New life goal: Blake Shelton in concert.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m huge on country music. Always have been–I grew up on the stuff, after all. My music collection and related tastes have expanded significantly over the years (related: note to self: Replace some of the crappy quality music you own, you fool.), but I always end up falling back on country eventually. No freaking idea why, other than it’s there, I’m there, it’s what I’m used to, so yeah. Top of list will always be Garth Brooks, for reasons–largely related to the fact he was I think the first actual concert I went to, and though a couple have come close, he still threw the best one I’ve seen. But after that, it’s pretty wide open. Blake Shelton, though, has made my must be seen list.

A lot of artists, I find, tell you what the songs they put out are supposed to capture, or signify, or whatever. I remember listening to an interview in between tracks on one of those radio shows where they’ll play an entire album from beginning to end, and the artist (I can’t remember which one this was) spent a good 5 minutes explaining the background for one of his songs. Was probably a good thing he did, because I’d have never picked up on what he was trying to get at if they’d just, you know, played the song and been done with it. Garth Brooks didn’t necessarily need to do that. He still did on occasion, but you could probably figure it out if you just listened to the thing. Just about all of Blake Shelton’s music’s like that. And it has the added advantage that some of it tends to sort of accidentally fall into my thought process at times–I’ll hear a song, and instantly fit it into something I’ve had happen, or relate it to someone I know, or something else entirely. And of course it helps that some of them just, you know, end up sticking in my head and before I know it I’m murdering the poor things in the shower, but you’ll have that.

So needless to say, if not this year, then in the not entirely too far away future, I will be attending a Blake Shelton concert. I have absolutely no idea when, or where it’ll happen. But it’s on my list of things to accomplish before either I kick the bucket or he retires. It probably says something that he’s only the second person I’ve explicitly wanted to make a point of seeing live–I made a point, twice, of seeing the Bare Naked Ladies in concert before they lost a man. There’s been local entertainment here that sure, it might have been nice to go see. But I will rearrange plans if I hear he’s got a show local enough to pull it off–because if the recorded version of his music’s that good, the live version’s got to be amazing. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’d die to go see a performance, but I do believe it’s just become one of my next life goals. So, uh, if anyone sees this and happens to know him somewhat personally, send congratulations his way from me. Or just laugh and move on. That works too.

because I didn’t have enough excuse to contemplate getting back in front of a piano.

My Twitter people are trying to tell me something, apparently. Scrolling through it today, I saw quite a few postings of piano related things–some from Youtube, some from I don’t even know where else. Because, you know, this occasionally thinking that maybe I should actually dust off the piano sitting in the living room isn’t getting me anywhere. Well, okay, not entirely true. It’s getting me places. Just not very many actually, you know, good places. So, uh, thanks for the push, Twitter. Or something. I now think piano will be this year’s newyears resolution. Because apparently the fact that it was my resolution from 2 years ago is not, in fact, relevant in any way, shape or form. So what brought this one? Well, here, have a video. Then remind me in 2013 that I said I’d actually get back into it. I might listen. sorry, if you’re reading this via RSS or email. You’ll have to click over to the site to see the video. It’s a technology thinggy.

Shout sister video. Or, guidedogs: not just for guiding anymore.

When I posted about the choir performance on Friday–you know, the one May was all over for about a week before, and will be for about a month after, I eluded to Noah having up and claimed a starring role. For those who don’t know, Noah would be May’s guidedog. Being the guidedog, he pretty much goes everywhere she goes–including, apparently, up on stage with her. So when they were getting ready to do their final song of the night, May gets an idea in her head. And that idea proves to be the concert’s absolute wickedest of awesome.

I posted an audio recording yesterday–again, sorry for the less than perfect quality–of one of their better songs. This, surprise puppy appearance notwithstanding, was perhaps their best. But it’s useless without the video–since about halfway through, the audience decides to help them out–again, May’s fault. And really. This? Best. Guidedog. Video. Ever. I might be somewhat biased. So you decide. And once again, if you happen to be in the Ottawa area, these guys really need a look. For serious.

Note: Readers of the email or RSS variety are going to have to flip on over to the sight to clicky clicky. Flash doesn’t like non-browser things. tho thorry thir.

Shout Sister awesomeness.

I mentioned yesterday that the thing to do in this apartment now is a local choir. I tossed this link out there if you were curious to check it out. They performed last night, and because it’s me, that meant I tagged along with recorder in hand. Good effin’ lord, they’re awesome. Keep an eye out, if you’re local to the Ottawa area. They do this often, and they’re worth it. rumour has it they have a huge show in June as well, so if you can find an excuse to be in Ottawa, see them you must. There are chapters elsewhere in Ontario as well–Kingston’s got one, as does the Pembroke area, but hey. I’m in Ottawa now. So it’s the Ottawa one I’m focused on. Sorry. Because they rule hard, and I don’t yet have video evidence to prove it, have the audio evidence I sort of stole while at the show. Oh, and speaking of stealing, somebody should probably tell May’s dog he’s not actually supposed to be the star. Context when videos exist. As for right now, have a listen. then keep an eye out in your area for a chapter of theirs. Or better yet, come to the Ottawa one–and say hello to both May and myself in the process. Sorry in advance if the quality isn’t what you expected. I’m blaming that guy over there.

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Fun and amusement at fiddle fest.

I’ve written a couple entries referencing the anual fiddle festival held up at Pembroke’s Riverside park every September around labour day. On a random wim, the parents and I decided to shuffle over there tonight to see what we could find for entertainment. And, as often happens, we found exactly that. And this time, I even managed to recognise a few of the songs that were being played.

Just to get a general idea of how things are set up around there, everyone who’s competing in the events of this weekend–and probably a few spectators who just want an excuse to party–piles into Riverside park, which is escentially a special event grounds that just so happens to double as a beach and very nice area to walk when it’s not jam packed with people. From about a week before labour day right up until then, when the competition shuts down, there are trailers, trucks, buses, and all manner of other things. When they’re not competing, each site tends to do their own thing so far as performances. Most of them are little more than social gatherings among friends. When the competition isn’t going, it’s almost impossible to distinguish the folks who’re just there for the party from the competitors. At that point, it generally amounts to a very glorified outdoor kitchen party. They have guitars, at least one piano, some folks doing vocals depending on the group, and of course, a crap ton of fiddles. There are stepdancers as well but I think we showed up too late to see those. They’re selling food–mostly of the burger and fries variety, and if you didn’t provide your own alcohol you probably don’t have to go far to get some. Mostly though, people show up there for the music.

We spent the better part of the evening, or at least a good 2 hours and change of it, walking from one site to the next doing just that. We’d hear a decent song or two, hang out there for a few, then when they started getting into areas we weren’t in the mood for, we’d move on to the next one. The selections were almost all folk/country or some mix of the two–it’s a fiddle festival; what the hell do you want? The usual selection at least tonight was anywhere from probably 1960 through to about 1990, though I did catch a song or two that sounded newer. At the end of it, my legs were about ready to go on strike right there, and I don’t think I was the only one in that state, so we packed it up and slid back to our respective houses.

I try to make it to that competition–or, at least, the afterparty–at least once every year. This is one of those rare things that, even if I were still living in Ottawa, I’d have to make the trip back here just to check it out. It’s probably the one thing that actually makes Pembroke feel more like home than, say, the apartment I had prior to my moving here. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t move away if given the option. But I’d definitely be coming back at least once a year, right during that first week in September. Call it one of my very few unwritten rules.

If you happen to have some free time this weekend and are in or near the area, drop by Riverside park in Pembroke and check it out. I believe the players start wrapping things up on Sunday, but if I’m not mistaken some may stick around until Monday instead. If you’re interested in checking it out, have a map, of sorts. And if you do decide to go, let me know what you think. I’d be curious to see if it’s just a Pembroke area thing. If I get bored enough, I might end up back there out of random curiosity myself. Hey, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings any.

Uniquely Canadian, uniquely cool.

When folks think of Canadian music, their first thoughts are Nickleback, or Celine Dion, possibly even occasionally Bare Naked Ladies–though not so much as I’d like to see. When I mention Great Big Sea, anyone who hasn’t spent some time in eastern Canada looks at me like I’ve got 2 heads and 3 eyes. Perhaps surprisingly, though, this group has more of the traditional Canadian than any of the other bands I’ve mentioned–if by traditional Canadian you’re speaking in terms of reflecting some of our actual history and/or heritage.

I touched on this back when the olympics kicked off in Vancouver, and included an example for the curious. And, while folk/fiddle music has a certain place in the Ottawa valley, it actually extends a lot farther out than that–all the way to the east coast, which spawned this group. They draw on that folk history, along with a touch of local to the area influence, and borrow a few things from the Irish and British cultures that seem to have come with most of the folks who settle out there. And, because I’d never turn down an excuse to introduce people to it, have an example of which I speak in the form of an originally British song they’ve since redone–and quite well, too. But first, read this. Then, watch this video.

If you have not heard Donna the Buffalo, you are broken.

So I’ve been on the US side of the border for nearly two weeks now, and busy as all get out for most of it. Part of the busy was spending the majority of this past friday evening at the Rochester public market. We were planning to check that out anyway, Jess and I, since she’d only been there maybe once before me, and of course I hadn’t been there yet. So i cruised by where she was getting off work, picked her and Kyle–who conveniently also hadn’t been there yet–up, met Heather over there and we crashed it for a few hours. And in doing so, were treated to a free performance by Donna the Buffalo. Apparently, both Kyle and Heather have heard/seen this group live before, which left both Jess and I to experience it for the first time. Hell of an experience, really.

From right around the first or second song, I had a feeling it’d be a pretty damn near wicked awesome performance. Of course, anyone who can perform “Ring of Fire” and not completely kill it deserves at least a shot at not making me cringe. I didn’t cringe. Instead, I find myself rather unsurprisingly in the category of those who highly approve. I don’t think any of my partners in crime were entirely all that surprised by it either–I’m looking at you, Heather.

They only played for an hour and a half, give or take–a lot less time than I thought they’d get, but apparently the organizers decided to do the headliner thing first. Still, it was long enough for me to decide when I do return to the cooler side, I’m gonna have me some downloading. Because I don’t have some downloading right now, have a video instead. Not Friday’s performance, but a performance. I approve by this. And if you find yourself not approving, evaluate your musical tastes. Right now. Enough said.

How small is Petawawa? I indirectly know this guy.

As much as I bitch about small-town life, and the Pembroke/Petawawa area is actually surprisingly small, sometimes it has its awesomely cool points. Like this kid, who’s up for a CCMA in September. He’s not only done solo work, but has played with several well-known groups/singers. The kicker? My mother used to work with his sister. Hang on a second–I need to reset the nifty meter. In a way, I sort of indirectly–yeah, very indirectly–know this guy. Awesome.

Looking for something to do this weekend? Try this.

This coming weekend is fairly important for anyone with even a moderate interest in karaoke, as the US is holding its portion of the world championship qualifications over the next few days. As I’ve mentioned before, Meka will be participating in this, the regional competition in New Mexico. If you’re one of these people with an interest in listening to awesome people covering awesome music, you should so find the nearest one to you and drop in. And if the nearest one happens to be in New Mexico, maybe even throw a hello in Meka’s direction. She’ll appreciate it. In the meantime, because they’re there and I can, have some video from her second place performance in Seattle.

And somewhere in there, I threw a weekend.

Calling the last week or so busy would probably be an insult to busy weeks everywhere, but in a lot of ways, that’s exactly what it was. After the assessment of doom, I took it easy the rest of monday and did absolutely nothing. I needed the relaxation for the rest of the week. Tuesday night was pretty much the start of insanity. Small, relatively contained, but insanity.

Somehow, my nephew managed to be 10 months old without my knowing it. Which means if there’s something he could possibly get his hands on, he’s probably already done so. On tuesday, I went to give the mother a hand with minding him plus the two dogs. Fortunately for both of us, when I got there he was in bed and sleeping. Not fortunately for either one of us, by 7:00 the next morning he was up and ready to go, no questions asked. And go he did–all over the place whether we wanted to chase him there or not. We took him in to see the grandparents, and he was no less energetic when we got him there. This continued pretty much all day, with the exception of maybe an hour in the afternoon when we managed to actually convince him that it wasn’t, in fact, dangerous to his health to actually spend some time immobile for a few minutes. Right up until I think it might have been 9:00 or so, it was pretty nearly non-stop. We even took him for a short walk that afternoon–mostly because we could use the break, and then he’d pretty much just go where we pushed him. By the time we finally got him down for the night, we were more than ready to fall into bed shortly behind him. And, well, we did. And got just enough sleep that the 6:30 wake-up call he’d had in mind for thursday wasn’t quite as painful as I expected. As you could probably guess, most of thursday was spent–yep, doing the exact same thing. And taking turns trying to convince him to go down for a nap so we could get things done around the house that needed to get done–that to do list tends to get pretty long when the majority of your attention’s focused on one very adoreable, but very exhausting, kid. Of course, that didn’t actually end up happening; although between the two of us I think we might have managed to scratch one or two things off that list. Kevin dropped in to kidnap him back at about noonish or so, which gave us just enough time to try clearing off the rest of that list before we hit the floor from simple lack of energy. I don’t even remember most of what happened the rest of thursday beyond the usual routine, which is almost a safe bet for any day that isn’t overly filled with chaos. Of course, the couple days I just managed to survive meant I was pretty much a zombie for most of friday. I slept like the dead thursday night, and was the walking dead pretty well up until friday night.

While I was in recovery, and probably while I was less than conscious, Meka was doing her thing for the karaoke world championships. She’d made it to the state finals as of friday, and was competing there saturday night. My origional intent was to watch the event online, but technical difficulties–for once, not on my end–quickly put the breaks on that notion. I would learn later on that night that I ended up missing an awesome performance, giving her second place and a spot at the regional competition in August.

Yesterday was more time of the familial variety, with a meetup for breakfast then another run into the grandparents’ to kill a couple hours. Then it was back to taking it relatively easy for the evening.

This morning, I got my hands on the audio portion of Meka’s performances. And, with her permission, once she makes them available in video form on Youtube, they’ll make their way here. Now, I go chase after a couple dogs while the mother unit makes her way to work. She had a job interview this morning–glad one of us still gets those, so I’ve been over here since about 10:30. And will probably still be here at about 9:30 tonight. It’s gonna be a long ass day.

Busy or not, this week’s been surprisingly educational. A small sampling of things I learned, in list format. Because, really, who doesn’t like lists?

  • Just because the kid’s not walking yet does not, in fact, mean he’s easy to catch.
    • Or slow down.
    • Or stop.
    • Or keep track of if you’re not right behind him.
  • When they decide they are not going down for a nap, you are not putting them there.
  • Nor are you going to trick them into going for one. Don’t even try it.
    • This includes playing with him even while he’s within an inch of falling asleep. He knows.
    • This also includes his grandma sneaking off to the kitchen while his uncle plays with him even though he’s an inch from falling asleep. Again, he knows.
    • This also includes his grandma sneaking off to the kitchen after he’s already asleep. I still can’t wrap my head around how, but he knows.
  • I am apparently not the only one with a periodically screwed up sleep schedule. By the way, kid? This whole 6:30 thing is not healthy.
  • The face kids that age make when you let them sample your coke? Awesome. Sorry, no video–I didn’t have my cell phone handy right then.
  • Discovered by the nephew at breakfast: your food is good, but someone else’s food is always better.
  • Yes, a 10-month-old can, in fact, get on top of your end table if he wants to bad enough.
    • Or pull something off it.
    • Or pull out the end table’s drawer if you aren’t presently leaning against it.
  • Rules are meant to be broken. And gates that block off stairs to prevent infant head trauma are meant to be opened.
  • Related: The fact you’ve just wedged the afore mentioned gate against the wall so you’d practically need a sledgehammer to remove it? That’s not discouragement. That’s a challenge.
  • The second worst possible thing you could ever do is say no. The worst possible thing is mean it.
    • Of course, he’ll probably do it anyway.
    • Twice, just because you said no.
    • And once more just for spite, I swear.
  • 10 months old is not too young to start messing with people’s heads. Either that or this kid’s wickedly gifted.
  • If and when I ever get around to having one, I’m investing in a goddamn leash. At least.

I feel all accomplished and such.

After spending nearly an hour in wallmart when I only had to go there for, like, 1 or 2 things but my mother decided she’d buy something from every sale coming, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me but anyway, we finally got into the music store so the guitar that’s been threatened to be bought could actually be purchased. It was worth the wait, though… it plays well, as evidenced by the fact anyone who’s ever picked up a guitar just had to try it out. So that’s one more thing to be taken off my to do list. I’ve already pretty well numbed my fingers picking at the thing today, and I plan to get back to it… eh… a bit later on. It’s not bad, though. For about $313, after taxes and what have you, I walked out of the store with what I figure is a fairly decent deal. The guitar itself was supposed to be something like $249 or something, but the guy selling it to me knocked $20 off the price, then tossed a case, extra strings, and picks for about $40. Not bad, when you consider the strings themselves were originally $13. It amused me, though, to a degree… I’ve only been there a grand total of maybe 3 or 4 times in the 3 years I’ve lived here. Yet the guy doing the selling to me recognised me from one of those times, presumeably when I bought my piano from there, because I decided to kill like 15 minutes dinking around on one of their display models. It was all kinds of nifty and such. And completely irelevant to the entry as a whole, but like I care. We ended up just shooting the shit about all kinds of crap, and I got the number off him for a piano teacher that does her instructing kind of on her own but through them, some kind of arangement where she just rents the studio space from them but takes care of her own affairs, so I can talk to her probably tomorrow, and tell this dimwit I’m finishing up with tomorrow that I’m sick of taking my lessons at a different time each week or not at all–explanations of a clarifying nature to come when I’m bored. So yeah, today was actually a surprisingly productive day. Not bad for a lazy sack-o-crap.
And, because I’m due for a random topic jump, more positive news. My brother’s gone to basic training in…. *checks* 33 days. I’ll get into the specifics of hours, minutes and seconds when it actually gets decided exactly when he’s being kicked out. In the meantime, though, the countdown begins! Maybe he’ll come out of basic a bit more mature…. eh, one can always hope. I do have to kind of feel sorry for my mother in a way, though. With him going to the millitary, my dad usually on the road and me hopefully getting this job, there doesn’t exist much company for mom, who’ll pretty much have the place to herself when we all clear outa here. And the girl can’t even go anywhere because someone still needs to stick around and make sure the bills get paid, and such. But, on the bright side I suppose, she’ll have more reason to spend her days off in, say, Ottawa. Or Quebec. Or… take a couple weeks’ vacation and go travel with dad. Ah, who am I kidding? She won’t even notice we’re gone. Much.

Go shopping for a guitar and end up with clothes. Go figure.

The original plan was to drop my brother off at work, then get a bit of household shopping out of the way, before we went to at least price out a decent-sounding guitar so I can actually give my uncle’s back to him. Well, we managed to get 2 of the 3 accomplished, getting the shopping and such done by about noon, so figured the music store which, actually, is the only real decent place around here to buy things like that (no duh, right?) would have to be open by now. You’d think they would. Unless, of course, they weren’t open at all on Sundays, which just so happened to be the case. Irritating, but it’s Pembroke. I should have expected that. The alternative was Wallmart and, well, of all the things I’m likely to buy from Wallmart, a guitar is most definitely not one of them. Specificly because they overcharge for crap like that, and then you end up paying $150 for a guitar that sounds like it’s only worth about $75. No thanks. So, it’s back to square 1, and waiting for the music store to actually be open late enough that we can get in after we get the rest of the week’s bullshit out of the way. One of these days, I’ll manage to get everything accomplished that I left the house to get accomplished. One of these days. Just not any time soon.

So I finally had my first guitar lesson today.

It was surprisingly… well… basic. Which is a good thing, considering that’s the first time I actually picked up a guitar and was serious about it. My fingers are still doing this weird kinda tingly thing. It’s only on one hand, though, and it’s not impeding my typing ability any, so it’s all good. Now, I just need to get my hands on one of my own… *ponders* Thank the gods for a local music store and room on a credit card. As much as I said I wouldn’t use it unless I had to, I’ll make an exception for this.

She sure ain’t what I’m used to.

But, she knows what she’s doing, and almost appears to be a fairly decent teacher, so… it couldn’t hurt. Worst case I’ll have wasted a month’s worth of lessons. I’m still looking at a couple options at any rate, so I may not stick with her, but… assuming there’s a chance I do, at least I’ll get somewhere with my playing. Not that I couldn’t learn on my own… it’s just easier. Now, all I need is a digital recorder that’ll do MP3’s. Anyone got a suggestion?

We be getting somewhere.

Well, it isn’t the teacher I was looking at, but it works for me. I now, potentially, have aranged piano lessons. Depending on how well this apparent meeting I have to go through goes on Monday, I’ll know whether or not she has a damn clue what she’s doing. I hope for the sake of my own sanity and hers she does. For $15 for the sake of a half hour, it’d at least better be worth my while… lest there be the hurting of things. And now that this entry has taken me 45 minutes to write, I think I’ll give some attention to putting an end to the insanity that is this house right now.

They’re making me wait ’til fall…

Apparently they don’t have any guitar instructors that do lessons at a time I like until at least the fall, so I’m stuck making a fool of myself ’til then. But at least I’m good at that! LOL… Now, if that got me anywhere I’d be very much in business. The piano teacher I’m looking at doesn’t do her scheduling ’til the end of August either, so I’m waiting ’til fall for those lessons, too. That part sucks, but I’ll live. I can be lazy as oh hell ’til then… *snickers*

It would seem I spoke too soon.

Apparently, the teacher they were trying to find for me can’t work the time I was originally aiming for… so my guitar lessons get to be put on hold a while longer. Ah well, time for me to continue being lazy. Yay lazy!

One yes, one… maybe?

Apparently, I can quite possibly start my guitar lessons as early as next week. Not bad, considering. Now I just need to get called back by this apparent conservatory music teacher regarding piano lessons, and we’ll be in business. Next stop, something with which to record so I can stick various attempts, as shockingly harmful to the hearing as they may be, up here. Hey, I’ve got the space for it…

Because it’s way past time.

I’m seriously entertaining the idea of getting back into regularly playing the piano, and even taking lessons again just as a way to distract me for an hour or so, not counting practice time of course. I used to do it almost religiously, then reality popped up and decided I wasn’t allowed to have fun anymore so that went the way of all things that keep me sane. Well, as sane as a fool like me can get anyway. Now that things have gone back to their usual (almost, relatively?) calmness, I can look into the possibility, however remote, of picking that up again. On top of that, I’m thinking about taking guitar lessons just because… well, for the same reason as the piano ones, minus the whole having done it before kinda thing. If and when I can find some method of sticking what I’ve already devised ways of playing up here, for piano at least, I’ll toss a few things up here… but as it stands right now, this laptop, portable though it may be, is not being dragged downstairs to where I’ve got the piano stashed away. Plus I don’t have much faith in my microphone for something like that.C