Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day Four: Experimental Dance, Murder on Albert Street and other Mythologies

I started out the day with an Arts for All event called Transient Exposition which was a experimental dance piece that moved through the underground and skywalk.  I worked at a performance art space in Houston for many years with the likes of Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley and Lydia Lunch.  (Yeah,  that was a long time ago!)  and honestly,  I saw so many performance pieces and naked people in those days that something has to really be interesting to keep my attention.... and I have to say Transient Exposition  met that criteria.  The artists consisted of 2 professionally trained dancers and a man with various percussive instruments creating a soundtrack as they moved through the busy hallways.  What was interesting to me is that they took the art out of the theater and put it in the underground at noon -- where all the office folk are traveling from place to place during the lunch hour.  I also liked that as an audience member, you had to follow them, which created an entourage of sorts.  My favorite thing was watching peoples reactions.  For once, I actually saw scowels on Winnipeggers faces.  Like "how dare you expose me to art while I am trying to just get my Subway sandwich and get back to my desk!"  I like it when art approaches you -- and your initial unrehearsed reaction to it tells a lot about you.  Kudos to them!

I went home, wrote a little bit and fell into a deep, deep, sleep.  So much so that I missed part of the CBC's little piece that we recorded.  My parents were streaming it though from Houston and my lovely, sweet dad set it up so he could record it and sent me an mp3.  With the exception of me calling Confusion Corner, Confusion Circle (I know better!) I thought it went over well.  You can listen below. Thanks to the CBC and especially Roseanna for playing tour guide.

Loaded from: The Yum Yum Tree 

I then met up with Sam and Rob for drinks at the Albert.  I had invited them both, knowing they probably knew each other and was surprised to learn they used to actually be roommates.  Who knew?  We chatted about the Albert and I asked if a guy was really cut up into pieces upstairs in the hotel.

You see, I have discovered that there are a lot of Winnipeg myths that are grounded in truth but find there way into becoming epics, so I did not exactly believe the butcher story.  Sam said "You wanna see the..." and before he finished his sentence, I was standing up and said "Hell yea!"  I have seen a lot of 'spirits' in my time.  When I was about 5 I started negotiating with them.  I would make a deal with them that they could exists in my space and I would not screw with them if they did not try to scare me. So, I am all in for seeing the butcher's bathroom.  I actually have no idea what this murderer's nick name is, so forgive me. I just made one up.

Here is my own personal photo I took to prove I went into the bloody bathroom, where once a man was disemboweled and placed with jewelry stolen from Susan Sarandon.  You can't make this shit up. Read more.

So then it was off to the Pyramid! Today is my fourth day in Winnipeg, and the third show in the series of Weakerthans 4&more.  The played songs from Reconstruction Site. Of course it was another great show.  What would you expect, they are professionals.  

Again, "Without Mythologies" stuck out like some amazing summit.  I think I have taken that song for granted before.  Not that I don't like it, but their new rendition of it is just f---ing moving.  I seriously hope that they recorded it at one of the performances and will somehow release this version.  It is something that all Weakerthans connoisseurs should hear.  It's one song where they really just let go, and as an audience member, it is a song that you really "feel" the heart of.  They played (Hospital Vespers) again which is a feat.  In fact, before I heard it last night I was kinda worried about how they were going to pull that one off.  Also, they played a true rarity "Prescience of Dawn" which I consider the closest thing to a Weakerthans "80's rock song" as your gonna get (sorry guys, if that's offensive). I have a love/dislike relationship with this song.  There is an edginess to it that makes me uncomfortable.  To me, it has an underlying defeated angry feeling.  Sad and surrender are feelings I am comfortable with.  But defeated makes me edgy. Yet, the song also has some of my favorite lyrics in it: "four words fumble for the microphone.  You should have known."  Still it was a treat to hear live, a rare moment.  Another gem in the night was seeing Christine Fellows sing on Benediction.  I love the imagery in that song of the "x" and it was nice to see Christine help John out a bit when he forgot a line or two.

Again, I am amazed by the people of Winnipeg.  I arrived at the Pyramid Cabaret and within 5 minutes someone came up to me and said "Are you Andy from Atlanta?"  This is not what is amazing.  What is, is that this kind Winnipegger had made me a CD of Winnipeg music (some out of print) and had also brought me 2 Weakerthan pins and a concert stub from the show at the same venue in 2003. What?  Wow!  What a treasure.  And how very thoughtful.  I asked to make sure these were not item he would regret passing on later.  He assured me not.  All I can say is I am overwhelmed by this city's kindness.

Also thanks to Nick for also making me a CD of music from Manitoba.  I am going to be thinking of (and listening to) Winnipeg long after I leave.

Read more about this series of shows in Paul Tough's amazing essay.

My favorite W Artwork.  

I also continually am delighted to hear that so many people are keeping up with the blog.  I am no professional writer by any means.  I am just a musician who really likes a band and where they come from.  I started this just for myself and my friends and family.  But it has turned into so much more than that.

PS: If anyone has set lists from the shows this, I would love to post them here - just get in touch.

One more show guys -- I am thinking that Sunday I am gonna have some serious "post-show blues" and when I leave Monday I might just be leaving a little part of my heart here.


  1. Check out Guy Maddin's film "My Winnipeg" when you get back home if you haven't already seen it, any video store with a good indie/art film selection should have it, as it only came out 3 years ago. It's a black and white autobiographical mockumentary, with lots of local myths (your talk of Winnipeg myths made me think of the film), and the love-hate relationship with the city is a central theme.

  2. Actually, back in August when I planned this trip I did rent this -- and for the life of me I could not tell you anything about it. I really tried. I just did not get it. Now after being here for a week, I will have to watch it again and see if it makes more sense to me. I think having a winnipegger watch it with me and offer commentary would be the only way to really understand that film, as an outsider!

  3. Yes Andy, it should be watched again. Much like the Weakerthans... it is one of those things that anyone potentially can enjoy but only a person who has lived in or at least visited Winnipeg (especially in winter as you have) can truly "get", at least in my opinion.

    Also, see "The Saddest Music in the World" by the same director.

    (no I am not Guy Maddin plugging my films, in case you are wondering)

    If you're into electronica, check out Venetian Snares' 'Winnipeg is a Frozen S**thole' album, a tribute to this lovely city, and kind of the flip side to the coin to "One Great City"

    I was on a road trip in Tennessee about 7 years ago (and by coincidence had the album "Reconstruction site" playing in the car) and walked into a gas station to buy some beer, the clerk had a punk-rock appearance and he had some Pixies playing in the background. He looked at my drivers license, I expected the usual "Where the f is that?" but instead he said "I was just listening to that "I Hate Winnipeg" song... is it really that bad of a place?"

  4. +1 for the My Winnipeg film. It's one of those that deserves repeated viewings anyway. And like a lot of Winnipeg creations, it's as much for the people here as for the outside world.

    Reading your blog, it occurred to me that our sense of ourselves and identity will never really come from tourism marketing campaigns, etc.
    It has to come from the same place everything good here comes from -- people just coming together and making it themselves.

  5. I'm so glad that you're having the Winnipeg experience of a lifetime - all crammed into six days ;)
    And for the record, lots of stuff on the mix I made you is out of print as well, hehe.
    See you tomorrow night!

  6. I agree with there Colin. It is the people who taught me about Winnipeg.

    Nick -- Ha! You're so funny! ;) If the newer rendition of (Hospital Vespers) ends up recorded, I expect you to somehow get me a copy of it! See you Sunday - well throw a going away party!