“Daddy Changed the World”

Over the last 2 weeks, nights have been spent watching the news channels keeping up to date with what has been happening, since the night George Floyd was killed by 4 officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Trying to grapple with the feelings of having watched videos of the officers kneeling across the back of his neck for 8 minutes and 40 plus seconds until he was no longer breathing, even though he was asking them to stop, they refused, even when EMS showed up they did nothing to assist George.

Watching the actions of police in various jurisdictions hammered home to the audience that the Floyd incident was not alone. I have not experienced, directly, the bias of society on someone because of the colour of their skin. I can not understand, how it is to be called on by police because of the colour of my skin, to most I am white. But I have seen stories, whether while living in Edmonton, Alberta or Toronto and Aurora, Ontario. I have been disgusted at the stories, but for some reason, I can’t explain it, this is now, in this time, in this place, the time to speak up and be heard. I also, now, have the means to further the cause, through photography and video.

The quote in the title of the article is from George Floyd’s daughter, while she attended a protest with Stephen Jackson and sat on his shoulders. She is 6 years old and looking out over the crowds of peaceful protesters, she spread her arms and pointed and said “my Daddy did that”, she said “Daddy Changed the World”

It is true, like those before him, George has caused a world wide phenomenon, and Edmonton was host to one on Saturday night. I was there, as the Manager of Photography, for the Edmonton Muse Magazine. When I have that hat on, it forces me to see things with a different set of eyes. It allows me to tell a story. I want to ensure that when I am done, I have told the whole story. I don’t believe I can tell the whole story because it is not over, it is going to take time.

When I arrived at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta, I was one of a few journalists on site. Black Lives Matters -YEG had organized a peaceful rally at the front of the legislature with about 1500 people in attendance. The participants were peaceful, and were speaking out against racism in Edmonton and Canada and how Black people are treated differently even in Canada. Canada had become the home to many Black slaves through the underground railroad from the United States in the 1800’s, travelling hundreds of miles over 6-8 weeks to escape slavery. They were provided with land to tend. grow crops and farm. They built there lives as did many who arrived here from other countries.

The Black Lives Matter rally then moved to the back of the Legislature, where the Rally for Equity was being held, they joined about 1000 people at around 5:45 after marching around the legislature, chanting various slogans of the Black Lives Matters and other protest rallies around the US and Canada. By the 6:30 rally start time the crowd had grown to 5-7000. For the most part people were following the rules set out for COVID 19 by wearing masks and those that did not have them were provided them by organizers. There was so much going on, and it all was directed positively, the organizers recognized the indigenous treaty 6 Nations of the Plains, Wood Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux and Dene people, on the land where the rally was being held, but it also recognized the various religions from indigenous to various faith groups in prayer to open the rally, a tradition that is respectful and traces it’s roots to that of the indigenous people of Treaty 6 nations.

It was not missed on the organizers that Black People were not the only persons being segregated in 2020, they recognized the loss of Chantel Moore of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation near Tofino, B.C, was shot and killed by police while doing a welfare check. The participants heard personal stories of pain and suffering because of being a Person of Colour, or a member of LGBTQ2SIA+ which has been on the front page of many newspapers in Canada in recent years. By 7:30, the crowd had expanded and covered the back lawn behind the leg, all the way up the hills to the legislature and spilled out to the side roads. Although some have estimated 15000, from my point of view, that number was somewhere in the 25000-participant range, and there were still more coming in to the grounds.

The crowd cheered and chanted and for 8 minutes and 46 seconds took a knee, at one point a single member of the crowd would not take a knee, a couple of participants took exception, one member of the crowd and one of the organizers of a rally last Tuesday, Jesse Lipscombe, walked into the crowd and hugged the person, in a show of love over violence. That was the theme for the day and Edmonton had a lot of Love.

As the Rally ended the crowd worked its way up the hill and down 107 to Jasper Avenue. There were others that could not get into the leg grounds and they stayed in their cars honking and waving their own signs as the crowd walked by. The cars were in the hundreds and everyone was peaceful. The EPS and Sheriff’s presence was minimal, and really caused no problems. Police posed for pictures with crowd members and even took a knee at the High-Level Bridge.

There was no segregation, there was love on this night. From a crowd that was large enough to cause problems. From a Crowd that was not only in every age group but also every culture, making it one of the most diverse and organic rallies in Edmonton, in a long time. I was proud of our city! I was proud to be able to get the story out there and proud to be a part of history even if only a very small part.

There was one incident that occurred when police with rifles appeared in front of protestors later in the night. This after officers had taken a knee in support of the protest. The appearance of rifles agitated some of the protestors but nothing arose out of the incident. It should be noted at no time was there any violence something that many in the BLM community had preached to protestors, but also so had the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, Rev Bernice King and the Brother of George Floyd, Terrence Floyd at the spot where his brother was killed.

This movement is what Rosa Parks, Katherine G. Johnson, the Martin Luther King Jr., George Floyd, Elijah McCoy, Chantal Moore, Rodney King, Jean Augustine, Levi Foy, Abel Evan Francois, Zotique Kahkikyas and those others who have been victimized by the system, whether through residential schools, internment camps police or society in and of itself, started. It is our job to ensure that job is completed.

2020 will be a year of challenge and change, for the better of society, for the better of all people. It has already started as hundreds of thousands of people are speaking out in rallies around the world from 20 year old Paris, in New York, who kept protesters positive and walked with the police commander, all while marching peacefully through Manhattan, to thousands around the world taking a stand.

So a 6 year old has captured this all in one sentence. Yes Gianna, Daddy Changed the World

–Ron Palmer

The Dice Cubes – Make Me Motor ALBUM RELEASE!

The pursuit of a traditional rockabilly / rock & roll sound in the year 2020 is not a common thing. Most of what you hear that’s referred to as ‘rockabilly’ at this juncture has been updated in some way, shape, or form, and as much as the music is timeless, there is definitely a marked difference between the
recordings that Gene Vincent & Eddie Cochran made, and that of any current and active rockabilly band.

Without geeking out on recording techniques and ‘era-correct’ equipment, we’ll often chock it all up to: “The 50’s were a long time ago, man!” but really, playing traditional music of any kind will inevitably set the brain’s way-back machine to a time & place back when the traditional sounds you’re making now were cutting edge, modern, and often polarizing. That view is always rose-coloured, of course. There are a myriad of reasons why remembering the mid-1950’s would bring about thoughts of inequality and dread, certainly a viewpoint worthy of respect.

Yet, the inception of rock & roll does deserve to be celebrated.

Fast forward 60-something years. Vinyl records are seeing love from collectors and critics alike, search engine optimization has enabled every style of music to be cool simultaneously, recording technology and instrument crafting is beyond what it’s ever been – It’s a great time to be a band.

Or… it was, until a couple months ago, when planet earth went into total lockdown.

Edmonton’s own Dice Cubes entered the now defunct and highly respected Sound Extractor studio with engineer and producer Stew Kirkwood to make the soon-to-be highly sought after “Make Me Motor.” A pair of singles (with video) have been posted and shared for all to see, the test pressings have been approved and the vinyl copies are in, the CD copies have been mailed out to indie stations near and far, the show was booked and the square on the calendar marked ‘May 9 th , 2020’ was circled in red several times.

Now what? I mean, records always outlive the release show. And really, a record is a snapshot in time to be forever celebrated and revered, but the fact remains that promoting the release is the same as promoting the album. So really, what now?

Dice Cubes singer James Harapiuk describes their situation as pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. Make no mistake, The Dice Cubes have lost a pile of shows intended to support ‘Make Me Motor’, but they’re at no risk of losing their houses due to the lack of income. In Harapiak’s own words,
“Money isn’t always plentiful, but passion is always plentiful.” He also jokes lightly about how he “thought releasing an album during a global pandemic might be a great idea” but I know he’s not the only one to have a thought like that cross his mind. Truthfully, a lot of musicians and artists of all kinds
have stepped up to offer their art and entertainment as solace in a trying time, but while everyone is forced to change their routines, maybe there’s more openness to really listen and dig in to music the way it was intended.

This idea only reinforces the idea behind releasing ‘Make Me Motor’ on a vinyl LP. The very format itself encourages the listener to engage in the often forgotten ritual of ‘listening to records.’ Harapiuk walked me back to his formative years in Winnipeg, parked in front of the hi-fi listening to the records his parents had accrued over the years in amazement, eyes glued to the lyric sheet, hearing the songs as the artists wanted them to be heard, and in the order they’d intended. Each member of The Dice Cubes has a similar memory from their youth, so their emphatic glee in taking part of that tradition now as The Dice Cubes find themselves pressed into the grooves of a vinyl LP record, a first for each of them.

With the loss of shows and a lot less wind in their sails, The Dice Cubes will forge ahead, progressing however possible in isolation. The continued songwriting is a pleasant distraction from the stress and worry that wraps the world like a blanket right now, but what the pandemic means for an arts community (aside from the obvious disease and inevitable loss of life) is a slowed progress. Harapiak is bracing for the impact of that slow-down. The Dice Cubes are continuing to write new songs as many songwriters are, suitably distracting themselves from the stress and worry of our new reality but there isn’t much optimism for recording these new songs, as the cancelled ‘Make Me Motor’ shows of 2020 also serve to fundraise for the next recording.

Regardless, record collectors and rockabilly fans alike can still rejoice for ‘Make Me Motor’ though, as it has been touted as The Dice Cubes finest effort to date, and if the lead singles are any indicator then we should believe the hype.

So we keep going, keep navigating this new version of normal. Just as the community has come together to support local businesses, restaurants, charities, and their own neighbors, bands on the local level are hopeful that their supporters that have been there in growing numbers over the past several years will continue to be there, even if that support doesn’t look or feel the same, it’s definitely there.

‘Make Me Motor’ will be released TONIGHT, May 9 2020, with Starlite Sessions, live at the Starlite Room. The Dice Cubes will also be making updates via their Facebook page and other social media to arrange purchase, shipping and delivery of CDs and LPs. Digital formats will also be available through bandcamp and the normal streaming channels.

John Guliak – ‘The Fisherman’

Since the advent of our new reality, and this new normal we’re all trying to convince ourselves of in a post COVID-19 world, there are a few pleasures we’re able to afford ourselves that allow us to take our minds off of the state of the world outside our homes.

One of these pleasures, for me, has been talking with the traveler and the literary, John Guliak. There’s a calming demeanor John Guliak is surrounded with in stark contrast to the chaos and mayhem of everyday life that draws me in, he’s a respectful listener and thoughtful contributor to any conversation he’s privy to, which in interesting in itself, as even as we spoke I found myself bringing myself into the conversation more that I normally would. John Guliak is just that engaging.

We discussed ‘The Fisherman’ which is a 3 song EP that’s recently found its way to John Guliak’s bandcamp site. A very thoughtful compilation of songs, starting with ‘SOS (Sum Of Survival)’ which in and of itself tells several tales of wrecked sailing vessels with no survivors. Though the metaphor of the sinking ship in relation to any adverse condition is certainly not lost on John Guliak, the fact is that he actually set out to write a song about wrecked ships without any implied political or societal implications.

But then, isn’t that the way poetry is?

The way we interpret poetry is no unlike the way someone would interpret a parable, or spiritual teaching. We apply the principles to our own lives as they pertain to our own lives. So I must then also be thankful for the introspective instrumental song that follows (Private Melville’s Vast Retreat) so that I can chew on that thought before ‘The Ballad of Roger Casement’ grabs my focus.

John Guliak’s approach to recording Private Melville’s Vast Retreat is essentially a collaborative effort. What started from a simple instrumental guitar piece grew & grew with the addition of selected respected musicians from John Guliak’s rolodex. I always know something special is coming when I learn of an instrumental song that comes from a source so well known for his lyrical contribution. It’s rare, but never disappointing.

The Ballad of Roger Casement reads like the kind of literature than my father, a literary, would have been very excited to share with 12-year-old me only to have 12-year-old me stare back blankly in confusion. I was determined not to have this happen to me again, so I admitted to John Guliak when we spoke that I spent a fair bit of time researching Roger Casement before our conversation. The many tales of one of the Ireland’s bravest heroes and civil rights advocates being praised, and eventually cast
aside for treason and targeted for his private life.

And there I go, drawing historic and poetic parallels to modern life again.

Stylistically, John Guliak brings a lot with him wherever he goes, and has been given many flattering comparisons to icon writers of several genres over the years. To demonstrate that, he’s applied his writing style to 3 different genres, for 3 different EPs to be released gradually throughout 2020. This collection of songs is called ‘The Fisherman’ and we can anticipate ‘The Farmer’ later this summer, and ‘The Fool’ to follow. This falls somewhere between releasing a full album and releasing a series of singles. Three parts. 3 movements. But with enough support, we can anticipate a formal release of all three on vinyl in the future as well.

We’re fortunate to have challenging and thoughtful songwriters in this community. This is an ideal time to dig into the catalogues of the musicians we have here, and perhaps become inspired.

‘The Fisherman’ is an excellent place to start.

FatDave Johnston

Throwback Thursday: The Whyte Wolf is always on the prowl!

You have probably seen him at either one of your shows or at one you were attending. You will find him in the crowd, on the stools, crouching, climbing… anything to get that perfect shot of the talent on the stage. This Thursday, we recognize Richard of Whyte Wolf Photography for the work he does with us! Check out the videos below to see for yourself! (Feature photo by Joy Johnston)

Keeping With The Current

8 Events To Ring In The New Year!

1: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald’s Black Tie Affair
A new decade awaits! Toast to powerful new beginnings and celebrate in style as we ring in 2020 at Edmonton’s most celebrated landmark, located in the heart of downtown. Enjoy live DJ entertainment along with a reception style buffet, sparkling wine on arrival, and a glass of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne to toast at midnight, plus more. This is a New Year’s Eve party you won’t want to miss!


2. Urban Tavern’s Comedy Gala and Dinner
You’ve got options with this one!
If you love to laugh, you will not be short on that with this trio of stellar comedians! Your first option of the evening includes a dinner with comedic entertainment. Followed by your second option, which is to dance and socialize with DJ Ferd on deck, spinning your favorite tunes. Both options include champagne and party favors to ring in the new year!

Because a ticket guarantees your entry, there are limited tickets available, so get yours asap HERE!

3. World Waterpark Presents: Family Beach Ball!
Looking for something to do with the family? Welcome 2020 by celebrating in a tropical indoor environment filled with food, fun and fireworks! Splash in the wave pool and speed down the slides right into 2020! The incredible evening wraps up with a spectacular indoor fireworks show!

Tickets available HERE!

4. Mad Bomber Society Rocks The Black Dog
Mad Bomber Society is an Edmonton icon for ska! The bring the party to the whole room, with wild antics on and off the stage, jumping into the crowds, surfing the bars and tables and they do it all without skipping a beat.

Tickets available at The Black Dog and Freecloud Records

5. New Years Eve Murder Mystery Party at the Craft & Cork
Ring in the 2020s with a night filled with fun, friends….and murder! 
Craft and Cork is proud to present a 1920s themed Murder Mystery event on Dec 31st. Dress up and take on the role of a 1920s Crime Boss, Silent Film Star, Speak Easy Waitress, Nightclub Singer, Mob Enforcer, Baseball Player, Novelist and More! 

Tickets available HERE!

6. The NYE Ball with Frank Sinatra at Hally’s Club
The countdown to 2020 feature’s the world’s most requested Frank Sinatra Mr. Gary Anthony direct from Las Vegas alongside the incredible Million Dollar Dreamers Big Band.

Purchase your tickets HERE!

7. New Years Eve “Return Of The 20’s” at Bohemia
Bohemia artist of the year Mitch for Mayor pops the bubbly on the end of 2019. Super special guests Escape Goat and Grandpa’s Medicine promise to make this night a proper party. Not much other way to put it except just straight cut, good old fashioned fun.

Tickets available here!

8. Astral Harvest Appreciation NYE Party :: Ft. Botnek at the Starlite Room!
Join us at The Starlite Room on New Years Eve as we celebrate one of Canada’s most sought after music festivals…. ASTRAL HARVEST!!! Tears will be shed and times will be had!! So lets send them off in proper astral fashion and reminisce of 12 years of amazing moments that shaped all of our lives in one way or another!! This will be a THREE room banger where we each room will be an Astral Harvest stage! Starlite will be the “Interstellevator” Temple will be “Wakah Chan” and Revival will be “Axis Mundi Theatre” / “Mystic Beach” each room with a rocken lineup!!

Tickets available HERE!