Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Jam Space, Saturday June 8, 2013



I note this not because I think people are not paying attention.  I note this because for us in the band, the "jam space" is not in Lemberg, and it would be pretty crazy, unfortunate, and ultimately fruitless for all concerned if people came anywhere near where we jam that evening!  Yes, as some of you know (or not - like the hippies speak about the 60s: if you can remember, you weren't really there) that space has been a scene of good rockin' nights, both rehearsal- and post-gig related, but there will be no action there that night.  Still, the similarities between the jam space and The Jam Space are numerous: there will be drinking, there will be smoking, there will be at least five people making original music, there will be off-colour jokes, on-colour jokes and very colourful jokes as well.    Shotguns - of the beer variety - have the potential to go off.  People probably will clap and someone will likely ask if some of us are in The Lazy MKs.  We'll say yes, come back at the end of August.  I'll leave it at that, as any more divulgence and I might have to consult a lawyer, so I'll say that all the action will be in Lemberg, Saskatchewan, at The Jam Space, operated and owned by Richard Groulx.

I first heard about Richard and his bold new venture when good compadre of Regina music Tim "Tico" and/or "Boom Boom" McCashin and our very own Sleights played there sometime last year.  Nice reviews by fellow performers make for easier gig-taking decisions later down the line, and I for one am incredibly stoked to play a show at this intimate venue due east of Regina.

Apart from popping my (our?) Lemberg gig playing cherry that night, one thing I am looking forward to is learning if any upgrades have been made to the place.  Not that I have reports of the place not being awesome.  On the contrary, as I've already noted.  However, in a recent poll, Mr. Groulx publicly asked what would be the most important improvement for customer experience at The Jam Space.  The options were: air conditioning, creating more space for patrons by relocating bar to former 'office' room, higher seating in the back row, or installing a projector.  One comment given in response to a vote for the a/c was about how a certain July show was the hottest they've ever had.  I personally find this an intriguing prospect as we will be playing in June, and our sister band Brass Buttons will be playing in July.  The drama starts now.  Which band can handle the heat better?  Will the crowd wither before the band does?  Who buys more beer, the band or the audience?  Is it better to stay sitting or stand and rock in such a situation (I vote for the latter).  And would anyone take back their vote for having higher seating in the back row instead of enduring the sweat of a drummer being all over them?  Ok, that only happens in our jam space, but you just never know.....

Still, there is only one way to find out how it'll all shake down.  Come on down to the jam space The Jam Space and kick off the first of a triple-header of 13th Ave Records shows over the summer in Lemberg.  You don't want to be the one hearing about it second-hand now, do you?  Tell all your friends, and if they are on the book of faces, follow the link for that as well:!/events/553350328036384/

To send us off, here's some Lee Hazlewood featuring Nina Lizell: "I may be small but I know I'm right for you.  No big cowboy can do the little things I do"

Amen, Lee.  Speaking for the hearts of The Lonesome Weekends, decades before we existed.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dylan Proves His Worth -- Yes, Even In The 80’s

Hat asked me to write something about Bob Dylan as his birthday is coming right up here. So I wrote this list, called: Dylan Proves His Worth -- Yes, Even In The 80’s. I hope you enjoy it. 
- Chris Sleightholm

A friend of mine once told he’d rather listen to bad Dylan than good anybody else, because bad Dylan is better than good anybody else. I didn’t necessarily agree with him at first – and I’m still not sure I totally agree – however, I appreciate the sentiment. Anyway, when discussing Dylan’s greatness a lot of people I know will almost always bring up Neil Young, and can’t decide which of the two is better. I myself have debated who is better many times; and there never seems to be a winner. However, I recently found a reason that makes Dylan the clear winner. Q: Who recorded better songs in their “lost” 1980’s eras? Answer: undoubtedly Mr. Dylan. Neil’s work in the 1980’s (which could be another post altogether) is scattershot at best, and haphazardly produced and performed. Most importantly Neil does not have a truly great work on any of his albums between 1983 and 1988. Anyway, the following list provides five songs/reasons why Dylan proved his greatness even during these lost years. (It should be noted here that Dylan did record a lot of serious garbage 80’s).

5. “In The Garden” from Saved (1980): Saved was Dylan’s first studio record of the 1980’s. I personally enjoy almost the entire album for a number of reasons, but more specifically, because of this song. Dylan displays a deep knowledge of musical theory in the bizarre chords he employs. His use of harmony is uncanny – in the way that the strange, haunting vocal melody interacts with the flow of the music underneath. I will be the first to admit that the lyrics leave much to be desired, but the zeal with which they are delivered match any of the vocal performances of Blonde on Blonde. The definitive version of this song is from 1986 when Dylan toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (who doubled as his backup band). Dylan has played this song quite consistently until 2002.

4. “Most of the Time” from Oh Mercy (1989): Maybe this one shouldn’t be on the list as Oh Mercy is considered a return to form for Dylan. It may have been a return to form, but it was not sustained (especially when viewed against Dylan’s next comeback work Time Out Of Mind, and nearly every release henceforth). I think that it is one of Dylan’s best songs because of its simplicity – the why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-that-before kind of thing. Lines like: “I don’t even notice she’s gone most of the time,” and “I can’t remember what her lips felt like on mine most of the time,” are so packed, not because of what he is saying, but because of what he is not saying. Though the narrator of this song is not thinking of her most of the time, he is still thinking of her some of the time. This idea is somehow unsettling to me as a listener, because it shows the ghosts in the narrator’s mind, without saying it outright. The ghost is there, between the lines. An excellent acoustic version of this song appears on Bootleg Series Vol. 8 (2008).

3. “I’ll Remember You” from Empire Burlesque: A beautiful epitaph to a failed relationship, which Dylan manages to pull without being overly sentimental. This song is the antithesis of his other caustic breakup songs, like “Idiot Wind," and he shows that he actually does have feelings, and is very aware of how he messed up this relationship – but still he’ll remember her. His vocal in this version is crazy intense, especially at the end of the bridge: “didn’t I, didn’t stand beside you? With the rain blowing in your hair, ahhhhhh.” This song was important enough to Dylan to be included in the 2003 film Masked and Anonymous. It is also one of the only true duets on any of his studio albums.

2. “Blind Willie McTell” from The Bootleg Series Vol.’s 1-3 (1991 – song recorded in 1983): Much has been discussed about how Dylan allowed such a near-perfect song to remain unreleased for eight years. It was originally recorded during the Infidels sessions, and not release until the first Bootleg Series (1991). This is the type of song that only Dylan could conceive and pull off. The landscape of the song is nearly tangible from the opening chords on the piano – you know Dylan is going to take you somewhere, and you want to know where it is. The cadence of the Bootleg Series version is mesmerizing. This song is a staple in Dylan’s current live set. There is not much that can be said about this song, other than if you haven’t heard it yet you ought to do yourself a huge favor and listen to it. There is also a version of this song with a full-band arrangement available on various bootlegs.

1. The entire Infidels (1983) album: This year marks the thirtieth anniversary one of Dylan’s true masterpieces. There’s too much that could be said about the greatness of this album, but I’ll just say that it is certainly in my top 5 Dylan albums. The opening lines to the album are: “Standing on the waters casting your bread/while the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing/distant ships sailing into the mist/you were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing/freedom just around the corner for you/but with the truth so far off, what good will it do?” (“Jokerman”). How much better can he get? Other great lines include: “he’ll (Satan) ride down Niagara Falls in the bowel of your skull” (“Man of Peace”); “[man] worships at the altar of a stagnant pool/and when he sees his reflection he’s fulfilled” ("License To Kill"). There is too much to be said about Infidels and I don’t really want to say it; I just want to listen to it with you. Just bring a bottle of Bushmills and let’s listen to it sometime.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Approximately 72 Notions on Bob Dylan aka Birthday Wishes to/about/related to His Bobness

Well, last night at rehearsal we rocked "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", and we are officially stoked for playing The Cathedral Village Arts Fest this year (location and time to your right) on Bob Dylan's birthday!  We're on with Piper and the Coat Riders Gates of Dawn no less, and it is the 72nd birthday of His Bobness even.  So, with that spirit, we present you with 72 ways in which Bob Dylan and The Lonesome Weekends are inextricable linked.  Some might be ways in which we are so utterly in debt to the man, while others might just be fanboy geekiness.  Sure, TLW obviously will get nowhere near Dylan in a bazillion different ways, but still, somehow, for a certain number of men in the band, we do follow in his footsteps on any number of levels, and that is, to speak like Oasis' Liam Gallagher, joost fookin' grrreaaat (sans sarcasm).

Does it work to say that while Bob's been on the cover of Rolling Stone 23 times (regardless of what you think of that rag), TLW has been thrilled to be in The Leader Post AND Prairie Dog?  I think so.  Also, Bob and TLW like women, smoking, drinking, eating meat, performing, touring, and the like perhaps to the detriment of any notion of healthy living.  Bob believes in God, and TLW believe in an 88% certainty of something else out there.  Bob's a boxer, some of us have watched boxing.  Bob wears western wear, and we would like to make more money to buy better western wear.  Uum Kalthoum is Bob's favourite singer, and The Hat has a double cd of her, that he bought at Sears of all places.  The music she delivers is weird and foreign in Jim Jarmusch kinds of ways, but entrancing nonetheless.  Bob is a trance artist himself, and is not that dissimiliar to jam bands, of which local band Sun Zoom Sparx is a sort of cousin of 13th Avenue Records.  "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" was one of the first songs The Hat and his lady first jammed to, and it is the first Bob cover TLW did when it got started.  It is interesting to think of Bob writing that tune when he was just a new daddy.  Bob has six kids, TLW have five (possibly more in the future?), and on the children angle, Slow Train Coming has "Man Gave Name To All The Animals" a tune so excellent that Townes Van Zandt covered it. 

Speaking of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle said once that he'd stand in Bob Dylan's living room, on Bob Dylan's coffee table, in his cowboy boots, and say that Townes Van Zandt is a better songwriter than Dylan.  I love Steve Earle, and TLW is keen to play The Gateway Festival with him (same day would be crazy cool), but he is a chickenshit, because he neglects to mention whether or not Bob is actually in his own house when all this is happening. Even Townes probably told Steve to shut the fuck up, but, you know, drugs rule (pre-jail Steve Earle is something I want to read about, and apparently he's writing a book!)  And everyone knows Bob has enjoyed drugs.  He has stated "I think everybody's mind should be bent once in a while", and 111% of TLW (the extra 11% is Pipesmanda) are masterbenders of the mind, or at least aficionados of that notion.  "Come over here pony, I wanna climb up one time on you" is one helluva lyric, and would take cajones/cojones to sing - TLW has sung about killing and really should sing more about ponies, like Bob.  Still, we do have "Now she's pukin' in the bathtub, I'm watchin with my longjohns on"

Maybe that does not comprise 72 links between Bob and us, but that is 72 minutes of typing, and 72 minutes is a grand amount of time, the amount of time that a solid double album pushes you for its duration, kind of like Time Out of Mind does, one of Bob's finest albums ever.  However, to end this post in honour of Bob and his completion of the sixth cycle of 12 years, along with our thrill of performing in his long shadow on the same planet as him on May 24th, 2013, and to preview yet more spilled ink on Bob to come from Sleights quite soon, here's something no one else will touch for decades, if not centuries, to come, created when the man was around the same age as me.  THAT is just nuts.