Friday, September 29, 2006

Sarah Harmer, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, 23 September 2006

While an estimated 50,000 people crowded the Halifax Commons for the Rolling Stones concert, a significantly smaller (as well as drier and warmer) crowd attended a delightful performance by the always lovely Sarah Harmer who is touring in promotion of her most recent album, I'm a Mountain. I had seen her twice before, two years ago at the same venue, and last summer at the Tulipfest in Ottawa, and she always puts on a good show. Her voice is beautiful; her band is fantastic; her banter is engaging; and Jenn and I had front row seats.

In the absence of an opening act, Harmer and her band of four hit the stage just after 8:00 and played until 9:45 followed by a three-song encore (can't complain with a nearly 2-hour set). She opened with "I Am Aglow" and the set list included nearly every song on I'm a Mountain (an album I can't get enough of, by the way), as well as favourites like "Basement Apt.", "Dogs and Thunder" and "Silver Road". It's always nice when an artist plays some unexpected cover songs in a show to keep things interesting. Harmer opted for The Shins' "Gone For Good" and '40s jazz tune "Black Coffee" which really highlighted the talents of her band. To close, the group came to the edge of the stage for a totally unplugged rendition of "How Deep in the Valley".

As I've mentioned before, I enjoy good stage banter in a live show, and Harmer satisfies in this regard. She is very casual and unintentionally funny. Of "Oleander" Harmer explained, "I thought I could use bluegrass music to do something for horticulture, so I wrote a song about a plant." She went on to say that she called in to a gardening show in the greater Ottawa area and the expert advised her that music is very beneficial to plants, especially that of the country genre. Unsurprisingly, she spoke of her work as a "nature nerd" in the Niagara Escarpment where she grew up. She spoke in particular of her work finding the threatened Jefferson Salamander near her parents' home.

Anyone familiar with Harmer's albums knows that she's one of the best in Canadian music today, and her live performance only secures her spot on my list of favourite artists. Snap up any opportunity to see one of her shows.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Metric, Halifax Forum, 15 September 2006

I bought Jenn tickets to Metric for her birthday, so we saw the show last night at the Forum. We arrived prior to the doors opening and felt like the oldest people there. I couldn't get over the number of kids there. Most of them looked about 15 based on the braces and a number of parental units acting as chaperones. When I was 15, kids did not have funky haircuts like today's 15 year olds. I felt uncool and preppy in my American Eagle shirt. I was consoled a while later when the "older" people started to arrive and I saw a few of my classmates.

Initially, we tried to get near the stage, but this didn't last long. Even before the opening act came on, people were being stupid. Then once the music started, it became ridiculous so we shoved our way out of the crowd and realized we have passed the age where one still puts up with the idiots in an effort to get a good look at the band. The opening act, who's name I wasn't able to catch, were pretty good - reminded me a bit of Jet.

Metric hit the stage shortly after 10 and played a mere 50 minutes before a three-song encore. They put on a good show, but spoke very little, which made the show seem even shorter. I tend to rate a live performance on whether a singer sounds the way they do on their album, so in that regard Emily Haines is great, and as Jenn said, "She bangs a good head." We ended up standing pretty far back having escaped the 16 year old moshers (apparently people still mosh...I was unaware), so we didn't get a good look and Jenn had some trouble seeing, but we were still able to enjoy the music. I'd like to see them again in a better venue.

Next concert: Sarah Harmer, September 23, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (when everyone else will be at the Stones concert)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You're not right for my record collection, Supernova

This may or may not come as a shock, but I have been a fairly avid viewer of Rock Star: Supernova this summer, and I have some thoughts on the occasion of the finale and announcement of the winner.

This girl should have won. I have thought so since I first watched the show early in the summer, and I am enraged that Tommy, Gilby and Jason picked this guy:

I was so sure Dilana would win and liked her so much, I decided I would go so far as to actually buy Supernova's album. Not anymore. While I liked Lukas at first, I have determined over the last number of weeks that I could not possibly listen to him for more than five minutes at a time regardless of the fact that he's Canadian.

In fact, his nationality is the only reason I'm not completely fed up with the result. This makes Canada two for two on Rock Star. Is Canada the rock capital of the world? Probably not, but Lukas' win does once again draw attention to one of the best things about Rock Star - it's an international competition. Neither INXS nor Supernova limited their search to a particular country, and rightly so, particularly from a marketing perspective. Once the show has aired with contestants from the US (a couple of whom were born outside the country), Canada, Australia, Iceland, and wherever else, the band has a ready made audience around the world ready to buy tickets - further proof that Mark Burnett is a marketing genius. I just don't happen to be a member of that particular audience.

With that, I move on to tomorrow's premiere of Survivor: Cook Islands and all the controversy (again, marketing genius) and entertainment that brings with it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

AIDS Walk For Life 2006

I'm participating in Walk for Life Halifax on Saturday, September 30, 2006. This year's Walk will take place at Halifax Central Commons.

You can help support me by making a quick and secure donation online. Please visit my personal donation page.

Another option is to join team DalOUT and raise money yourself. Do so by visiting DalOUT's Team Page and click "Join our Team".

For more information on Walk for Life Halifax, or to register to Walk, please visit the Walk For Life Halifax Homepage.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ellen to Host Oscars

As if I needed a reason to watch.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Traveling Pants: Newfoundland

This entry will be the first in a series entitled "Traveling Pants" in which I shall document my travels. Over the summer, I earned, among a small group of friends, the nickname "Pants". The reason for this is unimportant. Also, I have neither read nor seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, so I don't know how (in)appropriate the title might be.

From August 27-30, I traveled to the west coast of Newfoundland with my parents and sister. This was our first time to Newfoundland, with the exception of a trip my father made to Corner Brook and Deer Lake in the 1970s. It seems odd that we had never gone before seeing as we live so close to the ferry terminal, but better late than never.

Sunday, August 27
We took the 9:00 ferry from North Sydney, NS to Port aux Basques, NL. The 6-hour trip was very smooth and we arrived only a bit behind schedule because they were not ready for us at the terminal when we arrived. We proceded to drive 3 hours north to Steady Brook (the highway signs actally read "East" for some reason). We stayed in a cabin at George's Mountain Village at the base of Marble Mountain. It was a very nice, quiet spot. It must be very nice in the winter for the ski crowd that stay there. We took a drive around Corner Brook and at supper at the Crown & Moose Pub, which was good, but not quite as nice as the one at the Delta Hotel in Sydney.

Monday, August 28
In the morning we spent some time in the souvenir and ski shop at George's and we got a better look at the ski hill and some of the larger buildings associated with it, none of which appeared to be open for the summer. We then continued to drive north to enter Gros Morne National Park. For more information on the park visit:
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Gros Morne
Parks Canada: Gros Morne National Park
This was where the scenery becomes noteworthy. We stopped in Norris Point, a quaint village we were quite taken with. This is the view of Norris Point from Jenniex House, which serves as a small museum, as well as a craft and souvenir shop, and a coffee shop.

As with many of the smaller places we drove through, it is easy to tell the villages rely on fishing as a means of income because there are a lot of nice new homes, but no sign of any other industry.

A 40-minute drive from the park entrance brought us to Rocky Harbour where we stayed for the next two nights at Mountain Range Cottages. The cottage were new and very clean. We ate supper at the restaurant in the Ocean View Motel. Mom and Dad enjoyed their pasta dishes, but I was very disappointed with my salmon. It was clearly just frozen Highliner fish and I couldn't even finish eating it. After dinner, we took a walk around and visited some craft shops. There was a beautiful sunset on the ocean.

Tuesday, August 29
We woke early with plans to take the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour. From Rocky Harbour, it is a 20-minute drive to the entrance. There is an easy 3km trail walk to the dock. The path is almost entirely flat with boardwalks over marshy areas. Along the way, I took this picture, which is one of my favourites from the trip.

The 2.5-hour boat tour travels through Western Brook Pond, a former fjord (now fresh water rather than salt) formed by glacial movement during the last ice age. The pond is 174m deep. The water has so few ions that it does not conduct electricity, and is very low in nutrients, so it supports very little plant and animal life. The two tour boats are the only boats that run on the pond. One was dragged in by a sled in the winter; the other was flown in by helicopter in parts. The tour is very interesting and provides for some lovely scenery.

The tour guides pointed out this rock formation called "The Old Man in the Mountain". I have done him up Ellen-style with hat and pipe for my own amusement:

In the late afternoon, we drove to the Discovery Centre which provides a nice view of Bonne Bay and a spot for Buchanan-family photos.

We continued to drive up the highway through the Tablelands, where the North American and Eurafrican continental plates once collided, pushing the Earth's mantle above the crust. Driving through, it does not feel like Newfoundland; it looks more like a desert. There is a stark contrast in the rock as can be seen in this photo with the Tablelands on the right and typical Newfoundland rock on the left.

Should I ever get back to the park, I would like to take the guided walking tour of the Tablelands to learn and see a bit more. There is also a boat tour of Trout Brook Pond that I would like to take. We took a drive through the town of Trout Brook. It's not as inviting as Norris Point (looks like it may have come upon harder times). It's really isolated and made Alana appreciate all there is to do in Sydney. On the way back, we drove around Woody Point which also seemed very nice. There is a water taxi between Woody Point and Norris Point.

We went back to Rocky Harbour for supper and at at Jackie's Restaurant & Take-Out. We decided to go there based on the large number of cars in the parking lot and we weren't disappointed. Their homemade fries are delicious.

Wednesday, August 30
Before leaving Rocky Harbour, we discovered a fish plant selling fresh and frozen fish, so we bought a load of salt cod, salt tarbot, fresh cod, mackrel, halibut, and some clam strips. We managed to fit it all in the cooler and pack it with ice for the trip home. On the way back to Port aux Basques, we stopped again at Norris Point and Corner Brook. We also drove around Stephenville and Port au Port peninsula where we saw an alpaca farm.

To sum things up, the trip consisted of a lot of driving and a lot of scenery. On the agenda should I ever go back: more hiking, and getting Screeched in.