Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for May, 2007

At Long Last

May 29th, 2007

The Zoilus gig guide calendar has been updated, with fairly detailed listings for June and even a start at July. And what will you find therein? Cecil Taylor! The Rob Brown Trio! CSS! The Spanish Harlem Orchestra! Ozomatli! Keren Ann! Joe Boyd! Junior Boys! Dirty Dozen Brass Band! Rufus Wainwright! Tim Hecker! Hidden Cameras! Harborfront tropical festivals! Manu Chao! The Ex! Rickie Lee Jones! Antibalas! Vijay Iyer! The Boredoms! Toumani Dibante! Slint! Fred Eaglesmith! De La Soul!

Sounds summery, doesn’t it? Well, except for that Tim Hecker.

POSTSCRIPT (Monday June 4): North by Northeast and Luminato listings now added to the schedule. Apologies for any and all typos. They probably won’t be fixed. I’ll have a few NXNE picks in the Globe and Mail this week too (coming out on Thurs. I believe - I’ll let you know). Sorry for the current reduction of Zoilus to a listings rag. Blah blah book blah book blah book. I’d be eager to have any readers’ reviews of the shows that I currently can’t attend, like the Cecil Taylor show, tonight’s Rob Brown show, or any of the others over in the sidebar or given double-star ratings in the gig guide. Just email.

ALSO: Having just dealt with NXNE mostly on my own, and with the Jazz Festival coming up, I realize that the post of Zoilus Listings Jazz Helper really should be filled. If you’re available and interested (probably best if you’re interested in improv and experimental jazz, this site’s main focus, but with enough interest in more traditional and fusion jazz to watch those listings too), the job comes with a very small honorarium and the satisfaction of helping the artists find audiences. Amazingly, email works for this function too.


I Love Cat & Girl, Part Eleventy Hundred

May 27th, 2007

Enough about “hipsters!”
The “Berlin Wall of Geekdom” doomed Veronica Mars!

Dorothy Gambrell, the Voltaire of our pathetic little tribe. Be sure to read the Cat & Girl home page at least once a week.

Amazing Tales: Davis’s Blocks Bonanza,
Dixon’s Girls Go Swing London

May 25th, 2007

A portrait of the artist, BJD, as a young bad-ass.

Zoilus’s mancrush on friend, neighbour, writer and conceptual artist Brian Joseph Davis has been evident for years now, with such wonders springing from his temples as the Theodore Adorno punk-rock single, the “Greatest Hit” mashups, the “Banned Records Burned and Played” project, the “Yesterduh” beyond-karaoke experiment, The Portable Altamont and (with partner Emily Schultz) the Centre for Culture & Leisure - I’m worn out just listing them, and that’s just some of BJD’s creative hijinks. Now, I’m excited to announce that for the first time, all his music-related projects will be gathered together and released thanks to some of Zoilus’s obviously-favourite people, the co-op-operated folks at Blocks Recording Club.

Brian’s album will be called The Definitive Host, it will be formatted as (Blocks’s first) book/cd package and it’s coming out July 29. Besides most of the above, it will include two new pieces. As Brian says:

Eula is a choral piece with lyrics adapted from Sony/BMG’s notorious End User License Agreement. This score for four vocalists was composed in collaboration with Dawn Lewis of Sub-static recording artists Repair.” (If I’m not mistaken, though I may be, it was sung by a choir of lawyers.)

Plus:5 Box Sets Played on Fast Forward, Then Edited Into Songs: I used a consumer grade Hitachi CD player to turn hours of music into skittering sonic mulch (16 thousand automatic edits); I then assembled the samples using cheesy DJ software.”

The release party is Friday Aug. 3 at Mercer Union, featuring a short live laptop set and then “a very live performance of Greatest Hit,” in which copies of The Carpenters: The Singles will be loaded into 12 CD players and played by members of the audience. Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits might get the same treatment, time permitting.

Some new MP3s are already up on Brian’s site. Eula will be posted July 1.

♥ ♥ ♥

Sean Dixon plays a gas-can banjo (belonging incidentally to Michael Ondaatje)
at his “banjoree” book launch last month. Note the “HELIX” logo - roxx!

Other news that we can’t let pass without a champagne toast: Zoilus’s old friend Sean Dixon (possibly the only living person for whom I would sing in public) has just accepted a very generous offer from Harper Collins UK for the British rights to his new novel The Girls Who Saw Everything, just out from Coach House in Canada. I’ll leave it to the literary gossip sheets to report how generous, but I’ll say it’s the kind of reward one always wishes but never dares hope would come to an artist who has persevered in pursuit of his distinctive voice and vision with great integrity for many years. I couldn’t be happier to congratulate just about anyone for just about anything, with cheers, bravos and love.

Dixon’s Girls Go Swing London">1 Comment

Guest Post: When Adult & Kid Worlds Collide

May 25th, 2007


While Carl scrambles with deadlines, friends step in to keep Zoilus fresh. Today it’s Helen Spitzer, broadcaster, writer, omni-rocker and mom, discussing an event this weekend that puts the “all” in all ages. - CW

Thrills abound in the T-dot this weekend, but perhaps the thrillingest ticket is an afternoon show at the El Mocambo this Sunday. Hotter than Feist tickets! More sold-out than Amy Winehouse! It’s Rock Plaza Central and a band of 10-year-olds called The Bunnies!

I’m impressed by what the Bunch ladies (Rebecca Brown and Lisa Kaplan) have kicked into action. In a little over a year they’ve conjured up an entire scene in Toronto around the notion of rocking out with your kids - first with their Family Dance Parties, and then with the “Indie for Kiddies” events (they kicked it off last August with the always already kidfriendly Bicycles). And while at some all-ages events people still look at you funny if you bring your 8-year-old, these shows truly are kid-centred - they keep it under 85 dB and babies get in free. Crawling babies at the El Mocambo, ladies and gents. When did this all happen?

It should be a no-brainer (and I was dying for this kinda thing 10 years ago) but I think it’s the confluence of indie kids breeding and feminist mamas who aren’t apologetic about wanting to have lives. I’m thrilled about this long overdue shift into parenting culture - and I’m not talking about smug hipsters still fretting about their cred.

I was chatting about this with Bunch co-founder Rebecca Brown at their Family Dance Party a few weeks back for a piece I’ve been working on for CBC Radio 3. Kids were breakdancing downstairs and DJ Fase was spinning, but we were upstairs comparing notes on France, where kids go out on the town with their parents and Barney never rears his insipid head. “It’s a North American phenomena - this idea that there’s a grownup world and a kid world,” she said. It’s so true - and I wonder if it has roots in darker cultural manoeuvres. Further research may prove me wrong, but I can’t help thinking that a children’s culture that infantilizes the parents grew out of the whole 1950s move of shooing women out of the bigger world and back into more appropriate spheres.

Theorizing aside, I’m just glad that this is happening now. Rebecca and Lisa are fab for so many reasons, but what I enjoyed about them most was the frank way they speak of bridging the chasm between kid world and adult world. Lisa: “When I had my first kid, I kind of switched into ‘mommy mode’ - and I was actually a bit sad. Why am I suddenly just a mom? Why does it have to be that we have to do everything just for our kids and not ourselves anymore?” Rebecca: “Toronto’s such a vibrant city and sometimes when you’re a parent you can get a little pushed out of that. We just wanted to elbow our way back in.”

Elbow away, mamas! If you’re just learning about this show for the first time here - well, it’s long sold out - so I’ll leave you this little taste of the Bicycles from last year, and a quick hit from a lady who never seems to have a problem navigating the two worlds, Zoilus fave Mimi Smartypants, whose cheeky smartness kind of reminds me of Carolyn Mark. - Helen Spitzer

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T-Dot Thrillz Runneth Over

May 24th, 2007

What a weekend: Three nights of Kids on TV (read Chris Randle’s xlnt Eye profile)! Frog Eyes tonight - with Jewish Legend and Himalayan Bear (whom I hear are terrif)! Steve Reich Percussion Ensemble tonight (in the Cool Drummings festival)! Friday night: Chicago AACMer Ernest Dawkins at the Trane, Joel Plaskett at the Opera House, Republic of Safety at Stone’s Place, Richie Hawtin at Mod Club, Kids on TV again! Saturday night, more Kids, more Cool Drummings, more Joel Plaskett, and the latest Extermination Music Night, this time taking its space-invader ethic where it’s really needed, the suburbs! (Plus Feist, if that’s your thing, and I must say, after listening to the new album with high hopes, I still don’t think it’s mine.)

Will I see any of these shows? No, I’m-a-gonna be chained to my desk. But you go and come back and tell me about them, please?

The June gig guide will go up tomorrow (Friday), by the way. Sorry for the strange delay that’s left just a week’s worth of guide on the pages this week, but that’s the way things are right now. As a commenter in yesterday’s post pointed out, if you don’t yet know that Cecil Taylor is playing the St. Lawrence Centre on June 1, know it. We want that mutha sold out. T-dot-ba-doo-bwish-flarfla-bang represent. I don’t think categories like “greatest living jazz musician” really compute - the great ones are kind of mutually incomparable - but if somebody jumped me in a shopping complex, dragged me into the washroom and started dunking my head in a toilet over and over until I said who’s the greatest, I think Cecil’s would be the name I’d spit out.

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Destination: Now?

May 23rd, 2007


My favourite jazz blog, Destination: Out, is doing a terrific series in which they’ve polled musicians, critics and bloggers for lists of the best jazz albums of the ’90s - trying to do for that period what last year’s flurry of discussion did for jazz of the ’70s-’80s. Here are parts one, two and three. Now we just need a best-of-2000-05 list and we’re set.

But I’m not wholly convinced by these exercises, if the point is to say not just that jazz 1970-2000 has produced countless riches, but that jazz is “still incredibly vibrant.” There are issues in the life-cycle of a genre that lists of great albums don’t answer, ones having to do with where it’s practised, by whom, its rate of stylistic evolution, the generic features that are retained or dropped, who the audience is and in what way fans and non-fans alike recognize the genre. The fact that great artists work in the field doesn’t automatically mean the genre is vibrant on its own terms or in cross-generic comparison.

The fact that “classical” (notational, compositional, whatever) music still has great composers and performers doesn’t mean that it’s a “vibrant” genre in the sense we might mean when we talk about popular culture. (I’m not saying it’s necessarily not, either, but most of my reasons to say it might be have to do with developments aside from purely artistic ones.) Jazz isn’t as extreme a case but it still has similar issues - eg., how much of its audience regards it as a contemporary living genre rather than as a museum-like, repertory genre? Blame that on Wynton and Ken if you want, but it still seems a significant issue for a genre if you look at it in social and not just creative terms.

Not that I have an answer - part of me wants to say “let’s start calling new music that grows out of this tradition by new names” and part of me wants to start calling all beat-based improvisation-including music (like six or seven brands of electronic music) “jazz.” Just saying that I’m not sure great-album lists are a sufficient response to the anxieties around these issues. Though they sure are wonderful in their own right.

On a less cranky note, here’s an interview with Toronto-born, L.A.-established, New York-resident, West Africa-travelling jazz composer/percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Also, for Alice Coltrane/Zeena Parkins (and Joanna Newsom) fans, a nice feature from Kevin Whitehead on emusic today about jazz harpists through the years.

Nobody Takes Manhattan First Anymore…

May 23rd, 2007


Bad news for Toronto, good news for Berlin: Stillepost chatter reveals that members of Kids on TV are moving to Berlin this summer, following in the allemanding footsteps of localz Joel Gibb (Hidden Cameras), Peaches, etc.: “these next shows were doing in may/june are going to be our last ones in Canada for a long time. We won’t stop coming back but it will be a lot less frequently.” The queer-dance-underwear-punx-party band has just put out its full-length debut Mixing Business with Pleasure on Blocks in Canada and Chicks On Speed Records on the rest of the planet Earth.

Read about the band here (how can you resist a profile that begins, “A pink plastic cock is pressed against Scott Kerr’s cheek, blurring his black and white facepaint…”?) Zoilus Team Hunger Force action figure Chris Randle will also have a profile of the band in tomorrow’s Eye. B(oot)log has a great set of tracks from KoTV’s mashup set with Ohbijou on CBC Radio’s Fuse (and B(oot)log’s right, that show doesn’t get enough credit - does it still exist?).

Below is the video for KoTV’s Breakdance Hunx, but before you watch it, I must insist you go listen to Club Action by Yo Majesty from Tampa at their MySpace - I’m sure all the internetses were talking about this months ago or something but I’ve just heard it and it is the catchiest song released anywhere in the universe this year. Yep, more than anything under yer umber-ella-ella, and way more than Lip Gloss (which can, however, proudly claim to be the mostest so-dumb-it’s-brilliant song of ‘07). CLUB ACTION. I officially declare summer open for gettin’-busyness.

And now back to the Hunks:


‘That was really hardcore -
and you want some more?’

May 21st, 2007


John Kelman at All About Jazz.com is (sorta) live-blogging the Victoriaville festival (FIMAV), so far covering the Marilyn Crispell/Lotte Anker/Andrew Cyrille/Mark Helias quartet, Corkestra, the Michael Snow/Alan Licht/Aki Onda trio, Theresa Transistor, John Zorn’s solo (seen above), the meshugginah Melvins, Signal Quintet, the Victoriaville field-sampling project, Carla Bozulich and (less happily) Acid Mothers Gong. By Kelman’s reckoning it’s turning out, as the programming promised, to be a very good Victo year.

As for Zoilus’s year, I am now well and truly hunkered down in bookwritin’ mode, folks, so expect posting to continue being erratic for the next several weeks. Your patience is appreciated.

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Musique, Actuelley

May 15th, 2007

Koenji Hyakkei.

As the annual Victoriaville International Festival of Musique Actuelle gears up in Quebec, those of us Toronto-bound have the consolation of the double-ought-seven edition of the VTO fest, put together by the indispensible Ron Gaskin of Rough Idea and the Music Gallery. My apologies that the Zoilus gig guide mistakenly listed the opening show with the Netherlands’ Corkestra for tonight rather than last night, but there are still two shows that should command your attention: On Friday at the Music Gallery, there’s the local Evergreen Club Gamelan Ensemble along with Vancouver’s Fond of Tigers (featuring violinist and Drip Audio mastermind Jesse Zubot). And most excitingly, Sunday at the Horseshoe, from Japan comes KoenjiHyakkei, led by Yoshida Tatsuya, the percussionist from the monster bass/drum duo Ruins; this band is a theatrically baroque prog-rock unit with soprano vocalist Yamamoto Kyoko, singing in an invented language that draws on the Zeuhl tradition of the almost-literally cult French band Magma, a band still reverently spoken of in Europe but oft-overlooked in North America (poker pro Steve Davis testifies). Matching Yamamoto’s vocal gymnastics will be Toronto’s own polyglot improvimentalist Christine Duncan in a new configuration of Barnyard Drama, her duo with drummer Jean Martin, this weekend featuring Brandon Valdivia (percussion), Nick Storring (laptop, cello, keyboard), Colin Fisher (sax and guitar) and Justin Haynes (guitar).

Not officially part of the fest, noise group Magik Markers is at the Boat on Sunday, the day after their Victo set. No reports of any other off-fest events yet - if you get wind of a surprise Anthony Braxton, Acid Mothers Gong, Kevin Blechdom/Eugene Chadbourne or John Tilbury gig in town, be sure to send word, hm?

Meanwhile, also around town, check out my colleague Robert Everett-Green’s lovely profile of Dark Blue World vocalist Elizabeth Fischer from Vancouver, who I recall from my favourite Canadian feminist funk-punk band of the ’80s and ’90s, Animal Slaves. Robert also spills some glowing ink on the debut album by PEI’s Jenn Grant, whom I’ve had on my mental to-check-out list for a while now.

And finally, as the Gilmore Girls comes to a close tonight (I’m just about to watch the finale), read friend-of-Zoilus Helen Spitzer’s heart-tugging personal essay about the effect the show had on her own unconventional family, from the Toronto Star.


A Little Off the Top

May 8th, 2007


In the future, every child will be given a pair of scissors and invited to shape our destinies. In the future, every child will be granted full citizenship rights; encouraged to vote, run for office and drive streetcars. In the future, children will teach and adults will learn; a playground will be built on every battlefield; and candy will be free. In the future, children will be powerful creatures able to cross the street without looking both ways, and hold their breath underwater forever and ever and ever. Darren O’Donnell

Darren O’Donnell is bringing his little masterpiece of social performance, Haircuts by Children, to Birmingham, England, next week, May 19-20. Maybe my favourite thing anyone in Toronto has created in the past couple of years.

Give or take a few Final Fantasy songs, of course. New stuff keeps popping up: Flare Gun (part of a compilation inspired by spam email), plus this terrif Polaris-finalist-teamup with Cadence Weapon for the CBC (including Owen’s beautiful version of John Cale’s Paris 1919), a live show in Kingston, Ont., a Montag track featuring Owen, the Stars remix… And you know of course about the ridikulonk hootenanny in NYC last weekend.

I’d heard a rumour about this but didn’t quite believe it until a press release arrived today: Toronto’s Andre Ethier (of the defunct Deadly Snakes) has been invited to - wait for it - sing the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game. Those who are (unlike me) knowledgeable about baseball might already have guessed that it’s going to be an L.A. Dodgers game - a move inspired by the fact that Andre shares his name with Dodgers right-fielder Andre Ethier. I’m told the Dodgers got wind of the coincidence, had a cute idea, asked to hear some of our Andre’s music and dug it, so they’re flying him down to L.A. to sing O Canada when the Jays play the Dodgers on June 9. It seems like a bit of a psych to have a singer with the name of one of your players sing the other team’s anthem - but on the other hand, A.E. brings a bit of hometown, so I guess it balances. Still, if the Dodgers had really listened to Ethier’s very Dylanesque, Americana-styled solo work, it might musically have been better to get him to do the Star-Spangled Banner.

T-dotters, the gig guide continues to be updated; watch it and the sidebar for news, like the fact that Marc Ribot is returning May 18 to play with Italian singer-songwriter Vinicio Capossela. Second time this year! Second time I can’t go! Is he dating somebody in Toronto all of a sudden, or is he just out to taunt me?

Tonight’s Bitchin’ improv session at the Gladstone Art Bar, including Eugene Martynec, Alan Bloor and other local improvimentalists, is going to be streamed live to the web via this site beginning at 8 pm.

Eye Daily reviewed the Arnold Dreyblatt show. (See interview below.) Just as I feared, since I couldn’t go: “It was a big, joyful, almost overwhelming noise, maybe the greatest I’ll hear all year.”

Our pal Sean Michaels of Said the Gramophone has an interview with Will Sheff of Okkervil River in the new Believer. Hi’ly rec, natch.

Currently on TV: V.Mars has been watered down from noir to hot cocoa; Heroes and Sopranos are, in their different ways, ratcheting up the mind-fuckery; and Gilmore Girls is ending, simultaneously too soon and too late. The last half-season, from the splitup with Christopher on, has been, I think, the best sequence of episodes since… maybe, in fact, since Rory started college. But the story is ready to end. Too bad they didn’t figure that out a year ago and plot it that way.

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