Friday at the Albert: Rob Crooks, Ghost Twin, DJ Beekeeni, A Lion In Your Lap and DJ Damien Ferland

(Click on poster for Facebook event page)
(Click on poster for Facebook event page)

In the past few weeks, you, like many others, may have asked yourself: “what the hell has happened to our beloved Albert?” After all, we’ve all heard the stories that have surfaced since the now infamous ‘toasted bun’ incident went public. The last thing I remember paying attention to was the picture of the bikini-clad waitresses, posing in front of the atrium. “Those poor girls,” I thought, “caught up in something they probably have little-to-no idea about, trying to fake a smile in the less than beach weather spring air, only to have hordes of angry Albert-lovers rally against them on Facebook.”

“We want our Albert back!” we’ve been collectively screaming. “We want boys and girls smoking cigarettes and doing drugs together in the girls bathroom; we want guys pissing on the walls in the boys bathroom, where the urinals used to be; we want some drunk person bottling some even drunker person out on the dance floor; we want blood and puke stains in the carpet, and chips in the floor tiles!”

Mind you, some of that stuff still happens at the Albert. But some things do inevitably change. The Albert qua the Albert was a special place that became a rite of passage for many of us. It was a place that represented so purely the Winnipeg experience, an experience that can be so dark and raw at times. The Albert was that underdog in all of us, with so much spirit and so much fight (figuratively and literally); it was a run-down dive to the naked eye, but with so much character underneath that the initiated couldn’t help but love it.

And now it has brand new floors, brand new customers and a brand new owner who is potentially a huge asshole. (I say “potentially” because I’ve never met him.)

But one thing that the new Albert still has, that the old one had too, is bands. Realistically, there are probably a lot of places you like to patronize that have assholes for owners. The difference might be that the owners of those other places didn’t buy a place with so much history, that meant so much to so many people.

Unfortunately, the Albert as we remember it may never come back. In fact it probably won’t. Neither will the Lo-pub. Nor will Wellington’s. But in spite of all the blows this city has taken over the past few years, and the many more that are coming, don’t we need to keep focus on what mattered in the first place? It’s all about live, underground music in the end; and we’re losing venues at an alarming rate. Say what you want about the Albert, but don’t turn your back on local music.



GHOST TWIN (10:45)


ROB CROOKS (12:30)

(with DAMIEN FERLAND djing Synth Music between sets)


Birdapres and Rob Crooks present Argyle

bird-rob-art2(1) To all of my friends and fans that have been vocally skeptical about how much I sing on my new shit, here’s something just for you. Argyle is an EP Birdapres and I made full of raps and beats, and it’s all based around the theme of being in high-school. Why high school, you ask? Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why did Judas grab the Romans while Jesus slept? In the simplest terms possible, we went with it, and it worked out. Below is a more detailed description of the album and the creative process behind it. You can read it to find out more.

In the meantime, you can download the album here.

“For the first time ever Birdapres has teamed up with Rob Crooks to bring you Argyle. Named for both an alternative high school in Winnipeg and the pattern that adorns school uniforms, this eight track EP hearkens back to the days of low-hanging backpacks, mind-numbing classes and juvenile delinquency. Although Bird and Crooks are well beyond their teenage years, they artfully use the theme of high school to express the feelings of alienation and ennui that followed them well into adulthood.

The poetic insight that laid the theme for Argyle came from Birdapres’ observation that most people had a friend or classmate tragically pass away during the months or days surrounding graduation. From that dark inspiration came the pensive “Bus Stop Blues,” a song that developed the overarching concept for this brand new EP. Other songs cover topics such as adolescent drug-use (“High School High”), skipping class to smoke “Cigarettes” (feat. Pip Skid) and the dreaded “Summer School.”

Sonically, Argyle is contrastingly upbeat and fun. Rob Crooks, playing the role of producer in addition to emcee, took records supplied by the walking-vinyl-encyclopedia Birdapres and fed them through his sampler to create beats influenced by Krautrock to Miami Bass. Samples from classic 80s and 90s high-school movies are sprinkled throughout the EP adding a narrative that takes the listener from the first day of school to graduation and beyond.

The final result is a hip-hop album unlike any other, relating the experiences of angst-ridden high-school students to the existential problems facing us as grown-ups today.”

May Madness

(Click on poster for Facebook event page)
(Click on poster for Facebook event page)

The end of May is turning out to be a cluster bomb of great things.

It all began last fall when I found out that not only is one of my oldest friends getting married to an amazing woman, but also that he wanted me to be the best man! I don’t think I’m putting myself out there too much by saying that I, like all of us, have my share of insecurities. So for me to be named the best man really gives me the boost of confidence I need right now. And to add to the excitement, the wedding happens to be in one of the most fun cities in North America: Montreal!

Fast forward from last fall to February of this year: I’m somewhere in Europe on tour when I find out that I have been asked to perform at Montreal’s 2nd annual One Man Band Festival, on the weekend after my friend’s wedding, Saturday May 25th. I’m not big on astrology, I gotta say, but the stars sure lined up perfectly on that one. I’ll go to a wedding, party it up a little bit with some old friends, spend a week relaxing, eating smoked meat and poutine then I’ll attend an amazing festival as a performer and as a spectator. What could be better?

Then sometime around when February turned to March, I got an email from my good friend Tom aka Speed Dial 7 over there at the Marathon of Dope label. He tells me that he wants to go ahead and put out the record that Birdapres and I made, and he wants to do it sooner than later; May 28th to be exact. At first I was a little skeptical about dropping it so soon, since the direction that my solo music has taken recently has been more towards singing than rapping. And this record I did with Birdapres is a straight-up rap record. “What if people get confused!?” I worried to myself. But then I thought “don’t under-estimate the audience, you idiot!” and we dropped the first single. And so far people have seemed to like it, so hurray for us. (Thank you to everybody who has shared it, listened to it or even simply took notice. Birdapres and I both really appreciate it. We’re currently working on a video!)

By the time April decided to show up, we here in Winnipeg were all getting pretty sick of the unnecessarily long winter. But at least I had escaping to 421826_432167156874682_1532052256_nMontreal at the end of May to look forward to. Then I get an email from Jaimz of Ghost Twin. He asked me if I’d be interested in playing a show back in Winnipeg on May 31st, with his band, A Lion in Your Lap, DJ Beekeeni and DJ Damien Ferland at the historic Albert Arms venue. I said “listen Jaimz, not only am I interested, I’ve been waiting to be asked to play a show like this in my hometown for a long time. Count me in!” This will be a veritable blitzkreig of synth based music at a notorious punk bar. It’ll be just like 1979 all over again.

Finally, just when I thought May couldn’t get any better, I find out that the Thursday before my friend’s wedding, the 16th of May, I’ll be playing another show in Montreal with the one and only Cadence (fucking) Weapon! And just think: I was standing on a bridge ready to throw myself off not all that long ago. My how things change.

Here’s a recap of all the events going down in May:

May 16th: Rob Crooks, Cadence Weapon and Hua Li at Kathy & Kimy in Montreal

May 18th: Rob Crooks is the best man

May 25th: One Man Band Festival presents Rob Crooks, Jesse Dangeroulsy, Matt Dorgan Project, Igor vs. Rogi and Clara Venice at the Playhouse Cabaret in Montreal

May 28th: Birdapres and Rob Crooks drop Argyle, available for free download at

May 31st: Rob Crooks, Ghost Twin, A Lion in Your Lap, DJ Beekeeni, DJ Damian Ferland