Madic album alternative venue show in support of Family Hangover – Walrus takes over Lawrencetown Legion,… and soon the WORLD! #regularface #goodbyesomething 

Yo we playing the Legion branch 112 in Lawrencetown tonight #freepoolanddarts

A post shared by Walrus (@walrustheband) on Mar 4, 2017 at 2:21pm PST

From the chilly wind that brought them out of Halifax for an evening, this band of music bros arrived at the college town legion in the precolonial heart of the Annapolis Valley as a headlining local Nova Scotia feature band and so eager to play pool! When we were eating a meal after soundcheck, Justin + Keith (guess which ones!) were playing a phone pool game and chatted to prepare for things getting REAL at the local pool hall/legion.

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They were there to play a set, but priorities dictated darts and 8-balls were an ideal warm-up to a frosty March night. An assortment of local regular members of the Legion occupied one table, while the term’s students’ mingled and enjoyed a brief reprieve from intensive cartography et al.
I’d been to a Madic house concert a couple of times, and have enjoyed the atmosphere created by intimate settings of these like any other venue. They adequately meet the expectations of any lil ol café show, while keeping expenses low for the attendees. That, alongside capacity building and audience growth, helps the life of the musician just a little bit more. The well-rounded artist helps keep a community connected to their shows, not just a sporadic audience, especially when it remains a community-focused event: all ages, low costs, familiar spaces used to make a concert out of a natural gathering. In this case, the local Legion was the perfect place for such a show. Thanks to the COGS Student Association for supporting the event, it was promoted as a student oriented event, and allowed for a break from the stress we are all voluntarily in the Valley to be under. (Centre of Geographic Sciences, in a town that’s hardly on the map and is always confused with a surfing spot near Halifax… yet is temporary home to 200 map-heads. Go figure.)
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After months of toying with logistics, it came together, with great resilience to changing plans and contact people and unwavering confidence it could and would happen. Student support to put on the show was invaluable, but also, they enjoyed participating in a show. Being in Lawrencetown is an isolating experience, and once I began to introduce the idea of a live music event it became appealing as an alternate form of entertainment in a quiet town, especially for fellow classmates who missed interacting with the music communities of larger hometowns. Zac Fredericks opened the show with some originals and a cover of The Weight by The Band and What I’ve Got by Sublime, happy to be able to take the stage and play louder than a classroom or student-rental-level volume on the amp.
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It is  very rural and often quiet town. But, with a small contingent of students eager to do something on a weekend that isn’t school – you basically have to make your own entertainment. With the help of the student association, and after cycling through the options for a venue – settling on something familiar.  In a sense, I was struck by a reminder to ‘take a sad (town, in this case) and make it better.’ #sameregularplacesameregulartime becoming all too real for this Legion show. Though for the very Albertan type wind that had hit the valley that night, there was 40 students and a few out of town guests excited for this band of friends was playing a show nearby – before heading out on new 2017 adventures.
Walrus’ music continues to be compared to the Beatles, if not only for the initial name but also once those who had no idea what they were about to get into – the hypnotizing effect of warbling sounds and psychadelic solos provide a warmth very similar to Dan’s new sounds emerging from his former lives into Club Meds – a soundtrack to the changes in the band and life around them. Unmake is exactly that, with the dissolution of +Blacksmith as the permanent traveling band alongside Dan’s songwriting stylings emerging as a creative force allowed the split to remain amicable and professional. This split, however allowing the label producer side of Dan to emerge, and throw more energy into supporting other artists who can benefit from more shows, more tours, more sales. Ultimately, the goal of Madic Records is to be as professionally personable as possible, and make good music out of real life situations. The honesty – of music and of lyrics – is cherished deeply by this initiative, and supports the idea of balancing personal work with the work of responsibilities. Handling mental health and the experimentation of creative bursts drive this support network of curiosities more and more into mainstream with every new show booking in an interesting place with ‘happy little regular faces’. (seriously tho, check out this new video!)
The power of the alternate venue was confirmed when I was living in Edmonton – where the whole city kept rediscovering its capacity for hosting a fantastic show. From the Artery, to Wunderbar, to Pawn Shop, to be the same audiences rehoused in emerging redefinitions of favourite places including the Aviary, Buckingham, Arcadia, Mercury Room,  and now The Needle, Have Mercy, and Bohemia are emerging as the arts community remained determined to find houses for music, culture sharing, and supportive space for creativity in many forms. This transition, alongside communities of house concerts spearheaded by local community members – is an idea that doesn’t have to stick with a formula, it’s an idea that facilitates growth and taking valuable risks.
When Walrus most recently played Edmonton (at Up+Dt Fest) , they were in the cozier space of Brixx Bar underneath Starlite – which has had its own history of revolving identities. But, decades later the building still houses touring acts alongside locals in the lofting concert hall with slanty floors. Because of its character, and legacy, within the city communities of movers and shakers have poured endless energy into sustaining the venue. Not unlike most of Halifax’s rebuilt infrastructure – both cultural and physical, these music making mellow magicians are one example of the reason why cities continue to reinvest in the arts. There’s something of meaning in holding on to cultural events as superb as these live music resources have come to be engrained within our experience of whichever home we’re at in the present breath.
These cities are just one example of a revolving door of music spaces hosting ‘final’ shows only to have the same people organize and perform at the bar down the road next week. But the identification with the walls of a bar can be formative to a band. Most importantly though, is for that band to never stop trying out a new stage. That, has been my experience with Walrus, ranging from Seahorse to Gridlock Fest in Citadel High’s parking lot, to Marquee Ballroom for #coldsmoke17, to running into them en route to a Montreal cat cafe while waiting for a Tame Impala show to begin. They’re neat dudes with neat tunes.
With some change in quantity of Keiths, they have been an actively touring band for over 5 years, and in the past year alone I have attended at least four of their shows – all within Halifax, though the first song I heard of theirs was on a BIRP playlist in 2012. They’re a band of surprises and honest connections to their music and fans, an attitude encouraged by Madic Records and Double Denim Management.  They’ve taken their chameleon sound and tested it in numerous audiences, and are always eager to try a few more. Something about the soft pop harmonies pique unsure listeners’ interest, and by the  time the guitars kick into Jordan’s drum solo everyone’s pretty much sold. Always seeking another dimension to the hypnosis, they are eagerly booking tours and single shows.
Those adventures are particularly exciting as new steps in their musical career (thanks to stellar management and alternative marketing techniques courtesy of Madic’s backbone of keeping music accessible). A European tour is on the horizon alongside the upcoming release of their first LP, in succession to the 4 song sample EP (available on walrustheband.bandcamp.com) will continue to push the small town success of a groovy garage band and turned their sound into a sensation being discovered by entirely new communities. Family Hangover, most recently previewed at Lawrencetown Legion Branch #112 will be  in hard copy by June. Until then, sit back with some paints and create some happy little  trees with these boys’ regular faces as your instructors.
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While they were in Lawrencetown, I asked these lads some familiar questions:
Hardest ever laughed
  •  MurphyDad’s house in Grand Falls (answers to this question are so often family related!)
Fave place to play
  • Hadley
  • Commodore Ballroom
  • Quebec City (Mostly because of the DIY scene they have built there, the venues always have a good turnout and people who get right into it.)
Fave song
  • Don’t look back in anger – Oasis
  • Thomas Tank Engine theme song (Keith)
 Fave cover song
  • Lucky Man by the Verve (played at show!)
Best road trip jams
  • Howard Stern, Serial podcast, Stone cold steve austin, Ricky gervais, Sirius radio stations
(Side note: My connection to loving satellite radio goes back to Said the Whale, when I was in Alberta, still very much connected to the christian community. I was the only one in the car who liked the music but I realized then “the church discouraged what was within me” – re: new lyrics! – the connection to the indie music scene developed from there, and when I was able to hear My Government Heart live, it was a  big ol deal.) This connection from hearing a band in digital form and then finally hearing (and seeing!) IRL the interaction required to create a full, dynamic sound. I love what that Discovery’s lead to. ‘i discovered my heart had become the earth,’ said the whale. and so, the story continues.
What is your Patronus/spirit animal? [clarified the intent is more the epitome of happiness that drives you, to appreciate the significance of spirit animals as a traditional indigenous honour statement; Patronus required a bit of a refresher but lead singer Justin was keen to fill his drummer bro Jordan in on its ability to provide safety for you as an embodiment of your greatest form of love]
  • Keith (new) identifies as a fox with cunning abilities
  • McGrath identifies with an owl
  • Jordan, hockey stick? ‘What does that say about me?’
  • Justin was curious about what object he could be if Dan was a bookshelf…..
(see my interview with Astral Swans, another on Madic Records’ label, about another way to answer this question.)

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Hat’s off to Walrus for a community gathering alternative venue show at Legion Branch #112 in March 2017

Good luck in Europe! Goo Goo Gajoub!
(What’s holding you back from organizing a show of your own? Get in touch with madichouseconcerts@gmail.com with any questions for hosting an alternative venue or house concert.)
http://www.madicrecords.com/madic-house-concerts/
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Dan Mangan weaves Baskets of Forgetery with enthusiastic subtlety & activist melodies

Philosophical wonderings have been Dan Mangan’s blessing and curse for the extent of his career. he’s redefined what we can or should expect from radio play by questioning our expectations of ourselves. Self-indulgent lyrics became self-aware serenades with longstanding teamwork alongside the men of his complete band (newly titled + Blacksmith). 

This fall he forged a solo version of newest compositions as offerings of growth next to old favourites and softened his setlist with proper introductions to songs not often given the spotlight. Focusing on admonishing others producing valuable music, the tour focused on returning to bard-with-a-lute songmanship. Dan reflected on the importance to leave the band behind for this quick low-key tour. “i like that people can hear all the lyrics. i think it’s important to have variety. you go crazy doing the same kind of show over and over again.” Balancing solo shows with monumental orchestrations (Halifax January 2016), this philosophy is given life.

Whether referring to leaving Robots to fight for their own love, or revisiting the humble power of a single guitar, these words are penultimate to the work Dan has created. His intention to contribute a voice with value to the maddening soundscape informed Club Meds, the 2014 touring break, and film scores for Hector and the Search for Happiness and The Valley Below. 

JK: how does set list writing compare to an album order, in flexibility and in permanence?

DM: albums are totally self serving indulgences. it’s important to never ever think about what people might like because most of the time you’re wrong about what people like and you just need to trust your gut and try to imagine the rest of the world doesn’t exist. live shows are the opposite,.. you might not want to play particular songs but you have to check your ego a bit and realize that people are reserving an entire night of their all too short lives to be with you, and that some of them actually love your work (whether or not you think that work is worth loving) and they deserve some reciprocation.. so you play a mixture of what you want and what they want and hopefully there’s a lot of overlap.

On stage between songs, Dan’s poignant storytelling recalls moments from early solo tours as being less forgiving. These boyish habits of sneaky-kind-of-selfish double-sided comments informed 2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice; but figured out honest success comes from giving it everything you’ve got. He’s not everyone’s favourite pop star. His “sweet summer jams” aren’t professing love or pretending to. Comfortable in uncertainty, his voice resonates from dark, vulnerable places of personal anxieties wry with clever wit. 

In present day, he supports as he was supported. By individuals who give a damn. Always making time for a chat and an autograph, it is with sincere gratitude and a moments of human connection he still sustains his fan base. An audience extending to digital connection thanks to insta-updates and quick twitter quips, fulfilling our need for internet chatter.   

JK: Does it get overwhelming? 

DM: “It can. Everyone loves receiving compliments. So I take it in, express thanks, savour that moment.. When I’m home I set the experience aside and savour the present, try to forget about the rest…”

A friend to melancholy lyrics and experimental sound, the emotion rising from Dan’s growing discography resonates with hope. And despair. But a despair offering comfort, in the humanity of it all. My curiosity and attachment to this soundscape was due to this vulnerability exposed and explored, resonating with my own insecurities.

I grow more curious about the intent of messaging in each fragment of lyrics I choose to digest. When I first began absorbing the complicating statements of this discography, they eroded such damning complacency of sociocultural patterns from adolescence. Existential, intelligent lyrics promised hope, beyond stifling rural simplicity and shrouded media messaging of the early 2000s.

I asked Dan about the particular lyricsm and context of his body of work relating to the dynamic changes involved in this newer album’s composite flair since adding + Blacksmith as an equalizing moniker. His response reaffirms a progressive songwriting style, as well as having independent value and meaning.

would you liken Mouthpiece (a song of statements) to Jeopardy (a song of questions), as a response? 

interesting connection. i suppose, to some extent, both songs are the opposite of what they are. jeopardy is full of questions, but feels rhetorical and manipulative, because there are answers implied (“what happens when all flags burn together? is that unity?). mouthpiece is chalk full of statements, but there’s a bit of a self awareness to the onslaught of self indulgent musings (even calling it mouthpiece), which opens up questions about where all those statements come from and how much should we be critical of their certainties? i guess what i’m saying is, questions or answers, it’s all a bit in the air, isn’t it

Club Meds’ casual genius reflects personal and professional growth in musicianship. It doesn’t sound recycled from anything else, yet is a simple culmination of influences. He cites Margaret Atwood as post-apocalyptic literary guidance for lines “books we tried to burn” and claims his spirit animal is a bookshelf. (link) His art remains smart, with a smattering of self-indulgent reflection… bringing clarity to those of us on the receiving end overwhelmed by conflicting biases of living.

Dan’s hope carries political musings as rooted storytelling to various niche baskets of ‘wicker-enthusiasts’ around the world, and exposes vulnerability and acute awareness of our sedation. If it means spending the next 5 years with Club Meds underscoring our cultural understanding in an updated version of Nice Nice Very Nice pleading love for robots, I’ll buckle up for the ride.

“‘Cause when I taste it – just one moment of TRUTH – what I’m wishing would linger seems to leave me. And I fear that distraction ever near me. So I’m open and broken. Feels like teething. The sweet pain of the PROCESS. Forgetery. Forgetery alive and well.” – Forgetery, CLUB MEDS. (2015)

[Jude’s 6Q] feat. Astral Swans > “what calms you down freaks me out” <

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Astral Swans from the stage in Cranbrook. December 1, 2015

 

“I once saw a dead bird on the sidewalk, so being a sensitive guy easily affected by death.. I wrote a song about it.” Matt Swann offers some lighthearted stage banter in Cranbrook, BC, at the end of a season of touring small venues and humble stage shows throughout Canada. This time, sharing a stage with his Madic Records manager, Dan Mangan.

From the initial press release of the label announcement, Dan has been forthright about the experimental nature of this personal project:

“I’d had this longstanding pipe dream of having a boutique label. For years, it seemed a fulfilling hobby; to help spread the word about music I believed in that wasn’t getting enough attention. It was never quite the right time, and I figured if it ever were to be, that it would happen fairly organically, and because a particular album or project fell in my hands. It took about one listen through Astral Swans’ rough mixes to light a proverbial fire.” (http://danmanganmusic.com/dan-mangan-launches-madic-records/)

Speaking to Dan about working with Matt and developing this toned-down touring style, he confirmed this experiment was a mutual decision, as, “Matt has zero intentions of world domination. If he could play to 80 people every night he would be so happy.”

Lyrics are meant to be the focus of Astral Swans’ performance, with lines arising around sensitivity in the wake of death, compromising social situations, or simply having a conscience in a world that doesn’t seem to value it. Matt’s sensitive existential musings are summarized by the line: Continue reading