Calling All Tunehead Sleuths: Can You Identify These 16 Mystery Album Covers from the Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall, London, Ontario, Canada, June 1966?

WoolcoRecordDeptArgyleMallLondonJune1966The Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall, East London, Ontario, Canada, June 1966, from the London Free Press’ Pictures From the Past series. (Click on Photo to Enlarge)

What a trip it was to see this photo of one of my old childhood record-hunting locales 40 years after it was snapped!

As a fan of history—especially cultural history from global to local—I always look forward to one of my favourite features in the London Free Press: Pictures From the Past, a weekly installment reprinting photos from the paper’s archives spanning decades.

PFTP ran a photo last June of particular interest to me of the Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall in 1966. Having grown up in Huron Heights in the ‘60 and ‘70s, Argyle Mall was just a few minutes drive up Clarke Road. Regular trips there with both my parents and other family members means that everything about the place is burned into my memory from youth. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Magnificent Seven: My 7th Blogiversary

7thAnniversarySgtPepp50It’s Getting Better … (Mock-up by VA/Click on image to enlarge)

After publishing only 4 new pieces on my blog over the last 2.5 years (3 of those pieces from a couple of years ago) and missing my 6th anniversary altogether, time and circumstances have now allowed me to return to my blog.  Happy 7th to me here on June 3, 2017. Read the rest of this entry »


VariousArtists’ Six Easter Movie Recommendations

EasterMovieCollageBLOG

Originally published on Open Salon April 21, 2011.

A high holy holiday for the religious and a sweets-filled, extra-long weekend off of work for us atheists, agnostics and those of other faiths, Easter is ultimately a celebratory occasion for all. It’s a time for the ritualistic anthropomorphism of bunnies (please, no Shannon Tweed jokes) and to stuff your face with oft-waxy chocolate. And once the sugar rush turns into a sugar crash, you will probably be taking some downtime on the sofa in front of the telly.

But what if the obligatory re-airings of The Ten Commandments, The Robe or Jesus of Nazareth are not your cup of tea? Prithee, what shall thou watch?

For those applicable souls, I have selected six alternative, possibly Easter-related recommended viewing suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »


VA’s BEST OF 2015: GREAT TUNES FROM A ROTTEN YEAR

VA's Best of 2015 Great Tunes From A Rotten Year

(Graphic by VA)

My year-end recap is appearing late, just as it usually did back on Open Salon.  But I see this as a victory that I am even getting this up online as my blogging has largely been in deep freeze since the shuttering of Open Salon—which housed the former flagship (and much more widely read) version of this blog—in March 2015.

OS shutting down is but just one fabaroony event of many that helped make 2015 a particularly rotten, rotten year for me (and I had thought 2012 was a bad one…).  Mind you, last year seemed like a less than fine one around the world as well as for a high proportion of people I know, for seemingly a variety of reasons.  That’s the nature of life, sometimes, so I guess I’m not an outlier in that regard.  Misery and company, etc. etc.

Enough of the Deborah Downer … On the plus side, there was lots of terrific tuneage and related media to lift the spirits.  And so, without further adieu, here are 15 foci from 15: the soundtrack highlights to one crappadoodles set of twelve months, starting with … Read the rest of this entry »


8 x 11: My “Best of” Musical Favourites from 2011

Best of 2011BLOG Photo

(Photo/Graphic by VA)

NOTE TO READERS: Owing to the March 2015 closure of OpenSalon.com — which was my primary publishing platform, where I initiated this blog and concert series project, and was where most of my pieces were accessed — I need to plug up a few blog-holes (i.e., post-up here a clutch of early Open Salon blog entries that I never transferred to this cyberabode).  This here post is one of those orphaned Ghosts of Blogging Past that needs a re-debut.

In advance of my Best of 2015 re-cap (appearing shortly), here is my second year-end music recap from February 2012: 8 x 11: My “Best of” Musical Favourites from 2011.   While I couldn’t order my fave long players and tracks at the time, I can certainly do so now from the perspective of four years on.  My revised lists would now be …

Read the rest of this entry »


5×5: My “Best Of” Musical Round-Up for 2010

5x5 Best of 2010 variousartists

NOTE TO READERS: Owing to the March 2015 closure of OpenSalon.com — which was my primary publishing platform, where I initiated this blog and concert series project, and was where most of my pieces were accessed — I need to plug up a few blog-holes (i.e., post-up here a clutch of early Open Salon blog entries that I never transferred to this cyberabode).  This post is one of those orphaned Ghosts of Blogging Past that needs a re-debut.

In advance of my Best of 2015 recap (appearing shortly), here is my first year-end music entry from February 2011: 5×5: My “Best Of” Musical Round-Up for 2010.   While I am republishing the list as I saw it at that time, I’ve reconsidered some of my choices in the interim.  Here’s how I would rank 2010 now from a 2016 perspective: Read the rest of this entry »


David Bowie 1947-2016: Often Copied, Never Equalled

Scary Monsters Ad NME Sept 27 80

A week after Bowie’s passing and I still can’t quite process that he has gone.

I was pretty gutted when Lou Reed died but Bowie’s death has hit me even harder. It’s impossible for me to think back on my life without the music of David Bowie being an integral part of its soundtrack through the decades. We’ve lost a creative giant and someone whose work touched my life irrevocably. This is a real chapter-closer, severing a big link with my youth.

However, it’s heartwarming to see the amazing reaction the world the world has given him upon his passing. And he went out on top, doing his best work in decades with Blackstar, upping the bar he’d been resetting with Heathen and The Next Day.  I am glad I had three days to listen to and absorb it prior to his death, marveling that, at age 69, he was actually breaking new ground, with Blackstar largely being unlike anything else in his back catalogue. I can think of other music artists doing good stuff at 69, but I for the life of me can’t think of anyone other than Bowie doing something new at that age, and doing it well. That’s inspiring.

I was lucky enough to see Bowie five times and, in writing about the first time in 1983, I also wrote in-depth about what Bowie meant to me and how he impacted my life.  I’ll simply relink to what I have already written rather than further reiterate.

Thanks for everything, David. RIP.  You’ll be missed.

022a: Changes: Bowie, The 70s and Me

022b: Let’s Dance: David Bowie with Rough Trade, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday September 3, 1983

TorontoStar Cover Shot

© 2016 VariousArtists