What's In Your Fridge: Rainbow Robert

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      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz Ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6 cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Rainbow Robert

      Who are you

      I am the artistic director of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and can often be found unleashing an onslaught of strange and beautiful music on the city of Vancouver. 

      First concert

      My mom took me to see Michael Jackson at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in 1984. The concert was supposed to be super high tech, lasers and all, and turned out to be a complete gong show, rife with cutting-edge technical difficulties. Luckily she agreed to take me to see PiL (Public Image Ltd.) at a Disco Roller Rink soon after, which was absolutely unforgettable. 

      Life-changing concert

      The experience of seeing the Butthole Surfers Hairway to Steven tour at Les Foufounes Électriques in 1988 is indelibly etched in my memory. It was an utterly unhinged scene, the strobe lights were cranked and I was being relentlessly pressed toward the drum kit by a screaming throng of people when Gibby Haynes started spraying lighter fluid on the cymbals and lighting them on fire. Definitely the only gig where my eyebrows were singed. 

      Top three records

      PJ Harvey 4-Track Demos  After listening to PJ Harvey for years, hearing the original 4-track demo for Rid of Me was like a boot to the gut. Her visceral and brutal take on human tenderness felt so honest and utterly necessary. I find the rawness of this entire album deeply moving.

      Björk Homogenic This album feels like a journey to a number of different twisted mythical destinations. Each place completely real and alive, deeply stark, yet full of momentum and rippling with off kilter time and gravity.  

      Boogie Down Productions By All Means Necessary  I was already hopped up on Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet when I heard this record. The rudimentary beats and intelligent, if not tone deaf, hip-hop style made KRS One my favourite rapper. The wide range of largely socially conscious messages on this album won me over. The lyric “fresh for 88’ you suckers” makes me laugh now. 

      All-time favourite video

      Nina Hagen “New York New York” Seeing this video changed my outlook on humanity at the age of 12. Someone pressed play on the Betamax, and all previous notions of propriety, acceptable attire, and options for artistic expression smashed against the wall like a crystal vase. I am forever in search of things that are as shockingly liberating as that was in the moment. 

      What's in your fridge

      Harissa. Harissa is a North African hot sauce, a blend of dried chillies, fresh herbs, garlic, citrus juice, tomato, spices. I use it to make "Zoe" salad, a beautiful cubed avocado, olive, feta cheese and veggie mess slathered with Harissa. The salad is named after my friend Zoe, who became the first decked out East Van punk rock professor at the London school of economics. 

      Turmeric Elixir with lemon and ginger. I live on this stuff, and endless other technicolor variations on the theme. When I'm on the road at festivals I'll often knock over a health food store and walk away with a stupid array of different elixirs. Green smoothies, carrot juice, ginger shots, all of it. The last time I opened my fridge while on the road it looked like a mad scientists lab, with little glass jars of all sizes filled with different coloured liquids. I share the elixirs with friends, the charcoal smoothy went to Sister Nicole Izobel Garcia, a cool singer/drummer who performs dressed as a nun along side of the Reverend Beat Man, a Swiss guy who dresses like a priest, of course. You have to match the elixir to the recipient. Charcoal smoothies for nuns! I'm told that Beat Man prefers ice cream. 

      Highly Unusual Quantities of Root Vegetables. Scads of organic carrots and various root vegetables are huddled together in the crisper of my fridge. A vast array of slightly chilled little bundles of carrots and beets filled with unrequited dreams of becoming elixirs in the next life. 

      The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival runs from June 22 to July 1 at various venues. Go here for full details.