Rewind: “I Love The Modern Way” by Andrew Vincent & The Pirates
Album: I Love The Modern Way
By: Andrew Vincent & The Pirates
Released: March 31, 2003
Chris Page has been an active musician and participant in the Ottawa music scene for two decades, and been in bands such as The Stand GT and Camp Radio, and currently Expanda Fuzz. Chris has also successfully released music as a solo artist and toured Canada many times.
My earliest recollection of I Love The Modern Way is somewhere out on Ontario Highway 17, touring in an old, blue Volvo wagon.
I had just gotten to know Andrew Vincent by way of his record A Short Trip With The Pirates and the two of us made a pact to do shows together in Southern Ontario. “AV” had the car, and the two of us had our guitars, sleeping bags, and a bunch of material to play for anyone who would listen. I was aimlessly stumbling into a solo career and I had just released Decide To Stay And Swim (which incidentally had a song title that paid homage to my new pal: AV In The Sunshine, Man). The gifted Ottawa troubadour was finalizing his new album as the two of us were climbing into that cozy, well-worn Volvo to hit the open road.
I loved ‘A Short Trip’; it was a lo-fi banger of a record, filled with Modern Lovers style rave ups and sing-alongs like ‘Gary Hache’ and the anthemic ‘Ladies, Ladies, Ladies (Houseboat)’. I had been in bars watching crowds sing the line ‘Have you ever seen such a good looking band?’ at the top of their supportive lungs, and I was enthralled. I wasn’t sure a better chorus had been written in the nation’s capital, or in all of Canada, for that matter. I was about to find out.
On that tour, AV had played tracks from I Love The Modern Way, and sheepishly explained to me the album title had come from a pseudo-landmark in Ottawa (I won’t give that away here so as to keep some of the Ottawa folklore intact!) But lyrically, the songs were a Gatling gun of poetic turns of phase that found ways to include Ottawa-area themes like Bronson and Somerset streets, 1310 (AM) on the radio, Highway 5 and moving down from North Bay. I was psyched to hear these new tracks, but it was seeing them performed live that really cemented them as potential Ottawa classics for me.
With his indie stock rising, AV had swung a swank CBC Toronto session on that trip, to tape live versions of the new material for some hip broadcast. Though our shows had been solo sets to that point, Scott Terry and Bryan Curry joined AV for that live CBC gig. I was the envious roadie, carrying Pirates’ gear through prestigious parking lots and vast CBC Toronto atrium. In hindsight, it was a striking metaphor for how many like to compare the two cities: 4 hungover, ramshackle, Ottawa musicians, lugging cheap gear through the monolithic and sparkling Toronto CBC building, whose authoritative walls towered over us, with an air of indifference.
My memories of that energetic session are pretty clear. Andrew Vincent and the Pirates absolutely careened through these songs with an almost-in-tune, reckless abandon that somehow felt so tight and just so perfectly right. ‘Martha’, ‘Bahamas’, ‘Cover It Up’, ‘Jonathan’ were songs that all had these shout-it-out-loud-until-your-voice-goes-hoarse driving choruses, fresh from a new LP that had yet to be sprung on the world.
My question as to whether the ‘Ladies’ chorus could ever be matched was certainly answered, as I Love The Modern Way stands as an all-time great Ottawa musical achievement.
Rewind is a new series where musicians, fans, and community members reflect on Ottawa albums from the past and write about their memories and experiences from that time. Every album has a story!
Stream I Love The Modern Way by Andrew Vincent
Music Mondays: Parlez-Vous Canadien?
Monday night, Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) in partnership with Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM) hosted the inaugural Music Mondays.
The topic for the first installment of this recurring monthly event at Live on Elgin was titled “Parlez-Vous Canadien?” and focus on bilingualism in the Ottawa music scene. The night started off with a warm welcome from Andrew Vincent, long-time local musician and Executive Director of Ottawa music industry coalition. After some thank yous, Vincent turned the floor to Natalie Bernardin, Directrice générale, of APCM. Bernardin began to facilitate a town hall based on questions about the potential or the challenges of bilingualism and francophone artists in the Ottawa scene. The town hall was followed by a set by Moonfruits.
Here are some of the comments that really stuck with me during the discussion:
When asked about transitioning to creating music in both languages, “You write what you wanna write, that’s the honest truth. People can love songs even if they don’t understand a word.”
“As a festival organizer we do our best to offer all our material and communications in French, but resources for translation can often be a big factor.”
“There is a stigma with young Francophones that French music isn’t supposed to be good.”
“The French side of music in Quebec can quickly become institutionalized, going from showcase to showcase due to the government’s funding structure. Many of those artists do not even promote their own shows, they can end up playing their first show in front of 1000 people.”
“I believe that the opportunity in Ottawa is bigger than the challenge. There are so many possibilities for Francophone musicians in this city.”
“Music is universal, we have all loved music where we didn’t understand the words.”
“Ottawa is at an advantage as we can offer and accept both English and French, but as Francophone artists we are constantly trying to breakthrough in Quebec to truly make it.”
“There are some significant differences in the funding models for Factor vs Musique Action. These differences can lead to artists counting their words to make sure they are English enough or French enough.”
“We really want to make a completely bilingual album, with as many English songs as French, but we have been advised against it. So now we are writing an album mostly in English with just a few French songs. We will then later release the French songs as singles or B-sides.”
“Word counting and hitting a certain language percentage to get funding is completely destructive to the artistic process.”
Moonfruits performing at Live on Elgin in Ottawa, ON.
After the very engaging discussion, Ottawa’s bilingual husband and wife duo, Moonfruits took to the stage for a quick set. One half of the group, Kaitlin Milroy, has one of the most incredible voices of the region, and what’s even more impressive is it is as beautiful and powerful whether she sign in English or in French. The group opened with a very powerful and energized version of the folk classic “Au chant de l’alouette.” There set also featured originals in both languages such as “Gloria” and a new song they wrote during their recent honeymoon adventure to Rome, “Le Nid.” Moonfruits are not only a very talented duo, but also extremely nice people for which Ottawa should be proud.
The next Music Monday will be held on June 6th and the OMIC Annual General Meeting is taking place June 8.
Kelp 20: The Acorn, Jim Bryson, Hilotrons & More
Photo by Ming Wu
It makes all the sense in the world for an Ottawa concert to begin at the pulpit of a late 19th century Anglican church and culminate with a fight in the depths of the Dominion Tavern.
Ottawa-based independent record label KELP celebrated its 20th anniversary on May 31st with a brimming sold out concert at St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Sandy Hill. Eleven bands and individual artists from across the label’s roster performed, including the Hilotrons, Jim Bryson, Andy Swan, and The Acorn.
As a newcomer to the live music scene in Ottawa, I was mostly excited to see so many local performers in one night. By the time things got nasty at the Dom however, the collaborative spirit of KELP 20 had proved to be much more than just another show to see on a Saturday night.
Miche Jetté of moody Flecton Big Sky kicked off the evening, building the intimacy with an initially meek audience. Dropping an obligatory mention of beards and razors, Jetté’s confessional lyrics set the tone by announcing, “I’m in the house of the Lord but I’m dripping with sin.” Stray murmurs on the sacrilege of rock concerts in churches from the guy with his dirty feet splayed on the pew beside me made for a timely segue into Jetté’s “The Devil Is On My Trail.”
Local singer-songwriter Andy Swan ushered in a growing audience with odes to Jesus and starfucking. Banditas followed, rumbling in with a raunchy set of punk, and an assailing cry of “fuck all you warlords” on their crowd-favourite single “Tubular Balls.” By the time Chris Page performed a punchy set of alt-folk, the halls of St. Alban’s were resonating with a solid roster that spoke to both KELP’s small-town Maritime-influenced character, and the filthy DIY attitude that roots the label firmly in Ottawa.
Jonas Bonnetta of Toronto’s Evening Hymns made impressive use of improvised beatboxing by a young man known only as Ian. Looping samples captured right there during his performance, Bonnetta gracefully improvised against technical difficulties and retained the emotional delicacy of his album Spectral Dusk.
Jim Bryson playing at St. Alban’s Church in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
More dancing and imbibing was wrought upon the church by Andrew Vincent, while Jim Bryson successfully hypnotized a particularly gleeful dancer in a red shirt into childlike abandon. Bryson’s country roots were referenced with an homage to Stittsville and a political retaliation against old people (within the same breath), but the energy was quickly recaptured by Ottawa favourites The Acorn, who kicked off their set with a new song.
In the most stunning moment of the KELP 20 concert, The Acorn’s “Darcy” hovered over a hushed audience with angelic harmonics in a poetic reflection of the concert’s venue. Building to climax in the characteristic slow rise similarly heard in related Ottawa outfit Silkken Laumann, The Acorn transitioned into a feisty set by the Recoilers. With the interruption of a midnight curfew, the KELP congregation proceeded to march to the Dominion Tavern.
The Acorn playing at St. Alban’s Church in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
At Ottawa’s mangiest watering hole, the psychosynth garage-funk of the Hilotrons couldn’t be more fitting. “Too many people being nothing,” moaned Mike Dubue over the slur of booze, startled regulars and sullen bartenders.
With enough sobriety to reflect on the transition from St. Alban’s to the Dom, I saw how KELP embodies the kind of DIY ideology that Ottawa has built from bare bones, and that certainly deserves celebration. It was inspiring to see the openhearted intersection of venues, people, and genre influences from garage pandemonium to rhythms of funk, and a heroic dose of synth. KELP’s 20th anniversary demands an immense appreciation for the individuals who have dedicated their lives to building the musical community and identity of our city, despite the ready-made indulgence of nearby Montréal and Toronto.
By the time Rhume took the stage, whiskey had become the main act, the night blurred into anchors under strangers’ eyes, the dance floor was possessed, and whoever that guy with the mic was had doused himself with whatever booze was at hand. Overall a great night for KELP Records, with many more to come!
Kelp Record’s 20 Anniversary: Jim Bryson playing Firewatch
Kelp Records, one of the most important record labels in Ottawa history, is celebrating its 20th birthday this year.
The celebration will be held at St. Alban’s Church in Ottawa on May 31 and will feature a bunch of amazing bands from Kelp’s roster. Kelp 20‘s absolutely stacked bill includes, The Acorn, Jim Bryson, HILOTRONS, Andrew Vincent, Evening Hymns, Chris Page, Recoilers, Andy Swan, Banditas and Rhume.
Ottawa Showbox and Dan Rascal went to visit the very talented Jim Bryson in his home studio to chat with him about Kelp and film him playing. Watch Bryson play “Firewatch” off Where the Bungalows Roam, the first album he released with Kelp.
Tickets to Kelp 20 can be ordered online at http://kelprecords.com/kelp20/, or in person in Ottawa at Vertigo Records and Compact Music (both Bank locations).
A great big thank you to Craig Allen Conoley at Dan Rascal for all the video work.