The Stuff of Life: Musical Moments

I have every intention of writing a post here, but, no guarantees. (Three days after writing this introduction, I return to the keyboard.) It’s another ‘hot one’ outside. (As I sit to put the punctuation on this blog post, an entire month and more has gone by.  It is raining outside, with a night time temperature of 13 degrees. I invite my readers to just sit back and enjoy the ride!)  We’ve had a long string of beautiful days and after such a rough winter, is it any wonder that writers step away from their keyboards and artists abandon their studios?  It’s time to make discoveries and later, pull back into the world of studios when  the snow flies and the world is once more, asleep.

I thought I might report on the folk festival daily, but that also failed after Thursday’s reviews, so here I will attempt a sketchy recollection of summer moments and the recent ‘stuff’ of life.

Dad arrived safe and sound, completing another Trans-Canada drive from Ontario and this has been a joy for me; to be able to cook together, eat beautiful foods together and to kiss one another good night before heading for bed.  Our conversations can be interesting and charged with new awareness and revelation OR frustrating and awkward.  We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on several topics and everyone knows it, but I respect no one more than I respect my Dad, for his knowledge, his generosity and his huge conviction. My Dad and I are both religious people and we treasure those discussions.  He knows his scripture and when I share my thoughts about nature, the land and my feelings (both positive and negative), he comes from the same framework and so he inspires me.  Dad loves me and it’s so nice to be on the same red sofa, in the same rooms…the same house…with THAT love.  We are sharing beautiful times.  I love my Dad.

July 27th marked Mom’s second birthday without us, and us without her.  I happened to be down at the folk festival.  Dad was visiting our relations in southern Alberta.  Daughter, Cayley and I melted into the day.  I told her that I didn’t want to be rushing and so I had my first coffee on my back yard deck while watching the birds at the feeder and doing a bit of gardening.  My Mom would have enjoyed all of that.

Sharing a tarp with my children, first we enjoyed Sam Carter.

P1180234

I think that one of the most blessed moments of that day was when Matt Patershuk  was emcee at a workshop and decided to end the set with a participatory event that involved the improvisation of You Are My Sunshine, a tune that my mother led our family in singing on so many wonderful road trips.  Mom so enjoyed road trips AND sing songs.  This was a true gift.  There were several really magical moments shared during Folk Festival.

The first concert that I ever attended came after I left Great Falls, Montana and attended University in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Yates Theater hosted an intimate concert featuring an up-and-comer, Bruce Cockburn.  A young, gangly man, he walked out to center stage, carrying his own wooden stool and an acoustic guitar.  Above him, was hung a mirror ball that came to life during his tune, All the Diamonds in the World.  It was such an amazing concert.  I routinely listened to his early albums on Mark Mehrer’s turn table in my residence.

Yates LethbridgeI enjoyed Bruce Cockburn at both a workshop and an evening concert.  Both experiences were moving as I felt so plugged into the music.

P1180216Nigerian, Seun Kuti, truly rocked the Main Stage on Saturday night.  Cayley and I moved right up to the front row for this…energy…drums…rhythm…voices that were strong and full of conviction.  This was mesmerizing!  Walking to the C Train that night, we felt pulled into the crowd…music connecting all.

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

As I continue to jot these musical moments, I am realizing that in no way am I capturing my delight and engagement in these acts.  In fact, I feel that there is no way that I can even list all of the musicians that I discovered this year at folk festival.  I’ll attempt some highlights, beginning with Leonard Sumner of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Manitoba.  He has evolved to a style that combines a folk/country rhythm with a rap lyric.  I was touched by this young man’s connection to a unique narrative and was impressed by his song writing, a tool to reach others and to encourage healing.  For similar reasons, I enjoyed Nick Sherman of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

New to me, as well, was The Provincial Archive of our own Edmonton, Alberta.  I enjoyed them at an early workshop on the final day as well as their own stage in the heat of the afternoon.  Nice thing was, they led us in a final tune, a Pete Seeger tribute.  We all joined in singing If I Had a Hammer, a tune that wound up the final performances of every stage all over the grounds that afternoon. Very cool for lots of reasons.

I waited, excited, to hear Matt Andersen on the Main Stage on Sunday Night.  I have enjoyed his music for years.  His guitar playing was fantasmic and his last tune of the night blew us all out of the water…a great ending to a highly successful 2014 Folk Festival.  I guess I’d have to say that I prefer to see Matt take a stage on his own…no back-up, but the Mellotones showed up and really owned the stage along side ‘the man’.

Music…a huge net that captures the stuff of our lives!  Universal. Powerful. Magic.

The Waltz We Were Born For
Walt McDonald, 1934

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.

3 thoughts on “The Stuff of Life: Musical Moments

    • I had several friends I wanted to stop and visit in Vancouver as I whipped through…Rita…Bob…Carol…you, but this will have to wait for an actual stop off in Vancouver and on my own. My daughter has many small second hand shops and coffee places she wishes to share with me, so one day! Are you feeling the transition into autumn yet? Already there is a chill in the air here each evening…and darkness falls earlier and earlier. It was such a magical summer! Sending blessings, John.

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