Serena Ryder at St. John’s Folk Festival

Here’s a video of Serena Ryder closing at the 2009 St. John’s Folk Festival. Held in Bannerman Park in the city, the festival is part of the “St. John’s Time” series of summer fests, which starts with the George Street Festival (Blue Rodeo were special guests this year) and includes the St. John’s Regatta – the longest running annual sporting event, and the St. John’s Busker’s Festival.

Serena thoroughly enjoyed herself at the show, repeating a phrase which I have come to hear often from bands playing here “You’re the best crowd ever.”

I missed most of the summer fests as I split back home to Ontario for summer fun at the cottage. It’s my favourite place in the world. I am a lake person. So is Maggie the Boston Terrier.

My plane was delayed over 12 hours due to Toronto’s now common tropical storms, and I didn’t make it back until Regatta Day, which unfortunately I had to sleep through due to my all night unexpected flight. But I couldn’t miss the festival. Nope nope.

8 Ball Aitken Playing at the Ship

Bumped into 8 Ball Aitken at The Newfoundland Embassy in Canso, Nova Scotia. Actually, The Newfoundland Embassy is anywhere the Newfoundland band Shannygannock parks their trailer. This time it was parked at Stanfest, and I met up with singer Chris Andrews on Sunday afternoon, where he kindly invited me to a “cocktail reception” they were hosting.

That’s where I got to meet 8 Ball, who told me he’d be in St. John’s the next week. He’ll be here this Saturday at the Ship. Sweet stompin’ swampgrass yeeha.

Above is the music video for ‘Cyclone Country’, a single from the album ‘Rebel With A Cause’ by ’8 Ball Aitken’.

Check out Aitken’s web site – and all the awards he’s won.

As for The Newfoundland Embassy? Can’t wait for them to roll back in town. The cocktail party was magic, with huge boxes of shrimp being hand-delivered by a famous Digby, Nova Scotia Fishing Co. (sorry, I can’t remember the name, but his boat is 80 feet long and they export to Denmark mostly. Anyone?.)

Shannygannock’s Bob Pine says the boxes of shrimp are the best chick magnets he’s ever seen. Take that Axe.

Bob Wiseman at the Rock Can Roll Festival

Rock And Roll Festival 2008

I have been popping into various events at this year’s “The Rock Can Roll Festival” – on right now ( October 23 – 26.) Liz Pickard (Liz Band and Liz Solo) and the team have done a swell job of bringing in artists, musicians and some digital muckrakers to talk about their work. And the work is inspiring – especially for digital media peeps like me.

One thing that is definitely striking me is how many musicians are now dabbling in creating their own music videos or short films – some of it especially to accompany their music. If there were going to be something new in the music scene, I’d say this is it – the marriage of visuals to the performance.

What’s cool about it is that in this artist-centred business model now – you CAN do this. The price of the tools is now within reach. You can hire some media artists to do it for you, or you can do it yourself, like Bob Wiseman and Danny Keating are. Of course, the the two really like filmmaking – so that helps.

Bob Wiseman made some interesting points – he’s been making videos to accompany his stage shows during his performances. He says it serves a few purposes. It sets him apart from the kajillion other musicians out there, and that’s good – because there ARE a kajillion musicians out there and getting attention is difficult. The second thing that is good is that when performing, the video projections on stage actually make people stop and stare and listen. It’s something different. He is also interacting with the videos – they aren’t just background, so it’s part of the show – and it is funny.

The third good thing about his videos is they allow him to tour solo. Being in a band is tough. Being the band leader is even tougher – you have to take care of the people in your band. You have to make sure there is ample money for all, and foods and bed setc. You have to take care of them emotionally too – because you are the leader and asked them out.

Bob said this – which supposedly was echoed in earlier workshops – it’s better to be friends with the people in your band than choosing them for their musicianship. It’s a “tough gig” being in bands.

So touring alone with a projector, laptop and collapsible screen has become a viable option for Wiseman. He toured Europe last year this way opening for Feist.

I have to run now – The Rock Can Roll Festival evenings are filled with numerous shows in 4 different venues.

Danny Keating Info here.

Liz Solo and Liz band

Hope to see some of you tonight and don’t miss out tomorrow’s closing show for The Rock Can Roll Festival with Bob Wiseman’s digital show and The Subtitles at The Ship.

Moving Stories is the New Festival In Town

Moving Stories Films – the festival of short films based on books – is the new festival in town. Moving Stories Films is a 90-minute curated program of short films celebrating the written word submitted by artists around the world.

The event, the first of its kind in Canada takes place Friday October 17, 5pm at the Majestic Theatre (not Masonic Temple as stated in the programme) and will feature feature founder Judith Keenan and myself and Rachel Peters as directors.

More reasons not to miss it. There are some amazing films in the line-up, books which inspired the films in the film program will be available for sale. There will be snacks!

My mockumentary This Hour Has Seven Decades, which is based on the memoir by Patrick Watson opens the screening program.

Rachel Peters’ beautiful animated work Nagasaki Circus is in the program too. Who is Rachel? She is my PFD buddy – PFD being Post Festival Depression. Learn about how to kick it here.

Paul Quarrington’s film Pavane based on his book The Ravine premieres too.

The films have been selected by Festival Founder Judith Keenan and Programmer Paul Quarrington in consultation with illustrious Film Advisors Robert Lantos, Sarah Polley, Nino Ricci, Gary Thomas and Anne Collins.

From September to November 2008, Moving Stories will screen at public events hosted by film and literature festivals across North America. Hosts include St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Ottawa International Writers Festival; Winnipeg International Writers Festival; WordFest: Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival; Vancouver International Writers Festival and Pages Books & Music (Toronto) “This Is Not A Reading Series.”

The St. John’s International Film Festival is in the Air

Womens Film Festival Big page ad

It’s Saturday morning 9:45 AM and I am at Hava Java Coffee House and Espresso Bar downtown on Water Street awaiting Jenny Rocket who is late bringing in the morning’s supply of muffins.

Yeah I know – what?  Me up this early and out on the town? Get’s better. I’ve all ready been to the CBC building down near MUN campus where I did a live interview with Angela Antle on the CBC weekend morning radio show at 8:20AM, to talk about my film “This Hour Has Seven Decades” which will be screening at the Moving Stories Film Festival this Friday at the Majestic at 5pm. I’ve also all ready coffeed myself at Coffee and Company a few doors down but just moved to Hava’s because I couldn’t connect to the Internet there for some reason. I checked The Anchorage first but it wasn’t open yet.

All’s well though, because Hava Java’s staff have been super gracious helping me find an outlet for my laptop – I only get just over an hour of battery power due to my 17 inch screen and just general battery badness which I used up a quarter of at C&C trying to get connected to the wireless, and have allowed me to sit here in wait of the muffins with a glass of water. And the lighting and music is just right  for this morning.

I had planned to do bring my laptop with me last night knowing that I’d be up and about early, I figured it was a good time to indulge in another romantic writer’s fantasy of mine – the early morning cafe sip and write, where I leisurely reflect on the previous week’s events. ( I think  I may be too influenced by TV commercials with all these leisurely stress-free fantasies.)

But back to this week.  There’s a definite drop in temperature – and The St. John’s International Film Festival is definitely in the air. The festival’s posters and postcards are up all over town, the covers of this week’s arts weeklies, The Scope and The Current, are devoted to the festival, print ads are scattered throughout the pages of the newspapers and I heard an ad on the radio yesterday.

Oh geez. True story. The door just opened and in comes Ms. Kelly Davis, the Executive Director of the The St. John’s International Film Festival. She’s up and about with some special volunteers to go collect the vans that will be used to shuffle the crowds around. It’s a big weekend of setup for the crew.

Oh geez. Mark Bragg just walked in wearing his slippers. I was at his CD Release party last night for the soundtrack of Down To The Dirt – the latter film being screened Tuesday October 14 at the opening night gala for the Film Festival. And by the way, that was the first time I’ve ever seen him perform live and I was mesmerized. Bragg is a ridiculously terrific performer and it was a fun fun show.

Rachel Peters has not walked into the cafe. The Toronto based animator and my co-sufferer of PFD in the video is here in town holding animation workshops for kids as part of the festival. Hope to see her soon.

Egads. This hurts. Now I know why I am a night person, this early morning writing is killing me.

And the muffins didn’t come. I had a multigrain bagel instead.

Down to the Dirt CD Soundtrack Release Party

This Friday October 10th, 2008 – don’t miss the Down To The Dirt Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Release party featuring Mark Bragg and friends. “Down To The Dirt” was  produced by Anna Petras & Justin Simms, directed by Justin Simms, and based on the celebrated Joel Hynes novel of the same name.

The album is comprised of twenty tracks in total and features instrumental music, guest tracks from Blair Harvey, Lizband, and Persona, plus six new Mark Bragg songs written specifically for the film.


Down To The Dirt Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
St. John’s CD Release Party

Friday, October 10th, 11PM
The Rock House on George Street
Admission $10 at the door $20 with CD purchase
(Regular cd retail price $15)

Bragg will be joined by musicians Brad Power, Curtis Andrews, Victor Lewis, and Luke Power for a grand Ho-Down with guest appearances by the movies musical cast and artists featured on the album, including Liz Solo, Jill Porter, Blair Harvey, Phil Churchill, and more.

Warming up the night are the Pathological Lovers, featuring Jody Richardson whose performance as “Francey” in the movie will really creep you out.

If you can’t make it – go buy the CD – it’s available at Fred’s Records on Duckworth!

PS. The Down to the Dirt film just picked up a few awards from the Atlantic film festival. Bravo. The big St. John’s Premiere is next week – it’s the gala opening film for the St. John’s film festival.

PSS. ya gotta come. I feel so close to this since I built the Down to the Dirt web site. Just saying.