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Archive for October, 2013

Haunted Playlist

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

So it’s Halloween. But somehow, in the midst of stringing up cobwebs and planting your yard with coffins in preparation for your big party, you’ve overlooked what might actually be the most important element: the music.

It’s always an easy fix to just throw on a recording of spooky sounds – or, perhaps even more predictably, to just put on “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” on repeat – but if you’re looking for something a little more unique, a party mix that incorporates some specifically Canadian spookiness, then maybe these tunes will help get you started.

PAT LEPOIDEVIN – “GHOST OF CARBISDALE CASTLE”

Vancouver-born troubadour Pat LePoidevin brings us this spooky track, along with a video of sprinting and biking sheet-clad spirits that was filmed right in the heart of the great Canadian North – that is, Front Street in Dawson City, Yukon. He recently wrapped up a performance at Halifax Pop Explosion, but you can still catch him later this week at shows in Moncton, New Brunswick, and in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where he’ll be promoting his latest album, American Fiction.

Ghostz- rough cut from Oh Aubyn on Vimeo.

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NEKO CASE – “THINGS THAT SCARE ME”

Neko Case may have been born in Virginia, but we’ll give her honorary placement on this list for the time she put in in Vancouver – first as a student at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and then later for her work with Canadian indie rock staples The New Pornographers and The Sadies. This creepy little ditty comes from her 2002 album, Blacklisted.

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FEIST – “GRAVEYARD”

This song comes from multi-JUNO Award-winner Leslie Feist’s most recent album, Metals, which itself won the 2012 JUNO Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year and features fellow Canadian crooner Chilly Gonzales. It’s a mellow track about zombies – OK, well maybe not about zombies per se, but it does reference bringing people back to life in the graveyard, which is practically the same thing. Great music for all you necromancers out there.

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BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE – “ROMANCE TO THE GRAVE”

Speaking of both Feist and graves, we couldn’t omit this little number, “Romance to the Grave,” courtesy of her primary collaborative collective, Toronto’s Broken Social Scene. This song comes from the band’s 2010 release, Forgiveness Rock Record, their fourth and final studio album to date. It was a No. 1 chart topper in Canada and , in addition to Feist, also featured guest appearances by Emily Haines and Scott Kannberg of Pavement, among others. This song is sure to add some romance to your spooky night.

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MATT MAXWELL – “C’EST L’HALLOWEEN”

Finally, what Canadian Halloween playlist would be complete without a little shout out to our francophone friends? This song may be familiar to those who attended elementary school French classes and was actually written in 1981 by a young teacher named Matt Maxwell. It turned out to be such a hit that he eventually left his teaching job to begin a 15-year career as a children’s performer. Thousands of concerts, six albums and a JUNO Award nomination later, it seems like he made the right career choice.

Have a happy Halloween!

This Week in Music History: October 28 to November 3

Posted on: October 29th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

HANK SNOW GETS HIS BIG BREAK

By the time Hank Snow was 22 years old, he had already lived quite a life. Born in Nova Scotia to a working class family who struggled to make ends meet, he suffered at the hands of an abusive stepfather and grandfather. The frequent beatings were enough to drive him away from home when he was just 12 years old. He found a job on the high seas, serving as a cabin boy on a fishing schooner, but it wasn’t easy work and when a storm nearly wrecked the ship off of Sable Island, the graveyard of the Atlantic, the young Snow decided he’d rather live on land. He headed back home to his mother and stepfather, where he picked up a new job selling fish door to door.

Luckily, his parents had also given him a love of music. His father sang and his mother played piano at silent film screenings. Snow bought his first guitar from the Eaton’s catalogue as a teenager and he was soon ready to make his public debut: playing in blackface at a charity minstrel show in Bridgewater, N.S. The performance earned him a standing ovation. Before long, he would be playing a regular Saturday night gig for a local Halifax radio station – this time, without the racist face paint.

It was during this week in 1936 that Snow finally got his big break as a 22-year-old: an audition with RCA Victor in Montreal. It was the beginning of a 45-year relationship with the label. Snow would go on to record more than 100 albums, land a weekly spot on CBC Radio and become a featured star on the “Grand Ole Opry” (it was Snow who convinced them to let Elvis Presley appear and who introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker). He scored more than 80 hits on the Billboard country charts and made it all the way to the top on seven different occasions. He was one of the most famous and beloved country singers of all time.

In 1979, Hank Snow was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He called it “the highest honour I feel I could ever hope to have in a lifetime.” He passed away in 1999 at the age of 85.

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SHIRLEY MATTHEWS AND THE YONGE STREET STRIP

One of the hottest spots in 1960s Toronto was an after-hours soul club on the Yonge Street strip. Club Bluenote was where all of the local rock and soul musicians would meet after their regular gigs, jamming with an all-star house band long into the night. Visiting musicians would make regular appearances too, stopping by while they were in town on tour. At the Bluenote, the best acts in Toronto shared the stage with legends such as Stevie Wonder, Jackie Wilson and The Supremes. Edwin Starr once called it his favourite music venue in the world.

The Bluenote’s house bands produced some of the city’s finest musical talents and one of them was Shirley Matthews. She got her start performing at night on Toronto’s high-school dance circuit after spending her days working as a switchboard operator for Bell. But it was singing with the Bluenote’s house band that led to her own solo career. Her biggest hit was a handclapping showstopper of a tune called “Big Town Boy,” which would also launch a recording career for her backing band (they took their name from the song and went on to become one of the city’s best fuzzed-up rock acts).

It was on Halloween of 1963 that Matthews appeared on CBC’s “Music Hop” show, hosted by Alex Trebek. That evening, she performed “Big Town Boy” on television sets across the country.

Songs in the Key of Fashion

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

Toronto is a good-looking town, but this week it seems even more stylish than usual. I keep seeing these well-dressed young men and these women who are well over six feet tall – all with the bone structure of runway models. Then it hit me: it’s fashion week here in the city. Well, fashion and music have always gone hand in hand, so this week I thought we’d take a look at some tunes that pay homage to sartorial finery.

DAVID BOWIE – “FASHION”

Obviously. You can’t talk about music and fashion without including this track from David Bowie’s 1980 album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). It was the second single from the disc, after “Ashes to Ashes,” and it features the guitar riffs of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. The music video, below, was shot at famous New York City nightclub Hurrah, renowned for its punk, new wave and industrial music.

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BRYAN ADAMS – “FITS YA GOOD”

We certainly can’t talk fashion without reference to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s 2006 inductee, Mr. Bryan Adams, who is not just a musician, but is also a respected photographer – particularly of the fashion photo variety. He’s shot ad campaigns for brands like Guess Jeans, Fred Perry and Escada, and has had his editorial work featured in big-name fashion publications like Vogue. He even founded the art fashion publication Zoo Magazine. Not too bad for a kid from Kingston, Ontario. Check out Adams’ live performance of “Fits Ya Good” from his second album, You Want It, You Got It, here.

Bryan Adams and Vogue Germany editor Christiane Arp

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FELIX DA HOUSECAT – “READY 2 WEAR”

Felix Da Housecat (a.k.a. Electrikboy, a.k.a. Sharkimaxx, a.k.a. Aphrohead) is a Chicago-born producer and DJ. This track comes from his second studio album, 2004’s Devin Dazzle & The Neon Fever. It’s basically the kind of song I picture models listening to to get themselves psyched up before they head on down the runway. If they even do that sort of thing. I have no idea.

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SHANIA TWAIN – “COAT OF MANY COLORS”

Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s 2011 inductee and officer of the Order of Canada, Ms. Shania Twain. Here she is, live at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006, covering Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” I guess this is really more of an “anti-fashion” song, since (as the lyrics detail) the kids at school mocked her for her sewn-up patchwork coat. Maybe that’s what fashion is really about: having the guts to go your own way and wear what you want. I’m sure there’s a morality tale in there somewhere (I just may have missed it completely).

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LEONARD COHEN – “CAME SO FAR FOR BEAUTY”

Last but not least, here is the Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s 1991 inductee, Leonard Cohen, singing a song that might not be about fashion or fashion shows per se, but that can certainly be interpreted that way – and which, when it is, takes on a certain ironic humour that I’m sure he didn’t intend. But that’s the beauty of fashion, isn’t it? It lets you see something old through new eyes again.

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