It’s been just over a year since we spent a few long, scotch and coffee filled days at the revered House of Miracles (when it was still in London, Ontario) recording Tortoise with Andy Magoffin and special appearances by Anna Atkinson. To commemorate that milestone here’s a little slideshow of all the photos from that session set to the song “Handcar.”
I put it all together using the Avid iPad app while stewing on finishing touches for the animated “People” video that is coming very, very soon (I promise)!
When this poster went up around our neighbourhood people thought Laura was leaving the band*. I suppose we should have clarified that it was her farewell to Broadview Espresso (we live across the street though, so take “farewell” very loosely…). Suffice to say she sold her soul to Dog Is Blue a looooong time ago…
Speaking of posters, I always try to save the ones we tape to the counter at the coffee shop, as after a few weeks they look wonderfully grizzled and abused by all the drips and spills. Sadly, I’ve only actually been able to rescue one of them, but a vigilant friend took the photo above before it got tossed.
As for the show itself, what more can you say about Anna Atkinson than she’s awesome? This time around she had accompaniment in the form of stand-up bass and vocals, which only made the experience more ethereal and charming in the intimate setting.
We kept the atmosphere light by debuting 4 songs newly arranged for the concert ukulele (we’re working on recording these for fun, so stay tuned). Speaking of which, Laura completely one-upped me by running the uke through one of my fuzz pedals during “Laura’s Song” —I can jealously admit that the sonic destruction was magnificent!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dog Is Blue show if the audio/video equipment didn’t malfunction. We were set to record the whole shebang through multiple mics, but somehow only ended up with Anna’s set. The nerdy A/V gods are still mad at us apparently. We’ll sacrifice a VCR for them before the next show.
*They also thought someone drew that moustache on her, but that’s actually one of Laura’s self-portraits as is.
What a way to end a tour…The main hall of the Tranzac has been on our list of “venues to play before we die” since the beginning and last Thursday not only put a checkmark in that box, but filled it full of dynamite and blew it up in a cloud of coloured lights and confetti.
Surrounded by friends, family and other supporters we celebrated the release of Tortoise while Anna Atkinson (who joined us on stage for “Southern Ontario”) was eagerly doing the same for her debut album, Mooniture.
Of course, I could go on and on about how awesome we were, or how much fun the whole night was, but we had a few very supportive bloggers on hand that night whose take on the evening will likely be a little less biased. Here are a few quick quotes, but click through to check out the full reviews:
“Watson and Heaney have a fantastic chemistry on stage.” –Grayowl Point
“Overall the evening had a loose, comfortable feel. It truly was more like a party with friends than a concert.” –Snob’s Music
Expect more videos from the show too, as we had Laura’s sister on hand filming along with our little sports camera mounted at the front of the stage.
We’re back in town after our East Coast tour and it’s about time we gave Tortoise an Official sendoff! It’s an early show, so you can come out, catch out set around 8:30, then still be in bed curled up with a good book and a glass of scotch by 11:30!
Song Written Upon Getting Cut By the Argos (CFL Sessions)
Hot Air Balloons (and Submarines)
Raise Your Dead
This Will Our Year (The Zombies)
* w/Anna Atkinson
I have to admit, we had no idea Saturday’s show was to coincide with Earth Hour until that morning. Anna emailed asking if we should light some candles and play acoustic. Selfishly, my initial thought was “crap! I’ve been itching to try this great new electric guitar I just bought…” In the end, the earthly sentiment prevailed and the first half of the show was played in acoustic intimacy of a candlelit Broadview Espresso.
As usual, Anna Atkinson commanded the crowd with her unique brand of quirky charm and undeniable talent. We’ve tried backing her up before, but she doesn’t need it at all. Laura and I, on the other hand, benefit greatly from her viola and backing vocals, so she joined us for a good chunk of our set.
In the end, the unplugged immediacy of Earth Hour left it’s mark, as we switched back and fourth between full-on electric and microphone free. I was just giddy to be trying my brand new Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II guitar (sounds great through an amp or acoustic and looks real perrrtty).
This show also gave us the opportunity to test a few of our more recent tunes to an audience of friends before the new album comes out. “Laura’s Song,” for instance, was played live for the first time and went over well even without my waltzing with a small Casio in the background. Of course, no show of ours would be complete without forgetting to play a song we were excited about. In this case it was “She Said,” but we’ll rectify that at The Central this weekend!
Speaking of songs we forgot to play, here’s a live clip from this show of the one we forgot to play last time, “Young Enough.”
Oh, and this was our first show with band t-shirts! More on those to come very soon…
This was the night of the “big snow storm” that had all of Toronto (not to mention southern Ontario and a good chunk of the U.S.) stocking up on canned goods, sitting in their panic rooms locked & loaded for the apocalypse. Of course, we only got about half of the expected white stuff here, so the show at Rancho Relaxo went on as scheduled.
Getting ready to record our new album this month, we used this set as an opportunity to work on some of the new material. Case in point, Anna Atkinson joined us on viola for a few tunes (complete with a great new haircut…) and “She Said” was played live for the very first time.
Of course, I’m an easily distracted mess, so new accompaniment and the debut of a recently built guitar pedal along with strange stage hum made for interesting results. Thankfully, I make it a habit to surround myself with beautiful, talented and dependable women who pick up my slack and slap me with it.
Given all the hoopla over the snow, it ended up being a good time. We were very grateful for an audience who actually braved the overblown weather, and both Smugshot (complete with Keytar) and Richard Gracious (who ended the night with a drunken dance party) were a lot of fun (and each covered bands I’d completely forgotten about—Wheatus and Afroman respectively).
The idea was simple: pare down the excess (re: no light rings or huge pedal board) and collaborate with our good friend and ultra-talented multi-instrumentalist Anna Atkinson. The result consisted of a quick set by each act before joining forces for what Anna called “the mega set.” “Mega” in this case meaning unrehearsed and haphazard—something that in the wrong atmosphere would have crashed and burned, but in the dimmed lights of Broadview Espresso, amongst an attentive and interactive audience of familiar faces, was welcomed with an air of mischief and fun.
It wasn’t fun and games at first though, as our trusty Korg Polysix seemed to have a mind of its own, bending notes all over the place (turns out it was just cold from having spent the night in the trunk). Thankfully, one of the many perks of living across the street from the venue was being able to run back and grab our Roland Juno 106 as a stand in*. Also, just like the previous show, we didn’t write a set list and forgot to play “Young Enough,” a song we had actually rehearsed with Anna prior (look for a new version of that tune at some point).
Thankfully, the slap-dash set seemed to still go over well (our new Twitter friend Matt, who also helped us name “Little Dragon Slayer,” tweeted: it was probably one of the coolest musical experience I’ve had. follow him–he’s clearly a smart dude).
Speaking of Twitter…one of our favourite online personalities, Louise Andre, took some great photos:
Everyone’s always optimistic in early January. After all, there’s a shiny new year ahead of you brimming with potential. Of course, you have to wonder what became of the promises of the year before, and the year before that…
The result is a first attempt at “Little Dragon Slayer,”* a song based around a guitar progression somewhere between Stan Rogers and Velvet Underground, but haphazardly arranged on the spot for the keys. Laura’s backup vocals and Anna Atkinson‘s viola give a much needed classy contrast to my club-fisted and graceless bashing of the piano.
*We couldn’t decide on a name for this one, so opened it up to our friends on Twitter. Their great suggestions (almost went with “No Treasure”) turned us away from the obvious and also helped decide whether “Dragon Slayer” should be one word or two.
Picking up where we left off earlier this week, here are the rest of our favourite moments of the year (in chronological order). Oddly enough, these all take place in the final stretch of 2010…
5. Going Analog
This one may sound like a vague hippie sentiment, but it’s not. Digital is great—we sometimes just like to get away from the computer. Case in point, this year we started demoing on an old cassette 4-track, but then came across a great setup including an 8-track Fostex R8 reel to reel recorder with tons of tape and a huge matching 812 mixer. A bit of crazy glue later and we had an entire reel of new demos, including the live demo of our new song, “Tortoise.” Most of this is probably gibberish to you non-gearheads (like Laura), but I assure you, it’s awesome.
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.