My New Baby!!

For the past little while, I’ve been thinking about buying a new guitar. I’ve had my Ibanez GRX40 for 10+ years, and the more I played it, the more I didn’t like the sound. It was really hard to find the “perfect” guitar as I’ve become pretty picky about everything – the sound, the brand, the style, and the looks. I wanted something with humbuckers and a semi-hollow body. I’ve looked at Fender, Ibanez, PRS, Gretsch, Gibson, and a bunch more, but there was always something I didn’t like about it (most of the time is was the way part of the guitar looked). I was starting to lose hope, but then I decided to check out the Grestch line again, and I found this.

A Gretsch Power Jet. It looked amazing, had awesome electronics, chambered body, and it had a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. The more I looked at it, the more I knew it was the one! The only problem was the price tag… I went to Long & McQuade to try out this guitar, and the first chord I strummed, I fell in love with it right away. She was perfect. I decided to try out the $700 version (the cheaper version) of this guitar, and there was a lot I didn’t like about it – the tuning pegs, awkward knob positioning, and the sound was flatter. So after a few weeks of mulling over it, I went back to Long & McQuade and ordered it!!

It was pretty expensive, but I figured it’s more of an investment. So it’ll last me a long time, and I wouldn’t be mad at the little details (if I were to buy the guitar I wasn’t 100% sold on). I’d like to think I’d made a good choice. So far so good!!

My Encounter with a Woolly Mammoth and a Grizzly Bear

When I was a kid, my folks took me to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. I didn’t remember much of it except for the big wooly mammoth, a cool dome where you can stand across from each other and talk to each other and it’ll seem like they’re right beside you, and a few other animals on display. This past year, I went there a couple of times with friends, and on the Easter long weekend, I decided to go with my folks. As my mom said “we used to take you to the museum, and now you’re bigger, you’re taking us to the museum!” It was great spending time with them. There was a special exhibit there – The Wildlife Photographer of the Year which was closing on that Monday. I’ve heard great things about it, so I knew I had to go check it out. And since my dad loves photography, I thought he’d enjoy it as well.

We got to the exhibit and spent a good couple of hours looking at all the amazing photography on display. It was awesome! But unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in there. We caught an IMAX about building the railroad through the Rockies. Then afterwards, we strolled through the older part of the museum. I’m always amazed at how much stuff they have there – fake animals on display, totem poles, Native history, old Victoria history, etc. It’s pretty diverse so you could easily spend an entire day wandering around the place. So here’s some pictures of the museum!

The next picture is a HDR picture. I thought it’d be a great place to try it out because there’s lots of little details in the picture, and it’ll look like I had an encounter with a Grizzly bear! I’m really happy how well this one turned out.

14mm, ISO 400, F5

Is it weird how some of my childhood toys I used to play with now sits on display at a museum? What do you recognize here??

For more information about the museum and the current exhibits and IMAX movies that are on, check out the website here. It’s definitely worth checking out!

John K Samson with Shotgun Jimmie

John K Samson, lead singer of Winnipeg’s folk indie rock band, the Weakerthans decided to put out a solo album on Jan. 24, 2012 called Provincial. He’s currently nearing the end of his tour throughout Canada and the US promoting his newly released album. He made a stop in Vancouver on Mar. 31, 2012 at the Biltmore Cabaret – a small venue that can hold about a couple hundred people. I was fortunate enough to go see him live as I’m a big fan of John K Samson. I also knew he doesn’t come out here that often, so I had no choice but to go.

The house music fades out. More people started arriving at the sold out venue as the curtains pull away. The opening band, Shotgun Jimmie started the night. I didn’t know what to expect from him because I’ve never heard of his stuff before. One of the first things I noticed was his modded Fender guitar (it had a Bigsby vibrato tail piece, which I’ve never seen before) and a suitcase used as a kick drum. His music was interesting as you knew he was up there having fun, and his songs were about random things like girls, love, space, beer, etc. It had an indie rock feel to his music. Really enjoyable. He would add in little guitar riffs here and there, a couple of jazz chords, and some rock and roll. He even admitted that his “drum kit” sounded like cheap electronic drum loops. He definitely warmed up the crowd especially when he played his last song of his set. He invited a drummer and John K Samson to play bass. What a great way to get the crowd pumped.

John K Samson starts off with him alone on stage with an acoustic guitar in hand. He did his welcome thing and starts the set with playing “One Great City!”. A Weakerthans song about a love/hate relationship with Winnipeg. Once he played the first note on his guitar, you knew he had everyone’s attention. He then played “Heart of the Continent” from his solo album, Provincial. He mentioned how they were pretty much the same chords but with different lyrics. The rest of the band came up and joined him for a few more songs along with Shotgun Jimmie on lead guitar. During the performance, a girl blacks out in the crowd and John stops the music to make sure she’s ok before continuing on. Then someone yelled “you’re so Canadian!” and the night went on. He later raised his mug and made a toast by reciting his song “Elegy for Gump Worsley”, a tribute to Gump Worsley, an old goalie for the New York Rangers. He also later promoted a petition saying that Reggie “The Riverton Rifle” Leach should be into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Which lead to the song he wrote about the petition. John played a good balance of songs from his solo album and songs from the Weakerthans which was what everyone was hoping for.

John always had a smile on his face, and you knew he was having a good time on stage. With that combined with his great stories behind the songs, and his amazing songwriting, this is why people were so captivated by him and his music.  I found myself just closing my eyes and embracing the music. One could only hope that the night would last forever, but unfortunately, John’s set had to end. People were wanting more. John ended up doing a few more encore songs, and wrapped up the night by standing at the very front of the stage with his guitar playing and singing (without being plugged into the system) “Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure”. It was like a good old sing along. What a great end to the night.

I think I’ve said this a few times already, but I’ll say it again. When you have someone that is very genuine, a good story teller, talented musician/songwriter, and a great poet playing at a small intimate venue, you get an amazing concert.

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