Thursday, April 19, 2012

Theatre Ticket Giveaway!

Listen to "Twee Time" on CJLO 1690AM this Friday, April 20 starting at 8PM.

I'll be opening up the phone lines to give away a pair of tickets to the fabulous new play 5 Angry Men at the McGill's Players' Theatre in Montreal, Canada!

Call in for your chance to get a free pair of tickets to the Thursday, April 26th performance that begins at 8pm (doors at 7:30).

Meet the men:

5 Angry Men
McGill's Players' Theatre
April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28
8pm (doors at 7:30)

Online: 14.25 / Door: $15

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Twee Things for April 15

Today in History 2001 my beloved Joey Ramone died in New York City at the age of 49. I was at Movieland renting a movie on VHS when my friend Jesse told me the news.

Today's Quote is from my friend Taylor:

Punk taught me how to survive, Indiepop taught me how to live.

Today's Track Over 21 by Henry's Dress. From the split 7" WISH 6 with Rocketship (Slumberland), released in 1996.

Sure can hear the Ramones influence on this one. Thanks to Sammich for reminding me of the band.

New Stuff find me on This Is My Jam.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's wrong to wish on space hardware

I've been putting together a writing "portfolio" of sorts, and found this old show review I wrote back in 2006. The CJLO Magazine editor at the time, (Alex Huynh) replied "[...]wow, that was a good review, thanks... really dug it" upon reading it. This was probably one of my favourite shows ever attended, and I'm really hoping the article does the great BB justice.

Billy Bragg
with Seth Lakeman
@ Club Soda
September 22, 2006

I recently remarked to a friend that many shows I've been assigned to review in the past always have an "Our Town" feeling to them. The stage sets are always simple, containing only an amp and maybe a turn table or a guitar stand. No more than one or two people perform on stage at any given time, and the lighting is always minimal or non-existent (Sisters of Mercy I'm looking at you), props and smoke machines sometimes omitted. The show on September 22nd was no different (or so it seemed at first). This was Billy Bragg: guitar, two amplifiers, and a voice.

In my youth I had dreams of seeing Billy Bragg perform. The only album of his I owned back then was Back to Basics (1987), consisting of tracks from his first three politically-charged releases and most notably, his first album Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy (1983). When I listened to the album (and I listened a lot), in my mind I pictured a man alone in a darkened theatre playing guitar and just being himself. The songs echoed in my head, along with thoughts of neighborhood children (myself included) sneaking into the theatre, unseen by Billy, ready to witness something special. Before Billy Bragg took the stage I was left wondering, what will make this show different from those dreams and Our Town?

Over the past 25 years Billy Bragg has been making music and reiterating time and again his personal commitment to political and humanitarian issues. This tour-- promoting the giant box set Billy Bragg Volume I released this past March, which consists of 7 CDs and 2 DVDs and rare previously unreleased tracks (a second volume is set to be released October 9, 2006)-- is very much indicative of these themes and of Bragg's passion for punk, rock, blues and folk music.

Early in his career, Billy Bragg created many songs about his disdain for the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom, and the themes he touched upon then [and in his music even now], are very much valid for today's political climate in and outside of the UK. The show at Club Soda that night was not entirely serious, however, and Bragg often engaged in banter with the audience (which prompted one audience member to laugh and say, "The Comedy Stylings of Billy Bragg"). In addition to his political feelings, Billy Bragg spoke of his vices (hanging out in record shops as a lad), having once drawn inspiration from Simon and Garfunkle, and of his fondness for internet videos depicting talking cats.

Bragg also mentioned MySpace a few times throughout the show, though he did not speak of the run-in he had with that company, wherein Bragg disputed terms and conditions of the site that at one time allowed News International to reuse any content created by users without remunerating the owner, terms which were later changed when Bragg removed his music from the site in protest.

Billy Bragg revealed to us his alter-ego "Johnny Clash," who was a clever mixture of Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash, in the song he affectionately called The Old Clash Fan Flight Song.

Her later mentioned his book (to be released at the same time as Billy Bragg Volume II) The Progressive Patriot: A Search For Belonging, which discusses Englishness and national identity, and Bragg joked how this book should sell very well in Quebec. He performed the title track from England, Half English and later a roadie named Randy brought the man his second cup of hot tea, which was quite fitting.

Bragg's performance gave us a chance to see how truly amazing the man plays the electric guitar. His technique appeared effortless, and the songs sounded much richer and passionately felt; for example, Like Soldiers Do from Brewing Up With Billy Bragg (1996) performed live was more amazing than the original recording that it took a verse or two to realize what song it was. He continued to touch upon matters of the heart with Sexuality from the album Don't Try This At Home (1996).

One stand-out was a currently unreleased new song, entitled Farm Boy. He "forgot" the words and asked if the crowd knew the lyrics and could help him out. The main set ended with a clever song depicting a summary of what he discussed during the show.

The first encore included the songs Black Wind Blowing and Eisler On The Go from Mermaid Avenue (1998) and Mermaid Avenue II (2000), which he played acoustically. The song lyrics on these albums are originally by Woody Guthrie, and later became part of a collaboration between Bragg, Wilco and Natalie Merchant after Guthrie's daughter Nora became familiar with Billy Bragg's music in the early 1990's. She personally requested that Billy Bragg compose music for unused lyrics written, but never realized as finished songs, by her father. She was impressed by his ability to perform effortlessly with country and blues musicians, and because they (Woody and Billy) touched upon similar subject matter in their songwriting.

Bragg also performed prison songs originally by Leadbelly, and then employed a steel slide on guitar for the famous song The Bourgeois Blues, and also updated the lyrics to make them contemporarily relevant.

For his second and final encore, childhood dreams were realized when Billy Bragg performed all seven tracks from Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, most notably The Milkman of Human Kindness, To Have and To Have Not, and crowd-favourite A New England. For that final song, Bragg invited fans to sing the chorus, and then surprisingly added the since-forgotten "extra" verse (added to the late Kirsty MacColl's version of the song):

My dreams were full of strange ideas / My mind was set despite the fears / But other things got in the way / I never asked that girl to stay / Once upon a time at home / I sat beside the telephone / Waiting for someone to pull me through / When at last it didn't ring, I knew it wasn't you.

Billy Bragg remarked how he wanted to be a soul singer, but that deep in his heart liked being a punk rocker. One might argue that he is indeed both, and what made this show different, made the man real, and what brought so much to life was his sense of humour. The show ended with his call to the audience that we fight cynicism and keep the faith.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Parlovr "Twee Time" Takeover

It's kind of weird how I have to go way out of town to see really rad Montreal bands. Last year when I was in New York City attending the M pour MontrĂ©al CMJ showcase, I finally got to catch Parlovr live for the first time. 

Their set at the CMJ was such a blast, so I took a video of the party that gathered on stage during their last song that night.

Parlovr's self-titled CD made the rounds at CJLO a few years ago, and when I heard through the Twitter-vine that they had a new album coming out in May, I was like, "Eeeeeeee they have to come party on Twee Time!"

Alex, Jeremy, and Louis agreed, and so it happened. I invited them to take over the show, and here is the end result:

I'm going to start badgering them to come back and do a session in our production studio here at CJLO. In the meantime...

Keep your eyes and ears open for Kook Soul, out on Dine Alone Records May 15.
Thanks again guys! xoxo Steph

Thee "Twee Time" Show is originally broadcast on CJLO - 1690AM in Montreal. Go to for details and show times.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Never a Dull Moment at CJLO

When the youtube video "Never a dull moment on the NYC subway" made my facebook feed earlier this year, it warmed my heart to see two perfect strangers come together, let down their guard, and just jam out a rockin' tune.

Captured on film is an amazing break from the monotony of a subway ride that made even the toughest-looking New Yorkers let go, sit back, and smile. Stuff like this rarely, if ever, happens in Montreal, and the video left me feeling a little less jaded.

We're really lucky that someone was there to share this moment with the world!

As soon as I saw the video, I checked the description to find out who this tiny woman with the powerful voice was. Her name is Jessica Latshaw, a musician and writer living in New York City. I sent her a message and she kindly agreed to be interviewed on the Twee Time Show.

So here's the postcast from the March 9th episode:

Skip forward to 26:07 to hear the interview.

Thank you so much Jessica! All the best xoxo Stephanie

Jessica's blog: This Life in Writing
Jessica Latshaw on YouTube
Get "Ain't My Friend" by Jessica Latshaw on iTunes Music

Thee "Twee Time" Show is originally broadcast on CJLO - 1690AM in Montreal. Go to for details and show times.