APRIL — MAY 2015 Issue
  Apr/May 2015 cover by Tiff Bartel.

Pressed caps and nervous nights :: Strange Memories with The Nods and Alverstone


Nods_Alverstone Edited

By Samuel Swanson

Dozens of pressed caps of ecstasy litter the art on a CD titled Strange Memories on this Nervous Night. “For every cap, there’s a strange memory that comes with it,” remarked Jonathan Broeska, front man of The Nods, who will be hosting a reunion / CD release show with Alverstone on Saturday May 29, at The Cavern. “If we can track some of those [caps] down that would be pretty cool,” suggested Micah Braun, former Nods lead guitarist, now at the helm of local pop rock sweetheart, Jicah.

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Jesse Cook catches up with Stylus

By Ed Durocher

Jesse Cook is a Canadian flamenco guitarist, composer, and producer. He has won many awards, including a Juno in 2001 for his album Free Fall (and he’s been nominated 11 times throughout his career), Acoustic Guitar People’s Choice in the flamenco category, and many others. He has studied music at Berklee, Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, and York University. His big break really came in 1995 at the Catalina Jazz Festival where he got the chance to sneak on the main stage for a surprise performance. Afterwards, his debut album Tempest went to #14 on the American Billboard charts. Since then, he has been releasing a steady stream of beautiful records that mix flamenco, jazz, and world music.

Now all these years later, Cook is still moving forward with his music, always adapting, working, and recording with a very diverse group of artists. On Wednesday May 27, Jesse plays in Winnipeg at the Burton Cummings Theatre. It was a pleasure to be able to ask him about his views on music and life.

Stylus: What is it that attracts you to flamenco/jazz music? What was the first spark? What was the first real ‘this is for me’ moment?

Jesse Cook: My first memories of flamenco music was as a small child combing through my mother’s record collection. She had an album with a picture of a man’s hands on the cover. The music was raw and emotive. I didn’t know what it was, I just knew I loved it. It made me want to be able to play the guitar so ferociously. The artist was Manitas de Platas, a flamenco guitarist from France. Later I learned he was not highly regarded by the serious flamenco artists. But to my six-year-old ears it was fantastic.

My ‘this is for me’ moment came years later when a close friend of my family’s played me “Friday Night in San Francisco” by Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola, and John McGlaughlin. I was a teenager by that point, and had been studying the guitar pretty seriously since I was six. I thought I was hot stuff until I heard that record. At first it made me want to quit. Then it made me want to practice…and practice…and practice.

Stylus: Did you have a large musical background growing up? Family members who would show you licks? Did you ever apprentice/take lessons?

J.C.: I come from a family of artists. My parents were both filmmakers, my uncle was a respected artist, my cousin is a ballerina with the National Ballet. I am the only professional musician in the family, but many of my cousins were amateur musicians. Family gatherings were known to have some crazy jamborees.

Stylus: You most cherished/hated moments with your guitar?

J.C.: My guitar has been my lifelong friend. People have come and gone, but my guitar has always been there, through good times and bad.

Stylus: What is your compositional process? Does it start with a melody, or a chord progression? Do you compose on other instruments?

J.C.: I try to change my writing process from time to time. Shake things up. Composing, like improvising, has it’s ruts. On stage, if I want to shake things up, I’ll start each solo on a different note, or a different beat, or usually both.  It forces me to search for something new, instead of falling into old patterns. Composing can be similar. I try to throw myself into musical contexts which are unfamiliar to me, where I have to struggle to find my voice. Whether that is recording with musicians in Cairo, or Bogota, or dabbling with electronica and drum loops, with each new album I try to find a new sound, a new texture, a new puzzle to solve.

Stylus: What are your desert island records?

J.C.: Rubber Soul, The Beatles

La Llorona, Lhasa,

Kind of Blue, Miles Davis

Security, Peter Gabriel

Ciudad de las Ideas, Vicente Amigo

Stylus: If you could pick any musicians to play with, living or dead, who would they be?

J.C.: Paco de Lucia

Stylus: You’re going out on tour soon. What is your favourite city to play?  What do you love about that city? Please don’t feel pressured to say Winnipeg.

J.C.: I don’t have a favorite city per se. There are some cities where I remember having amazing nights, where the band, the audience, and I were really in tune, like we were all transported on some kind of journey, the atmosphere was crazy and the place just blew up. Montreal, Singapore, and New York would be on that list. Catalina and Wroclaw are on it. Winnipeg might be on that list too. But sadly, I don’t think you can say every concert in those cities has the same magic. It’s what makes you appreciate those moments even more when they happen.

Jesse Cook will be stopping at The Walker Theatre (better known as the Burton Cummings Theatre) on May 27th in support of his new album One World. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the gems of the flamenco world.

Until Red :: Thursday, April 30 at the Times Change(d)

By Victoria King

Until Red

Life’s not too bad when you’re playing music with friends and hanging out on the slopes.

When Stylus caught up with Until Red over the phone, the fellas were on the road from Canmore, AB to Saskatoon, SK. The Brandon-based trio were finishing up a short tour out West, and heading home today for a gig at the Times Change(d) on Thursday evening. For the last year, the band (comprised of Roman Clarke, Liam Duncan, and Dylan Macdonald) has been figuring out how best to plan tours, which venues to play, and how to connect with their audience.

The group first came together in Brandon, in their mid teens. All participating in separate music programs through three different high schools in Brandon, the boys met through kismet and mutual friends. One of their players, Liam, had opened for Roman and Dylan’s initial band – he joined them shortly after that to form Until Red. As things progressed for the band over the past year, Until Red has developed a stage ritual of inviting their audience to be involved in the fun and banter of the performance, with a goal of inclusion and friendship.

That desire to create a sense of community with their audience first took root after seeing several shows where performers or artists didn’t try to connect with their audience and left attendees feeling isolated. Liam recalls thinking, “that was a fun show, but I don’t want to go buy the record because I don’t feel like I’m friends with them.”

Things really clicked for the guys after a particular performance from the Bros Landreth accompanied by Donovan Woods. Talking about Woods’ performance, Liam recalls, “I felt like I knew him.” The group feels that the intimacy they strive for is a uniquely Manitoba quality. Noting artists like Del Barber, Sweet Alibi, and the aforementioned Bros Landreth, they feel like they all share a particular sound. “Music from the Prairies sounds different from the Coast,” Liam explains. Perhaps it’s the tall grasses or the long winters, but there is something about the flat plains that unifies a lot the music coming out of this place.

Those Manitoba-sounds and the friendly-minded nuances are both qualities that you can look forward to when Until Red release their self-titled album on September 12 at the West End Cultural Centre. Laughing, Liam admits that most of the record is made up of songs about girls, with playful songwriting and emotional qualities to support. The album was recorded at Unity Gains Studios. Finished in early April, their full-length debut will feature nine original tunes. In support of the record, the boys are planning an appropriately intimate tour model. Starting in November, they’ll be shipping out of the prairies for a two week Home Routes tour. The tour will consist of 12 house concerts, and Liam explains, “It’ll be us playing at a stranger’s house. They’re welcoming in three stinky road musicians to play for their community.”

Happening tomorrow (Thursday, April 30), you can catch Until Red at the Times Change(d) with Guest. Show starts at 10, Until Red at 11. $7 cover.

Find them online at untilred.com

Nonstophiphop:: Ratking, kid skills and the New York renaissance


by Harrison Samphir

But the city makes up for its hazards and its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin the sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty and unparalleled.
-E.B. White, Here Is New York (1949)

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Camp David – Babes Before Christ


Dave Shaw is proving to be a difficult guy to pin down. One minute, you’ll find him crooning beneath the tense and gloomy electronics of his Glass Random moniker, the next he’s releasing a totally sincere and unwinking cover of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love.” Continue Reading »

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