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?)
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!!!!
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.
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.
Last week I posted about the future; sadly, this week I am forced to post about the past. Tonight, Wednesday, July 25th 2012 will be the final episode of “The Dope Joints” show, which has aired on UMFM (the University of Manitoba’s campus radio station) since 1998. The ever-changing landscape of hip-hop will never be the same after tonight.
Like many, many other listeners, I’ve learned a lot from these guys over the years. You could always count on the Dope Joints crew to bring you the newest jams from anywhere and everywhere in the world of hip-hop. Just a bunch of real motherfuckers, who will be sorely missed. It hurts to think of what the next generation of hip-hop heads will look like without guys like these holding it down for the community. I will definitely pour out a little for these guys tonight.
“Kinetik, @Large and DJ Stress will break you off proper one last time after spinning Hip Hop on UMFM CJUM 101.5 FM since 1998. Kinetik will continue on with his Psychedelic Soul Shack Saturday nights at 11 PM on UMFM (http://www.umfm.com/programming/programgrid/358), @Large will podcast here and there (http://dopespot.podomatic.com/) but it’s now up to you to make yourself dope mixes of the newest and freshest Hip Hop joints each week. Good luck with that.”
Also, check out their group page from Facebook, which includes a bunch of great links to old episodes, old mixes and other great moments from Winnipeg hip-hop history. There really is some great stuff up on there right now. So get it quick, because who knows how long it will be up there for.
If you’ve had the chance to catch one or more of my past few performances in Winnipeg, you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the great accompanying power of my good friend Jonathan Askholm. Jon is someone who I’ve known for so long I don’t remember meeting him. It was probably in our grade one class, but my memories from that time are a little cloudy since, to quote Damo Suzuki, “I was getting high a lot back then.” (Jokes!)
Although Jon and I were both very much into music during our school days, and we each spent time in bands with the same friends, we never really made music together until recently.
Earlier this year Jon returned from Asia, where he had been teaching English and traveling. Via the wonders of the internet, however, we were able to keep in close contact with each other. The subject of our conversations for the most part centred around music: I would tell him about what I was up to musically in Canada, and he would tell me about the band he started in Korea with some other English teachers. I told him I was thinking of adding someone like-minded to my live show, to fill out the sound and give it more energy. Jon, who had left behind two bands when he went to Asia, also intimated that he was eager to make music with someone of similar interests when he returned home. We agreed that when he got back to Canada we would start a band.
I had been developing the idea for a different kind of band in my head for a long time. I wanted to have the energy of a punk band, but sonically I wanted something closer to hip-hop and electronica. I wasn’t particularly interested in the typical set-up of a traditional band, nor the idea of having pre-programmed music as part of the set; I wanted to use samplers and drum machines as instruments. Jon was open to the idea, and upon my suggestion and his own research, agreed to pick up an SP-404 sampler and a keyboard, which would be compatible to my own set up of two keyboards, an SP-404 and a 303. It wasn’t long after he got back that we were fully equipped to bring the idea to life.
Since this way of making music was relatively new to Jon, and since I wasn’t exactly sure about how we were going to work out the practical details, we decided that we should start by having Jon learn my songs and accompany me during some shows I had lined up. So far it’s been going better than we could’ve expected. At our last show (which was also our best one yet) we were able to perform four brand new songs that we had written together. It’s been going surprisingly smoothly.
Jon will continue to accompany me on my songs for the next few shows, but also expect to hear a lot more music that we write together as a group. Our goal is to make our music and live show as fun and danceable as possible, but without simplifying it or staying stagnant. We are both very excited about the future that is beginning to take shape just up ahead of us.
Facts about Jonathan:
– Before Jon left for Asia, he was the bass player for one of my all time favorite Winnipeg bands, The Mouth-Boat. The band has been described (I’d say accurately) as “pre-punk art terror.”
– He also released an experimental album with the drummer from the Mouth-Boat, Goldwyn Miller, under the name Shoshaku Jushaku. I was featured on one of the songs (which is good) and we made a video for it (which is terrible). Check it out here. Dynamo also was featured on one of the songs from that album, which also had a video. I like both. Check the video out here.
– Jon has spent a total of three years in Asia. He’s got a lot of great stories about his travels that you should ask him about if you get the chance.
– Jon has a degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. (Yawn.)
– Jon’s father is a well-respected organist in the city and also a former music teacher. In other words, Jon is a lot more musical than I am. But we balance each other out.
– In high school Jon used to be into punk music, before he started doing drugs, going to raves and dressing like a chav.
– Jon often visits a meditation camp just outside of Montreal where you only eat once a day and you’re not aloud to speak.
– Jon is a strange man. But also cool.
We have a few shows lined up together coming right up in August, so stay tuned!
In less than 2 weeks I will be opening up for one of my all-time favorite artists, Buck 65 at the Pyramid Cabaret in Winnipeg. When I first heard Buck 65, around ten years ago, he really changed the way I thought about not only music, but so many other things as well (for example what it meant to be a hip-hop artist/fan). This show was originally supposed to happen in May, but due to unforseen circumstances had to be rescheduled to July 13th. Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote about the show that was originally supposed to happen a couple of months ago:
“This show means a lot to me for a number of reasons. Buck 65 has been a huge influence on my musical outlook since I first heard his album Vertex over ten years ago. At the time, I was just getting out of high school and was a major “backpacker”; I listened exclusively to New York underground rap, from Black Star to Mobb Deep, Thirstin Howell III to Gang Starr etc. But with the opening up of the Wax Museum (a now defunct) record shop in Osborne Village, hip-hop fans in Winnipeg like me didn’t have to rely on what HMV had in stock anymore. Thanks to the dedicated people at the Wax Museum our eyes were opened up to a whole other contemporary movement in hip-hop that was happening all over Canada and the States at the time. With the guidance of the people who ran the record shop, all of whom were active in the local scene themselves, I was introduced to so many mind-blowing acts, from locals like Fermented Reptile and Frek Sho, to Canadian artists like Soso and the Goods, to American crews like Living Legends and Anticon.
But out of all of these acts, Buck 65 made an impression on me that was unique and particularly influential. The music he creates is undeniably hip-hop, but unlike any other hip-hop I’d ever heard before. His album Vertex was my first glimpse into a relatively uncharted territory, a completely novel way of thinking about breaks, cuts and rhymes. It wasn’t long after I heard Vertex that I picked up his earlier release Language Arts and the Sebutones album 50/50 Where It Counts (Sixtoo, the other member of the Sebutones has also been a great influence on me). These three albums, along with Man Overboardare without question masterpieces of modern hip-hop music. Their influence on me is still unfolding, even a decade after my first contact with them.”
For those of you who only know of Buck 65 through his later videos on Much Music or as Rich Terfry from the CBC radio show The Drive, here are some of my favorite earlier Buck 65 songs from the late 90’s early 00’s, just to give you an idea of how much an influence he had on indie/underground hip-hop culture:
This coming Wednesday, June 13th, I will be opening up for Canadian Hip-Hop legend Moka Only, who will be performing with my long time homie from Rapskatoon, Factor Chandelier. Also on the bill are some other good friends of mine, but more importantly great artists, Bridapres and Dj Co-op. This is gonna be a good old rap show, like we used to have, and it will all be going down at the Die Maschine … I mean, the Green Room in Osborne Village, Winnipeg.
I think most people who are of a certain age and who have paid any attention to popular music in Canada over the last ten years are familiar with Moka Only, and likely have had one of his songs stuck in their head. Maybe best known to the populace as a sometimes-member of Swollen Members (during the years when Swollen Members had catchy hooks; coincidence? no), Moka Only has also had ties to Vancouver’s pop sensation Len. But what some people might not know is how prolific Moka Only is as a solo artist. He releases several quality albums a year, that he raps on, sings on, does all the production for and records himself. He is a true artist. This show should be very entertaining and I intend to take some notes of the man while he’s on stage.
Along with Moka, manning the ones-and-twos, will be my main man Factor Chandelier. Speaking of prolific, Factor has put out more albums over the past year than anyone I know. His merch table puts anyone else’s to shame. And his albums move! Probably because it’s great product. He’s worked with artists such as Xzibit, Josh Martinez, Kool Keith, Awol One, Noah 23, Moka Only, Aesop Rock, Gregory Pepper, Buck 65, Living Legends, Ceschi, tha liks, Sadat X and of course two of his main go-to emcees the L.A. legends Awol One and Myka 9. He started making noise back in the late nineties with the Side Road imprint, which he began with another Saskatoon legend, Dj Chaps. They put out records by some of Western Canada’s best rappers, such as Def 3, Ira Lee, Kay the Aquanaut, Cam the Wizard and many, many others. I’ve known Factor for probably ten years now and he’s one of the funnest people I know, so I’m looking forward to chilling with the homie, talking rap and taking shots of tequila with him. Come see us at the bar after the show!
Finally, I’m pretty sure that anyone who would be checking out my website knows all about Birdapres (we’re just finishing up our EP together!) and Dj Co-op. Birdapres has deep roots to Vancouver and has known Moka for years as well. (In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s both of them in the “If You Steal My Sunshine” video). And Co-op is undoubtedly one of the top party rockers in Winnipeg. So this is going to be a crazy night, guaranteed. Tickets are insanely cheap, drinks will be flowing and girls will be dancing. Wednesday, for the next few months, is the new Thursday. So come down to the Green Room on the 13th and have some fun, why don’t cha?!
I’m excited to play Ozzy’s again. As a youth running around these dirty Winnipeg streets, I was first really exposed to the seedy underbelly of the city through the classic punk venue Ozzy’s. It was one of the only venues in town that had all ages shows regularly; so as early as twelve years old I was meeting up with friends to hop on the bus, riding down to a-much-different-than-now Osborne Village and climbing those ominous stairs down into the grimy underground club. The experiences were definitely something novel to my fresh-faced friends and I: getting freaked out by older kids who were high on acid; seeing bands that were screaming obscenities over thundering drums and guitars; and generally just feeling like I was finally doing something! So, Ozzy’s definitely has a special place in my heart. And I’m always happy to perform there.
Manitoba Music’s New Music Wednesdays started a year or two ago, I guess with the idea of bringing together different people from the province’s music scene with the goal of influencing each other and networking. A lot of great acts have played the night in the past and I am honoured to be a part of it, along with two other great acts. As a member of Magnum KI, I’ve had the privilege of performing with Oldfolks Home before, as well as being a member in his audience more than once. I can honestly say I am more than pleased to share a stage with him again. If you are unfamiliar with his work, check it out here. Indicator Indicator I have yet to see perform live, but have heard great things and have found them to be backed up by the online content I’ve seen. The website for Indicator Indicator can be found here.
As I said before the show is on June 6th, it’s only three bucks, starts early and is in the basement of the Osborne Village Inn, in the club known as Ozzy’s, in Osborne Village. You can check out the Facebook event page here.
“Hate to be the bearer of bad news.
Buck 65 has been postponed until July 13
Rich is really sick.
He’s been fighting a cold all week and it exploded into a crazy sinus infection last night. He isn’t fit to travel let alone perform.
We have to postpone the wpg+sk shows this weekend.
I’m so sorry about this, certainly not our intention to bail last minute.
The show has been rescheduled for July 13th ,tickets will be honoured or if you can not make it refunds are available at point of purchase.
Friday,July 13th it will be.”