Recap: #allmyfavouritesingersareMadic roadtrip 2015

With an echoing beauty from turning vinyl and spinning memories in my basement den, It’s time to begin some reflection about this grandiose concerting adventure. It happened in two parts, of course… because of two shows. First, Red Deer. Second, Cranbrook. Like every good story..or impulsive parking strategy, let’s start in reverse.

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Nov. 25: post-Red Deer show. new hat!

In the few days between Red Deer’s Wednesday show, and Cranbrook’s Tuesday stop (though not even knowing it was on the agenda), I spent a couple of days in Edmonton, then returned home to Athabasca. It was important to centre myself in the events that had taken place by reflecting on them and telling the story to others. I also finally applied for a job, prepared for the Tuesday interview chat we had been anticipating for months, and packed up my things in a methodical, but last-minute manner. Not without yet another challenging spat with mom, but gave her a card of tanks n luv, and a hug on my way out the door.

The second part adventure to Cranbrook needed many stages – all of which took place in the correct sequence as an enabling feature of networking. First: “Anything Goes” reassured that I can get on the bus in Athabasca and buy a ticket on arrival to Edmonton. Then, staying the night with the folks who were driving to Calgary in the early AM, and going from bus to bus to get to their home in Riverdale. Our drive to Calgary was profound and encouraging to continue pursuing all that I find dear in my heart when it comes to culture, geography, and honest living. I was encouraged to consider the perspective of “only practice joy”, if it does not serve joy, remove it from your life. Items, activities, people..  Allow the placeholders to fall away to make room for the ones that matter, and contribute to your ongoing enjoyment, happiness, success, and productive nature.

Once arriving in Calgary, I looked at the options before me, the timeline available, and decided that prior to renting a car, I would go up in the Calgary Tower. If this is a trip of experiences, which it was, I was to make the most of it. And the easiest way to “go to everything” is to learn about it from 20 stories up. An interactive guide and empty survey floor led to morning yoga looking at the mountains. I began to build my plan and focus for the day by understanding the community I was to be leaving. It was important to me, more than ever in that moment, to have an experience, and not simply leave right away. [Albeit, if I had rented a car immediately, got on the road, I could have been at the mountains for the phone interview around noon..and to Cranbrook before dark. but, instead I savoured the morning in Calgary and got my bearings together.]

Though I asked for something the size of the white Sonic in the lot, they said they couldn’t find the keys for it, or something. That for what I needed, the Kia Forte would be the choice of car. Once I sat down and surveyed my road companion for the next couple of days, I was pleased with this upgrade. A mountain ready car. (It is important for the rental company to know where you plan to go! They can help!)

I chose to take the road I’d never been down before, as a metaphoric embodiment of everything about this second trip. I was challenging old-Judi so much by embracing the qualities of Jude I needed to do a road trip. Vulnerable strength.

I drove on the highway to a comfortable playlist of pre-show #Madic, taking in the sun and the clear highway, and the considerate drivers just going til they get there. Singing with the words written on my soul, Catharsis set in. 

However, my phone was not charging, and it was very important that I was able to use it for navigation, as well as communication etc. These are the times we live in.

So, I turned off at Nanton. The highway goes right through town but there was also something I remembered about my navigation path that indicated I needed to turn in the vicinity of Nanton. Their convenience store provided me with everything I was hoping to buy: a humble paper map, car charger, new phone cord, and a coffee. I was on my way again.

But, in this moment of being parked, a temporary moment of calm… I took a sprint into the field of this community park. Simply excited to feel the blood and air and ache in my leg be challenged by the opportunity to feel the benefits of a human body. I look down in the grass and notice a collection of well formed, character filled branches and twigs. “Mom needs a basket/nest built for this Sunday”, I remind myself. This was a good reason to have arrived in this park. I collected two handfuls and jaunted back to the car.

Feeling accomplished and refreshed, I ensured the paper map’s plan was similar to Google’s and continued on, through the snowy streets. I tested out the winter tire capabilities of the car. They were so-so with immediate stopping.. but it had also been a while since driving in full on winter. It’s been way too mild lately.

Knowing the capacity of my tires and brakes was an incidental but important activity for driving mountain roads. Just one moment of allowing the trip guide itself. I followed intuition and logical suggestions the whole trip, and with a car that was able and ready to help me along.. this trip had presence.

From Nanton, the road I took was a less major road, so the traffic was different. But I was facing the mountains, with the sun still shining – just barely holding onto the horizon like I was barely holding on to the aches of my past self. It felt all too perfect to be driving into this experience. I did however, allow my wandering brain the pleasure of demanding a I needed to publish something to declare to these men at the other end of the road trip that I wasn’t full of shit, that my intention has purpose and an ultimate end goal. So I did. I took an unscheduled half an hour stop, singing and writing. Figuring out the limits of what I could do with no wifi and only what was accessible by my phone… I published and tweeted out the first step of what I’d been hoping to produce.

Feeling satisfied in that moment, I continued on. With few turns, they often took me by surprise, but the Forte allowed some sympathy for my exploratory ways. i took a turn too quickly for the nature of the road, but luckily, the wheels hugged the road enough to bring me around the bend safely. I slowed, breathed, looked at the mess of things that were thrown from the front seat, and sighed in relief it was not any worse.

Unfortunately, as I continued on, the sun quickly faded away. Exactly was I was warned against – driving in the mountains in the dark – was about to happen. BUT I am very happy to have taken the Fernie route. As long as the sky remained light, I savoured the beauty-full open sky, and the humbly magnificent mountains. I still, though, was craving full and demandingly charismatic Rockies in Banff.. but that wasn’t part of today’s adventure. 

(I did get there though! See below:)

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During this time, I sang with the depth of my lungs because I had it in me, and no one else would hear it. I recorded some of the times I sang along to a particular song because it was going well.. but mostly, I just needed to find my voice. And I sure did. It’s there, hiding most of the time behind fear and a choked lumpy throat.. but I found it.

When I drove through Frank, AB and thought about the devastation that area felt for a moment in history, I was slammed by a feeling of regret for not being able to honor them by going to the interpretive centre, or being able to see the mountain, etc. But I did find “Frank Slide Liquor”… and of anything I could do, I felt I was supposed to have something from that store as a talisman for the adventure. So, I asked them what is the most ‘Frank Slide Liqour’ item they had, under $50. I seriously considered a bottle of gin from the Turner valley. But ultimately settled on the most hilarious bottle of bison grass vodka from Poland. With no idea what it might taste like, I was all in, for $28. (Update: Not ‘alf-bad, b’ys)

I continued, into the darkness, aiming for Fernie and then Cranbrook. I had no idea if or when there would be a time shift upon arriving in BC, so I prepared for it, but I was also cautious. The potential reality of a missed concert entered my consciousness, if I were to keep stopping. This meant the next leg was all at once or not at all.

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Arriving in Cranbrook with 7 minutes before the show time, there was little time to ask why the time didn’t change…just accept the synchronicity. I sought out parking near the venue, and nearly got stuck (when the odometer was reading 420.9). Adjusted my location and relied on my Organic Box winter driving training.. I boss-parked that car into a beauty of a spot just across the residential street, and grabbed the few things I would need to sit inside for Matt’s set.

There was a piece of paper at the front counter with my name on it. Matt’s offer of a guestlist ticket. I WAS the guestlist. 

A very helpful woman at the desk allowed me to choose my seat, “in case there was someone I wanted to sit beside”.. but no, it was just me. Rolling solo on this crazy adventure. I chose an open seat at the front of the room. No tickets had been requested for the wheelchair space, so I took one of the 4 available. A free front row seat feels great, by the way.

On the whole, the concert experience was perfect. There was a shift in Matt’s performance nature – he mentioned it began in Nelson, BC when he decided to embrace Dan’s between-song banter.

{Every artist needs a good stand up routine while they tune. This is something Heartwood Folk Club taught me. David Francey would do it while his guitar player tuned. John Wort Hannen also had funny quips. Any of the 100+ names I had the pleasure to witness as a teen encouraged that practice. It fills space by continuing the development of place in the room. Why did people buy a ticket? to be entertained.}

Matt joked about no one having heard the new songs because they hadn’t heard the old ones. I realized that perhaps I was the only one in the room who knew most of the songs, but after all I was the one who made contact and was at the second show in a week. 

When Matt brought his set to a close, I dashed out to the car to get a few things, now that the atmosphere was relaxed and I had some time. Retrieving my DM+B hat, a purse to contain the bottle of vodka, and the art I had specifically remembered to be signed. One by me for Dan, one by me for me, but oddly nothing by Dan for me this time.

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The gift was a doodly art I’d brought and created as a journal of the show. It became a template for specific quotes and moments from the evening, with possibility to be completely packed with words.. but there was an interesting quality to leaving empty space. Words dancing with artistic notation and reminiscient of a forest reflecting in the water. Balancing lyrics were written on opposite sides of this soundwave, and challenging voices to the status quo were given a great opportunity to embody larger open spaces. My psychogeographical roots seep out, more often than sometimes. 

I was a chaotic mess of listening, photographing, and documenting moments that mattered. I hoped I wasn’t making too much noise or distracting.. but there was an element of ‘do it anyway’.

There was no need to mention my connection to the happenstance of the evening from the stage. I seized a few opportunities to participate with song requests (Journal of a Narcoleptic “sorry, no..” and Jasper “if only we could just bring Aidan Knight on stage”.. settling for someone behind me to suggest both Jeopardy and Vessel. perfect) .. and cute one liners “all my favourite singers are Madic”… They took charge of this show with gentle deliberation, delivering each line with conviction, care, cheer, and a sense of closure for a tour well done. That much came through with each word.

An opportunity to put my vocal chords to work on Sold, and So Much for Everyone, was a beautiful time. I had never felt more able to contribute to the sing along as I did after 4 hours of playing with these sounds coming from ME.

The show ended, a Cranbrook-ian got the setlist, and Dan makes his way to the lobby via the stairs off the stage. An old friend stops to say “hey remember me” and he does. They catch up in laughter and joy.

Earlier that day (ca. 7:30AM) and taking place somewhere around Red Deer on HWY2 south, a conversation about lifestyle shifts brought up the idea of “only maintain things that bring you joy” as a way forward. A thought which became a mantra of the adventure. One I must selfishly entitle “Jude in the Mountains” because of the power, and sweetness, of this song in particular: 

Much of what went undocumented in many ways until now, is all the ways this trip felt like an embodiment of this song ‘Jude’, written & named for his son. Chances collide, planets align, forces combine. it all had meaning. Everything happens for a reason is such a common phrase to fall back on, when we are feeling swept up in the world’s cadence it’s impossible to know what will happen next. But the most important part is to lean into the opportunity and leave what you feel safe in. Serendipity is life, Dan and I agreed, after briefly discussing Jude as a name, and my decision to make contact because of it.

Music, from stage to ear, brings me joy. Unending gratitude for those who dedicate so much deliberation to its creation, production, and legacy.

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