‘The Hip’ Still Has It – Syracuse.com

‘The Hip’ Still Has It – Syracuse.com

Canadian band brings audience to feet in song, dance

Friday, November 02, 2007
By Tiffany Bentley

Contributing writer

“I don’t know the names of the songs,” said Jim Ouderkirk, 34, of Syracuse, “I just know all the words.”

Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip performed Thursday night in Syracuse to a packed Landmark Theatre, including Ouderkirk.

The group is famed with our northern neighbors, where they earned a spot in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005, but has a strong following in the United States, too. The Syracuse show, a late stop at the end of their album tour for “World Container,” proved to be a worthwhile road trip to the many Canadian fans who showed up to experience “the Hip,” as the audience chanted for pre-show motivation.

It seemed that everyone in the audience had been listening to the band since its inception 24 years ago. The band’s sound, characteristic of R.E.M. vocals and Tom Petty instrumentation, held a common thread through each song. But what sets the style apart from being one unified push is lead singer Gordon Downie’s performance of every crafted lyric as if on stage for a theater production, rather than a rock concert.

“I had a dream,” sang Downie to a white handkerchief he tossed in the air repeatedly, “you were there staring at me.”

The white handkerchief, a common element in many sweaty, energetic rock performances, took on an entirely new function. It served as a prop throughout the band’s emotion-filled ballads.

During Downie’s rapid singing, it was sometimes necessary to follow his eyes on the handkerchief to determine where the music was going. But the audience never skipped a beat when singing along.

The whole concert was one giant singalong and, later on, a dance-along. Songs like “Music at Work,” and “Yer Not the Ocean,” motivated audience members to shuffle so much, rows were eliminated and a sea of swaying heads emerged.

There were captivating moments as well. Lead guitarist Rob Baker often mesmerized the audience with his bluesy and sometimes metal-sounding guitar solos. Drummer Johnny Fay kept the same beat going and varied the tempo with loud cymbal crashes.

For a band that has been around as long as The Tragically Hip, the sound is still crisp and the lyrics relevant. The Syracuse audience sang like they were experiencing the songs as they were created.

The music in general is good enough to keep fans entertained during a three-hour concert, but also to keep fans around for a quarter century, while bringing in young fans to their crowd-pleasing antics. Not only did The Tragically Hip join two neighboring countries for one night in song, the band reminded many people that all people can find common ground if they just sing.

The Hip to play Akwesasne

From The Press Republican.com


AKWESASNE — The Tragically Hip will be in concert Saturday night at the All Inn Lounge on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, presented by Concerts International.

Tickets are $50 each and are nearly all gone, said Jason Cree, owner of the 2,400-seat building at 439 Route 37, next to the Bear’s Den Truck Stop.

The opening act is Joel Plaskett Emergency, which will play a 90-minute set, followed by a 30-minute intermission. The Hip take the stage at 10 p.m., Cree said.

Best known for their smash hits “At the Hundredth Meridian” and “Ahead By a Century,” the band has continued to attract legends of fans and win over critics with acclaimed albums.

Beginning with their self-titled first release, through “Road Apples,” “Trouble At the Hen House,” “Music @ Work” and “In Between Evolution,” The Tragically Hip are known for their captivating storytelling and intense live shows.

Cree said snagging such a popular band and putting the entire show together took less than a month.

“We were trying to find big-name talent to make an appearance and started looking around on the Internet.”

He saw that The Hip had shows set for tonight at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse on Thursday and the Auditorium Theater in Rochester on Friday.

“We saw they were going to be close by, so we called the band and talked to them,” Cree said. “It was the right time at the right place, and everybody said yes.”

The Tragically Hip, according to an entry on Wikipedia, got its name from a skit in the movie “Elephant Parts” by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, who took it from the song “He’s So Cool” by Carolyn Mas.

The five-man band from Kingston, Ontario, formed in 1983 and still features front man Gordon Downie, bassist Gord Sinclair, drummer Johnny Fay and guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker.

“World Container,” the band’s 10th full-length album, was released in the United States in March and features the tale of a hockey goalie, “The Lonely End of the Rink,” and “Family Band.”

The Tragically Hip have won numerous Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the United States, and were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

This will be the second concert held on the reservation in recent months.

The classic Canadian rock band Lighthouse performed there this summer after that show’s promoters were denied permission to hold the show in Massena.

Border crossing Canadian bands rock Vermont

WeekendPlus | Explore
By Brent HallenbeckFree Press Staff Writer
Two-hour delays at the border? That’s not enough to deter this week’s Canadian Invasion.Two of Canada’s most venerable rock bands will take the trip south to Vermont in the coming days. Sunday will see Blue Rodeo make an appearance in the Higher Ground Ballroom. Two days later, The Tragically Hip returns to its sizable Vermont fan base for a show at Memorial Auditorium.

Blue Rodeo has a habit of touring with fellow noteworthy Canadian musicians who sit in with the band, and the current tour — which began Sunday in Michigan and ends Nov. 10 in Buffalo, N.Y. — is no exception. Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith joins Blue Rodeo along with fellow Canadian singer-songwriters Luke Doucet and Justin Rutledge. Inspired by Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, the show will feature all the acts playing together as one band and sharing each others’ songs.

Only 48 hours after the final notes of “O Canada” leave your head, The Tragically Hip finds its way back to Vermont with its famously blistering live show. For those of you in need of your Hip fix, it’s been a quick turnaround — the Ontario-born band was most recently in the greater Burlington area just over six months ago for two shows at Higher Ground, the South Burlington night club that’s also presenting Tuesday’s concert at Memorial Auditorium.

Those sold-out Higher Ground shows in April demonstrated the Hipsters’ immense popularity in northwestern Vermont. Bass player Gord Sinclair talked about that with The Burlington Free Press before those shows: “Generally speaking, people in your neck of the woods are more open-minded to things that are not from America,” he said then. “We’ve never had the benefit of a stateside single. With a group like ours, all you have to do is get us in front of people.”

Check out this critique of a recent Hip gig from the band’s home-country publication the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Chronicle Herald: “While the guitar duo of Paul Langlois and Rob Baker with bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay laid down the fierce rock groove, frontman Gordon Downie was a one-man, three-ring circus, a vessel of fervour and emotion.”

Now, a Dollar Is Really Worth a Dollar (Hip mention)

Now, a Dollar (Canadian) Is Really Worth a Dollar (U.S.)

Published: October 1, 2007

New Yorkers, like most Americans, pay precious little attention to what happens in Canada, that large, sparsely populated region with the chronically inferior currency.

Check that last part. Now that the Canadian dollar, known as the loonie, has flapped its way to parity with the American dollar (formerly known as the almighty), Canada suddenly looks like a proud nation of 33 million people whose cross-border purchasing power has grown by more than half in five years.

Tourism officials in New York have taken notice. They acknowledge that they took Canadian visitors for granted in the past, but now they are drawing up plans to lure more of them to the state and New York City.

The state is running ads in Toronto newspapers and on Canadian Web sites, inviting Canadians to spend fall weekends in northern and western New York. The city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company, is rushing to open an office in Toronto, which would be its first in Canada. “This seems like sort of a psychological opportunity,” said George A. Fertitta, the chief executive of NYC & Company, referring to the parity of the two currencies.

The Canadian dollar, nicknamed for the image of a loon that it bears, passed its American counterpart on Friday, when it hit a new 31-year high of almost $1.01. In early 2002, it was worth about 62 cents.

Back then, the flow of visitors from Canada to New York City was in a post-9/11 swoon. The number of visitors dropped to 693,000 in 2003, from 920,000 in 2000, a decline of almost 25 percent. By last year, it had rebounded to 840,000, making Canada the No. 2 foreign source of visitors, behind Britain, according to NYC & Company.

Now, with Canadians brandishing their reinvigorated loonies, tourism officials have stopped ignoring them and started encouraging them to join the parade of bargain-hunting foreigners flooding into New York. When it comes to shopping, little prodding seems to be required.

“Friends will be coming to town and they’ll say, ‘We need one day to shop,’” said Jeff Breithaupt, an Ontario native who coordinates cultural activities for the Canadian Consulate in Manhattan and is an editor of a newsletter titled The Upper North Side. For Canadians, said Mr. Breithaupt, the advent of parity between the currencies has become both a point of pride and a spur to travel. His own parents had been “on the fence” about a trip to the city later this year, he said, but they told him last week that they would come, citing the exchange rate as a deciding factor.

Mr. Breithaupt, who also organizes a series of concerts by Canadian musicians at Joe’s Pub in Greenwich Village, said he expected more Canadians to venture south next month to hear the Tragically Hip, a rock band that sells out arenas in Canada, perform in the more intimate venue of the Grand Ballroom in Manhattan and other clubs around New York.

The shopping and spending habits of Canadians are not markedly different from those of American tourists, Mr. Fertitta said. He estimated that the typical Canadian visitor might spend slightly more than the $370 the typical American visitor spends in the city, but far less than the estimated $1,400 that the typical visitor from overseas spends. That gap explains why the city has focused its 2007 tourism promotion on Europe, including ads portraying New York as a bargain for foreigners, he said.

But officials at the Empire State Development Corporation, a state agency that promotes business, decided to strike while the loonie is hot. They spent about $1 million on ads aimed at the potential visitors in the Toronto area this summer and plan to spend an equal amount trying to attract them this fall, said Thomas Ranese, chief marketing officer for the agency.

“I think Canada’s a significant market for us that New York State has never fully optimized,” Mr. Ranese said Thursday, speaking by phone from Chautauqua, near Lake Erie. He said he had just left a resort, Peek’n Peak, about 90 miles southwest of Buffalo, where he said about half of the cars in the parking lot bore Ontario license plates.

Mr. Ranese said incoming traffic from Canada had risen in recent weeks, much of it headed for shopping malls. The trick, he said, would be to convert more of those day-trippers, like Mike and Jennifer Fields of Hamilton, Ontario, into overnight guests.

The Fieldses, who were bound yesterday afternoon for a duty-free store on the American side of Rainbow Bridge near Niagara Falls, said they were lured by the Canadian dollar’s achieving parity, combined with the local sales-tax rate of 8 percent, compared with 14 percent in Ontario.

“It’s so cheap over here,” Ms. Fields said. “This is the first time I’ve come over in a long time — more than 10 years.”

For those who stay overnight, there is an added bonus: They can bring back $400 in purchases without paying duty at the border, as opposed to $50 for day-trippers.

Joseph Sanelli, the general manager of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel near Niagara Falls State Park, said he was not sure the tax savings would motivate visitors to stay longer, but the exchange rate shift had provided a late-summer boost. Occupancy was 92 percent in the past month, up from 72 percent in September 2006, he said. “Usually after Labor Day, you can just about lock the doors,” he said.

For Canadian visitors, the cold shower on their newfound pride comes on the way out. At the border bridges operated by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, the fare can be paid with $3 American or $3.50 Canadian — a far cry from parity.

Drivers are complaining to toll takers, “Gee, our dollars are about at par, why is the toll so different?” said Tom Garlock, the commission’s general manager.

Lately, he said, more of them have been holding on to their loonies and paying in United States currency. The commission, which raised the toll last spring from $2.50 American (the Canadian rate did not change), is considering another adjustment to account for the exchange-rate shift, Mr. Garlock said, but first it wants more evidence that parity is here to stay.

David Staba contributed reporting.

Hip Documentary UPDATE

Here’s an update on the project from Dan – the lead singer of Little Bones, one of the acts featured in the documentary.


I have some info from Good Company Pictures.

They noted that the airing station is the E Channel (Entertainment Channel), and the documentary (a series of 4 shows) runs 1 hr per week at 10PM covering Tribute acts for:

Oct21 – The Police
Oct28 – Rush
Nov 4 – Queen
Nov 11—The Tragically Hip

That’s all I can find so far. So The Hip trib should be on at 10 pm on Rem. Day.

Should be interesting ….

Take Care,

Dan fom Little Bones.

Halifax, The Daily News

Halifax, The Daily News: Entertainment | Hip’s Downie shimmies and shakes like a goofy Mick Jagger
He squiggles. Then he squirms, then he … what? Would you call that a shimmy?

Gordon Downie, frontman for beloved Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip, is his usual eccentric self in front of about 9,000 fans last night at the Metro Centre. The Hip mix songs from last year’s World Container CD with their older material, all brought to life by Downie uninhibited.

Wearing a cap, white T-shirt and black pants, he’s an entertaining sight: parading around the stage immersed in his music, yet still bringing everyone into his world.

Downie’s got to be the best mime in rock ‘n’ roll.

During concert-opener The Lonely End of the Rink, he waves a white handkerchief while skidding across the stage like Mick Jagger (trade the sexiness for goofiness). Downie then pretends his microphone is stuck in his heart, playfully going into the audience and getting a fan to pull it out.

Now he’s pulling his heart out, tossing it in the air and shooting it during Grace, Too. He’s looking into the crowd during Courage, crossing the stage as if he’s in a canoe and the microphone stand is a paddle.

Here’s a good one: while the band rocks away on Fully Completely, Downie scurries like a monkey, causing one couple in Section 10 to exchange bemused glances.

But Downie’s at his best when his prop is an acoustic guitar, which it is a good part of the night:
“New Orleans Is Sinking!” he screams before attacking the strings and launching into the second song of the night.
“You’re Not the Ocean … yet,” he warns.

“No dress rehearsal,” he sings, strumming away to Ahead By a Century. “This is our life.”

Cue the crowd roar.


Hits – The Lefsetz Letter

I’m a subscriber to the Lefsetz letter, and todays post made me think of The Hip.



So I’m opening up the daily mail and I come across a CD Pro for Kim Richey. Yup, the label has picked a track to be featured on radio, as if she’s got a chance and anybody’s listening. But she’s got one of the best labels going, and it made me think of one of their marquee acts, Ryan Adams, who just released an album. Which came out with a thunder and hasn’t been heard from since. Is it a stiff?

Well, we’d have to check the grosses for that.

Yup, that’s how you know if you’ve got a career today. Whether anybody wants to SEE YOU or not! Album sales? You can’t sell any albums unless you’re the rapper du jour or a mainline country act. Look at Kelly Clarkson. Her album’s a joke and now she’s playing theatres. How does that old song go? She’s going DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN!

And maybe she’ll have another Clive-manufactured hit to bring her up again, but it will only be momentary. She’ll smile on TV, sing some national anthems, go on a tour, and then she’ll be back at base zero, thinking of guesting on sitcoms. Or maybe she’ll give up the rat race, go back to her native Texas and duet with Tracy Nelson, trying to reinvent herself as a blues mama. She’s got the pedigree! Strong woman unlucky in love sings the blues! Hell, that’s a HELLUVA lot more interesting than wannabe starlet with a weight problem battles septuagenarian label head over fate of her stardom.

What is a star? He or she used to be ubiquitous. Someone everybody knew. Who was respected. You don’t respect the people with publicity these days. Kanye gets the mic and expresses such arrogance you turn your head. He’s not THAT good! And Fitty is so angry you’d rather he go to counseling than make music. As for the starlets all over the Web? Hair and makeup. Drinking and drugging. What does this have to do with music?

Are you a musician? A musician sings and plays. A star is a coddled item manufactured for consumption. But, it’s almost impossible to become a star these days. Certainly a music star. Either you sell your soul to the devil, the machine, losing everything that makes you attractive to begin with, or you start off from rock bottom.

I mean who would you rather be? Kelly Clarkson or Ani DiFranco?

DiFranco never went platinum. Was never plastered all over billboards or MTV. But, her fans still buy her records and want to see her live. So, they’re just a fraction of the overall population? WHO CARES! Do you really want the momentary people at the gig, talking on their cellphones, yelling out the name of the radio hit? Do you want to dilute the essence to such a point that there’s nothing left?

Records are no longer a path to riches, their release no longer makes a splash, they’re just another totem that the fanbase has to collect. See them that way. Don’t focus on them, run your career by them. It’s too disappointing. You take a year off from the road, hire a publicist, buy ads and what happens? ALMOST NOTHING! Because after the core purchases the album, no one else cares. In a world of endless diversions, do you really think you’re going to have an impact?

Oh, the labels just lay it on heavier. We’re gonna FORCE the public to pay attention. If you think that works, you’re probably some asshole I don’t know e-mailing me about your unsigned band trying to get me to listen and spread the word. That’s the KISS OF DEATH! You just show me you work harder at selling than playing. Because if you’re THAT good, a FAN will contact me, with no desire other than to turn me on. The fan is your audience, not me.

MTV is not your audience. Nor the “New York Times”. Not “The Today Show”. Not “Rolling Stone”. None of them are about you, they’re about advertising. Your fan isn’t about advertising, he’s just about you. Solidify THAT relationship. THAT will pay dividends for decades if you play it right.

Ryan Adams returned to form. Not as much as the writers would have you believe. Then again, he was never that far off the mark, that far gone, as they want you to believe. I don’t want to read another fucking article about how he battled his demons, just give me the fucking record. That article about him in the newspaper, that’s not WRITTEN FOR THE FAN! It looks like he’s stunting, playing the game, I’M TURNED OFF!

The fan knows about the new release. Because he CARES!

And the only way you can get SOMEONE ELSE to care is if they don’t hear it from you, but from someone they trust, who is a FRIEND! Whether it be an individual or a Website. It’s about the TRUST, not the HYPE!

If you do it right, that album you just made should sell FOREVER! And you don’t have to worry about people cherry-picking singles on iTunes, because they will want everything you ever do. The demos, the live tapes. And, they’ll pay for them even if you give them away for free. As a badge of honor, as a hallmark of BELONGING! You want to turn a blind eye on THESE people and get in bed with the MACHINE?

The machine didn’t do well by John Prine. He’s been doing it himself now for twenty years, quite well, thank you. And he’s not that good-looking, and he doesn’t dance, but he can write songs.

Hate to tell you, but there’s an ENDLESS SUPPLY of good-looking people in this world. In the time it takes you to make it, the machine can find someone else younger, who won’t talk back, to start paying attention to. And now, in the studio, via auto-tune, it can be made to appear that ANYBODY can sing. But not anybody can sing live, not anybody can write a song.

So, if you’re a musician, you want to focus on writing and singing/playing. That’s it. If you’re good, and you’ve got a Web presence, people will find you. And these people will do ANYTHING for you. They won’t care if your single stiffed on the radio, in their heart, YOU’RE ALWAYS NUMBER ONE!

You’re a cottage industry. Your product is you. Make it as good as you can and guard it very closely. Don’t grow too fast, you won’t be able to keep up with your success. And don’t be afraid to try something new, to risk. If you want instruction, study Silicon Valley companies as opposed to major labels.

The old yardsticks are irrelevant. Don’t pay attention to SoundScan. Music fans don’t watch MTV, and neither should you. Go where your people are, both physically and online. Connect with them. Make it about the essence, not the sheen. Be in it for the long haul. Talent is at most fifty percent, the rest is pure desire. If you’ve got both, it’ll take you a long time, but you’ll make it. You’ll have a career in music. You’ll be able to quit your day job. As for being featured on “Cribs”? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Not the bling. And the bling never lasts. The same car won’t run forever, not without a ton of upkeep. And that mansion has expenses. You can lose it all. But you can’t lose yourself. Focus on yourself.