A belated recap: My Canadian Music Week 2016

I was able to catch quite a lot of live music during the week, and I’m sure I could write about a lot more than I have here, but these truly were the performances that really touched me – or that I was able to stay for long enough to have been touched by them. I know it’s not the first time I’ve admitted that it’s a highlight of my life working for the festival, but it isn’t always awesome shows: I do actually get work done!

My favourites this year:

Lights at Danforth Music Hall

Lights at the Danforth Music Hall | Monday, May 2nd

At this point, I hadn’t been to a show in ages. Ages. I’ve been to small shows, and they have been lovely and intimate but there’s something about attending a show by someone who has been through it all, and has continued to hold on the thing that makes them magical.

It was an acoustic set for almost 1500 people, and you could feel the intimacy in the room all the way at the back of the balcony where I was seated. I am ashamed to admit I haven’t listened to any of her latest stuff but that didn’t stop me from enjoying her incredible talent.

What a delightful way to start my Canadian Music Week experience.

Royal Canoe at Mod Club Theatre

Royal Canoe at Mod Club Theatre | Wednesday, May 4th

I hadn’t planned on staying long, but the route I chose to check-in on my venues for the night made me quite late for my check-in at this venue. I’m so glad it did. I ended up being able to catch Royal Canoe‘s entire set, which was so much fun. I wasn’t that familiar with their music, but it was easy to enjoy.

Definitely a highlight of my week.

The People The Poet at Cameron House | Thursday, May 5th

I tried so hard to make it back to the area from the east end of the city to catch some friends, The Cat & The Queen, playing at The Hideout but I didn’t quite make it. So I thought I would check out The People The Poet at Cameron House. I discovered this band from Ireland while I was investigating international bands, and our potential transformer needs and had penciled in a few of their showcases in case I could catch them.

As a lover of Mumford and Sons, the Head in The Heart and of Monsters and Men, these guys were right up my alley. Would definitely go to see them again if they made their way back to Canada.

Demi Louise at Drake 150

Demi Louise at Drake 150 | Friday, May 6th

I wasn’t able to catch her whole set as i had to get started on my schedule of venue-checks for the evening, but I managed to stay for a couple of songs performed by this gentle-woman. I first met her last year when I advanced the shows at the same venue. She reminds me a lot of Rory from the GIlmore Girls, except that she actually has musical talent1. With a buttery voice, tunes that are funny and serious at the same time it’s hard not to swoon when she starts playing.

Very glad I was able to catch her set, ever-so-briefly.

Motel Raphael at Lee's Palace

Motel Raphaël at Lee’s Palace | Saturday, May 7th

Three years ago, my life was very different, and meeting and working with this band was one memorable experience. I was still Stage Managing. They were gracious, humble, and they rocked. I’m very happy to report that they still rock, and I can only assume they’re every bit as gracious and humble (I wasn’t able to stick around to stay hello – duty called).

I can only hope they keep coming back so I can continue to catch their live shows. So much love for these gals (and their band).

Who did you get to see at Canadian Music Week 2016?

Footnotes:
  1. where Rory did not[]

When the pain begins to fade

While you’re in pain, it’s easy to forget a time when your life didn’t consist of anything else. When you’re in emotional pain, it’s really hard to focus on anything else. There are things you can do to survive, to make it through each and every moment – moment by moment – every day. People will call you brave. People will call you give you all sorts of positive encouragement because they think it helps. It does help, but nothing takes the pain away.

The only thing that helps is time. And no matter how many times you’ve been through pain, you don’t become immune and the pain doesn’t get any easier to get over.

[I’m going to interrupt myself for a second because as I’m writing this I’m continually hearing a voice in my head telling me how dramatic I am1. Yes, it’s something a real person has repeatedly said to me.2. I’m airing it out because I can’t concentrate on what I want to say].

Now that the pain is beginning to fade3, I’m grateful because I’ve survived through most of the worst of the pain without the aid of the usual vices and for the first time in my life I feel like I’m able to properly reflect on all the things that went wrong and really learn from them. I’m aware that I’m not out of the woods yet. The pain has begun to fade but the grey area I’m in means I could have a relapse at any minute.

After a good weekend like this past one, a relaxing week before that, and an amazing week working for Canadian Music Week before that… it’s nice to look forward to a time when I can hold said pain the palm of my hand4, and look at it fondly, as it’s all I’ll have left of what happened. At least, after months of trying it appears to me that it will be all I’ll have left. I’d explain further, but that would require talking about things that aren’t mine to talk about so I won’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but when it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it rarely ever is anything but a duck, right? Hmm.

Here’s to looking forward to an amazing summer filled with awesome friends, and adventures 🙂

Footnotes:
  1. with negative connotations[]
  2. No, the negative connotation wasn’t always there with their words[]
  3. and for the sake of my summer I am hoping this is a permanent shift[]
  4. because it’ll be that small[]

On rejecting stage fright

I thought about it briefly as I was getting ready to meet my friend Jen for the evening. I thought about it long enough to pick out a poem to read, if I did in fact pull my finger out of my ass and read that night. Mind you, it took me less than 30 seconds to figure out which poem I would read. You know, if I did read that night.

I had a particularly difficult day. Most days had been difficult leading up to that day. Most days are difficult, but you find the light1, focus just below it and you move forward. We arrived pretty early; much earlier than we needed to. Thank goodness, because we were both starving. We walked next door to a cute little restaurant called The Combine Eatery – which seems like such an awkward name, but the food and the service made up for it.

I think it really helped that I was with Jen; she’s always been someone who always accepted me for who I am, and has always been such a good friend. We arrived late, but were able to sneak a couple of seats in the back of the room while the first poet was reading from her book of poems. All the poets were lovely in their own way. Jen and I had our favourites.

It wasn’t until the second break that I told Jen I was thinking of going up. I didn’t have a reaction when I told her. That was progress. I also didn’t have a reaction when I went up to the front to sign-up. More progress. There were three people in total to sign up for the open mic component that night. I was to go last.

The first was a man who had memorized his own poem, and performed it with such conviction it could only be described as art. The second was an older lady who was part of a trio of older women who wrote poems together; she was endearing, and her poem heart-warming. Every time one of them stepped up to the microphone, my heart raced and my upper body would get really hot. I used my meditation breathing to bring my heart-rate down. It worked, temporarily, every time. More progress.

What impressed me the most was that when it was my turn to step up to the microphone, I was able to ignore the fact that my chest was burning, my heart was racing, and that my fingers were shaking so much for long enough to provide whoever was listening with a very small introduction about myself, and – better yet – to read the whole poem. It helped that the audience was kind, and that I announced that I have stage fright. It also helped that I picked a very short poem.

I’m proud of myself for being able to do that. I’m not sure how often I’ll do it, but I like the idea that maybe with enough practice I’ll actually be able to sing in public without doubting myself too.

Footnotes:
  1. you don’t want to go blind after all[]

It’s All Happening: Canadian Music Week 2016

When I first signed up to volunteer for Canadian Music Week, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had gone through the biggest – at the time – breakup of my life. I can’t possibly be ashamed to say that most of the best things in my life have come about because I was trying to continue finding the light while my heart was broken. I can’t be ashamed because I’ve had years of evidence that this is just how I am; just how my life plays out. I need to own it1.

I remember filling out the form online, and not really expecting to hear back from them. While I had been on many committees and organized many events for school2, I had never been involved with something on this scale. To my delight they wrote back and offered me a Stage Manager position. In my first year, A Stage Manager. ME!

At least those were the thoughts going through my head at the time. Looking back, it of course makes sense. I have a knack for logistics, and I had plenty of experience organizing events. I’m so grateful that he saw that in me.

Year after year, I would look forward to this time of year – up until a few years ago this would have been in March – because when I was doing work for Canadian Music Week3 was the best time of my life. I remember a boyfriend-at-the-time asking me why I loved doing it, and what I get out of it. He tried to figure out if I was doing it for the contacts, or if I was doing it to get a job, to get into free gigs, or to find hot musicians to date4.

And truth be told, sure, I would like all of those things but the fact is that whenever I am doing something for Canadian Music Week – or any event I love – nothing else matters. I have stage fright, but I have to present to a room full of people? No problem5. My heart hurts for reasons I’m not willing to divulge at this time? Definitely no problem!

I don’t actually get to see that many gigs since I started as a Crew Chief though6 but I’m hoping this year will be different. I plan to make the most of this year, both by attending the conference and checking out some shows that I know will kick-ass7.

I love the people I get to work with, and I can’t wait to rock out8 this week.

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Footnotes:
  1. Maybe that’s why none of my relationships ever work out… but I’m going to save that topic for another blog post[]
  2. both high school and university[]
  3. whether I was getting paid or not[]
  4. I know better now of course: Musicians and I, just don’t mix[]
  5. except for when there is a problem, but you can’t win them all[]
  6. We manage the Stage Managers, it’s a whole lotta managing[]
  7. because let’s face it, the line-up is always stellar[]
  8. in every sense of the word[]