I'm back because it's time to get ready for Garden City Grooves.

I haven’t been around here much. It’s been a busy summer. There has been a lot of music to check out and discover and good times to be had. Fuck, I don’t need to explain myself to you! Ahem…The rain has come back to Victoria, probably closer to the “Summer’s-gone-for-good” kind of rain. It is time to wind down. But not really, because we still have this…

Even in the sea of exhaustion and near concert-burnout I can’t help but get excited for this. LAST YEAR WAS SO MUCH FUN. But it can be hard to get it up for a roster of acts so obscure that you might consider yourself lucky to know even one of them. See, the fine folks behind Garden City Grooves are, like myself, gigantic music nerds. They read liner notes to see who played what on a given track. They track releases by small labels they trust. Etc, etc…We know these definitions, yes? I can move on? Good.

I’ve come back out of hibernation to help you get ready for three super-duper groovy nights in my lovely home base of Victoria. Really, I’m just letting you see me get myself ready because until a few weeks ago I only knew a couple of the acts on here.  

DUTCH ROBINSON (of the Ohio Players)

Sometimes I get leery when I see a member of a once prominent band on a marquee with their former band name anywhere near. It reeks of has-been. BUT THIS RULE DOES NOT APPLY TO SOUL MUSICIANS. Soul is just too timeless and all that. And come on, The Ohio Players! That’s some legendary shit right there.

Brother ain’t resting on his laurels either and is producing and releasing his own stuff. Though the site that’s supposed to host the album for sale, www.downloaddutch.com has not been down for at least the last couple of weeks as of this writing.

I don’t know what you’d call this…it’s kind of adult contemporary jazz, but it’s most definitely soul, not much funk on this one. Let’s just call it CLASS. Dude lives in Vancouver (After spending 20 years on the East Coast) and this will be his first time in Victoria. Pretty stoked on this one.


I don’t know much about afro-beat music. I mean, I know Féla because I’m a human being that likes music. I know Ali Farka Touré because I have a friend who was fairly obsessed with him at some point. I really love Paul Simon’s Graceland. Apart from that my knowledge is essentially non-existent. But it’s undeniably fun, groovy stuff. Some of the best dancing I’ve ever had is to afro-beat groups I could never in a million years name for you. Again, I know nothing of these cats but if you’re looking for something to get loose to, I can’t imagine going wrong with this.

The Steadies

How in the fuck does reggae music have any influence in Saskatchewan!? It makes no sense to me at all, but this is pretty sweet stuff. It’s slick and funky and sugary and seems like a pretty awesome way to start out this festival’s opening night. This just keeps getting crazier…Earl Periera of Wide Mouth Mason is the bass player and singer in this band. This is blowing my mind!! I like a band that puts in miles and according to their bio they play over 100 shows a year. This is shaping up to be something to get excited about.

Downtown Mischief is a very large group of local cats who I have no beef with. I saw them at Ska Fest and they were pretty fun. The everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach is something I fluctuate pretty wildly with. There’s an undeniable energy about these guys though and it’s pretty hard not to want to dance at least a little bit.

I wish I had a lot more information to give you, dear music lovers, but alas, I do not. All I can do is remind you that this is a festival run by people who genuinely love music and want to bring you sounds that make your rump shake and your soul feel good.  I'll be moving my ass and you should be too!

Get a FULL FESTIVAL PASS FOR ONLY $33.33 at gardencitygrooves.com

Thoughts on Blitz the Ambassador, on the eve before "Afropolitan Dreams" drops.

Ghana's only, Ghana's finest, Blitz the Ambassador is set to release his highly-anticipated Afropolitan Dreams and with that in mind I take a look back at what this Afro-Hip-Hop titan has meant to me in the short time I've known about him, in hopes that the ears and hearts of others will take notice. The world would be a better place if everyone rocked out with Blitz. 

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All hail the ruler of Wicked City, King Krafty Kuts!

For years Krafty Kuts represented the great divide between one of my greatest friends and I. He had stolen my friend from the comfortable groove of the classic hip-hop and reggae that formed much of the basis for our friendship and dragged him into (What I perceived to be) the cold, ruthless clutches of electronic music. All I heard about was how great Krafty Kuts was. He stood at the gates of my aural Mordor, along with Stanton Warriors, as the guards to some terrifying hellscape, waiting to pierce me in the ears and take away my great love in life if I dared to venture too close. Also, the guy goes by Krafty Kuts. Read that three times. Think about it and realize what an easy target that is to make fun of. It's nearly impossible to discuss something you're afraid of with such a ridiculous name and not bring attention to it.

(Mixes, tracks and photos abound within.)

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Ha Ha Tonka, Bloodshot Records and my vacation.

I love record labels. When you find a good one that shares an aesthetic you enjoy it can be a magical thing. You can just lap up everything they release and know that they're basically never going to let you down. Let's hear it for Fat Possum and Ghetto Funk!

A couple of years ago I discovered Scott H. Biram and the label that puts out his records, Bloodshot Records. These guys just keep putting out great, gritty alt-country that seems to never miss the mark. Lydia Loveless comes to mind. Really, check her out. 

The latest alt-country dudes that they have turned me on to go by the moniker Ha Ha Tonka, and let me tell you, brothers and sisters, these guys are the real deal. Their new album Lessons  is not to be missed. It winds and grinds, jumping down the dusty backroads that only the best can navigate. This is already turning into a giant cliché and I haven't even started to really talk about the record. All I'll say from here is that if you like good, honest songwriting and hard rocking guitars, you should be listening to Ha Ha Tonka. Really, just do it.  (And while dope-ass beards are present, there are some clean faces to balance it out. Love it)

Here's a video of the group playing the title track off Lessons. 

Live at The Backyard Barbeque Festival, May 25th, 2013 HA HA TONKA: "Lessons". Music © Ha Ha Tonka http://www.hahatonkamusic.com/

As for me, I will be MIA for the next five weeks as I satiate my wanderlust and go off adventuring half-way around the world. I will have tales of music, love and wonder when I get back. Sit tight. I won't be long. I love you all. 

Shad teams up with Skratch Bastid and Saukrates(!) to continue dominating Canadian Hip-Hop.

The joy I get knowing that Shad, the most consistently awesome rapper working in Canada today, has teamed up with hella cool dude Skratch Bastid cannot be overstated. Though I'm a fan of awesome beats, no doubt, I don't know shit about the art of DJing but the moment I heard the Bastid split the difference between Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and Dead Prez' "Hip-Hop" I knew he was a pretty fucking stellar DJ. I don't remember much about the rest of that night (Except that K'naan destroyed and played the still-good version of "Wavin' Flag") but that moment always stood with me. So when he and Shad teamed up for The Spring Up EP I thought it was a one-time thing. Boy am I glad I was wrong.

"Stylin'," the first single from Shad's upcoming joint, Flying Colours, is another damned fine slice of intelligent, graceful Hip-Hop. The duo even got Canada's reigning musical Swiss Army Knife, Saukrates, for some chill vocals on the hook. If this is any indication of what's to come Flying Colours  is set to be another winner. As if there was any doubt. Check the fresh new video out and see for yourself. Don't worry, if the smile on your face gets so big it starts to hurt or your head bobs so hard you think it's going to fall off, just hit the 'pause' button and take a couple deep breaths...