Amoeblog

Country from other countries

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 23, 2008 06:57pm | Post a Comment
Country Music

In the American South, traditions from Celtic music, folk, blues, gospel and mountain music melded together into what was originally known as Hillbilly music. Hillbilly produced some incredibly popular artists like Jimmie Rodgers, who sold over a million records in the '20s, back when there were probably like 2 million people in the country.

In 1949, Billboard started referring to it as Country, since many Hillbillies began to feel like they were performing some kind of minstrelsy for urban, northern audiences who'd stick some straw baies on the stage to make these noble savages feel at home.

Anyway, it wasn't just popular at home. There are seemingly more fans of country outside of the U.S. than in it. Before long, other countries were producing their own Country, influenced by the original but occasionally tailored to their own traditions.

Canadian Country



It shouldn't really come as a surprise that Canada, our kid sibling to the north, would have their fair share of Country musicians. in fact, outside of the U.S., Canada is the Countryest country. Originally it developed out of their heavily Celtic Maritime Provinces. Most Country, however, mirrors the U.S.'s and many Canadian Country artists have infiltrated Nashville unsuspected and undetected, capable of producing Pop Country as bland as our indigenous experts. Most Canadian Country musicians sing about Tennessee this and Kentucky that, happy to not reflect their own backgrounds. Those that do have a more distinctly Canadian tone often have an elevated Folk aspect to their music.

Canadian Country artists include Shania Twain, Adam Gregory, Hank Snow, Paul Brandy, Wilf Carter, Tommy Hunter, Stompin' Tom Connors, Corb Lund, George Canyon, Don Messer, Anne Murray, Lucille Starr, Marg Osburne, Ian Tyson, Mercey Brothers, Maurice Boyler, Gordie Tapp, Carroll Baker, Bob Nolan, Stu Davis, Gene MacLellan, Myrna Lorrie, Ray Griff, Ronnie Prophet, Colleen Peterson, The Good Brothers, Terry Carisse and Prairie Oyster.


Wilf Carter (audio only)
 
Ian & Sylvia Tyson


Hank Snow


Tommy Hunter



Stompin' Tom Connors

Australian Country




I reckon it's natural that Australia (aka Bizarro America) produces a lot of country too. I mean, they make Westerns about their own wild west and their larikins and our rednecks seem to evince convergent evolution like few other species. As Australian Country-ish songwriter Simon Bonney noted:

"There are similarities between America and Australia. We ask a lot of the same questions and share a desire to hold on to some sort of cultural identity from whatever place we originally came. And Australia is all rural; it's like the classic idea of the Midwest. There are thousands of acres of wheat and barley  and incredible quantities of sheep."

Country music has been popular in Australia for a while, with roots in the bush ballads of the 19th century. As opposed to Canadian Country, a lot of Australian Country focuses on Australian subject matter and is sometimes known as "Bush Music" or "Bush Band Music." New South Wales hosts both the Grabine Music Muster Festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Australian Country Musicians include Tex Morton, Slim Dusty, Simon Bonney, Keith Urban, Lee Karnaghan, Adam Brand, The Bush Wackers, Olivia Newton John, Tania Kernaghan, Beccy ColeTroy Cassar Daley, Kasey Chambers, Sherrie Austin, Smoky Dawson, Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Shea Fisher, Talia Whitman, "Captain Goodtimes" Steve Forde, 8 Ball Aitken, Johnny Ashcroft, James Blundell, Tracy Coster, Wayne Horsburgh, Jedd Hughes, Gina Jeffries, Gay Kayler, Anne Kirkpatrick, Red Lindsay, Jimmy Little, Chad Morgan, Jamie O'Neill, Mary Schneider, Sara Storer, John Williamson, The Donovans, Women in Docs, Karma County, Redgum, Deep Creek and the Prairie Oysters.


Tex Morton (audio only)

 
Slim Dusty
 

Smoky Dawson
 

Johnny Ashcroft



Simon Bonney

Argentine Country



Maybe the least likely country to play host to a big Country Music scene is Argentina. But then again, what's more stereotypical of Argentina then gauchos riding the range? Every year Argentina hosts the San Pedro Country Music Festival. Country bands from around South and North America are featured in the line-up.

Argentine Country artists include Alejandro Gratzer, Coco Diaz, Botas Tejanas, Yulie Ruth, 7 Pistones, Tennessee Country, Radio Texas, Richard Lake and Palmas plus, no doubt, a lot more.


a commercial for the San Pedro Country Music Festival
 

Tennessee Country


Richard Lake
 

A brief spot about the San Pedro Music Festival featuring a few bands

Canadian For 'Yes!': FM's prog clearance masterpiece

Posted by Mark Beaver, August 5, 2008 12:00am | Post a Comment
In a recent edition of the L.A. Weekly’s Ask a Mexican column, someone asked why it was that so many young Mexican kids seemed gaga for Morrissey. The columnist thought the better question was why so few children of the imperialists (white kids) weren’t as equally gaga about some of the excellent music made by Latino musicians. Granted, as I hear my neighbor drive up blasting his stereo beyond what could possibly be comfortable for him inside the nuclear heart of that volume, I have to admit that much of what he plays for the neighbors sounds pretty good. Not necessarily something I would run out and buy, but I was far from hating it.

What’s that got to do with Canada? Good question, but in some ways, it's obvious. Canada is the Mexico of the Great White North, dont’cha know? It has only been the fact of a more-or-less common language that has allowed the very few Canuck rockers to break USA radio charts that have so far. Neil Young, Bare Naked Ladies, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Steppenwolf, Rush, Leonard Cohen; there aren’t many that spring to mind and most of them are not in my personal collection, but they built careers with American money without being American or British. Good job, guys!

So, trawling thru the Red Sea of Clearance, I happened upon an album cover that has haunted me since my childhood. The vacant stare of the half-man/half-mannequin surrounded by the glowing hoop and splash of light has taunted me from Clearance bins for as long as I can remember being conscious of music. “Now’s the time,” I declared and grabbed it.

FM's Black Noise was in Clearance due to some condition issues, but it was there and cheap, so I took it. FM formed in Toronto in 1976, and Black Noise is their first album, from 1977. I hear a lot of Fragile-era Yes in their sound, some Jean-Luc Ponty, a splash here and there of Jan Hammer and a lot of the prog that defined the reigning Canadian supergroup of the day, Rush.  Perhaps it was the curse of the also-rans, the stigma attached to coming later than first with any particular sound that kept FM from being heard, or maybe we had already filled our Canadian quota for 1977. I certainly don’t mean to give the impression that FM were copy-cats, by any means. There’s enough Buggles in their sound to tilt them towards what was becoming known as New Wave and a bit away from the pack of dyed-in-the-wool proggers. Their drive is provided by fuzzed guitar, virtuoso drums and the central wail of Nash the Slash’s electric violin.



Nash the Slash, you ask? Yea, remember him? The guy who played completely incognito, like the Invisible Man, his whole face wrapped in bandages beneath the Ray-Bans? Yep. FM gave Nash the Slash to the world. He became nearly-famous, a darling of college radio, touring and playing with Gary Numan from his days with the Tubeway Army through his Living Ornaments tour. That subject is a column unto itself, but, I digress…back to FM. Want to hear some prog/pop/New Wave you haven’t heard yet? Snap up Black Noise next time you see the man/nequin staring up at you from the bins. I’m certain it will be cheap.

Also, here’s some Nash the Slash albums you might also dig. Nash embraced New Wave and the sounds that were soon to be called Industrial. His humor is darker on his own, getting downright threatening at times.
























 
    Children of the Night
(1981)
























And You Thought You Were Normal (1982)

Hello Degrassi!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 26, 2008 03:14pm | Post a Comment
I've been commissioned to write a blog about one of my favorite Canadian bands. As someone who spent a year and a half in rural Iowa with no friends and a satellite dish, I spent many Mountain Dew-fueled hours watching Much Music with the VCR remote in hand hoping to tape videos by the likes of the Dream Warriors, Zumpano, Leonard Cohen, Trans-X, Lime, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, or Eric's Trip whilst adroitly changing the channel within microseconds of a Bootsauce song's opening notes.



But there was one band who, I don't think, ever got any airtime on Much and will not likely ever be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. That band is ...  Zit Remedy. They formed in 1985 and only recorded one song, "Everybody Wants Something," which they sold for 2 dollars (Canadian) which, echoing Peter Saville's costly New Order packaging for "Blue Monday," cost less than the blank tapes they were recorded on. There's a Zit Remedy website that does a good job of providing the biographical information for the seminal band. I will say that a bit of the information is wrong, or out of date. Anyone who keeps up with Degrassi knows that after Craig Manning's dad died, he formed a band Downtown Sasquatch with Spinner, Jimmy and Marco which practiced in... legendary Zit Remedy frontman Joey Jeremiah's garage. And he performed his song "What I Know" at the Degrassi Battle of the Bands as a sort of apology to Ashley Kerwin. So, obviously there's a lot of musical talent coming out of Degrassi. In fact, there's a wikipedia entry devoted to them.

Of course, even though Zit Remedy is defunct, they have a fan site on myspace complete with loads of comments about where to get amazing bud, ringtones and crap like that. It jokingly describes their sound as "emo/screamo" but the Zits, to me, sound more in line with all those 80's bands from Dunedin.



The other problem with the website is that the audio files don't seem to work, which is unfortunate. Luckily for me, I downloaded their hit and burned it to CD a few years ago when we had a mix CD exchange club behind the scenes at Amoeba which we called "CD Club." My mix was criticized for having "too much mezzanine spice" (the mezzanine here at the Hollywood store being where we used to keep the soundtracks) because of my passion for quasi-fictional bands (it also included James Marshall's dreamy, creepy hit "Just You" from Twin Peaks. Luckily, we live in the age of YouTube. In looking for Zit Remedy I found ice-beer swilling Canucks singing and covering it along with the video recorded after they changed their name to "The Zits."

Continue reading...

christmas records and christmas cheer

Posted by Whitmore, December 21, 2007 02:57pm | Post a Comment


Lorne Green
’s greatest claim to fame is starring in the long running western Bonanza, playing the role of the family patriarch Ben Cartwright and being the first man most people ever saw in color on television. But Green’s oddest credit is that he had a number one single in the middle of the English Invasion in 1964: his talking ballad “Ringo”, (which ironically is not about the Beatle, but a Western gunslinger: Johnny Ringo).

This 7 inch record, “Must be Santa,” is his contribution to the subgenre of “annoying kids singing Christmas songs”, (of which I have somehow become a leading collector!?!), featuring some fine shrill warbling of the Jimmy Joyce Children’s Choir. Oddly enough the flip side, “One Solitary Life”, is the polar opposite; a morose, bleak, 2000 year old tale of loneliness, social deprivation and the ultimate execution of a doomed unnamed man (hint, hint) which is probably a more telling song of Christmas than we’d like to acknowledge. Loren Green really plays the fate card well.  Then again, years before Bonanza, Lorne Green was known to his fellow Canadian citizens as "The Voice of Doom", a nickname he earned as a radio announcer for CBC radio from 1939 to 1942, where his distinctive baritone painted the grim news of World War II in deep somber tones. Listening to such a desolate voice, especially on a Christmas record, is just a plain and simple holiday cheer killer …  that miserable tingling in your soul, its not unlike that vacant stare when you’re trying to find parking at the Glendale Galleria the weekend before Christmas, and you have an exhausted, yet frantic, raging, sugar-doped child in the back seat screaming that he wants to see Santa -NOW!- meanwhile babbling on a badly deteriorating cell phone connection is your employer going on about something trivial and asinine, and while looking at that pink parking ticket still stuck under the windshield wiper blades from the last failed attempt at shopping, you rear-end a new Lexus ...  

The Klutz Cargo Adventures, chapter three ...

Posted by Whitmore, November 17, 2007 02:19pm | Post a Comment




Beer
tragedy struck in Canada on the Trans Canadian Highway towards Thunder Bay when a delivery truck, filled with cases of Grolsch, swerved and narrowly missed a moose that had stumbled onto the highway losing most of its cherished Premium Dutch Lager cargo.

What a sad day. Somewhere out there is a cheerlessly sober family spending an abstemious wintry night in freezing Northern Ontario. An odd little twist to the entire saga, Grolsch is brewed in a completely natural process using no animal by-products like isinglass, gelatin, cartilage, etc. In fact, Grolsch received the "Best Vegetarian Beer" award from the UK Vegetarian Society in 2003. I never knew there were vegan-friendly beers. No wonder I felt oddly ill at ease last time I drank a Grolsch at a barbeque

CHEERS!

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