MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.
Today's list is from Matthew Fava, who (like a lot of folks) spends times in a couple different musical milieux. It took me far longer than it should have for me to realize that the bearded fellow behind the information table at New Music events and the new space-kosmiche-boogie bassist who suddenly appeared in Moonwood were, indeed, the same guy. The musically curious sort who doesn't even need an instrument to be fascinated by a sound, his list ranges into even more diverse terrain.
I ran into Joe at the Music Gallery the other day and during our brief encounter I mentioned how much I had been enjoying the celebratory playlists that folks were posting on MFS. He encouraged me to submit one.
Joe has captured so many remarkable performances. It was difficult to narrow my selections down to 6 when I had more than that from bands/artists beginning with the letter 'a'. The fact that other contributors have selected a few favourites made the process easier. You can trace histories in the events that Joe documents on MFS: artistic, institutional, cultural, personal. These are all shows that I missed, but artists who I have seen in other settings.
Happy birthday Mechanical Forest Sound, and thank you Joe– you are a cultural treasure, and I adore your t-shirt collection.
I just as easily could have dropped a Canaille track in here, but I will simply say that Jeremy Strachan is one of my favourite people, and I got obsessed with Feuermusik from the moment their recordings came across my desk at CHRY 105.5 FM (where I used to be music director). Jeremy (reeds) and Gus Weinkauf (percussion) created an expansive sound together, and I am happy that this recording exists. Gritty, sparse, and highly imaginative.
Richard is an incredible songwriter. This is a rowdy number from All of Your Raw Materials, an album released about 5 years ago, which was re-issued by You've Changed. I was lucky enough to go on an adventure with Richard during the tour for this album. I drove to Guelph to pick up Richard and Sarah Mangle – I got to know them through my partner at the time, she is close friends with them both and orchestrated this car trip. We took a meandering drive up to Owen Sound for Richard's hometown show in the local bookstore. Unfortunately, we were supposed to pick up the PA system from the local music shop but it was closed by the time we pulled into town. Band mates from Guelph hobbled together a PA before making their trip up to Owen Sound, and although things got under way a little later than expected, it was an amazing concert. We wrapped up the evening with a game of scrabble at Richard's parents' place and they fed us pie and let us crash on the living room floor.
During the concert at the bookstore I had a big grin on my face when they played this song, and I really love the version that Joe captures here from the Out of this Spark Anniversary Show. I bet Joe did a little head bobbing and cracked a wide smile somewhere in there.
I first became aware of Germaine Liu through her collaboration with Kit Wilson-Yang, and have since been more attuned to her output as a soloist and collaborator. Germaine is a highly resourceful, methodical sound maker. I was so pleased that Joe posted this recording. I have heard Germaine perform two solo sets with (un)modified snare drum, and getting a chance to listen back, itemize all of the textures, and plot the development of her musical ideas is wonderful. You can hear more from Germaine in the recording that Jonathan selected for his playlist.
It was always a blast going to the National Campus and Community Radio Association Conferences. In the midst of all of the workshops, panels, concerts, and conversations, a representative from each radio station would distribute CDs of their local bands by stuffing them into oversized envelopes labelled with the call letters of all the participating stations - it was like valentines day in elementary school, but way less awkward. Someone from CJSR in Edmonton put an Eamon McGrath recording with a handmade case in the CHRY envelope. After I listened to Eamon's music I sent an email out of the blue to let him know I liked it and it was getting spins in Toronto. We kept in touch. He sent me a massive collection of his recordings. He came to Toronto on tour, and eventually moved to this city. Around the time that he released his Young Canadians album he played an acoustic set on the Night Shift (CHRY 105.5 FM, hosted by Luca Capone). I was mixing that night, and Eamon played Signals. Hearing the lyrics performed live, sending them out into the ether, was a great experience. This version with the full band captures his energy perfectly.
One more tangent, my daughter met Joe at the Bloor Christie Folk Festival last year following Eamon's set. Unfortunately, my daughter caught site of a kite and ran off so our conversation was brief, but I like that she knows a music community has more working parts in it than the musicians on the stage.
Stephanie Chua, Joe Ferretti, and Elaine Lau are the trio behind junctQín (pronounced 'junction'). I wish they had been my music teachers when I was 4. They are wonderful people, and the only time they really show how weird they are is when they are performing (at least that has been my experience), and it is always memorable. They have taken programming a piano concert into all kinds of directions, augmenting their musical arsenal with toy pianos, thumb pianos, squeeze toys, customized tables, 8-bit glitched out circuitry, motion-sensor hand dances, mattress inflators, and more. In this recording, Joe captures their performance during Nuit Blanche several years ago. As Joe points out, it is a lower quality field recording, but coupled with his description of the space and his experience it is a great listen.
I also want to mention that Joe's entry from that night includes a great description of the Canadian Music Centre where I am currently employed. It is really special to read his reminiscing and recounting. Whether appearing in short or long form, Joe's enthusiasm for, and observations about music and its context, are refreshing.
I have written too much. I tend to ramble. This is a beautiful (at times hilarious) recording of a great song from a fantastic band full of stellar musicians. I don’t think enough can be written about Simone Schmidt, the words she sings, and the stories she tells.
Also: audience participation!
You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: email@example.com.