  A lot more free time. This year they just packed in more classes, more focus on tweeting and blogging, and we had to write and record a song professionally.  Last year we did the writing thing, and they just said "OK, go record it", you had three takes, one microphone it was recorded raw.  This year they had the whole studio, producers. So you really had to craft a polished song that was ready for radio. So that took a lot of, like literally most of us stayed up the last three nights.  Pretty much no one slept the whole 24-hour days, it was pretty crazy. 
I did my collaboration song with Kyprios.  He was kinda a stand out at camp.  It was interesting cause I think a lot of us weren’t sure what to expect out of this hip hop cat.  He kinda brought a lot of people out of their shells, he was one of the leaders at camp for sure.  He was a good guy to work with.  It was an amazing, amazing experience. Anybody who’s playing music should apply."

Bodhi is super excited about all of the recorded songs from camp, mentioning at least a few could be instant hits.  It will be a treat to hear him collaborate with a hip-hop talent like Kyprios.

Of course playing on the street has its unique moments.  Although it's been good to Jones, that doesn't mean the day to day always goes so smooth.

"Well it is a challenge. To do it for a living, to actually pay the bills with it.  But I can’t complain cause I could be digging ditches like those folks across the street.  It gets competitive, mundane sometimes.   Sometimes it seems like you’ll play for, it might just be 30 minutes, but if your singing your heart out for 30 minutes, and no one seems to care, its pretty hard. I think it's hard on the confidence sometimes. You just tend to focus on the negative. Yeah I might sell 20 CD's, but I saw 20,000 people walk by that didn’t give a shit about it.  Sometimes you wonder what you’re doing out here.  
I’ve been robbed a couple times. I caught them both times.  I leave the cash in there sometimes if it’s a busy day.  They just grab the cash, so I gotta put my guitar down and chase them down the street.  One time I was wearing flip-flops and I chased a guy on a bicycle and caught him.  But these people are down and out.  They give the money and it's all good.  Never a dull moment out here, that’s for sure.  I’ve met a couple producers, I’ve been flown down to LA a few of times by busking.  You never know who you’ll meet out here. I think that’s what keeps me going."

I'm sure there is a "humble" counter out there for my website somewhere, but I don't care, because it fits again.  Although he's already bringing joy to many listeners, he continues to work hard at his craft, almost unaware of how good he is.

"If I do end up making music, like a solid career where I have albums released around the world and stuff, if I do become successful, I think I'd still like to keep it real and busk once in a while. Maybe when I release my albums I'll busk in front of some of the stores or something.  And this tour, I’m going across Ontario in October, I’m going to busk in every town I go to, we're gonna film it and make a little documentary.  See what it's like to busk in different towns. Even if there might be 10 or 20 people around, who knows. So that’ll be fun.  Yeah I’ll always busk, that’ll always be part of it."

Well Mr. Jones, there are many owners of various recorded goods that would argue you are already quite successful.  It's those people, along with the work ethic of the gifted songwriter, that will ensure "Bodhi Jones Release Day" comes to a town near you, maybe even "by this time next year".


Who the hell am I, and why the hell am I writing this...

(The sweet Terry Fox statue.  Thunder Bay, ON)
Picking out a picture of yourself is weird.  Just saying.

I've been going at this for a bit now, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully you have been enjoying my writing and content. Someone on twitter had mentioned that I should write and tell a bit about myself. A chance to find out just who is writing these articles. So here you go a bit more about the person on top the Soapbox.

My Girlfriend and I moved out to Victoria last July from Toronto.  Three years in Ontario's capital had worn us out (working in a National Sports Television Network), and with my uncle in Victoria, it seemed like a great place to set up shop on the West Coast.  We saved our pennies and made the move a 23 day journey.  Camping along the way at campsites we had booked months in advance.  The move went as well as you can expect a cross country move in a 1996 GMC Safari stuffed tight.  It almost made it too :).  A charitable organization in Vancouver was kind enough to take it off our hands, and the gas guzzling sounds of a U-haul brought us from Van to Vic.

I started this blog up out of sheer boredom. I had found seasonal work when we got here, and it had finished up for some time.  My girlfriend was working (thank god), and I had been on an unsuccessful job search, and just needed a distraction. Being home alone all day can drive you batty in a hurry. Funny enough though, very shortly after that very first post, I got the job offer for the gig I am currently working (for a local television station in Victoria).

That one post felt really good though. Not that it was particularly great or anything like that (It wasn't even about music, the second one was). It just felt good to write again. I've never done it professionally, but I always enjoyed writing as a part of my education. There is just something about the written word.

Writing about music was an easy decision. Humans have been banging on drums and dancing around fires for thousands of years. Music is part of us. It's part of our evolution on this planet. Although what style we listen to and how we enjoy music obviously changes from person to person, you can pretty much guarantee that we all have some interest in music on one level or another.

I write about musicians that I think people should hear. I try to write with a professional edge, but I think it's clear I'm more so a fan. These musicians are some of the hardest working, most sincere people you will meet. Why not try and spread the word?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I set up the first interview. I couldn't even really believe I had done it to be honest. Steph Macpherson had been nice enough to give her time before a show at the Fort St. Cafe (which is an awesome little hole in the wall). I'd never done an interview on my own before. Having said that, I do tell visual stories for a living (I'm a television editor). Along the way, I've had the privilege of working with some truly professional reporters. So at the very least I had been watching people put stories together for a few years now. I knew as long as I did as much research as possible, I wouldn't seem like a complete moron.

Steph was great. She answered everything with honesty and enthusiasm. When listening to the interview back for transcribing, I couldn't help but laugh at myself. My response to every answer was "cool", or "wow, cool". So after writing up the piece, I deleted the audio file. I figured I could start the archive when my vocabulary had more than two replies. She must not have noticed, or simply didn't care, as her last answer was just as well thought out as her first. Oh, and it really couldn't have timed out any better. Steph has had quite the summer!

That first interview basically got me hooked. I had met these wonderful artists, but they are even nicer people (Zachary Lucky had been kind enough to answer a few questions that night as well). I had already wanted to spread the word of their craft, and after meeting them it was reassuring to know they are great people as well!

I also get messages from time to time from people who love the blog. The focus on local music, and a chance to listen to something new. It blows me away every time. Although I write it for people to read, I'm always shocked people actually do. The fact it has such a positive impact for some people makes me feel really good, and that's what makes me want to write the next one!

The one thing I've promised myself to stay away from is negativity (except for that very first post, but like I said, I was having no luck on the job search, there was some bitterness there ;). I don't want to write about things I don't like, or I think aren't/weren't any good.  There's plenty of negativity out there already, why get all the way up on this SoapBox and spread more :). This positive attitude I've found, is opening me up to all sorts of music I never would even tried before. I really enjoy Jazz, who knew? The Ruby Spirit, I would never have spun that. I'm so happy they looked me up!

There is a real sense of community you feel with these musicians as well. This is also something that is hooking me deeper. Having just moved away from everything and everyone we knew, needless to say we have made some great friends, but our social circle obviously got much smaller. This was a great way to force myself out there and meet new people. I can be quite introverted sometimes, so I like things that force me out like this. Ying and Yang, you have to have balance.

Well I think that's just about enough about me. If you have any questions or comments, I'm always looking for feedback! Also, tell me what it is about music that you love?