ROCK BITS: Rock the vote, kids rock, roots rock weirdo and Mel’s rockpile


Hockey or the damned election – that’s all anybody ever talks about in Edmonton at this time of year, year after year after year.

From the Department of Pointing Out the Painfully Obvious comes this observation: Artists all over town are ever so slightly leaning to the side of the commie pinko bleeding heart liberal point of view.

Chris Craddock, who is both starring in a play and wrote a play that are running at the same time (read about it here), has been Facebooking his ass off about the impending election. Among many spleen ventings, this is a favourite: “Was Darth Vader an enemy of the rebellion? Was Zoltar an enemy of G-Force? Does Sauron like Hobbits? Harper government, enemy of the arts?”

Omar Mouallem, poet, rapper, writer and associate editor of the award-winning Avenue magazine, posted what he describes as a “hilarious” Elections Canada PSA:

Kirby at Ramparts, local promoter, music and arts maven, is one of many local arts people spreading this message: “Canada’s youth need to rock the vote. You wouldn’t want your parents picking your music, don’t let them pick your government!” John Armstrong (producer of the Sasquatch Music Festival this July) is one of several Facebookers who posted this quote: “If all of Canada’s youth voted, they would rock the whole political system!” To the left, one assumes.

MAMA, LET ‘EM PLAY: Bobby Cameron, meanwhile, is working with kids too young to vote – but not too young to rock! He’s producing Kids Who Rock So Kids Can Talk, a free concert in Goldbar Park this Sunday, May 1 at 12:30 p.m. to follow the Walk So Kids Can Talk Kids Help Phone walk and fund-raiser happening earlier that morning at the park, and elsewhere across Canada. Edmonton is the only place that actually has kids rocking after the walking so the kids can be talking. The performers are Luke and Tess Pretty, DRT and, from U22 Productions, the Command Sisters and Jordan Kaminski. There’s a tie-in to the issue of underage musicians not currently being allowed to perform in Alberta bars, even with parental permission, that local drummer Greg Pretty (father of Luke and Tess) has campaigned to change (online petition here, for what it’s worth) – which brings us to our next item.

Pretty also happens to be the house drummer at Rusty Reed’s House of Blues, which is about unveil a new live music venue downstairs, that is planned to feature underage performers – perhaps with some Crossroads-style crossovers with the canny blues veterans who play upstairs. “We want to provide what the liquor board and the Stelmach government don’t seem to understand – that the real formative power of playing under-age in a bar is playing WITH the seasoned pros, who are not on the coffee shop tour,” Pretty says. The as-yet-unnamed venue should be open by June.

One of Edmonton’s wayward sons is getting a slice of the big time. Mike Plume – Alberta singer-songwriter who moved to Nashville 14 years ago to practice the art of “Americana” because “Canadiana” is already being used for something else – will have his song Mine All Mine aired on tonight’s episode of Justified on the FX Network in the US (should be on Superchannel in Canada at some point).

Plume, who was surprised to learn his song would be on TV – publishers take care of this sort of thing – is not your typical Nashville hat. He won’t wear a cowboy hat, for one thing, nor is he likely to get invited to the Country Music Awards. More of an Austin kind of guy in a Nashville town, he describes himself as a “roots rock weirdo.” He’s working on a version of the phrase set to the tune of Jukebox Hero – could be a huge hit.

Former Edmonton-based publisher and Canadiana lore-meister Mel Hurtig has good news. He has just signed to contract with McClelland & Stewart to do another book about – you guessed it – Canada. Tentative title: Five Things Canadians Must Do To Save Our Country. Step one: Buy Mel’s new book.

It should be out by 2012. Whew, just in time!

The Game is gone – poor guy couldn’t make it over the border to do his Saturday, April 30 show at the Edmonton Event Centre – but there is still a good ‘G’ thing going on at the WEM club. In the hip-hop house now will be The Beatnuts, M.O.P. and Warren G. Previously held tickets for The Game will be honoured at the new event, but anyone who wants a refund for the cancelled show can get one at the point of purchase.

OK, one more thing – KISS fans bleat: Why, oh why hast thou forsaken us? Why play Fort McMurray (July 2) and not Edmonton, where your biggest fans live just a few hours South?

The answer is simple, aside from wanting to “get down with the small town people who’ve wanted this for decades” – if KISS played Edmonton, they probably wouldn’t be able to fill Rexall Place, so they’d probably have to play the Shaw Conference Centre. This would be sadder than sad.