Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Concert Review: Rootstock 2010 - Joel Plaskett, Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean, Steven Page - Jackson Triggs Amphitheatre - Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON - August 27, 2010

On Friday morning, these plans developed rather quickly with a couple of phone calls.  I had no idea this show was even happening until the morning of, when I happened to catch a blurb about it online.  On a whim, I phoned up the Jackson Triggs box office and actually scored a couple of tickets.  With this development, I quickly phoned a couple of local hotels - because who wants to go to an event at a winery and have to drive home? Not I. With some good fortune, I managed to find vacancy at the nearby Charles Inn.  My girlfriend and I enjoyed this quaint little Inn and highly recommend it to anyone visiting the region.

As for the show, it was amazing.  I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn't have asked for anything more.  It was a very casual setting, with all four artists sharing the stage for the entire evening.  They took turns playing songs and helped each other out from time to time - and there was a lot of talent on stage.  Sarah Slean's voice was haunting, Joel Plaskett's confidence and quirky nature was prevalent, Hawksley Workman owned the stage and Steven Page, well, was Steven Page.

The event was hosted by Page, who doubled as an MC and performer.  He was quite verbose and his jokes were hit and miss; his music reminded me of why I don't like the Barenaked Ladies.  That being said, there were a couple of times he broke away from his jumpy guitar riffs and up-tempo strumming patterns that did impress me.

Sarah Slean's voice echoed through the vineyards as she belted out a few of her songs.  A very talented songwriter, her performances were very strong.  In particular, her song "Pilgrim" stood above the rest as she pounded it out on the fake ivory.

Joel Plaskett seemed to have the audience at his mercy. His stage presence was electric as he delivered his acoustic set.  Well, mostly acoustic.  He plugged in his Casio and engaged the crowd in a clever version of "Rewind, Rewind, Rewind".  Other highlights were "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'" and "Nowhere with You".

Looking dapper in his black suit and Pork Pie hat, Hawksley Workman stole the spotlight.  Every time it was his turn to shine, he took full advantage.  I still have the refrain of "Warhol's portrait of Gretzky: Pretty f*ckin' sexy" engrained in my brain. His voice was bang on, accented by some delicate (and at times crunchy) riffs on his Les Paul.

This was a fantastic night of music in a trendy venue, with some great wine and killer gourmet sausages!

Rating A

Friday, August 27, 2010

CD Review: Joel Plaskett - Three

Good things do come in threes, and I don't even need to think twice (or thrice) about recommending this one.  Three is probably the album I have listed to the most this past year.  The album is extremely well written, produced and performed and there is a little something for everyone on this disc.  It jumps around from folk, to rock, to rockabilly-blues and back to rock again - all with a bit of east coast flavour.  Plaskett's writing style is distinct and he really hits his stride with Three.

My three stars on the album are as follows, but there could easily be twelve stars:
3.     "Beyond, Beyond, Beyond"
2.     "New Scotland Blues" 
1.    "Rollin', Rollin' Rollin'"

You can buy it here:  Amazon

It's Fried, eh?

Google Images uncovered this little diagram for me.  I can't remember what I was actually searching for, but I came across this little gem and had to lift it.  It's probably just my twisted sense, but I found this quite amusing.
Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Concert Review: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Crosby, Stills & Nash - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON

Like a fine wine, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers seem to get better with age.  Last night at the ACC, Mr. Petty and his ensemble brought their Floridian brand of Rock N' Roll north of the border and did not disappoint the sold out crowd on hand.  Opening the show with a blast from the past, "Listen to Her Heart", they quickly set the hook and jumped right back to the 90's with a few timeless classics - not to mention a great rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well".  A nice surprise was a trip back 'into the great wide open', in the form of "King's Highway".

The band dedicated a small block of the show to their new album, "Mojo" - notables were the bluesy "Good Enough" and "I Should Have Known It", which (especially live) has a Zeppelin feel to it.  The balance of the show was filled with more Petty classics, highlighted by the always popular "Don't Come Around Here No More".

On a personal note, I have seen Petty eight or nine times over the years, beginning with the Strange Behavior (Full Moon Fever) tour at Kingswood Music Theater in 1989.  I must say that each time I see him; the bar seems to be set higher.  He knows what his fans want and delivers every time, on point. I enjoyed last night's show thoroughly.

Honorable mention goes to Crosby, Stills & Nash who opened up the show.  I was glad I got a chance to see them.  They were very entertaining and Stephen Stills was in fine form on the lead guitar, but there were some off-key harmonies and missed notes when it came to the vocals.  The energy they generated made up for the errors and the crowd was definitely on their side.

Rating A

Tom Petty - Toronto Set List

Listen to Her Heart
You Don't Know How It Feels
I Won't Back Down
Free Fallin'
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Mary Jane's Last Dance
Kings Highway
Jefferson Jericho Blues
Good Enough
Running Man's Bible
I Should Have Known It
Learning to Fly
Don't Come Around Here No More
Runnin' Down a Dream
You Wreck Me

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rant: The BOB sign and why it bothers me

This morning I was driving to work and saw one of those "Baby on Board" signs hanging in a car window.  For whatever reason, this woke up the hamster in my head, the wheel started to spin... and today's rant begins.

I'm really not sure of the purpose of these signs.  Traffic accidents are just that, accidents.  We do not have the ability to pick and choose who we're going to hit or who is going to hit us.  I don't change my driving habits based on the sign hanging in your window, and I'm quite positive that no one else does either.  So why bother?  Is it as simple as someone wanting to broadcast the fact they have procreated? And if so, why?  Good for you, you've replaced yourself on the planet.  Do I care? No.  Does any other stranger on the road?  Doubtful.  So, un-suck your little self important suction cups and please, drive safely.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Photo: The hops, they grow...

My recently planted Centennial Hops are doing well... they have started to ascend!

Food Review: Salpicón Restaurant - Chicago, IL

On a recent trip to Chicago, my girlfriend and I sauntered down to the concierge in search of Mexican food in Chicago.  Without hesitation, and with great excitement, the helpful Four Seasons employee directed us to a little place called Salpicón.

After exploring Navy Pier, we jumped in a cab and headed for dinner.  From beginning to end, this was one of the more memorable meals I have had in a while.  We started off in the bar with top-shelf margaritas and a tuna tartar appetizer... both off the charts!  After being seated, we tried the homemade guacamole - once again, top notch. For dinner we each ordered off the menu, although the specials sounded wonderful.  My GF had the Platos Fuertes (sweet potato crusted halibut with a chipotle cream sauce) and I had the Filete de Res en Salsa de Moritas con Hongos (beef tenderloin in a tomatillo-morita sauce).  Both dishes were to-die-for - a lot of heat, but so much flavour.  Our waiter also set us up with wine pairings for our meals; they were fantastic choices.

We finished up with some sipping tequila (Don Julio 1942), which capped the evening of nicely.  Great food, great atmosphere, great service from a knowledgeable waiter... A+ in my books.  I recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for great Mexican food in Chicago.

1252 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60610

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Fried, eh?

There is a lot going on in this ad...  a goat stealing popcorn, a kid with the supercharged grin, a creepy guy in a suit spying on the all of the 'family fun', the fact "low in tar" is a selling point, or the douchebag in the footer who has that "I smoke, so f*ck you" look about him ... this ad has it all.   Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Photo: Blue Angels at the Chicago Air Show 2010

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels at the Chicago Air and Water Show - taken August 14, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concert Review: Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar & The Wabos, August 17, 2010 - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON

On Tuesday night, we ventured down to the ACC in Toronto to see some rock-n-roll journeymen in action.  After quaffing a few pints at one of my favorite watering holes (C'est What? On Front St.), we headed off to the show.  Sammy Hagar & The Wabos opening in support of Aerosmith. 

Hagar, now 62 years of age, showed no signs of slowing down when he took the stage to open the show.  He cranked out some of his solo tunes, some Van Halen classics, and even a Montrose medley - all the while indulging in his trademark libations (margaritas) as he commanded the stage.  At one point, he even offered bar service to the front row in the form of tequila shots, administered by his personal on-stage waitresses!

Aerosmith took the stage promptly at 9:06PM and it was certainly an interesting performance.  Half way into the second song, "Love in an Elevator", Steven Tyler appeared to fall off the stage.  I later learned that he was bumped off the stage by guitarist Joe Perry.  After that, the tension seemed to grow between Tyler and Perry.  Despite the setback, the show went on and they certainly rocked the house - but there was definitely an awkward vibe in the air.  Personally, the highlights were "Livin' on the Edge", "Dream On" and the Beatles cover "Come Together".  Overall, this was a very enjoyable night.

Rating: B