Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sasamat

I carefully made my way down the fallen 30 foot log. It was wet, but not as slippery as I had thought. The warm wind was gently blowing and felt good, along w/ the sun, on my pale winter skin. I extended my arms outward for balance, paused for a moment, then continued along. Finally reaching my destination, I stopped to observe my surroundings and take in a deep breath. Morphing blue/green ripples shimmered at my feet, great expanses of lush trees and snow-capped mountains could be seen in the distance, and the open sky, streaked w/ clouds of varying shapes and sizes, filled the periphery. I decided to tune out the teenagers playing Drake on the gridlocked cement dock across the way. With no disrespect, it was their place to play on this special day. In contrast, the sandy family beach to my right was unusually quiet. Gaining focus, my thoughts became simple, contemplative, and full of appreciation of nature and all of her glory. It was an honour to be back at Sasamat. I drew in another breath, bent my knees, and dove out as far as I could, feeling instantly refreshed as I splashed beneath the lake's surface before coming back up for air, kicking my legs like imaginary flippers. The water was crisp and clean. Another swimming season has begun. PEACE

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

JAPAN CAN LIDO JAM



Looking back through the rain and fog, Kamandi and I first met Ichiro Goto at a dark and dank second story warehouse space in Gastown after Blur’s The Great Escape tour stop at the Commodore Ballroom in the winter of 1996. Bodies seemed to be floating in-and-around each other without a care that evening, drinks, firmly in hand, and feet, footloose and fancy free. “Hey, cool t-shirt,” may have initiated our conversation, but those three simple words sparked a now 21-year and counting friendship between Ichi, Kamo, Sir Derek Neville, and myself. In hindsight, there was something more than late night small talk stirring, the beginning of a cross-cultural exchange that opened the doors to another reality for a group of young music lovers. JAPAN CAN LIDO JAM represents the street level strengthening of the Pacific gateway and an opening of consciousness in defiance of the darker side of Japanese and North American settler relations, ripples still felt around the world long after the atomic (and other assorted) atrocities of WW II. While acknowledging the severity and significance of the past (which wasn’t as far away from the present as we were taught by the black and white images in school), we started to shout: "F%ck racism! Eradicate ignorance! Goodbye distrust! Eliminate hatred! Come together!” We simply wanted to learn from and share with one another in an open and meaningful way outside of the governing powers that be. Bonding over food, UK import records, vintage clothing stores, travel, and the many details of modern coastal living, it was a thrill for us to realize our similarities and respectfully approach any differences as global citizens. Together, we helped to make the earth a smaller place and made efforts to build bridges (instead of walls) as we walked down city streets, into a restaurant, concert venue, arcade, movie theatre or bar. There was no fear, only music, art, film, dance, architecture, culture, family, nature, peace, love, understanding, and leading by example. We are happy to report that after almost thirteen years away from the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples, Ichiro will be visiting his adopted hometown of Vancouver all the way from his native Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. It will be amazing to see the changes to this city through his eyes after so much time has passed. Please join us at the Lido (518 E. Broadway) on May 10th (9 pm-1 am) to celebrate a very special friendship that spans decades, geography, technology, fashion, but also what’s often left out of the equation, heart and soul! We warmly welcome friends old and new for this most social of gatherings. Together we will raise a humble toast to unity and progress during this era of digital distress while continuing to discuss the future. As always, a suitable soundtrack will be offered with precision. KANPAI!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dancing Shoes





















*Re-soled and ready to shimmy!@#$%!!! PEACE

The Zombies Odessey & Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour
















Looking back, my first exposure to The Zombies was digging through my parents' record collection as a kid in the 1970s. Immediately infectious songs like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" sounded sugary sweet coming through the family stereo speakers alongside The Moody Blues and The Beatles and stayed close to me as I grew older. In my late teens/early 20s, I dug even deeper into the group's music and discovered their 1968 swan song, Odessey & Oracle. The album became a staple while working at the Coquitlam Centre HMV during the mid-to-late 1990s and we were always stoked to sell an import copy right out of the store's CD player. "Another point for the good side!" Oracle's "This Will Be Our Year" became a special song, mantra, and tear jerker for a (still) sensitive young man while "Time Of The Season" shut down many a dance floor jam. "Hung Up On A Dream" was the tune that could lift my mind to another dimension and yet there was even more to explore... What we call an "end-to-end burner," it's amazing to think that Odessey & Oracle is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Needless to say, there is no place that I'd rather be tonight than at the world-famous Commodore Ballroom for The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle 50th Anniversary Finale Tour.
PEACE

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Native North America Prime Minister reply and recognition



































Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 was released by Seattle/Los Angeles-based Light In The Attic Records in late 2014 to much love around the world. Critically acclaimed, the compilation also garnered a 2016 Grammy nomination in the "Best Historical Recording" category. Most importantly, NNA V1 helped to share some of the most life-changing music and stories that you'll ever experience.

As I've stated many times before, it's been a massive honour to make connections with so many of my musical heroes during this journey and I hope that there are more ahead. Despite the project's success, there has also been struggle. Aiming high and pushing forward without a booking agent, official manager or slick PR campaign has posed its challenges in terms of inclusion or sustainability in the face of ever-increasing costs of living for artists, creators, producers, and technicians. We are clearly not alone in those regards. Life continues.

It should be known that NNA V1 has been a true labour of love for everyone involved. The multi-media events that have happened in its strong wake from coast-to-coast have been made possible and memorable by some very supportive and encouraging people and I'd like to thank you all very much. To Elder Dr. Duke Redbird, Willie Thrasher (and Linda Saddleback), Gordon Dick Sr., Shingoose, Eric Landry, John Angaiak, Willy Mitchell and the rest of the featured artists, I bow my head to you, your families, and communities. I will never forget the warm, open-minded, and diverse audiences that we've encountered. Here's to more gatherings ahead (think August)!

Outside of political ideology or perspective, it was very important for me to ensure that Canada's current Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, was fully aware about this trailblazing Indigenous history, still rocking and rolling in 2017. I sincerely appreciate his reply and personal recognition of this time sensitive project as well as my longtime work in sound heritage. Thank you!

During our current era of reconciliation, music is an extra special connector, teacher, and healer. My job as a Canadian music historian, producer, DJ, and writer is to help recognize, share, and celebrate the breadth of talent that exists here in this country and beyond, regardless of its commercial success, never a gauge for quality, substance or soul, corporate algorithms be damned!

As we know, music, feeling, culture, and true love transcends any border or sales chart. To reflect this understanding and passion, I am currently working hard at preparing the first set of archival music releases on the Voluntary In Nature label and look forward to sharing them with you in the not too distant future...

Ok, that's my speech for today. Am I starting to sound like a politician?

PEACE,
Kevin Howes (aka Sipreano)
VIN

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Be In


























REWIND (The Be In, 50 years later): Anyone wanna walk to Ceperley Park tomorrow and talk about how, bar "advances" in science and technology (and waist lines), barely nothing has changed since (at least) the 1960s!? After a good five minutes of stretching, I will be heading down from Main and Broadway with a bottle of Vancouver tap water tucked away in my 1990s vintage Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack. Actually, in the spirit of the future, I'd like to walk past the initial site of The Be In (the aforementioned CP) and hit Third Beach to stare at the tankers (or are they just ships?). There will be no music per se (Country Joe & the Fish were in town for the first jam, 50 years ago), but on return (post ramen stop), we can sit in a circle and listen to my original Papa Bear's Medicine Show LP which I purchased from Neptoon Records for 600 Canadian dollars and keep in a safe-deposit box at an oil supporting bank (*Shit, I think that they're closed on Sunday, listening session postponed, but do drop in to Dandelion Records' DJ night at The Lido (518 E. Broadway) after 9 pm because they are sure to play some psychedelic artifacts on vinyl). As we all know, 50 years is a hell of a l-o-n-g time... Heck, I'm only 42!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and just typed 42 exclamation points if you can believe that!). TRUST me (No need to count ; ) I wasn't even AROUND in 1967 (well, as Sipreano at least), but I HAVE sat at the feet of OG hippies who carried that spirit until death and have learnt one very important thing: LOVE. LOVE! Well, LOVE it is then! Tomorrow. Lot's of LOVE! Noon. LOVE! Unceded Coast Salish Territory. LOVE. FREE. LOVE (Is that still a thing? Asking for a friend)! Main/Broadway meeting place (Um, sorry, NO love, especially that new condo "development" nearby). Bring your walking shoes or sandals (or forget footwear altogether!) Cell phones optional (though somebody SHOULD document this, right? Even if it's just me!) LOVE! PEACE

Madeleine Is (1971)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Peter Tosh interview with Daniel Caudeiron Rogers TV 1979


*The efforts of journalist and reggae promoter Daniel Caudeiron should be celebrated. He was a great help to me while working on the Earth, Roots, and Water portion of the Jamaica-Toronto series back in the day. Eternal respect! Here is an interview that Daniel conducted w/ Peter Tosh in '79... PEACE

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Spell of the Yukon

Words by Kevin Howes (aka Sipreano)
Photography by Amanda Leigh Smith

February 2-8, 2017

On one’s first trip to the Yukon, there are many special details that can make you fall under its spell. During Winter, it’s the crisp, clear, cold, snap, and crackle of air, snow, and ice, a brisk contrast to the open-armed warmth of its people: Indigenous, settler, immigrant, or passerby. There is also the active city life of Whitehorse (Ta’an Kwäch’än and Kwanlin Dün territories) as well as quiet, winding, rural routes which took us to the traditional lands of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in (later known as Dawson City) with veteran Inuvialuit singer-songwriter Willie Thrasher and his singing partner Linda Saddleback.  Dubbed “The Spirit of Skookum Jim” tour by Willie in honour of a trailblazing Tagish First Nation packer and prospector, Willie and Linda shared their musical gift along with storytelling, film, and archival presentations from the Grammy-nominated Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 compilation. Once again, we were blessed to travel with photographer Amanda Leigh Smith, on hand to help document the proceedings (*see/hear more from this trip at Amanda's blog). Each of us felt extremely honoured to experience a glimpse into the Yukon’s eclectic reality.

After getting acclimatized in Whitehorse, we had a variety of pre-scheduled media links to attend to. It was exciting to participate in a series interviews at the CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, including a memorable segment translated into Inuktitut by journalist Dodie Lennie for northern transmission. There was also an old school "drive home" show hype up at CHON FM (Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon) squeezed in between a double-shot of tunes by 1970s/80s rock icons Styx. We were on hand to represent and promote Native North America: A Night of Music, Storytelling, and Film at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and the annual Skookum Jim Friendship Centre Folklore Show. At the CBC, we were also given the opportunity to dig through the remains of their once extensive vinyl library, a glimpse into the musical past. Fueled by a hearty meal at a busy Chinese restaurant, we were almost ready for our evening at the Beringia, a museum and theatre not far from the downtown core. The audience assembled there was diverse in age and background, which was very nice to see. As with most Native North America related events, we began with a screening of Willie Dunn’s 1968 National Film Board (NFB) short, The Ballad of Crowfoot, essential viewing for anyone who wants to know the truth about colonization from an Indigenous perspective.

Crowfoot was followed by a recent work from 2016, The Recording of Willie Thrasher, a 30-minute biographical documentary on Willie by director Adam O. Thomas and producer Am Johal via Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Still, the main attraction was yet to come, a live performance from Willie and Linda that featured even more stories and songs. Culminating in a lively call-and-response chant from all in attendance, the energy was flowing from everywhere in the room. In the theatre lobby, Willie and Linda connected with friends old and new and signed autographs on albums and t-shirts. 

The next morning, we were able to catch the start of the legendary annual Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile dog sled race which brought hundreds of people from around the world to Whitehorse. Willie and Linda took plenty of pictures for their friends and family back home. After a quick bite to eat we were ready to head over to the Yukon Arts Centre for the evening’s gathering. The annual Folklore variety show has been going on since 1973, a celebration of First Nations talent, both locally and beyond. The evening, hosted by Grandma Susie (Sharon Shorty) and Cache Creek Charlie (Duane Ghastant’ Aucoin), was comprised of a fashion show, Keish Elder and youth recognition awards, Dené hand games, and live music from Kiera-Dawn Kolson, Ed Peekeekoot, the Women of Wisdom Drummers, and a finale from Willie and Linda. The stage was decorated with a vintage t-shirt teepee made by designer Nic Netro-Hendrie, an impressive backdrop to the action. As an outsider, I was tremendously humbled to take a supportive part in this special event and it was great to connect with residential school survivor Larry Smarch who told me about his powerful story of activism and awareness raising. Early to arrive, our crew was the last to leave. On the road and feeling alive, we were already thinking about our next event.

In the morning, we picked up a rental car, some food, and hit the Klondike Highway to Dawson City, a seven-hour adventure through the breadth of nature’s beauty. There were mountains, hills, lakes, and rivers to the left and to the right for as far as the eye could see. The Winter roads were open and drivable, but we had to proceed with caution through the snow, ice, and bright sun. Stopping for gas in the village of Carmacks we joked about finding Willie’s missing finger, which he lost nearby, fighting fires in the early 1970s. After another scenic stop in Pelly Crossing, we made it to Dawson and checked in at the historical Downtown Hotel. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to visit, Dawson City is a heritage town that has preserved elements of its Gold Rush history, a time warp indeed. A regional Indigenous presence and perspective both past and present can be felt at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre. The Centre sits next to the Yukon River, south of the adjacent Moosehide community, and would be home for our next two gatherings.

On our first evening, we hosted a screening of The Recording of Willie Thrasher followed by a question and answer with Willie, Linda, and myself. It was great to connect with the locals, share our experiences in music, and learn a bit more about the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in (that translates into English as “People of the River”) First Nation. The next morning, we returned to Dänojà Zho and presented a workshop for Robert Service School’s Secondary students. We started with The Ballad of Crowfoot, which rolled into an amazing storytelling session from Willie about a young Inuvialuit hunter trying to feed his family. With a handful of aspiring musicians in the room, a short set of songs by Willie and Linda rounded out the morning. Once again, this ended in chanting and clapping from all in attendance. We later connected with teacher Peter Menzies at the one room CFYT radio station, a terrific resource and outlet for the area.

Next, we walked over to the Art & Margaret Fry Recreation Centre concession for a lovely lunch. With fresh juices and home-cooked food on the rotating menu, it was a far cry from standard deep fried hockey rink fare and just what we needed. Despite the frigid weather, we cherished the afternoon off to explore the city and take photographs of the land, buildings, and even a crew of horses discovered on the edge of town. The evening’s concert was hosted at the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC) and once again it was incredible to see people responding to Willie and Linda’s music and stories from the road. One gentleman even brought an original copy of Spirit Child to sign, an album gifted to his sister by Willie in Northern Ontario back in the day. It was mind blowing to witness this heartwarming example of how music, feeling, and positive energy can travel throughout the years. It felt good, but a little sad to think that our short Yukon tour was now over.

We headed over to the Westminster Tavern and Lounge for a celebratory drink and disco dance at the Pit, which was filmed by Willie on his phone to much laughter. It was also cool to see some photos of Willie Gordon at the bar, a celebrated local musician and old friend of Thrasher's from Aklavik who passed away in 2012. Stepping out into the cold, clean air, we cast our gaze to the sky in search of the magical Aurora Borealis, but to no avail. Hidden on previous trips with Willie and Linda across the Northwest Territories, the elusive lights had escaped us on yet another northern journey. We will clearly have to return.

Love and much appreciation to the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture for making these Native North America events possible. And to all of the inspiring people that we met along the way... Thanks for the support!


PEACE