Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review: Nobody Cries at BINGO

August was humour month for our genre book club. I was already a few chapters in (yeah ok, so I sort of cheated!) to a hilarious autobiography, which pretty much influenced the picking of this month's genre. And thank goodness, because it was a great book! I guess it's not traditional humour (as far as the genre goes) but it make me smile and laugh constantly so it counts.

August 2014: Humour

Nobody Cries at BINGO
By Dawn Dumont
2011
298 pages

The author (a trained lawyer and actress/comedian) presents each chapter as a short vignette about her childhood growing up on a reserve in Saskatchewan. The stories flow chronologically and revolve around her family, friends and the mundane, yet exciting, details about their daily lives. Dumont's language is simple, yet she deftly portrays reserve life to those who aren't familiar with it (and I suspect to those who are).

And it was hilarious, in a completely dry, sarcastic and self deprecating way. Dumont turns all those little stereotypical details into comical moments, but not in a "laughing at you way", always in a "laughing with you" way. It was a joy to read! My only complaint is that it ended abruptly, but I guess that's the way vignettes are. I definitely wanted her to keep going, as the book ends with her in law school, because I wanted to hear more about her crazy family antics! Who knew a story about crying over Cheezies at BINGO could be so funny!

Read this if you want to learn more about what living on a reserve is like (from someone with first hand experience). Read this if you want to smile after every paragraph. I think I'll try read her new book too, as I really got her style of humour. Or maybe I'll just read this one again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Music < Tarp Family: Folk Fest 2014 Wrap Up

It's taken me a long time to write this post because mostly I couldn't think of how to fill out my top 5 for the Edmonton Folk Fest 2014. This was not a stellar year on the hill for music for me. I've previously acknowledged that I've pigeon holed myself so much musically that I enjoy less and less these days. And this year, I'm a bit burnt out and didn't really want to deal with the early mornings and the lines. I was only going to go for one day to see Michael Franti, but ended up being talked into getting a weekend pass.

And it was a good thing I went for the whole festival.

View of the city is always stunning from the hill.


Here's my Folk Fest 2014 top 5:

1. My Tarp Family - Even though the music was not awesome for me this year, my tarp family sure was. This is the second (or third, we can't remember) year I've hung out at the top of the hill with my (relatively new) usual music crew. And over the years I've really come to love spending time with them all. One is a colleague and good friend who I see frequently and the others are her family and friends, people who I see infrequently but who have become my family and friends anyways. There was a discussion in the beer tent about how I'm the little sister who was in with the family and 100% welcome back on the tarp next year and that was a super fantastic warm fuzzy. Also they let me mooch all their popcorn. The memories of hanging out with my tarp family will sustain me for the year like memories of the music used to. I can't wait to see them again (hopefully before the annual Christmas Eve party which I'm totally inviting myself to!).

It was wet, it was cold, then it was hot, but it was always fun.


2. Blue Rodeo - Yes, I did just see them in January but as if these guys can put on a bad show?! They closed the festival, and ended up being the best act for me. The first song was '5 Days in May', and then Greg said "The organizers have asked us to do the entire '5 Days in July' album in order..." and so they did. I've never seen an artist do an entire album in order before and it was kind of awesome! It made it that much more special to hear the same good ol' tunes in person on the hill. The twitter rumour that day was that Kathleen Edwards was in town to sing with them and sure enough, she came out to join them! Awesome, because despite not usually liking female singers, I am a fan of hers. And then, the best part of the whole set, the brief moment that made the entire weekend of music worth it, happened during 'Dark Angel'. It's a slow duet between Greg and Sarah McLachlan on the cd I have, but Kathleen did a good job of filling in. Greg must've looked at her funny or said something (not like we could see much from the top of the hill), so Kathleen playfully punched him in the shoulder during a emotiony ballady part. High-larious. Icing on the cake. They did some other hits after the album songs and we went home happy.




3. Best Session: Friday night, during the rain (in which I discovered my rain jacket is no longer waterproof), the first session of the festival I saw a Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha join African bands Mokoomba and Alpha Yaya Diallo. The African bands jammed, and the Ukrainian girls added in some great harmonized vocals. It's a good thing the music was good because it was cold and wet. Apparently the DakhaBrakha concert was a-maz-ing according to a colleague, but alas, I missed it, instead choosing to listen to disappointing Irish celtic music instead (for some reason the Irish bands really didn't do it for me this year, although their Sunday afternoon session was good, that might've been because I had a good spot in the shade...)

DakhaBrakha, Mokoomba, Alpha Yaya Diallo


I quite enjoyed Mokoomba on main stage too. Take a listen.


4. Basia Bulat - Again, shocking if you know me, but here's another female singer I am a fan of. And she pulled off a high energy show full of great vocals. Quite enjoyable. Here's my favourite song:




5. I don't know what goes in the 5th spot. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite were great together, fantastic harmonica! 100 Mile House was a cute local find and I'd see them again. Michael Franti, who should've been #1 was...off. He sounded off anyways. I've seen him be super awesome and I've seen him be great. Saturday night he was just good. Good energy, good interaction with the crowd, good new songs I hadn't heard before. But, just...good. Maybe I was expecting too much. Bear's Den was good also (although that could've been my cool shady spot too) and Holly Williams didn't sing a bad song the two times I saw her. I wish I'd seen more of Sharon Shannon, but by the time her concert came around I was choosing music by their location to shade.


100 Mile House. Like I said. Cute.


Holly Williams. Check out her pedigree.


Now that's harmonica!


Ah well, maybe next year the music will be better for me. I had decided this would be my last year at Folk Fest, but I don't think I'm ready to give up the atmosphere and the company. I hear they're trying to get Oysterband for next year, who I love love love love love, so that'll be worth the price of admission. And I'll also never turned down a chance to hang out with my tarp family!