The Candlelit Nocturnes of Laura Reznek and ursidae

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As recent operators of home-based music venue McArthur Castle, my wife and I are continually learning better ways to optimize sound, lighting, promotion, seating, etc. At our latest show, for instance, we learned that taper candles give off a surprising amount of warmth—more so in combination with body heat than could be compensated for by opening all our windows and the front door (apologies to any member of the audience who got a little sweaty!). But they sure did look classy burning on the original brass fixtures of our 1800s piano, and provided a fitting ambience for the folk-noir style of Vancouver/London singer and multi-instrumentalist Laura Reznek.

Laura and fellow artist ursidae visited our home for a performance booked by Side Door as the latter stop of a weekend “K” tour between Kelowna and Kamloops. The two had separate sets prepared to showcase their respective songs, though the concert felt like one extended glorious performance, with each providing musical support to the other.
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Music from the Maritimes: Rachel Beck and Adyn Townes in Kamloops, BC

20181010_203132It had been awhile since my wife and I last teamed up with Side Door to host some choice contemporary music at our home, but with the business of summer over and the outside chill of autumn upon us we were ready to fill our living room again with the warmth of kind strangers and beautiful noise.

Enter artists Rachel Beck and Adyn Townes (he previously known as Andy Brown), both of whom have had hits featured on the CBC (check out the former’s “Reckless Heart” and the latter’s “Run”).
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West Coasting

Judging by the stagnancy of this blog one might deduce that I had hardly done a thing this summer. Not so!

There were camping trips, a family reunion in Penticton complete with channel tubing and a wine tasting bicycle tour, my most inspirational journey yet to Shambhala Music Festival, a brief unwitting stint as an honorary member of the Silver Starlets aerial act, etc. But when immersed in such moments it’s easy to forget to photograph them, and their memories are vividly satisfying enough to need no jotting down.

Nonetheless, I do experience a consistent compulsion to write, and finding myself with time to do so now I feel I should at least document in brief the chiefest of my summer doings. It began with a train.

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Instead of Wood or Silverware

5 years! That’s how long we’ve been a couple now, officially. It was July of half a decade past that my wife and I united both as spirits and on paper. What a milestone! Forget about rote romantic gestures or exchanges of traditional anniversary gifts; for us, it meant revisiting the places and events that made up our wedding day.
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An Evening with Logan & Nathan (& Mary!)

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When my wife and I first signed up our living room as a live music venue, we never thought that anything would come of it. But something did, and one show led to another, followed by one more. Upon the successful completion of this, our third gig booked through Side Door Access, we now feel moved to keep our door open to musical acts who are willing to share their craft on a personal level, and who are able to inspire people in the process.

Like Vancouver “freak folk” duo Logan & Nathan, who recently visited Kamloops to grace our makeshift stage along with folk-blues artist and photographer Mary Matheson. Within minutes of welcoming the three of them into our home, I recall thinking “These are my sort of people!” That sort of people being ones who readily embrace each moment, who take genuine interest in strangers, and who approach every interaction from a vantage of open-minded positivity. On top of that, they are all massively talented musicians who sure can entertain a crowd!
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I’ve Got Her Name Written Here in a Rose Tattoo

CoryStumpf_thefissilent_RoseTattoo1Growing up, I couldn’t wait for all the perks that come with being an adult: to buy tobacco, to vote, to drink (legally), and most of all to turn my skin into a canvas for artwork that would stay with me wherever I went, however long my body lasted.

But then I turned 19, and I didn’t get that tattoo. This is because I didn’t know what that tattoo should be. As my initial one, I wanted it to be something with especial meaning, not just for my past and present but in the context of my entire life to come. Being the indecisive person that I am, I dwelled on it a year and then a decade, on into my 30s.

That whole time of trying to decide what I should get permanently imprinted on myself, I often considered the advice of my many inked peers. “Go for it,” they’d say, to paraphrase a composite of several conversations. “Just don’t get a band tattoo, because your tastes might change. And never get the name of any lover, because one day you might grow apart and even come to hate each other.”

So I finally did go for it. And I got, as my very first piece, a band tattoo with my lover’s name in it.

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The Art of Authenticity with Desirée Dawson and Jody Okabe

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If you’re a regular listener of the CBC, chances are you know Desirée Dawson as the 2016 Searchlight winner who soared to the top of the competition with her inspirational single “Hide.” You may be less likely to recognize the name Jody Okabe, but trust me, you’ll be hearing plenty about her someday very soon! Both women currently hail from Vancouver and boast melodically commanding voices along with a knack for embracing positivity and fostering personal connectedness (not to mention mad uke skills!).

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of welcoming both of them to Kamloops via an intimate event booked by Side Door Access. After the success of our first experience with the micro-gig company, hosting Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta!, my wife Brittany and I had decided to explore having additional concerts in our home. While perusing a list of artists looking to play in our area, I came across Jody Okabe, then unknown to me but I followed a corresponding link to a video online. There she was sitting on a set of stairs with a Boston terrier in the background, performing a captivating ukulele cover of Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.”

Immediately I emailed Brittany, saying “This gal has an amazing voice and great taste in dogs. Let’s invite her to our house!” So once again we offered our living room as a venue, and weeks later we were notified of a potential match, with the addition of Desirée Dawson who we were absolutely thrilled to learn was interested as well. A little bit of back and forth among the various parties involved, and soon the show was set.
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Use the Side Door

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Back in July I heard musician Dan Mangan on my local CBC radio speaking of a brand-new project he had started, called Side Door Access. This would be a platform for connecting musicians with people who are willing to host them in their homes, small businesses, etc., with the idea of fostering intimate performances in communities across the land. What a cool concept!

A few months later, I read online that Side Door was seeking living room venues for an undisclosed A-list artist’s tour in British Columbia and Alberta, with the prerequisite that an acoustic piano must be available on site. As homeowners in Kamloops with a well-kept antique piano, my wife Brittany and I registered our home on a whim under the moniker “McArthur Castle.” Skip ahead to February of this year, and frontman Tim Baker of the widely acclaimed Hey Rosetta! is in the upstairs of our house, treating an up-close and enthralled audience to a set of piano-, guitar- and banjo-based ballads, as well as engaging stories and banter (not to mention some skillful improvised scatting).
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