May 11, 2014

Richmond/Delta Youth Orchestra Amazes

Jeez these kids were good. Yumi and I were floored. We stayed and drank it in. The Richmond/Delta Youth Orchestra in the rotunda at the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond today. We were just passing by to get some Asian groceries.


Posted by Paul at 10:30 PM

May 06, 2014

Nature Inspiration Awards from the Canadian Museum of Nature

The Nature Inspiration Awards will honour Canadian-resident youth, adults, not-for-profit organizations and corporations for their exceptional initiatives in helping to build a brighter, sustainable future. This year's deadline for nominations is May 16.

  • a Grand Prize of $5000 will be awarded in each category to a project of the recipient's choice
  • national recognition through various channels
  • travel and accommodations for the award ceremony in Ottawa, in early November
  • a membership in the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Check out the website for more information and nomination forms.

Posted by Paul at 12:02 PM

May 04, 2014

Burnaby’s Riverway Clubhouse Features ‘Live Music Thursdays’

My wife and I had dinner at the Riverway Clubhouse last week. The food was good. We went for the 3-course special (starter, main and desert for $33/person - PDF menu here), and found it a bit too much. I had the calamari starter and Yumi had the salt-and-pepper wings (it seems like they don't get too many folks asking for the dinner special, and they said we could have any starter from the day menu as well), with both of us following with steaks. Yumi finished with tiramisu, while I had the chocolate mousse. We're not used to that much food in one sitting, so felt somewhat "heavy" in the digestion department for the rest of the evening, but it all went down great : -).

It was that evening that we discovered the "Live Music Thursdays". Solo performers, 2-course dinner plus desert buffet for $19.95/person. That seems like a great deal. You can check out the summer 2014 lineup here: PDF download.

Posted by Paul at 06:32 PM

May 03, 2014

Discovered Miss Quincy, and I Like It!

Somewhere or other I heard of Miss Quincy, and took a flyer on buying and downloading the Roadside Recovery album from iTunes.

Whoa! I am a new fan. BC girl blues rock. Done very well.

I checked out the Miss Quincy website, and when I clicked on "Shows" I made the serendipitous discovery  that she'll be appearing at the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival this summer on August 9 - and I already have tickets!


Posted by Paul at 07:22 PM

April 19, 2014

Installed Rocksmith 2014

I played some guitar as a kid, and then left all instruments untouched for over 25 years. Not too long ago I decided to start playing a bit again, spurred on by the purchase of a lovely Taylor 214CE at a great discount at Tom Lee Music.

I still have all my old guitar books, and today I installed Rocksmith 2014 on my Windows 7 box. I plugged in my old Telecaster (happy I never sold it!), and tried out the "game" er "teaching method" a bit this evening.

My initial impression is that it will take me awhile to get used to it. I've never been a gamer to begin with, so not sure how I will react to the game format. But anything is more exciting than all those old books : -).

And anything that gets a guitar into my hands to actually practice is good, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

April 06, 2014

Ah, Those Self-Centered, Insipid Singers and Musicians

Ah, those self-centered, insipid singers and musicians:

I ran across a tiny book among my late Mom's belongings called How to Teach Yourself to Sing by Thelma Spear. It's "Little Blue Book No. 1049".

The copyright is 1911, so expired.The writing is so much fun : -) !

"The student of singing, more than the student of any other art, is in danger of one-sidedness and thus of an impoverishment of his human worth and personality, which, in turn, makes it forever impossible for him to interpret adequately the very masterpieces toward which he should aspire. Above all, then, cultivate your other gifts, not only that you may have an avocation to fall back on, if your vocation should fail you, but that you may give a creature worthy of it to your art.

"Why is it that the singer is considered self-centered and insipid by other musicians? Again, why is it unhappily true that the musician can rarely hold his own intellectually among, say, literary artists? Because both singers and musicians are apt to cultivate their special gifts and studies too exclusively. I do not, of course, plead for an empty or superficial dilettantism. But even as the artist in other fields turns to music for relaxation, so should the musician turn to literature, painting and sculpture for his refreshment, never forgetting that all true appreciation involves intelligent study..."

Posted by Paul at 08:30 PM

December 07, 2013

Vancouver Philharmonic with Robert Silverman

Wonderful evening at the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra with pianist Robert Silverman. The Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 was masterful, with an extended standing ovation for Silverman. The program began with Donizetti's Don Pasquale Overture, followed by the Brahms, and ending with Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. With a suggested adult ticket "donation" of $15, I keep saying the VPO is an amazing live classical music bargain.

Posted by Paul at 10:54 PM

May 16, 2013

Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright Share Their Music

Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright have this amazing ART program.

ART = Artist Response Team. They go into schools with an environmental/music program that's incredibly uplifting. The combination of their powerful voices and playing, backed up by professional, world-class musicians (the accompanying Dream Band is made up of session musicians who've played on many a gold album), and schools of children, has sent shivers down my spine on more than one occasion.

Years ago I had the wonderful opportunity as a Stream of Dreams board member to be there when some collaboration was arranged between the two groups that resulted in several magical performances.

So I'm (volunteer) working on a couple of streamkeeper/environmental slide shows to present at free community events over the next few weeks. They're all about watersheds, salmon, streamkeeping, and so forth. And it hit me that Holly and Kevin's music would be fantastic to play at such events to engage folks as they gathered, and to rev them up as I started my show.

So I asked ART if I could use a few of their tracks in that context.

Holly's response was wonderfully giving:

For sure Paul, we'd love you to include our music. Please credit Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright as performers/songwriters. If you have the space, could you include our website:

If I wasn't away on the Skeena tour at that time, I'd come and sing in person for you.

Now, that's dedication. . . and sharing.

Thank you Holly and Kevin.

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

January 07, 2013

Heart Does Best Cover Ever (?) of Stairway to Heaven

Thanks to my Facebook friends who clued me in to the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors event. I completely missed it. Heart does Stairway to Heaven live with Led Zeppelin in the audience - Robert Plant is nearly in tears and Jimmy Page is grinning from ear to ear. Yowza!

Posted by Paul at 10:15 PM

February 25, 2012

Stirring Vancouver Philharmonic Concert Tonight–Tian Yu Zhou = Wow!

17-yr-old Tian Yu Zhou wowed the Vancouver Philharmonic audience tonight with a powerful, commanding rendition of the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Zounds!
She was bopping about taking photos with what appeared to be family and friends after the concert, and she seemed to be just a genuine kid -- with evidently a genuine work ethic and talent.
I also enjoyed the VPO's thrilling rendition of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Well done.

Posted by Paul at 11:48 PM

January 13, 2012

Buddy Guy on Catnip

So am I a doob, and this has been happening on iTunes for some time? Just downloaded Buddy Guy's "74 Years Young" and when I play the album I get this graphical interface.... Oh, who cares, Buddy is romping on the guitar strings like a cat shredding nip in a blender. Pure joy...

74? There's hope for me yet : -)

Posted by Paul at 10:33 PM

January 08, 2012

Cheap CDs Help Fill Out Music Collection

Picked up a bunch of CD compilations for $5 a pop today. An Elvis collection, a Willie Nelson compilation, "Man in Black" by Johnny Cash, Tom Petty's "Full Moon Fever", and a Best of the Blues 3-CD set for $7. I usually stay away from cheap compilations, but these are all authorized studio releases. Now ripping to MP3s.

I'm not a country fan by any means, but Willie and Johnny are classics, eh?

Posted by Paul at 05:07 PM

December 28, 2011

Let Us Not Forget Derek’s Last Post

As the year ends, I've been reviewing events of 2011 that moved me, and one was the death of Derek K. Miller, and his "Last Post."

I don't want to say much, because there are plenty of folks in EAC, and in particular EAC-BC, who knew Derek way better than I had the chance to. I heard him speak several times, and I followed his powerful blog, but we didn't have a personal relationship.

Derek's Last Post bears reading again, for it stares death, and life, in the face.

It's also a reality check. Are we spending the precious moments of our lives following our passions, and contributing as best we can to positive change in our world?

UPDATE: Dawn, another EAC member and editor, remembers this post as particularly moving:

For me, the post I most remember is Endgame
I never met Derek in person, just in emails and on his blog.
But his writing and his story really affected me.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

December 26, 2011

A Blue (Yeti) Christmas

I got a Blue Microphones Yeti half price through the Apple Store and had Yumi wrap it and put it under the tree for me. She never knows what to get me, so this system works great : -).


I didn't know they were that big -- that's a 500ml beer can beside it for comparison. So what do I want with this beast? May try some podcasting, and may also experiment with video voice overs...

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

December 22, 2011

My Music Discovery of the Year--2011

A popular topic as the end of the year approaches is what's something you discovered over the course of the year.
I "discovered" Imelda May this year and can't get enough. An ear-boggling melding of rockabilly, blues, surf, jazz, and ??? powered by an amazing, lilting Irish voice, and a scrumptiously tight, luscious band.

I'm way out of touch with music trends compared to a few decades ago, but I love it when something like this penetrates my consciousness.

Thanks to the 2011 Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival for expanding my horizons!

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

August 23, 2011

Chris Isaak a Blast at Vancouver’s PNE

We caught Chris Isaak at the PNE two years ago (photos here) and loved the show. So we were back for more fun tonight. This year's concert was also great, with excellent music and an appreciative crowd. The band is super tight, the original tunes are great, and we even got some Orbison, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis thrown in tonight.







For the photographers out there, all shots were handheld with a
Nikon D300 with ISO set to 3,200. Most shots with EV -.7 to -1.3
so as not to overexpose the subjects against the dark background.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

August 14, 2011

Imelda May Seduces Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival

Heard Imelda May at the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival yesterday for the first time, and I'm a convert! I'd never even heard of her, aging heavy metal/blues guy that I am : - ) but in my mind she outdid John Mayall and k.d lang (the other 2 of 3 lead acts), even with a broken foot that she suffered the same day. Very charismatic, with a great voice.

Don't get me wrong, Mayall has an amazing history, and k.d. is a consummate performer with complete command over her gorgeous voice. But last night May was just down and dirtier : - ).

May was infectious, Mayall was, well, Mayall, and k.d. started way too slow for her first several songs. After she did a wonderful "Hallelujah" as her 3rd or 4th number Yumi and I looked at each other & said, "OK, we've heard it, let's go home." We may have missed some action, but it just seemed a long time coming for a party crowd at the end of a long day of great music.

Anyway, I downloaded May's Mayhem album off iTunes as soon as we got home, and have been enjoying it.

It's a compelling mashup of blues, rockabilly, New Orleans jazz, all tinged with a great Irish lilt. Even the odd bit of slide country/Hawaiian on a couple of tracks, and a touch of Celtic drums here and there. Eclectic, eh? She's got a great band, too, excellent slap standup bass player, and some nice trumpet styling, too. Did I just hear a bit of surf music in there, too? : - )

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

July 06, 2011

Giving Things Away While Honouring Parents, Culture

Yumi and I are pretty good about donating stuff to the Salvation Army or Burnaby Hospice Society. If we're not using it, out it goes. And while we donated lots of my late Mom's stuff, it was harder to me to contemplate giving away more personal items, like her collection of Ukrainian music. A few months ago I got in touch with an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in decades, who is now a folklore professor at the University of Alberta. I told him I'd run across a notebook describing Ukrainian dance steps, and entire dances for performance by groups, in my late Mom's stuff. And there was the music.

He happened to be out on the west coast awhile back, and we got together at our place. The visit was  too short, but I did give him the old notebook of steps and dances written in a beautiful Ukrainian hand, and a bunch of Mom's Ukrainian music.

Today I was surprized and pleased to find a letter of acknowledgement in my mailbox.


There's even a reference number if I would want to access the donation  in the archives.

Cool!  And thanks for your kindness and professionalism, Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives at the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore at the University of Alberta.

So if you've got some interesting materials sitting around from your grandparents or parents - be they letters, or books, or music, or photos - and don't want to hang on to them anymore, be sure to contact places like the ones mentioned above. I'm happy that students and researchers will have access to my late Mom's music collection, as modest as it may have been. I've kept a few favourite pieces for myself, but I really don't miss the rest. And I've still got to go through a couple of boxes of Ukrainian children's books and folk tales. You may be hearing from me again, Kule Centre.

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

June 24, 2011

Water for Life Benefit Concert on Global BC TV Sat. 6/25, 7pm

Don't miss this great show that combines the passion of BC and World Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo with the uplifting music of Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright, and the Dreamband, along with a choir of 160 kids from Burnaby schools.

My wife and I caught this show live at the Michael J Fox Theatre in SE Burnaby, and are looking forward to viewing it again on Global BC TV.

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

June 03, 2011

2011 Wild Salmon Music Festival

The 2011 Wild Salmon Music Festival looks like a blast! I may take in some of it, as I'll likely be up in the the Lumby area for the summer Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board meeting the same weekend.


Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

February 16, 2011

The Pipes of Byrne Creek

I heard the skirl of bagpipes on my ravine loop of Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby this afternoon. It was quite lovely to hear on the cool forest trail as a light rain began to fall. All that was needed was a mist and the clash of steel.

I thought it might be our friend Joe, a piper whom I've run across practicing out in the park on occasion, but it was another fellow. I introduced myself and we had a little chat. Said he was getting back into the pipes after a 30-year absence, but he sounded pretty good to me!

He noticed the "Think Salmon" button on my cap, and said he hoped he wasn't bothering the fish : -). I gave him a Byrne Creek Streamkeepers brochure. . .

Posted by Paul at 03:26 PM

February 13, 2011

Water for Life Benefit Concert in Burnaby


Join us on April 7 at 7:30 pm for the Water for Life Benefit Concert, a very special event at the Michael J Fox theatre in Burnaby, British Columbia.

A wonderful mix of inspirational stories, stunning images, film clips and music, the show features internationally renowned river conservationist, writer and speaker, Mark Angelo, who also chairs the Rivers Institute at BCIT. In addition, the program features the wonderful folk-pop music of Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Dream Band along with 160 youth singers from Brentwood Park Elementary School.

The evening will be a celebration of water, rivers and the natural world while also advocating the need to be good water stewards wherever we might live. The live show will be filmed for Global TV to be aired as a prime time special on June 25. Tickets for the live event are available through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-5000 (charge by phone) or through the Ticketmaster website. Tickets are $35 plus fees.

Posted by Paul at 11:42 AM

January 14, 2011

Blast from the Past

Here's a scan of back-cover photos from an album I played on what seems like a lifetime ago.

That's my sister Raissa on the left on the bandura, and skinny, tank-topped, Afro-flaunting, Fu-Manchu-moustachioed me on the right on a rented Fender bass guitar. The album was Samotsvity, led by a trio of lovely, talented, gals singing Ukrainian folk songs. What a great time! A family affair - the girls were two sisters and a cousin, and several of my cousins were also in on the orchestra on violin, etc.


Oh, the year? I'm not sure. . . Mid-to-late 70s, I guess. . .

Posted by Paul at 10:45 PM

October 13, 2010

Sony MDR-XB300 ‘Extra Bass’ Headphones

Picked up a set of these headphones at NCIX today for C$29.95 from a regular price of C$69.95. I've just plugged them into my iPod, and whoa, talk about a huge difference from those tinny standard earbuds. There certainly is a lot more bass, and distinctly better overall sound quality. They're nice and comfy, too, with thickly padded ear cushions.

Now I have even more incentive to spend time on the stationary bike in the gym :-). Nothing like AC/DC, ZZ Top, Guns and Roses, the Stones, Led Zep and Buddy Guy et al for driving a workout.

Posted by Paul at 03:03 PM

October 12, 2010

Vancouver Philharmonic Season Starts Oct. 23!

The VPO is one of the best musical performance deals in the lower mainland.

A message from a friend who plays in the orchestra:

Please join us for the first concert of our 2010/2011 concert series, which promises to be just fabulous. 

We will open with Beethoven's Egmont Overture, followed by a highlight of the evening, a trumpet concerto by Hummel.  We are thrilled to welcome Ed Lewis, who will dazzle us with his brilliant playing.  He has also volunteered to talk about the piece before he performs it.  It will be interesting and educational, but above all, it will be entertaining.

In the second half, we will perform one of our favourite symphonies: Sibelius Symphony #2.  This is one of the most richly textured, melodic and thematic pieces an orchestra gets to play.  Every movement is wonderful in its own right, and it will all lead inexorably to the compelling end.

We hope you will be able to join us.
Here are all the details:
Saturday, October 23, 2010 - 8 pm
Shaughnessy Heights United Church

1550 West 33rd, Vancouver, BC

Ludwig van Beethoven          Egmont Overture
Johan Hummel                       Concerto for Trumpet
(Ed Lewis, soloist)
Jean Sibelius                        Symphony No.2

Tickets (suggested donation): $15 adults, $10 seniors/students
To reserve your tickets, please email
Visit our website: <>

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

August 26, 2010

Ripping Old LPs to MP3

I've finally gotten around to starting a huge project - digitizing over 300 LPs, most of which I haven't listened to in over 20 years.

When I moved to Japan in 1985, the LPs went into storage in my late Mom's garage, and she and her husband Barry carried them around with them through several moves - - thanks!

When my wife Yumi and I moved to Canada, initially we were in a small apartment, so I didn't take the albums back until we'd bought a townhouse. I bought an inexpensive Sony PS LX250H turntable some years back (it has a built-in pre-amp so is ideal for plugging straight into a computer's sound card), but never listened to many of the albums. I figure if I get them on my computer and thence onto my iPod, I'll start listening to them again.

A few days ago I bought the Spin it Again software app and tried it out with an album. It worked quite well, so the project is now underway, an album or two at a time.

I'm surprised at how good the albums are sounding, and how they bring back memories. Tonight is Heart night. Started with Dreamboat Annie and am now doing Dog and Butterfly.


The setup in my office is not ideal - I can't get any desk space close enough to plug in the turntable, so it's sitting on the floor next to my Windows 7 tower. But that's OK, bending over every 20 minutes or so is good exercise :-).

BTW, I believe this is all legal. I'm simply shifting mediums for music that I own licences to. If I were to rip all my LPs to MP3s and then sell or give away the LPs, that would be crossing the line, since I would no longer own the licences. So to my understanding, I gotta hang on to the original LPs, even after they're all digitized.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

April 02, 2010

Vancouver Philharmonic, Jubilate Choir do Mozart’s Requiem

It was nice to take a break on this Good Friday holiday afternoon after putting in three or four work hours in the morning (no rest for the freelance : - ). Yumi and I met a couple of friends for a concert by the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jubilate Chamber Choir.

The "Mozart Alive" concert was at the Canadian Memorial Church on 16th Ave. in Vancouver, and the smaller venue with its wood ceiling resulted in bright acoustics that put a shine on the music.

The orchestra was in fine fettle for Gluck's Overture, Iphigenia in Aulis and Beethoven's Symphony No. 1. The second half was Mozart's Requiem, ably performed by a slightly whittled down orchestra along with the Jubilate Chamber Choir, soprano Katy Garden, alto Barb Towell, tenor Will George, and baritone Willy Miles-Grenzberg. The women soared, the men, not quite as much, but still a pleasing overall performance.

P.S. After I initially uploaded this post I began Googling to see if the singers had their own websites that I could link to, and Google already had a link to this post within a few minutes of it going live! Wow. Anyway, the gals had websites that popped up on the first page or two of a Google search, the guys. . . not. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

March 21, 2010

Ending the 2010 Olympics with k.d. lang

I had to listen to k.d. lang's untouchable Winter Olympics 2010 cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" one more time tonight as the Games end. Gorgeous. . .

OK, yet one more time. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

March 20, 2010

Robson Square, Sledge Hockey, Dal Richards

Well, even the 2010 Paralympics are winding down, but there is still fun to be found in downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver Art Gallery features free admission, so we checked out the Leonardo da Vinci display and the BC Pavilion. Then it was off to Robson Square to check out the big screen and catch some tunes. We lucked into Dal Richards, Vancouver's famous sax playing, singing band leader, who's in his nineties! Wonderful show.


The art gallery with the Olympic Clock at 0:00.


Dal Richards & His Orchestra, with sledge hockey on the big screen.


Posted by Paul at 10:02 PM

March 14, 2010

DiNovo Shines with New Westminster Orchestra

The New Westminster Symphony Orchestra put on a lovely performance this afternoon, with the highlight being a blazing rendition of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major by soloist Nancy DiNovo. The technically difficult piece is always a crowd-pleaser and DiNovo got a standing ovation.

The only unfortunate, er, note, was the opening plea for financial support as government grants are cut. That seems to be an ongoing refrain at concerts these days. It was nice to see folks dropping bills into the donation boxes during the intermission.

I strongly support those who feel that the arts serve a greater purpose in society, and are far from being elitist. They promote education and personal excellence. The dedication, practice and perseverance that it takes to become a musician or artist serves broader society in many ways.

Posted by Paul at 04:43 PM

January 03, 2010

iPod Navigator

For a couple of months now I've been trying to catch this gizmo on sale at Canadian Tire. It plugs into the cigarette lighter on a vehicle to power an iPod, and it also transmits music from an iPod using a selectable FM band. (Our faithful and stalwart '98 Subaru Outback has no aux input for its stereo. . .) Such devices are often in the $40-70 range, but this no-name brand has been available at Canadian Tire for under $20 off and on, but has always been sold out when I get to a store.

Well, I finally found one during Boxing Week sales at a CT for $14.95. It's pretty flimsy, and it sticks out so far that I cannot put the vehicle in park without removing it, but hey, it works! When I finally saw one, I turned it over and over, wondering at its cheap appearance, and a fellow came along and said, "Hey, works great, I've got three of them!"

I just realized that I badly dated myself - does anyone call them cigarette lighters anymore? I believe the politically correct term now is auxiliary power outlets.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

October 21, 2009

Apple Store Won’t Let Me Order

I'm trying to send an Apple iTunes gift card to someone in the US and I'm in Canada. I tried Apple's US website, but it would not accept my Canadian province and postal code in the purchasing address. I tried Apple's Canadian website, but it would not accept the US address as the shipping address.

Perhaps I'm just missing some option, but you'd think they'd make carrying out a transaction as KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, er, Silly) as possible. Dunno if it's Apple being silly or I'm being stupid, but after a couple of failed attempts I guess I'm off to Amazon - at least I know Amazon's gift certificates work cross border, and that I'm able to place orders with both the US and Canadian Amazon websites.

Posted by Paul at 07:53 AM

September 06, 2009

Chris Isaak at the PNE

It was a great show yesterday. Isaak is a consummate performer with great original tunes and crowd-pleasing chatter.





Concert shots were hand-held at ISO 3200 with my Nikon D300, with the 18-200 VR lens.

Posted by Paul at 09:08 PM

July 09, 2009

Found Old Driving Tapes

Found my old driving cassettes in the garage today: Led Zep, Stones, Floyd, Dylan, Tom Petty, Bad Company, Iron Butterfly, Golden Earring, Eric Clapton, Police, Pat Benatar, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, Heart, The Band, Dire Straits, Springsteen, Beatles, ZZ Top, Def Leppard, Phil Collins, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Huey Lewis, Eurythmics, Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Bryan Adams, etc.

What? No Guess Who? April Wine? Lighthouse? Streetheart? Jeez, there must be another CanCon box hidden in some corner somewhere....

I haven't played these tapes in 20+ years. Assuming they still run, and don't disintegrate in the player, I should have a good road trip this summer.

Posted by Paul at 02:04 PM

January 13, 2009

Michael Jackson Big For Age

On the National Post's letters page today there is a photo of the Jackson Five, "circa 1960."

Michael is looking pretty big for a 2-year-old toddler, born in August 1958! :-).

If that doesn't work, go to National Post, Letters, and the "Motown" item.

Posted by Paul at 01:31 PM

September 14, 2008

Edmonds City Fair a Blast!

I was a "celebrity contestant" and a talent contest judge at the 2008 Edmonds City Fair in southeast Burnaby today. It was great fun! Somehow I managed to win the celebrity contest, which involved racing in a sack, carrying an egg in a spoon, putting on a dress and hat, and sprinting to the finish line. I didn't think I'd prevailed over MP Peter Julian, MLA Raj Chouhan, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, and RCMP Superintendant Rick Taylor, but that's what the judges ruled :-).

How was I included in this cast, you may ask? One of my hats is president of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association.

I was blown away by the contestants in the music contest, most of them young female singers ranging in age from seven to seventeen or so. Most were too shy to say boo to the MC, but once the music started they soared. Amazing. (And I've got some cred to be a judge as I sang in a youth choir for ten years, and won an award or two for singing a loooong time ago :-).

My welcoming speech.

Ronald McD grilling the celebrity lineup.

The contestants at the end of the race.

Me, Bonnie in the blue T-shirt, and Archie Rose, last year's talent winner, were this year's judges.

Thanks to the committee chaired by Burnaby Parks Chair Paul McDonell for organizing the event, and to all of the business sponsors whose contributions made it free to the public!

Photos by my wife, Yumi, and the judges photo by Edmonds Scotiabank manager and event organizer Debbie Zurowski.

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM

June 02, 2008

Lovely Ukrainian Interpretation of Japanese Songs

My aunt Roma clued me in to these beautiful renderings of Japanese songs by Nataliya Gudziy, a Ukrainian singer, bandura player, and Chernobyl survivor. My Japanese wife was impressed with Nataliya's pronunciation and beautiful voice. I'd love to see Nataliya in a duet with Angela Aki!

Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM

July 15, 2007

Burnaby's Symphony in the Park

The Vancouver Symphony played its annual, no-charge Symphony in the Park at Burnaby's beautiful outdoor concert venue at Deer Lake Park this evening. It was warm and sunny with enough dramatic clouds to set off the perfect setting for an outdoor concert.

Even though we arrived nearly an hour before show time, the grassy slope overlooking the serene lake was already filling up. The VSO played a crowd-pleasing program, as usual. Shostakovich's Festive Overture was the short, sweet, lead-in, followed by Borodin's melodic In the Steppes of Central Asia. The first half concluded with Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, ably performed by the 19-year-old Melody Quah on piano.

The second half began with a rousing, hyperdrive fast rendition of Williams's Star Wars Suite 1. Main Title. That was followed by Conway Baker's Through the Lion's Gate: 3. Mountains, a lovely piece I'd never heard before. It celebrates the north shore mountains near the concert venue, and the composer was present and received a standing ovation. In a serendipitous touch, a Great Blue Heron overflew the crowd in the midst of the performance. Only in Canada, eh?

That was followed by Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, in the version for violin, charmingly performed by the VSO's Associate Concertmaster Joan Blackman. When the short piece ended, Yumi and I simultaneously sighed and said we wanted more... Then came a few well-known selections from Grieg's Peer Gynt, and the concert wrapped up with Tchaikovsky's thunderous 1812 Overture.

In conclusion, being of Ukrainian descent, and noticing the preponderance of Slavic composers represented in the program, all I can say is: Slavs Rock! :-)



Posted by Paul at 11:18 PM

January 01, 2007

NHK Kohaku Music Show Surprises

My wife and I always watch Japanese national television NHK's (English site here) year-end Kohaku men vs. women singing extravaganza. I believe this year was the 57th running, and some of the singers haven't missed a show -- just kidding :-). It's a tradition, and while the music ranges from insipid to (rarely) inspired, it's a way to catch up on the Japanese music scene, see who is in and who is out, and rate the songs while giggling, and occasionally, sniffling at the odd tear-jerker.

Kohaku has also become a lifeline to the "good old days" when we lived in Tokyo, and often watched the show live while visiting Yumi's parents in cold, snowy, northern Japan.

The younger pop stars are usually not very good, to be charitable -- most of them are mass-produced by mainstream Japanese music companies, and it shows. It's gotten to the point that I almost prefer the traditional, overblown, sappy enka singers, mainly because some of them have real pipes.

NHK, staid as it is, has gradually increased the amount of flesh allowed -- perhaps ratings have been declining. Skirts have been getting shorter, blouses more plunging, bras more pneumatic, and one song this year blew the audience away with apparently topless female dancers. A few songs later, an announcer came on to apologize after a rash of telephone complaints, explaining that they were not really naked, they were wearing costumes that made them look naked. OK, whatever, the result was the same :-).

Anyway, there was a real gem in the show this time around -- Angela Aki (also see Wikipedia). I'd never heard of her, but she blew us away with her flawless, pitch-perfect singing, her capable piano playing, and, as if it matters, her Nana Mouskouri looks. I've already ordered a CD, and have been checking out videos of her on YouTube.

I really have to get back to monitoring music more closely!

Posted by Paul at 06:39 PM

March 26, 2006

Logitech Z-2300 Speakers Rock

I bought a set of Logitech "Z-2300 Extreme THX?-certified 2.1 performance speakers" for my computer at Best Buy yesterday. They were on sale for C$99.99 from a list price of C$229.99, a deal I couldn't pass up.

I've spent the last couple of hours ripping dozens of CDs to my computer, listening to the huge improvement in sound quality as I do so. These speakers pump out 200 watts of RMS power, and are very crisp and clean compared to my muddy old GNT-5000 32 watt 2.1 speakers that cost about $45 new.

I hadn't been listening to music much on my computer, but that's going to change. The Z-2300s are a joy to listen to. The wired remote is also very handy, with a master volume, subwoofer volume, headphone jack, and power/standby switch. No more feeling around under the desk for knobs, switches and jacks!

Now I'm thinking about a Creative Sound Blaster X-FI sound card to augment the built-in sound on my Intel motherboard...

Posted by Paul at 04:48 PM

February 15, 2005

Inconsiderate Coughers Mar Vancouver Concert

A cacophonous chorus of coughers crashed the Kodo concert in Vancouver last night.

A quiet, moving, wooden flute and vocal number in particular was assailed with a storm of hacking.

The occasional cough or sneeze is to be expected at a concert, but this was an ongoing barrage from numerous idiots throughout the hall.

Who were all those inconsiderate people who couldn't suppress a cough for a few minutes? Or if they were that sick, what were they doing attending a public event?

What has happened to courtesy and common sense?

Posted by Paul at 12:10 PM

Powerful Kodo Concert in Vancouver

The Kodo One Earth Tour 2005 blew into Vancouver last night with a powerful concert that garnered two standing ovations.

Kodo is a world-renowned Japanese drum group that is known for its athletic performances of mesmerizing percussion music. The group never fails to please, and appears to have loosened up somewhat from its earlier ascetic days.

The show incorporated a few new features including Kabuki elements and vocal numbers.

This is at least the fourth time I've seen Kodo in concert, and am always blown away. If you've never seen Kodo and have the chance, don't miss it!

Posted by Paul at 11:59 AM

October 23, 2004

Vancouver Philharmonic Kicks Off Season

The Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off a new season tonight with a number of crowd pleasers, including an inspiring solo flute performance by Lorna McGee.

This dedicated group of amateurs has to be one of the lower mainland's best "bang for the buck" offerings of classical music. Highly recommended.

Posted by Paul at 10:58 PM

August 02, 2004

Birthday Brings Chris Isaak CDs

I received a couple of Chris Isaak CDs for my birthday from my wife Yumi the other day.

Speak of the Devil, and Always Got Tonight.

He has an infectious style. It's old, it's new, it's danceable. It's surf, it's rock, it's country, it's blues....

Yumi knows how much I enjoy the TV show, it's such a goofy mess of music and misadventure. That's how I first learned of the group, and it's been growing on me ever since.

I used to be such a music fanatic.... It's strange, and sometimes sad, how one's life changes. I buy perhaps four or five CDs a year now, when I used to buy several dozen LPs per year in my youth.

What have I been missing?

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2004

Vancouver Philharmonic Features Fine Cellist

The Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra ended its 40th anniversary season with a concert tonight that featured a wonderful performance by cellist Carina Reeves.

The programme began with Mozart's Symphony in C major, KV 425 "Linz." The orchestra performed it ably, however somehow this symphony didn't engage me.

The second half, however, was a feast. It began with Beethoven's "Coriolan" Overture, which was magnificent, and ended with Reeves performing the moving Concerto for Violincello and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 85 by Sir Edward Elgar.

I had not heard this piece before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Reeves and the orchestra played with a controlled intensity that resulted in a deserved standing ovation.

Posted by Paul at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2004

Burnaby Symphony - Young Artists of the Future

We attended this Burnaby Symphony fundraising event last night at the Vancouver Hilton Metrotown, and were blown away by the amazing talent of the five young pianists and one violinist.

The kids ranged in age from 10 to 14 and displayed astounding mastery of their instruments. It boggles the mind to imagine how they will sound ten years from now as young adults.

Kudos to the event organizers, and the hotel for providing the facilities free of charge!

Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

Burnaby Symphony - Winter Classics

The Burnaby Symphony warmed us up tonight with a Schubert overture and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in the first half, followed by a magnificent Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in Bb minor, opus 23, splendidly hammered out with great flair by pianist Nikolai Maloff.

As my mom said, "Sometimes you just need that Slavic soul." Amen.

Maloff's performance was intensely powerful, and his command of his instrument was immediately obvious. Not quite enough to stand the hairs up on one's neck, but I certainly felt a strong tingling :-).

On second thought, I suspect it was not Maloff's fault that I didn't get a full rise out of my neck hairs. He was playing with a budding symphony, many members of which were glued to his breathtaking prowess whenever they had a lull in the action.

It's too bad the Michael J. Fox Theatre was less than half full. The symphony is still young, and there are rumblings that it's facing financial problems if things don't improve.

It's a blossoming group with great potential and it would be a shame to see it go. C'mon Burnaby, let's support our local symphony!

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)