Category Archives: Music

Wynn’s Book

I was looking to do a bit of recording when I moved to Victoria and just happened upon Wynn Gogol.  I found a musical brother!  And a fantastically clean funky little place called “One Ton Studios” that Wynn set up.  One Ton refers to the supporting beam that weighs…. Are you ready…. one ton!  At One Ton Studios Pianist Lisa Olive and I recorded our first song together.  The Svd Song, by Michael Greenacre, has gone on to be our greatest hit so far at over 19000 hits on youtube.  Michael Greenacre and I also recorded our second album Below the Surface and the song about renewable energy Water, Wind, Sun and Sea at OneTon Studios with whole bevy pint-sized singers.  That song and video clip is due out this year.  (I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the Turkish animator to finish her part.)  Thanks to Wynn’s gentle ear and inspiration as a producer,  I’m extremely pleased about a version of I Did a Spell on You, which I’ll share with you as soon as I can.

Wynn Gogol B&W_SMALL

Wynn has only “done” music his whole life and when I met him were were both writing books.  Wynn’s book is about song-writing about which Wynn and I could talk up a storm.  If it weren’t for wee babes to watch (and my crazay travel schedule), we would never stop talking.  I have been working on drafts of “Deliver Me” about being a living liver donor, “A futile Search For Modern European Plumbing”, and “Wood Storms and Raging Canvass” a coffee table book about my Uncle Godfrey’s Art, to name a few.  I’ve gotten distracted along the way…  Wynn has been producing music and writing about the process of writing song!

Not that it was a contest in any way, I’m writing to you today to let the world know that Wynn has beat me to press!

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He’s done his book!  The Artful Songwriter: The Soul and Science of Creating Songs

 I told him that I had to post about this momentous occasion.  His book launch party will take place at Hermann’s Jazz Club in downtown Victoria this coming Thursday the 25th of September.  I won’t be there but I wanted to lend him my full support, love and big-up respek via the da blog.  Wynn will be playing with the Back Dirt Road Band (he plays a whole slew of instruments and sings too).  Doors open at 6.30 and books will be on sale.

An excellent musician and with a killer ear, Wynn’s eloquent both musically and lyrically. (He’s also got a green thumb.)  You’ll  want to hear him play and speak.  And you’ll
want to read his book if you’d ever wondered about the soul science of song-writing.

You Woman Back in Barca

“If music be the food of love, play on”

– William Shakespeare

you woman poster upf w Diya FINAL

The You Woman Group is reuniting for the first time since 2008!  We are giving a concert in Barcelona on July 5th playing music from our new CD, “Below the Surface”  The album will be released in December and features the original songs of Michael Greenacre and the guitar of Santi Careta.  “Below the Surface” continued in the vein of the original ‘you, woman’ album from 1999.  Special guest is singer Karol Green.  Xavier Calsamiglia, grandson of Catalan composer Manel Blancafort will introduce us.  This event is sponsored by the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona Spain.  Pompeu Fabra is one of the top Universities in Europe and certainly the leading Spanish university.

We will also be performing ‘Water Wind Sun and Sea’ for the first time ever, debuting Diya who sings and stars in the videoclip.  This videoclip of “Water Wind Sun and Sea” will be shown for the first time as well.  This song and video aims to promote sustainable energy.  At a time where the Canadian government hands subsidies of a billion dollars to Big Oil, why not take that money and invest it in clean energy?  A statistician, Michael has worked with scientists and biologists on climate change.  This inspired the song.  The fossil fuels that are burned go straight in to the ocean as the ocean is the world’s largest carbon “sink”.  This causes acidification of the water and is destroying ocean life at the fastest rate since the last mass extinction.  Let’s harness that energy, let’s sing and dance and encourage us all and our governments to invest the big bucks in clean energy and infrastructure.  We know the answer, we know the solution to climate change.  We will make it happen.  Together.

If you book your travel now, you could still make it with time to spare!

Godfrey and Jazz

“Painting, I think it’s like jazz”

– Brian Eno

Uncle Godfrey loves jazz. I love jazz. He loved jazz first but not best and shared that love with me. In 1990, he made me a cassette tape of ‘Kind of Blue’ with a state of the art dual cassette recorder. This tape has travelled the world. When I lived in London, and inspired by Kind of Blue, I named one my jazz groups α- blue (alpha blue). We did vocalese (putting words onto instrumental jazz solos and then singing them note for note). α- blue also fused two disparate genres of improvised musics: early music and jazz music.

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In honour of Victoria’s Annual Jazz Festival, here is one of my favourite paintings by Godfrey. A few years back this painting was turned into a poster for the Victoria Jazz Fest.

jazz taken by Gurdeep

The lines and colors scat, harmonize and improvise over the bass. Godfrey’s art is always born in and of loud blasting music, from the rhythms of Cuba, the chanting of First Nations or Turkish vocalists. If you haven’t seen this short video, do click on it. It shows Godfrey, the creative genius madly at work:

What Organic Figs Can Lead To…

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

– Mother Teresa

Out running an errand, I got a call from my dad.  After we chatted a bit I asked him, “Is there anything you need while I’m out?”  Dad paused a beat, then replied, “Oh…well… if it’s not too much trouble… maybe you could get me some figs?” I smiled at the smile in his voice. I can’t think of a greater pleasure than eating fresh fruit grown in season, pure and unadulterated.  Actually it’s an even greater pleasure to be the conduit to such wholesome happiness (especially when such afore-mentioned ripe fresh fruits make their way into my belly too.) Last week, I saw some shiny Californian black organic mission figs at Whole Foods. So, on an exciting new errand, to Whole Foods in Kits I headed.

I arrived to find several joyous people walking about with their faces painted, adults and children alike. Cute! I said to myself. I like what’s going on here. It was unusually lovely. From right to left, here are Maddie, J and RM:

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Now, once I saw Fanny Starchild, the face-painting, the light atmosphere, the smiles and joviality…. it all made sense.

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Fanny used to dance into my family’s Natural Food Restaurant “Woodlands” with a troup of trippy troubadours, spreading love with every whirl. I squealed when I saw Fanny, “You’re the apple juice!” My family referred to Fanny’s tribe as the Apple Juice People since they made up a song called “Do You like apple juice?” They sang it at some of the Free Dinners my family regularly gave to the community. The Apple Juice song had a lot of: “Do you like apple juice? Yeah I like apple juice!” It was awesome.

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Fanny Starchild. Contact Fanny at http://www.starchild.ca to book her for parties and events.

Well I hadn’t seen Fanny since I was a teen and she looks the same. She didn’t recognize me at first. But when I told that I used to work at Woodlands, she thrust her new CD into my hand. With love, she said, “Take It.’ I took it.  Then, while painting a cute little girl’s face, she told everyone around in her theatrical sing-song voice about how we would give Free Christmas Dinner and free Thanksgiving Dinner at Woodlands. Everyone was welcome. From the folks real down-and-out to others who didn’t have family to celebrate with. Fanny enthused, “You always welcomed us. Even when we had nobody else and nowhere to go.” Here is her CD I haven’t opened (my computer doesn’t have a CD player).

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Liberte, CD by Starchild and the Mystiques

Fanny sent me off with lots of sparking “I love yous” which I joyfully echoed. Here are the figs:

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And in case you haven’t heard this enough today…

I love you too.

Media

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

– Anne Frank

So many cameras and phones were out filming and clicking in Victoria on Saturday.  I don’t know the numbers but the march spanned blocks!  I say around 1000 people were there.  Maybe more!   So many great moments caught on camera.  I ran into photographer Simon DesRochers for the first time on Wednesday evening.  I told him about the March against GMOs.  And he came!  And he took some of the best photos I’ve seen of the Victoria March Against Monsanto.  Check them out on facebook.  Here is my favourite:

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Everyone who begins to grasp what GMOs are starts asking, “Hang on – do I really want to eat these?”  “Do I want my kids to eat these?”  “Do I want my neighbour to eat these?”  Then you say, “Well…. maybe there are people out there who think they are fine (just maybe)….  Like those people who choose to smoke, for example.  I mean, how telling is it that in at least one Monsanto cafeteria, the food service company removed GMOs from the menu?  But how do you know if the food you eat has them or not?  If they are not labelled, how on Earth can we know besides doing a genetic test or pesticide residue test whether they contain GMOs.

Organic production has never allowed GMOs.  Ever.  Never.  Spreading the word is paramount.  Make a point to tell 2 new people today two things

1) GMOs are in 80% or more of all supermarket food.

2) 64 countries including China and Russia require labelling.

Tomorrow do the same.  Try to tell 14 new people about it by the same time next week.  You might be telling them the most important thing of their lives…  The right to know what’s in our food is going to define this generation.

Marvellous Misty wrote a rap about GMOs this morning.  Check it out on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNlwJJEvOP0

Change is happening.

I am seeing it daily.

This Earth Is Ours Song

I know of a world where farmers were moved by the land’s beauty to poetry and song. I see a world where farmers break out again into a joyful refrain. And may they carry spirit of this song in their hearts.

Gearing up for Earth Day…. This is a Farmer’s Anthem.

My grandfather Rupert Stephens was a gentle soul with 2 passions, organic farming and writing songs. He also wrote about farming. Grandpa’s most beautiful songs are (arguably) those about the Earth. He wrote “This Earth is Mine’ in the 1950s.

Last year, on Vancouver Island where the song was born, I re-recorded ‘This Earth is Ours’ changing the lyric slightly. My dad Arran recited the second verse as indicated in a creased, fragile, old lyrics sheet found in some random book. It had been type-written by my grandmother the glamorous Gwendolyn who loved the feel of dirt in her hands.

I got in touch with the amazing guitarist Adam Dobres. We took up the tempo, gave it a Joan Baez ‘Silver Dagger’ – feel with full vocal vibrato and Adam playing a wicked folk-rendition on his guitar.

Grandpa Rupert passed away when I was a toddler. When my dad Arran announced the event of the birth of his granddaughter (ie: moi), Grandpa Rupert was delighted. But when they told him my name, he didn’t say anything.

He must have been at the origin of the Stephens’ refrain of “Before you speak, ask yourself first, ‘Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?'” Grandpa Rupert really didn’t like my name.

Awww. Sniff. (I don’t blame him, it was a name that I found hard to wear growing up on the West side of Vancouver.)

A little afterwards, Grandpa Rupert told dad about a bird cooing outside his window. The bird was singing ‘G-Deep! G-Deep!’ And that did it. If the birds were singing my name, it was a sign. After that Grandpa Rupert loved my name.

I love him through his music and his earnest joy and romantic ideals of respect for the land and especially for the ‘lowly earthworm’.