and on the fifth day...
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Day five at the 2003 Ottawa Bluesfest.

Julian convinced me to go see jazz/blues pianist Michael Kaeshammer, and am I ever glad I did. He played an hour and a half of adventurous, knife-quick songs, ranging from toetapping boogie-woogie to lighter-touched, more lyrical stuff. He and his bandmates (on upright bass and drums) injected everything with flashes of contemporary wit and experimentalism, with unexpected flickers of high-notes, sudden splashes of cymbal. I don't find myself putting much jazz on at home, these days (except for Kind of Blue), but tonight's show reconfirmed my prior realization that live jazz kicks ass three ways to friday. Whereas in lots of other genres (rock, folk, hip hop), I seem to vastly prefer the album-listening experience, with jazz, a live setting is many times more exciting. Not only does the improv feel improvised, you're there to feel the temperature of the air, see the glances between musicians, behold the little things that make the music what it is, and drive it down its spontaneous little paths. You follow the artists' train-of-thought (at least to a higher degree), which lets them surprise you all the more with the harmonic flourishes, the false-endings, the sudden (glorious) resurrections of the melody. Though there were a few places where things were too straight-ahead blues for me (especially when Kaeshammer was singing along), and he sometimes held the same note patterns for too long, it was overall quite terrific.

Then we sauntered over to the mainstage, where 23,000 people were trying to make out Sheryl Crow on the giant screen (seeing her on the stage was a lost cause). The sound wasn't so good (it was quiet, first of all, way in the back), and the 6 or 8 songs we stayed for didn't make any impression. (I went nuts, though, trying to figure out who she was covering on "The First Cut is the Deepest." My exchange with Julian went like this:

[Sheryl is singing "The First Cut is the Deepest."]
Sean: Do you recognize this song?
Julian: No.
S: It's a cover, but I can't remember what.
J: Oh.
S: It's driving me crazy!
J: [shrugs]
[I spend five minutes making groaning sounds, rolling my eyes, singing the song to myself, making comments like "I think the original was sung by a black guy." ... "Maybe not." ... "It's either from a long time ago or really recent. Maybe." Julian is simply doing a lot of shrugging.]
S: Argh, what was it!?
J: How did it go, again?
S: Uh... "The first cut is the deepest, uh, baby I know... the first cut is the deepest. Um. Na na na."
J: Oh. That's Cat Stevens.
S: Yes! [slaps forehead] But you didn't recognize it when she was actually performing?
J: [shrugs]

All I know is that there will certainly be a lot (ie, several hundred) of disappointed people, tomorrow, who paid $35 to get into the grounds, only to witness a performance that they experienced in lesser quality than they would have at home on TV. And the beer was more money.

Posted by Sean at July 9, 2003 12:44 AM

Ahh, Sean, it is so good to read this blog. It is comforting to know that while I am in this totally new place, the worlds of the Ottawa Jazz Fest and indie rock continue to turn. much love. -a

Posted by anne at July 9, 2003 2:01 PM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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