The Lo is Dead! Long Live the Lo!

      On Saturday, I went to the last ever show at the Lo-Pub. The line-up was great, but that’s really not the reason I was there. I wanted to have one last drink with a terminal friend. I wanted to stay until the end, and see the lights go out; but unfortunately, in my distraught state I drank too much too quickly, and ended up stumbling home alone, a mess. I didn’t want it’s last image of me to of a blubbering, drunken idiot.

I don’t know what the hell is happening to this city. Everyone outside of Winnipeg seems to talk about in one of three ways: the winters are long, cold and bitter; you might get stabbed randomly; and there’s a thriving music scene.

Somehow these three things all went together. The Albert, for instance, wasn’t an outsider friendly venue. It was downtown, where the winds in February seemed to sting even more than anywhere else in the city; and yes, you might run into some trouble that you’ll need to have some street smarts to handle. But if you could brave all of this, there was bands playing there almost every night.

When the Albert shut down, it was a blow to the music community in Winnipeg (maybe even Canada), for sure. But the Lo-Pub, in it’s infancy at the time, was there to take a lot of the burden onto it’s shoulders. It became the new Albert, in some ways. Not because it was really anything like the Albert though; it was a different atmosphere, for sure. But because you could always count on it. There were usually bands playing, and either way, it was always a comfortable place to go for a beer or 15. (And it was certainly an improvement for the city as whole, over the dive bar it was before it became the Lo!)

It started feeling like another home I think, when Dj Kutdown, Cassin Eliott and I started putting on the Mass Appeal Mondays, a weekly show designed to bring the Winnipeg hip-hop community together. Later on, it was the first venue I performed my new style of music at (see “Hey!Hey!“); that was probably the only venue in the city I could even get away with that shit at the time. That’s why I had my Hearts CD release party there earlier this year.

Now it’s gone. The Albert too. And soon, Times Changed. What’s next? I shudder to think of what doom is looming and for whom…

The good news is that it doesn’t sound like Jack (Jonassen, pictured above; the man behind it all) is going to give up. So, hopefully he’ll find a new place, and we will all be able to move on. But until then this is a public thank you to Jack, and all the staff at the Lo-Pub for all the great music, drinks and fuzzy memories!



FREE SHOW: Two Rocks of Stone and Rob Crooks

      I feel as though Two Rocks of Stone are my true cohorts, as far as Winnipeg’s music scene goes. I consider myself and them to be if not the only, a few of very select musicians in the city to be making no holds barred, experimental hip-hop.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Right around the turn of the millenium, experimental hip-hop was everywhere, or at least it seemed like it to me. It really got to the point, around 2005 or later, where “experimental” was becoming the norm, and thereby not really “experimental” anymore. Eventually, most people got sick of it, and moved on.

Two Rocks of Stone were really out there back then. Way more out there than anyone else in Winnipeg, at the time. When I first saw them, it was a real mindfuck. They had a table set up covered in gear that they played live, making beats on the spot. When a good groove would emerge, one of the members (Ryan or Jordan) would come out from behind the table to rap some crazy shit that must’ve been sent from somewhere on high. It was like seeing a kraut-rock band re-incarnated into a modern day Canadian hip-hop group. Needless to say, I wanted to get to know these two weirdos.

Since then, both members of TROS have been very influential and supportive of what I do, and I try to be the same back to them.  None of us have stopped experimenting, taking music to fringes that people may say isn’t even hip-hop anymore. But no one I know wants to debate what hip-hop is or isn’t. So putting all that aside, why not come and check out some musicians who have been making sampler-based music since before most people knew what a sampler was. This will be the real deal. (Like the real real deal. Really. Or maybe not, I don’t know anymore…Who even cares?)

Anyways, this show will be early. It is the closing party to Ryan (of Two Rocks) J. Carman’s art exhibit at the Zsa Zsa West Gallery, which was not so long ago Ryan’s own gallery, Golden City Fine Arts. It is situated at 211 Pacific, in Winnipeg’s Chinatown. The show is free, but the art is not, so please bring some money in case you see something you like.

Trout! Trout! Trout!

        After a one year hiatus, the Rainbow Trout Music Festival is back in full effect for 2012, and I will be performing! I was scheduled to perform at it last year with Magnum KI, before some unforeseen circumstances shut it down; but everything is going and will continue to go smoothly for this year. And it’s this upcoming weekend!

The festival was started a few years ago by a half-crazed man named Ben Jones (aka the drummer for Winnipeg Indie-Rock outfit and Wu-Tang cover band, Ultra Mega). I shouldn’t speak for Ben, but from what I understand, the festival was started as more or less of an excuse to invite some friends out of town for festival of music, camping and fishing. Fast-forward three years or so, leave behind some inevitable hurdles, and RTMF has blossomed into one of the most anticipated summer events for music-lovers in the Winnipeg region. A blue-collar Folk Fest, you could call it, referring to the incredibly affordable prices and impressive musical line-up.

I’ll be performing on Saturday evening, 7pm. Jon will be accompanying me again. And the rest of the weekend is packed with amazing bands from the region. Even if I wasn’t performing, I’d be looking to hitch a ride out to the site to see some of the great talent booked for this year. But there’s not enough room to list them all here, so check out the official RTMF website here. There you’ll find a complete list of bands, ticket information and details on what the festival is and what it means to the Winnipeg indie music community.

The Facebook page for the festival is here. There is also a Facebook event page here, dedicated to offering or finding rides to the location, which is approximately 45 minutes outside of Winnipeg. Directions to the festival can be found here.

For many of us this could be *gasp* the FINAL HURRAH OF THE SUMMER. So, don’t miss it!!!!

The Assiniboine River Music Armada

       I like French stuff: philosophy, literature, film, music. France is pretty alright in my books. Not to mention they gave us the Golden Boy. I’m proud to live in a place with such a strong French presence and history, even if we do all pronounce Portage as “Poor-tidge.”

St. Boniface is really a nice neighbourhood, too. It’s interesting to be able to cross a bridge into a place where the signs are all in a different language, and they have their own monuments, schools and statues. I mean, I know it’s no Quebec, but that’s kind of why it’s cool: it’s not Quebec; it’s in the middle of the country.

Some of the very first shows I performed at and attended were in St. Boniface, at Le Rendez-Vous. They closed that place down a long time ago, and I haven’t really spent much time in St. Boniface since. I’ve always wanted to play more shows there, though.

Well, now I finally get another chance. Next Saturday, August 11th, I will be performing at the Finale Show of the Assiniboine River Music Armada (ARMA), at the Le Garage Cafe in beautiful St. Boniface, Winnipeg! I’ve particularly wanted to perform at Le Garage for while now, so this is really exciting for me.

ARMA is a unique event, to say the least. It was started in 2010 as an annual traveling festival, by David Fort, formerly of Absent Sound and currently of TWIN. This year’s dates were Brandon (Aug. 2nd), Spruce Woods Provincial Park (Aug. 4th), Fairholme Colony (Aug. 6th), Long Plains (Aug. 7th) Portage La Prairie (Aug. 8th) and finally Winnipeg (Aug. 11th). The craziest part is that the bands who travel with the show CANOE FROM VENUE TO VENUE! Insane, hey? You can read more about it online, as part of the latest issue of Uptown Magazine.

The Winnipeg show will also feature the music of Wind, Monsieur Coccinel, Young Pixels, Field and of course TWIN (Vampires was originally scheduled to perform as well, but unfortunately, had to bow out). There will also be art and visual installations by Colony Collective, Pretty Grizzly, Greg Hanec and Brian Longfield. Again, I will be playing with Jonothan Askholm. We’re going on last, so we’re going to make the set super dancy. Our shows are always way more fun when people dance to the music! But if you just want to hang back, and take it all in, you’ll also be able to enjoy the trippy visuals of Ryan Simmons during our set.

I can’t say how excited I am about this show. Hopefully you can make it down.

Check out the Facebook event page here.