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Steverino ex machina.

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Location: PEI, Canada

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Holy crap, I actually have a few moments to breathe. Just long enough to get a few points down before I have to go to town to get a lasagna, and then try to finish a (hopefully) wicked slide show, both for tomorrow's grade 8 graduation at my school.

Before I really begin, let me just say that Little Miss Higgins was super-endearing and mega-entertaining on Sunday night. A couple video clips are already up on YouTube and on my Facebook... I'll post 'em here with some pics and pointers later.

Anyway... I had an interesting thought whilst at trivia on Friday; isn't it ironic (don'tcha think?) that farmers are buried when they die? Like, they spend their whole life planting stuff, and then, when their days are done, they're planted, too. It got me to thinking about ideal farewells for people of all professions. A crop duster, for instance, would be cremated then dusted over fields by a plane. A fisherman would be buried at sea, perhaps in a trap. What do you think would be some other appropriate ways to go?
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Sunday, June 07, 2009


Ages ago, back on May 1st, my Mrs. and I, along with one of her friends, ventured out to Georgetown to see Cape Breton... nay, Atlantic Canadian... nay, Canadian... nay, world fiddling legend Ashley MacIsaac in concert. Don't let the misspelling on the tickets confuse you. Like Elvis' tombstone, the real deal was inside.

I do admit, I was a little concerned about the quality of the show. You never hear much of anything about Ashley anymore, and I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I wondered if he'd be a little "out there". I really did have more faith in him than anything else, though. I thought he'd pretty much had his act together for the last several years, and should be in fine form. I was sure we'd see a great show. And if it wasn't, we'd have a good story to tell, anyway.

We did get a surprise right off the top. There was an unadvertised opener, Sierra Noble. I think she's only around 19, and wasn't exactly hard on the eyes. Apparently, she's a M├ętis fiddling sensation, and is just now branching out to play guitar and sing. Her single, "Possibility" was instantly likable, and she had a few other decent songs, too. Her rendition of the "Warrior's Lament" she played at the Vimy Ridge monument was pretty emotionally stirring. My only advice for her is to talk less, play more, and to not stomp her foot while she plays that upbeat song. Her foot loses the beat and it throws the whole song out of whack. A nice surprise, she was.

Ashley popped out to tell us he'd be back after a wee break to "play fiddle songs 'til you're sick of 'em". A nice addition to Ashley's act was piano player (and fiddler, too), and fellow Caper, Robbie Fraser. They'd never played together before, although you'd never know it. Robbie was in shirt and tie, looking like he was ready for his high school grad (although he's more like 23), the visual opposite to Ashley (who's a little more casual). Robbie roamed the keys and kept up with no problem, and got to play fiddle a bit later on as well. He's good, but comes off as a very controlled, old-school kind of guy.

As for Ashley, he really did just pound out the tunes. There were many funny stories in between, as well as a few technical glitches, but that didn't harm the flow of the show. In the half-full house (due to near-zero advertising and the high ticket price), it felt like a kitchen party with an old friend. Ashley showed off his fiddle mettle, whipping out strings of 32nd notes and cute little slides, erasing any doubt that he still had it. You can read more about the show here.

I should have seen it coming, due to his place of origin, but another highlight of the show was his humour and stories. Highlights included:
  • picking on the swine flu. He said he came off the plane last night in a sombrero, and people didn't think it was very funny. He also mentioned how he had a touch of the flu, with a sly look, and wondered where he could get some Tamiflu. He also did a little snippet of "La Cucaracha". "People just don't see the humour in pandemics anymore", he mused.
  • he delighted in the Guardian article he read about Richard Brown, our Environment Minister, mentioning in the House that week that he used to blow up beaver dams with dynamite as a summer job.
  • the woman who met him in Georgetown and asked if she could drive him to see her cottage. He said "Sure", and the ride took about 20 minutes. Nice cottage, he thought, but the trip was a bit longer than anticipated.
  • the time he and Lee Cremo were going to play at an event, and were delayed for some reason. He looked over at Ashley and said, "Would you like to become a Mi'kmaq?" Ashley said "Sure!" (I see a pattern here), and they went through the whole ceremony of it. Ashley said his Mi'kmaq / Micmac name is "Ashley MicMacIsaac".
  • he was once escorted away by police from Dundas Square in Toronto. He was walking down the street, and a person in a seal costume was dancing around and got in his way. Turns out it was a protest against the seal hunt. He made some comments to/about them... and how it must be nice to be there while people were working back home in C.B... you get the idea. One thing led to another, and he was escorted away.
  • the great line, "I'd like to play a number from a rave I did in 2000."
  • at the very start of the show, as he was adjusting his cord and box on the floor, and moving it from behind him, he commented how he didn't like "things coming up behind me." He then turned around with a sly grin and finished what he was doing. As we laughed, he told us we all had a sick mind and it was us that went where we did. Not his fault.
As a final side note, if you look closely at the top CD of the two I got autographed, you can see I snagged a couple of discarded hairs from his bow... the equivalent of a guitar pick at a rock show, I suppose. Thank God we have a few artists in Canada who have, at least one point in their life, lived a rockstar-style life to make themselves even more interesting for us. Sometimes being squeaky-clean and polite all the time can be a bit boring.
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