And The Hits Just Keep On Comin': September 2010

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn Defense Download
As if Wilco couldn't get any radder (Yeah - that's right. I said 'radder') -
Tweedy sidemen John Stirrat and Pat Sansone have had their own
project going on for a few years now called 'Autumn Defense'. I
think it's inspiring when musicians, artists and creators can be free to
be involved with many projects at once. Make no mistake - these
Chi-town rockers are not just back-line players - they are incredible

Have a listen to their latest single 'Back of My Mind' by clicking

Their fourth album-offering 'Once Around' is due out November 2
on Yep Roc records (a label which sports the likes of Can-rock
golden boys Sloan).

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Video by 'The Active Set'
Have a look at this vid sent to me by Steve of 'The Active Set'.

Very cool unconventional songwriting style and a unique voice.
High quality video.

Check it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with Actor Keith Coogan
(by Matt McKechnie)
After being a long time fan of Keith and a lover of his films
throughout the 80's and 90's, we recently connected online
and passed a few notes around before finally scheduling an
interview. Keith was very gracious and open over the phone
in talking about both his present and past accolades in
acting and the joys and sorrows that go along with all of it.

MM: So Keith – as a long time watcher and fan of your films, and reading reports that you were still around Hollywood, I have to ask – where did you go?

KC: (laughs) I went nowhere! I fell into that whole, “I have to make a living and eat food” phase, so I learned some business skills, and made my way through the dark spots. The greatest thing to happen during that time would have to be the explosive growth of “New Media”, which throws a little bit of a bone out to those wishing to produce projects of their own. With a little bit of guidance, education and now with sparkly new management, I'm back with a vengeance!

MM: Talk about the Monologue a Day Project you're doing on youtube

KC: I was sitting in the bathtub on New Year's Day, when, like a lightening bolt, this great idea for a project leapt into my head. I'm a big fan of “Julie and Julia”, and I put two and two together and decided I would learn, shoot, and then post a monologue a day for a full year. The project has been the best acting class I have ever been through... and it's a great motivator. I never imagined I would get such great press from doing it, and certainly would have called the funny farm on anyone suggesting TMZ would do a spot covering the project. But it happened, so deal with it.

MM: Since we are a music mag, how has music influenced or shaped your career as an actor – or just inspired you as a person?

KC: Well, I've always loved all kinds of music. As a young guy, my dad played bass in an all black band, and he was the only white guy in the band.... so they nicknamed him “Spot”. And ya know – my mom started me on Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power and a lot of different funk when I was growing up. But getting older, I got into playing piano and trombone and of course, I was trained in John Philip Souza marches and all that – but much later, I got into guitar and I sort of became a rocker (kinda like my character in 'Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead' but I felt that that happened for me later in life – I was 18 and everyone else was already there. I was a late bloomer when it came to music. But I also do love a lot of modern stuff - Pavement, MGMT and a lot of weird bands. Huge Pink Floyd fan.

MM: So considering your dad's role in that band, was that scene where you all entered that all-Black blues club in Chicago 'Adventures in Babysitting' hit home for you? Was it sort of surreal?

KC: Well ya know, being raised poor, I guess I was trained to never see others as different, regardless of status or race – so it didn't freak me out or anything. But yeah, in going to Chicago to film that scene and then winding up in a studio with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers... - I was thinking 'Oh my gawd – this is unreal'. Such an amazing experience, for sure.

MM: Do you feel like being at the age you are, you can relate well to technology and embrace it and use it for good?

KC: Absolutely – I love the fact that the system has shifted and now one person with a camera really has the power to create and do what they're passionate about. There used be 88 media companies controlling everything, now there are 6. Rupert Murdoch is pissed and still maintains control with an Iron Fist, and rightfully so, as he needs to get paid real money for the fake news he produces – but it's still not happening. The power has shifted to the individual, who has more independent choices as to what they watch and read, and I love that.

MM: Looking over your accolades, and getting your start guest starring on shows such as 'Little House on the Prairie' and starting at such a young age, do you feel that tainted your career at all or do you embrace those experiences as helping you?

KC: Ya know, I loved my childhood and I definitely wouldn't change it. I mean, thinking back to being on the set of 'Love Boat', 'Fantasy Island', 'Knight Rider', all that stuff– It was an absolutely terrific way to grow up. The only difference between today's kids and my young career would be that when I was a child, kids typically didn't make the same money as the adult actors, and proper screen credit could be hard to secure without good representation. Nowadays, the studios understand that the power is in the hands of the youths, and these kids get LOTS of money, and are pushed so hard to be a product... none of today's kids get to be much of a kid. Personally, I loved all of it. And I think that it's helped me to be who I am today.

MM: I saw 'Toy Soldiers' on Peachtree TV the other day – talk a bit about some of controversy around that film

KC: Uh, controversy? Ya know, I don't think there ever really was much controversy when it opened, but it's certainly the type of film that just could not get made in today's culture. I mean the plot was about South American terrorists who cross through the Mexican border, kill the guards to get in and then take over a private school filled with the progeny of the rich and elite. I mean – there's nothing about it that any production company would go for now... Toy Soldier's will probably NOT show up on the list of projects being remade/re-imagined. But as far as the fun, popcorn thrill ride, and this sort of band of renegade kids who end up working with their principal (whom they once hated) to help save the day, that's a theme that I think needs to come through. It's OK for kids to think for themselves and question authority. How else will they grow up to become smart, educated, and independent adults?

MM: What are some future projects we can expect to see from you?

KC: Well, I'm actually taking on a major role replacing the late Corey Haim in a film called 'A Detour In Life' which is about a father who goes down the road of alcoholism and self-doubt after suffering a tragic loss. And it's a role Corey could have done in his sleep but for me, being known as more of a comedy guy, it's going to force me to get to some deep and dark places. And I'm so very looking forward to the work of that role and the whole process of it.

MM: And will we see more from 'The Telepathist'?

KC: (laughs) This fall, on ABC. Actually, “The Telepathist” is the show-within-a-show on the web series, “Crafty”. Very funny take on show-biz as seen from the trenches of the food service department of the entertainment industry. It's ridiculous, rude, racist, misogynistic, loud, fast, and vicious. No role or personality type in the industry is left un-skewered. We've shot ten episodes, and are looking for someone to buy it, or as I like to say, “Give us money for this shit!”

MM: I look forward to seeing it! Thanks for your time, it was great catching up!

KC: Thanks a bunch, Matt... I'll talk to you later!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Shelter Valley Folk Festival 2010 -
We All Shine On
(written by Taylor Eby)
(photo by Jory Nash)

Once a year in the small hamlet of Grafton, Ontario, a small community descends upon a local lavender farm for the idyllic Shelter Valley Folk Festival. I use the word community as this is not a typical music festival at which music is served alongside a barrage of corporate endorsements, and where everyone goes home after a few hours of braving sweaty crowds and long line-ups. It is rather an amiable weekend-long gathering of local artisans, musicians, food and wellness experts and Canadian “folkheads”. This past Labour Day weekend saw the festival’s seventh successful gathering which remained as blithe as ever despite sporadic onslaughts of rain and brisk winds.

In past years, the festival has been headlined by Canadian folk mainstays such as Valdy and Sarah Harmer while showcasing burgeoning newcomers such as Great Lake Swimmers, Serena Ryder and The Good Lovelies. There are also a number of hidden folk gems that the fest is known for higlighting, and which receive much deserved attention on the main stage. This year’s line-up was balanced in a similar fashion with Fred Eaglesmith being the highlight for many on the opening night. The gruff country-folk songwriter’s set was riddled with comical stage banter and deprecating humour which had the crowd attentively amused despite constant jabs at the “hippies” in the audience. Any notions of Eaglesmith being a washed-up unknown were thoroughly dashed after witnessing his repertoire of blue collar anthems and the dedication of his fans. The scene was reminiscent of a boozy barroom sing-a-long as Eaglesmith sang through his classics “Time to Get a Gun” and “Alcohol and Pills”.

Another obvious crowd pleaser of the evening was the father-son duo Beaucoup Blue. The duo had the audience completely entranced as they flawlessly performed their bluesy folk songs. One would sing and play rhythm while the other played on a slide guitar (or vice versa) and they brilliantly fed off each other’s energies, blurring the lines of age and experience between father and son.

One of the more polarizing acts of the evening was Toronto-based Lal. Their experimental blend of electronic beats, funk-charged bass and free flow and oft-improvised vocals seemed to confuse and occasionally irritate the older members of the audience while simultaneously captivating much of the younger audience (many of whom unabashedly danced throughout their entire set).

Throughout the daytime on Saturday and Sunday, there were numerous workshops and group events which ranged from tai chi and yoga sessions to instructional sessions on sustainable living, musical discussions, and wellness and relaxation workshops. This was when the festival most imitated a close-knit community. Without seeming too contrived or pretentious, local artisans and experts shared their wares and ideas while the festival’s musicians held intimate and impromptu collaborations on three separate stages.

One of Shelter Valley’s yearly objectives is to provide young up and coming musicians a chance to gain a broader audience and further recognition within the Canadian music scene. Saturday’s main stage was particularly energized by two of these buzz-worthy musicians. The first was Winnipeg-based JP Hoe who was nominated for a West Coast Music Award last year. With his gripping voice and earnest musings, Hoe’s roots influenced sound is indicative of a Canadian folk rock scene that is fresh and very much alive. Backed by the ethereal voices of Hayley and Kendra Penner (daughters of CBC Television star Fred Penner), JP wowed the listeners and put the weather-weary fest-goers into a dead-silent trance of attentiveness.

The second notable newcomer was Niagara’s Ariana Gillis. Certainly galvanizing old and young alike, Ariana displayed a formidable stage presence while rousing the audience to their feet. Receiving much attention in Southern Ontario and from CBC Radio, Gillis’ heartfelt folksy pop could easily be a mainstream radio staple without sounding shallow and over-manufactured – a feat not easily accomplished when her nearest musical contemporaries are the likes of Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne. Here’s to hoping she retains her musical potential without being hijacked and watered down by an increasingly uncreative industry.

To go into more detail, giving due recognition to all the acts of the Shelter Valley Folk Festival would require a piece of writing much longer than this. That is simply because each artist displayed a consistent talent and energy rarely seen at most music festivals. There was no dead time - no insipid performances. Even the MC's (featuring the quiet but deadly Brian Macmillan, the old Dixie gramophone stylers Sheesham & Lotus and Canadian folk hero Ken Whiteley) kept the crowd riveted despite some horrific weather and powered the performances along. The organizers of Shelter Valley certainly have a keen ear for excellent musicians who otherwise would not receive the attention of most music-listeners. Combine all of that with their efforts to promote sustainable living, local businesses and artists in a community-oriented fashion, and the result is a festival that is one of the best kept musical secrets in Ontario – one that will hopefully continue to thrive in coming years.

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