A musical evening in Red Deer

I know what you’re thinking: Red Deer? Music? Honestly, what on Earth are you thinking, Geoff? You haven’t exactly had the most … inspiring of times in Red Deer. Okay, I admit, I’ve not got the best stories of this, our third largest city in Alberta, but it’s far from the armpit of Alberta. And I had good reason, y’know!

Back in July, during the Calgary Stampede, the Tragically Hip played the Calgary Roundup, the outdoor concert of the year. I had wanted to go, but I totally messed up where the tickets were sold (stupid me, I thought it was Ticketmaster), and by the time I’d realised it … it was too late. Sold out, and I was out of luck.

This is what brought me to Red Deer.

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TV is dead. Long live the internet!

I feel like an old man. I can now look at my kids, and say with far too much vigour: “When I was your age…” I refer to, of course, having to get off my ass, walking over to the cathode ray tube-based television set, change the dial to UHF, and move the oversized dial that changed the direction of the UHF antenna…

I’ve lost you, haven’t I? I shudder to think how few of you have an inkling of what I’m talking about. Yeah, that’s how old I am. I remember when there were only a handful of channels, when almost all of the content was on ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Global, and a few independent stations (such as the awesome CityTV and the the extremely nacent Fox). I remember the introduction of cable. I remember having to wait for the summer reruns because I missed that crucial episode of The A Team that everyone was talking about in class the next morning. I remember when the season debuts were a big thing. I remember when missing a live televised event was significant, because it was gone forever.

It seems somehow just as bizarre a concept as the Spanish Inquisition.

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Copyrights are the new Colonialism

The late 16th Century was the dawn of the British Empire. England had triumphed on the seas, and had set its eyes on colonising the New World (before its enemies did). Patents were issued, companies were founded, and flotillas of ships dispatched to every corner — known and unknown — of the planet in the name of Queen/King and country. Colonies were born out of determination, slavery, and blood extracted from those too weak to defend themselves from British will.

In time, a phrase was born: The sun never sets on the British Empire. Great Britain’s influence extended far beyond its native shores, its power unquestionable. A few thrived under the colonial system, but the majority — the people living under colonial rule — were marginalised as being little more than the ignorant masses; significant numbers suffered horribly.

It’s really no wonder that the Empire collapsed under its own weight.

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Music industry’s future: Creators and Performers

The music industry is falling apart. Not in the way your under-maintained 1991 economy car with rust spots is leaving a breadcrumb trail of broken parts, but in the way your high school clique drifted apart as everyone got older and started looking for new direction. This is the order of things, both natural and man-made — everything trends towards its own destruction.

Sadly, the music industry hasn’t quite figured this out yet. They’ve been fighting blindly to retain the status quo, and failing miserably. RIAA take note: suing your core audience for using your content, thus alienating them and their sphere of influence from future purchases is not good business acumen. Where did you get your MBAs, from Sally Struthers’ International Correspondance School?

It’s high time you accepted that you are no longer in control of your own future. Your audience is.

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Which Beatles is better: British Invasion, or Studio?

The other day, as Mark was driving us to work, we were treated to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da on Radio Dos as we were inching our way through the daily Lindora grind. I’ve heard this song at least 100 times (iTunes reports a mere 43, but I’ve reset the counters a couple of times). I was humming along when I thought of something:  

I’m listening to The Beatles. Studio-era Beatles.

I started to wonder — which I did aloud, as I often do when commuting with Mark — which of The Beatles’ incarnations were more popular? Depending on whom you ask, Studio-era gets more airplay. But does that make them more interesting?

Allow me to dig a little deeper on this one…

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My 10 favourite cover songs

In the annals of music, there will always the be homage to the giants that came before, who created the sound, and inspired the ones yet to come. That usually lends to things like the ubiquitous cover track — a performer’s version of a previous performer’s work.  

As we all know, the vast majority of said covers are … well, crap. People don’t spend the time to consider the message or the music that went into the piece, and are quite happy to churn out a version that doesn’t sound much different than the original, or sounds so substantially worse that you really have to imagine what on earth they were thinking.  

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Kids’ music kinda sucks, but there is good stuff out there!

I remember kids music when I was young. A lot of it was Disney (or published by Disney), available on vinyl 45s that we played on our Mickey Mouse record player — you remember, the one where Mickey’s arm is the arm for playing the record, and his forefinger contained the stylus?  

You don’t remember… You don’t even know what a 45 is?  Frick, I’m getting too old for this.  

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Steve Jobs blows it. Again.

Sigh.  There’s nothing more frustrating than watching Apple come so close to finally tying the knot, only to leave threads dangling.  

I speak, of course, of yesterday’s Let’s Rock event where the apparently-not-dead (but much gaunter-looking) Steve Jobs talked at length about iTunes and iPods. And they played Jack Johnson, who is somehow the most popular male performer on iTunes to this point in history. (Yeah, I don’t get that either. Don’t get me wrong, Jack, you’re a great performer — just didn’t see that coming.)  

But why — oh why! — does Apple have to continually deny us a complete entertainment experience?  

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