Friday, July 24, 2009

Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe and Basia Bulat

Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio

I heard Basia Bulat for the first time on Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe radio show on CBC the other weekend. I stopped what I was doing and just listened - it was that good. I try to catch this CBC program each week as much for the 2 or 3 featured Canadian songs they play in the hour, as to listen to the humorous stories which are told in that time. I can usually catch the program each week because it is aired 3 times on CBC Radio 1 and Radio 2. It is also syndicated in a number of other radio stations world wide. Stuart tours Canada and the USA delivering his programs and recording them on location. A dozen or so of his radio programs are broadcast from these various (usually) smaller city locations during the year.

Stuart is known for his his Vinyl Cafe series of books - there are at this point 6 of them I think. They are collections of short stories all featuring a number of humorous characters (Dave and Morley being the main two - Dave owns a record shop called the Vinyl Cafe) and these stories are set in Toronto, where Stuart lives. Listening to his stories and the other bits of his program is somehow comforting as wiki puts it "the program is wistfully nostalgic". I agree.

If you want to see what I mean go to iTunes and look up Vinyl Cafe Stories from the CBC - they are free - and download the story from July 4 2009 - it is really funny and listening to 5 minutes of this will tell you more about what this program is about than all the words I could write. The July 4th episode is so funny you will split your sides. I had to listen to that week's program on both Saturday and Sunday because I only started to listen half way through on Saturday and needed to hear it all. These stories - and Stuart himself I dare say, is the sort of thing you either love or hate. I try not to miss him on any given week, if I can help it.

Basia Bulat - Folk/Pop Singer - Songwriter

Anyway, I digress. I was telling you about Basia Bulat, who I heard for the first time on CBC last week. The program was a rare all music one - they were trying to fit in all the songs they hadn't time to play in the last several months of programs and so had decided to one without all the usual story bits. Somehow I don't know where all the new young Canadian musicians are coming from - or whether I just have been in a musical "memory lane" fog with my listening tastes in the last few decades. There were quite a few songs which caught my ear and I may bring some of the others to your attention in the coming months also.

Basia is just one of the many Canadian singer songwriters I have recently been introduced to, not only on this radio program but also recently from other CBC radio programs. My binge diet of CBC radio has peaked over the year and of course, CBC are the champions of Canadian Music.

From Wiki:

Basia Bulat (pronounced /ˈbæʃə ˈbʊulæt/[1] is a Canadian pop music singer-songwriter. Based in London, Ontario, she released an independent EP in 2005. She subsequently signed to Rough Trade Records, which released her full-length debut album, Oh, My Darling in April 2007.

Her singles "Snakes and Ladders", "Little One" and "I Was a Daughter" have been playlisted on CBC Radio 3 while various tracks have received airplay on college radio in Canada and the United States. Her latest album, Oh, My Darling, made the short list for the Canadadian 2008 Polaris Music Prize.

Stuart featured the song Little Waltz on his program and I immediately liked it. Her voice is, in my mind, much like Tracey Chapman, but with a gypsy flavour in this song. What the Wiki article does not tell you is that she plays guitar, autoharp, banjo, ukelele, sax and flute and that her first album, recorded at jam sessions in Montreal with her friends, caught the interest of the big London England label Rough Trade Records and they released her LP Oh My Darling in Europe and Japan in 2007 and only recently in Canada. Her music has a freshness and excitement and the instrumentation, with autoharp a nice contrast to what is getting air play today.

Her recording of the Little Waltz was used in a VW EOS commercial in Austria in 2007. If I hadn't fallen in love with this car before seeing this commercial, I would have after seeing it.

Beaches Jazz Festival and Collingwood's Elvis Festival

As you read this I am recovering from last nights musical extravaganza of the Beaches Jazz Festival's Street Fest and on my way up to Collingwood to take in their annual Elvis Festival. I will try to find time to catch up with blogging upon my return on Sunday.

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