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June 2005 Archives

June 2, 2005

Joss Stone & Raul Midon at Massey Hall

There were two audiences at Joss Stone's Massey Hall concert last night. The first was the Clinton generation - older but not old urban professionals with public radio tuned in on the stereos of their SUVs. The second appeared to be their daughters - trendy teenagers with hip scarves and a propensity for screaming. It was hard to decide who to side with, the wildly gyrating teenage dancers or the slightly crotchity CBC fans who kept glaring at them to sit down and actually listen to the music. It was clear, however, that Joss herself was playing to the fans her own age.

Fortunately for the yuppies, there was definitely something on the schedule for them. The show opened with a solo set by Raul Midon, a vocalist in the Bobby McFerrin tradiditon. "Solo" almost seems like a misnomer in this case. It was one man up there with nothing but a guitar, but he pounded out rhythm lines on the guitar effortlessly and was able to vocally recreate an entire horn section, so it seemed like a much larger band. He fused genres and styles effortlessly, under a Latin umbrella.

At times, the vocal manipulations pushed him over the edge into novelty act, but the strength of his vocals - when he wasn't attempting a falsetto he just doesn't have - and musicianship and songwriting should be more than sufficient to support a conventional approach. Avoiding even a hint of "novelty act" seems especially important given that Raul is blind. He has the chops to be taken seriously as a musician, and should take care to avoid being misbranded. When his album comes out later this year, I can see him becoming the NPR poster child of the year - eclectic and interesting, he should hold significant appeal.

Joss Stone is a stellar vocalist, with range and control that would be the envy of singers twice her age. Unfortunately, she mixed that with the stage show that was blend of pop idol and karaoke host. In a set that lasted just over an hour, she sang only 8 songs. I use the word sang here loosely. A good portion of the vocal heavy lifting was left to her back-up singers who carried most of the melodies while Joss herself threw in occasional bits of coloratura. She didn't have time to sing much more than that, because she was far too busy running from one side of the stage to the other trying to convince the audience to sing or clap or scream.

The moments where she actually stopped and sang - especially on Right to Be Wrong - were intense and beautiful and all too rare. Her 6 song main show was dragged out over an hour, followed by several minutes of screaming while we waited for her to appear for an encore, which was, fortunately, another strong vocal moment - Spoiled. Then, after a one song encore, she disappeared for another few minutes to draw even more screaming and finished with Some Kind of Wonderful as a pointlessly painful audience singalong.

There's no doubt that Joss is tremendously confident on stage and has personality to spare. Despite pushing many of my 'shut up and sing' hotbuttons, there were moments of genuine warmth and good humour throughout the night. An audience member who had earlier been forced into the spotlight was hand delivered a flower and a kiss when she was tossing bouquets to the audience. She shot a sideways glare at an audience member who had given her a lighter she couldn't get to work during Right to Be Wrong. She kicked back on the drum stand for a moment of relaxation and a sip of tea then mimiced surprise at realizing the audience was still watching her. Small moments like these shone through the artificial enthusiasm of all the 'Are you having fun yet?' cliches.

Walking out the door, the audience was still separated. The yuppies were grumbling about not being able to hear the vocals over the screaming and the drums and asking incredulously if she'd really only sung 8 songs. The kids were ecstatic and excited from the energy of the event. I wanted to side with the kids, to be absorbed into that group high that can make live music so intoxicating, but ultimately there was so little music involved in this high that I just couldn't get up there.

June 13, 2005

TwangFest - a Chowhound perspective

I have much more to say on the subject of TwangFest, but this is the post I made to chowhound regarding the food:

Thanks much to the Chowhounds for offering advice on where to eat in St Louis for Twangfest. As expected, I didn't have a lot of control over the choices, but I did get to drive some dining decisions.

The first day, because I'd just checked into the hotel, I had lunch at the Indian Palace at Howard Johnson's. There was a strong variety of dishes, but they clearly have a much better handle on the vegetarian dishes (aloo beans, outstanding saag, and a really great turnip curry that I forget the name on) than the meat dishes (blah tandoori chicken, a curried meatball dish with no discernable flavour). The quality of the naan was variable, depending on how long it had been sitting in the heat tray. Some of it was quite good, but most of it was truly terrible.

We had dinner that night at the Schlafly Taproom, where they served my burger vastly overcooked - but I believe this to have been a minor error, as it appeared my burger had simply been reversed with that of another person at my table before they applied the toppings. The side dish was a very strange coleslaw that appeared to have been partially cooked. It lacked the flavour that would have been needed to make up for the texture. The foreigners at the table were, at least temporarily, forced to stop mocking American beer during the meal, since Schlafly's does pull a fine pint. Since the music was at the Taproom that night, and I was gifted with an overabundance of free drink tickets by the TwangGang, I was able to continue sampling those drafts all night.

Thursday, we planned to go to Vietnam Star for dinner, since one of my roomies in the Celebrity Dorm Room has a long lived love affair with their Tamarind Tofu, but unfortunately, it had closed - that very afternoon - for a week of reservations. Instead, we ended up at a passable, but non-descript Thai place a couple of blocks from Blueberry Hill. It was so non-descript that I don't even remember what it was called, but it was on the same side of the same street as Blueberry Hill.

Friday lunch was whatever we could find around Saratoga lanes. I pilfered takeout from Cafe Maya from various other Twangfesters, and while I found all of it good and different, none of it blew me away.

Friday dinner was the culinary highlight of the trip. We went to Saleem's for Lebanese and it was outstanding. The mowzaat was exceptionally good. The lamb was braised to perfection, soft and sweet and spicy and lovely. Beef kefta was not as good as my favourite at 93 Harbord in Toronto, but was still wonderful and very generous. The falafel was some of the best I've had - perfect crunch and an excellent balance of flavours.

Saturday events were at another Schlafly venue - the Bottleworks, and let me just take a moment to express my immense appreciation for the concepts that the Schlafly people are working from. The idea of local agriculture, farmer's markets, kitchen gardens, community event spaces, all of that stuff, makes for real deliciousness. I got a chance to try the sticky toffee pudding, which was a real treat. Normally, I find desserts like that sickly and overly sweet, but this one was so finely balanced between sweet and spicy and creamy that you hardly even noticed the sugar content. It was a real gem of a dessert. For my actual lunch, I ordered the most mature and elegant dish I could find on the menu - a grilled cheese sandwich. Schlafly's Grilled Cheese, like everything else, was well worth a look. Grilled on thick cut beer raised bread with a mix of cheese, this is not the kind of sandwich you'd feed your five year old. It was great stuff. I didn't care as much for the green and grains salad that I ordered with it - I found the greens a bit bitter, and that the grain mixture which was supposed to dress them lacked much in the way of flavour at all.

Sunday lunch was at the Indian Palace again, as some of the other TwangFesters had wanted to get up there and hadn't made it yet. The same observation about veggies being better than meat dishes held true, though their goat curry was a step up from most of the meat dishes. The tandoori chicken was even more pointless than I remembered from the first time, and naan almost entirely on the terrible side of too long in the steam tray. The wasn't any saag, but there was a saag like dish, with chick peas in it that was even better.

All that, plus a trip to Penzey's to remember it by. It was a good chow experience.

June 14, 2005

TwangFest Stream of Conciousness

Originally posted to the Fluff-list, these are thoughts from the fest:

Man, it's 11:30 in Toronto, which, would is like, noon Twangfest time, and I'm thinking that what with the lack of sleep I've had over the last few days, I should really ought to get to bed, but somehow something feels like its missing. Possibly it's the lack of PBR buzz, or the fact that I haven't hugged Alex yet tonight, or that it just seems so damned lonely in here without Jamie, Linda and Louise.

I walked into HoJos on Wednesday morning, more than a little nervous and unsure what to expect. I mean, y'all are a little bit nutty on the list, ya know? I was worried that you might turn out to be even nuttier in person. And I feel truly thankful that all my worst fears were realized. You people are insane. Every last one of you. And goddamnit I do love you for that. Does that make me insane, too? I'm not sure.

The whole weekend was a rush of introductions, and I feel terrible about all the people I almost instantly forgot after being introduced.

I have a notepaper full of twangfest notes - things I wanted to remember to maybe write about later, or to remind myself of things - that are rather stream of conciousness but nonetheless sort of amusing. They may be out of order since they weren't exactly scrawled on the page in straight lines.

- Indian palace - veggies better, what's with naan issues. Saaaaaaaag!
- Louise, too cute, Elderberries.
- Well, that was awkward and uncomfortable. Thank god it's done, though.
- Jamie, food, holy shit. Apple butter, how did she know?
- Celebrity Dorm Room.
- Carl Zimring = Mathowie. No really. Corich?
- OMG! Nena and Barry!
- Could Milton Mapes be less interesting?
- TMP Whee!
- Mike = local = did I need to meet more people?
- Why do Americans always want to talk about socialized health care?
- Cigar smoking assholes.
- Marie is a goddess.
- Why do they drink this shit?
- All the stories about Roy Kasten are true. Who'd've guessed?
- I'm just calling them all Jim. It's easier that way.
- No tamarind tofu. Sad.
- Must stop extolling virtues of Deco detailing as if I have any idea
what I'm talking about. Sounds snotty.
- Rough Shop, yay. Not shod.
- Ear plugs. Jesus. How dumb.
- Supersuckers = not as suck as I might have expected. Must learn to
like the rawk.
- Ego / respect / Eddie.
- Meshel likes my truffles. Yay!
- Why does everyone get that invitation but me? I'd totally say yes.
This is probably a bad sign. Must get help.
- 73. Ouch. Take up smoking?
- Sorry Heather!
- Bowling Stones r0x0r. Best set of the week so far.
- full service twang gang
- Stop staring. Tacky.
- Why do they drink this shit?
- Nora O'Connor, fucking great shoes.
- Hurt. Pain. Floor. Oww. This is why.
- Halter dress. Lovely. Good hair.
- How does Jamie manage to look that good this late at night?
- Moot Davis = Chris Isaak - TV show.
- No bathroom issues. Amazing.
- Must have sandwich.
- Fugging rain.
- Johnny Horton. Wow.
- Oh my god, Penzeys! $68. Crystallized ginger, fucking amazing. Want
to remake truffles better this time. What is this going to look like
on my customs declaration? Are spices an agricultural product? If they
confiscate this stuff, I'll cry.
- They hate me, that's why. Or I have bad timing. But probably they hate me.
- Awwwww. Ducky!
- Steve Dawson, yay.
- Shlay-seer. It's not that hard.
- Mowzaat. Must tell chowhound. Zowie.
- Are all the list bands this good?
- Wow. Pictures. Geek.
- Bottle Rockets. Finally, a band I actually know. I am way too
amateur hour to be here.
- Loves the Neko. Looks grumpy though.
- Hell, no, Roy. Smart man, that Jim.
- Jello.
- Straight vodka actually much stronger than orange stuff. Should not
have needed three shots of crap vodka to prove this. Next year, bring
own bottle.
- Tiara!
- If Jamie doesn't marry Earl, can I?
- Next person who makes me say 'about' gets punched in the nads.
Unless they don't have nads.
- Marie is a goddess. May have already mentioned this.
- Bill Silvers officially most adorable man at Twangfest. Maggie Jones
gets most adorable female. Glows like she's radioactive.
- How does HoJo let us get away with this?
- Well, that explains that.

That's the end of my stream of consciousness thoughts from the weekend.

Relevent links:

Actual Twang

TwangFest, the music and other things official-like, a companion piece to my TwangChow posting on Chowhound, and the TwangMush note to the fluff list. Because one weekend should never be summed up in a single post.

First night at the Tap Room started on a quiet, touching yet funny note with the Dan Bentele tribute. The P2 message that his brother read out was actually one of the first things I ever read on P2 - since I originally subbed the list during that particular TwangFest, and not much else was posted while it was happening. I never knew Dan personally, but based on all the things people said that night, I know that I really missed out on a special experience.

Surprisingly, the evening immediately took a more somber turn. What's more depressing than a tribute to a much loved, deceased member of the Twang family? Milton Mapes.

Jon Dee Graham picked things up with a much more energetic set, and was the first artist to make it onto my 'must buy CDs' list, though I wasn't actually buying them at the Merch tables for currency conversion reasons.

I've long enjoyed The Meat Purveyors, and it was a fun set from them. They're just so danged entertaining all the time. I'd have put them on my 'must buy CDs' list, except I already have some.

On Thursday, I enjoyed Rough Shop quite a lot, though I'm still having trouble mentally wrapping my head around the fact that the band isn't named Roughshod. Maybe y'all could change that, or something? They're on the 'must buy CD list', they just need to release one, and I'll buy

I have absolutely no recollection of Richmond Fontaine at all. None. This is not a good sign, especially, as I wasn't drinking. I'm pretty sure I was there, but they just completely failed to make any sort of impression on me at all.

I enjoyed the Supersuckers a lot more than I expected. The country set was great, and certainly up my alley, but I had expected the rock set to be lame, loud and annoying. I'm so not down with the rawk. I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it actually was. As a personality, Eddie puts on a hell of a show, and he manages to act big and brash without actually riding roughshod (see, there it is!) over the rest of the band. Cocky and respectful, it's a tough combination, but there it was. I can't imagine buying an album of the rawk and listening to it in my car, but as a party experience it was hella good.

Twangpin was way too much fun. I particularly enjoyed the Roy Kasten theory of cigarettes and strikes. I also enjoyed the Bowling Stones set. That was one of the most entertaining sets of the whole weekend. Can we nominate Michelle for American Idol instead of that Carrie chick?

On Friday, we missed the large majority of Matt Grimm due to being caught up in the delights of Saleem's excellent Lebanese cuisine.

Nora O'Connor was like the exact opposite of Eddie Spaghetti. Does the TwangGang hand out humility pills to all the openers? Not everyone needs to think they're in the greatest band in the world, but man 'We'll do two more songs then get out of your way' is pretty lame when
people came to see you - and Nora wasn't the only one guilty of this sort of thing. Nora's set was the kind of quiet songwriting that I would buy an album of to listen to in my car, though. Plus, she had fabulous shoes.

I enjoyed the Moot Davis set despite thinking much of the time that I probably shouldn't enjoy the Moot Davis set. The resemblance to all things Chris Isaak was very strong. I hear he wants to be an actor, too.

Big Sandy was entertaining and technically proficient, but in a totally non-engaging sort of way. He just seems like a really, really good wedding singer to me. I get what he's doing with the style and the retro, and certainly a lot of people were totally into it, but it just doesn't grab me hard and hold me tight. On the other hand, he attracts a fan base of beautifully outfitted retro hipsters that I enjoyed watching immensely. Some of the outfits in the Duck Room that
night were amazing.

I watched a lot of TwangClips on Saturday, periodically making it out to the parking lot, usually to discover that whatever band had been on had just stepped off. I did manage to catch a fair bit of Steve Dawson's set, though, and I'll add that to my 'release a CD and I'll buy it' list. Plus, he's totally teh kyute.

Saturday night was the most solid night for stuff I really enjoyed. It was wall to wall greatness. The Townsmen, who I actually tried to buy a CD from at the merch table but who WOULD. NOT. STOP. TALKING. TO. SOMEONE. ELSE, were great.

Brent Best's set, I enjoyed, despite having never been much of a Slobberbone fan. I hear their earlier stuff was better, which is perhaps where the disconnect comes from.

The Bottle Rockets were one of the few bands on the weekend that I actually had significant familiarity with, so that helped me really get into their set. Plus, the vibe of the hometown crowd during that set was really amazing.

Finally, there was Neko. I <3 the Neko, I really do. Even when she's grumpy like she was that night, I still <3 the Neko. It's always a crapshoot with her shows, whether it's going to be a belter, or a quiet show, or if she's bringing the rawk, and this was on the quiet end of the spectrum. Still a hell of a performance, especially from my vantage point at the front near the rail. Her pores are huge, though. Someone needs to design Neko a new skin care regimine.

June 15, 2005

Monster Sushi

I've vowed to try all the restaurants in the T&T Supermarket plaza at Warden and Steeles. Previously, I tried and enjoyed Pho Viet. Tonight, I made a visit to Monster Sushi, a Japanese/Korean resto around the back of the plaza next to the Boston Pizza.

There was nary a customer in the place when I walked in - which is never a good sign. Plus, they offer an all you can eat option - which is generally a worse sign.

I tried the restaurant, anyway.

I decided on the small Edamame appetizer, and the bulgoki/bulkogi/bulkoki/bulgogi (all spelling variants theirs) and sushi combo dinner, which I figured would give me a nice cross section of dishes.

First served was the saddest salad I've ever seen. The lettuce was gloppy and old looking and it was swimming in a vat of salad dressing. Not worth even thinking about eating.

Next came a dish of seaweed in a sweet red pepper sauce. Unfortunately, the seaweed had no flavour to speak of, and the sweet red pepper sauce simply added heat without adding much either. This just wasn't good. I didn't eat much of it, either.

Next came a dish of rice and the sizzling platter of bulgogi (let's just settle on that spelling, shall we?) which was actually quite tasty. While it seems like it must be a fast fry style dish, the beef had the texture of something that had been braised long and slow. It was tender and soft and very, very good. The flavour of the bulgogi was nice - a balance of sweetness and other flavours. It could have been a touch spicier, but otherwise, well done.

Shortly after the bulgogi, my appetizer of edamame arrived. It was a generous portion, but of some of the saddest looking edamame beans I've ever seen. The pods were all scarred and damaged looking. It tasted fine, but it wasn't much for presentation. The untouched salad bowl came in handy for disposing of shells, since I wasn't given anything to put them on.

With the edamame came miso soup, with one piece of mushroom, no tofu, no seaweed, and very little miso for that matter. Another item I didn't bother finishing.

Finally, they sent out the sushi component of the combo. Three pieces of nigiri, three maki. The nigiri were salmon, tuna, and a white fish that may have been halibut, but it's hard to say for sure. The salmon was pretty good, the tuna was a bit slushy and the white fish was practically floating on its own water content. The fish had clearly been frozen and thawed poorly. The maki were california rolls with a bit of style - a little panko on the outside for crunch and a nice presentation. California rolls aren't my favourite, but these were nice.

Once dinner was over, they brought out the nicest touch of the evening - a pre-cut orange in an elegant presentation. It was a lovely alternative to the expected green tea ice cream. I enjoyed that quite a lot.

With tax and tip, the bill came to $24. For quite a bit less money, you could get quite a bit better food at the Sushi Hut one shopping mall over.

[[Note: Monster Sushi has since closes]]

June 20, 2005


I don't know where the Goosies have been for the last 3 weeks (probably at Apple, those bastards), but they're back, and the large majority of them have moved past the cute, cuddly, fluffy stage and into the 'slightly smaller than a normal adult, but just as scary' stage. Given that there were a couple dozen of them wandering around the door to the office today, it was a less than pleasant walk in from the parking lot. Scary, scary goosies.

About June 2005

This page contains all entries posted to acho que não in June 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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