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ashleyjude

Just a rock and roll soul spreading the Good Vibes gospel

The Birds

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Squamish Valley Music Festival 2014

Now that I’m (for the most part) recovered from the weekend, I guess I should write a little something about it!

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In comparison to last year, the festival wasn’t very well organized in terms of camping and layout. I understand that capacity doubled from last year, but it was very obvious they did not have the space for it. Last year, all the regular campgrounds were together, so it made it very easy to meet up with friends if you didn’t arrive together. This year there were 4 separate campsites in addition to the VIP one. We were originally supposed to camp in “diamond”, where a lot of our other friends were camping, but they “upgraded” us to “triangle” because they said it was the only campground with grass. (The festival organizers forgot to lay the sod in time at the other campgrounds… eek.) So yes, we were camping on grass rather than gravel, so that was a plus, but it was a 30-minute walk to the festival grounds, and 20 minute shuttle ride from where we parked. It wouldn’t be too bad if we never wanted to go back to camp throughout the day to drink or eat, but in order to do that, it takes roughly 2 hours out of your day and you end up missing shows! 

I get grouchy at festivals. I always get my hopes up that I’ll be hanging out with everyone I went with and that I’ll be able to find all the people I want to see and that we’ll all just have a jolly ol’ time together. That is never the case and I’ve been to enough festivals to know that it is almost impossible to travel in a group, find who you’re looking for and see every show you want to see. I believe that if every person wants to stick together, they will. But if one or more people are hurrying ahead or dawdling behind – it’s not gonna happen. Anyway, it is what it is and I shouldn’t let it make me grumpy. I know full well what’s going to happen so I should really just go into it with a more la-de-da type of attitude and see people when I see people. The only other thing that sucked was that it was almost impossible to get drunk and stay drunk! The long walk from camp to the festival, the long beer garden lines and expensive drinks make it very difficult to get into party mode. Even for me. I didn’t even really manage to get drunk or party really at all until Sunday! It was nice, however, to actually remember the shows.

The lineup was absolutely fantastic. Overwhelmingly so. The only thing that sucks about such an awesome lineup, for a person with as eclectic taste as me, is that there is always major overlap across genres and you wind up having to choose between bands you love. First off, I had to choose between July Talk and the Zolas, two bands I like a lot. I chose July Talk because I have been obsessed with their new album, and I’ve seen The Zolas before. July-TalkJuly Talk was insanely good. They were the first show I saw and also one of my favorites of the whole weekend. The sexual chemistry between the 2 singers on stage is captivating. It’s impossible to look away and you can just feel their connection oozing through their body language and stage presence. And, as if they felt the need to impress me even more, they invited 2 people from the crowd on stage to play giant Jenga! Amazing. This band is going places. Keep an eye out for them. For real.

And then I had to choose between Walk Off the Earth and The Head and the Heart, which was a tough call. We ended up going to The Head and the Heart, which was a lovely mellow afternoon jam. I had every intention of going to see Lykke Li after that, but after suScreen Shot 2014-08-14 at 2.58.38 PMch a mellow show I needed a bit of a pick me up, so we stuck around for Serena Ryder instead. That woman puts on a great show! She loves being on stage and you can tell. I’m happy with my decision although I really do love Lykke Li! After that, the rest of Friday was a mad dash. I could not miss Nas playing Illimatic, but I also did not want to miss Foster the People so we stayed for about ¾ of Nas’ set, sprinted to Foster the People, stayed for a few of their songs and then sprinted back to Bruno Mars. We didn’t see a full set by any of them, and it was very hard to leave Nas, but at least we caught some of each. All 3 were amazing shows with something completely different to offer. Bruno Mars puts on such an entertaining show, and who doesn’t love signing along to those cutesy pop-ballads?

On Saturday we rushed to the festival to try and make the Oceanographers set, but we did not. Like I said, it’s impossible to coordinate a group to get anywhere on time. Ended up stopping by James Vincent, catching some of Black Joe Lewis and Tokyo Police Club before we went back to camp to attempt to get drunk. It worked for the walk back but you know, the thing with alcohol, is that in order to stay drunk you need to keep drinking it. We wanted so badly to make it back for the first half of Broken Bells before we had to dart to the Roots, but of course we didn’t make it and that was super disappointing. I love Broken Bells. That being said, I caught the entire Roots show, which made everything else slip away. That band is incredible. I think I have to say it was my favorite show of the whole festival, if not my whole life! Hip hop with a live band like that really gets me off. They played some hilarious covers, Fancy, Sweet Child of Mine and a few other nauseatingly popular pop songs. A lot of people didn’t like that part of the show but I loved it! I think it just shows how versatile they really are as a band. Anyway, bottom line, THE ROOTS were hands down one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen in my life! And that says a lot. Then off we went to catch the rest of Arcade Fire, which we watched from the beer gardens while sucking back some whiskey gingers in a vain attempt to get drunk again. It didn’t work but the show was great and we made some random friends which is always fun. Then we hobbled the half hour walk back to camp and pretty much just went to bed. Seriously, who am I?

Here’s a rad vid of The Roots’ set by Sonic FM.

Sunday was the best day. We spent the early afternoon at Browning Lake, which was a much-needed break. Had a little picnic, went for a swim, Shae came and met up with us and afterwards, I was happy and refreshed. We went back to camp with full intentions to make it to the festival for Danny Brown and/or Shad, but failed miserably and ended up getting drunk instead and stumbling to the festival just in tiButHZ5YCYAA4clD.jpg-largeme for Atmosphere. I think y’all know how much I love Slug so it’s unnecessary for me to go on and on about it. But it was everything I hoped it would be and more! I love that man more than it’s healthy to love someone you’ve never met. With old friends, new friends, my sexy man at my side and the gorgeous Squamish mountains in the background, I’d say it was my favorite Atmosphere show to date. I was blissful. After that we had plans to meet some other friends at a designated meeting place, so we waited around and it never happened so I got grouchy, watched some of the Arctic Monkeys which cheered me up a little, met up with some more friends and prepared ourselves for Em. And then… it happened. I felt like I could die happy after that show. No amount of words can express how it felt to see Slim Shady live, finally, but if you’re a die-hard fan who has never seen him perform – you know what I mean. And then for the first time all weekend, I went to the DJ stage to watch John Digweed and called it a night! Good times had by all. See ya next year, Squamish Fest!

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An album to buy today: Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

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Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini is wiser than his years. 27 short years on this planet has rarely made anyone else write such introspective and profound music. This is another album recommended to me by my amazing roommate, Benny Wise. Everything he has ever recommended to me is great and this is no exception. Paolo Nutini is brilliant.

After the free digital release of his first album These Streets in 2006, he climbed to the top of the charts in the UK and continued to make music that any music critic would have a hard time speaking negatively about. Caustic Love received extremely positive reviews from critics worldwide and many have said it’s the best R&B album to come out of the UK since the 70’s. Taking influence from Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, Prince, D’Angelo and many more – this album is a complete package tied up with a bow and sealed with a kiss. Lyrics that make you rewind and re-listen, groovy beats that make you want to get out of your seat and a voice that would melt the coldest ice… if you haven’t sat down with this album and given it a good, long listen yet – you are only hurting yourself. I can’t pick a favorite song off the album – but wow, the message behind Iron Sky is powerful. Listen here:

Patron Saint of The Free Spirit

In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects — all are fair game.

To be honest, I don’t really see myself being a Saint of anything because of my blatant disregard for rules. I understand why rules need to exist, but for my whole life I have had a really hard time colouring within the lines. I enjoy breaking rules, and by this I don’t mean shoplifting or robbing banks or doing anything to hurt other people. My disregard for rules is mostly my inherent interest in pushing social norms and testing boundaries. I think it’s important that we, as a generation, question the rules. I’m not saying to disrespect any disobey every rule just for the hell of it, I just think we all need to do our homework and make our own decisions about what exactly society tells us we should and should not do.

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Marijuana is illegal, but I smoke it on a regular basis to alleviate pain and anxiety because I truly believe that it is better for us than any pharmaceutical. Even though there is a blatant sign prohibiting it, I turn left going east on Victoria when there is no one around because it is absolutely silly not to. I think there are some rules that are made to be broken. Why else would they be in place at all if no one was ever going to break them? I think there are rules and laws, and then there are morals and just generally being a good person. I break the law at least once a day, usually, but I still consider myself a good person and a positive contribution to society. I just believe that we can’t just sit back and let people tell us what to do without understanding or agreeing on the reasoning behind it. We live in a time now where we can have our own opinions and our own free thoughts. We can be free from the shackles of religion and social normality if we so choose to be.

My restless, curious, wayward nature lends itself to what people consider being a “free spirit”. What does it mean to be a free spirit? To me, it means being a soul that belongs nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Someone who lets their spirit roam and never stops marveling at things, questioning things and truly appreciating things… even when they might not be in line with what society expects or demands from us.

So, I guess, I would be Ashley – the Patron Saint of the Free Spirit. I will happily protect, support and guide anyone who wants to roam free and be a spontaneous, rule-breaking goofball like me.

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Concert Review! Lana Del Rey

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The Lana Del Rey show last night surpassed my expectations. I expected it to be good, because I love her and she’s an amazing singer and an even better songwriter, I just didn’t really expect much of a SHOW in terms of pure entertainment value, but I was happily mistaken. First of all, I had no idea who the opening act was going to be, and it turned out to be Father John Misty! It was such a pleasant surprise. He’s a triple threat… hilarious and talented with a killer beard. Plus he has great showmanship and has an aptitude for great banter with the crowd. He borrowed a girl’s flower crown (80% of the girls there were wearing flower crowns. I missed the memo…) and wore it for an entire song. They ate it up. I’m not sure anyone else knew who he was… but I was excited. (For those of you who don’t know, Father John Misty was drummer and singer for the band, The Fleet Foxes, used to drum for the band Saxon Shore and is now performing solo as Father John Misty. His real name is Joshua Tillman.) This is one of my favourite songs by him:

Lana’s stage setup was gorgeous. It was all lit up in dark purple lights with dead tree branches and a magnificent gold throne in the center with a grand piano and other beautiful instruments seamlessly woven in. She started the show off with Cola, ended with National Anthem and even played a new song, Ultraviolence – the title track off her new album, which is scheduled to release next month. The only song I wanted to hear but didn’t, was This Is What Makes Us Girls, but she has a lot of hits so I understand she can’t play everything. She did however, play Carmen, which is one of my favorite of her lesser-known tracks. Her band was very energetic with great stage presence and her stage presence was actually a lot better than I’d heard. From what I had heard (seen on SNL…) I expected her to be static and to just stand there and sing into her mic without much interaction with the crowd, but she was walking around, dancing, talking to the crowd and clearly having fun with it. She was actually very charming and not awkward at all on stage like I had heard she is. Instead of an encore, the band jammed out on stage while she went down into the crowd to sign autographs and take selfies with all the screaming girls. It must have been a fun evening for the security guards.

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It was my first show at the PNE amphitheater and I loved it. It has a very festival vibe to it, being an outdoor venue inside the PNE festival grounds. The backdrop to the stage was stunning with the mountains and low hanging clouds adding a little something extra to the show. It was dreary and trying to rain the whole time but it was kind of perfect.

All in all, it was a great concert. I would highly recommend seeing her live if you get the chance. Her huge voice belies her tiny little figure and she becomes somehow even more mesmerizing when she’s right there in front of you.

Fun fact: Lana Del Rey used to be known as as Lizzy Grant (her real name is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant), and she has also recorded under the pseudonym May Jailer. Check out this album that was leaked to YouTube in 2012. It’s her! I swear.

Thanks for gracing us with your beauty and talent, Lana! Can’t wait for the new album! XOXO

The 22 Best Johnny Cash Songs (In my opinion.)

I wrote this list as an assignment for work. It was pretty rad to get paid to write something that I would probably write for fun. I figured I may as well post it up. So, here are what I consider to be the best and most influential Johnny Cash songs, and why.

What are your thoughts? What did I miss? These are in order of release date, not in order of preference.

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Cry, Cry, Cry – 1955 – Arguably the song that kicked off Johnny Cash’s career. He toured with Elvis Presley not long after it was released. Has been covered by many contemporary artists such as Elvis Costello and Jack Johnson and Norah Jones.

Folsom Prison Blues – 1956 – One of Johnny Cash’s signature songs. Cash was inspired to write the song after seeing the movie “Inside the walls at Folsom Prison” and performed it live at the actual Folsom Prison.

I Walk The Line – 1956 – An unexpected hit on country radio. Ended up being one of his most popular and well known hits. Included in the Grammy Song Hall of Fame. Also his very first #1 hit. Many people’s favourite Cash song.

I Still Miss Someone – 1958 – Jimmy Buffett performed this song as a dedication to Cash in Auburn, Washington 4 days after his death. Cash performed this song with Bob Dylan backstage during Dylan’s 1966 world tour – the performance appears in the documentary, Eat the Document.

Get Rhythm – 1959 – A fan favourite that is easily relatable about optimism and making the most out of your life, even when it seems tedious and mundane.

Don’t Take Your Guns To Town – 1959 – A major crossover hit appearing on both country and pop top 40 charts. Covered by U2 in 2001. Stayed number 1 on the country chart for 6 consecutive weeks.

Give My Love To Rose – 1960 – A beautiful but sad story, easy to understand and one of the fan favourites off of the At Folsom Prison album.

Jackson – 1963 – Won a grammy in 1968 for best country duet. Is still being used in modern film and television including The Help in 2011.

Understand Your Man – 1964 – This was the last song Cash ever performed in front of an audience: he played it during a performance at the Carter Ranch in Hiltons, VA on July 5, 2003, just months before he passed away.

The Streets of Laredo – 1965 – This song is a traditional cowboy ballad and has been recorded by many artists – it just seems right that an icon such as Cash would cover such an influential, traditional song.

It Ain’t Me Babe – 1965 – A Bob Dylan original – Cash and Dylan admired each other’s work a great deal and with Bob Dylan’s personal blessing, Cash recorded this song.

25 Minutes to Go – 1968 – A song about the final minutes of a man facing execution on death row. While tinged with humor, it is ultimately very dark. Not his most popular song, but one that is very much “Cash.”

Cocaine Blues – 1968 – A personal favourite off “Folsom Prison Blues” and a beautiful and chilling cautionary tale about drug abuse and inevitability of getting caught.

A Boy Named Sue – 1969 – Cash recorded this song live at San Quentin Prison to a captivated audience. The novelty and rawness of this cover made it an instant hit. He also performed it for Nixon in 1970, at the request of the president. It’s also considered his first “crossover” hit. Not just country – not just rock and roll – not just gospel.

Man In Black – 1971 – A protest song with lyrics reflecting important social issues. “I wear black for the poor and beaten down, livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town”. Received a standing ovation the first time it was ever performed live. Also reflects Cash’s persona.

One Piece At A Time – 1976 – His final solo number one hit. While many stars of the ‘50s had reached their peak by the ‘70s, Johnny Cash was still going strong 21 years after his first single. This song once again showcased his sense of humour, and more importantly, proved that the legend was not through having No. 1 hits.

Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down – 1970 – CMA song of the year in 1970. Through recording this song, he became friends with Kris Kristofferson, who he eventually formed the “Highway Men” supergroup with.

Ring of Fire – 1983 – Arguably Cash’s biggest hit and most popular song. Ranked No. 4 on CMT‘s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music in 2003 and #87 on Rolling Stones list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Highway Man – 1985 – Kris Kristofferson had recorded with Willie Nelson, who had recorded with Waylon Jennings, who had recorded with Johnny Cash. However, the four never recorded together until this Jimmy Webb-written song united the four legends. It became a radio staple in the summer of 1985, hitting the top on August 17 – the final time Cash’s voice would be appear on a No. 1 country single.

The Beast In Me – 1994 – Still relevant and showing up in modern films and TV including 2011 film The Hangover: Part II and is being covered by many contemporary artists such as The Vaccines and Mark Lanegan..

Hurt – 2003 – Many consider this NIN cover a “farewell” masterpiece in the Cash collection. It never reached top 40 on the modern charts, but went double platinum in sales and was the CMA single of the year. Also sealed his legacy with the younger generation.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down – 2006 – Many celebrities got together to pay tribute to Johnny Cash by appearing in the music video, directed by Tony Kaye. Watch it here:

 

On letting go…

 

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I think one of the secrets of happiness is to learn and accept when it’s time to let go. To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring, but if something (or someone) is weighing you down and affecting your overall happiness, then it’s time to just… let it go. I know it’s easier said than done. I think it’s just one of the ongoing things in life… you have to be constantly evaluating your relationships. This may sound exhausting, but really, it’s exhausting not to. The people in your life, are they making you truly happy? Do they bring out the best in you and vice versa?

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I’ve had to cut ties with people, who I still to this day, love very much. It just came to a point where maintaining the relationship was weighing on my shoulders a little too heavily. And as hard as it was, every time I’ve done it, I’ve felt noticeably better. Sad, yes. But also lighter and more carefree. The greatest relationships don’t require a whole lot of effort. Of course each party needs to put effort in to keep the relationship alive, but that effort should come naturally. It shouldn’t feel like effort. If it’s feeling like real work or struggle for too long… you need to look out for yourself and move on. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

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You don’t need to leave these relationships on bad terms. I still love and respect every single person I’ve had to cut out of my life. They just weren’t right for me anymore. And most of the time, once the ties are severed, they’re just severed. I wish nothing bad or negative on any of these people, and when I see their achievements and joy I feel genuinely happy for them. We could probably even go get a beer or coffee sometime and catch up. But I’m at a point now in life where I don’t want to force friendships. I want to spend time with people who love me, challenge me and push me to be the best I can be. Time flies too fast to spend our moments sad, worried, stressed or angry.

So let go of one thing today that is not serving you. I promise, you’ll notice the weight off your shoulders.

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Fresh Socks Fridays!

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Well, here we are again! Another week come and gone and a lot more to appreciate and be grateful for! Life is just so FUN… Here are some of my highlights from the last couple weeks:

  • Hair flowers.
  • The new Atmosphere album, and it’s release being so timely for my travels. Check out the video for “Camera Thief” here:
  • Having an adventure on the horizon.
  • Walking out the door at work before a 10 day vacation.
  • Pretty girls in pretty dresses.
  • Seeing someone eat a cinnamon bun for the first time ever.
  • Feeling a cool breeze from an open door or window during a hot yoga class.
  • Getting my ass kicked by hot yoga.
  • Hearing someone call baklava, “Balaclava”.
  • Backyard fires.
  • Talented friends.
  • New friends. Old friends. Friends in general.
  • Getting paid to write.
  • Pretty dresses and Birkenstock sandals.
  • Getting paid to see metal shows.

All in all, life’s beed pretty rad lately! I feel very fortunate to be where I’m at in life. 🙂

What are your highlights!? Share the love. 🙂

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Albums I’ve Been Loving Lately

Discovering new music, rediscovering old music, and just getting lost in a beautiful album are a few of the things I live for. These 5 (new-ish) albums are ones that I consider noteworthy and that have been stuck on repeat for me lately, in no particular order.

1. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart

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If you’re into folk/punk, or just good British singer-songwriter type of music, you should get this album. Frank Turner’s distinguishable British accent and relatable and catchy lyrics will have you singing along in no time. It’s hard to pick a favorite off the album, but I really like Plain Sailing Weather. It reminds me a lot of my roommate, Ben. For no reason other than the simple fact that he loves sailing. And he’s British.

I also really like Four Simple Words. I like this one a lot because of its tempo and tone change right around the 1:25 mark. I really get off on songs like this. Plus, he has a rad moustache.

2. SOHN – Tremors

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This album, brought to my attention by a dear friend and fellow music lover, Damon, is something that is a little outside my realm of “expertise”, but absolutely beautiful so I will write a bit about it nonetheless. I’m starting to get more and more into electronic music lately, and this is exactly the type that I enjoy. SOHN, Christopher Taylor, is an English songwriter and producer based out of Vienna, Austria. He is coming to Fortune Sound Club next month, on May 20th. You should probably get tickets, here!

This song, Artiface is bloody brilliant, if you ask me:

3. Chet Faker – Built on Glass

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Ohhhh, Chet. What a beauty you are. I fell in love with him after his EP, Thinking In Textures that was released in 2012. His cover of No Diggity is one of the best I’ve heard, rivaled only by my friend Mark Woodyard. And the song I’m Into You is a damn good song to play in the bedroom. His new album, Built On Glass did not fail to impress me. I had high expectations and they were definitely met, if not exceeded. He is a master at the craft of songwriting and his voice turns me right into goo. It’s very hard to pick a favorite song. I shared 1998 on my last blog post so I will share Talk Is Cheap, this time. The song is beautiful and the video is pretty cool too. Plus, his beard should win an award of some sort. Beautiful man. He is also playing next month at Fortune Sound Club! On May 23rd. It looks to be sold out – but they will probably release a few at the door on the night of the show.

4. July Talk – July Talk

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I discovered this band when I was looking at the lineup for Osheaga Festival in Montreal. Someone had commented saying, “July Talk should be headlining!” and it piqued my curiosity so I checked them out – and I’m SO happy I did! What a cool sound this band has. I absolutely love the male lead, Peter Dreimanis’ voice – it’s so gruff and sexy. The harmonies with the female lead, Leah Fay, are beautiful and they have this playful back and forth thing going on, which I love. This band was formed in 2012 in Toronto, giving us another great Canadian indie band to cheer for! Here’s one of my favorite songs from the album, Guns and Ammunition:

They are playing this summer at Squamish Festival, which I am very excited about! Yay! I think there are still some day passes left, check here.

5. Broken Bells – After The Disco

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Broken Bells is a band that I have always known of, but never paid a whole lot of attention to. The radio station I used to work for overplayed a few of their songs so I always just kind of dismissed them. When I saw they were also playing Squamish Festival this summer and saw how excited people were about it, I decided to give it another go. I quite enjoy this album! This song, Holding On For Life, gets wedged into my head so hard that I end up humming it for days, and it’s a really trippy and beautiful video.

SO! Out of this particular slate of artists and albums that I’m raving about – the only one who I don’t have plans to see this summer is Frank Turner!

Frank! Come visit us in Canada soon, please! We want to dance! We want to dance! We want lust and love and a spattering of romance! 😉

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