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 »

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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 »


178a. Magic Chords: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Pt. 1) with The Black Keys, Sharon Van Etten, Femi Kuti, Neko Case, Bahamas, and more, July 4-6

Ticket Festival Pass 2013 Corrected

“Summer’s here and the time is right for …”

178a. Magic Chords: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Pt. 1) with The Black Keys, Sharon Van Etten, Femi Kuti, Neko Case, Bahamas, and more, July 4-6, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Black Keys, Femi Kuti
Thursday July 4, 2013

For over a decade now, Ottawa Bluesfest has been the musical centrepiece of my summer here in the National Capital Region — it’s one of the geography’s positives. Read the rest of this entry »


175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, December 7, 2012

leonard-cohen-ottawa-2012-ticket

Yes, it was pricey.  Yes, it was worth it.

175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, Friday December 7, 2012, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $171.04 

“I love to speak with Leonard,
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd,
He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit”
from “Going Home” (2012)

I’ll cut right to the chase: this was one of the very best concerts I have ever seen in close to 40 years of gig-going.  In my all-time Top 20.  Earlier last year,  I lamented not having been able to see Cohen last time around in my 20 Performances I Missed posting, thinking he would not tour again when I wrote it only to find myself holding December tickets by the time I published the piece.

I had good reason to believe he would never tour again. Read the rest of this entry »


174. Walk Like A Giant: Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Patti Smith, November 24, 2012

Neil Patti 2012 Ottawa Ticket

Tonight’s the night … to walk like a giant.

174. Walk Like A Giant: Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Patti Smith, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday November 24, 2012, $73.11.

You can never be sure which iteration of “Neil Young” you’re going to get when you see him live — or which segments of his fanbase will predominate at a given show.  This was my sixth time seeing Neil in four decades and most of those gigs have certainly been distinct from one another, with sometimes decidedly different patrons at the fore. Read the rest of this entry »


173. Hold On Me: Esperanza Spalding with Gretchen Parlato, June 28, 2012

Esperanza Ticket 2012 This was one hot show, in both good and bad senses.

173. Hold On Me: Esperanza Spalding with Gretchen Parlato, Toronto Jazz Festival, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Thursday June 28, 2012, $48.25.

It was less than one week after experiencing the brilliant Janelle Monáe under unnecessarily difficult circumstances thanks to the intuition-challenged burghers of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and here we are five hours south at the Toronto equivalent. Staged right downtown at the feet of City Hall, Cublet and I were here to hear the similarly-brilliant Esperanza Spalding and her big band wail away, showcasing her new release (and one of 2012’s very best), Radio Music Society. Read the rest of this entry »


156. It’s the Year Two Thousand & Ten: Broken Social Scene, December 16, 2010

BSS Dec2010 Blog  2010 draws to a close, re-capping a key soundtrack for my year.

156. It’s the Year Two Thousand & Ten: Broken Social Scene with Here We Go Magic, Bronson Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday December 16, 2010, $41.

In the course of being a multi-decade gig-goer, there are several acts I have ended up seeing five times or more. David Bowie, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, and Rufus Wainwright among a few others are part of my “five or plus” club, and with this December gig at the Bronson Centre, Toronto-based collective Broken Social Scene are now members in good standing. Read the rest of this entry »