July 16, 2009

202: Blarg!!!

Another piece of prodigious May Day output, this was my May 19 sketch – originally drawn with a couple of fine-nib pens, brush pen and light grey marker – of my nephew at two months old. Source material was from a photo shoot I had with him during a visit east last summer; also my last time seeing the chap – fortunately though we have a long-overdue second date coming up next week.

A closer look can be had, here.

July 13, 2009

201: Festival Banner Crop

Top row (left to right): Iron & Wine, Okkervil River, Patrick Watson. Middle row (left to right): Great Lake Swimmers, Josh Ritter, Neko Case. Bottom row (left to right): Hey Rosetta!, Serena Ryder, Elvis Costello.

"Alright Winnipeg, check this sh*t out" ­ – Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas)

This year's Winnipeg Folk Festival was spectacular, for me, on many levels. But principally two: talent and weather. The latter goes without explanation; for myself, a lousy forecast can dampen even the best show – fortunately I can't think of too many examples where this has happened. So, lucky me.

But the crew behind the scenes, who patch this whole thing together, put forth an incredible lineup for 2009 – in my humble opinion, the best ever. Frankly, somebody there must have read my mind. Some notes from this year's festival:

The continuation of a second night-time stage has been a huge blessing, and this year's was, by leaps and bounds, the best. Between the only scheduled showing by late addition Hey Rosetta! On Friday, a quick pop-in for a screening of The Big Snit on Saturday and back-to-back concerts on Sunday from Patrick Watson and Great Lake Swimmers, the old guard can have their main stage.

Patrick Watson (the man) and Patrick Watson (the band) were lights-out. I hadn't seen them before, and had no clue how they'd manage to put across live what they do on their albums (having a most daring percussionist doesn't hurt). I only wished I'd waded in closer to see his homemade mobile soundsystem, which I could only describe as a backpack/coat-rack of megaphones. Their Sunday workshop with Danny Barnes, human beat-box C.R. Avery and klezmer-rapper Socalled was quite fine in its own right. A ton of improvised fun, anyways.

The Great Lake Swimmers put in an appearance or ten, or so it felt, holding their own against Josh Ritter and Neko Case (Saturday afternoon), and the bombastic Okkervil River (Sunday). Arguably the hardest-working band of the festival, they capped off the weekend with a rousing version of "I Am Part Of A Large Family" with Serena Ryder, complete with a rose-red sunset.

These sideshows almost make me forget my personal highlights of the evening main stage, the specially-added Wednesday marathon from Elvis Costello, the all-eggs-in-one-basket Friday night, capped by Iron & Wine and my lady crush Case (led off with the happiest man in the business, my man-crush Mr. Ritter) and a Saturday bash with the 11-piece British party band Bellowhead – complete with tuba solo.

I had a great time with my camera this year, shoehorning my way up close for some of the daytime shows. Bigger, crisper looks at any of these photos can be had here.

July 09, 2009

200: Happy Bicentennial, To Me

This is the 200th artistic/creative diversion I've given myself since I began this blog at the outset of 2005. I am not one who tends to toot one's own horn, but right about now I am finding this pretty f**king amazing.

This is another entry from my May Day drawing series; my May 18th contribution to be precise (I'm telling you, this is one self-started drawing challenge that continues to pay out). A brush pen portrait of my niece, based on a photo I took during a Thanksgiving 2007 visit to my sister's in Nova Scotia, this was dressed up not for Illustration Friday or any other themed assignment. It was done – as athletes sometimes say – simply for the love of the game.

A closer look can be had, here.

July 06, 2009

199: Daytrippers

Top row (left to right): adding machine of the beast in Ponemah; Sarah the roadside camel in Glenboro. Middle row (left to right): Kerry styles at the Souris agate pit; explosive words in the Souris caboose. Bottom row (left to right): daisies, yo; Kerry, on the bridge.


Kerry and I celebrated an odd Canada Day Wednesday off by seeing a bit of the countryside and jet-setting off to Souris, Manitoba. For those outside certain local circles, the town of Souris (population 1,683) is home to the country's longest cable-stayed footbridge, which spans the Souris River at a length of 177 metres (584 feet). Souris is less-known as the hometown of a former coworker of mine, who claims to have punched fomer Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Ron Hextall – who hailed from up the road – in the nose during a childhood hockey game. But I digress.

With local scribe Bartley Kives' tome A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba, we hit the highway west to see this village first-hand, for the first time. The book came in handy, guiding us through some backwoods directions to find a farm-based reptile exhibit in nearby Shilo. That was cool in its own right; certainly not something one would expect to see on the bald prairie. If you can find it, I'd say it's worth the $5 admission.

In Souris proper, we ate lunch, strolled through the town park and chased the town peacocks. We explored a caboose-turned-museum. Walked the planks of the famous bridge (Kerry noted the shake makes it feel as if you're walking "like a Sweathog"). Rockhounded our heat-stricken butts off at the local agate pit. And then headed home – via Glenboro and its giant roadside camel – to a 9:00 dinner at Headingley's traveler haven Nick's Inn (bacon cheeseburger and fries for this hombre, but sadly out of milkshake). Following, we were so pooped we couldn't stay up for fireworks; instead, we heard them boom as we fell asleep in our bed.