Sunday, March 29, 2009

The last three days have been filled with sight-seeing and concerts. Thursday night was Berklee's International Folk Festival. It featured a number of different countries that were represented amongst the students here...Dominican Republic, Portugal, Middle East, Japan, Scotland and of course Canada. Ivonne, Kimberly Fraser (Nova Scotia) and Trent Freeman (another Vancouver Islander!) represented Canada - along with special guests Ryan and Jamie! Interesting to note, Roy Haynes, legendary jazz drummer was honoured that night with the Berklee International Award for "supporting international understanding, goodwill and education". We were lucky enough to catch a show a couple of years ago that he played at in Vancouver.....he has played with ALL of the great jazz musicians past and present and is considered a grand master of the genre. Such a surprise to be in the same room and watch him be presented with such a grand award. 
Friday was the last day of the Photoshop Conference so while Ryan and I were wrapping that up, the boys went on a tour of Fenway Park. We met up in the late afternoon to prepare for the next concert on the schedule. Benny Golson, another jazz legend, was performing a FREE session with the Berklee Jazz Orchestra. This was the fellow that taught the Master class that Jamie was able to attend with Ben - he's 80 years old but could pass for 45 easily. A legendary composer, arranger and lyricist, he was great friends with John Coltrane and has played with the likes of Art Blakey, Dizzie Gillespie and Benny Goodman to name a few. The place was packed and right enough, Benny plays a mean tenor sax! Truly another unbelievable experience that we were able to witness.
Jamie, Travis and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts yesterday while Ryan was on another set of photo shoots. This place is AMAZING...and had everything that each of us was interested in: Egypt, fashion/textiles, Venetian painters and the list goes on. A room full of ancient musical instruments was one highlight...where Benjamin Franklin's armonica was on display. I had no idea that he invented it and that Mozart actually composed for this particular instrument at one point. And here we thought we were being clever playing the glasses after a night of wine drinking! 
Last night saw the last of the concerts....the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Considered one of the top orchestra's in the world right now, it was a treat to hear! Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky's Petrushka was the program of the evening. A young violinist by the name of Lisa Batiashvili was the featured performer who blew everybody away with her superb playing. Again, what a great way to spend the evening! 
Today is the last full day here in Boston and I think we all are a little sad to be leaving. Ivonne and Ben have been outstanding hosts and we appreciate every bit of floor space that they have provided. A HUGE thanks to them. 
Today we are going to try to pack everything that we haven't seen yet in....good luck to us! 

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Yes, that's right. It is James W.'s birthday today...just don't tell him I told you....
James P., Ryan, Travis and I have been out east for about a week now. First of all, we landed in Boston and Jamie was whisked away by the Stuart Highland Pipe Band for a two day workshop. A big thanks to those guys for the hospitality and warm welcome! The rest of us explored downtown Boston for the weekend before heading off to NYC for two days.
New York was a whirlwind trip but we managed to pack a lot of stuff in. We were lucky enough to be in town to see The Roots play at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea. Check out some of the video footage! It was an informal jam that brought in some local hip-hop dudes, Citizen Cope, Alison Smith and some other local musicians. So smooth and so tight!
Jamie and Ryan managed to get tickets to the Dave Letterman Show! Travis and I took that time to wander around Greenwich Village (which I fell in love with), SoHo, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, off the beaten path of every other tourist there. I tend to compare every other city to Toronto since I've spent a lot of time there....and NYC is Toronto on drugs, wearing a Yankee hat.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow, Ryan and I are at the Photoshop World Conference learning all sorts of nerdy computer things. We have the honour of staying with our friend, Ivonne Hernandez. She's a fellow Victorian in her last year at the Berklee College of Music and is a wicked fiddle player. Check her out here
Her apartment is in the midst of Berklee, Boston Conservatory, Symphony Hall and the Boston Performance Centre, where everyone is carrying some sort of instrument on the way to some sort of music class or rehearsal or practicing up in the cute little brownstone apartments that line the streets of the neighbourhood. It's such a cool environment to be in. There is always something happening - some sort of show, recital or concert and our timing was just right - we were able to catch Ivonne's CD Release Party for her Folk Arts Quartet last night. These girls (all Berklee students) combine folk and classical to create a super wicked mix with a lot of groove, innovation and passion. Her boyfriend, Ben Powell, a fabulous jazz violinist was the opener. Wow! What a treat! His debut CD, Light (Ryan did the photos!) was just released and can be found on iTunes. Visit Since Jamie is a big jazz fan, he was able to attend a Master Class with Ben this morning!
That's it for now. After this afternoon's session at the Photoshop Conference, we are all headed out to yet another concert - more on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Start of Something New...

JWT Reedmakers is hosting a series of lectures beginning Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 1pm. The first topic is The Bagpipe: How It Works and How To Make It Work. James W. will be heading up the talk which will probably be held in the shop, numbers permitting. 
Visit the contact page at to either send us an email or give us a call to reserve your spot! The price is $20 per person, $15 for Vancouver Island Piper's Club members. 
The Piper's Club will be held later (8pm start) at the Bay St. Armouries where the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums will be performing. What better way to spend a Saturday than filled with piping!

Monday, March 16, 2009

BCPA Knockout Final

James P. adds another prize to the growing list...winner of the BCPA Knockout Final! The judges were Peter Aumonier, Rene Cusson and Jim Barrie. The other competitors were Jori Chisholm (who is the Photo of the Week on - taken by Ryan MacDonald), Andrew Bonar and Andrew Lee. Good job Jamie!
Photos from the final can be found here. Also, a list of previous winners and other information on the Knockouts can be found here.
The days leading up to the Knockout, Jamie and Ryan attended the Lunasa concert in Seattle AND Mount Vernon, Washington. Ryan is their biggest fan ever. And this coming week, we are all headed out to Boston, MA to see some friends, attend a Photoshop Conference, explore a new city or two (we're headed to NYC for a couple of days too) and just to enjoy some time off! 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Marianas Trench

No, I do not mean the deepest location of the Earth's crust...
My good, dear friend Ian Casselman is the drummer for the Vancouver based band, Marianas Trench. They have just released a new CD called Masterpiece Theatre and it's worth giving a listen to. You can hear the record in it's entirety here for the rest of this week. It's streaming audio and there are some clips from their recent appearance on MuchMusic's On Demand.  If you miss it there, it can be downloaded from iTunes along with their other album, Fix Me.
Ian Casselman used to be a snare drummer with the Abbotsford Police in his teenage years. He was the bass drummer for the same band when I was in the snare line...he also played bass for SFU for a season (2001 I believe) then went on to pursue his rockstar-dom. He played a huge role in my drumming career  - focussing my attention on technique, feel/groove and probably is the only person ever to get a group of people to march along to Toto's Rosanna. I love him dearly and we are still good friends to this day.
For more information on Marianas Trench, visit their website. They could be coming to a town near you!