We’re tapping our second cask (it’s 20L and technically called a Pin) this Friday at 5pm. Terry bought 2 of the little buggers and they’re allowing him to do some experimenting with recipes without interrupting the main hand-pump’s flow of his English IPA. This Friday it will be an as yet un-named variation on the best bitter. If you haven’t experienced the tapping of a cask of real ale, you should really come and check it out. Many people believe this is the way all beer ought to be drunk – all natural, unfiltered, and unpasteurized. Casks aren’t pressurized, but the beer in it undergoes a secondary fermentation to produce natural carbonation. The yeast is still live and the beer is still changing right up until we drink it. We learned a few things from the first effort – this time Terry is bumping up the primer for higher carbonation and adding some wheat malt for better head retention. There’s lots on real ale on the CAMRA site (campaigners for real ale, neighbourhood pubs, & drinker’s rights since 1971!) and here at Real Ale Hunter.
We had a wonderful evening with Li’l Andy and Carolyn Mark last night! Great songs, great voices, a Stompin’ Tom cover, a few special guests, and really good fun. My face hurts from smiling so damn hard. Anyway, it was such a great night of music, I’m already getting really excited for the next show with Toronto’s Doug Paisley, August 26.
I’ve been listening to Paisley’s three albums pretty much non-stop for the last few months (for those of you who haven’t discovered it already, i’ve been enjoying Rdio.com). They really are remarkable recordings – timeless, warmly familiar and yet unusual at the same time. 2010s Constant Companion was a major critical hit, getting great reviews from Pitchfork, The New Yorker, & American Songwriter; MOJO included it in their top ten albums of the year, extolled its “rare kind of purity”, & declared that “an anti-star is born”. Rolling Stone called it a “nearly perfect singer-songwriter record”, and UNCUT singled it out as “sure-footed and ageless…uncluttered, sad and unerringly lovely” (re-quoted from No Quarter’s site).
Anyway, I’m sure you’re getting the picture here – this guy is a serious internationally recognized talent, and it’s totally absurd on some level that he’s coming to play at a little pub in Antigonish! I’m really only surprised more people haven’t heard more about him yet. Earlier albums boast appearances some of our countries best new singer-songwriters – Jennifer Castle, Simone Scmidt (of Fiver who played here last winter), and Leslie Feist. His newest album, Strong Feelings, released earlier this year, sees performances from legendary musicians Mary Margaret O’Hara and Garth Hudson, along with some more unusual instrumentation – some awesome skronky sax, whistling, and eerie organ lines lace the recording with just a hint of psychedelia.
It’s almost too subtle and shifting a style to pin down – you can hear the influences of old-time country music and bluegrass, but there are a lot of other things going on there too…. There are moments on the first (eponymous) album where he sounds quite a bit like his friend and touring mate, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy), with that “indie” sort of sound (apologies for using such an increasingly meaningless term). He’s shared the stage with Neko Case, Iron & Wine, & Bon Iver and would fit right in on any of those bills. I kind of like the way an the Uncut review puts it,
“On the evidence of his first two albums, you might place him to the left of James Taylor and Don Williams, on account of the easy smoothness of his sound. But he’s WAY more interesting than that.” (My emphasis, and if like me you’re not crazy about either of the two fellas mentioned, don’t lose heart, he’s very much a different animal altogether.)
Anyway, by way of vague references, I’d hazard that if you like any of the following, you’re probably going to love Doug Paisley; The Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson, George Jones, Tom Waits’s most mellow, lyrical stuff, Gram Parsons, The Band, Phosphorescence, Bahamas, Timbre Timbre. All this to say, I really hope you check his stuff out, and like me, fall for it completely and get really, really excited for a really big show in such small town!