Sunday, May 8, 2011

Q Live: A morning of arts and culture

CBC Q host, Jian Ghomeshi, talks to the audience before going on air.

Well hi there. And happy Sunday.

The suspenseful sound effect leading into the opening essay, the background music during the opening essay, and the opening essay itself, has become an addicting piece that I will never get tired of. Oh, and how can I forget the Q Theme song? These features of CBC's radio program, Q, have become a bit of a symbol to my daily fix for arts and culture, and this past Friday, I (finally) saw it live - in front row seats style. It was a very interesting experience to see what happens behind the scenes, and the live show itself is a bit of a different concept than the regular in-studio program. I'll talk briefly about the highlights of the show for me, and some behind-the-scenes things (including Q&A) but there's a link at the end of this post to hear the episode in its entirety.

Note: I wasn't sure how strict they were with recording devices, so I only had the camera on my mobile device to use.

Live Music

Israeli singer-songwriter, Yael Naim, performs live off her new album, "She was a Boy", at Q Live at Glenn Gould Studio on May 6, 2011.

I absolutely enjoyed guest, Yael Naim (picture above). Born in Paris and raised in Israel, her debut album, In a Man's Womb, was released in 2001, followed by her self-titled album in 2007 which went on to win "Best World Music Album" at Victoires de la Musique (France's top music award). To this point, I've actually never come across her or her music, but I'm glad I did on Friday - it's a very up-beat/relaxing and acoustic sound. If I had to compare her to other arists, it would probably be a bit of Feist, Regina Spektor, and Corinne Bailey Rae. You may have also heard her music in 2008, in Apple's MacBook Air commercial:

Her music and interview on Q starts at the 52:43 minute mark.

Of course, there was Sam Roberts Band, who debuted many of their singles off their new album, Collider, to be released next week.

Sam Roberts Band performs at Q Live at Glenn Gould Studio on May 6, 2011.

Discussion on world issues and politics
I won't spoil the show for you, but I thought the Q media panel brought up some really interesting points on both the Canadian election and the death of Osama bin Laden.

First, on the Canadian election, they talked about how the media has focused a lot of their attention on the collapse of the Liberals, the surge of the NDP, the stories in Quebec - but there hasn't been much attention on what the future implications of a Conservative Majority would be.

On Osama bin Laden, Margaret Wente discussed how many Canadians felt uneasy watching the triumphant celebration in the streets of the United States, because "we don't do that, that's not our way. Except for hockey games... We don't understand the profound wounds that were inflicted by 9/11...", she goes on to say, "Can anybody really doubt that the world is better off without this guy? Can you? But that's not the question, the world would be better off without a lot of people, but that doesn't justify killing them. Extrajudicial assassinations like this used to be something the Americans did covertly, which they tried to get Castro, who they also vilified in the same way that they vilify bin Laden now... they should have captured him and have a trial, and then there would be justice."

The Comedy
Friday's live comedy was brought to you by Mio Adilman and Elvira Kurt, and both guests entered the stage busting some wicked dance moves (pre-requisites to being humorous, I'm guessing). Two topics of discussion: Mio Adilman analyzes the art of the beard (and specifically, Monkey Tail) and the Elvira Kurt discusses her pick for this week's "Hall of Shame": Badminton World Federation. I'll leave it at that. (Elvira Kurt is wicked cool, by the way.)

Other Guests
Other guests included Stephen Silver (director of "Big Bang Club") and Anthony Baxter (of "You've Been Trumped").

So that was my first experience of watching Q Live, and it was definitely a great live production. A morning packed with incredible live music, discussion on politics/world issues, discussion on arts and culture, and comedy - can we do this every Friday?

Bad photo, but awesome at the same time.

P.S. Of course, I asked him after the show if he would ever interview Lights on the program (he's her manager as well).

Listen to the full episode of Q Live at Glenn Gould Studio - May 6, 2011:

CBC Q is broadcasted every weekday, 10am and 10pm, and is also available on iTunes (free) and on their website.

Behind the scenes
During the breaks, and after the recorded show was over, Ghomeshi did Q&A's with the audience, and there were a lot of interesting things that were discussed:

- The Donald Trump Interview: On the March 21st show, Q did an in-person interview with Donald Trump on the 26th floor boardroom of Trump Tower (yes, that boardroom - as Ghomeshi would say), and here are some of the behind the scenes information on how that meeting went: first of all, the CBC Q team went through three levels of security, and were accompanied by body guards during the interview. There was a few seconds of technical difficulties at first, and Donald Trump said, "I don't have time for this" and left - Ghomeshi had to run after him to ask him to come back. During the interview, Trump would use his hand to signal a "next question" kind of gesture when he didn't like the question. At one point, if you listen to the interview, you'll hear him say, "we could have done this over the phone". Finally, after the interview, Trump asked for statistics regarding the show and found out that Q reached millions of people all over North America through live broadcasts and podcast. He was all of a sudden friendlier and took interest in Ghomeshi and the program. Like Seth Meyers said, "Donald Trump has been saying he will run for President as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke". Zing!

- Opening essay and podcast: To those who do listen regularly to the program on podcast, know that the opening essays are seldom included. The reason behind this, he explains, are the copyright music that can be played on the radio, but not redistributed through outlets such as iTunes (the same with the portions of the show where Kanye West's "Heard em Say" music is used). He said that they recognize that so many people are listening to the podcast now, that they are working on a way to solve this problem.

- Who writes the introduction pieces of interviewees: The Q team does a ton of research and writes all of the introduction pieces to the guests. They then pass it on to Jian Ghomeshi, who then "Jianizes" it. Their introductions are purposely detailed and long, as they feel it gives the impression to guests that this is a serious program. Opening essays are written by Ghomeshi.

- Direction of Q: It was interesting when I heard Ghomeshi mention that Q aims to be similar to The New Yorker, but with Canadian content. In addition, when asked about whether or not Q will steer away from Canadian content because of an increasing audience in the United States, he said the content will always be what it has been and that the United States don't get enough credit for being interested in what happens outside of their country (I'm paraphrasing here).

- Will there be more live shows? This is new to the Q team, and they're still learning everything. He mentioned that the the Q team is already small as it is, and having a live show just makes it crazier as they do everything themselves. In addition, live shows are different from the regular in-studio ones as it doesn't allow them to do things they usually do. For example, having guests over the phone, having long and in-depth conversations with guests, and the list of available guests shrinks because of their availability. However, they are looking to definitely have more.

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