David Bowie Is

September 2nd, 2014

Victoria and Albert Museum in London, ran a David Bowie exhibition, David Bowie is, from March until this past August 11th. Now over, the exhibition goes on the road, with stops in Berlin, Paris, Groningen, Melbourne, Chicago and a local stop for myself, Toronto. The exhibition spans five decades, with over three hundred artifacts, some from as early as Bowies very young childhood.

david-bowie-is-cinema-poster

On the last day at the Victoria and Albert Omniverse Vision was invited to shoot the exhibition, and a special presentation made to visitors on that day. The result is a documentary that captures the exhibition, David Bowie Is. It will be premiered on September 23rd to coincide with the opening of the Chicago Exhibition. David Bowie Is will play one day only at a select 100 theatres across the U.S. (click the link to see if it’s playing at a heater near you).

The documentary takes you through the exhibit in chronological order, from Bowies baby movies up to the 90’s. Throughout, speakers in a live presentation setting offer a glimpse into Bowie, and the exhibition. Clips of fans touring the exhibition give an idea of what Bowie means to fans (hint: more to fans in the U.K. than is generally so here in the colonies).

Highlights of the exhibition, and movie feature Bowies stage costumes (a number of which are at the exhibition), handwritten lyrics, teenage sketches and an short animated film of Diamond Dogs, based on Bowies on sketches and notes for just such a project that never happened.

But while the documentary focuses on Bowie the fashion icon, Bowie and his characters, Bowie the actor, the music throughout rends you that Bowie was a very creative musician who never repeated himself. It is the music, like Bowie himself, that makes David Bowie Is worth seeing.


Brian Gardiner A Day At The Movies , , , , ,

Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry by Gareth Murphy

September 1st, 2014

Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry is a well researched trundle through the record industry from it’s inception with the first voice recording in Paris in 1860 to the modern era. Author Gareth Murphy runs through the history of recorded music, noting similarities to todays problems from the past, with a working thesis that the modern record industry isn’t in as bad shape as it currently seems, and certainly not when looked at against the historical record.

Beginning in the late 19th century, Murphy chronicles the rise and fall of such notables as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as lesser knowns like Eldridge Reeves Johnson and Frank Seaman, the latter of whom in 1900, in a move that will resonate with modern buyers, threatened prosecution against customers who bought Gramophones.

“The record business of the twenties and thirties experienced a crash even more devastating than the recent one,” Murphy notes in the books introduction. A crash that saw the record industries “biggest boom in record sales, in and around 1921, was immediately followed by the biggest slump in the industry’s thirty-year history.” A slump caused, it should be noted, by the introduction of a new technology that made “talking machines” seem obsolete.

Cowboys and Indies is, in fact, a good romp through the ups and down, the people and the musicians throughout the history of the record industry.

Except…

Except in the 1970’s the narrative changes, and Cowboys and Indies suddenly becomes a story about the underground club scene in New York and an Independent (read: small) record store in London. The rock era is virtually dismissed for disco, punk, electronic music and eventually, hip-hop and dance music. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are minimized and Ian Drury becomes a major player. It’s a strange turn, and I found myself wondering more than once, what happened to the book I was reading?

Despite this, Cowboys and Indies is a good read and is recommended for those who like the inner workings of the music industry.


Brian Gardiner Book Review, Books , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Justin Beiber TPed My House Edition

August 30th, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorWhy don’t I particularly like Leonard DiCaprio? you ask. What could possibly be wrong with him? you’re thinking.

imagesThis week, DiCaprio did the same old, same old ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that all your Facebook friends are doing. DiCaprio, however, used it as an opportunity to call out Stephen Harper, whom he seems to dislike, being democratically elected by mere Canadian’s and not Hollywood approved. So from his pious perch, and while visiting the Athebasca oil sands, the little pissant couldn’t resist turning a charity stunt into a political one.

So to answer your question, I can’t stand twerps who can’t let something go, just the one time.

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Hibbity-Hop impresario Suge Knight, who was in the car with Tupac Shakur when he was shot, was himself shot this weekend at an LA club.

The - ahem - 49-year old was shot multiple times by a single suspect during a party ahead of the MTV Music Video Awards.

The co-founder of Death Row Records is reportedly resting at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Suge is currently resting and has lost a lot of blood, he’s human. He’s done a lot of things for the community and the culture as a whole so we ask that you respect that,” the family said.

It’s one thing when 21-year olds go to clubs and shooting breaks out - it’s not OK, and it happens far too often nowadays, but at least you can see how it can happen. But a 49-year old? And for the record, the fact that a 49-year old man can’t go to a club without risk of being shot is what the family is talking about when they say, “He’s done a lot of things for the… culture as a whole”

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David Beckham booted one on his bike Friday morning, dropping his custom built motorcycle on Sunset Boulevard. Becks was leaving a tattoo parlour - cause what he needs is more tattoos - when he apparently swerved to avoid paparazzi, dropping his ride.

Later in the day, Beckham was spotted at LAX with a cast on his right arm.

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Who’s dumber than Miley Cyrus? The people who run the MTV video awards? Close, but no. A lamppost? Not really. Jesse Helt? Yes, and who’s that now?

Helt is a young homeless man, whom Cyrus took to the MTV video awards as her date - if by date you mean someone she picked up literally off the street for the express purpose of manipulating him. When she won an award for “Wrecking Ball,” (which should embarrass MTV no end, but won’t), she had Helt go on stage an lecture the assembled on the plight of the homeless. Problem is, Helt has an outstanding warrant for parole violations back in his home state of Oregon.

All the attention, while I’m sure wonderful for Cyrus’ career, meant that Oregon officials took notice. So Helt has now returned to Oregon and turned himself in. He is out on bail, possibly paid for by Cyrus, but having had his 15-minutes - literally actually -  Helt can now face the consequences while Cyrus gets to go on with her privileged little life.

That’s OK though, Cyrus can feel all squishy-goodnessy about herself for raising awareness about homelessness, even if she had to screw over some homeless guy to do it.

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And finally, my favourite story in, well forever. While Justin Beiber is egging houses and getting in car accidents and then blaming the paparazzi for causing them, the guys in Motley Crue mocked him this week as “weak.” The Crue guys took hell raising to unheard of heights during the 80’s, so they know a bad boy when they see it, and they don’t see it. According to Vince Neil this week:

“He started with the eggs, which was a little weak - a poor start. Then he got arrested in Miami for drag-racing and that was kinda cool - he was under the influence. Then he got arrested in Toronto and turned himself in. So he’s getting better, but he has work to do…. The next thing he’ll get arrested for is toilet-papering a house.”

Love it when the Beeb get’s taken to school, but as I always say at these stories, will somebody please tell him to pull up his pants.


Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter, Saturday Morning Coffee , , , , , , , ,

Fluffernutter Friday: David Bowie Is

August 29th, 2014

Omniverse Vision is releasing a documentary of the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition, David Bowie Is. To coincide with the opening of the exhibition in Chicago (gee, now that’s 2 reasons to head to the Chicago area), the documentary will be screened in 100 movie theatres across the US on September 23. Here’s the trailer for David Bowie Is:

At Home in Hespeler will have a review of David Bowie Is coming soon.

Meanwhile, if you like Bowie, a couple of years ago this video, previously thought lost, of him playing The Jean Genie in 1973 on Top of the Pops was leaked. The film for it had been saved from destruction and living in the basement of a cameraman on the program. It shows Bowie (and Mick Ronson on guitar) at his absolute best.

And for those who opened the link up the page and thought, Bondfest? Maude Adams? Who? This is Maude Adams

Maude Adams


Brian Gardiner David Bowie, musicians , , ,

Music Review Melodime: Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide

August 25th, 2014

It’s a good sign when the first time through a new album by a band I have never heard before, I stop the album to figure out the lyrics to one of the songs. But by the time I got to Unconditional, the thirteenth song on this eighteen song collection, I was not at all surprised to find myself doing so: I had already stopped what I was doing to listen closely a number of times; already played back one of the songs a second time; already noted a number of lines.

Melodime’s Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide feels like a folk album, and pressed I might even call it so. But the Virginia quartets fifth album in as many years has such gritty, rock hard guitar playing throughout that folk seems inadequate. Yet the songwriting sensibilities, the vocals and the lyrics often seem downright folk.

Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide is simply chock full of good, listenable, memorable songs with elements of rock, pop and the aforementioned folk sprinkled throughout. It is, quite simply put, an excellent album from first to last, good enough to make me want to hunt down their back catalogue and see what I’ve been missing.

Where The Sinners & The Saints Collide will be available September 2nd on Rock Ridge Music.


Tracklist:

1. The Call, Pt. 1
2. Halo
3. Two Strikes
4. Framed Love-Suicide (Let You Go)
5. Lullaby
6. Little People
7. Love Songs and Lies
8. Outlaws
9. Red Light, Green Light
10. Madman
11. Ruby Reds
12. City of Nothing
13. Unconditional
14. The Half of It
15. Exit Signs
16. Criminal (Let me Go)
17. Brothers
18. The Call, Pt. 2

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Brian Gardiner Uncategorized ,

The Freedom of Music: Making Change with the Rival Sons

August 24th, 2014

freedom-of-music-header

One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush - Spirit of Radio.

In February 2013 I was taking my wife for a weekend away in Kingston, Ontario. sidebar-7In preparation, I checked what’s on for that week and noticed the Rival Sons playing at a local bar for a $20 cover. Unfortunately, they were playing Kingston mid-week, before we got there, and were playing in my part of the world on the weekend when we would be in Kingston. I didn’t end up seeing them, but I called a friend and told him to make sure he did. “One day, you’ll brag to people that you saw these guys in a bar for $20,” I told him. “They’re that good.”

I’ve been doing Freedom of Music for eight-and-a-half years now, first as This week on my iPod” in February 2008, then in it’s current formation as The Freedom of Music in September of that year. Always it was the same though, essays on music, with some reviews thrown in for good measure.

In 2011 I got sent an album to review. This was new. In three years writing about music, nobody in the business itself seemed to notice. But that summer I started to receive notices, this artist has that video you may want to share, that sort of thing. Occasionally I’d get a song to review. No soap, I said to myself. Send me an album, I give you your review, but I’m not reviewing a YouTube video or a song. Then I got the email I was looking for, a complete album for download. An album by a new band that I had never heard of, but sounded interesting. An album I would quickly love: The Rival SonsPressure & Time.

Since then I get more and better offers to review music, including A-list material. Recently I had pre-reviews of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Deluxe Edition remaster, Kiss 40 and Bob Marley’s 40th anniversary re-release. That’s pretty significant music to be reviewed on my little blog.

This week a change came, a change that was a long time coming, but had it’s genesis in that first Rival Sons review. This blog was originally intended to be primarily political, with social commentary thrown in. But it was also meant to have some other aspects, music, the arts, poetry &tc. meshed in with the political commentary. As time as gone, politics and social commentary has gone out of At Home in Hespeler, the arts side increased, specifically music. It was, is, time to make the change to music/arts blog.

Sitting here three years later listening to Great Western Valkyrie, the latest, unbelievably good, Rival Sons album, I’m wondering what form these changes will take. Will I really have time for two or three album reviews a week, a book review, a Friday video post, Saturday Fluffernutter and this Sunday feature? Possibly not, but I do know, Freedom of Music is going nowhere. It will however, change. No more reviews, they will go in the main body of the blog on weekdays. The Freedom of Music will be saved for essays on music, and joined with another rarely done feature, Fluffernutter at the Movies (I might need new names for all this stuff), which will, I think, take the occasionally Sunday morning place of Freedom of Music.

Meanwhile, I’m off to Toronto for a day where I will almost certainly pick up Great Western Valkyrie,. It’s too good not to have on Vinyl and I can’t wait to hear songs like Electric Man, Good Things and Open My Eyes coming from my turntable instead of my earbuds. If you’re looking for some music to go with your Sunday morning coffee, may I recommend Rachael Ann Weiss, for whom I was sent three songs this week (not enough for a full review in my opinion, but enough to recommend you check her out) and thought she was great.


Brian Gardiner The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod

Fluffernutter Friday: Different Shades of Blue

August 22nd, 2014

Joe Bonamassa has announced the release of his latest album, Different Shades Of Blue. If the title track is any indication, this will be a “Holy Mother of God!” album. The song, video below, is the best thing I ever heard out of Bonamassa, possibly the best new song I’ve heard in years.

Bonamassa is offering a download of the single for the small price of your email address (mailing lists have value, &tc.). Go here to get a free MP3 download of the song Different Shades of Blue.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized ,

John Mellencamp: Plain Spoken

August 20th, 2014

plain_spoken_album_artworkJohn Mellencamp has announced he will release his 20th album of original material, called Plain Spoken, on September 23rd.

The album will feature ten new tracks from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, his first since 2010’s No Better Than This. It will be available on CD, digital download and vinyl LP.

Mellencamp has already released a single from the album, Troubled Man,that is currently available on Amazon and iTunes.

Here’s a live version of Troubled Man from Oklahoma in June.


TRACKLISTING:
1. Troubled Man
2. Sometimes There’s God
3. The Isolation of Mister
4. The Company of Cowards
5. Tears In Vain
6. The Brass Ring
7. Freedom Of Speech
8. Blue Charlotte
9. The Courtesy of Kings
10. Lawless Times

Brian Gardiner Album release, John Mellencamp , ,

Ace Frehley - Space Invader

August 18th, 2014

Kiss’ original spaceman, Ace Frehley is back with a new solo album that he promises will make ex-bandmates Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons “look foolish” for saying he was not in playing shape (”not fit to wear the Kiss uniform,” is the quote). So the question stands, does Frehley deliver? The answer is, actually, yes. If the standard is “fit to wear the Kiss uniform,” Space Invader is heads and shoulders above Kiss’ last album Sonic Boom.

acefrehley_spaceinvader1500pxWhat Frehley has always done well, playing inside the groove, allowing the song to shine and not overpowering the song with his guitar playing, he does very well here. From the title track and first single, Space Invader, to an addictive an groovy version of Steve Miller’s The Joker, to Starship, the seven-minute instrumental that closes the album, there’s no weak spot in terms of songwriting on Space Invader. True to his word, Frehley’s performance is good throughout: listen to the hot little solo on The Joker and ask yourself if it sounds like a guy who no longer has the goods?

As a vocalist, Frehley has always been a good, not great singer. But he manages to stay within his range and gives a good vocal performance throughout Space Invader. In fact, in can be argued Frehley is in better voice than his former bandmates these days, and may be in better voice than Gene Simmons ever was.

That said, this is a good, not great collection of songs. There is no Nothin’ to Lose, Duece or Firehouse (to pull three songs at random off of my running setlist) on Space Invader. All 12 songs are enjoyable, but there’s no standout song to make you run to the record store. Ace Frehley has put together a solid rock ‘n’ roll record, no small feat it seems in 2014. But it’s not Kiss circa 1975

Space Invader will be released on August 19th in CD, vinyl and digital download.


Brian Gardiner Kiss Army, Record Release, Review

Bob Seger: Ride Out

August 18th, 2014

Bob Seger will release his first album of new material in eight years on October 14th. Ride Out will be Seger’s 17th studio album, first since 2006’s Face the Promise.

cap028_bobseger_std_cover_rgbfin-300x300The announcement comes on the heels of the release of a new single last Friday, Detroit Made. And when I say “release of a new single,” I don’t mean put it on sale on iTunes or Amazon, made a YouTube video available or any other method of what is known as releasing a single in the internet era. Rather, Seger released the song to selected radio stations in the Detroit and Windsor area, hoping against hope, I expect, that it’s still 1977. Still, Detroit’s Greatest Hits 104.3, in a move that must screw up the tightly controlled marketing of the song, are streaming the song so that people can actually hear it. Hear Detroit Made here

Seger’s recording of Detroit Made, a John Hiatt song, is a rousing bit of rock with a country tinge. It is a fairly classic bit of Bob Seger straight ahead rock and roll, and while in one way it bodes well for the album, if it is the best of the album, as first singles often are, then Ride Out could prove to be a bit of a disappointment.

Not to worry though, with the Seger camps marketing plan in play, it’s unlikely anybody will ever hear it anyway.

No pre-sale information is available at this date, but I will provide links to pre-sale if they become available.


Brian Gardiner Bob Seger, Record Release, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin' , ,

New Bob Seger

August 15th, 2014

Bob Seger has released to radio a new single, John Hiatt’s Detroit Made.  The song will also appear on a new Seger album, which seems to be coming this fall.

Here’s Bob Seger in Detroit last April, performing Detroit Made.


Brian Gardiner Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin' , ,

Changes

August 14th, 2014

Changes. David Bowie sang of them. So did a young Olivia Newton John. Here at At Home in Hespeler, the times, as Bob Dylan might note, they are a changin’.

It has been some time since politics has taken center stage here, and I have, to be blunt, become completely disinterested in the politics. In a world in which Rob Ford might just be the best choice for mayor, the question of whether Toronto is in a death spiral seems absurd. The fight at all levels, however, has become so boring, so partisan that there’s no joy in doing it.

On the other hand, i get regular offers to review new music, by both established artists and new ones. As well, book review offers have started arriving, many on subjects in entertainment. The Saturday Fluffernutter has long been a favourite feature here, even if it’s dropped of the radar a bit as other activity has diminished the last while. And that’s the problem: as long as I see this as a primarily political blog, lack of political writing stops me writing other stuff. I try to limit the fun writing, until I have written something I have no interest in writing.

No More.

I don’t know what form these changes will take, but I do know that At Home in Hespeler is no longer a political blog, and hasn’t been for some time really. There will be more music reviews, and possibly some movie reviews. As I go along I except, hope, to add books, particularly ones on music and movies. But whatever face the changes take, one thing I know, there’ll be damn little, if any, politics.

To those who have read this as a political blog over the years, thank you for taking the time to read. There was a time when I enjoyed it immensely. However it’s time for this rock ‘n’ roller to CH-Ch-Change.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized

Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral:

June 27th, 2014

They must have rocks in their head Editionspiral toronto

Government-funded agency Waterfront Toronto is defending its decision to spend $529,800 on… two large granite rocks trucked in from the Laurentians and painted with candy-coloured stripes that adorn its signature urban beach… it spent $470,000 to clad a pavilion at neighbouring Sherbourne Common in zinc shingles — some of which now have to be replaced at the city’s expense because they were damaged by pucks fired from an adjacent ice rink (which doubles as a splash pad in summer). It was intended for skating, not hockey.
This being Canada, hockey was played.

But wait, it actually gets more absurd. Waterfront Toronto was given money, $1.5-Billion worth, and told go spend. No councilor voted for half-million-dollar rocks and $12-thousand umbrellas.

Then it gets even better:

But for Waterfront Toronto to continue its mission, it says it needs more money. The $1.5-billion startup fund will run dry by 2017, and the organization is asking for permission from the three levels of government to borrow money.

The one thing that troubles me, though. Why paint the rocks “with candy-coloured stripes”? Well…

The red and white stripes hide the seams where the rock was reassembled.

Even if I get the $529,000 for the rocks, the $800 won’t buy some mortar and a guy who can apply it?

And these guys think their a laughing stock because of Rob Ford.


Brian Gardiner Uncategorized

Saturday Fluffernutter: The If This Isn’t Nuts, What Is? Edition

June 21st, 2014

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorNow where was I? Ah yes, just before the unexpected Fluffernutter hiatus, Justin Beiber had a spot of bother. Something about eggs and a neighbours expensive panel work as I recall. fluffernutterNow I know some of you thought I must have been too tired, busy or lazy to write the Fluffernutters, but really, I couldn’t possibly write any more while this story was unresolved. As proof, I offer that Fuffernutter is suddenly, unannoucedly back, and TMZ Monday reported “D.A. to File Vandalism Charges Today in Egging Case.”

This all leads to the one inescapable question: whats worse, a 20-year old who eggs his neighbours house? A D.A.’s office that investigates an egging, never mind taking six months to do so? A prosecutor who says “If this isn’t a felony, nothing is,” about throwing eggs? Or a media that uses the phrase “egging case” without irony?

To paraphrase “a prosecutor in the case,” if this isn’t nuts, what is?

fluffincolorMeanwhile, A-1 cutey Selena Gomez, aka the former Beib-friend/current Beib-friend/former Beib-friend is, once again, on Beiber’s arm. This has friends and family worried that Beiber is a bad influence on the nice girl Gomez.

On cue, in the fashion of young ladies from time immemorial, Gomez set out to prove them right. On Tuesday night police were called to Gomez’ house after neighbours complained of a loud party. Because neighbourhood relations are something you go to Justin Beiber for advice on.

fluffincolorI hate talking Miley Cyrus. From cute little girl singer to hopelessly crass skank in one short step, it’s just so disappointing. This week in Spain she put in a concert in which she wore a one piece money suit, and yanked it up in wedgie fashion, showing far more than any sane human wants to see. Oh yea, and she was sticking her tongue out in that german shepherd with it’s head to the window way she seems to think is sexy.

Funny thing about the last three stories. Notice Selena Gomez is the nice girl here. Notice too, the story is her friends and family are worried about her. Now consider that Justin Beiber’s dad was one of the posse when Beiber was busted for racing on the Florida streets a few months back and Miley Cyrus’ dad, Billy Ray, has previously declared himself proud of her skank-shenanigans. A family around who’s worrying about your welfare, instead of enabling your stupidity is such a difference in a young stars life. Here’s a prediction: Gomez will be fine, but I’ll be writing about Cyrus and Beiber until I get sick of them and put them on the Paris Hilton/Kardashian list of people who, short of murder, I just won’t write about.

fluffincolorHarrison Ford is said to be “on the road to recovery,” after having an accident on the set of Star Wars VII: The Infinite Sequel. The 71-year old Ford, who is reprising his role as smuggler Hans Solo, broke his leg when his ship, The Millennium Falcon, fell on him. While initially reported to have broken his ankle, Ford had surgery on his broken leg, and will begin rehab shortly.

To get this straight, Han Solo is now 71 and the Millennium Falcon is falling out of the sky. I’m thinking maybe I’ll take a pass on lining up dressed as a Wookie for opening night of this one.

fluffincolorActor Michael Jace appeared in court this week in the April shooting death of his wife. On May 19th Jace was charged with murder and is being held on $2-million bail in LA. Jace called 911 at the time of his wife’s shooting saying he had killed his wife.

Appearing today, the month in prison has not been good to Jace. The 52-year old star of The Shield (and black panther in Forrest Gump) looks like a 70-year old man. He has aged dramatically in the month since he first appeared.

Jace faces a 50-year sentence if convicted, but don’t look for him survive anywhere near that long.


fluffincolorCasey Kasem (1932-2014)

Up until a couple of years ago, “who is the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo?” made a great trivia question at a party. Nowadays, however, everybody seem to know that DJ Casey Kasem voiced the Great Dane’s hippy pal.

Kasem was known primarily as the host of America’s Top 40, a radio show that ran from 1970 to 2009, although it is primarily remembered nostalgically for it’s heyday on the 70’s and into the 80’s.

In his final years he suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, which ultimately took his life, and were marred by fighting over his treatment between his wife of 34-years and his children from a previous marriage. The disagreements sadly prevented Kasem form having some dignity in death, something he always projected in life. None the less, he will be remembered for his silky smooth voice and wonderful way of introducing songs through stories. May he rest in peace.

Brian Gardiner Fluffernutter , , , , , , ,

Lord Stanley’s Candy Dish

June 16th, 2014

Times sure have changed from the beer at the strip club days. Friday night last, or more technically Saturday morning, the LA Kings arrived at the North End Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach, the same club that they celebrated their Stanley Cup victory 2-years ago, with the Cup in hand. As part of the evenings proceedings, they filled the bowl of the cup with M&M’s (Plain, Peanut and Peanut Butter).

Here’s the video:


Brian Gardiner Hockey, Sports ,