Canada – We’re Number 1….For Reputation

Happy Canada Day, Eh?
The Flag of Canada

It is not polite to brag, I know, but once again Canada leads the way in another world poll.  This time, in a survey of 42,000 respondents from around the world, Canada has been named the country with the best reputation.  Sweden was second and Australia was third.  I am proud to be Canadian, one of the best places on Earth.

New Canadian Releases – September 27, 2011

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Slean opening...
Sarah Slean

Our first new release is by Dan Mangan.  The album name is Oh Fortune and was released today.  Born in Smithers, BC and now living in Vancouver, Dan is an indie-folk-rock singer songwriter.  This album is his third as he steadily grows in popularity.  The video is the song “Rows of Houses” from the new album.

The second new release is by Canadian alternative band “Cuff the Duke” and is titled “Morning Comes”.  Hailing from Oshawa, their sound is kind of country folk mix in the style of Blue Rodeo.  The video is a cut from the album “Count On Me”

The Barr Brothers, are a Montreal based rock band and just released their self titled album.  They are not an in your face band and their music is very lyrical and though out.  The video is a lve version of “Beggar in the Morning” off the album.  As you will see, it is very laid back, but nicely done.

Our 4th entry is from Juno nominated artists, The New Cities.  Their latest album is called “Kill the Lights” and the attached video is “Heatwave” off the album.  This Trois-Rivieres pop band is riding a wave of popularity with the release of this, their second album.  Their music has been featured on “Gossip Girl” and “So You Think You Can Dance”.

Our final entry is a new release by Pickering, Ontario’s favourite songstress, Sarah Slean.  This is Sarah’s 11th album (6th studio).  Her first album was released in 1997.  She has cultivated a large following in Canada.  The video attached is titled “Set It Free” and is a catchy number that will continue to win new fans for her work.

My Reasons to Travel….As Often As Possible – Number 6 – The Cost

Since we started spending some time on the road, I hear the “Cost” word a lot.  That costs to much, how can you afford the cost of that, you could buy stuff with the money that cost.  Surprisingly (or not) it is not as expensive as you might think it is.  Yes it costs money, and yes there is definitely an expense, sometimes a large one, BUT, properly budgeted and planned, one can shave their cost and make it affordable to most.  Planning off season flights and hotels can save a large amount of cash.  Europe in mid- September is just as nice as mid-July, just cheaper and less crowded.  All tourist areas have high seasons, shop for low seasons and save cash.  If you are flexible in when you go, you can also save on flights by waiting on sales.  Once there, you don’t have to stay in 4 star accommodations, look for B&B’s and save on breakfast.  Pick a base city and save on accommodations with a weekly rate.  Buy lunch and a bottle of wine in a supermarket and eat in a park instead of a restaurant.  Take the slow train instead of the fast train.  Shop the net and look for deals.  It can be done cheaper with a bit of work at the front end.

Having said all of this, there is one thing I usually leave as my last word.  How can you afford not to.  If you have a roof over your head, secure employment and a retirement plan that is laid out, you likely have extra cash that can be used to travel.  There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more enlightening, educational and damn satisfying as actually seeing and touching things that have fascinated me during my life.  Close your eyes and imagine those places, then wake up and start working on a plan.  Don’t leave it until it is to late. Travel will change you in many ways. You will become much more savvy as you learn to navigate strange places.  You will always have something to talk about.  You will understand how things work in different places.  Your confidence in a variety of situations will increase.  You will begin to enjoy the feeling of being secure while completely outside of your comfort zone.  There is no way to put a price on these experiences, ergo the cost is cheap.

With this diatribe, I end this series of posts.  Lori and I are embarking on a new adventure, a fairly leisurely trip into the wonders of fall in Eastern Canada and perhaps into New Hampshire and Vermont.  We will keep you posted.  Please enjoy some of my favourite photos.

On Top of the World, Panorama, BC, Canada

A ski trip to Mt. Panorama.  The group on top of the mountain.

Duckylls Cottage, West Hoathly, UK

A cottage in the English countryside where we spent a week or so.  It was a 17th century stable.  The main house was Elizabethan.

The House Opposite, Rye, UK

The House Opposite  ….. the bar.

The Amalfi Coast in Italy

A living, breathing postcard.  Absolutely beautiful.

Remembering – Harry Muskee

Cuby + the Blizzards in Dutch television show ...
Cuby & The Blizzards

Harry Muskee, lead vocalist for renowned Dutch blues band, Cuby & The Blizzards, passed away today.  Who you say?  A bit of history.  Cuby & The Blizzards was formed in 1964 by Harry Muskee and Eelco Gelling.  Eelco Gelling went on to form another Dutch group, this one you may have heard of, Golden Earring, famous for Radar Love.  The video attached is from 1968 and is a live recording, with Harry on vocals and Gelling on guitar.  If you are a Led Zepplin fan, you will love this tune.

Blood Sweat and Tears = A Canadian Classic

David Clayton-Thomas performing at Gulfstream ...
David Clayton Thomas

Through the vagaries of Canadian content regulations, the band Blood Sweat and Tears became Canadian, although the only member (and not an original member) of the band who is Canadian (born in the UK) was David Clayton Thomas, the singer on most of their hits.  The band was originally led by Al Kooper (not Alice Cooper) and was formed in the 1960’s.  Harry Nilsson sang on their album “Child is Father to the Man“, which contained such classics as “Without Her’ (Nillson) and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”, by Al Kooper.

After this album, the band underwent a radical line up change as Al Kooper left the band.  Original members Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz began a search for a new singer and based on a recommendation by Judy Collins, who had seen him sing, hired David Clayton Thomas.  Thus, Blood  Sweat and Tears began their career as a Canadian icon.  Their first album as the reformed group, “Blood Sweat and Tears” was a major hit, even beating “Abbey Road” out as album of the year at the 1969 Grammys.  The album contained the hits “You Made Me So Very Happy”, “Spinning Wheel”, and “And When I Die”.

The band has undergone many changes in its lifetime and still maintain a heavy touring schedule.  David Clayton Thomas had 3 stints with the band, 1968 to 1972, 1974 to 1981 and 1984 to 2004.   The band spawned a new genre of rock, outside the acid rock and anti-establishment types of the era.  The bands in this grouping included Chicago, Ides of March and Atlanta Rhythm Section to name a few.

The video is a live version of Spinning Wheel, recorded in 1969.

Listening to Canadians – Michael Kaeshammer

Michael Kaeshammer performing at the 2009 Wate...
Michael Kaeshammer

Michael Kaeshammer, German born, he moved to Canada at age 19.  In Germany, he studied classical piano, and the discovered boogie woogie in his early teens.  He toured extensively on his arrival in Canada in 1996, playing jazz an blues festivals across the country.  My personal experiences with him consist of a discovery on CBC2 and a concert Lori and I went to a few years back.  The concert was in a 400 seat theatre in Calgary and was phenomenal.  Good story.  We heard he was coming and checked out ticket availability.  There were a handful of single seats still available, so we figured it was a lost cause.  Lori tried once more, 2 days before the concert and, unbelievably, the person on the other end of the phone says, yes, of course, we just had 2 seats open up in the FRONT row.  Lori scooped them right then and sure enough, we were in the front row, about 6 feet from the drummer, the same drummer as in the video.

Michael puts on a great concert, very personable guy with a great feel for the audience.  The back and forth with the other band members was excellent.  A thoroughly enjoyable experience.  If you have the chance to see him play, do it.

His current tour dates are:


Date City Venue Country
09/23/11 Cerritos, CA Cerritos Centre for the Performing Arts United States
09/24/11 Pleasanton, CA Firehouse Arts Centre United States
09/26/11 Bakersfield, CA Rabobank Theatre United States
09/28/11 San Diego, CA Anthology United States
09/30/11 Kirkland, WA Kirkland Performance Centre United States
10/01/11 Portland, OR Jimmy Mak’s United States
10/02/11 Redmond, OR Redmond High School Auditorium United States
10/06/11 Madisonville, KY Glema Mahr Centre for the Arts United States
10/07/11 Chattanooga, TN Hunter Museum United States
10/08/11 Franklin, TN Franklin Theatre United States
10/14/11 Sault Ste Marie Algoma Fest Canada
10/20/11 Montreal L’Astral Canada
10/22/11 Ottawa, ON National Arts Centre Canada
11/04/11 Boothbay Harbor, ME Opera House United States
11/05/11 Fryeburg, ME Leura Hill Eastman PAC United States
11/07/11 Minneapolis, MN Dakota Jazz Club United States
11/09/11 Evanston, IL SPACE United States
11/11/11 Ashland, OH Hugo Young Theatre United States
11/12/11 Greenville, OH Henry St Clair Memorial Hall United States


My Reasons to Travel….As Often As Possible – Number 5 – The Sights

You wake up in the morning, open the shutters and look out on this……

Mt Vesuvius Across The Bay Of Naples

or you roll over and think to yourself, what shall I do today, maybe this..

Eiffel Tower in Paris

or maybe this…

The Rockies in Montana, USA

These are pictures, which, if you never go, is as close as you will get.  You can only get so much out of a picture, but, you can’t smell the Mediterranean Sea from your window, you can’t see an 800 ft steel structure twinkle like a Christmas tree as the Eiffel Tower does at night and the picture of Montana above is absolutely nothing compared to actually standing there, impressed enough to take a picture that you know won’t be even close to the real thing.  Yes, you say, but who can afford it (I will speak to that in my next post).  To that statement I say, look out your back door.  I don’t care where you live, you are only a few hours away from a whole bunch of amazing things to see and do.

When we first moved to Saskatchewan, we had an involuntary shudder.  What on earth is there to do there.  Surprise, within hours of our front door, we golfed some amazing golf courses, house-boating on Lac La Ronge, boating and hiking to Grey Owl‘s cabin in Prince Albert National Park, super-sliding down sand hills near Sceptre, Saskatchewan and lots of other things to numerous to mention.  All in all, it was you make of what you have.  The biggest issue most of us have is to stop watching The Travel Network, getting up off the couch, and doing it.  Be a travel show instead of watching a travel show.

Team Canada – Rugby World Cup

Canada take on Wales during the 2007 World Cup.
Canada vs Wales

As the Real Canadian Sports Blog, I have been remiss in reporting to the world that Canada is participating in the International Rugby Union World Cup.  The competition is being held in New Zealand, home of the world-famous All-Blacks. Canada has performed well to date, defeating Tonga early last week 25-20, and losing to number 5 ranked France 46-19 on Sunday.  The score did not represent the true gist of the game as France pulled away late in the contest, taking late points from a visibly tiring Canadian squad.  This was Canada’s 2nd game in 4 days.  Canada is currently 4th in their group after 2 games, with the top 3 advancing to the next round.  Their next game is September 27 against Japan.

As a result of their showing last week, Canada advanced 3 spots in the world rankings to 11th.

IRB World Rankings

1 New Zealand 90.55
2 South Africa 86.71
3 Australia 84.84
4 England 83.99
5 France 83.78
6 Ireland 82.50
7 Wales 80.73
8 Scotland 79.12
9 Argentina 77.30
10 Italy 73.88
11 Canada 73.74
12 Samoa 73.59
13 Japan 71.95
14 Fiji 71.01
15 Tonga 70.30
16 Georgia 70.00
17 USA 66.38
18 Romania 65.69
19 Namibia 61.24
20 Portugal 60.67

Prisoner Whose Name I Will Not Say Is Dying

Roman executioner Giovanni Battista Bugatti (&...
Image via Wikipedia

Convicted child rapist and killer, Clifford Olson (have to name him so you know who I am talking about) is dying of cancer in his prison.  I normally am undecided about death penalties, but this is one guy that should have been executed.  I only hope that the cancer he has is extremely painful and very slow moving.

More at the link.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Skylab General Mission-Patch
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting article about China’s scientific community.  They are planning to pull an asteroid into earth orbit, mine it, research it, then send it on its way.  I am thinking, what an excellent idea, there is probably no chance that this plan could screw up at all.

In related news, a major satellite the size of a school bus is due to reenter the atmosphere on the 23rd or 24th.  I remember the fear that Skylab wrought when it fell many years ago.  I can still hear the shrieks of “The skylab is falling, the skylab is falling”.

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