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Review: Ghost Bird, Goose, et al. @ OFF Interarts

Posted by Margot / April 23, 2011

Ghost Bird documentary Montreal pineapple upside down cakeI might be temporarily out of town (thanks Jesus!), but I've got eyes and ears on the ground back home in Montreal. MP is lucky to have this report from local music-maker/crunk-master Simon Schreiber about an interesting show that went down around Earth Day.

Last night at OFF Interarts, I had the pleasure of attending a multi-disciplinary celebration of Mother Earth. More specifically, the event was billed as "a navigation of the collisions between the human and natural worlds" - fitting, as it was based around a screening of Scott Crocker's documentary Ghost Bird, chronicling the disappearance and apparent reappearance of the most magnificent woodpecker of all, the (long presumed-extinct) ivory billed woodpecker. And, it was quite fortuitous that OFF Interarts was simultaneously displaying "The Chronicles of Beauty," which invites us to reflect on the clash between natural beauty and the artificial sort. Basically, I saw some sultry looking deer with nippy-tassels and naughtily painted pallets (but clearly that's the subject of another review altogether.)

Opening the evening, writer/performance artist Moheb Soliman presented A Midwest Reader, what he termed "a work in progress" - hardly that. Accompanied by his photographs, he recited several poems based on a trip around the Great Lakes. Confident, earnest, and well spoken, he toured the audience all around those lakes with him. The performance presented a deeply personal relationship with nature, and in keeping with the night's theme, a relationship with all the not-nature that crops up in the margins.

Band Goose feather Montreal music Jack LaytonGoose performed next - a Montreal six-piece piano-folk orchestra that blended into the cozy space really well. Led by singer/songwriter Rachel Elliott, they sang not only about one of my favourite trees (that's right, Fraxinus pennsylvanica), but also of ancient animalistic mythologies, complete with intricate vocal harmonies and interplay, and fine instrumentation complemented by cello, violin, and accordion. I'd certainly recommend catching Goose wherever and whenever you can. The film itself needs no real review here - I'd be wasting time and words. All I can really say is that it made me very sad...

This show was impressive for the coherence of it all - each act, including (maybe especially) the film, reminded me of the inevitable clashes between the natural and human worlds. And while I didn't come away with answers, it did make for an enjoyable evening.

Title photo taken from the Ghost Bird website, and photo of Goose by author.

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