Monday, December 26, 2016

Spotify For The Win!

Call me late tot he game on this, but I am really enjoying the versatility of Spotify as a streaming source for music.  I at first was skeptical of using the service because of the cost versus artist availability.  That was until I was given an invitation for a premium account from a family member (Thanks Simon!) to try it out without any ads, or introductory time frames.

What won me over was a combination of many things, especially for the mobile devices.  The accessibility to a huge selection of artists to start.  Spotify has obtained quite the roster of bands and compilations over the years.  This comes in very handy for me when I make my playlists.  So not only can you search for other people's playlists, but you can following top trending ones, radio stations, and also create tons of your own!

(Photo courtesy of Spotify: Design Resources)

Another bonus feature that sealed the deal for me was the ability to download as many songs as I wanted (on the premium account) for offline use when I am in an area that doesn't have WiFi, or signal issues, which can be frequent in the mountain areas nearby.  It's a relatively easy process to download, remove, and add new downloads.  You can do them as a whole playlist, a whole album, or individual songs of your choosing.

So far, the playlists have been a hit. I have been sharing them with a few family and friends, and hoping to add to them as I discover more and more artists.  Add me if you are a member (afgallagher86).  I believe it's also free to sign up!

Alexisonfire - Live At Copps

A wonderful flashback occurred recently.

It was a crisp, cold GTA evening in the end of December, 2012.  After returning from holiday festivities in my hometown, I grabbed our whack of tickets and took off for three nights of Alexisonfire at the Sound Academy.  Being that it was supposed to be their farewell tour, I was looking forward to the band and crowd energy at each show.  Needless to say the GF and I suffered a few bruises and bumps in the mosh pit/entire crowd (haha).

So after they depart from the city after four days of havoc, I received a text message from my buddy John, asking if I was available that evening.  With no idea what he's got planned, or any real plans myself, I was happy to tag along.  I had a slight suspicion anyways, being that he attended previous shows with us.

(Courtesy of

We ended up in Hamilton for Alexisonfire and their [apparent] farewell show after 10+ years as a band.  While St. Catherines is the guys hometown, Copps Coliseum felt the perfect venue for fans all across the Niagara region and the GTA.

With Moneen warming up the crowd as we entered the venue, there was a great vibe in the air, and a huge crowd screaming, eagerly awaiting what would eb the final time anyone was going to see these five on stage together.

Shortly after an energetic show from Moneen, the five gentlemen took the stage, and gave it all they had.  I would normally find myself in the moshpits for something such as this, I decided to lick my wounds from previous evenings and watch the night unfold by the sound booth.

So the flashback came from John a few weeks ago when he shared that concert with me (Thanks John!).  I had noooo idea this was being filmed, but remembered saying something along those lines when I was in Copps.  So, here is that full concert, courtesy of Dine Alone records!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue Review

So here I am sitting at a computer with a great review in my head to write about, but lacking the creativity to word it together.  I think it's best to start from the beginning of the evening.  Last minute decision by my girlfriend Allison, we luckily snagged tickets hours before Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue was to take the stage at the Jack Singer concert hall.  I like to think it was good karma as I tried to enter a promo password, and managed to knock a couple of bucks off each ticket.  Now thinking about it in hindsight, I would have gladly paid full price for this concert.

We managed to find the entrance quite easily, despite the ongoing construction outside the venue.  I have to say I was both impressed and taken back by the layout of Jack Singer.  It had the aesthetics that resembled both a modern touch, and a throw back to something I would have seen in the 80s.  The gold plated railings I think helped this vibe.  Regardless of aesthetics, the place was beautifully set up, the bar staff were friendly and fast, and the sound barriers were awesome!

As we got to our section, we were greeted by an usher who was very helpful in us finding our seats, and explaining rules of entering/exiting during performances.  We waltzed into the concert about 10 minutes late of starting time.  Needless to say the show was already off to a great start, with a handful of fans.  Both myself and my girlfriend were instantly connected with the tunes going on inside the hall.  The trumpet was flying, the drum beats were getting faster, and everyone was up and dancing in the venue.  Did I mention it looked close to a sellout?  Very impressive Calgary!

(Snapped this from our seats on my phone.  Not a bad view!)

Being that I am not overly familiar with his work, I didn't know many of the songs.  However, there were many times where the improv started to seep through the saxophone or trombone, and seem like it wasn't going to stop.  We loved it!  There was a point where the boys even busted out their own rendition of "Give It Away" from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  It clicked in afterwards that they recently announced a tour with them in the US, with two Canadian dates (Toronto and Vancouver), so it seemed like a nice tribute to them.

The show lasted just under two hours all together, which seemed a lot shorter than we wanted.  Call us selfish for it, but we have consistently enjoyed Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue so we are always ready for extended performances.  This made it our third time watching his highly energetic performance (the other two were in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square, and Washington DC's RFK Stadium).  While most of my show reviews tend to be hard rock and metal shows, it's very refreshing to have a change of beat, and get down with something that you can dance to.  The style and approach that Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue give is both throwback, with a modern personal spin.

I would highly recommend this show to most of my readers who are able to appreciate a good love of jazz, blues, and big band.  He has been consistent in his tour schedule, so let's hope he makes a speedy return to Calgary for another performance (coughsummertimeoutdoorscough).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Respect Given, Respect Earned

It was the perfect setting for the summer.  Family and friends paying their visits to our home in Calgary, the weather was sunny, the BBQ was ready for cooking, the fire pit in the backyard was roaring, and on the television we tuned in to the final show of arguably Canada's greatest band.

I was one of 11+ million Canadians that tuned into the CBC to pay respects and watch the farewell that The Tragically Hip gave to their fans.  Now I am sure most of you heard SOMETHING about this before reading this article.  Lead vocalist Gord Downie was unfortunately diagnosed with terminal brain cancer (to lay it out as easy as possible).  Being the true musician he is, he decided, along with the band, to say goodbye in the best way they could...they went on tour!

After a few weeks of sold out concerts across the country, they said their final goodbyes in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario.  It was a pretty memorable moment to say the least.  Our Prime Minister showed up in a typical Canadian tuxedo (aka jean pants and jean jacket), the 6000 person venue was packed to the limit, as well as twenty thousand spectators outside the venue, and our beloved CBC cut live feeds from Rio's Olympics to give Canadians what they really wanted to see that night.
(Photo courtesy of The Tragically Hip Blog)

Let me be honest with you all though, I was never a real Hip fan.  I had numerous opportunities to attend their final shows in Calgary, but thought it would be rude of me to grab tickets for a band that others have waited endlessly to see.  Their tunes were fun, but never in my playlists or catalogue.  However, I ALWAYS sing along to "Ahead By A Century" when it hits the radio waves.

Once the show got underway on Saturday night, and reading multiple articles about this farewell tour, I'll admit I got a little emotional, much like the rest of the country.  Gord and the gang was giving 120% all evening, and they themselves could not hold back a few tears towards the end.  This was a turning point for me, and goes back on a belief I have always had about music.  You may not like the band, the music, or even the musicians, but you HAVE to respect what they have done for millions of their fans, and the effort that goes into their 30+ year career.

In the end of this lil rant, I just hope someone is reading this and thinking "You know what, I may not feel that connection to the music, but I equally respect what they have done over their career".  That is what music should all be about.  Different strokes for different folks, but a sense of respect for a legendary band who have brought smiles, hopes, and dreams to fans.

Now after saying this, I am feeling the urge to go back to my PVR tonight and watching the farewell one last time.

Ticket Stub Doormats?

I am sure that many of you readers have collected ticket stubs from the various concerts you have attended over the years.  I have spent a good portion of my life collecting these artifacts from my teens and early twenties, some of which are residing in pictures frames due to frailty.

So if you're like me and want to try and keep these stubs in your memory, a company based out of Metairie (borderline New Orleans) is now able to print those ticket stubs onto mugs, mats, etc.  While I understand it seems like we've been able to put photos on almost anything, this was on of the first times I have seen a company do this with ticket stub.
(Photo courtesy of Lakeside Photo Works)
I know what you are all thinking at this point.  You don't want to part with that stub that has been sitting in your collection for 10, 15, 20+ years.  That's quite OK, as I myself had doubts at first.  As it stands, there are three options they provide, which all look pretty safe and secure:

1. Capture your stub using your smartphone.
2. Mail your stubs to Lakeside Camera Photoworks.  Mailing in your tickets is the best way to ensure a quality mat. All tickets will be returned with your completed order.  All work is done in house by real live humans. Normal service turnaround is three business days + shipping if we ship.
3. If you're in the New Orleans area, bring your stub(s) in to Lakeside Camera Photoworks at 3508 21st Street in Metairie, Louisiana 70002. We are located across Severn Avenue from the Lakeside Mall, right next to Phil’s Grill.
Now there isn't any indication on the website that these items can be shipped internationally, but I am almost willing to give it a shot and see how much the shipping and handling costs.  If anyone has the chance to order from them, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the experience!