Register Wednesday | June 19 | 2019

Vashti Bunyan and the Opiate of the Mash-Up

Or how to escape the quiet of Pop Montreal

Vashti Bunyan, La Tulipe.

Poor Vashti.

Keep it in mind that Vashti and I traveled in viciously opposed circles around the time she was picking guitar for world peace in the England of my youth (1966-1968). She and her friends were riding hirsute and horseback to a Utopian countryside paradise (slowly, as I remember it - it took her caravan two Summers and a Winter to cross seven hundred miles), while I was scooping vomit from the half-open mouths of my semi-prone friends on hotel room floors. My party trick was the lining up of pills along the bridge of my nose and then catching the lot in my mouth; it was a trick Richard Branson had taught his dog, and the two of us - I and the dog - performed it with relish.

I was sorely reminded of this cultural divide upon entering La Tulipe; which felt like walking into my Aunt Edna's dinner party. Quiet. Polite. Sensitive. Pastoral. 'Good for Vashti,' I thought, 'coming to play these nice kids' festival.' An Elder for the ipod generation. Are these children actually mining for influences? Vashti? Ramblin' Jack? Roky Erickson? C'mon! What's wrong with those Classic Rock catalogues we put together? Judging from the press these guys are getting, maybe we shouldn't have passed on those publishing rights.

Vashti and her peacenik, communist minstrels were planted along the stage like a row of corn. Crippled as ever by her shyness, she hid under her hair and issued that strange falsetto I remembered, talked about where she'd been all these years, and looked right ecstatic to be back in the game. I say 'poor Vashti' because the audience was thin enough to make me burst into tears. I remembered the vials of my meds that were still sitting at Heathrow, and broke into a cold sweat. I decided it was safest to stay put under this matriarchal canopy of calm, and let's just say the bar was glad to have me for a customer. The lullabied crowd sat straight as pine trees and nary a bottle did I see tip.

And then this L.A. bloke in a black leather jacket started talking up a storm about some heavy action organ party across town. It was good to talk to someone my own age. Someone that'd been there, someone who could reassure me that Roxy Music is still the most underrated act in rock, and who could talk, really talk, about the hardship of losing Marc Bolan so young. I liked this Todd, who turned out to be a good old paper and plastic record store owner and who is barely making a dime these days, poor fellow. We had a few, a good cry, and then threw back our drinks, vowed not to patronize any more events involving acoustic guitars, and headed out to get our Rock on.

Gonzales, Eglise St. Jean Baptiste

You Quebeckers are a good lot to lend one of your houses of worship to this feisty Gonzales character, who engaged in something of a wrestling match with the physically demanding church organ. I was just going to shout, 'Stick to the 808!!' when he hammered an inspired rendition of Beat It into the instrument. The party was big, the flash was mighty and the birds tittered nicely, the whole lot of them. We took the advice of a lovely young lady and jumped into the chocolate covered mushrooms (it's convenient to get your opiates and your hallucinogens in one good bite), and spent the rest of the night lip-synching to the holy pipe organ.

After a painstaking recovery, I'm catching up with you now from the Future Of Music Summit, where they're talking wagonloads of malarkey. Don't they get that music doesn't need a future? I'm scheduled to speak in my company's defence in a moment - will be back shortly with the bloody results.