BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper based in Western Canada with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise.
Guns N’ Roses 2016: Duff McKagan reflects on the Vancouver punk scene by Susanne Tabata Presented by Read no further if you are looking for salacious details on the Guns N’ Roses reunion. There aren’t any. The last time GnR rolled through Vancouver, the intro guitar riffs to “Welcome To The Jungle” were heard from backstage, where Duff McKagan was talking with Ron Reyes and Randy Rampage, who had come to support his band, Loaded. McKagan made a guest appearance later on the stage with Axl Rose. And that was the last time we saw Duff. Guns N’ Roses headlines day two at Coachella. It’s no secret Slash and McKagan have both rejoined GnR, having each quit the Axl Rose-fronted band in the late 1990s. With this news, it’s time to get nostalgic and revisit those Vancouver connections with the former Fartz drummer, who gave this interview for publication in BeatRoute Magazine. “My first real punk show was when my band, The Vains, opened for Black 1977 Flag (Ron Reyes), and The Subhumans in Seattle in 1979 at Washington Hall. Sometime that year I made my first trip to Van to see our heroes, DOA. “We’d fake notes from our parents to cross the border. Me and my pals were 15, hence … under age.” It is hard to imagine no internet or surveillance, but it’s true you could drive across the US- Canadian border with ease and Vancouver would draw Seattle youth because of the drinking age of 19 (not 21), the all-ages venues, band houses, and freedom. “The Buddha didn’t check ID. We thought this was the coolest thing in the world! I met Zippy (Pinhead) at this point, and he introduced me to the fine art of drinking Old Stock. We began to be able crash out at the DOA house off of Georgia (The Plaza)....This was equal to staying in KISS’s mansions or something like that. Shithead was super cool to us kids.” McKagan goes on record again to speak of his heroes of that era - Chuck Biscuits (DOA Drummer) and Randy Rampage (DOA bassist). “Rampage and Biscuits were THE baddest on the planet. Bar none.“ Of course, he’s talking about the rhythm section in the original DOA. Luckily tracks on Something Better Change and Hardcore 81 are still available from Joe Shithead on Sudden Death Records. And oddly, not recorded by badass producer Bob Rock and engineer Ron Obvious, known for seminal early records made during graveyard shifts at Little Mountain Sound. “Seattle’s punk scene wasn’t strong,” McKagan says. “Places kept getting shut down, and there was support in Van.” It’s true that the first Vancouver scene was the most prolific punk scene in the Pacific Northwest. Considering the body of work that got recorded on vinyl, cassette, videotape, photograph and film, it is the most well documented early punk scene in Canada. The ties ran down the coast to San Francisco, through Seattle and Portland — not East-West. San Francisco was the sister city to Vancouver and that’s why Zippy lived there, and Brad Kent (RIP) joined Penelope Houston and her band The Avengers. McKagan notes there was something else unique about the city. “Vancouver was more in touch with the UK scene, so travelling 100 miles north was like being transported to Europe/UK back then. The Fastbacks started playing up there a lot in ’80/’81. The Modernettes had just broken up....and there seemed to be a need for Fastbacks style of girl power-pop/punk...Ala Modernettes.” McKagen was at Hardcore 81, a set of shows at 1036 Richards - The Laundromat - which marked the time when the scene got codified. Shortly after, things really changed. The UK influenced sounds were getting replaced by American hardcore sounds, circa 1982. Drugs helped kill the scene. It was also dying a natural death, says Duff. “Heroin hit Seattle in late ’81, early ’82....Bad, ugly, stupid...killing the scene by late ’83.” “I moved to LA in ’84 cause that’s as far as my car could go. Played with Biscuits that same month, and then hung out a bunch with Ron Reyes in LA before he moved to BC. Ron and I were super into Prince, Hanoi, Stones...kind of the direction us first-wave of punkers were going. Punk had turned into suburban punk gang warfare, hardcore by this point. We had all already moved on.” And then there was Guns N’ Roses. Today Duff lives “in Seattle again (since ’93) and still consider that early Van scene as my rock ‘n’ roll training ground, and Rampage and Biscuits are still my heroes.” Susanne Tabata is the creator of the documentary Bloodied But Unbowed about the first Vancouver punk scene and its ties down the coast. Special thanks to Duff McKagan. Wishing you well on the tour. Duff McKagan with Zippy Pinhead (left) and Randy Rampage (right). 20 APRIL 2016 • city
CITY GOING HOME STAR IN THE FOOTPRINT OF THE CROCODILE MAN by Meredyth Cole DIRTY OLD WOMAN Royal Winnipeg Ballet dances for truth and reconciliation by Yasmine Shemesh stripping away the double standard by Jennie Orton For five years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) travelled across Canada to collect the testimonies of First Nations survivors who were submitted to the residential school system. 94 “calls to action” were then published to recognize the harrowing legacy. One of these calls was directed to the arts community and donations were made to put towards projects that would acknowledge the accounts and create something enduring by using them. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production, Going Home Star, responds to this call. Late Anishnabe Elder Mary Richard, a fan of the company’s 1971 production of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, had been encouraging RWB’s longtime artistic director André Lewis to create an Aboriginal-themed project. To help fulfill the vision, Tina Keeper (Cree activist, former member of the Canadian House of Commons) joined the RWB’s board of directors and suggested doing a ballet based on the TRC’s findings. Lewis — who performed in Rita Joe — agreed immediately. “I was [at] one of the [TRC] events in Edmonton and boy, you heard some pretty rough stories, testimonies,” Lewis says. “It was not an easy situation. I have two kids, my wife and I, and I could not imagine losing them at age six to go somewhere where I don’t know a journey into contemporary art and environmental plight When Carol Mayer, curator at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, first visited the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea in 2006, it began an enduring fascination with the art of the region. “I was very impressed by the combination of imagery and technical virtuosity,” she says. This brilliance is showcased through sculptural works made by the Iatmul people — an ethnic group that inhabits the Sepik riverbanks — that comprise the Museum’s current exhibition, In the Footprint of the Crocodile Man: Contemporary Art of the Sepik River. Most of the 27 sculptural works on display, carved out of wood and ornamented with features of paint, fiber, shells, and feathers, are inspired by legends of the crocodile as The Creator. With accompanying photography and video, and modeled after the actual shape of the Sepik, the exhibition creates an immersive environment; even the walls are painted in the colours of the river and the lighting produces a kinetic, watery effect. The incisive beauty of the sculptures on display would be enough to warrant a trip to the MOA, but the exhibition seeks to do more than showcase rare art. As Mayer traveled through Papa New Guinea to prepare the show, she conducted interviews with 17 artists both living and working near where it is, you have no control. I would find that — well, I don’t know how people coped.” A diverse cast of artistic collaborators was assembled, including Giller Prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden. Boyden penned a powerful narrative that follows the journey of a young, contemporary Aboriginal woman, Annie, as she begins to understand the plight of her ancestors through Gordon, a homeless residential school survivor. A commanding musical score composed by Christos Hatzis features Polaris Prize-winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood & the Northern Cree Singers, alongside choreography by Mark Godden. Working with a diverse range of mediums — dance, literature, music — was a challenge, but, Lewis says, a fulfilling one. “We work the Sepik. In the process, she uncovered an overwhelming concern among these people about the Frieda Mine, a nearby mining operation that threatens the river that exists as both a source of inspiration and livelihood. Drawing attention to the plight of these people, who Mayer reveals “view themselves as ‘small people’ with no voice,” became as important as exhibiting their artwork. “I was left with the challenge of introducing the museum visitor to this incredible art form (that they had probably never seen before) and at the same time bringing awareness to the threat of the mining operation,” she says. Mayer’s commitment to raising awareness about the mine’s specific environmental threat, while celebrating the work of artists from a small geographic region, their unique mythology, and visual language, produces an all-encompassing effect — something she says she hopes will leave the viewers feeling “awed and challenged.” A renewed sense of connection to the wider world, and of the people that inhabit even its most unfamiliar corners, is sure to accompany those reactions. In the Footprint of the Crocodile Man: Contemporary Art of the Sepik River runs at the Museum of Anthropology until January 31, 2017 differently and, to tell you frankly, every artist works differently. It’s not just because of cultural differences, but cultural differences can also accentuate those ways of working differently or looking at the world differently.” Looking through another pair of eyes is, in fact, an integral concept when it comes to Going Home Star. “At first people say, and it was mostly the non-indigenous community that felt, ‘why are you doing a story like this? This is not our story, this is an indigenous story,’” Lewis says. “First of all, I disagree.” It’s a Canadian story, he maintains. A story that peers deeply into the country’s painful past, through lenses of truth and reconciliation. Going Home Star runs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from April 7-9 A beautiful, harrowing, and honest take on the lasting impact of residential schools. photo: Samanta Katz There is something about the idea of a woman over 50 having a sexual appetite. Whereas the idea of a May-December romance between an older man and a younger woman has held inspirational appeal in both art and in life for centuries, the reversal of roles seems to be seen as downright provocative and almost always amusing. For her celebrated one act play Dirty Old Woman, playwright Loretta Seto found within this double standard — as well as from feedback from her single sixty-something female friends — inspiration for a story about what happens when an older woman has the gall to start dating a much younger man. “In some ways I think there is an expectation when looking at women who are older that they aren’t supposed to be interested in sex anymore, they’re not expected to be sexual or sexy,” says Seto. “You’re the grandmother now as opposed to a sexual being.” The play follows Nina, a 50-year old woman dating a 20-year old man, as she deflects and absorbs the roadblocks and pratfalls that come within that territory. The result is an honest and, at times, quite funny exploration of romance attempting to flourish in a situation deemed abnormal. “There is a stigma that it isn’t a relationship that is necessarily going to last, that it’s just a sort of passing thing, or that he’s using her for a specific reason,” Seto says. “It can’t just be two people who maybe connect or just like each other.” Though the story may appear at first glance to have an agenda to unearth an unjust stigma threatening to prevent single women everywhere from enjoying fresh meat without scorn, what emerges is a more universal study of how we view romantic unions in general. “It kind of asks why do we have expectations? Why do we have judgements about certain configurations of relationships?” muses Seto. Dirty Old Woman seeks to leave the audience with the feeling that sexuality, love, and drive can belong to anyone regardless of age and should be embraced and explored with healthy vigor. Dirty Old Woman runs at the Culture Lab from April 12-24 Dirty Old Woman is as fun as it is thought provoking. city • APRIL 2016 21