Shambhala the 20th: Can’t Burn Our Spirit!

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It was a decade ago when, while hotboxing the car of a high school acquaintance, that I was told of a magical place filled with music and love, where every stranger is your friend and you can spend the days in costumes climbing tree forts or lounging in hammocks, and the glowing nights engaged in perpetual dance. The sliver of an image conjured in my mind of such a place intrigued me, but became forgotten as days and weeks and months passed and I never saw that person again.

20170812_001119The notion remained latent within me, however, and re-emerged years later when a close friend of mine returned from an adventure in the Kootenays, extolling the beauty and harmony of Shambhala music festival. For him, the journey to the electronic festival became a recurring pilgrimage, and he continuously urged me to join him.

“That’s not really my scene,” I would foolishly say (being at that time a chronic patron of any punk or metal show I could afford to attend), though I did in fact feel quite enticed.

“It’s everyone’s scene,” he assured me.

20170811_202318So finally I went there for a single day, partly thinking if I just went once he’d stop harassing me to go, but also excited at the prospect of attaching personal sensation to what thus far seemed to me a space belonging to a dream. Without getting into detail about that first time (it’s already been written in my past blog post: “Happy Shambs!”), I found the experience to be wondrous, and I went back on another day pass the following year. The next, the same thing, with my wife now coming with me. And this summer, for the festival’s 20th year, she and I scored our first set of tickets for the entire weekend. Having progressed from charmed but tentative newbie into Shambhala enthusiast, I could not wait to properly experience the place that now endlessly calls out to my soul.

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Meat Loaf Night in the Okanagan

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Words by Cory Stumpf
Photos by Robin Arundel

It was the kind of concert that transcends generations. From elderly bikers to high school hipsters, Meat Loaf fans of every ilk filled Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre last night. Whether their first experiences with the legendary artist were streamed on Spotify or cranked loudly on 8-track in a beat up old Volkswagen back in the 70s, all united together under a shared passion for his music, and all went wild when the man took the stage.

If there were any concerns that after more than four decades of performing he might not still have what it takes to stir an audience with his vocal prowess, these were dispelled the instant he opened his mouth. Though his singing at moments came out somewhat gravelly, he did his best to bellow the powerful notes that he is known for, ones that many other singers could never hope to hit throughout their whole careers. And when he did pull them off his voice seemed to permeate and shake the space of every atom in the venue. The impressiveness of his ability to still wail like an angelic mammoth at the age of 68, and to come out and do so a mere week after having collapsed on stage at a separate concert in Edmonton, overshadowed any flaws that might have existed. And those flaws really were few and far between.

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The Organ’s Playing My Song…

Cursive Seattle Neumos 2015     If I were to compose a list of my top 10 favourite albums ever, Cursive’s The Ugly Organ would undoubtedly make the cut. A decade ago I fell in love with its dynamically moody instrumentation and poignantly clever lyrics, guided throughout by a cello’s haunting undertones. When my wife and I discovered the band would be touring in support of the record’s reissue, we decided we must make it to their stop in Washington on Feb. 14. Why not spend our Valentine’s Day together at a concert moored in themes of dejection and self-loathing? Continue reading

Happy Shambs!

Shambhala 2014    “You need to go there,” a friend of mine had been telling me for years. “It will change your life,” I have heard several others say of it. This summer, for the first time, I finally heeded such words as these and ventured to the Kootenays for the legendary Shambhala Music Festival.

Up a dusty road I drove and strolled in through the gates on Sunday morning. This was the final day of festivities that had so far included acts like Moby, Bassnectar, and dozens more. Most people in attendance had been going strong since at least Thursday, but the overall momentum showed no signs of fading. Energy was everywhere as I explored the Salmo River Ranch with eyes and mind wide open. Continue reading

A Naughty Little New Year’s

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Photo courtesy of Aly Figenshaw.

How best to end a year?  Each cycle of the earth around the sun is an occasion worthy of its own celebration.  After an eventful 2013, I felt like doing something particularly special to commemorate the past 12 months.

In the final hours leading up to 2014 my wife, some friends and I headed out to Vancouver’s Rio Theatre for “Patrick Maliha’s Naughty Little New Year’s”.  Together we claimed a whole row of seats at the venue, and with fresh ales and wine filling our cup holders we awaited the performances to come. Continue reading

Off To The Rodeo

ImageSo I guess I am a little bit country, and by now I have been for years.  When I say this let me clarify that I refer not to the musical genre, for which I harbor nearly total abhorrence.

What I am talking about is my yearly indulgence in the North Thompson Fall Fair & Rodeo.  Now in its 64th year, the festival has become quite familiar to me since meeting my wife, who grew up in the small municipality of Barriere that serves as host to the event.  This Labor Day weekend, the two of us attended as we usually do. Continue reading

Interior Paradise

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“Noise almighty!” I thought as I knelt neck deep in Okanagan Lake.  The Saturday afternoon sun was blazing high overhead, while electro pop duo Humans toggled rhythms atop a stage on the beach.  “What a unique festival!”

There I was in the midst of year two for the quasi Hawaiian themed Keloha, a weekend long celebration of music and art held in Kelowna, British Columbia’s downtown Waterfront Park.  The shore and water were scattered with dancers, and I was definitely digging the good vibes. Continue reading