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Tommy Emmanuel launches Pan-Canadian Tour · 16.05.14 by colin newell

Guitar picker Tommy Emmanuel

This week, my nephew William (an aspiring guitar player), and I (a guitar slinger since the mid-70’s) had the pleasure of seeing finger style guitar player Tommy Emmanuel – in person at the Mcpherson Playhouse in Victoria, B.C.

Arguably one of the hardest working solo acts in the business, Tommy has been touring for over 5 decades. Starting his career at age 4 in a family rich with musical heritage, Tommy was playing professionally by the age of 6 in a family band and by 10 years of age had already toured Australia.

With a Chet Atkins “Certified Guitar Player” title (and I know of no other players who have this accreditation…) and 2 Grammy nominations, Tommy’s 7 year stint of touring a minimum of 300 dates a year is truly breath taking and staggering. It is no wonder that his skill with the 6 string guitar borders on the unnatural and nearly impossible. His evening show, comprised of 2 1.5 hour sets, left everyone (particularly the musicians in the audience) staggered and, like me, elated and exhausted at the same time – witnessing the level of showmanship and raw focused talent.

As mentioned above, there is a major influence from Chet Atkins, who was clearly a leader in guitar playing technique from the 1940’s through executive production roles in the 70’s – and his influences (which are readily audible in Tommy Emmanuel’s style include Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, George Barnes, Les Paul and Jerry Reed.) And in Tommy’s show, he displays all of these with perfection and aplomb. In fact, some of the delivery is so rapid fire that you often are not sure if Tommy is drawing on some historic influence or cooking it up on the fly and in the moment. Either way, it is guitar fireworks like you have never seen.

Being an acoustic and electric guitar player, with a (I think) modest level of accomplishment at an intermediate level, I felt like 1.5 hours of Tommy’s playing would be perfect for me — because I am there for the joy of the music and the learning. In fact, a guitar workshop (which he does frequently) would have been a better choice. Fact is, I am more of a technique technician than an actual performer – meaning I spend way more time hammering out technique than actual melodic playing. But for the fan of Tommy and his art, his show was engaging, long on humility and genuine engagement and light on the grandstanding typical of this level of artist. His sense of humor infused all but the most serious of tunes – and there were a few… and I will not spoil the surprise as this is, after all, tour date number one.

Not surprisingly, the McPherson theater was a full house – what was odd, however, was the age group of the audience – 65+. There were even 90 years young folk at the show and as many guitar players as I know, many were clearly absent. And upon additional investigation, I found that many of my guitar playing friends who worship Tommy’s skill set and live shows, discovered that the local show was not very well locally publicized. Even I kind of fell upon some tickets that my nephew had purchased months ago (that his guitar teacher had tipped him off to). And by the time I had clued in and checked the theater online ticket listings, there were only singles available. Which is not a problem for the artist, because the room was full. I guess in an ere of social media, when one wants to follow an artists tour, they need to subscribe to their feed – whether it is facebook, e-mail or twitter. Whatever works.

Anyway – for the rest of you Canadian guitar players out there that want to catch Tommy Emmanuel live, head over to the tour date page – His shows feature a lot of his original material, many of the cover tunes that he interprets oh so well, and some humor and story telling thrown in for good value. As I quipped to my nephew, “Everything I can play on the guitar, and I mean everything I know… Tommy can play in about 5 minutes at break neck speed…”

I have seen many, many YouTube videos featuring Tommy Emmanuel and his live performances are hotter than anything you can watch on a screen — if such a thing is possible.
So grab a ticket. And enjoy! And happy guitar playing!


We live and we love for Ray and all those that face loss. · 25.02.14 by colin newell

Was having “tea” at the Finnerty Express at UVic at three – and was visited by “Ray” a lovely 80 year old retired RCMP officer that lives in the area and often pops in for a coffee. He had some bad news today. His wife of 50+ years passed away after a wicked battle with cancer. He seemed to be taking it OK but reminded all of us to embrace the living… “Go home and hug your wife (or husband) tonight. Celebrate life when you are among the living…”

I have been offering condolences a lot lately and I guess (I know) that this is part of life. And it is especially important to embrace those who have experienced loss… like Ray.

We reminded him to drop into the cafe often, that we are here for him – and we are.

As he got up to go, we all shook hands… you know, the two handed more intimate form of the hand shake. I wanted to give him a big hug but wasn’t sure.

His last words were, “What am I going to have for dinner tonight? That is the awful thing… I can only drink so many bowls of mushroom soup…”

My heart goes out to Ray. I know all about loss but loss is something that is constant and omnipotent. But we must keep living and loving while adapting to loss. I cannot imagine going home to an empty space – my life is so truly blessed with a loving and devoted wife, and so many wonderful friends. It all really makes me appreciate the importance of the moment. The now.

It took a couple of hours but when I got home and had a glass of wine and some potato chips in my mouth (it is a ritual), I had a good cry – all that pent up grief coming out.

(But) You have to keep moving forward. People will come and go. It is part of life. Love the ones you are with. Pray for the departed. But most of all, embrace the living while they are on Earth.

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Mike Russell and Cops for Cancer - Vancouver Island · 16.08.13 by colin newell

Mike Russell - VicPD - Cops for Cancer

My name is Mike Russell and I became a cop in 2005 with the Edmonton Police Service. My sole goal since joining as an officer was to make a difference in my community.

Since moving with my family (now consisting of my lovely wife and three kiddo’s) to Victoria in 2008 I’ve been completely overwhelmed at how this community bands together to overcome obstacles.

This in part inspired me to ride the Canadian Cancer Societies Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock this year. I’ve not been affected by Cancer personally, but the strength I’ve witnessed from children and their families who have battled this terrible disease is truly inspiring.

I want to do everything in my power to ensure a cancer free future for all kids, parents, families and communities. We can do it, but I’ll need your help.

You can help in a number of ways:

1. Come on out to one of our great events!

We’ve got an upcoming Mayfair Mall Drive in and Carnival on Wednesday, August 21st where we are showing Grease. You can win lots of prizes, eat cotton candy and even win a chance to see the movie in our historic Car 40 (cop not included).

On Thursday, August 22nd, we’re at Glo Resturant and Lounge. The awesome folks at Glo are putting on an amazing show this year with a fantastic dinner (and drink) included in the ticket prices. There will be some amazing prizes, live band, DJ and Live and silent auctions…and of course, lots of cool people.

2. You can also donate directly to the Tour de Rock through a few means.

Online here


You can text to donate at 20222 and enter code TOUR 19 for an immediate $10 donation.

Hope to see many of you at our events. Thanks as always for the support.

Mike Russell, 2013 Tour de Rock Team ride and VicPD Media Spokesperson and Social Media Officer.


Thanksgiving 2011 - so much to be thankful for · 10.10.11 by colin newell

Point no point - great food, peace and quiet!Just spent a wonderful 3 day weekend at Point no Point cabins – Andrea’s and my primary get-away.

Timely escape as it is Thanksgiving weekend – and true to form, we never do anything within the realm of ordinary. This is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend – yes, I think it is earlier than our American counterpart… all about seasons and all. We harvest earlier.
Anyway – this weekend we had our favorite cabin (it is a secret…) – packed in some wine, some food and some radio equipment (to keep station VA7WWV on the air – kind of a civil defense priority!)

Dinner on Friday night was a quickie of gourmet kosher all beef hot dogs, beer and potato chips – the beer was Blue Buck. We arrive around 4 or 5 normally on one of these weekends and the sooner that we get into the outdoor hot-tub the better!

Saturday morning included a road trip into Sooke, B.C. for lunch at “The EdGe” – I had the kitchen sink bowl and Andrea had their classic burger served on an in-house triangle shaped bun. The Kitchen sink includes a bit of beef, white fish, shell fish, some pasta in a spicy Thai style broth.
Afterward we had a quick coffee at “The Stick” in Sooke.

On our way back through Otter Point, we stopped at the Tugwell Creek meadery – for those unfamiliar with mead, look it up. Oddly, I have around 8 bottles of Tugwell mead in my wine rack that are untouched – good thing some of them will last upwards of 1000 years! Yes, we bought two more bottles!

Saturday evening dinner was at “The Point” restaurant – and for a change we ordered all appetizers; Frisee salad featuring pork belly and soft boiled egg on frisee lettuce, seared scallops on a marmalade biscuit, a duck confit treatment, and an in house “tortilla chip” salsa thing… cannot remember what the protein on it was.
We had a bottle of an Argentinian Malbec with this collection.
We tend to avoid the mains at the Point no Point restaurant because they tend to be somewhat over the top, not so much with the quality (which is great) but the quantity – I avoid mains that have too much on the plate.
Dessert. For a change, we ordered two: the Creme Brulee and their awesome chocolate mousse.

Getting away from the grid gives us a great opportunity to count all of our blessings – and there are lots of them; great health, wonderful marriage (15+ years and every day is part of a remarkable honeymoon!), steady work, awesome friends and on and on and on. I am sure my readers have their own stories – love to hear them in the comment field of course!
The Sun was out the entire weekend – which is a little odd for this time of the year. The Sunday was spectacular – and we sat at the Beach House at Point no point, completely alone and undisturbed while a brilliant Sun blazed down – we imagine the temperature rose to around 20 degrees © for a while.

As I mentioned on my twitter and facebook feeds, I am kind of off the grid for a while I study for my Apple Technician certification (and it is a lot of study…) – I will be blogging and posting the blog URLs on twitter and facebook — just no random musing on the social network sites – at least for the time being.

Hoping you all have your own version of a great Canadian (and coming up… American thanksgiving!)

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Good bye to Jack Layton · 22.08.11 by colin newell

All our prayers and thoughts go out to Jack Layton’s wife, family and extended family.


Summer about Victoria 2011 On the water around Vancouver Island · 13.08.11 by colin newell

43 foot Hanse sailboat - sailing the waters around Vancouver Island

Heading out on the water tomorrow – not walking on it mind you…
But going out for a ride on a 43’ Hanse

I spent four years in the 80’s (as a civilian) trundling around on everything from destroyer escorts (battleships) to mine-sweepers, gate vessels, tugs and the occasional submarine… learning how to be an marine electronics expert.

This will be fun. Sailing the old way… the better way… with the wind.

Click on the pic at left for the big view…

And relaxing while someone who really knows what they are doing takes the wheel. My brother-in-law is a ships pilot, instructor and all around great mariner – and his wife (my sister) knows her stuff too.

A bit more on the Hanse 43 over here


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