CD Release Party
By Nick Lyons
Bonehoof has been captivating Victorian crowds for one and a half years now. The band’s live set routinely transports listeners through a vast range of soundscapes, from the quiet, nostalgic yearning of “Six Hours” to “Peggy Powler”’s unruly and holy terror. Bonehoof has raised their devout fan base’s expectations to lofty heights; we’ve often wondered if the band would be able to match the raw intensity of their live set in the comparatively sterile context of a studio. Bonehoof’s debut, self titled EP quickly puts all fears to rest as it not only meets our heightened expectations, but transcends them: this is a wee gem of an album. Catch Bonehoof live Thurs., March 7 at Logan’s Pub (1821 Cook) for their CD release party, accompanied by Himalayan Bear and Wand. 9pm. $12 at the door. The EP is $5. M
By Nick Lyons
Martha Wainwright is a study in graceful balance. For the past 15 years, the singer-songwriter has crafted a body of work so achingly transparent and confessional that we often feel as though we’re thumbing through the pages of her tear-stained diary. But Wainwright’s own music comprises only half her story as she often lays her own songs aside to pay homage to older musical traditions.
Born in Montreal, Wainwright — who is playing St. Ann’s Academy on Sun., March 10 — played an integral role in 2005’s Leonard Cohen tribute concert and film, “I’m Your Man” with her show-stopping renditions of “The Traitor” and “Tower of Song”. In 2009, now based in New York, Wainwright recorded an album comprised entirely of the Edith Piaf songs that most captivated her as a child. Since then, Wainwright has been working hard to preserve the legacy of her biggest influence in both life and music — her mother, folk legend Kate McGarrigle.
“It’s been three years now since my mother died. My brother, Rufus, and I have been putting a lot of energy into keeping her legacy alive with tribute shows, Christmas concerts, albums and a film. All of this has been incredibly important as we want to keep her legacy alive, but in some ways also I feel like it’s time now to close the book and find a way to move forward into a different reality.”
Wainwright’s most recent release, “Come Home to Momma”, perfectly captures her moment of transition. The album at once looks forward and back. While mostly comprised of Wainwright’s material, the album’s title comes from its fourth track, “Proserpina”, which was the last song McGarrigle wrote. As Wainwright explains, the song eventually became the cornerstone for the rest of the album.
“I recorded “Proserpina” very soon after my mother died and put it aside for another day. I wanted to connect with her in some way as a lot of my own songs on this album are about her dying and rebirth. The story of Persephone, which is what “Proserpina” is about, became the most concise and beautiful way of saying the things I try to say in a more humanistic and faulted way. My own songwriting is more frantic, so “Proserpina” became the album’s beacon.”
Wainwright’s frantic form of songwriting proved a useful outlet for her intense emotions in the wake of her mother’s passing. A new mother at the time of her own mother’s passing, Wainwright took refuge in songwriting as she came to terms with her loss.
“I was dealing with a new reality: everything had changed very quickly. A lot of the sadness and anger and frustration came out as I wrote. With an infant, you don’t want to be crying all the time. You can’t crawl into bed and into a depression. You need to be really strong for your infant: it’s part of your responsibility as a mother. But when I went into a little room with a guitar and started to write songs again, I feel like that was a place where a lot of the more raw, disturbed aggression came out. The extremes are the things that inspire songs.”
St. Ann’s Academy’s intimate stage will provide a perfect venue for Wainwright’s newfound musical synthesis. The stage will provide an occasion for songwriting traditions, old and new, to meet and if “Come Home to Momma” is any indication, two seemingly disparate traditions shall indeed dance when brought together by the incomparable songstress. M
This show is SOLD OUT
Ghosts of the Plaza
By Mary Ellen Green
If you want to know what life was like for a working class woman over the last century in Victoria, check out Ghosts of the Plaza, a new piece of interactive theatre which made its world premiere in November and is back this weekend for a limited four show run.
Produced by Rosie Bitts’ Best Bitts Productions, in connection with The City of Victoria’s 150 People and Places: Addressing Arts and Culture Grant, this show explores the history of the 101-year-old Plaza Hotel through a series of vignettes from each of the hotel’s reincarnations — The Westholme with its luxurious Songhees Grill; the risque Stranger’s Rest rooming house in the ’20s and ’30s; the Century Inn with its Arabian Nights and harem room dancers; and its current re-imagination as a cheap hotel with a bad reputation and one of Victoria’s only stripper bars — all from the female perspective, shedding some light on what it would be like to be a dancer, a cocktail waitress or even a prostitute in the City of Gardens.
And some of the stories are far from rosie — suicide, extortion and the supernatural all make an appearance, but they’re counteracted by the sheer entertainment factor of shimmying bodies, song and dance numbers and a stellar cast.
And instead of lurking around the bowels of the Plaza Hotel — with its cracked mosaic tiles from longtime defunct Songhees Grill — the production is located at the Odd Fellows Hall, using its bars, lounges and billiards rooms as the set with only minor additions, like a stripper pole and a set of purple glass tiles inserted into the ceiling, just like the ones in the Plaza’s basement ceiling.
In lieu of rent, their hosts asked they make a donation to a charity of their choice. The producers chose PEERS — a fitting choice considering the hotel’s history with the sex trade and Smith’s women’s studies major — not to mention that the show was written, choreographed and produced by burlesque dancers, the early cousin to what you can now find at Monty’s Exotic Showroom Pub on its ground floor.
Ghosts of the Plaza is a fun out-of-the-box theatre experience that not only entertains, but educates as well.
These lovely ladies have put the city’s grant money to good use, because the sale of the hotel is pending and just as the charismatic narrator James (Alex Carroll) says, “After [they’re] gone, who will tell these stories? Who will look? Who will find them?” M
Ghosts of the plaza
Odd Fellows Hall (1315 Douglas)
Fri., March 8 at 7 and 9pm,
Sat., March 9 at 7 and 9pm
Tickets are $10 at Chronicles of Crime (1048 Fort) or gotp.eventbrite.com