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People often ask me where I come up with ideas for this program…my answer is always the same… you know that feeling when it’s Sunday night and you promise yourself you’ll start on that assignment that’s due the next morning as soon as “the Simpsons” is over?... Yeah, that’s me…every week…and after more than 700 of these one-hour assignments stretching back to 1993, I hit a wall…total writer’s block… I started to panic…there are hard deadlines…I have a contract…I’m expected to deliver...


The 90s Part 9: The Festivals

I don’t know if you realize this, but the music festival isn’t a modern creation…people have been gathering in fields to hear music for centuries…and in some cases, those original festivals are still happening… Ever hear of Fiera Della Frecagnola? started in the village of Cannalonga, up in the mountains in the south of Italy…as far as we’ve been able to tell, the first gig was in 1450…and it’s still happening today… There are other long-timey festivals in Germany, England, India,...


The 90s Part 8: The CanRock Revolution

Canada is now the sixth-largest music market in the world…only the US., Japan, the UK, Germany and France are bigger…not bad, considering that we’re living right next door to the biggest exporter of popular culture in the known universe—and considering that unlike Japan, Germany and France, most of our domestic music industry isn’t isolated and protected because of language… I mean, the whole world consumes English-language music…what’s the market for Japanese music outside Japan?...or...


The 90s Part 7: The Other Genres

One of the great things about the alt-rock revolution of the 1990s was its diversity… The sounds from this part of the rock universe had always been varied…that’s because the idea of “alternative music” was so amorphous…if it was (a) non-mainstream and ignored by most radio stations; (b) a little left of centre in terms of aesthetics; and (c) considered weird by the majority, then it qualified as “alternative” by default, simply because the was no other way to categorize it…and humans...


The 90s Part 6: The Punk Revival

The early 90s were an amazing time for music…generation x, a powerful demographic force, reached the age where they were in a position to demand music that reflected their needs and wants and wishes and desires and fears… The biggest sea change came with the rise of grunge, thanks to Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and, of course, Nirvana…but that music was just the kick-start for the alternative nation that came to dominate most of the 90s…. For many, grunge was alternative...


The 90s Part 5b: Hip-Hop's Effects Part 2

If we look at the state of rock here in the 21 century, it is no longer the main musical driver of popular culture…hip-hop is king… This doesn’t mean it’s dead, that it doesn’t have a place in our lives, that it isn’t going to be around for decades to come…but if you’re honest, you’ll have to admit that hip-hop has extended its reach into popular culture with the strength and depth that used to belong to rock… And it’s not like rock’s appeal shrank…it’s that other genres have exploded,...


The 90s Part 5a: Hip-Hop's Effects Part 1

There are some things you should never mix...oil and water...nitro and glycerin...tequila and—well, it’s not a good idea to mix tequila with anything other than salt, lemon and maybe some fruit juice… They used to say this about rock and rap music, too...and they were pretty adamant about that… When rap and hip-hop started seeping into the mainstream in the middle 1980s, it immediately polarized people...those who didn’t (or refused) to get it, were aggressively dismissive of what rap...


The 90s Part 4: Britpop

I want you to think about fashion for a moment…fashion is one of the most disposable of all the artistic endeavours…much of what’s created isn’t designed to last more than a season…once the season is over, time to toss out all the coture and buy new stuff… But there are cycles in fashion…after a certain amount of time, old styles might come back into favour again…this, in a way, makes fashion a renewable resource… Music is also like that…trends and sounds and styles come along and then...


The 90s Part 3: Grunge

Up until the 1990s, the section of the rock universe known as “alternative” was all over the place…there wasn’t what anyone could call a defining sound…if it was left of centre, weird to mainstream music fans and ignored by the media, then it was “alternative”... If you were around the late 80s—the decade where the word “alternative” began to be used to describe a certain attitude in rock—you’ll remember that this was an umbrella term for so many different types of artists… If you...


The 90's Part 2B: Front Women

In 1967 during the summer of love, anything seemed possible…civil rights issues were being addressed…the war in Vietnam could be stopped…drugs and free love were in the air…and women were being liberated… Amongst all this was Jimi Hendrix who became a fan of an all-female rock band from San Francisco called “the ace of cups”… Wait a second…an all-girl rock band?...who wrote their own songs?...who had a chick out front that could shred like a man?...and a girl playing drums?... Even in...


The 90's Part 2A: Solo Women

In a less-enlightened time, women were barely tolerated by the rock’n’roll establishment…they could sing, shake a tambourine and look pretty…but that’s about it…in retrospect, the sexism and misogyny was unbelievable…but back in the day, it was business as usual… Some strong women who broke through…Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Carole King, Janis Joplin…but they were the exceptions… Sexism continued through the early- and mid-seventies…the prevailing “wisdom” was that women...


The 90's Part 1: Foundational Changes

Writing history takes a very long time…sure, you could write down everything as it happens, but that’s really only like writing a diary…you only have a record of events—which is fine…but real history, meaningful history is something more… To understand what happened in the past, more time has to go by so that we can observe the ripples events have the world…it’s only by examining those ripples that we begin to understand what’s happening in the present and what could happen in the...


RocknRoll Scientific Nomenclature

How would you like to be remembered when you’re gone?...most people make do with a tombstone or some such other grave marker…maybe a few photographs and other detritus from a life… But maybe you’ve done something exceptional, something that extends beyond just your family and friends…my dad was mayor of my tiny hometown on the Canadian prairies and was instrumental in the development of a tourist area…for that, he had a street named after him…very nice… Others have schools named after...


Trying to be a Superstar in the 21st Century

You may have noticed that the most of the biggest rock acts in the world aren’t that young…Green Day?...middle 40s… Dave Grohl?...creeping up on the half-century mark… Trent Reznor? we sit here right now, he’s 52…Pearl Jam: early-to-mid 50s… Average age of U2?...upper 50s…Springsteen?...68…Paul McCartney?...75…and The Rolling Stones?…do you have to ask?... I am not ragging on old rockers…this is not about ageism…i just can’t subscribe to that whole “rock is for the young” B.S.…if...


Gorillaz: A History

Everything is virtual these days…outside of the stuff you’ve got in your pocket, money is nothing but a bunch of zeroes and ones…we shop online at virtual stores…we read virtual books on our tablets… Even our relationships have gone that way because of Facebook and twitter and Instagram… A lot of our music is virtual, too…it’s been that way since we started ripping our cds and trading mp3s online...then came stores like iTunes with its digital tracks and albums and metadata… So it...


Remembering David Bowie: Part 2

He was known by many names over the six decades he made music...and for the last 40-plus years, he was the most discussed, photographed, imitated, worshiped and admired rock star in history... No single rock and roll performer had a more profound an effect on our music as David Bowie...all of today’s best alt-rock bands all have a bit of Bowie in them …and that net can be cast much, much wider…Madonna, Lady Gaga, Prince…the list is endless... He was a singer, a songwriter, record...


Remembering David Bowie: Part 1

The sound of a text coming through woke me up at 2:15 in the morning…what was so important that it couldn’t wait until later? was either a wrong number—or it was bad news… It was bad news…a friend in L.A. had just heard some awful information: David Bowie had died… This wasn’t supposed to happen…Bowie was supposed to be one of the immortals, someone who would always be with us….after all, he’d been making music through six decades… And yes, he’d been almost entirely out of sight for...


Who the Hell is Arcade Fire? Part 2

Let’s just say it: Arcade Fire is weird…just about everything they’ve done in their career has been not only unconventional but against the rules… They rarely give interviews…they won’t license their music…they’d rather spend weeks working with the people of Haiti than lounging by a swimming pool somewhere…they won’t even stay on the stage when they perform… Yet whatever they’ve done has worked…junos, Grammy’s, Brits, The Polaris Music Prize…members have had their work nominated for an...


Who the Hell is Arcade Fire? Part 1

The music world went a little weird on February 13, 2011…and I remember it very, very well because I was in a hotel room in Vancouver with nothing to do but watch TV…I think I was coming back from a speaking thing in Victoria and my flight home had been cancelled… I ordered up a club sandwich from room service and lay on the bed watching the 53 Grammy awards…all the usual suspects were there…lady gaga, whose album “the fame monster” had been, well, a monster…six nominations, including best...


Scott Weiland: Part 3

If you’ve ever been responsible for managing a group of people, you’ll understand when I say, “humans are complicated” …as much life experience you may have, you will always, always encounter folks who have gone through lives that are much different from yours… You consider your life normal…they consider their lives normal, too…but the gulf between these senses of what’s “normal” can be huge… It all depends on your upbringing, your current environment, your family life and your state of...


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