Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Year o' Fong Songs

**WARNING! Cover-free posting!**

Ah, the inevitable year-end post.... Almost. This is simply a year-end recap of happenings in my own little world. I'll jump into favourite covers, albums, films, and those sorts of things soon. In the meantime, feel free to not read this at all, though you might miss out on How I Almost Got the White Stripes to Perform at the Library I Worked At. Intrigued?

One of the things that's fun about keeping this blog is that it doubles as a sort of diary of personally significant events (musically, at least) and I can just skim through the 2007 archives to see what happened without wracking my brain too hard.

  • The first post of the 2007 was... um, last year's year-end post.

  • I had a wonderful first-time trip to San Francisco, also finding time to zip down to San Jose to watch the Oilers beat the Sharks (that'd be hockey for the non-hockey inclined).

  • 2007 would turn out to be the year of band reunions with Davie Lee Roth rejoining Van Halen, The Police coming back together, Genesis, and even The Spice Girls getting in on all this reunion action. February saw the return of one of my favourite bands the Squirrel Nut Zippers who had been missing in action since 2001. When I posted about this reunion back on February 2, little did I know that the ultimate band reunion would be announced later in the year...

  • Chinese New Year fell on February 18th and it was MY year, the Year of the Pig. As far as concerts went, 2007 was positively epic. And I had the fantastic opportunity to take a huge trip to China to check out my roots. Yes, it was a very good year and technically I still have a couple months left on the Chinese calendar.

  • Heart-thumping news on March 20 courtesy of the White Stripes. After some hoax tour dates appeared, their official newsletter was sent out with the teaser "The White Stripes have yet to confirm their North American routing as of yet. But we are happy to say that it will include all 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada, as well as the remaining 16 states of the United States the band have yet to play." Good god, a Canadian tour including the territories?!? Would they actually be coming to Edmonton? Is this a horrible joke?

  • For a time, I was addicted to Desktop Tower Defense.

  • March 30: I finally tracked down the official Interstate '76 soundtrack. Score!

  • April 10: Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls confirmed that none other than Mr. Ben Folds would be producing and playing on her solo album, which as of now is still in the works.

  • April 17: Jack White reiterates the plan to cover all Canadian provinces and territories. Speculation rampant and tour dates imminent.

  • April 26: Jack White is a man of his word. Full Canadian tour dates are released including Edmonton. Unlikely stops: Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Glace Bay.

  • May 4: Star Wars Day. I post some Star Wars covers, my blog is bombarded with hits after an Idolator shout-out, and I'm inexplicably featured on IMDB's Hit List. At the peak, 4052 unique visitors on one day vs. the usual 150. My virtual ego inflates, but then blog traffic returns to normal as I return to my regular posts. Never underestimate the power of the Star Wars fan contingent.

  • Some time in mid-May I joined Facebook. Strangely, it wasn't really a matter of caving in. I was blissfully ignorant of the addictive site until I was trying to view some Danny Michel tour photos that were posted on Facebook. Ironically after I joined, those photos were unavailable.

  • My rock dreams were coming true as I booked myself aboard a Ben Folds cruise for 2008. These dreams would later be dashed as the cruise was unceremoniously cancelled.

  • They came, they played, they conquered. The White Stripes came into Edmonton on June 30th. Even better than the actual show was one of the now-legendary Secret Shows, which took place in a youth centre in the inner city. I was arm's length away from Jack as he played to a packed room of 200-ish salivating fans. I guess enough time has passed for me to tell the full story on how I almost got the White Stripes to play in my library... I was working at the library in the heart of Old Strathcona, a beautiful newly-renovated brick building that was the first public library in Edmonton built in 1913. A friend and former co-worker at the downtown library called me (although he was sworn to secrecy) with crazy news that someone from the White Stripes camp had contacted them about potentially playing their secret show there. And the library declined! What?!? GRRR! I was so excited and disappointed at the same time. I went on the Little Room forums to rant and rave about what a blown opportunity it was. I also posted some photos of the White Stripes shrine I had put up at the library as the display person and not-so-subtlely suggested the gig should happen at our library. Amazingly, I received a private message from someone... After some rapid back-and-forth e-mails with some scouting photos I took, it turned out our room could probably on hold 80 people and they were expecting more like 300. I also found out later the downtown library gig was kiboshed because of fire hazard and security concerns rather than management simply being close-minded. In any event, I got to go to the secret gig after getting the announcement on the forums and rushing to the youth centre. On the way there, that someone gave me a courtesy call to let me know where the gig was at. And that is how The White Stripes almost played at my library. The end.

  • While on my weeklong White Stripes Maritimes Extravaganza, I was contacted by some guy named Kurtis who was planning to start up his own cover blog... A couple months later, Covering the Mouse debuted featuring all Disney covers, all the time. And the world rejoiced.

  • I went to the Calgary Folk Festival and had a heck of a great time. Squirrel Nut Zippers reunited, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings... it was fun. It occurs to me that I never wrote my Calgary Folk Fest Part II post, which has been condemned to draft hell. So I never told the story of how I weaseled my way into the volunteer's after party to watch the Squirrel Nut Zippers for one last time and danced the night away. Maybe someday I'll finish up some long lost posts.

  • August 28: I stayed up and watched the lunar eclipse like an idiot.

  • September 12: My head exploded as Led Zeppelin officially announces their one-off reunion show. In spite of great lengths to procure tickets, it just didn't work out.

  • Boyhowdy joins the cover blog fray with Cover Lay Down, devoted to folk covers.

  • As I'm off galavanting in China, Kurtis takes over Fong Songs temporarily.

  • While wandering the streets of Macau, I see a sign. Literally a sign for "Fong Song". I wonder if there's a real Coverville out there somewhere.

  • And lastly, I moved to Vancouver.

My Year in Concerts (click links to revisit old concert posts):
2007/01/14 The Tragically Hip Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB
2007/01/23 Video Games Live Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, AB
2007/02/06 The Arrogant Worms Winspear Centre, Edmonton, AB
2007/02/25 Wolfmother Edmonton Event Centre, Edmonton, AB
2007/05/17 Danny Michel Convocation Hall, Edmonton, AB
2007/05/23 The Killers with Hot Hot Heat Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB
2007/06/23 Red Shag Carpet with Kyle Riabko Freemason's Hall, Edmonton, AB
2007/06/24 Roger Waters Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB
2007/06/30 The White Stripes with Dan Sartain Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB
2007/07/10 The White Stripes with Dan Sartain Moncton Coliseum, Moncton, NB
2007/07/11 The White Stripes with Dan Sartain Charlottetown Civic Centre, Charlottetown, PEI
2007/07/13 The White Stripes with Dan Sartain Cunard Centre, Halifax, NS
2007/07/14 The White Stripes with Dan Sartain and Ashley MacIsaac The Savoy Theatre, Glace Bay, NS
2007/07/18 Jon Levine Band Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto, ON
2007/07/25 Weird Al Yankovic Capital Ex, Edmonton, AB
2007/07/27 - 07/29 Calgary Folk Festival (Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Polyjesters, Eleni Mandell, Watermelon Slim, Hawsley Workman, Sarah Slean, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Don McLean, and many more!) Prince's Island Park, Calgary, AB
2007/09/01 Andrew Bird with Dosh Richard on Richard's, Vancouver, BC
2007/09/02 Gogol Bordello with DJ Scratchy Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
2007/12/09 Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings with Megatron Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC

Clearly this was an outstanding year for concert-going. The White Stripes Maritimes Extravaganza was logistically improbable but in the "so crazy it just might work" way and with the ultimate pay-off. The 10th Anniversary show in Glace Bay was the most unreal concert experience I've ever partaken in and unlikely to ever be topped. I tear up just thinking about it... so great in so many ways. Roger Waters put on a spectacular show and in a non-White Stripes year it would contend for best concert of the year. They had a giant high definition screen as a backdrop that is by far the clearest I've ever seen. Giant inflatable graffiti pig too. Shine On You Crazy Diamond was near-euphoric performed live. That concert now has the distinction of the most expensive concert ticket I've ever paid for at $167 and I somehow convinced two of my friends to come too. Tickets for the three of us nearly matched the cost of all of our White Stripes Maritimes shows put together. After years of waiting, I finally saw the Squirrel Nut Zippers live and they did not disappoint. Concert-wise, there's nothing really on the radar yet for 2008. High on my list of must-see someday are The Polyphonic Spree, Harvey Danger, and if we're really lucky maybe Zooey Deschanel will go on tour with M. Ward in '08.

OK, thank you for indulging me. Next time: top stuff of 2007.

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