Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Shape of Water no; Bright yes

I have almost always liked the idea of Guillermo Del Toro better than I have liked his films. I mean, he is a sincere fanboy, a lover of some of the same cinema as I am, and, I mean, anyone with ambitions to tackle At the Mountains of Madness (or a remake of Nightmare Alley!) has to get some respect. I like the clips I've seen of him speaking - he has an agreeable manner and face; and as producer he has supported some films I've enjoyed well-enough, like Mama or Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. But to be honest, I was blown away by neither Cronos nor The Devil's Backbone; I missed Blade II. and while I did like Mimic and Hellboy (and even Hellboy II), I haven't cared about anything else he's directed. Pan's Labyrinth was beautiful to look at and appeared to have its heart in the right place, but it didn't really engage me emotionally, viscerally, or intellectually. It might move me more on subsequent viewings, and might be a film that requires more than one sit-through to really appreciate, except it's hard to motivate yourself to watch a film a second time when your initial reaction, when you saw it theatrically, was "meh, this is overrated and overhyped." Pacific Rim was even worse - the very essence of an empty blockbuster, which utterly failed to engage me in its stories or characters. It was just a big unwelcome noise in my face. I might have gotten more out of a Transformers film, if I had ever brought myself to watch one. Crimson Peak was okay, but only just; I never bothered watching it a second time to see what I missed when I nodded off, and I didn't keep the copy I had.

All the same, Guillermo Del Toro has quite a name for himself in genre films right now, and I WANT to like him plenty, so I went with some excitement to see the critically praised The Shape of Water the other day. The theatre was packed. Our predispositions were definitely positive: neverminding the 93% positive on R/T - which means very little to me -  or the proclamations that it is his best film (or "best since Pan's Labyrinth" - hmm), Erika and I had both enjoyed Sally Hawkins in Maudie, which we've seen twice now. Hawkins reminds me of a young Pat Highsmith (and would be a great choice for a biopic of her). And we both really like Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer; we both have enjoyed Richard Jenkins in things (especially, for me, Bone Tomahawk) and the fact that feminist film critic and "Flick Filosopher" MaryAnn Johanson has been expressing reservations about the film (I believe in advance of seeing it) for having its female lead have sex with the monster had me very curious to engage with it critically.

Turns out there's not much there. The production design is beautiful, of course, and the leads - especially Shannon, in the meatiest role - are all great. But these things, and Del Toro's obvious good intentions, to craft a tale of a lonely, alienated woman who identifies with and comes to love a monster, and to make embracing the monstrous a kind of redemptive option for all those on the margins, sort of in the manner of (the vastly more interesting and engaging) Nightbreed - are simply not enough to make the film exciting. Hawkins' character is undercooked, with all her character traits (being mute; masturbating in the bath; even her fondness for hard boiled eggs) seeming less about making a rich human figure out of her than about advancing the plot and motivating her choices and actions. Similarly, she has marks on her neck which are never explained, but which come in very handy at the climax. Hawkins does her best to make us care, compensating for her character's lack of spoken dialogue with an expressive face and subtitled sign language, but there still just isn't enough to make her an interesting, rich human figure. Instead, she's a symbol of purity - a victim, a martyr, and ultimately a heroine, but never fully realized or fully human. Even Octavia Spencer, as her friend and fellow cleaning woman, is given a more believable and entertaining role. Del Toro has obviously designed Hawkins' character to make her decision to make love to the monster believable - which is, obviously, a place he has to get to in the plot - but a few timid shots of her frigging herself in the bath aside, he doesn't really enter her erotic life at all, and when the sexy set piece (in a flooded bathroom) finally arrives, he treats it with a misty romanticism that would make a  superb centerpiece of a romantic musical - from "singing in the rain" to "fucking in the flooded bathroom" - but -

- I mean, I'm trying to think of how I might have cared about the film more, and I think if I had been inside or interested in Hawkins' character's desire, if she had seemed a horny agent of her own weird choices, maybe like Molly Parker in Kissed - the film might have been more interesting. If Del Toro had the slightest eye for the erotic, if he was approaching this as Nightbreed by way of In the Realm of the Senses or something - he could have been onto something. But he doesn't make the sex scenes breathe with any real understanding of sex or sensuality. He almost seems afraid of them, like he's mostly worried that kids won't be able to watch if he gets too kinky.

He should have been more afraid they'd be boring.

And for thinness of character, the amphibian man played by Doug Jones is a very moving "monster," but if he's got a rich inner life (besides being, again, a pure victim and then saviour) we don't much see it. Like Hawkins, he's more or less mute. Unlike her, he's given the chance to do one thing - involving a housecat - that might compromise his holiness, but Del Toro spends more time on the monster's remorse than his actual action, since he doesn't want (I presume) to alienate the audience. (Cronenberg is much much better at making monsters we care about). Richard Jenkins is thinly written, as well (gay failed advertising artist, rejected by the world, drawn into Hawkins' plot). It's nice to see a mute, a middle-aged gay man, a black cleaning lady, an ineffectual and deeply compromised bookish scientist, and a "monster" uniting to fight the powers that be - but the by-the-books feelgood parable about being compassionate that results, while it might make the stuff of a well-intentioned fairy tale for children, is nowhere enough to make you care about the characters. None of them even have to go through much in the way of transformations to become heroes, either - they're all kinda pure and good from the outset, with the only challenge they need to overcome being their fear of standing up for what's right. Which they all do, which you know they're going to do, so... who cares? The victims of the world get to feel good and pat themselves on the back and be reassured of how virtuous they are, and how nasty the mean white authority figures are, but - politically laudable intentions don't always make for an interesting film. Mimic is ten times as involving as The Shape of Water, and appears to have a politically inexcusable subtext to it, that women shouldn't have careers in the sciences, but should rather raise families instead...

In the end, the most interesting performance, the richest character, the person you end up most excited to see on the screen - is the bad guy, Michael Shannon, whose main direction from Del Toro seems to have been to be the most Michael Shannon he can be. He's great. No one Michael Shannons like Michael Shannon, and he indeed maxes out his Michael Shannonness here; he could only be more Michael Shannon if he paused occasionally in his villainy to flog himself with a belt (but that's been done before, by him, already, so...). His performance alone very nearly makes the film worth watching.

But not really. It's pretty to look at, but in the end, all you're left with is Del Toro's good intentions, packed into a story, to be unpacked by the viewer, at a cost of some $13 for a ticket. It would have been a better children's book. (Or if he'd had courage to really amp up the eroticism, it could have been a superb weird sex film). I would rather have spent the $13 on seeing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri again, which is ten times the film this is.

Meantime, Mary Ann Johanson - one of the few interesting film critics I'm aware of these days - has been shitting all over Bright, on Netflix (which draws a mere 28% on R/T), but I have to admit, while it is trivial in the extreme, Bright was vastly more entertaining and even interesting than The Shape of Water. Charles Mudede captures some of that. Johanson might be right on in a few of her criticisms of the film - it is certainly silly as hell, and it does draw on some very broad stereotypes. But at one point in the old Wood contra Cronenberg debate, Cronenberg points at the example of Larry Cohen - whose It's Alive Wood had been favourably comparing to The Brood - and says something like, "would you rather watch a horribly made movie with laudable politics, or a well-made film that takes you to uncomfortable places?" (It's a very loose paraphrase). Of course, in the case of The Shape of Water and Bright, both films are very well-realized visually, so it's more like, "Would you rather watch an entertaining and engaging film that may be politically problematic as hell, or a politically admirable film with the human complexity of a slightly kinky Hallmark card?"

I know which I'll pick. Hell, I'm even more interested in THINKING about Bright, which, while it may not be that well-intentioned, is at least doing things that aren't obvious, that actually REQUIRE you to think about them a bit. Even the action of contemplating whether Bright is politically contemptible is more interesting than the cookie-cutter feelgood politic of The Shape of Water, from which I took away nothing more profound than a desire for my money back, and which left me thinking about nothing more profound than how the film might have engaged me more.

So there.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Just a few touch-ups, plus David M., Red Herring, Alex Harvey...

Apparently (Nick Jones sez) the performance of Keithmas not to have missed, which I missed, was the Pack AD doing "Gimme Shelter."

Ah well!

And the Stones song I liked so much that the Pointed Sticks covered was "Down Home Girl." I figured that out on my own.

In other news, for anyone worried, David M. is fine - not entirely in the mood for putting on a concert this year, but he might still do something post-Christmas in January, because, let's face it, "XTUVVVVV" is gold all year round. But I checked in last night, en route to Red Herring (new live clip here), and he gave me a Diet Coke and a little private Christmas concert in his living room - including three new "Wenceslases" and "Santa Got Lost in Texas" off a Bonanza Christmas special. His battery-operated, Christmas-themed rockin' poinsettia danced along quite happily on the endtable. His apartment is full of Christmas decorations, all lit up and cheerful, even if he is a bit glum this year. M will rally, however. M. is fine.

Those missing the magic of a David M. Christmas are directed here, for a very fulsome Christmas Alone in NO FUN City from 2016.

Also, thanks to Gerry Hannah for turning me on to political Steppenwolf. I thought it was all just bikes and drugs and sex, but he directed me to "The Ostrich," and now I have Monster. It's real good! And thanks to whoever it was in earshot that likened the Slow shows to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, I picked up Next and sure am enjoying it. Erika didn't really approve of "Gang Bang" though.

One wants a wife to disapprove of a song like that, really. 

Is it just me who thinks of Wreckless Eric's "Pop Song" when listening to that? You could do a pretty fun mashup between the two.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas 2017 - some shows and songs and news

Running around like a chicken with its head barely stitched on. New job, lots to learn and do - not to mention Christmas shopping and such. The gig I am most excited to see this weekend I will not be at - the superb guitar-centric lounge-exotica throwback music of Mr. Stephen Nikleva, paired with the superb, spooky, cinematic music of Big Top, with three guest vocalists: Al Mader, whose self-deprectating rants and twisted confessionals I deeply love; Ana Bon Bon, whose rude, raunchy squeezeboxin' is always entertaining, and Dennis Mills, of the Judys, who I have completely heretofore neglected (sorry, Dennis) - though I recall enjoying a Richard Hell cover he belted out the one time I caught the Judys live.

Anyhow, that's tonight - Big Top Sings, at the Anza, and I won't be there (gotta work).

Tomorrow, China Syndrome - a band whose songcraft I greatly admire and whose frontman, Tim Chan, I interviewed here - will be gigging at the Fairview. Tim points out China Syndrome's new Christmas single, here - a song of seasonal ambivalence, befitting his usual angstiness. It will be awhile before the world sees a new China Syndrome album but I caught a set of almost all new songs not too long ago at the Princeton and thought it was great. From the press release:

It’s about a kid who may be starting to doubt the existence of Santa Claus, after they see Christmas activities already starting up before Hallowe’en and realize the improbability of Santa coming down a blocked chimney, not to mention that reindeer don’t fly. But they also begin to understand how hard their parents work to provide for them and, because of this, will continue to wait for Santa’s arrival. It’s partly based on my own experience growing up in a household where both my parents worked long hours on opposite shifts to try to make ends meet. And as we get into the spirit of giving, we feel it is appropriate to donate the money from downloads of the song to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which greatly assists families in need. 
“Footsteps on the Roof” is the initial release from the recording sessions for China Syndrome’s upcoming and as yet unnamed fourth album which is currently being recorded and produced at Vancouver's JC/DC Studio by David Carswell (The New Pornographers, Tegan & Sara, Destroyer, the Evaporators, Adrian Teacher and the Subs). The album is slated for release in 2018. 

Also benefitting the food bank will be Rich Hope's new Christmas song, "I See Santa!" Not sure what he's up to for Christmas besides - is there a gig? Dunno. Lamely, I ain't got $2 free on my credit card - just call me "Allan Maxed Innis" - to donate to actually hear the song, but if you do, hell, it's FOR THE FOOD BANK! So cough up. The page describes the tune as a "return to the scene of the 2010 hit 'I See Trouble' for an expanded Yuletide regifting of your favourite Evil Doers song and a message of Hope in these most Troubled of times. (ie. 'I hope I get a new guitar.')"

Saturday night, meanwhile - the night before the night before Christmas - Red Herring, one of my favourite groups of reunited Vancouverites (and also featuring Mr. Nikleva) will be playing at the Princeton. (My old Red Herring interview is here). Stephen tells me "Enrico [Renz, lead vocals/ guitars] says he is going to surprise us with an Xmas song-that should be interesting!" Red Herring's Taste Tests, their original vinyl EP, featuring "Love Machine," "The Crab Song," "Taste Tests," and "If You Work for Me" (all of which can be found on Youtube in some form or other; I don't know if "Feelings" is online, but it's also great) is still available in dwindling quantities at shows, for $20. Though it's more a "New Wave" record - not in the pejorative sense - than a punk one, it is one of my top 10 Vancouver releases of the 1980's, along with the Subhumans Incorrect Thoughts, the Spores' Schizofungi, and Slow's Against the Glass. There is also a remastered CD version of that (and a solo Stephen Nikleva CD, Square Moon). They also are working on a new album for release later (we presume) in 2018...

The one thing sadly missing here is an alert for a David M. Christmas show. He had said to me last I saw him that he was thinking about not doing one - and despite a salvo of posters on Facebook and (apparently) at least one email to round up the "usual suspects" (Pete Campbell, Dave Dedrick, and Lester Interest) he has pretty much fallen out of touch. Pete and I have been worryin' together about M, since we know it's been a bummer year for him: he lost his closest musical collaborator and good friend Paul Leahy, and he lost his much loved dog Ozzy (whose birthday was during the Christmas season). I have considered trying to write a Christmas song in his honour, to cheer him, while he presumably stays home alone drinking eggnog and watching Christmas movies, but all I've got so far is something along the lines of:
Take the M. out of "Christmas"
And all you got left is "Christ ass." 
But that's all I got. (My big David M. Christmas interview from last year is here, which completely fails to recognize his box set of NO FUN Christmas material, The Fezziwig Files - which is a real cornucopia, though I still mostly just listen to The Five Wenceslases. That album - which features his brilliant reworking of "Moonage Daydream," "Elf Toymaker" - is included in the set, along with a couple CDs of subsequent bonus material; it's the perfect gift for both Christmas lovers and Christmas haters, and even for those on the fence, as long as they have a sense of humour (and some tolerance for rudeness and politically incorrect speech, which M. occasionally plays with). I was really looking forward to the Christmas show this year, and I'm sad it ain't happening - at least in no form that anyone I know knows how to access, M's Facebook posts notwithstanding - but I'm running around like a chicken with his head barely stitched on, anyhow, and probably couldn't have made it regardless. Hope you're doin' okay, David! 2018 will be better, right?

Well, we can hope.

Anyhoo - really, that's it. Merry Christmas, people. See you in 2018. Good luck with the rest of the year...!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Half a Keithmas post-show report: Dec 16 2017 at the Rickshaw

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Jeez, I haven't seen the Rickshaw that full since Electric Wizard (still one of my favourite-ever, even-if-I-do-say-so-myself pieces of writing about that show, here - also with bev davies pictures).

In fact, Keithmas 8 might have been fuller than the Electric Wizard show. Even the balcony was opened. Wild.

But the truth is, it was a hard sell for me to go out last night at all, even with the ticket. I had spent over 12 hours preparing for class on Friday, then woke up at 7am to go to work and teach said class; that was a pretty high-energy experience, taking place from 9-1:45, and left me pretty drained. Then I had a staff meeting til 3, then began the long commute out to New West (for dinner at this fab vegan Vietnamese place called V Cafe, kitty corner from the spaghetti factory - cheap and tasty eats, folks!) and then the commute to the Rickshaw. By the time Bev and I arrived, I was exhausted. She had her own considerations and wanted to go home early, herself, and I didn't mind at all (one of the things about going show in East Van with Bev is, I make sure she gets home safe - or at least to the Skytrain!).

Now, after nine full hours of sleep, I'm going - "I missed La Chinga? I missed Rich Hope? WHAT WAS I THINKING? WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHAT DID THEY DO?"

I will never know (Mack wrote in a text that they were going to cover "all of side one of  Their Satanic Majesties Request," but that was a joke, referring to the previous postings below. You know, Mack, Rich - I don't even think "Citadel" is one of the better songs on Their Satanic Majesties Request? I prefer even the obvious stoned jammy stuff at the end of side one - that authenic acidhead free-spiritedness that there's not a whiff of on Sgt Pepper's). People were digging so deep into the Stones' back catalogue for songs - many I did not know at all - that there were, as Bev kept remarking, tons of great songs untouched. She and I left just after the Pointed Sticks played. 

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Elliot C. Way and the Wild North opened with a fabulous cover of the Blind Gary Davis' tune "Cocaine" (or was it the Dave Van Ronk arrangement? Did Dave base his arrangement on Gary Davis'? If Elliot was thinking Dave Van Ronk - or covering Keith covering Dave covering Gary, as I suspect was the case - who gets credit for whose version he was doing?). He followed with my favourite-ever country Stones' song, "Sweet Virginia" ("got to scrape the shit right off your shoes" is a real witty, biting lyric; it's figurative shit, though - it ain't THAT kind of country).  I didn't like his version of "Wild Horses" at all, though, which was weirdly mid-tempo and not as angsty as the Stones. Photogenic dude, though!

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

The Ballantynes were one of the acts I was most looking forward to seeing again, as soon as I realized who they were  - I have a habit of getting them confused with the Beladeans - but turned out to be kind of disappointing, sad to say, because ONLY THREE Ballantynes were onstage. They were game - particularly during their higher energy songs, first and last - but it was different enough from the awe-inspiring full-force six-or-seven piece I saw open for Roky Erickson at the Electric Owl a few years ago that it is almost not like having seen the Ballantynes at all (which is what I had been hoping to see, you know? ...the full band?). And their second song, a very faithful, quiet reading of "As Tears Go By," while movingly delivered, was definitely lessened by that curse of Vancouver concertgoing, "talking audience syndrome."

I was still seated at that point, grumbling in texts to my wife (who had bailed altogether) that I could either sit or see, but not both, that my feet were sore, and that I was lonely without her (since Bev was down in the pit).

All images by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

The Bad Beats did better at holding my attention, however (video here). I had a slightly hard time fitting my mind around "2000 Light Years From Home," because I'd just been spinning the original - punctuating my previous day's lesson planning with both sides of the mono of Their Satanic Majesties' Request, and found the disjunct between the two versions jangling in my head  - but I really enjoyed their next two songs - a smokin' rendition of "Bitch" (my favourite tune off Sticky Fingers) and a song I think called "Off the Hook," perfect for them, and one of many 'deep Stones' tunes from early in their catalogue that I simply do not know.

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

I took a break at that point to give my wife's ticket to a local artist who met me at the door, and then weinered my way through the crowd to get up front, to say hi to Bev and shoot video of the SLIP~ons. Who knew that the two songs I shot ("The Last Time" and "Ruby Tuesday." which cut before the end because my phone ran out of space) would be mere teasers for an AWE INSPIRING version of "Tumblin' Dice?" What a perfect SLIP~ons song! I hope they keep in in their set. You would never have known if they hadn't announced it that their drummer was borrowed from La Chinga. Fun moment: Rob, above left, threw his guitar in the air in a fit of passion near the end and you definitely could see flash across his face an "oh shit I better catch that" expression. That single song would have been worth the price of admission (the nice thing about proceeds going to the food bank is that never once in my early bail did I regret having paid for my tickets).

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

But I'm glad we stuck it out for one more act, because the Pointed Sticks were priceless (did Bev not include any photos of Ian Tiles here to chastise him for being late? Hmm. He arrived, in shades, at 9:59, with a 10:00 start time, drawing remarks from emcee James Hayden, who had tuned his kit for him, and a few chastising murmurs from the crowd about the "missing drummer" issue). But after some drama trying to find the winner of the first raffle (wasn't me), the Sticks took the stage, dressed in "old British dude" clothing, with only Tiles managing to retain his hipness. (You kinda wondered if Bill's sweater was something he wears around the house anyhow...). Nick and Tony and Gord all had their own charms, looking like they could be walking in from the set of a Harry Palmer movie, but it definitely seemed like dress-up (btw, in a brief chat in the band room earlier in the evening, Nick would "neither confirm nor deny" that the hat I found a pic of - see below - was the one Keith lent him). I didn't know most of the songs they covered - something about kissing someone who tastes like pork and beans? Another song about an airline flight, and a song about things being "complicated." Their bookends, "Mother's Little Helper" (erroneously previously identified as "Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown," but both titles have three multisyllabic words in them, so... oops) and "Out of Time" - which Nick led a singalong for, and dedicated to the old punks in the room who had never gotten the message - were definite crowd-pleasers, though. The thing Bev observed was that - how did she put it - every song they did sounded like it might have been songs the Pointed Sticks had written for the Rolling Stones? Or that the Rolling Stones had written for the Pointed Sticks? However she phrased it, the Pointed Sticks totally owned every song they did.

And that was priceless, folks - hearing a set of Pointed Sticks songs (or covers of Rolling Stones songs by the Pointed Sticks) the likes of which may never be repeated. So totally, totally worth it last night, even though I missed the next four bands altogether. (Sorry, Knast! Sorry, Pack AD! Sorry, La Chinga! Sorry, Rich Hope!).

Oh: as added fun, Trespassers/ Rocket Revellers pianist Michael Van Eyes stood next to me during the Pointed Sticks' set, chatting before the show started with Bev about a Stones song where the title was the address of Chess Records in Chicago (where some people claim Muddy Waters could be seen painting the walls, which Mike disputed). Once the band started, Mike did little hummed elaborations on Gord Nicholl's keyboard parts - "air keying" the metal bar in front of him - and singing along beside me, with Nick holding out the mike towards us. Pretty special moment, that.

Actually, the Rocket Revellers (also with Stephen Nikleva and Jimmy Roy) have a gig tonight at some brewery or something - Strangefellows? At, like, Clark and 3rd or something? Erika and I saw them open for Cousin Harley the other week and they were fantastic.

As for Rich Hope... I guess I am just gonna have to go to Keithmas again NEXT year! I gotta see what he does! (But ooh, am I so glad to have had nine hours sleep...). 

All photos by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Going out the window and Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors is by far my favourite Woody Allen film. I find a lot of his films annoying (his early comedies, for the most part) or strainingly pretentious (did it ever get worse than Another Woman?).  There is a vast swath of his cinema that I haven't seen - basically anything since 2005's Match Point, which is basically a tennis-centred remake of Crimes and Misdemeanors, reiterating the theme wholesale ("murder goes unpunished") while altering the plot and characters. I found it boring, if competent, and ultimately totally unnecessary (I could have just watched Crimes and Misdemeanors again!). I didn't mind Celebrity, the previous film of his (from 1998) that I'd watched, or Deconstructing Harry (only seen once, when Charlie Smith introduced it at the Vancity). There are a couple of others - mostly ones he made early in his career. Of his films I have actually seen more than once, and want to see again, there's (in order) Crimes and Misdemeanors, Interiors, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and maybe Hannah and Her Sisters (and that just for Max von Sydow's line about how if Christ were around today and saw what was being done in his name, he'd "never stop throwing up." Best single English-language line of dialogue ever put in Max's mouth!) The Front, about the Hollywood blacklist, is great too, though Allen only acts in that one, along with several actors, like Zero Mostel, who were directly affected by the blacklist. I might consider looking at Husbands and Wives again if it landed in front of me. But given that Woody has directed 48 films now, and I'd only re-visit five or six of them, which I have already seen, and that I have no plans to watch any that I haven't seen, unless someone gets very, very persuasive... I can't say that I'm exactly a fan.

Note that that has nothing to do with the question of whether or not he sexually abused his daughter. (Not his stepdaughter and current partner; he's definitely with her, though whether you consider that abuse or not is sort of open to discussion). With apologies to Dylan Farrow and her siblings, I can't say that I actually know what happened. I am prepared to give credence to the narrative that Mia Farrow cooked up the "child abuse" story as revenge for Woody hooking up with Mia's adopted daughter, to whom he was a father figure for a time - because, you know, I could see how that might REALLY PISS A WOMAN OFF. But maybe that piece has been debunked? I am not sure and don't want to go down the rabbithole; I am pretty much uninterested in Woody Allen ANYHOW, y'know? And, I mean, I still watch Roman Polanski movies, and he's definitely guilty of sexually abusing a child (though the fact that other people have been coming forward to add their  names to the list of people abused by Polanski is upsetting and would probably make me think twice about seeing a new film by him). It does seem to me interesting and possibly telling that both Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point deal with characters getting away with a heinous crime, being unpunished. It's also kind of troubling - nevermind Manhattan - to see the child-adult relationship Woody has in Crimes in Misdemeanors, which I'd totally forgotten about. (The child is also related to Woody's character, in the film - and he has an obvious affection for her that he shows to none of the adult women around her). But all of that might be Woody expressing guilt about Soon-Yi, and nothing more.

However, what really struck me about Crimes and Misdemeanors, watching it last night, besides how perfect it is, has to do with the Violent Femmes. See, I had always thought "Out the Window" was referring to Gilles Deleuze, the French philosopher who killed himself by throwing himself out a window in 1995. But the Femmes' song was written BEFORE Deleuze killed himself (the song came out in 1991). And it turns out their lyric - "he said yes to life for all his life til one day he said no" - is actually an almost direct quote from the movie.

For the record, Louis Levy - the philosopher in the film, who chooses to die by going out the window - is a fictional character, played by psychologist Martin S. Bergmann, who died of old age in 2014.

That's it. That's all I really had to say. It's still a pretty good movie - it holds up. Martin Landau is terrific. Some very funny moments, also some very sobering moments, and some great use of classic cinema in the clips where Woody sneaks his niece (and then Mia Farrow, who he hopes to woo) off to see matinees. I'm willing to separate the art from the artist when the movie is this good.

There aren't many others of its stature in Woody's filmography, that I've seen, however.

Newly discovered bev davies photograph!

...and by that, I mean a photo OF Bev, not a photo by her. Taken by Cindy LeGrier. Now is that a Modernette or a Manville in the foreground? From the Modernettes-Rich Hope show previously mentioned below!

Keithmas 2017, part two: the Bad Beats, the Pointed Sticks, the SLIP~ons, Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, and Keithmas co-founder/ organizer John Hewer

Keithmas 2017 is upon us, this Saturday, and I'm finally going to go!

Part one of my Keithmas feature deals with whether people prefer the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or the Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request - and of course, it gets contentious. To heck with Tarantino's "you can be a Beatles or an Elvis person, but not both" - I have both Beatles and Elvis records; I think THIS is the contentious false binary to discuss.

But like I say, that's part one.  Here we have more general interviews, with headliner Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, fellow newcomer to Keithmas Nick Jones (of the Pointed Sticks), the SLIP~ons (whose tagline could be "more than just the best fuckin' Replacements cover band you ever heard!"), and organizer and co-founder John Hewer! I asked them all similar questions - favourite Keef moments, favourite Keithmas moments, plans for the Saturday show (at the Rickshaw, and NEARLY SOLD OUT: you might still be able to get tickets at a local record store but there's not much left at the Rickshaw or online, I'm told). Also was curious about the pecking order: with so many bands having to pick Keef-related songs, without duplicating any, what strategies do people use? How is a pecking order established?

1. The Bad Beats (and Adam Payne's Dad!)

But first of all, the Bad Beats. I had interviewed Adam Payne of the Bad Beats, prior to the band's first European tour, a few months ago, without having ever seen them live; they're one of the strong draws for me to Saturday's show (I haven't seen La Chinga live, ever, either!). His Vengeful Hand is a real delight, if you're into vintage garage rock. Payne won't spill what songs his band will be doing on Saturday, which "would be like telling you what you are getting for a Christmas present," but he will say "we aren’t doing anything recorded past 1971."

Payne got into the Stones through his Mom ("I have many memories of being at home in bed and hearing it blasting from the stereo while the adults were partying downstairs.") And better yet, he continues, "my dad (who was a broadcaster) interviewed the Stones at in Ontario in what might have been their first ever interview in Canada, probably 1965. He said they were very nice to him. He still has the tape and I’ve been trying to get him to digitize it!"

Wait a second, there, Adam: your Dad interviewed the Stones in 1965? The year that Bev took her photo of the Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens (discussed in Part One)? I briefly get my hopes up - I love a good, weird coincidence - that Adam's Dad might actually BE the media guy in Bev's photo, but it quickly turns out that a) Adam's Dad is black - no black people in Bev's picture! - AND... he wasn't at the Maple Leaf Gardens at all, but the Ottawa Civic Centre (or was it the YWCA Auditorium? That's how it appears on the ticket. Maybe the venue got changed, or maybe it had more than one name? Hell, I dunno.)

So in an interview first, for me, my conversation with Adam leads me to interview his Dad, Robert Payne, by email. (This is almost as entertaining to me as the time I ended up with Peter Stampfel's ex-wife Antonia because he'd given me the wrong phone number and I'd had to scramble to directory assistance, not finding him, but... hey, there's Antonia! And then there was the time I ended up interacting with inspirational singer and burn victim  Merrill Womach because Nardwuar thought he was dead and I had to fact check the piece to find out, finding no obit, but an active email address for Mr. Womach, who was surprisingly funny, joking in response to my somewhat awkward question - "are you dead?" - that he had died a few years ago. So far, though, no other interview has led to me talking to the parents of the person I was interviewing, unless, as with the New Creation, one of them actually IN the band... Note, all links in the above are to interviews I have done, except for Merrill Womach, which is him singing to other burn victims in a burn ward about how they will be happy again someday).

Anyhow... Robert Payne writes:
Hi Allan,

Great to cyber-meet you.

Your friend Bev was in a different city (Toronto) than I was. While I am now in Toronto - and have been since 1968 - my interview of the Stones took place in Ottawa 1965 - the second stop on the Stones' first ever North American tour. (Montreal was their first stop, then came Ottawa a day later).
I was assigned by CKOY, the Ottawa radio station I then worked for, to interview the Stones. Being a radio guy at the time, I carried a bulky tape recorder. No camera.

So the interview took place in the bowels of the Ottawa Civic Centre (at the time being used mostly as a hockey arena).

As I've told Adam, my most vivid recollection is that while I was chatting with them (the Stones), a voice in the bowels of the auditorium (where the interview was happening), someone (I'm assuming the stage manager) yelled "SHOW TIME."

I being the polite guy I was almost immediately got out of the way, at which point Mick yelled
"Aren't you gonna say goodbye?!!"

Things aren't that nice anymore.


Note: re: the contradictory venue names, Robert adds:

Seems to be named the YMCA centre here, BUT ... I've never known the YMCA to accommodate a band like the Rolling Stones. 
See here. You'll notice it claims the concert took place in the "YMCA Auditorium."  
The only thing that might explain this is that the local arena was named the YMCA Auditorium. 
In my mind, it can't be. Nothing called an auditorium could accommodate such an event, and I swear this was a hockey arena with ice machines in the bowels of it - where I did the interview. 
Granted, it was Ottawa ... but no "auditorium" could possibly accommodate the Stones who, on the previous night, had played the Montreal Forum - also a hockey arena. 
Whatever ... 
(He does further research and apparently the YMCA auditorium was used for hockey games. So there).
2. Nick Jones (Pointed Sticks)

The Pointed Sticks in Japan, 2006: Hey Nick, is that the hat?

Nevermind this one-degree-of-familial-separation stuff: at least one person playing Keithmas this Saturday has plenty of direct contact with the Rolling Stones, that being Nick Jones, singer of the Pointed Sticks, who has one of the most rock'n'roll straight jobs ever, as a tour merchandiser, selling t-shirts and stuff, including for the Rolling Stones. "I was on the road with them for every tour from 1989 Steel Wheels to 2006 Bigger Bang," he writes. "Probably upwards of 300 shows. During that time we grossed hundreds of millions of $ in merchandise sales, I've bought them a few houses. As for direct interaction, mostly with Charlie, as he had the most interest in the swag, but with all of the others as well. Keith actually lent me a hat to wear in Japan on our first gigs back."

How was Keith?

"Very friendly, but almost unintelligible . His guy Tony Russell is kind of an interpreter. He lent me the hat so I could look like a cool rockstar, of course! No photo of the hat" (...unless I just found one in the tour photos from Japan that the Pointed Sticks sent me back in the day - here's another few!).

Allan: So what are your favourite Stones moments on record?

Nick: I was hearing their singles on my transistor radio right from the very start, but the first actual LP I bought was Get Yer Ya Yas out. Still a master class in the art of playing rythmn guitar. I saw Gimme Shelter when it came out at the Totem theatre in North Van, and that also made a huge impression on me. I believe that the studio version of "Gimme Shelter" is the apex of rock and roll recordings. It simply has every element in spades. 

I know we disagree about the cleaned up Exile on Main St, that you like the glorious swampiness of the original while I like it cleaned up, but... Have you tried to listen to the remaster and actually not liked it - or is it a "disagree in principle" kinda thing? 

No, I did hear it. Jaggers' vocals are way too loud. The record was recorded in a swamp, so it should sound that way. I saw that show, btw. June 3rd, 1972 at the PNE Coliseum.

Whoa! (I was four). So what will the Pointed Sticks be doing on Saturday? I assume Stones covers are the order of the day - how are they portioned out? Which band gets which? Have the Stones ever been part of the Sticks set before? 

Ah, the old Sticks and Stones joke... perfect title for our EP of Stones covers. Way back when, in the Cave days, we played "Stupid Girl" and "Ride On Baby," and we recently (2009) played "Out Of Time" in Calgary with Art Bergmann singing it with us. None of those are on the list for Saturday, but the era is correct. There was a group message where all the bands claimed their choices, we got in very, very early, and claimed the ones we wanted. That being said, we picked a couple of pretty obscure songs. Keithmas John said he thought that at least two of our songs had never been attempted at previous Keithmas shows.

Any big news besides the upcoming European tour and the show at the Fox tomorrow? Any special plans for that...? 

The Fox show is going to be a gas. We always make sure that we have a great roster of support acts, and this time is no exception. Vanrays are pretty hard charging soul stylists, members from Swank, Big Top and some other bands, and the Murphy Brothers are legends in the roots/ rockabilly community in Vancouver [Sean Butch Murphy is a veteran of the Nervous Fellas, but I don't know the others]. I have only seen the two bands on video, but both look amazing, and the bill is very diverse. Our European tour, after 40 years, is set to start in Spain in March. We still can't actually believe this is going to happen, but there are 14 dates booked, so I guess it is. So many of our friends have offered their skills as roadies, we'd need three tour buses to hold them all. I'm surprised you haven't put in a bid to be our embedded journalist! We know that the people coming to see us over there will be 99% fans of the original records, so our set at the Fox this Friday is kind of a warm up for that. We've made two LPs and two 45's of new music since 2006, and to keep ourselves interested, we always play a good amount from those records, as well as a few covers. But this year, its gonna be the greatest hits, baby! All your favourites, banged out in inimitable PS style. Oh, and maybe a Polly cover at the end.

Just out of curiosity, are you at all self-conscious that you're going to be performing "The Marching Song," with its lyrics about "Germany in '43," to a German audience? 

I hadn't thought about that, but no. Ok, maybe now you brought it up. Thanks Allan....jeez...

3. The SLIP~ons 

I love the SLIP~ons. I've even shot some video of them! If I could have programmed the opening acts for Slow, a couple of weeks ago, they would have been way up there, along with maybe a resurrected Jolts (no word on which yet, but we miss you, Joey! Come back!). The Slow encore set in particular - including "Pills," which, speaking of Polly, the SLIP~ons did an awesome version of at the Paul Leahy memorial event at the Rickshaw awhile ago - was very much the sort of thing the SLIP~ons excel at, though they throw in more contemporary covers, too (or at least contemporary for guys in their mid-to-late-40s, like, say, the Replacements, a staple of their covers and a band they very much bring to mind when playing live). 

Rob of the SLIP~ons, pictured left, says his favourite Keef moment was "seeing the X-Pensive Winos play on Saturday Night Live in 1988. Best SNL performance - blew my mind!" He is partial to "Take It So Hard" of Keith's solo material, and, Stones-wise, Out of Our Heads, Sticky Fingers, Some Girls, and Tattoo You.  As with Adam Payne above, he's never had a chance to see the Stones live, but says Keith (Keef) "seems like the coolest dude" based on the documentary about him. "I would like to have a  beer with him and talk Fender Teles and amps!"

Brock, meanwhile (pictured center) agrees with Nick Jones, above, about Exile ("I generally prefer murky originals to remasters - overcompression and extreme equalization alter how things were meant to sound, to my ears." 

While the band was pretty socialistic about which songs to do for Keithmas, Brock insisted on "Ruby Tuesday," "as it was the Billboard #1 the year I was born." Publicist Joelle May, Brock's girlfriend, suggested "Tumbling Dice," which Brock thought would be awesome with "Miss Quincy and a couple of big singers" (alas, Miss Quincy is in Australia at present, so she won't be joining them; I am actually not sure if that means they're going to scrap the song, but the SLIP~ons doing Exile-era Stones would be a delight). Rob was wanting to do some '60's stones, so "Last Time" ended up a pick (with Jay Solyom on drums, as regular SLIP~ons drummer Shane is unavailable for Keithmas). But finding out what songs the SLIP~ons are going to do is not going to ruin the surprise at all of HOW they will do them... there's a degree of real rock'n'roll anarchy to their performances that suits the material perfectly. 

And as for zero-degrees-of-separation stories of the Stones, Brock recalls "working beside Charlie's drum riser at BC Place one of the last times they played here. I noticed Charlie's kit had an old Speed King bass drum pedal. The heel plate was flipped over, as they often do on those old pedals, and I thought to myself, "this guy could have any gear in the world, and yet he still has the crappy old Speed King that probably came with the kit in 1965!"

The SLIP~ons have a new album coming out next year ("Way overdue" Rob chimes in) but for merch on Saturday will have shirts and hoodies at Keithmas. Brock adds: "Brian is mixing two songs which we plan to press up some vinyl of as soon as he's done, and Johnny Wildkat masters them." Meantime, see the SLIP~ons live!

4. Rich Hope and his Evil Doers

Rich Hope and Adrian Mack, by Cindy LeGrier, at Richards on Richards, opening for the Modernettes in 2007

I don't have enough hair left for a haircut, so I will never look as cool as Rich Hope's clientele - I just break out the clippers and ask Erika to shave me, when the time comes - but I've enjoyed his fiery blues-rock a ton, so much so that I actually brought my parents out the Railway to see him (in a slightly different permutation, the Blue Rich Rangers) when they were both still alive (I interviewed Rich about that unit here, quite some time ago). He's a kickass showman and a man who refuses to let a crowd slack; he'd be a great teacher, actually, because I bet he would motivate even the shyest, sleepiest students to give their all (especially if he was teaching a class in tappin' your foot, clappin' your hands, and whoopin'). And it's just perfect that Rich has done every single Keithmas to date (eight of 'em) and is closing the show at the Rickshaw on Saturday. I can't think of a better guy, locally, for the job. 

I put the usual questions to Rich and Adrian - have they seen the Stones? Any favourite moments? Anything special planned? And besides arguing with Mack about the merits of Sgt. Pepper's versus Their Satanic Majesties Request - see Part One, wherein I win, because it's my blog - we had the following interaction, with Mack and Rich responding to each other.

Adrian Mack: 
Never seen the Stones. The closest I've come to an encounter is thru Toronto-based musicians who have opened for them or been at rehearsals, but the stories have all been told -- Keith getting into a fist fight with Ronnie over the chords in "Gimme Shelter." Keith wandering around obliviously dropping hundreds of dollars of per diem cash in his wake. And I'm not even sure that I believe them anymore! I used a couple for a GS feature over 10 years ago and received a very mysterious letter from people claiming to be from the organization; it was so confidently scathing and seemingly well-informed that I took it to be the real thing. Maybe it was Nick!
Speaking of: I think both versions of Exile have their merits, actually. But I'll go further than either of you or Nick Jones: I prefer Sticky Fingers
The one track that nobody has ever done at Keithmas, but should have by now: "Mixed Emotions". Oh, and also "Connection", from Out of Their Heads. I'm very proud that we did "Undercover" a few years back. That was incredibly ballsy, and I think we nailed it.
Rich Hope:
I stand by the same stories as Mack - we heard 'em from the same people… 
My whole introduction to open tuning was listening to Keith. 
[Favourite Stones?] Exile. And I like the original on vinyl and the spruced up version if you’re listening to digital. I mean, why not? That’s why it was done.
Nick Jones: 
[He's] wrong, but what the hell. 
Allan: Rich, Adrian, any memorable moments from Keithmases past? 

Adrian Mack:
Most memorable performances for me: the Jolts doing anything, any year; the Prettys about three years ago were magnificent, and they stuck to '60s stuff, which I really appreciated (I think "19th Nervous Breakdown" was in there); La Chinga's "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from 2016 was insane; Johnny DeCourcey in 2015 (I think), showing up with his underage band and then leaving in a limo -- so good!! The Highway Kind finding the magnificence in "Doom and Gloom" back at the Fairview. Not an easy task, but they fucking did it. Whatever year it was that John Hewer grabbed a guitar and encored with us. I think we did "The Last Time"? It was very touching because his kid Evan (a former Jolt) played bass. I know it was a big moment for John. Maybe 2013? Rich? 
So many Kiethmases. My memory is shattered.
Rich Hope:
Yeah lotta great moments in there. I loved doing Some Girls album last year.

The Johnny De Courcey thing was so good.

 Rich Hope at Keithmas 2016, by Adam PW Smith, not to be reused without permission

5. John Hewer

Allan: I was reading that Keithmas was co-founded by James Hayden - that's Floor Tom Jones to DOA fans, right? (Best DOA drummer since... Dimwit? Card?). Is he still involved - is he playing in any bands? Are you? 

John: James aka Jimmy aka Floor Tom Jones played Keithmas last year as part of Greenback High. He was/is the lead singer/songwriter. They are a great power pop style band but alas are in hiatus of sorts and not performing this year. I am not in any of the bands. My claim to fame is that I played “The Last Time” with Rich Hope at Keithmas V. On that note my son has played six Keithmas’s so we keep it in the family.     

James Hayden with Greenback High, Keithmas 2016, by Adam PW Smith, not to be reused without permission

Have you ever seen the Stones play live? Any favourite Stones or Keef moments? Your own favourite album or period by them?

I have seen them two or three times, but unfortunately it was in their enormo dome phase. Favourite Stones song no question is the 45 of "Jumping Jack Flash." My sister had it when I was a kid and I used to play it on one of those record players with the penny-on-the-stylus self contained units. I defy anyone to write a more perfect rock and roll song than that. that riff, non-sensical lyrics hinting at rebellion and it’s in/out 3/12 minutes. Cannot be topped.

As for period, I fluctuate between ’72 Madison Gardens, Mick Taylor w/Jim Price and Bobby Keys, and the ’78 Some Girls Fort Worth era. Both rock and roll to the bone.

How many bands asked you to play this year? How did you select the final lineup? Are there any bands you haven't seen live before? 

Well we end up with nine bands. We definitely had a bunch of bands that asked that don’t make it for one reason or another. I’m the ultimate arbiter so what i say goes for good or bad. This year I have actually seen all the bands. That is not always the case. Originally we had Dopey’s Robe, a cool '60’s garage/reverb/surf but totally now type band but they dropped out at the last minute. I’d never seen them but I dug their stuff. I always try and get some “younger” bands because I don’t want this to be an oldies/ cover band show. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. This year’s lineup top to bottom is really heavy. Only bummer is the aforementioned lack of “hip” new band(s).

I love that Rich is a constant. He's perfect. Any favourite memories of his performances? (Ever get your hair cut by him? I would, except I don't have any). 

First, yes to the haircut. Yesterday in fact. Rich has become a good friend and I just was getting to know him when we started this eight years ago so that right there is a great memory. Performance-wise I think last year was pretty special. He did all Some Girls-era and it was like he got shot out fo a cannon. Otherwise, probably more favourite, is this, from Keithmas 3, "When the Whip Comes Down." As good as seeing the Stones.

La Chinga also seems perfect for this... they've done it a few times, right? 

As early as Keithmas 1, when it was the Poolhall Gospel. Has really stepped it up this year.

Who or what are the Knast? Have Seattle bands applied before? (Has the Keithmas tradition caught on in Seattle, or anywhere else, or is this still just a Vancouver thing? ...because I could see it spreading...). 

The Knast are the first out of town band we have had. Really good Who/Mod meets Manchester rock band who also love the Stones. I booked them with James a number of years ago when we were doing Fairview Pub shows and have always kept in touch. Their new record is fantastic.

Re: out of town shows, we almost had a Calgary Keithmas a couple of years ago but the guy bailed. Victoria has been looked at and we have support but we are all really busy and it’s a lot of work to put this together and keep it at the level and quality we want. Once people realize how much work it is generally they don’t follow up (not complaining!)

The Slip Ons are an AWESOME inclusion - is it their first year?

Yeah - they played Seger De Mayo this year and killed it so they were an obvious choice.

Is it the Pack AD's first year? (I know it is the Pointed Sticks...).
Yes and Yes, very excited about both. The first ‘punk” singles I bought as a high schooler were the DOA toetag single and "Out of Luck" by the Pointed Sticks and I loved that Pointed Sticks single to death - one of my fav songs from that era.

How do you ensure that people don't duplicate songs? Do people have to submit their picks first? Is there a pecking order as to who gets to choose first? 

It’s a free for all with me as referee if there are duplicates. Once I announce it bands just start picking. The running joke the first couple of year’s was La Chinga had their song choices in like July. I offer suggestions and ideas for some bands and the weird thing is they occasionally actually listen. Which is quite nice on their part.

How many years has Keithmas been at the Rickshaw now? (It was at the Fairview first, then the Electric Owl... has it been the Rickshaw since?). How did you convince Mo to waive the room rental? (Or did he volunteer?). 

Three years at the Fairview, two at the Electric Owl and three at the Rickshaw. Mo is just a really good guy with a good heart. He wants people and bands to be successful. And the fact that I believe we broke the drink sales record that first year, or so I’ve been told, didn’t hurt either.

I gather that there were prizes in the past including some of Keith Richards' pants! Any other acknowledgment from him? Does he know Keithmas exists? 

Re: Keef the closest we have got other than a pair of his pants was an acknowledgment from his Twitter Account last year...which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t monitor

Are there any cool prizes this year? 

There are a lot of great prizes like concert ticket packages, etc., but the best raffle prize is a Rolling Stones Lips logo PiƱata !

100% of Keithmas proceeds go to the Vancouver food bank! Phone your nearest record store to see if they still have tickets, it's almost sold out! Keithmas set times below - doors at 7pm, show at 8pm sharp! 

Merry Keithmas! Part one: bev davies, the Rolling Stones, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band vs. Their Satanic Majesties' Request

bev davies and I - she likes her name all in lowercase, unless you're just calling her by her first name, Bev - had just been discussing the Rolling Stones a few weeks ago. We're both fans. She had taken earlier photos, but some of her first major pics are from the Stones Toronto show in 1965, at Maple Leaf Gardens (left); she had been following their music for a year or so previously, having been introduced to it on a trip to England, which was also how she learned about the Beatles, before they were a sensation here. The top pic here is from the Stones' Toronto hotel, April 26th, 1965: "I was way too intimidated to go, 'Hey Brian, look up here,' so we have the top of Brian’s head," Bev explains. "And we have Keith’s head, and we have Mick looking at me." (Mick was the one for Bev, apparently). Then the bottom one is from a press conference the night before at Maple Leaf Gardens, in what looks to be some sort of changing room for hockey players. Imagine a brown haired teenage girl snapping these while press mill around busily - and then realize that that same girl (minus the brown) will be taking photos at Keithmas this Saturday. I mean, holy fuck, right?

Vancouver's pretty lucky to have her.

Left: the Rolling Stones by Bev Davies,
not to be reused without permission

Right: Bev Davies in London, 1963

The whole story - including Bev's meeting with Brian Jones, whom she visited along with Brian's lookalike Glynn Bell of Toronto garage group (and one-time all-Stones cover band) the Ugly Ducklings, will appear, a couple of issues from the current one, in Big Takeover magazine (81 has my Art feature part one, 82 will have Art part 2 and maybe a Slow thing, and 83 should have Bev... if things go to plan, which they may not!). As I say, there is some stuff on Bev in the current and probably final issue of BC Musician, print-only, and availalbe for free at selected record stores and venues right now (I've seen copies at the Fox and Neptoon almost always has it. It has a Jim Cummins cover painting, and a photo Bev took inside of Jim painting behind a K-Tels gig at the Cultch!). With BC Musician folding, though - sad, because they were pretty great! - I had to find another English-language home for Bev's story, and Jack at BT jumped at it...

Anyhow, when the Stones came up, we had been discussing the Beatles - whom Bev had also seen in Toronto, but without her camera. And it was interesting to learn that - as I think was the case with Lemmy, too - she liked the early Beatles best, and tuned out post-Rubber Soul. (I go one further in the sequence: my favourite Beatles album is Revolver, but - some fondness for Abbey Road aside, mostly because of "Here Comes the Sun" - there's not many other albums by them I spin, ever; more often than not my go-to Beatles-related album is John and Yoko's Some Time in New York City, which I admit is a bit perverse of me). It was great to bond with her on how overrated Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band seems. "I just didn’t think it was real,” she said. “I thought, they really want to jump on the bandwagon, don’t they? I thought it was really calculated."

Which is what I have always felt. Nevermind being generally annoyed by the kitschy vaudeville of Paul McCartney - like I would EVER want to put on a side of an album where "When I'm 64" pops up! - there's something insincere about Sgt. Pepper's. I don't care how many drugs they were doing, or how iconic some of the songs on it became, it lacks the spontaneity and surprise and flat-out weirdness that belong to the psychedelic experience: there is just too much mediation, too much "thinking-about" to capture something as immersive and experiential as an acid trip. Some of the best songs on it - Ringo's "With a Little Help From My Friends," not made great until Joe Cocker interpreted it at Woodstock, but still - aren't even remotely trippy. And hell, Lennon wouldn't even admit - EVER -  that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was about LSD, while the trippy stuff in "A Day in the Life" seems more like it is coming from a studied avant-garde compositional approach than a stoned jam (with Paul McCartney soft-shoeing his way into that song, too - not being too too "obladi" about it - it is actually my favourite "vaudeville Paul" moments - but still). Hearing Bev kinda dismiss Sgt. Peppers' was one of those great "yeaah!" moments, where someone you respect says something you always thought, but haven't ever talked to anyone about.

The Pointed Sticks, July 2 2016, by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

Nick Jones of the Pointed Sticks - also playing Keithmas this Saturday - is of a similar mind, it turns out. "Sgt Pepper's is among the most overrated LPs ever, and not even in my Beatles top five. I like the early stuff best." (We'll have more from Nick in part two of this, though - since I know he's an opinionated guy - I also asked him if he prefers the stereo or mono version of Their Satanic Majesties' Request - the Stones' "response" to the Beatles, and he says, " Its a psychedelic record. Stereo, obviously." I confess to never having compared the two closely - I know some albums fare REALLY well in mono - I won't listen to the Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society any other way, now that I've heard it).

So how does Bev feel about the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request? "I liked the idea that that was their answer to Sgt. Peppers. It was sort of more truthful than I thought the Beatles were at the time. People are going to hate me for saying this!"

Not me. I love Their Satanic Majesties Request. I have the original lenticular cover (a mono pressing, too). Anyone wanting to spend a hundred clams on a fun Christmas gift for me, buy me the deluxe reissue. Keith Richards is pretty dismissive about the album (and not so kind to acid, which Brian Jones was into in a major way) in Life, but I love pretty much all of Their Satanic Majesties' Request, can listen to it any day of the week.

What do other people involved in Keithmas think? If you could only pick one, would it be Sgt Pepper's, or Satanic Majesties?

The Rickshaw's Mo Tarmohamed won't commit, even off the record, but we share a big fondness for Revolver, it turns out. "I always thought Revolver was more groundbreaking," he writes, compared to Sgt. Pepper's - which I agree with."'Tomorrow Never Knows' was so different than anything else!"

(Personally, I'd rather Their Satanic Majesties over Revolver, too, but that's a bit apples-and-oranges, so we'll just leave Mo alone).

Rich Hope and His Evil Doers drummer and Straight writer/ movies editor Adrian Mack goes straight to the point, though: "If I was on a desert island, of course it would be Sgt. Pepper's. I'm not crazy."

(Rich Hope and his Evil Doers, Keithmas 2016, photo by Adam PW Smith - not to be reused without permission). 

And neither is Rich Hope - whose unit the Evil Doers has appeared at every Keithmas so far, and who will be present this Saturday, headlining. Rich is an awesome showman and the perfect dude to cover anything Keith Richards-related, so I am stoked to see him in this context (especially hearing that last year he tapped into some '80's Stones tunes, like the under-rated "Under Cover of the Night" - probably the last Stones album I really have paid attention to besides Blue and Lonesome (which is pretty great too). More from Rich in part two, but meantime, he agrees with his longtime collaborator. "I’d actually take Sgt. Pepper's only because its a way better record. I’ve never loved Satanic Majesties - except for 'Citadel.'"

Mack seconds "Citadel," and and remains adamant, no matter what I rant at him about the greatness of "She's a Rainbow" (or "2000 Light Years From Home," or...), about how Sgt. Pepper's reading The Psychedelic Experience and taking notes while Their Satanic Majesties is colouring on the walls with a crayon... I go on and on.  And score at least one point: "'She's a Rainbow' is wonderful, actually, agreed," Mack replies. "But the rest of what you just wrote is basically insane." He here gives a rare Mack emoticon: " :P " (which I believe indicates peeing on someone's colon). "Satanic Majesties isn't 'calculated?' Really?"

Well, okay, okay, the cover is calculated, sure. The decision to DO a psych record is calculated. Even some of the songs have every bit of crafted calculation as Sgt. Pepper's. But the moments I like most - check out "The Lantern" - sure don't feel that way!

As for Sgt. Pepper's, Mack continues: "I think it's an amazing record. Divinely inspired. it's certainly composed and artful, as you say. But I'm still listening, 37 years on from my first encounter. Satanic Majesties? Not so much."

All living members of the Rolling Stones would probably agree with him (though I suspect Bev's friend Anton Newcombe would be in our corner, and Genesis P-Orridge, and bev and I are prolly making the ghost of Brian Jones real happy, too). But I don't want Bev to feel, like, isolated on this point, so I put the question to Keithmas co-founder John Hewer: Sgt. Pepper's or Satanic Majesties?

"It’s much easier than you would think. I have never given two fucks for Sgt Pepper's. Never owned it and never listened to it all the way through. In some ways one of the worst things that could have happened to rock and roll. On the other hand I had the original holographic cover Majesties and for all the shit that record has received I defy another band to come up with 'Citadel,' 'She’s a Rainbow' and '2000 Light Years from home' and have it considered their worst album!"

Now we're talking! Take that, Mack and Hope! Satan for the win!

Part Two of my Keithmas interviews will appear presently, also with more from John Hewer, but meantime, which do you prefer, Sgt. Pepper's or Their Satanic Majesties Request? (And feel free to specify mono or stereo!).

Note: Keithmas 8 tickets are nearly sold out but there were still some at Red Cat yesterday, and maybe at other stores too! Facebook event page here

Bev, Erika and I, plus Art Bergmann, and some other photos

Isn't this a sweet pic? Bev, Erika, and me in the mirror in back at a Vietnamese place on Kingsway (GT something or other). There were others, but alas, they're lost: my fucking phone decided to synch with Google Images, which I'd deleted a bunch of stuff from when I discovered that a billion photos of mine were stored online where I had only wanted them stored on my phone or places I put them (I really, really don't like things being done automatically on my behalf, you know? Nine out of ten times I have to turn it off and undo it - autocorrect, autosuggest, etc. I hadn't even KNOWN my photos were being backed up to Google Images until they wrote me to tell me that my Google Images drive was nearly full and they were going to have to charge me money for more space. What? It took me an hour to figure out how to just clear Google Images, wincing at seeing photos - because I had plenty of Mom's last week in hospital before she died - that I didn't necessarily want to see, which I have already backed up in plenty of places here without Google's help). But though I turned the synch function off during that process, a bunch of photos - quite randomly selected by Google, apparently - suddenly disappeared from my phone when I erased them from the Google Images drive (others, of course, mysteriously appeared, including ones I had deleted from my phone months ago). Sad part is, as with others in this series  - there were about five of them - some are now lost forever. I don't even remember what they were. Just leave my stuff alone, guys! Let me manage my own images!

Anyhow, luckily this one pic, which I quite love, was stored to Facebook. And now I am putting it here, for protection. (Luckily when I deleted stuff from Google Images it didn't take those photos from my social media sites too, or this blog).

I had a bunch of other shots of this rather lovely dumpster, too, in an alley near Main and Broadway, kinda in back of where Aunt Leah's Urban Thrift is, by another thrift store that sells clothing by the pound (!). I put them on Facebook, but fuggit, they'll stay there I guess, until Facebook decides to do something with them.

Erika and I both like owls.

I really have been enjoying hanging out with Bev lately. We have part one of a two-part interview that will remain unfinished in the current (and supposedly final) BC Musician, which you can find around town (Neptoon usually has them, and the Fox had a stack). There is stuff in the works to use the interview that did NOT appear in BC Musician in a future Big Takeover. In the meantime, there's a big Art Bergmann feature I did in the current issue, #81. It's part one of two, and Art is happy with it indeed (though apparently I fucked up in transcribing some stuff; I was dealing with crappy audio, and a couple things I quoted him was saying, like "it's a life thing," are nothing he would say, he tells me. Must have misheard the tape!).

Meantime, here are some photos of me and Tybalt. He almost never reacts to images of himself, when I hold the phone close to him - maybe it's a vision thing - but in this case, the phone was far enough away, when I held it up for a selfie, that he got very curious: hey, look at that tiny cat over there? Who could that be? He stalked forward on the couch, intently staring (in his slightly cockeyed way) into the phone, very interested, and I got this rather priceless series, saying in "human-to-cat" tones, "Who's that? Is that another cat? No, look - it's you! See? It's you!"

A few of these were lost too (the ones I didn't post to Facebook). But you get the idea.

Later that night, I could hear Tybalt barfing - that distinctive wheezing thing he does, followed by the definite sound of a liquid being regurgitated. I was in bed at that point, and Erika was off visiting family for the night. I don't know what she would have done, but I was not about to get out of bed in the middle of the night to try and find the catbarf. I figured it would be easy enough to see once the morning came. But come the day, no catbarf revealed itself. As someone suggested on FB, maybe he ate it again? We never did locate it, but we had a fun, documented chat about it, Tybalt and I. "Did you barf, Tybalt? Where did you barf?"

Anyhow, there's some photos - Bev, Erika, me, an' the cat. Now to do something on Keithmas...