Archive for January, 2011

Scott Brown’s “Sparkle”

Scott Brown's album "Sparkle"

Scott Brown's "Sparkle": chiming, encompassing 12-string guitar sounds

I highly recommend my old friend Scott Brown’s debut CD, “Sparkle.” To me, Scott’s songs are like romantic impromptus with some satisfyingly New Age patterns that take happily surprising turns — improvisations at their start, that become meaningful musical journeys. I find them beautiful. The chiming sound of his 12-string guitar is wonderful and encompassing.

Scott sent me three earlier versions of this album’s tunes earlier in the year, and they truly helped me through a tough time, the deaths of two dear friends; his compositions and playing were spiritually nourishing to me. You can listen to snippets of his songs on his new website. (Some quite delightful earlier work here.)

Lincoln Clarkes’ new Toronto photographs

Communist Daughter, Dundas St. Toronto 2010

My old buddy, photographer and bon vivant Lincoln Clarkes, has been taking a sabbatical away from Vancouver the last few months. Recently he’s been camping out in Toronto. I very much like and admire his new work.

East block girls, Toronto 2010

“The Endless Entertainment of Human Destiny”

The Saddle Cats play Western Swing music

To aspiring Arts and Music journalists in Buffalo back in the day, Jeff Simon of the Buffalo News was the gold standard: wickedly smart and funny, and wise in his tastes in arts and letters. He mentored younger writers, including my friend Richard Chon, who was a huge presence in Buffalo’s music scene in the 1980s. Here’s part of Simon’s review of “Herdin’ Cats,” the recent, debut album by Richard’s band “The Saddle Cats“:

“There may be no stranger or more delightful odyssey for a Buffalo-raised musician than that of Richard Chon. A former intern at this newspaper and longtime contributing classical music critic of notably stringent and noble standards, he went to Bakersfield as a journalist and somehow, miraculously made a wild and crazy left turn into becoming one of the more rollicking fiddle aristocrats of Western Swing on the West Coast…. [His album] is great fun, but as a tribute to the endless entertainment of human destiny, it’s even more than that.” Read the whole review here.

The Dime

I had the best day on Friday: Plowed through a ton of work creatively, attended to a number of Department Chair duties successfully, spent a few hours just walking around my lovely city, wrote and published some stuff on my websites, then came home and clicked on my email to receive my student evaluations, which were all wonderful. Then yesterday morning a buddy of mine at Kwantlen called and asked me to his witness at his wedding. And after that  I had coffee with a brilliant, delightful woman working with me on various initiatives part of a research project on gangs in the Lower Mainland. Right before we parted, I mentioned to my colleague how perfectly wonderful the last 24 hours had been, then added, “But I know things can turn on a dime.” Came home, turned on the TV: the dime.

My first memory of moving to the United States from Ontario — I was four —  was learning about JFK’s assassination on TV. That event is why I never became an American citizen, or even wanted dual citizenship. The killing just freaked me out. But I came to love the land where I was raised, and for a lot of my career I made the United States the subject of my study and work. Although I became a joyful person only after moving back to Canada, there will always be a lot of American in my mind and heart. And yesterday my heart felt broken.