Friday, January 26, 2007

My space newbie

Well I'm up on myspace music. I feel very hooked in to all things cool and new: except of course that my space is no longer cool - things like facebook are now cool. I know this because the very cool 18 year old stage manager we had on the show had a 'facebook' account. However, the myspace is a great place to load on music... sort of a portable musical business card... The account is, logically enough, - there's some music I recorded at Edward's last year and some from the Weill disk: and I'll put up some new stuff in a few weeks when I've had a chance to work with the recording tools i've got here..

Boot Hill

Stumbled upon the Graveyard the other night. Just a few blocks from our house: we’re at the back of the town against the hill and if you walk right along 8th St. then you arrive at the lonely little graveyard backing up into the hill. It seems like a cold place to rest, but it has a beautiful view. The most haunted cabin in town must be this one that is perched on the hill right beside it. Every night when I walk past there are lights glowing in the window...apart from the location it looks like a pretty cheerful place...

Behind it a road heads into the forest: but the sign below explains why you can’t use it: it's a street sign I don't think you'd see anywhere else in the world...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Great Cause...

this woman is trying to save an old cinema from the developers in Vancouver: it's a great cause - check out her site and buy yourself some shares in a new art centre... It's an amzing space... I think I danced to the ramones there in oh... sometime in the 80's

How to Help

The plan in essence is laid out here: I'm asking you to forward this as e-mail to absolutely everyone in your address books, to post it to every forum and mailing list you can think of, to carpet-bomb the internet with this pitch. (Even this intro bit, yes). The more people we have read this, the more chance we have to exist. We have three weeks to raise a million dollars. Please, go to:

Imagine buying a space and starting your own theatre, or your own art gallery, or your own movie theatre, or your own music hall. Imagine being able to host performances of all sorts- giving your creative friends space to perform or exhibit their work. I've got friends who are dancers and painters and lighting designers and actors and directors and writers and photographers and cinematographers... it would be amazing to give them a space to create what they dream of, to be seen, heard, and appreciated.

I found an old cinema in Vancouver, built in 1910 and most recently used as a Bollywood house. It used to be The New York, where Neil Young and Sonic Youth once played. And it's up for sale.

The Plan

I want to turn it into a 21st Century "multi-disciplinary arts facility featuring inspiring work from all over the globe that recaptures and surpasses its previous glory." And I want to call it Heart Of The World.

Housed in a classic 300 seat theatre built in 1910, the heyday of theatre, before any "leaky condo" fiasco, Heart of the World is to address the contemporary artistic and creative needs of the constantly evolving geographic location in which it is situated, offering competitive rates and a multi-faceted performance space. Complete with a full sized stage, a balcony with box seats, and a fully functional projection booth, the bones of the space hold limitless promise - able to show films, dance, theatrical productions, acoustic and amplified concerts, and cabaret events. In the foyer, artists both local and international will be able to advantageously display their work, whether it is photography, painting, drawing or sculpture. As a web presence, Heart of the World will offer podcasts of performances, a gallery of streaming video of performers, the chance to chat with featured artists, and up-to-date interviews, reviews and schedule listings.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Out of the snow and into the studio.

So now I have the little side studio at the Berton house set up as a portable studio. A Tascam usb audio/midi interface (US - 122L) with my laptop, a nice little Tascam condensor mic that came bundled with it (LD-74) and I'm wading my way through the details of Cubase (light). It's not the nicest little program in the world, some of the interface seems pretty outdated. However it will do fine: as far as mixing and recording with Cubase I'm doing basic stuff and I have Ableton 5 to do my musical work with. I also have the Shure replica 'elvis mic' which has a great specific boomy sound if the Tascam is too generic. The only thing I forgot to pack was a keyboard with a midi output: so I may have to do any midi work with the keyboard shortcuts... which is a pain in the ass. And I have a precious 30 or so gigabytes of samples that I've been carefully carrying around on a portable hard drive.

I'll have some songs up on a myspacemusic site in a week or so. Older tests that I was working on last year: playing around with jazz standards, trying to find out what throwing some new sounds underneath them gives to them - whether it opens them up or overwhelms them - but now I'm looking forward to having all this silence around us to give me some inspiration to fill it up. It's gonna be a fun couple 'a months...

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Whiter shade of

Walked along the river bed as far as the ice bridge that replaces the ferry boat. I caught it at about 3.30pm - sunset that lasts for an hour and a half. The montage above is from the beginning of walk, above the river. By the time I'd swung around in a complete circle and taken a dozen shots my camera froze (literally) and my hands were so cold I was in pain... I think it was around -30 before windchill. Later, walking down the river cradling my hands under my arms I thought about how cushioned I am. A great coat, layers of warm clothing, a warm hat and I'm so comfortable... but 20 seconds of my skin exposed to the cold and wind and I'm suddenly scared that I'll drop the camera or my gloves in the snow and be physically unable to pick them up...

The walk along the river bank is totally silent, the occasional car passing on the highway above the river - but there's almost no traffic at this time of year - and the occasional skidoo buzzing on the trail on the other side of the river. Just the crunching of snow underfoot and the sound of wind. In the sunset the colors are reds and blues and then, as the evening darkens, everything flattens in the twilight until I can't really see where I'm putting my feet in the mess of snow trampled by the skidoos and dog teams. I find myself stumbling around and I remember Susannes warning to stay in the tracks of the skidoos when I'm walking on the river - I don't think there's any danger this close to the edge, but I'm no longer really enjoying it so I head for the riverbank and on the way into town pass the little ferry that must replace the ice bridge in the summer. Wonder how they get that thing up on the river bank?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blue Green

Just in from a walk down to the frozen river. I must be acclimatizing: it's -28C and I was thinking how nice it felt outside. Lisa's gone to bed but I'm waiting up for a bit in case the lights get even brighter. The Northern Lights are swirling overhead in a blue green streaks across the sky. They're all over the place, not just the north. At the end of our walk it almost seems like they were following the line of the river sweeping up the valley. On the way home both of our faces were crusted with ice crystals around our eyes and scarves, and the air was filled with the wood smoke from the houses and cabins around us. There's no wind, so the smoke is slowly settling across the town. It's extraordinarily beautiful.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Should be an interesting flight......"

and as I walked across the dark and snowy tarmac to the 20 seater Hawker Sidley (that had seen slightly better days) the air steward leaned down and yelled to us: 'this is the first time we've flown this plane, should be an interesting flight....'. It was pitch dark at the Whitehorse airport and we were taking off for Dawson City, Old Crow and Inuvik and I guess he didn't know that part of my calm and pleasure about flying is saying to myself ' oh come on... they fly these things hundreds of times a month: for you it feels special but really this is just one more routine flight'. As we took off emergency lights flashed on and off, followed by slightly worried calls from the steward to the pilot warning them that something was odd, followed by the the lights going away, followed by them coming back on and staying on intermittently for a good piece of the flight... The steward settled back finally and enjoyed his cup of coffee, everyone around me went to sleep and I watched the white hills pass on by. Actually, my nerves disappeared pretty quickly- something about the sweep and the immensity of the landscape below just made jitters seem irrelevant.

We landed in Dawson City and Lisa was there to greet me and Barclay (the dog), and Susanne, who runs the Pierre Berton house up here, drove out to pick us up. They both had the immense pleasure of saying things like 'Cold!? Why this is only -25. It's a warm day up here!'... in fact, perhaps they met me at the airport just to have the pleasure of saying things like that. And now I'm tucked into the warmth and comfort of the Berton house.... oddly enough the house was recently redone by the a 'designer' TV show... so it's full of tasteful knicks and knacks.. honestly it's one of the most stylish places I've ever lived in: everything matches! There are beautiful prints on the walls, colorful Hudson Bay blankets thrown stylishly over comfy couches. I feel very swaddled in taste and comfort. More importantly it's surrounded by the calm and quiet of a small town living through a long beautiful winter, and I'm hoping it will be a place to regroup and reflect after a very busy year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Toronto Pause.... and a new year...

And what a year it’s been…..

Just back in Toronto from the Floridian temperatures of the Gulf Coast: Sarasota…the beach with its glittering talcum powder sands, the pool, the hot tub… and family -- at one point we had 16 people and four generations crowded around the various tables. I think I’ve gained a hundred pounds….

The Gulf Coast is a new Florida for me: my Florida is one I remember from winter trips to the Keys in the ‘60’s. Dad would pack up the Dodge and we’d head out from NYC in the late afternoon. Mom would drive overnight and me and Louise would stretch out toe to toe in the back seat and sleep the night away. Or part of the night at least… I remember sitting up in back seat watching telephone polls sweep by against highway nightscapes. Then we’d spend almost a month camping on the sands of the keys and swimming and wandering through the tiny brightly colored gingerbreaded houses of the keys plucking limes and oranges from the trees in the streets….

My work on the show finished on Dec 20/21st with two performances (I can call them work in progress shows now that we have plans to mount it again) at the Alchemy Theatre. In the final performance the actors began to really hit their mark and gather their emotional energy for the piece. It was a beautiful night of theatre… if I do say so myself. We managed to explore a lot of new media and ways of working that I’ve never had the chance to use on stage…. We found ourselves with an extraordinary team of people working on the show: Tyler Seguin and Emily Pearlman worked incredibly hard to make an emotional connection to this very poetic text. Craig Desson and Kit Pasold came up with beautiful images and sounds and struggled with all the technological problems of getting these material onstage. Sarah Miller Garvin and Sarah Brebner ran the show and made it work. Torben Beeg and Kit did amazing work to create the headlight and lighting effects that added so much to piece's atmosphere. And Lisa sat patiently while we struggled with her text and filled us in on what she was really thinking and adapted and tweaked the poetry to make it work on stage.

My discovery was that how much power the actors had over the ‘empty space’ and that the shift from a wide empty floor to props, images, sounds was unimaginably more delicate and powerful than I had imagined. I’ll put some video clips up soon… We’ll be applying to the Summerworks theatre festival and if that works out then we’ll be remounting it in the summer in Toronto and trying to redefine some of the loose ends. I felt incredibly lucky to have had the support of the Canada Council and the Toronto Arts Council for funding to do this initial work. It wouldn’t have happened without them.

I learnt a wonderful story while we were there: Simon Michelepis, the wonderful, generous owner of the Alchemy, told me that his theatre owes its existence to the attack on the World Trade Centre. Just after Sept 11th 2001, the insurance company where he has his day job was hit by devastating claims from the loss of life, and to cope they had to pass on claims to their own insurance companies: which was Simon’s job. And in the face of all this work he demanded a raise… and with the raise he bought – the Alchemy. I have some intense memories of the period just after the attack: I had a flight in from London to NY on the day after. I was supposed to be doing some concerts and working on writing a play. I finally managed to get in on one of the first flights into the city on the 16th. We did do one performance later in the month but mostly I roamed around the city and wrote and wrote: the devastation demanded a response and my first full length play came out of that writing. It is amazing to know that elsewhere strange parts of those shifting responsibilities and monies bubbled into creative events and desires… and that we got share it in some way last week.

Now I have ten days in Toronto to research and prepare work on some new projects and then next stop – The Yukon!!