My first impression of the newly christened Golden Apple art and performance venue was chaos. Deranged papier mâché creatures rested on an old printing press; puppets hung from the ceiling and Discordian paintings rested against the wall and, once mounted, were ready to amaze viewers.
People began arriving for singer/songwriter Dana Sipos’ and friends show, and the venue took on a less eerie air. A friendly dog named Blue Bear, the mascot of the Golden Apple, sat on my feet while I soaked in the bizarre, kitschy interior décor.
There was an old popcorn-making stand, a bowling game escaped from a video-game arcade from the 1970s and a shrine to a three-foot-tall Barbie that included a multitude of toys, shells and miscellaneous junk such as beer bottle caps.
By 9 p.m., the crowd swelled and I found it interesting that many young people spoke French in the audience. Not that it was primarily young people, as this show seemed to be open to all, and some older folks were enjoying the scene.
In a small stage, set in a corner, Ryan McNally took up his guitar.
“You can’t just be ready, you got to die,” he sang in a down-home blues fashion. McNally recently returned from Atlin, where he had a fresh song to sing for the Whitehorse folks, “I tried it out in Atlin and it didn’t go too terribly,” McNally said modestly.
The music was solid, with some great lyrics. My favourite and standout of the night was when he brought out his new material. And the songwriting behind the music was incredible, “I drank so much coffee, I walk like a tap dancer” and “My dreams are like cigarettes, I’ve been chain-smoking all night.”
After a quick break, Dana Sipos, Yellowknife performer, stepped up. Her set seemed to be stripped bare, compared with McNally, yet strong and heartfelt. Primarily a folksinger, she brought out the playful kazoo and made it really work in her first song.
Her song, Diamond-Mine Dust was a lament but with some sass.
Later in the evening, McNally backed up Sipos, something they’ve both been working on since touring in eastern Canada. He joked that he’d had to play a lot more folk, and before he’d only done blues. Sipos’ spare music combined with McNally’s bold blues made an interesting and solid partnership.
The Golden Apple is run by partners Charles Hegsted, member of the hip-hop group, Proverbial, and Barpt Abyssmollasses, an artist specializing in painting chaos.
“We wanted to create a unique space, something esoteric and strange,” said Hegsted. “Let’s put it this way: if you come for a show, there’s no guarantee you’ll remain in the audience … You could even be called up onstage.”
For a night of artistic chaos, check out the Golden Apple, at the former location of the Blue Feather Youth Centre.