cottage

VIDEO: The Last (Summer) Train

Summer is over.  Today is the first day of fall.  For the final cottage video of the summer, you can see more of the incredible wildlife that we have come to expect.  This is edited to the tune of my favourite Tee Bone Erickson song, “The Last Train”.

While it is always sad when summer comes to an end, it must be remembered that things are not like they once were. I don’t think I’ve ever gone swimming in September before. Fall is not necessarily the depressing wet cold thing it was in the 80s or even the 90s.

This video also features a cameo by my old friend and guest contributor Aaron Lebold.  I don’t think I have seen Aaron in person since the Record Store days!  We hung out and shot the shit for about an hour.  He brought me some crazy Optimus Prime figures that you will see as well.  Good to see an old friend, and good to have company at the lake, which we have not had since well before the pandemic.

VIDEO: Max the Axe – “Randy” Remix – August 25-28 at the lake

I am pleased to present to you a work in progress by Max the Axe: a new remix of “Randy” by Robi Banerji. This remix veers wildly from the original album version of the song.

There are lots of dogs and cats in this video for you pet lovers.

You’ll notice we saw our UFO at the lake again on that August weekend. And weirder than ever. Explain this to me, people. See for yourself!

VIDEO: Rocking August Weekend to the Greatest Hits of Tee Bone Erickson

Sometimes my videos are inspired, sometimes less so. This time was one of those times I just couldn’t seem to satisfy myself. However, there’s still some great footage here. A couple of blue jays, some delicious steaks, incredible sunsets, waves in slow motion, and miniature Schnauzers. All to the greatest hits of our good pal Tee Bone. And you can’t resist his music!

#1002: The Best of the Best of the Best

RECORD STORE TALES #1002: The Best of the Best of the Best

It has been unknown numbers of years since the last time I had a four-day summer vacation.  Long overdue! Full of great music, great visuals, and so hard to come back from. My heart aches, but I have been diligent and made a video of the memories, as I always do. The theme of this week’s video:  wildlife!  Lots and lots of animals. 18 minutes of video paradise: the best of the best weekend I ever had.

As usual, we departed the hot city on Thursday night, to the sounds of great rock and roll.  Heavy metal, in this case.  This time I chose Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son for the trip.  The entire album plus the B-sides bonus disc.  Musically genius, lyrically dicey.  I used to think the words were so deep.  “Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win, seven holy paths to hell and your trip begins…”  I used to imagine Bruce’s lyrics were so deep.  Now I think he was just making up cool sounding phrases.  We all know what the seven deadly sins are, but there are no “seven ways to win”, nor “seven holy paths to hell.”  I used to give him credit for knowing the exact meaning of everything he sang.  What are the seven ways to win?  Don’t ask Bruce, I don’t think he knows!  But it all sounded cool, and I must have spent childhood memorizing this whole album, because I sang the whole way to the lake.  I conclude the concept is fun, but without depth.  If there is any depth to the album, it comes on the last song, Steve’s “Only the Good Die Young”.

So I think I’ll leave you,
With your bishops and your guilt,
So until the next time,
Have a good sin.

That resonates, but the overall album is just a tale.  Just a comic book.  On the other hand, I could be like Liam Gallagher with Oasis lyrics.  “Just because I don’t know what they mean, doesn’t mean there’s no fookin’ meaning in them fookin’ words!”

80s Maiden continued on the porch all Thursday night. All 80s, all Bruce. Nothing but. Then we watched Thursday Night Record Club with Brent Jensen and Alex Huard, talking about Judas Priest’s British Steel.  Switched over to Priest on the front deck the following morning.  And then to Journey, for an upcoming episode of Tim’s Vinyl Confessions, on the excellent new Journey album Freedom.  I used my show notes to complete my upcoming review.  It will be ready shortly after the show debuts.  And you’re going to love the show we taped.  Trust me!

As the days meandered on, we encountered all sorts of wildlife. There was a cheeky chipmunk that was climbing all over us each day, looking for treats. There was a raccoon hanging around the back door, smelling the blueberry pancakes I just made. Birds, birds, and more birds. And Schnauzers! We saw the return of our UFO!  We kept our eyes on the skies, and there may have even been a flying squid!  (What?)

Indoors and outdoors, there was plenty to do.  No wonder four days flew past.  We did retro gaming, watched Ant Man, had a belated birthday party, and cooled off in Lake Huron. We observed the sun set, and then the moon a few hours later.  We have photos and video of it all.

By the time Monday rolled around, nobody wanted to go home.  I spent my final four hours on the front deck editing away.  It took that long to edit down 95 minutes of footage into the awesome 18 seen below.

Please enjoy the lengthy but entertaining video, and the awesome memories that go with it. I wish we could stay forever. At least with the videos, the memories remain and will not fade.  The accompanying music comes from Tee Bone Erickson, Dr. Kathryn Ladano, Max the Axe and the Seagram Synth Ensemble.  And it’s all good.  I worked damn hard on this, because making videos like this does a lot of good for me when my seasonal affective disorder eventually kicks in.  I worked hard on it for me, but also for you, because beauty is universal.

The best sun (and moon) sets in the world.  Magical music.  Awesome animals.  The best, of the best, of the best weekend ever!

#999: Slo-Mo Schnauzers, Stop Motion Autobots, and UFOs? Oh My! (Video)

RECORD STORE TALES #999:
Slo-Mo Schnauzers, Stop Motion Autobots, and UFOs? Oh My!

Nothing really went as planned when the internet went out.  So, we did what we could.  We pretended it was 1989 and had fun in old fashioned ways.  Good thing no LeBrain Train show was planned!  And boy, did we take advantage of the break.  Fortunately music was not an issue, so I warmed up the laptop and dug into the hard drive for some albums that reminded me of the old days.

To a soundtrack of Kiss, Kim Mitchell, Max Webster, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, and many more, I grabbed the comic books and the Yahtzee.  It was too cold to swim (weird for July) so we had to do other things.  Jen worked on her adult colouring books.  I made food.  I also took plenty of video.

The wildlife this weekend was captured for your viewing pleasure.  Plenty of gulls, eating multitudes of beach insects (which were so plentiful you can clearly see them on camera).  We had a brave little chipmunk who seemed to enjoy the sounds of Aerosmith.  I think I’ll name him Joe Perry.  There were two cute doggos (one Schnauzer and one Miscellaneous), which I filmed in slow motion.  The visuals this weekend were unrivalled!  A pretty epic night fire, and sunsets that kill any you have seen yourself.  All captured and carefully edited to a soundtrack of unreleased Max the Axe music, and classic Tee Bone Erickson tunes.  Although the finished video is on the long-ish side, your reward is unreleased Max tuneage (one live, and a preview of a coming remix of “Randy”) and plenty of stunning visuals in HD slow motion.

We talked last time of being bored at the lake as a teenager.  If I had this kind of technology as a kid, I’d never had been bored.  That’s the truth.  There’s always something worth documenting.  The fact that I can have it finished and edited at the end of the weekend is actually pretty mind blowing.

The weirdest thing that happened (besides hearing a coyote calling at 11:30 at night, and then screaming at 5:00 AM), was the UFO.

Now, I’m not saying “aliens” when I say “UFO”.  Let’s be clear on that.  However the object was flying and none of us could identify it.  There were minimum three witnesses each time.  On the first night, the UFO appeared at sunset as a quickly brightening star, which eventually faded or was hidden by clouds.  It didn’t move.  My camera didn’t reveal much, although it looked like a blocky shape.  Our working theory was the International Space Station.

The second time, the object appeared in the same place at the same time, still motionless.  It looked like a flame in the sky, a frozen flame.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  It stayed in the sky until we eventually left the beach about half an hour later.  When I returned later at night, it was too cloudy to be seen.  Two examples below, and you can see more in the full video.

Internet outage aside, the only crappy thing about the weekend was that I did not get to visit Sausagefest as I’d hoped.  The internet outage disrupted Jen’s routines a bit and I elected to stay home and make sure she was OK.  As it stands I’m glad I made that decision, as she needed a little help doing a few things.

Otherwise, it was a delightful weekend of music and doing things differently.  I wish I had written down all the albums we listened to, but with no movies and no TV, music was the obvious dominant force.  A lot of Kiss this weekend, folks.  A lot of Kiss.

The video may be long but it’s worth it.  Slo-mo Schnauzer is your payoff!

 

#997: De-Programming

RECORD STORE TALES #997:  De-Programming

 

On July 8, there was a massive nation-wide service outage in Canada.  No cable, no cellular, no internet.  As stinky as this situation was, it did create a time machine of sorts.  Jen and I were already celebrating the summer of ’89 with albums such as Pump and Dr. Feelgood.  The internet outage really took us back to 1989 (and earlier) in a specific way.

I’ve written in glowing terms about childhood and cottage life.  Rose coloured glasses, my friends.  Rose coloured classes.  For this service outage reminded us of the before-fore times when we had two channels on TV and nothing else.

So here I am, writing this in the middle of the outage, into a word document.  These are the fresh thoughts as they happen.

Thought the first:  Boy, am I ever glad I have my music collection meticulously backed up on hard drives.  Otherwise, I’d have no music.  To continue the summer of ’89 feel, we listened to the “Fire Woman” EP by The Cult.  Then, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich by Warrant.

Second thought:  I remember I had something of a catchphrase at the cottage back then.  “I’m boooooored.”

Indeed, it is all coming back to me now!  I was bored a lot up here.  I had my music (on cassette) and some books with me at all times, but that wasn’t enough to stave off the boredom of a pimply teenager with hockey hair.

I think it’s worse today because we’ve been conditioned to be able to look stuff up on demand.  As I listened to The Cult, I wanted to read the lyrics.  I wanted to look up the production personnel.  I’m conditioned to be able to do that.  I’m constantly distracted by wanting to look stuff up.

Additionally, I am always used to a steady stream of messages through the day, be they emails or comments.  I’m trained to look at my phone every so often to glance at notifications.  That reflex is there even now.  I’m trying to de-program myself today.

The summer of 1989 was the year that I declared Warrant to be my favourite new band.  So let’s go where the “Down Boys” go, and figure out what was so boring about this place to the teenager with nothing to do.

The most exciting thing to do for me back then was to go to town.  Then I’d have the opportunity to buy a new rock magazine or perhaps a tape at the Radio Shack or Stedman’s stores.  Some candy too if we were lucky.  But a teenager needed a family to take him to town, and they didn’t always want to go to town.  And if they did, it was on their terms, which meant a lot of waiting around as they tried on shoes or looked at knick-knacks.

I’m boooooored.

We usually split into groups.  The ladies (my aunt, mom and sister) would go to the knick-knack stores.  My dad and I would go to Radio Shack, Stedman’s and Leisure World.  And then we’d sit around waiting for the others.

I’m boooooored.

We’d play games, but you’d have to wait for everybody to be ready.  Mom had to make her coffee.  Sister had to dry her hair.

I’m boooooooored!

I enjoyed helping my dad cook dinner.  Always a cottage highlight for me.  I’d season the steaks, make the fire, and let my dad take it from there.  We made a lot of good steaks over cedar fires in 1989.

I enjoyed when my friend Bob, who had a license and a car (Pontiac Fiero), would drive up for a visit.  His family had a trailer about 30 minutes south.  His trailer park even had girls!  There were never any girls to meet at the cottage.  The isolation here was a lot to deal with for a teenager.  No MuchMusic, no VCR, no music videos at all.

Just now, I wanted to Google how far away his trailer park was, to get the details right.  No internet.  Must de-program.

It’s not like I was meeting any girls at home, but at least I could go to the mall and run into school friends.  At the cottage I couldn’t even call them.  Today I have Jen with me, and my sister is right next door, so the isolation isn’t really an issue.  While I wish I could message Harrison or Meat with my latest thoughts, they’ll just have to wait.  And if I can’t remember the thoughts to message them, then they couldn’t have been all that important.  De-programming!

Compared to yesteryear, I have more freedom.  Here I am on the front porch, rocking to Warrant and nobody’s telling me to go to my room or turn it down.  If I want to go make a fire, nobody will tell me not to.   I don’t have to wait for anyone else if I feel like swimming.  If I want to barbecue a steak for lunch, good on me.

One thing that never bored me:  a cottage project like putting on a new deck.  It was always a communal effort with all of us contributing to cutting and nailing wood.  Maybe I’d even be allowed to bring my ghetto blaster outside to listen to music (at a reasonable volume).

Sometimes we’d play baseball (not easy with all the trees in the way), badminton, frisbee, darts.  Pellet guns were always stocked with ammo and tin cans were kept for target practice.  It’s not that there was nothing to do.  It’s that I didn’t always want to do that stuff because I’d rather be bored.

Sometimes we’d be so bored we’d count the seams in the ceiling planks.

This deprogramming stuff is hard.  We’ve been heavily conditioned to be connected.  I’ve written all I have to say at the moment, so I’m going to pick some more tunes to play, and go make a fire.  Fascinating weekend, this will be.

 

#992: Long Weekend of The Lizard, Water, and the Scales of Justice

RECORD STORE TALES #992: Long Weekend of Lizards, Water, and Max

We rolled in Thursday night and it was so hot that we cranked open all the windows.  And that was it with any kind of warmth!  The rest of the weekend was cold, windy and required long sleeves!  Regardless of the hot and cold reception we received, I watched Brent Jensen and Alex Huard discuss Appetite for Destruction on Thursday Night Record Club outdoors as planned.

The music on the road up was, as always, good!  We started with Saigon Kick’s The Lizard, in anticipation of Friday night’s big interview.  It was tremendous fun to listen to such a great album, 30 years young, in the car.  Upon conclusion we played a tape of Max the Axe’s first gig with the present lineup, recorded August 4 2017.  Five years of Meat, Dave, Mitch and Max creating music together.  While the years have made them better, the live cassette of the first gig is good enough that we hope it will form the basis of their first live album.  The setlist consisted of eight tracks from the then-unrecorded Status Electric album, a Black Flag cover later finalized for Oktoberfest Cheer, and the Max classic “I Don’t Advocate Drugs” with Meat singing lead for the first time.

All Friday and Saturday, music took over the cold front porch.  It is hard to type with frozen fingers.  I am working on a major Kiss project that I will not reveal yet, but in preparation I played a ton of old Kiss on the porch.  Lick It Up, Creatures of the Night, Hotter Than Hell, Paul’s solo album, and plenty more.  When the Kiss was concluded, I moved on to Judas Priest (Point of Entry).  As always, it was a magical retro soundtrack that acted as a mental time machine.  I would have been playing those same albums back in ’87-’88.  The big difference being – I was stuck in my room!  Now the porch is my room.

One thing for certain. I would have loved it if I had the technology to do stop motion animation in 1987. All I had were my Transformers toys, comic books and imagination. Now I have that plus cameras and computers. I spent several hours working on animation. Let’s face it: It’s just an excuse to play with toys as an adult!  There’s nothing wrong with that and it was damn fun, especially with Judas Priest blasting in the background just like they would have in the 80s.

Saturday night we went for some nice walks and I shared stories of the old days.  No phones, no cable, no digital music back then.  The only way to was to haul all my physical music, and associated players, up to the lake to enjoy.  And enjoy we did.  Nothing has changed there except convenience and sound quality.  Playing the music that I bought at the cottage originally sure brings the memories back.  White Lion’s Big Game and Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory were two such albums that I spun again in the old original setting.  I bought ’em both in Kincardine on cassette.  Hanging out with Bob Schipper and picking our favourite new tunes…great memories!  I remember putting the sticker for the JBJ cassette on the bottom of the top bunkbed.  Jen and I talked a lot, and perhaps there’s a number of stories there to tell in the future.

Three days came and went as quickly as a cool summer breeze.  All I have left now are the photos and videos to keep the memories fresh.  You can watch them now too, all edited together to the sound of a new remix of “Scales of Justice” by Max the Axe!  I think it’s the best cottage video I’ve ever made.  What more could you want?

#991: You Shook Me All Long Weekend

Jen and I took a Friday off so we could make a long weekend at the lake. With three days to ourselves, good food and good music were a given!

Music for the road trip up:

  1. Ace Frehley – Bronx Boy
  2. AC/DC – Power Up
  3. Deep Purple – Deep Purple

Upon arrival, I spun the usual Kiss on the porch, until 9:00 PM at which point I tuned in to Thursday Night Record Club with Brent Jensen and Alex Huard, discussing AC/DC’s Back In Black.

We filled the weekend with food (pork chops, steaks, trout, and veggies) and more music (lots of Kiss and Iron Maiden).  We enjoyed a few nice walks in the cool summer air.  Yes, it was a chilly one, but we still managed a game of Monopoly on the back porch, in the open air.  Our money never blew away once!

What did blow me away?  Listening to Iron Maiden’s Live After Death on the back porch.  It was like 1986 all over again, but only if 1986 had digital quality sound on the back porch!  We also played some music for Grampa Winter, who would have cranked Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits and “The Gambler”.  Except he did it on vinyl with some big old speakers mounted on the front of his bunkhouse.

Friday night I did an excellent live show with Rob Daniels and Harrison Kopp, showing off some incredible collectables.  This enabled me to do some stop motion with my new phone/camera, which turned out really cool.  The new camera is also finally capable of capturing some of the majesty of Kincardine sunsets.  I was impressed with the results and intend to use it frequently all summer.  Another feature is slow motion, which I used to capture some fire and waves.

It was over all too quickly.

Music for the drive home:

  1. Peter Criss – Out of Control
  2. Peter Criss – Let Me Rock You
  3. Criss – Cat #1 (Half)

I can’t explain why I chose those, but every once in a while, you need to listen to some Peter Criss.  So I did.

Please enjoy the video of the weekend, all the sound of Max the Axe, below.

#987: The Summer Awakens

RECORD STORE TALES #987: The Summer Awakens

It’s official:  the earliest swim on record for any summer at the lake is May 13!  If you don’t believe in global warming, then I can tell you that past weekends in early May, we were snuggled up in jackets and long pants.  This year, early May was as warm as early July used to be.  What an incredible weekend.  Clear and sunny until late Saturday.  By then we were indoors waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to once again exit the playoffs in the first round.  But I’m jumping head of myself!

Traffic was light but the music was heavy.  Albums for the drive up:

As expected, both were awesome on the road.  There was no clear winner.  Interestingly, Jennifer liked “Roots In My Boots” by Scorpions, which I considered a bit of a throwaway.  Regardless, both albums did well on the highway and rocked us safely to the cottage in two hours.

First music on the porch:

  • Kathryn Ladano – Open

Not a new release, but since the good Doctor was next door, it felt right to serenade her with some of her best music!

From there we settled in with the first hot dogs of the year, and I began to prep for my show that night (Top 11 Star Wars movies) by watching The Phantom Menace.  10 years ago, the only way to do that would be to bring a DVD and watch it on the laptop.  If we wanted to watch a Star Wars movie 30 years ago, we needed to bring the tape and a VCR!  Everything is so easy now, but dependent on a good internet connection.  That connection enabled me to do the first cottage show of the year, and a success it was.  I experimented with some new lighting and it worked way better than last year after sundown.  A successful show — and one of the best we’ve ever done.   Certainly one of my favourites.

It’s always hard to sleep after a caffeinated show like that.  I got four or five hours, and was up and at ’em early Saturday.  It was so quiet.  Most cottagers have not opened yet — their loss!  They were not able to listen when I rocked Kiss on the front porch on Saturday.  Kiss albums this weekend included Dynasty, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, Peter Criss, and Rock and Roll Over.

I made fish for breakfast (trout) and went to go pick up my new bass from neighbor Donna.  Her brother was Don Simmons of Helix, and this bass used to belong to him.  It is my honour to play it on the porch in his memory.  Although I use the word “play” very loosely.  I have never played bass before and can only “barely” play guitar as it is.  It took some time to get used to the size of the body.  Even the neck felt huge.  But it sounded great and really rumbled the porch.

I made chicken and steaks on the barbecue and burned up a bunch of old wood — without losing my glasses this time.  After being on my feet all day Saturday, I took it easy in the evening, missing the bright orange sunset.  I had been on my feet all day and it felt good to rest up in the evening.

We departed for home early Sunday.  Albums for the road home:

These albums, Priest especially, gave me some serious retro vibes, as if I had stepped into a time machine and was 16 again.  I had this happen numerous times last year, and I wrote about that feeling in multiple previous chapters.  It’s a very intense feeling, as if I was no longer living in the year 2022, but had stepped into 1987 again.  It felt as real as the steering wheel in my hands.  Looks like this summer will be no different.  Lots of flashbacks in store!

An excellent start to what I hope will be an amazing year.

VIDEO: May 13-15 Weekend / Max the Axe “Space Marine”

Amazing weekend at the lake once again, and you can see it all right now, to the tune of “Space Marine” by Max the Axe from Trillion Dollar Threats!  This short metallic blitz of a song is a condensed and concentrated rewrite of “Hard Drive” from their 1995 EP Bodies of Water.  It’s a fantastic tune from Max with another killer riff.

This year represents the earliest “first swim of the year” on May 13, a record.  A sign of a hot summer to come.

In this video you will see my new Fender acoustic bass.  This originally belonged to Don Simmons of Helix and I am fortunate enough to have bought it from his sister Donna.  This will provide many hours of summer entertaining at the cottage as I slowly become acquainted with this lovely instrument.  Tomorrow you’ll get the full story of the weekend in Record Store Tales #987:  The Summer Awakens.