Betty Burke

AM signals from a parallel present

Posts Tagged ‘john power

Free Betty Burke Show Thursday with Lisa Bozikovic- Blocks Thursday Confidential!

leave a comment »

Wondering what to do this Thursday, July 21st? Betty Burke and Lisa Bozikovic are playing a FREE “Blocks Recording Club Thursday Confidential” show at the Gladstone, and I think you should join us. Your support might be required if things get rowdy.

The last time we played the Thursday Confidential, all sorts of mayhem broke out.

It was a crisp fall night, and we were warming up the crowd for our Blocks comrades Tomboyfriend. The drummer (Roland 880 beats trapped in an iPod) was chugging along relentlessly, and we were in the middle of a feverish testimony, when a man in a suit brought a round of drinks to the stage. We’re not big drinkers, but we love free things, so it was appreciated. Tomboyfriend were also treated to a round.

As the gifts were sipped, the man came to the front of the stage and shouted in my ear, “I’m a drummer. I play with Bruce Springsteen. I’m the guy they call when Max Weinberg can’t make it.”



“Let me get up on that kit.”


I looked over my shoulder at the iPod, which was keeping pretty good time. Since John Power left for Newfoundland, and Dana Snell isn’t available (despite my persistence, roses, telegrams, etc.) the Roland 880 has been our little drummer, saving us a great deal of money. Drums are expensive to transport, and require a studio rental for rehearsals- important considerations in this age of austerity. Roland never makes mistakes, gets drunk, argues, or flirts with the wrong people. But I’m always waiting for lightning to strike and illuminate the gloomy night of everyday life. So I decided to put the unexpected offer from Max Weinberg’s replacement in the hands of democracy.

“Dear audience, should we let this man get on the kit? He’s never heard us play before, but our songs are pretty simple…”

The show of hands was nearly unanimous, so I let him up. As a precaution I kept Roland going, as a guide for Max Weinberg’s replacement. We rolled into our easiest song.

But the replacement couldn’t keep up. We tried to pass him a tambourine, not too much room for embarrassment there, but he insisted on sitting down at Tomboyfriend’s kit, and stepping on the kick pedal. Now and then. As randomly as the brakes of a TTC bus, he stepped and didn’t step, then double stepped. I tried to nod and hit my knee, pointing out the beat like an angry pedestrian pointing at a red light, well after the driver that sped through is gone.

“Ok, thanks, ok that was fun, ok, bye-ee…” I tried to give him the Ottawa Valley heave-ho on the microphone- but he wouldn’t go! Sheila found him rather creepy, I just thought he was rude for not leaving when politely applauded away.

Tomboyfriend’s actual drummer, Dan, owner of the kit, was at this point quite anxious- and reasonably so. I called “How about a real drummer?” and waved him up. He rushed forth and played the Weinberg replacement off, with a nudge, a push, and a sit, the way one might chase a cat from a chair by slowly bending and descending with a look-back of menace, then switching to a full and sudden sit. The replacement came crashing forth between Jo and I, yelling, and knocking over the drinks he’d bought us. His musky waft mixed with the sweet smell of booze, and his odor cloud lingered with sweaty face at the edge of the stage. “You’re terrible! You’ll never learn to play!” (His words.)

Dan picked up Roland’s beat and we all went in for the last number. I was feeling rather awkward about letting the replacement sit at Dan’s kit, a remarkable lapse in etiquette on my part. Meanwhile, the replacement retreated to the bar to write us a filthy note on the back of the receipt for the rounds he’d bought and spilled, and another suited stranger waltzed forth, chest forward, asking, “ladies, is everything alright?”

Actually, everything was great. I apologized to Dan profusely, who was good humored about the whole episode, and Jo, Sheila and I marveled at the Weinberg replacement’s booze-receipt poetry. The editorial committee chose to reject his submission to the journal of Betty Burke studies, but we remember his antics well, at the Gladstone Hotel. He was infamous, though his name was unknown to us.

Once the musk wafted off into the night, Tomboyfriend took the stage, dressed in fall foliage. Actual foliage.

The Thursday Confidential is full of surprises.

If there’s room in your calendar for a free night out with us, please swing by the Gladstone on July 21st. But in case you’re wondering, we’re not looking for a drummer.


Here is a taste of Lisa Bozikovic:

And here is the facebook invite:


Dirty Mouth of the St Lawrence River – review and release party

leave a comment »

Blocks Recording Club and Betty Burke are celebrating the release of our first EP, “Dirty Mouth of The St Lawrence River.” There is a great review of the release in NOW Magazine this week, which highlights the song “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain” (from our moviette) as the top track.

On Friday, we’ll be celebrating the release with a special show at Holy Oak Cafe in Toronto (1241 Bloor Street West.) Sylvie, Jonas and Tim will play an acoustic Evening Hymns set. BB will then take the stage with special guests Holly Andruchuk, Shaun Brodie and Jon Hynes joining us to play the songs they helped bring to life on the EP.

Last night, with the help of our friends Teresa, Lauren and Dana, the band took a time machine to 1995 to assemble and number the “Dirty Mouth” zines, and stuff the discs into silk screened vellum envelopes. The envelopes were printed by Cheryl Cheung, whom I recommend highly for your all silk screening needs.

For the curious, I will be posting some notes about the songs and the artwork shortly. Both elements are based on true and “epic true”* stories from the St Lawrence Seaway, and are part of a larger song and story cycle that will be revealed in due time, so stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting, and see you again soon!

* By “epic true” I mean ‘true’ but not necessarily factual- elements of exaggeration, myth and metaphor may be used to deliver certain kinds of knowledge, difficult knowledge, wisdom, all the stuff that’s hard to express.

We made a moviette

leave a comment »

We made a short film for our song “You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain,” which will be on the forthcoming EP Dirty Mouth of The St Lawrence River. The film was written and directed by Joseph Clement and Maggie in collaboration, and the song was produced by James Bunton with BB. Have a look!

On Saturday, February 5th, Canadian Dimension Magazine is throwing a little release party for the moviette, in Toronto. We’ll do a set around 11pm. (Send us an email at bettyburkeband (at) if you’d like to come.)

“You Can’t Wear Suede in The Rain” is partly a homage to Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear, a forgotten feminist classic from the CanLit cannon. The film stars Shaun Brodie, John Power (in disguise), Keith Cole, Anthony Hill, Holly Andruchuk, and Maggie. On the track you’ll hear Holly Andruchuk’s guitar, Maggie singing with Holly, Shaun Brodie on the Farfisa organ (Sheila’s), and Jon Hynes on bass.

Thanks for visiting.