Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos (CFL Sessions cover)
Stan & Georgie
Aren’t You Glad (Beach Boys cover)
Ahh, Project 165. Our home away from home. We’ve played there 4 times and at least thrice have brought far too much gear for the intimate space. This time we finally got it right: acoustic guitar and small keyboard rounded out by tambourine and glockenspiel. No PA, no soundcheck, no blinking lights.
There’s something intimate about performing without a microphone. Aside from not having a mic stand in your face, its’ like a middle-man has been removed and you can communicate with the audience directly—no disconnect. That’s what this night was all about, as other Project 165 regulars, Tiny Mountains, and travelling troubadour, Pat LePoidevin, all made excellent use of the intimacy.
Of course, it’s also amazing when you don’t have to worry about your half-broken amp conking out, homemade pedals not doing what they are supposed to, or keeping time with loops recorded on the fly. We really ought to do this more often…
Here are some photos taken by Joey Bruni (check out that stage!):
Wax Mannequin is a force of nature—an awesome and unstoppable, if sometimes clumsy, hurricane. He arrives in a flurry of movement befitting the Tasmanian Devil, promptly loses his keys, gives an awkward and timid hello that belies the fury within then erupts on stage with an unmatched intensity before narrowly missing his flight to the next rock-forsaken town of which he will become the saviour.
There are not many performers that I put on the same pedestal as this tireless troubadour. He also holds a unique position in Dog Is Blue lore:
Tuesday, September 9, 2008. Laura and I drove to Guelph on a whim to see Wax Mannequin play with The Kettle Black at the now-defunct (and greatly missed) Family Thrift Store. Jenny Omnichord was working the door and informed us that Wax had been forced to cancel at the last minute. Knowing Laura and I had been hoping to start performing live, she proceeded to throw down the gauntlet: “You want to start playing music, right? Why don’t you open the show tonight?”
I payed solo on The Kettle Black*’s guitar for the most part, with Laura joining for occasional harmonies while brandishing a shaker made out of thrift store shrapnel. As a sacrificial offering to the dejected Wax Fannequins in attendance I opened with a timid cover of “End of Me” (a fantastic Wax song that had yet to be released at that point)*.
Our first show took place because he didn’t show up and the first song we played was written by him. In the sage words of the man himself: “That shit is Wax Mannequin.”
We’ve since had the good fortune of sharing the stage with him proper, and will do so again at Phog Lounge in Windsor tomorrow night (Nov. 27).
*The Kettle Black’s set was phenomenal. Angry, intense apocalyptic-folk complete with Jump kicks and loops galore. Definitely check him out if you get the chance.
*Not wanting to accept door money from people expecting to see Wax Mannequin, we were instead paid in thrift store merchandise—my share came in the form of two brown suitcases that we still use to haul gear. Here’s an old post with more details.
If you’re a music enthusiast in Toronto then you already know the Tranzac is in trouble. They’ve been hosting benefit shows and accepting donations for some time now to raise the $40,000 they need by the end of the year in order to stay open.
As a band who has been fortunate enough to play there several times, it is our duty to urge you to stop in for one of the many great shows going on there over the next while and become a member/donate. The Tranzac is one of the most supportive venues in the city and it would be a real blow to lose it!
We’re shamefully late to the party on this, as other stalwarts of the Toronto scene took up the cause long ago, but we were there last night to see 3 of our favourite songwriters (Jenny Omnichord, Andrew Vincent, and Henry Svec) and it gave me necessary reminder to spread the word.
Here we are with Anna Atkinson performing Donovan’s “Colours” live for the owners of the farmhouse in Adolphustown. I don’t think I’ve ever made it through this song without messing up the lyrics—so close this time…so close.
There are a few more recorded artifacts from our time in the country—made between over-indulgences of homemade lasagna—that I’ll try to post later (including a brand new song recorded on a real piano).
Thanks to our friend (and excellent painter) Joey Bruni for filming/posting this video.
This photo was taken at 7am on Oct. 3, 2010 at Project 165 in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Holding the camera is gallery/venue founder Ryan Ringer*. We had played at 2am that night as part of Nuit Noir II (an all night art/music event that happened to coincide with Nuit Blanche) and were deliriously ready for bed.
It might just be our favourite band shot yet.
*Fun fact: I traded Ryan a vegetable steamer for his winter coat. Hidden inside the lining was a small bottle of moustache glue. Supposedly it’s expensive and he was very happy I found it.
We’ve Generously been given the opportunity to relax/record in a nearly 200 year-old farm house just off the Bay of Quinte for a few days. Cramming our untrustworthy lemon full of as much gear as we could, we left Toronto in the dust and arrived in Adolphustown late last night.
So far we haven’t done much but set up instruments and tune down a half-step to match the amazing old piano—Oh, and Laura beat me pretty badly at ping pong. However, tonight we’re being joined by the wonderfully talented Anna Atkinson (as well as an awesome ragtag crew of Laura’s friends in the visual arts).
We’ve played a bunch of shows with Anna in the past and she blows us away every time. Unbeknownst to her she’s slowly being assimilated into our band. One day, years from now, she’ll wake up and not remember how she became part of Dog Is Blue, but by then it will be too late to argue…
Anyway, enough creepy ramblings. Check out her music for yourself and see what we mean.
Not sure what these sessions will become—demos for the next album? A farmhouse EP? Extreme ping pong grudge match? Whatever the case, we’re in Adolphustown (I’ll never get tired of saying that name) working out the kinks on some new tunes.
2005. Taiwan. I’ve got a thrift-store Vivitar camcorder microphone* balancing off the back of a kitchen chair. The acoustic guitar in my hands is an Ibanez that I bought used and wouldn’t make the trip back to Canada with me.
Always one of my favourite songs, this recording of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is one of the earliest recordings I’ve got that I don’t cringe at. Played and sung in one take (screw-ups intact) while hoping the mic didn’t fall off the chair, the backwards guitar and sputtering distortion was added afterward.
It’s funny the things you find buried in your FTP when building a new website…
At our show last week I mentioned having dropped my newly homemade amp off the stage. Thankfully the damage was minimal and after a quick fix she’s up and running without issue.
Falling 3 feet isn’t really on the same level as the old Traynor tests (supposedly they used to drop their amps out a second story window), but the fact that my little guy only suffered a broken fuse holder is pretty reassuring.
Anyway, here are a few pictures of the amp in question. It’s a modified Fender Princeton 5F2-A made mostly out of old radio parts (the box itself is from an old portable turntable). At about 5 loud watts with great crunch it’s the perfect amp for smaller shows and recording—we’ll be posting some new demos made with it soon!
For all you gear-nerds like myself, the modifications include a solid state rectifier, switch to toggle the negative feedback in or out and an easily disconnected speaker so I can hook it up to something larger. If you want to build amps too, I suggest doing some reading/asking questions at Ax84.com. I couldn’t have finished this without the help of the forum over there.
Welcome to the brand new Dogisblue.com! The old site has a soft spot in my heart, as I wrote it by hand on a soiled napkin in the depths of a cave surrounded by laughing skulls (or in notepad…I can’t recall), but we wanted to be able to update things more often and add some frills.
The idea is to have a taste of everything on the homepage, but also including expandable sections that give more details on things like our albums, band photos, etc.
We’re working on a lot of new tunes that will surely melt your minds, and I’m always building strange gadgets for use at shows, so expect a lot of updates!
Keep on keeping on,
Paul (and Laura, in spirit…she’s not dead, she’s just not so web-savvy).