by carl wilson

Zoilus's Adventures in Publicland
Plus: Make My Pick!


Midwinter slumbering has come to an end and all the activity-makers are in their busy seasons. A number of them have caught yers truly at the end of their fishin' poles: On Thursday night, I'm one of the panelists in the Wavelength 300 event - the crucial Toronto music series always celebrates its anniversary with a set of concerts, and it toasts its sixth year from Thursday to Sunday with bands such as Republic of Safety, Ninja High School, Anagram, Lenin i Shumov, the Hylozoists, Picastro and many more. But on Thursday before the music program, for the first time they're having discussions - three panels on indie music and community, from 7 to about 9 pm at the Speakeasy (formerly Rockit!) at 120 Church, near Richmond. The panels are free (or pwyc) and based on the preparatory meeting I had last weekend with my co-panelists on "Where Do We Go From Here?" (the final panel), they should be pretty exciting, if you're a community-minded kinda geek. Subjects in our half-hour-plus will include creating sustainable resources (venues? recording co-ops? arts collectives?), what happens when indie kids grow up and have indie babies, whether or not the music community should cross over more with other arts and social causes, etc.

Next week, I'll be a guest on The National Playlist on CBC - yes, the Jian Ghomeshi musical version of Survivor, and yes, I can hear a few of you groaning. The format may be cheesy, but the show can be fairly entertaining as a way to have musical chat depending on the panel, and I'm on with arts journalist Laurie Brown and musician Sarah Slean, both of whom I respect a lot. (I think it's the show's first fully gender balanced panel, counting Ghomeshi, in fact.) I've got something Zoilus readers can probably guess in mind for the "recent Canadian" pick, but am still thinking about the "classic" pick: Should it be something by Timbaland? Ornette Coleman? Laurie Anderson? George Jones? Can? Anthrax? They want something that "revisits an old favourite," but I also want to disrupt the folk-rock-pop hegemony the show tends towards, while not choosing something extreme to be bratty. (So no Merzbow, and even Capt. Beefheart and Pere Ubu have been considered and rejected.) So far the most subversive move there has been to go ultra-pop (there were dust-ups over Michael Jackson and Maestro Fresh Wes), but my favourites were Helen Spitzer's selections of Beatbox by The Art of Noise and Rock el Casbah by Rachid Taha. Smooth moves, Helen. (You can guess how they did in listener voting.) Anyway, your suggestions are more than welcome.

Finally, I did an interview today for an NPR feature on Destroyer by Philadelphia arts broadcaster Joel Rose, which will air sometime in the next couple of weeks: I'll let you know when I know.

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, February 07 at 04:30 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (21)


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Posted by sexy_thing on February 20, 2006 03:00 AM



It's terrible about the gender slant in the panel discussions. 3 women out of 15 people. After all, as someone famous once said, "Toronto has more girls making music than anywhere except Girl Island."

Posted by anon on February 9, 2006 10:00 AM



they listen to KISS.

Posted by spitz on February 9, 2006 12:18 AM



Hey, I don't live in Toronto so I can't attend your panel on Thursday, but I want to know what happens when indie kids grow up and have indie babies!!

Posted by jennifer on February 8, 2006 09:23 PM



Rahsaan Roland Kirk's cover of "I Say a Little Prayer." Scary and brilliant. I've never seen anything corroborating this, but I feel in my bones that Rahsaan's prayer is going up for the then-recently fallen Martin Luther King.

"Oh Lord Don't Let them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me" by Mingus. I was going to suggest something from "Mingus Presents Mingus," but the trax are all long.

Or, Canuck-centric, the original "Istanbul not Constantinople" by those Torontopians the Four Lads. (Most people think it's a They Might Be Giants original; the Four Lads' take is way better.)

If you go with Ornette, I'd vote for something super-accessible (by his standards), like "Ramblin'."

R&B;: the obscure 5th Dimension torch song "Everything's Been Changed" (or maybe "Everything's Changed"), superbly sung by Marilyn McCoo, and written by Canadian Paul Anka. Gorgeous song. Another obscurity by the 5th Dimension -- their cover of a weird Laura Nyro song "Black Patch" is fantastically groovy with a tasty soul-jazz sax solo.

Kitsch quasi-topical and fun '30s western swing: "The Sheik of Araby" by Milton Brown and His Brownies. (A huge influence on Bob Wills.)

Posted by john on February 8, 2006 01:48 PM



how about willie williams' "armagideon time"? we're all familiar with the clash version, but willie's been a toronto resident for 30+ years. also, the original rhythm underneath willie's vocals features Rexdale's late great Jackie Mittoo on keyboards.

Posted by dacks on February 8, 2006 01:36 PM



For some reason I want to say ABBA.

Posted by Eppy on February 8, 2006 12:49 PM



Sadly, I'm somewhat aware of this show. I sometimes have lunch early. To my ear, they deserve some Einsturzende Neubauten. Maybe "Ich bin's". Oh wait, that's my classic choice.

Posted by Half on February 8, 2006 11:26 AM



Ornette would be cool but if you're going that route why not mindfuck people with some Albert Ayler?

As for black dance music of that era, I would nominate something like Bambaataa perhaps or, if you're going more for r&b;, Rick James (dude had ill songs). Contemporarywise, Kells (aka R kelly) is always good for sociopathic megalomania or, for better musicianship and more insanity, D'Angelo.

Failing all that, Curtis Mayfield's We People Who Are Darker Than Blue is a song that more people need to love.

Posted by Graham on February 8, 2006 01:06 AM



hey, jody - Your inability to see the point of The National Playlist is clearly symptomatic of your classic American imperial insularity! No, in fact, it's symptomatic of the fact that the show doesn't seem to have one, which has been confusing to me too. But when I set that aside and think, eh, it's just a gimmick to sugarcoat music-critical talk, I'm at piece with it. Pre-rock pop is def. one of the options I've been considering, thinking of you as I consider it. And the novelty-song point is a good one, though previous guests have proposed some sixties and post-sixties novelties. Black dance music has also been prominent among my options - I think Price would be a bit too easy, so I'm leaning to something much more contemp R&B; - like R. Kelly, or Aaliyah.

Posted by zoilus on February 7, 2006 11:33 PM



i've never been too fond of time of the season. (i think because it was on a rather anachronistic tampax commercial for a long time.)

(then again, my affection for "she's not there" may have something to do with the fact that an ex of mine showed characteristic wit in making the song her answering machine message.)

ok... so one more fun suggestion before i'm spent: "I'm straight" by the modern lovers. Gotta love how Richman underlines his disdain for "hippy Johnny's" easy lifestyle with several bullet points.

Posted by marco on February 7, 2006 11:21 PM



Carl, here's my two U.S. cents.

Since I'm not a Canuck, I'm a bit fuzzy on the rules (and the point) of The National Playlist. (Seems like fun, though.) Based on a few minutes spent on the show's site, I suggest you choose either: a.) some dance music, b.) a song by a black artist, c.) an unpretentious (novelty?) number, or d.) something that fulfills all three criteria, all of which seem sorely underrepresented on TNP based on my cursory surf. I've no idea if the audio clips of pitches that are on up the site are typical, but it sure seems like someone needs to stick up for music that is just plain fun and thrilling and not "meaningful," "inspiring," "poignant," "relevant to our times," "punk rock," etc.

I dunno, maybe Prince's "Housequake"? Something that's not all earnest and self-important. The anti-"Nightswimming," please.

You might also flip the script by going pre-1954. Maybe some Louis Jordan? Or if you want to hit them with pure beauty, try the version of "Star Dust" I included on that mix I sent you, sung by Hoagy Carmichael lui-meme.

Posted by Jody on February 7, 2006 11:05 PM



the recent canadian pick is clearly destroyer...

as for "classic"... maybe some early Roxy or something? always a good way to (sort of) disrupt "folk-rock-pop" hegemony...

Posted by andrew on February 7, 2006 10:56 PM



Also if I were going for the Zombies, I'd choose Time of the Season.

Posted by zoilus on February 7, 2006 09:30 PM



it's actually not Final Fantasy - somebody previously picked The Dream of Win & Regine, in fact. sadly, marco, your flattery thus fails on factual grounds and incapacitates the Zombies. (that last part sounds like a text-based role-playing game.) ... The Zombies would be a great choice, in fact, but underrated sixties pop is the kind of thing other panelists already do and will do more of. I'm sure the Zombies will make it in there eventually...

As for the Nihilist Spasm Band - yes, I considered that (as revenge for their shutout from the Other 50 Tracks last year!), but if I ruled out Pere Ubu and Capt. Beefheart on dissonant-obscurity grounds, I certainly can't go with the NSB. (Even though I could make a snappy 50-word pitch for them.) The Ornette option is looking very persuasive. Have to check the track length of Lonely Woman, though! I don't think they'll take kindly to an extra-long selection.

Posted by zoilus on February 7, 2006 09:29 PM



i can already imagine the hurried 50-second summary of final fantasy's worth. and i'm sure you'll do a terrific job of it, and the eternally-cool moxy fruvous dude will feel one-upped and will concede defeat.

of course, the reason for the above flattery is to impose upon you my classic pick: "she's not there" by the zombies. Well-known enough to avoid charges of obscurity, while still being tragically underrated and eternally catchy.

Posted by marco on February 7, 2006 08:59 PM



Try again!

Now more than ever, "Destroy the Nations" by the Nihilist Spasm Band.

Posted by John McMahon on February 7, 2006 08:28 PM



Hey, Carl. The world needs more Ornette Coleman! Actually, no part of the world needs Ornette more than that show does. I gather (although I wasn't there) that his version of "Lonely Woman" at Massey Hall in November elicited gasps from the audience. It is his greatest hit and a worthy selection to disrupt the flow of pure pop that the CBC has chosen for this show.

Posted by nick fraser on February 7, 2006 05:53 PM



This isn't a particularly ballsy suggestion, but it's a great recording, left-field from standard CBC fare but probably still palatable -- Cornelius' bleepglitchy version of Barroso's famed standard, "Brazil".

Posted by Sean on February 7, 2006 04:51 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson