Monthly Archives: June 2017

Music Review: Bob Dylan in Ottawa

No longer do I need to have a Bob Dylan concert on a bucket list, if I had one.

After reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony, my interest in Dylan was peaked, and during the show the musical ghosts of Robertson*, Helm, Manuel, Danko and Hudson* were on stage for me along with the crack band backing Dylan on this tour.

On tour in support of his newest 3 CD set, Triplicate, Dylan appeared to have fun with standards like Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves and Stormy Weather. I was thank full to have Jim with me at this his 15th Dylan show telling me the titles of Dylan rollicking through classics like Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Duquesne Whistle and Highway 61 Revisited.

In a stage setting that reminded me of a ballroom, not unlike what Dylan would have played in with the Band in the 60’s and 70’s, the lighting was simple and suited the show. The lighting different in that all the lighting was directed from the rear of stage or the side, there was never any light on the faces of the band or Dylan. What we got was the iconic image of Bob Dylan’s silhouette of his head and hair from his Greatest Hits albums.

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My impressions of the show are much more than musical, they are of Dylan having fun, behind the piano for much of the show. I missed seeing him playing the guitar, that is the image I had of him in my head. Now I see a man playing the piano like someone who just discovered boogie-woogie, his feet dancing below while his fingers danced over the keyboard.

Dylan is not one for words and in Ottawa he did not speak a word to the audience, but his singing surprised me. I did not know what to expect, I had read and heard of a Dylan whose vocal range was limited at best. In Ottawa, Dylan’s gravel voice was pure Dylan, nothing more and nothing less – just Dylan and that was good for me.

With about a third of the set list from recent cover recordings, that left a lot of ground for him to get to for the rest of the 100-minute performance. While I did not know them before, Desolation Row and the final song of the night Ballad of a Thin Man were highlights along with the previously mentioned Highway 61 Revisited and Duquesne Whistle. The only disappointment was Blowing in the Wind, even Jim didn’t recognize the song  until we got to the course.

No photos or video were allowed, and if you were tempted and took either you would be escorted out as one gentleman beside me was. So, I have two images from last night, the one I took at the end of the night when the roadies hit the stage once the house lights went up, posted here. The other is of Bob Dylan in his white dinner jacket, one hand on his waist like Superman and the other holding his mic stand as he stood there looking out over his adoring and dedicated fans as if saying, ‘here I am, I have conquered Ottawa until my next visit here’.

Now I that I have seen Dylan live, there are too many other songs to hear him perform to say this will be my last Bob Dylan concert.

*Yes, they are still alive

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

How Trudeau blew his advantage 

Parliament rose for the summer on June 21, 2017. It was not the best of times for Justin Trudeau; it may have been the worst of times. It may have been the best of times he’ll have compared to what is coming up for him when the MP’s return to Ottawa on September 18, 2017. The reason? Andrew Scheer will be settled into his role as the leader of the Conservative opposition with a shadow cabinet he’ll select. A few weeks later after the return of the house, the NDP will also have a new leader in place to face off against Trudeau.

In my view the period leading from the election to the end of the current session of Parliament should have been clear sailing for the Liberals. They have the majority and what seems the platform the voters wanted and they had the good will of Canadians willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The biggest advantage the Liberals had for the 1st two years was that the leadership of the opposition parties in house at the start of the four-year mandate would not be the same when the election would come in 2019. Form the outset it seemed that there could be nothing to stop the Liberals. I don’t think they ever considered that they would be their own worst enemies.

Rather than get to work and pass the legislation they promised, what has Justin Trudeau done? They’ve backpedaled on their biggest election promise – election reform. The Liberals tried to change parliamentary procedure, not once but twice. Trudeau has been caught vacationing where he ought not to have, fundraised with rules he said on the campaign were unfair and transparent appointments turned to partisan nominations. All of this and more led to disruptions in the house by the opposition, extended attacks in Question Period, numerous votes to “have a speaker be heard”, endless amendments to government bills, filibusters in committee and motions that would take hours to vote on during midnight sittings in the House of Commons.

How could’ve all this happened? One word; underestimation. Trudeau and the Liberals underestimated that Rona Ambrose would rally and unite the Conservatives in opposition. Trudeau underestimated that Tom Mulcair would not go quietly.

While the Liberals underestimated the strength of the Conservatives, they returned to the opposition benches with 30+ new first time MPs who wouldn’t have the legacy of Stephan Harper to defend. The Liberals also got greedy; it caused them to ignore parliamentary tradition and try to ply their muscle at a time when it wasn’t needed. The muscle would be best saved for when both the NDP and Conservatives would be in the House with new leaders.

The first 199 sitting days of the Trudeau mandate were just the warm up for what is about to come. The Conservatives have Andrew Scheer honing his skills this summer as their leader and the NDP have five candidates vying to bring back the honour of Jack Layton (Read: Saving the House that Jack Built). Day 200 of Trudeau 2.0 will come September 18, 2017, that is the day that the real game of politics begins.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Summer Music

I like to buy and listen to a lot of new music, always looking for something that is going to make my head swing, get my feet going and find a song that I have to put on repeat. On my iPod I have a playlist I titled “New and Noteworthy”. The past few weeks I have added few new selections to the playlist, they make up part of my summer music.

Buckingham/McVie “Buckingham/McVie”

For Fleetwood Mac fans do not confuse Buckingham/McVie with the 1973 Lp Buckingham/Nicks, but let me just say, if you a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this is a MUST have for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band. The only person missing form performing is Stevie Nicks, but you don’t miss her. The sound on this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, you know – the one BEFORE Rumours.

It is clear that the same musical chemistry that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s has not faded 40 years later. These two sound good together, the song writing is great with each contributing their own songs and collaborating on others. Key tracks on this disc are ‘Sleeping Around the Corner’, ‘Red Sun’, ‘Game of Pretend’ and ‘Feel About You’. The challenge is to shuffle Fleetwood Mac with Buckingham/McVie and try to differentiate the two.

With Fleetwood Mac touring this summer (with Stevie Nicks) you can bet the new Buckingham/McVie material will fit right in.

Fiest “Pleasure”

This CD was sadly, anything but a pleasure to listen to. I found it missing the melodies and musicality of her previous outings. I never expect to hear another ‘1-2-3-4’, but almost every track on this record is so far from it that it would be hard to recognize it as a Fiest record at all. “Pleasure “ is stripped down, and stripped down works for some artists, Johnny Cash is an example, but it doesn’t work for Fiest. It does not work for me because of Fiest vocals; they don’t match the raw guitars, the raw production and yes, the raw songs written for the records.

I heard Fiest interviewed by Tom Brown on CBC’s q; there she says that women will better understand this record. Maybe that’s it; I gave this record a few extra spins hoping the music would grow on me. I am disappointed that it didn’t – I really wanted to like this record, but I am not ready to give up on it either.

Ruth B “Safe Haven”

It took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was.. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me. I hope that you will also make it one of your summer listens for the summer of ’17.

Lorde “Melodrama”

With no new music planned from Taylor Swift (but that doesn’t mean something won’t drop before Christmas) Lorde’s follow up to the 2012 Heroine had the largest expectations of all of this years new music releases. Melodrama opens up with the lead single ‘Green Light’, one of the best songs I have heard all year. My worry was if it would be the best song on the album. With a percussion driven set of songs, Melodrama that will remind you of her debut, but in Melodrama I found myself on a few occasions thinking of Phil Collins and the trademark sound he had on his solo work. As different as each song is, each track also melts into the next, almost seamlessly. Lorde’s vocals are unique, her phrasing is unlike what we still don’t hear a lot of today, and yet it is still not tiring to listen to. Melodrama was a good surprise, bit of Heroine but also lots of growth over four years. It may not have a ‘Royals’, but it doesn’t need one.

Serena Ryder “Utopia”

I saw Serena Ryder last summer in Thunder Bay play off Lake Superior on an all-Canadian bill that also featured Gowan and Tom Cochrane. I have been listening to Serena Ryder since she released “If Your Memory Serves You Well” in 2006, and I learned about her from Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap on the CBC,  I’ve been listening since the early days of ‘Little bit of Red’, ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and ‘You were on My Mind’. 2012’s ‘Stompa’ was huge leap for Ryder and ‘Got Your Number’ was an early indication to me that she continuing the leap.

With Utopia, the evolution continues, Ryder’s song writing continues to grow and here the songs are personal, more than before, as she trusts herself more to lay out her life before us. Along with ‘number’, ‘Hands’, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Sanctuary’ demonstrate what I think are some of Ryder’s’ best songs in years. Utopia as a destination is a high reach; musically for Serena Ryder, Utopia is a place we can hear a performer continue to grow.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Saving the House that Jack Built

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One leadership race is done (see From the floor of the #CPCldr Convention) and one more to go. The Federal NDP will choose their new leader before October 30, 2017. Seriously there is no firm date, check out the NDP Leadership website, https://www.ndp.ca/leadership-2017.

When I last wrote about their leadership race (June 2016) there was only one candidate, sort of. Ontario MPP Cherie DiNovo said she would run but was balking at paying a fee to enter the race. She has since left the race. Since that day there have been as many as 6 candidates running, currently there are five.

Why is a Conservative like me so concerned about the NDP Leadership? Two reasons, it’s exciting to watch and the Conservative Party needs the NDP to have a strong leader. The Trudeau Liberals kicked great NDP MP’s out of the House of Commons. For the Liberals to lose their majority or even lose the next election, the New Democratic Party needs to have a leader that will capture the imagination of voters on the left the way that Jack Layton did.

Today there are five candidates, Pat Stogran, Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman dropped out shortly after jumping in. The last candidate to announce was the Ontario NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh, a smart, bilingual and charismatic Ontario MPP. He wants to jump into the federal game. He joins Nikki Ashton, Charlie Angus, Peter Julian and Guy Caron to fill the shoes of Jack Layton, because really the last thing the NDP needs is another Thomas Mulcair, at least the one who thought he could be the next Prime Minister. Mulcair’s shoes are going to stay in the mudroom – never to be worn again.

The moment that the NDP had been waiting for has come and gone, the Conservatives are no longer sucking all the air out leadership media coverage. The general consensus was ‘wait for the Conservative leadership to be over, then we’ll (the NDP) will have the spotlight’. Have you noticed any difference? The addition of Jagmeet Singh was a blip on in the media. It might be because it’ssummer, it might be that Parliament is still in session but I am sure there is more to why the NDP leadership is so, so boring.

I think that the candidates have learned by watching the Conservative race and have chosen not to be controversial. In fact the one candidate that came out swinging is no longer in the race – Pat Stogran. Watching him make his pitch in the first days after his announcement of jumping in was fascinating – he was adding energy and challenging the left to look at themselves and make them think about what was needed to become government. He entered the race April 20th; by June 3rd he was gone.

I looked for any kind of polling numbers, but there are none, so how can we judge who might be leading in this race. Some very loose searching (I was using Wikipedia) has me guessing the following on how the polls might look:

  1. Peter Julian: With 6 MPs, Julian has the most declared Federal MP support
  2. Jagmeet Singh: He has endorsements from 5 Provincial NDP members and 3 municipal councillors.
  3. Nikki Ashton: Ashton has 1 NDP MP (Benson), Ontario’s Cheri DiNovo, the Manitoba Interim NDP Leader and Ontario Federation of Labour Leader Sid Ryan backing her.
  4. Charlie Angus: Charlie MLA’s from Ontario (2) Yukon and Manitoba endorsing him, Former MP Andrew Cash and the union PSAC are in his corner.
  5. Guy Caron: Caron is lagging behind with only one former MP and a Hamilton School Board Trustee endorsing him

There is so much time left that this race could shift, the summer BBQ circuit is going to be important, as will the 5 remaining debates. There are going be big challenges; Julian needs to be seen by the youth as viable; Singh needs a National profile and a current MP to endorse him; Ashton needs to grow her support among caucus and Angus and Caron also need to get strong endorsements from within the caucus.

The question mark is where do the strongest MPs go? Who will get Nathan Cullen’s endorsement? We also need to find out where Leap Manifesto writers Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein will shake out, after all they practically ‘wrote’ Mulcair’s end as NDP Leader.

Bring on the summer and the campaigning. By the time September comes around there could be one person standing taller than the others to save the house that Jack built.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Should Queen’s Park still be in session?

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On June 1st, Ontario Legislature Speaker (Brant MPP) David Levac gave a tearful farewell,  a week before he announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018. This led to speculation that Kathleen Wynne would call a snap election before the 4 year mandated election scheduled for June 7 2018, before Queen’s Park is due to come back this fall on September 11th.

All that is left on the Order Paper are mainly Private Member’s Bills and a couple Government Bills. The Liberal government has wisely had all their major legislation receive Royal Assent. Its lone major bill, Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, is controversial in that it will bring many ‘labour negotiated work concessions’ to non-union smaller businesses around Ontario.

It is important to restate that many important Private Members Bills will die if an election will be called this summer. So that leads to my primary thought for this blog post, why did the Ontario Legislature rise for the summer break?

Legally sitting days are regulated by Standing Orders of Parliament. In Toronto, Standing Order 6 dictates when and how long Queen’s Park sits (http://ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?Page=/house-proceedings/supporting-content/files/standing_orders&menuitem=dandp_proceedings&locale=en) In Ottawa, Parliament is still sitting and Ottawa City Council continues its regular bi-weekly council meetings and all committee meetings until a two-week break in August.

Having worked at Queens Park, I know how hard all MPPs work at Queens Park. They sit Monday to Thursday taking part in Question Period, regular House Duty, Committee Hearings and when needed late sittings in the House.

On Parliament Hill, the house will likely rise before the end of this week in June (week of June 12th), one week earlier than published on the Parliamentary Calendar. But I have to ask the question, is the governing of Ontario such that our Provincial legislature rises earlier than our Federal Parliament and our local City Council? My thoughts have always been the closer the level of government is the electorate, the more work there is to do and more legislation to get enacted.

inside QP

At Queen’s Park there are still some important pieces of legislation in the queue, many at first reading and until second reading takes place – these bills will sit there gathering dust.

Bill 104; Tax Fairness for Realtors Act. This act is sponsored by all three parties and yet is stuck at Committee since April 6th.

Bill 94; Highway Traffic Amendment Act (School Bus Camera Systems), 2017. This act is to strengthen the use of camera for school buses and student safety.  This bill was sent to committee February 23rd and will not be in effect to keep students safe when they return to school in September.

Bill 88; Asbestos Use Prohibition Act, 2017. This also passed second reading in February and was sent to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly.

Bill 71; Lung Safety Act 2016. Another Bill with all party support. The Lung Safety Act was introduced November 22nd was quickly through 1st and 2nd reading by November 24th, sent to the Standing Committee on Social Policy November the same day. There has been no committee report nor has the bill come back for 3rd reading in 27 weeks.

Bill 17; Saving the Girl Next Door Act, 2016. MPP Laurie Scott’s important bill to stop the trafficking of young girls has been in the Committee on Justice Policy since October 6th, 2016!

SONY DSCOf 169 bills in the current session at Queen’s Park, 102 are still on the books at either first or second reading.  29 bills are at Committee stage, 13 of the 29 have been in committee since the end of 2016.

There is a case to be made that our provincial government should sit longer and not allow so much legislation to to sit for a 3rd reading vote until the fall.  If Kathleen Wynne does call an election, all these bills may die.  Some will be re-introduced in the new session, which would be the 42nd Session; others will not see the light of Queen’s Park ever again.  Longer sitting sessions would allow the important work of our MPP’s to be done at committee stage where bills are further thought out and amended.

The summer break is important for MPPs to refresh and to spend in their ridings, it seems this summer break in 2017 might be more than that – it will be a chance for a longer ‘unofficial’ campaign through our #Canada150 summer before the writ is dropped.  But all this takes place with a cost, as  some good needed legislation will die and whether it returns all depends on who wins the snap election this summer.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

When I’m 81. #SgtPepper75

 

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In 1988 I purchased a Phillips Compact Disc player and three Compact Discs; Yes: Fragile, Roxy Music: Avalon and The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Sgt. Pepper was 21 years old when I bought the CD. I had already had the vinyl at home.

There was not much of a celebration for the 20th Anniversary. The 25th Anniversary only had interviews released about the making of the album.

The 50th, my goodness, the 50th has a Deluxe Box, Anniversary editions of the CD and Vinyl that each had a 2nd disc with out takes, demo and alternative versions.

The 50th Anniversary even had a hashtag: #SgtPepper50

George Martin oversaw the 1992 mixes. In 2017 for #SgtPepper50 discs, Martin’s son Giles was in charge of the mixes, which produced a new stereo mix from the original mono masters. I have yet to take the shrink-wrap off the double vinyl package, though I have heard that as good as the new mixes sound on CD, the vinyl is even better. It may only be a matter of time before the wrap comes off and I get see all the extras that first appeared in June 1967.

The title of this post is not that cryptic, when Sgt. Pepper turns 75, I will be 81 years old. In 2042, there are a few things we can assume – that there no Beatle will be alive. The respective Beatle estates will be run by the younger Beatles generation of Sean Lennon, James McCartney, Dhani Harrison and Zak Starkey. Giles Martin will again handle the producing duties for #SgtPepper75 as he will be a youthful 72 in June of 2042.

On the celebration of #SgtPepper75, what will be said that had not been written 25 years earlier? Will there be rare tapes discovered of a Sgt. Pepper follow up no one ever talked about?

Will the latest anniversary version include all songs recorded by the sons of the Fab Four?

Will the sons of the Beatles sound so much like John, Paul, George and Ringo listeners will not be able to tell the difference from the original recordings from 75 years earlier. Will this ‘one off’ recording spur the Beatles reunion no one thought could ever happen? We can only suppose what the reviews say; will it read “the Beatles would be proud of what their boys produced”, “the sons have done the fathers a dis-service” or “the re-imaging of Pepper from the Baby Fab Four is beyond what their fathers could have envisioned”.

In 2042 will CD’s be making a comeback? What will the packaging look like? Will it all be streamed with only the packaging (without the music) being sold? What about a hologram version of Sgt. Pepper, now that would be cool!

What will they say about the music? I imagine the Beatles would have thought about this when they recorded in ’67 and embedded sounds and messages that only would be heard in 2042.

I wonder if #SgtPepper75 will bring back a nostalgia for the 60’s, will music critics pine for simple days of when creating music really was ‘creating’ rather the ‘programming’ of the current generation (at that time). I hope that when 2032 comes along I will still be writing and contributing online in whatever format online in 25 years will look like and able to share more thoughts about how great Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is.

For now, “it’s getting better all the time”, every time I listen to Pepper.

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Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.