Friday Night was a Great Show

The Calgary Folk Music Festival put together a pretty good line up last night. I really liked Gomez, an inde rock band from the UK and the Decemberists put on a great show to end the night.

Early in the evening lineup was a group I’d never heard of, The Mekons are a band from Leeds that dates back to the late 1970s. They are billed as one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands around. I wasn’t sure I’d call they Punk. They reminded me of the Spirit of the West at times. I wouldn't be surprised if the Melkons were an infuence. Their lyrics are political and uncompromising and hard driving and rooted in what I think of as an older british, folk, rock, storytelling tradition.

The band was formed in 1977 by a group of University of Leeds art students. They took there name from the Mekon, an evil, super-intelligent Venusian featured in a British comic book from1950s-1960s

That isn't my picture by the way. I can't get close enough to get a good shot.

Festival Food

I am really enjoying the Calgary Folk Music Festival. The music is great, the crowd is into it and I really like the atmosphere generated each evening. Prince’s Island is a great venue.

Festival food however can be spotty. I know it can be a challenge. Here in the prairies where tastes are conservative to say the least, this after all is where people really do think that Tim Horton’s makes a great cup of coffee, food never gets too spicy. And, of course, when you are trying to feed masses of people it can be a challenge so what we get is mushy almost tasteless Jamaican patties, mini donuts (who eats those things) greasy hamburgers, hotdogs designed to at the very least keep you regular and bad Indian food.

Speaking of which, the India Palace Restaurant’s booth here at the Calgary Folk Fest came all the way from Winnipeg to serve up the most appallingly bad dish of butter chicken I have ever tasted. I know it is tough to feed a crowd but this was over the top.

Basically it was un-uniform, cut up pieces of pre-cooked chicken put into a watery orangey pink sauce which had a faint butter chicken flavour. The rice was bland and the chick peas had a kind of tomato sauce which gave them the background favour of baked beans. The nan was good but it probably was made by someone else. Not much of a deal at $12.00.

It isn’t all bad. There is a guy here at the Calgary Folk Festival making pizza in a portable stone oven that looks great, there are some fairly healthy choices around and lots of laces to refill your water bottle. Then of course then is the beer garden. Always a great spot to get some shade and rest your feet.



At the Calgary Folk Festival they call them tarpies. Basically it works this way. People claim their space in front of the stage by laying down a tarp. It can only be so big but once you have claimed your spot. It is yours. No lawn chairs allowed but you can use "concert chairs"

I was amazed this afternoon, hours before the gates opened, people were lined up. Lots of people were lined up in the 30 degree plus sun to claim their spots. Mid evening I ducked out to take my camera back to the hotel and the tarpies lineup for the next day was already started.

They even raffle what they call the Golden Tarp. Front and centre, the best tarp spot possible for next year's festival


I drove to Calgary today to check out the Calgary Folk Festival. I always liked Prince's Island as a musical venue, at least ever since I worked on a Burton Cummings concert there for a CBC music special, years ago. It is a much larger space than Victoria Park in Regina can offer but you do lose some of the intimacy because of the size.

The locale is fantastic with the food stalls along the path under the trees.It was a pretty good crowd. People wandering around, laid back. The smell of reefer was fairly strong around the first aid tent which seemed appropriate to me.

My favorite t-shirt of the night was one that said Club sandwiches Not seals. I had to borrow a pen from someone because if I didn't write it down I'd forget it.

Thursday night's concert is always a bit more low key but tonight was even more so becuase Michael Franti was suddenly taken ill and they had to cancel his appearence. I heard someone say it was appendix but, I don't really know.

Iron and Wine closed the show. Somehow I thought it would be more that one guy and his guitar, He was very good.


Medicare Good for Canadians

It has been interesting to watch some of the debate, if we can call it that, around President Obama’s attempts to get some sort of medicare system working in the USA.

The has been a hot button issue in the states for some time now, perhaps it always was but, the rhetoric from the right is heating up and, if it wasn’t so downright dishonest, it would be funny. In fact, when you think about it, it is funny. Just ask Jon Stewart.

The main focus of the right has been to attack the Canadian system but the fact is that for the average citizen, our system beats the American one, hands down. There is no question that the Canadian system has some problems. It is expensive to maintain but, it is high quality, universal and it is free. I wouldn’t trade our system for the American one in a million years.

A peer-reviewed comparison study of health care access in the two countries published in 2006 concluded that U.S. residents are one third less likely to have a regular medical doctor, one fourth more likely to have unmet health care needs, and are more than twice as likely to forgo needed medicines. The Canadian infant mortality rates are lower and men and women live longer in Canada. What does that tell you?

Critics were scathing of Michael Moore when he put together Sicko accusing him of being dishonest. Michael can be a bit over the top but when you compare what he put together to the stuff the right wing is making up these days to fight Obama’s proposal, it pales in comparison. The medical insurance companies are running scared, and that is a good thing.

Too many people are getting their information from Fox News so, let me put it in simple terms.

Canadian heath care system good.

Medicine for profit bad.


Ok, we've got a few bucks. Lets spend it fast before the lean years come back.

Well after being coy about building a new stadium to replace Taylor/Mosaic whatever it is Field, the politicians have now confirmed that there is a very good chance that they will go forward with the idea of building a new domed facility at a cost of about $350,000,000. They even know where they want to build it. Their plan is to situate the thing where the railway tracks now bisect the city. The land will be freed up when they get the new rail terminal build west of Regina.

At least that seems to be their plan. In the mean time they intend to spend $1,000,000 on a feasibility study. I wonder how one gets on to that gravy train.

Months ago when the first sniff of an idea was out there my good friend Vance Reed told me with some confidence exactly what, in his view, the best plan was. You guessed it, a domed stadium, exactly where they have now announced it will likely be built.

Now, I figure Vance would have given them his opinion for about $20.00 leaving about $999,980.00 that could have been put towards something practical like, fresh drinking water for reserves or housing for the less fortunate who will never ever be able to afford to go to the new stadium anyway. We can never find the money to make sure that underprivileged kids have enough to eat but some how we can always find an extra $350,000,000 tucked away for football fans. After all it is Riderville isn't it Pat?

But, there I go again, off on another rant.


Does Tom Lukiwski Think I am Stupid?

My Member of Parliament is Tom Lukiwski and to tell you the truth, he is a bit of a disappointment. He is pretty much invisible in the community or, for that matter in the House of Commons. In fairness, he may be out there attending threshing contests and tractor pulls but we city folk really never see Tom.

I do hear from Tom though. As an MP he has the right to send me unsolicited junk mail using Canada Post and he does that with a vengeance. Tom doesn’t pay for that of course, we do as taxpayers.

I always thought the service was so Members of Parliament could keep the voters back home up to date with what their MP was up to. With Tom they are all pretty much campaign material churned out by the bright lights in Ottawa. Tom sends me quite a few of those mailings. They are very badly put together, kind of sophomoric in style and contend, and always offensive.

I’m getting used to them, in fact, I keep an eye out for them. They are easy to spot. They are uniformly grey and these days what we get are attack ads aimed at Ignatieff or Layton.

I think Tom figures this amateurish material will encourage me to vote for him but I can't imagine why. When I get his mail I either recycle it right away, or if it is particularly bad I write something encouraging on them like “God Tom you are an idiot.” And send them back by return post.

I am not going to support Tom for a list of reasons longer than my arm and I can't imagine how any body with half a brain would think this stuff would win me over. I have come to the conclusion that one of two things is going on:

Either Tom Lukiwski thinks I am stupid or;

Tom Lukiwski is stupid.

Frankly I am not sure which is true but I am beginning to lean towards Tom being a dunce.

Either way Tom, stop sending me your bloody campaign material.