Updates

Sea Water Bliss Mendel Art Gallery
A continuous 20-year endeavour…

August 6, 2012. Semi-defunct. That’s the word I’m using to describe the current status of the band. But really we’ve been semi-defunct for more than a decade, since Dean and Olin left Saskatoon back in 2003.

In the intervening years Andrew and I have occasionally hobbled forth to flutter the seahorse-blazoned flag of rock-n-roll glory past. We made some music videos, including a binder-flipping clip for our song “Clowns” that a lot of people seemed to like. We returned to the Mendel Art Gallery, site of our 2002 rock opera, and mounted a musical puppet show about the Peloponnesian War. We joined up with Dean and Olin for a reunion concert in a small town in Austria.

Mostly, though, we just met up every week or two in Andrew’s basement to play through the old songs, mess around with some new ones, and hang out – occasionally with bandmates, guest musicians, and friends, but usually just the two of us. In that sense, Sea Water Bliss has been a continuous 20-year endeavour, under one name or another, stretching from 10th grade until just last month, when I moved to Vancouver.

But I moved to Vancouver once before, in the mid-’90s, and I wound up coming back. So who knows. Given that we’ve only logged a couple dozen public appearances since 2003, we can maintain that tempo if I simply take a couple trips home a year.

For what I’m unwilling therefore to definitively call our final appearance in Saskatoon, Andrew and I recruited my girlfriend Liz Syrnick (ex of Sexy Mathematics) to play keyboards for an intimate farewell party in our living room. By the end of the night we were performing for an audience of three people, two of whom did us the favour of recording the event on their phones. For the encore, our fans requested “Dream of the Descending Satellite” from our rock opera 404.

Here’s the video, with camera work courtesy of Jay Arnold and Kurt Soucy.

September 21, 2011. My girlfriend keeps cracking jokes about the ugliness of this website. For all its old-fashionedness, its textiness, its optimized-for-Netscape-Navigator-circa-1996ness, I have a real affection for how our site looks…but I have to admit, it’s much easier to put updates on my personal WordPress blog. That’s what I did with this post about Andrew’s and my recent ill-fated involvement in The Duo competition at Staqatto Lounge.

sea water bliss at the duo 2011
Go back to the garage!

So head over there and read about it while I spend the afternoon making a gloomy inventory of all the work involved in redesigning this website.

June 20, 2011. Last month, a few hundred wedding guests in small-town Austria were the lucky witnesses to a reunion performance by The Band Known As Sea Water Bliss.

Andrew and I have been keeping the Sea Water Bliss brand name on life support, but despite occasional visits to Saskatoon by Dean (from Scotland) and Olin (from the USA), the whole band hadn’t played together since the summer of 2003, the year of the rock opera and the Ness Creek Festival. So when our old friend Stu announced that he was getting married in his fiancée’s hometown of Gleiß, Austria (Canadian pronunciation: Gleeb), we wangled an invitation to play at the reception.

sea water bliss in waidhofen austria
Eight years older, in Gleeb.

I took a few months off from my job so I could visit Olin in Houston, then Dean near Glasgow, and re-learn a few Sea Water Bliss classics in advance of the ceremony. Then we all met up in Austria and jammed together for a day in the rehearsal space of Europa Express, who generously loaned us their equipment and, early on the morning of the wedding, helped us set up in the big tent in Stu’s in-laws’ backyard.

As far as we’re aware, no recordings of the performance were made. Luckily, Dean’s girlfriend brought her camera…

andrew hall in austria
Andrew in his Wiener hat (i.e., a hat from Wien).

olin valby in austria
Olin cradles the $2000 mandolin.

dean drobot in austria
Dean holds us together by sheer force of will.

michael a. charles in austria
Michael duets with a drunken Austrian.

sea water bliss in austria
I always suspected we were actually a novelty band…

October 6 2010. Andrew had a baby. I’ve been busy working. There hasn’t been a lot of rockin’ going on around here lately, so it’s gratifying when I notice that people are still buying the album, watching our videos, and dropping by the website.

Our old friend Stu is getting married in Austria next spring, so we’re going to reunite the classic lineup of Sea Water Bliss and make a shameful commotion at the wedding. That’s still eight months off, but eight months seems to fly by pretty quick these days.

March 25 2010. I like this latest bit of publicity because it’s so random. The last time we were interviewed by a Canadian media outlet was in 2002, when I talked to the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix about our rock opera. Since then our hometown media has shut us out – understandably, as we spend most of our time performing out of sight in Andrew’s basement.

But our modest web endeavours have alerted the international press to our existence, and every once in a while I’m contacted by somebody from the far side of the earth who proceeds to ask me serious questions as though we’re a real band. Most recently, I was interviewed via Skype by a nice fellow named Wilson Vega from El Tiempo, the national newspaper of Colombia.

Not sure why the video turned out so choppy. Anyway, head over to the El Tiempo website to watch the interview, which is in English with Spanish subtitles:

clowns on tiempo real
Michael A. Charles interviewed by Tiempo Real.

January 27 2010. We spent the first half of January working with Troy Mamer and Steve Barss to put together a cardboard puppet show to accompany the Song of Syracuse, which we peformed on January 16 as part of the LUGO arts carnival at the Mendel Art Gallery. There’s video of the event, but I haven’t had a chance to get it online yet. Maybe next month.

steve barss at lugo 2010
Steve Barss, Peloponnesian puppetmaster.

Meanwhile we’ve been busy. Our old drummer Dean was visiting from his current home in Scotland, so between trips to Tim Horton’s we propped him up behind his dusty drumkit in Andrew’s basement and forced him to flail along with some of our new material. Alas, no recordings were made.

Also I received a welcome surprise in the mail. Artist Ray Statham sent me a copy of a forgotten music video for our song “The Band Known As Sea Water Bliss”, which we made as a lark back in 2008 while I was visiting him in North Vancouver. Now it’s on YouTube.

December 8 2009. In my last update I described our preparations for shooting a low-budget time-lapse music video in Vonda, Saskatchewan. It all came off quite nicely, thanks in no small part to our many friends who showed up to help. Enjoy…

November 26 2009. As I briefly mentioned a few weeks back, we’ve got a video shoot coming up…this Saturday, in fact. I was a little hesitant to promote it until I was sure everything was squared away, but it looks like the corners are lining up neatly. Knock wood.

I’ve been calling this event Flipapalooza and it will combine the best elements of a video shoot, a raucous party, and an evening spent flipping through binders. Essentially I’ve edited the entire video in advance, printed each frame out, and separated the pages into binders. On Saturday night we’re going to prop the binders in front of a camera and flip through the pages in sequence while the party goes on in the background. Then we’ll speed up the video to match the song, and voila! – by an extremely inefficient route we’ll have arrived back at the video I’ve already edited.

michael and andrew in clowns
An outtake from the “Clowns” video.

Who knows if it’ll work. Anyway, if you want to hang out and watch us work, come on out to Sig’s Place in Vonda, Saskatchewan, at 8 PM on Saturday, November 28. I’d provide an address, but as Vonda’s main street is only one block long, Sig’s Place is kinda hard to miss.

Also, we’ve signed up for a thing at the Mendel Art Gallery on January 16. It’s called LUGO and from what little I’ve gleaned, it promises to be a cavalcade of bafflement and whatzitry. More on this as it evolves; meanwhile you can check out the post on my personal blog.

November 11 2009. Remembrance Day already! The snow will be falling soon. It’s been a pretty slow year once again, which Andrew and I squandered workin’ nine-to-five like ordinary chumps. We are contemplating another video shoot in the coming weeks…but I’ll withhold details for now, don’t want to jinx it.

Meanwhile, to help out a friend of mine from work, I created a promotional comic for his band Sexy Mathematics, who’ve just released their debut EP. I’ll send you over to my personal blog to have a gander and learn more:

sexy mathematics
The Sexy Mathematics origin story.

July 4 2009. I thought my cartooning fame had run its course, but I was recently contacted by the Australian proprietor of a website called Word-Buff.com for an interview about my more charismatic other half. (No, I’m not referring to Andrew, though of course he is quite charismatic, but to Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker.) Here’s the link:

michael a. charles crossword inker
Michael A. Charles on Word-Buff.com.

May 29 2009. And suddenly it’s June. With the band in a state of semi-retirement it’s easy to forget about this website for months at a time. But every once in a while I look at the statistics and I’m surprised to see how many people visit. A lot of people are downloading our songs, for instance. Who are they? Where are they coming from? Are they here out of genuine enthusiasm for our music or are we the victims of some extremely subtle practical joke?

January 4 2009. Although it’s been decent for me personally, musicwise it’s been another pretty woeful year in Sea Water land. Andrew and I managed to squeeze in our sole public performance of 2008 just before the clock ran out by playing a few songs at our friends J & K’s annual New Year’s Eve party. There has been some discussion of returning to Vonda this winter for another rock-n-roll orgy at Sig’s Place, but I don’t know if anything will come of that. I’d like to try and get out and play in public every month or two, but to be frank, it’s always a little depressing. We don’t have enough friends to fill even a smallish coffeeshop with supporters, and if we play more frequently than once a year, the novelty of seeing us will wear off, and even our friends will stop showing up. I guess if we want to perform more often we’ll just have to toughen up and get used to being ignored.

The thing is, Andrew and I have been practicing pretty regularly and we’re sounding as tight as we ever have. Our constant process of weeding and winnowing out the weaker tunes has left us with a fairly sturdy set list. Seems a shame to waste all that purty music on the centipedes in Andrew’s basement. Anyway, just checkin’ in to say Happy New Year, and Watch This Space.

November 24 2008. I’m gonna try and get a little organised around here. Keep the Sea Water Bliss website for stuff related to the band, and post purely personal nonsense over at my new personal blog The Michael A. Charles Online Presence.


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