Live music galleries: The Rural Alberta Advantage [2015]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

The Rural Alberta Advantage live at Dragonboat Festival, 2015

Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage
When: June 27th, 2015
Where: Ottawa Dragonboat Festival, Mooney’s Bay Park, Ottawa
Context: It’s been almost six months since I’ve seen any live music and I’ve realized in the last couple of weeks that I’ve been (for want of a better term) seriously jonesing. Seriously. I’ve been habitually checking the concert listings, reading all the festival lineups as they are released, watching live videos on the YouTube, and I’ve even been finding myself wistfully flipping through photos of past shows that I’ve seen. And in so doing, I came across this series of pics that I snapped during a set by Toronto’s The Rural Alberta Advantage at Ottawa’s Dragonboat festival five years (!) ago. I’ve seen them a total of four times, each time was a riot, but this show was the last time I saw them. They were still touring their third album, “Mended with gold”, which like all their others, is energetic indie folk with a heavy percussion edge, this last provided by Energizer bunny drummer, Paul Banwatt, and bundle of dynamite, Amy Cole. She would actually leave the band the following year, to be temporarily replaced by a Robin Hatch, but is now back in the fold, and the word is there is new material in the works. Maybe I’ll see them a fifth time later this year. One can hope…
Point of reference song: Terrified

Nils Edenloff of The Rural Alberta Advantage
Amy Cole of The Rural Alberta Advantage
Paul Banwatt of The Rural Alberta Advantage
Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt going all percussion-like
Nils Edenloff rocking out

Best tunes of 2011: #13 The Rural Alberta Advantage “North star”

<< #14    |    #12 >>

Just after Christmas in December of 2011, I joined my friend Tim on a short road trip out to Cambridge to visit his friends Greg and Wendy. They had recently opened a used records and book store called Millpond and we met up with them there to check it out, just before they closed for the day.

(I browsed their record selection with some interest, though I was still a few months removed from starting my collection in earnest.)

Afterwards, we went out for dinner, where there were plenty of laughs and reminiscences and of course, talk eventually turned to music. The fact that I had recently starting blogging about music was raised and I showed them the home page on my iPhone, which at that moment was deep in the depths of my first ever end of the year, best albums countdown. Wendy exclaimed that she liked the look of one of the album covers and when I looked at the one about which she was talking, it was The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sophomore album, “Departing”. Its cover art is mostly white, what looks like a mostly untraveled two lane highway obscured by whiteout conditions, snow sliding across the asphalt, a set of headlights barely visible in the near distance. Incidentally, it aptly foreshadowed our drive back to Toronto as we were hit by one of those surprise snow storms particular to the areas surrounding Lake Ontario.

Without digging back in the archives of my old blog, “Music Insanity”, I couldn’t tell you what position “Departing” held in my top ten that year but I think if and when I redo it on these pages, this album would still be somewhere in the mix. The Rural Alberta Advantage is an indie rock trio, that despite their moniker are actually based out of Toronto. Their sound is the happy melding of Nils Edenloff’s rough guitar manhandling and raw vocal chords vocals, Amy Cole’s delightful keys and other percussion flourishes and her soft touch backing voice, and of course, Paul Banwatt’s frenzied impression of Animal punishing the drum kit. Every song on the album, nay, on all their albums, is an adventure.

The first half of “North star” is more sparse than the usual RAA tune. Cole’s piano chords are like a punctuation on Banwatt’s drum rhythm, those that just chug along like the sleepers on a night train, above whom the glass ceiling looks over the prairie night sky and the stars are everywhere, a million pin holes in the night. Then, the piano becomes more than an accent and fills all the rest of the empty space with chimes and bass reverberations. Edenloff, meanwhile, is almost restrained, singing forlornly about a love that might never be.

“We’re far apart under the same sky,
You’re diving in the dark I’m in the city’s lights,
Wishing just to see you for another night.”

If you’ve never listened to the RAA before, I suggest you give the song below a go. You’re welcome.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.