CBC agrees: ‘Halifax is so hot right now’

Maritimers know how to have a good time, as a factor of the saltiness of their environment and family gatherings. It’s no wonder (but is certainly a refreshing treat) to hear that CBC considers some Halifax locals to be worth listening to right now.

On this recent list, Devarrow and Walrus were both named as two of ten emerging artists to listen for as they continue pursuing an ever widening path into the Canadian and global music community. Devarrow – an artist moniker for Graham Ereaux – first came to my attention playing small university shows in Sackville, NB, and contributing a recording to the school’s annual benefit CD entitled Conduct Becoming, in memory of an alumni with proceeds going toward cancer research. That early sound of playful art coming from this young man, his guitar, and any other instruments he could play simultaneously (incl. kick drum, harmonica, tambourine, looping tracks) were the talk of the cozy university town earlier this decade. Alongside this series of compilations of classmates’ ingenuity and liberal arts awareness synthesized into music, I listened to The Coast, The Cottage on repeat back in the day.

Last spring, I was delighted to hear Devarrow’s remade sound as ambient interlude music for a 100in1Day planning event in the Halifax Central Library meeting room. Considering the joy already in the room, it was a lovely cherry on top. I was unsurprised to have another familiar face in the room, though no less delighted. Knowing this music that had early promise was finding continued venues to nurture success is a confidence boost for the community our generation has formed. SO, to hear Graham made this list with special nods to his recent win of Casino Nova Scotia Artist-in-Residence grant is a huge step as a sign of Halifax’s supportive network of musicians.

Among the list are emerging favourites like Hillsburn (a brilliant group with boisterous energy behind their folk lyrics as time goes on) and selections from a diverse range of styles including hip hop/r&b to ‘aquavibes’ and ‘lazy pop’ – which rounds out the collection nicely to add Walrus to round out the compilation. Holly Gordon and Tahiat Mahboob carefully identified these acts as making splashes in the harbour that are rippling all over the world – and for good reason.

The multicultural network of Halifax has a complicated history that dates back to the time of colonization of the port city at the time pre-Confederation. It is through the communities built on the shores of Nova Scotia that prepared our country to become as pivotal on the world stage as it has remained – for casual, humble, honestly good fun. That’s what this list embodies. A collection of people who find purpose and value in making good, enjoyable art. And even more important, people to enable this creative power with support of local music.

Strength in local music is, in a way, an adequate litmus test for a community’s economic well-being, strong ticket sales indicate additional disposable income and/or venues making these events accessible to those interested in attending. Even better is a community that removes those barriers of cost and exclusivity – and Halifax is part of the Canadian movement to limit those issues where possible. More bands for less $$ is the ideal.

With a post-secondary institution visible from most vantage points in the city, the average age of the downtown dweller is attractive for keeping live music active in evening venues. The popularity of the Halifax Pop Explosion has enabled other music festivals to draw audiences at other times of the year, with two winter events this past season including Walrus (Cold Smoke, in January), and In The Dead Of Winter Festival (in February) encouraging a culture of live music being a year round activity, not just reserved for the few busy weeks of summer festivals.

Those summer festivals, however, can be a backbone for an entire summer to a touring, experimental band. It’s a time for casual networks to develop, showcase recent material, stock the merch table with leftover discs and new releases… and create a joyous bliss for fans of the whole lineup. Gridlock 2016 was beautiful in that regard – a blend of local and from-aways, big names and equally wonderful newbs. Echoing the ambiance of Sappyfest’s single white tent, it curated an atmosphere of community in the best ways. From these cute events to big shabangs like Evolve, Halifax artists find a home in many places quite easily.

This atmosphere in Nova Scotia, from what I have observed in the past few years, is nurtured by the entire Atlantic region’s arts community that strengthens and supports emerging talent in the face of economic downturns. Hillsburn played with Ben Caplan in support of the Fort McMurray fires last May at the Carleton, and drew a crowd of emotional enthusiasm for local compassion through song. The key is to keep music at the heart of the community, and allow those who produce it to not just survive, but to keep the community thriving because of its inclusion.

Devarrow, originally from Moncton is nurtured by rural environments just as much as he is supported by urban ones. Recording for his most recent EP (released in Europe, awaiting North American logistics and promo still) was completed in Ketch Harbour home studio solitude + focus funded by a kickstarter page featuring detailed summaries of what to expect, including the promise of growth: “Reinventing the Devarrow sound with a meticulously written dark, melancholic, yet oddly uplifting indie-folk-pop album.” This new sound has been compared to Fleet Foxes ethereal playfulness, not far off from Walrus’ homonymic soundscapes reflected in Tame Impala on the international scale but supported by Halifax-founded Wintersleep on multiple tours, most recently in Europe this spring.

Walrus is another genre entirely, continuing the Beatles echo into the 21st century, but still shares some common Maritime moments with Devarrow – including playing Sappyfest and other Sackville, NB events (where Graeme began unpacking his Devarrow thoughts into song). The geography of this entire list is beautiful, especially knowing the number of places they have all slingshotted to around the world between moments at home in Halifax. Keep an eye out for these artists and every other event poster plastered to Halifax street poles and event boards. I sure do. (the posters alone are worth a second look !! )

Now, it is time for another listen to Family Hangover yet again, to get another salty psychedelic breeze through the airwaves and this casual stroll through familiar maritime streets in Walrus’ timely fashionable music videos. peace n love broskis

Madic album alternative venue show in support of Family Hangover – Walrus takes over Lawrencetown Legion,… and soon the WORLD! #regularface #goodbyesomething 

Yo we playing the Legion branch 112 in Lawrencetown tonight #freepoolanddarts

A post shared by Walrus (@walrustheband) on Mar 4, 2017 at 2:21pm PST

From the chilly wind that brought them out of Halifax for an evening, this band of music bros arrived at the college town legion in the precolonial heart of the Annapolis Valley as a headlining local Nova Scotia feature band and so eager to play pool! When we were eating a meal after soundcheck, Justin + Keith (guess which ones!) were playing a phone pool game and chatted to prepare for things getting REAL at the local pool hall/legion.

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They were there to play a set, but priorities dictated darts and 8-balls were an ideal warm-up to a frosty March night. An assortment of local regular members of the Legion occupied one table, while the term’s students’ mingled and enjoyed a brief reprieve from intensive cartography et al.
I’d been to a Madic house concert a couple of times, and have enjoyed the atmosphere created by intimate settings of these like any other venue. They adequately meet the expectations of any lil ol café show, while keeping expenses low for the attendees. That, alongside capacity building and audience growth, helps the life of the musician just a little bit more. The well-rounded artist helps keep a community connected to their shows, not just a sporadic audience, especially when it remains a community-focused event: all ages, low costs, familiar spaces used to make a concert out of a natural gathering. In this case, the local Legion was the perfect place for such a show. Thanks to the COGS Student Association for supporting the event, it was promoted as a student oriented event, and allowed for a break from the stress we are all voluntarily in the Valley to be under. (Centre of Geographic Sciences, in a town that’s hardly on the map and is always confused with a surfing spot near Halifax… yet is temporary home to 200 map-heads. Go figure.)
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After months of toying with logistics, it came together, with great resilience to changing plans and contact people and unwavering confidence it could and would happen. Student support to put on the show was invaluable, but also, they enjoyed participating in a show. Being in Lawrencetown is an isolating experience, and once I began to introduce the idea of a live music event it became appealing as an alternate form of entertainment in a quiet town, especially for fellow classmates who missed interacting with the music communities of larger hometowns. Zac Fredericks opened the show with some originals and a cover of The Weight by The Band and What I’ve Got by Sublime, happy to be able to take the stage and play louder than a classroom or student-rental-level volume on the amp.
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It is  very rural and often quiet town. But, with a small contingent of students eager to do something on a weekend that isn’t school – you basically have to make your own entertainment. With the help of the student association, and after cycling through the options for a venue – settling on something familiar.  In a sense, I was struck by a reminder to ‘take a sad (town, in this case) and make it better.’ #sameregularplacesameregulartime becoming all too real for this Legion show. Though for the very Albertan type wind that had hit the valley that night, there was 40 students and a few out of town guests excited for this band of friends was playing a show nearby – before heading out on new 2017 adventures.
Walrus’ music continues to be compared to the Beatles, if not only for the initial name but also once those who had no idea what they were about to get into – the hypnotizing effect of warbling sounds and psychadelic solos provide a warmth very similar to Dan’s new sounds emerging from his former lives into Club Meds – a soundtrack to the changes in the band and life around them. Unmake is exactly that, with the dissolution of +Blacksmith as the permanent traveling band alongside Dan’s songwriting stylings emerging as a creative force allowed the split to remain amicable and professional. This split, however allowing the label producer side of Dan to emerge, and throw more energy into supporting other artists who can benefit from more shows, more tours, more sales. Ultimately, the goal of Madic Records is to be as professionally personable as possible, and make good music out of real life situations. The honesty – of music and of lyrics – is cherished deeply by this initiative, and supports the idea of balancing personal work with the work of responsibilities. Handling mental health and the experimentation of creative bursts drive this support network of curiosities more and more into mainstream with every new show booking in an interesting place with ‘happy little regular faces’. (seriously tho, check out this new video!)
The power of the alternate venue was confirmed when I was living in Edmonton – where the whole city kept rediscovering its capacity for hosting a fantastic show. From the Artery, to Wunderbar, to Pawn Shop, to be the same audiences rehoused in emerging redefinitions of favourite places including the Aviary, Buckingham, Arcadia, Mercury Room,  and now The Needle, Have Mercy, and Bohemia are emerging as the arts community remained determined to find houses for music, culture sharing, and supportive space for creativity in many forms. This transition, alongside communities of house concerts spearheaded by local community members – is an idea that doesn’t have to stick with a formula, it’s an idea that facilitates growth and taking valuable risks.
When Walrus most recently played Edmonton (at Up+Dt Fest) , they were in the cozier space of Brixx Bar underneath Starlite – which has had its own history of revolving identities. But, decades later the building still houses touring acts alongside locals in the lofting concert hall with slanty floors. Because of its character, and legacy, within the city communities of movers and shakers have poured endless energy into sustaining the venue. Not unlike most of Halifax’s rebuilt infrastructure – both cultural and physical, these music making mellow magicians are one example of the reason why cities continue to reinvest in the arts. There’s something of meaning in holding on to cultural events as superb as these live music resources have come to be engrained within our experience of whichever home we’re at in the present breath.
These cities are just one example of a revolving door of music spaces hosting ‘final’ shows only to have the same people organize and perform at the bar down the road next week. But the identification with the walls of a bar can be formative to a band. Most importantly though, is for that band to never stop trying out a new stage. That, has been my experience with Walrus, ranging from Seahorse to Gridlock Fest in Citadel High’s parking lot, to Marquee Ballroom for #coldsmoke17, to running into them en route to a Montreal cat cafe while waiting for a Tame Impala show to begin. They’re neat dudes with neat tunes.
With some change in quantity of Keiths, they have been an actively touring band for over 5 years, and in the past year alone I have attended at least four of their shows – all within Halifax, though the first song I heard of theirs was on a BIRP playlist in 2012. They’re a band of surprises and honest connections to their music and fans, an attitude encouraged by Madic Records and Double Denim Management.  They’ve taken their chameleon sound and tested it in numerous audiences, and are always eager to try a few more. Something about the soft pop harmonies pique unsure listeners’ interest, and by the  time the guitars kick into Jordan’s drum solo everyone’s pretty much sold. Always seeking another dimension to the hypnosis, they are eagerly booking tours and single shows.
Those adventures are particularly exciting as new steps in their musical career (thanks to stellar management and alternative marketing techniques courtesy of Madic’s backbone of keeping music accessible). A European tour is on the horizon alongside the upcoming release of their first LP, in succession to the 4 song sample EP (available on walrustheband.bandcamp.com) will continue to push the small town success of a groovy garage band and turned their sound into a sensation being discovered by entirely new communities. Family Hangover, most recently previewed at Lawrencetown Legion Branch #112 will be  in hard copy by June. Until then, sit back with some paints and create some happy little  trees with these boys’ regular faces as your instructors.
https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=112672693/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/
While they were in Lawrencetown, I asked these lads some familiar questions:
Hardest ever laughed
  •  MurphyDad’s house in Grand Falls (answers to this question are so often family related!)
Fave place to play
  • Hadley
  • Commodore Ballroom
  • Quebec City (Mostly because of the DIY scene they have built there, the venues always have a good turnout and people who get right into it.)
Fave song
  • Don’t look back in anger – Oasis
  • Thomas Tank Engine theme song (Keith)
 Fave cover song
  • Lucky Man by the Verve (played at show!)
Best road trip jams
  • Howard Stern, Serial podcast, Stone cold steve austin, Ricky gervais, Sirius radio stations
(Side note: My connection to loving satellite radio goes back to Said the Whale, when I was in Alberta, still very much connected to the christian community. I was the only one in the car who liked the music but I realized then “the church discouraged what was within me” – re: new lyrics! – the connection to the indie music scene developed from there, and when I was able to hear My Government Heart live, it was a  big ol deal.) This connection from hearing a band in digital form and then finally hearing (and seeing!) IRL the interaction required to create a full, dynamic sound. I love what that Discovery’s lead to. ‘i discovered my heart had become the earth,’ said the whale. and so, the story continues.
What is your Patronus/spirit animal? [clarified the intent is more the epitome of happiness that drives you, to appreciate the significance of spirit animals as a traditional indigenous honour statement; Patronus required a bit of a refresher but lead singer Justin was keen to fill his drummer bro Jordan in on its ability to provide safety for you as an embodiment of your greatest form of love]
  • Keith (new) identifies as a fox with cunning abilities
  • McGrath identifies with an owl
  • Jordan, hockey stick? ‘What does that say about me?’
  • Justin was curious about what object he could be if Dan was a bookshelf…..
(see my interview with Astral Swans, another on Madic Records’ label, about another way to answer this question.)

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Hat’s off to Walrus for a community gathering alternative venue show at Legion Branch #112 in March 2017

Good luck in Europe! Goo Goo Gajoub!
(What’s holding you back from organizing a show of your own? Get in touch with madichouseconcerts@gmail.com with any questions for hosting an alternative venue or house concert.)
http://www.madicrecords.com/madic-house-concerts/

Ch-Ch-Changes on the same Theme

I was making this playlist on paper, then spotify, when i decided i needed to think a bit more deeply about 2016 so I called up my grand-family friend. We talked about his life, and about mine. And all the things I think of when I’m offline, i’ve discovered, are key pinpoints of my brain’s inner workings that I’m thankful i have.

I support the conversations with elders in our personal story. For wisdom, for kindness, and yes… quickly witted comments about the state of the world. But also an informed sweetness, to know the benefit of reflection,  to have moved on from so much until this point,  the memories which remain are not only valuable.. They’re all you’ve got.

Having a conversation with this grandfather-figure  not too long ago, he  told 3 separate stories to make a point about serendipity.  Each of these stories  (snapshots of moments – 1000 words to paint a picture) involving himself and our dearly missed MB. Their lives crossed over in odd ways for 20 years,  living separate lives, with reason to interact  at first – then contact became sparse,  as needed but always welcome as the years went on. He recalled: “It was around the time my father died, I called her up, as I hadn’t done in quite some time. I rang and she answered.” He said, in a particular manner, ‘I knew there was something the matter with her the moment I called.’ … “then you find out why”

Her father had also died.

She says: ‘oh my god it’s you’

With that, no need to go into details. You go straight to empathy.

That moment, and a few significant others, were moments of that serendipity.  He explained, now, after her end and our grieving: “There’s truly a chapter for each one. {45 years from now., ago} He continued, how a previous instance, he courageously decided to mention the importance of their interaction, on the cusp of her marriage. I’m going to have to say some things to you.. ‘I have no interest in getting in the way […] I really care for you. And the reason I’m telling you now is that it doesn’t matter’ And she never took me up on that dinner. But I was there, at the beginning and the end, in moments

The transition .. If you want to know…” And I did.

so, we continued to talk about the distance they survived, by means of networks of community and places of important beauty. Both in storyline and landscape.

From this chat, I reflected how this version of the same synthesis In my context Has not been easy but it has been kind many times over. This transition, is twisting the story in  important ways Until the time comes to demand we accept our capacity ..for foolishness of love, for impatience, for cruelty, for fear.

And in that appreciation of oneself, we see without astigmatism.

In this conversation, we also talked music and how Leonard Cohen had passed away. How on his latest album everything was softer, darker, still so characteristic of his style. And that he was reflecting on the end of his life, and produced a summation album of his wisdoms as he collected them and made a career out of it.

‘make sure you listen to Treaty, and include that one in your list,’ he says.

and so i did, track no. 13. in a Dan Mangan sandwich with Gord Downie alongside some modern favourites closer to the heart, within local networks. i’m honoured and delighted to be able to collaborate favourite memories next to each other. And within modern streaming, to create and share a mixtape with the people making the music in real-time.

and a little bit, of all of it, is the Beatles too. and that’s cool with me. especially on days when the weight of the world is a bit too heavy on my aching shoulders (i.e. mapping laptop)..

Gay Nineties “Decadent Days”

I’ve had the pleasure and delight of meeting the band members of Gay Nineties a few times, thanks to the years I lived in Edmonton, AB. The year Parker came through on a tour with Mounties bandmates Hawksley Workman, Steve Bays, and Ryan Dahle I recieved a signed drumstick from a friend over at SONiC 102.9. I had no clue who this Parker Bossley  was who drew the cutest of hearts near the end of this gift, but soon after his partnership with the Mounties dissolved his band Gay Nineties began to tour. When they came through Edmonton I made a point of attending, and visiting the merch table after the show to chat. No matter if i was attending alone, or with a friend, it was a great night filled with posivibes.

That first album, Liberal Guilt, meant so much to my mental health – to understand sexuality next to anxiety, to appreciate success in love and earthly experience. When I learned they were playing an early afternoon show at SONiCBOOM 2015, I jumped at the chance to swoon once more. The psychology of their lyrics are encouraging:

“it’s like we’re living in a dream //

let me get you into my life, i don’t wanna have to think twice”

the timing of these lyrics into my life was a perfect way to send my wheels of productivity out the window. I got wrapped up in the serendipity of dream-like events narrating my goals. I didn’t know what i wanted, so i responded accordingly to that which was happening around me. I pursued that which was producing these moments of synchronicity: real and honest people behind the music I loved. Whether that meant supportive friends with new music to suggest, or radio friends connected to the industry, or the musicians themselves… i fully engrossed myself in the curation of the moment to its fullest capacity.

Parker describes an album by Grace Jones (interview: My Favourite Things) as a “sexy, surreal, androgenous” production – similar reasons to why I enjoy parker’s contributions to my music awareness. That, as creators of ideas, the personalities are extraordinary.

The dream-like state of the entire experience from 2014 until now has been pretty incredible. The personal transformation narrated by these lyrics and simultaneous stories is something i didn’t know how to appreciate or make use of at the time. But now, a few steps from the place in that time, I feel refreshed by it.

Parker is a name that perks my ears up – I just assume if Mr. Bossley is involved it’s gonna be psychadelic and strange in the most delightful reassuring way. I often stop by Parker St. in Halifax and talk to the trees in the park nearby; the moon and I communicate with silent glances while the streetlights and traffic movement serve as melody to the synchronicity.

The last time I was there was on a walk yesterday evening alongside some best buds on a happenstance of a mid-winter, mid-week meetup. Previously, I was alone, with an iPod for company, and shuffle landed on “Jude” by Dan Mangan. It’s a song with a lot of weight – even if my chosen name didn’t mirror the title, or the Beatles references serving as an undertone in the commonality.

Lyrics in that gem offer similar thought-stimulating comfort:

“so much for bones to pick; so much for fear//so much to fill you in on, now that you’re here// timing is everything, moments arrive//it ain’t no accident, planets align”  (Dan Mangan)

as I think about how this is a perfect summary of the past few years the responsibility to be more of a Jude and take on the world. All kinds of echoing musical advice follows those thoughts too: don’t make it bad, don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and well, you know it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder. (oh, hey Beatles…)

I’ve gotten by with quoting these lyrics as a way to network quickly. I still ponder the true message of the whole thing. It’s a call to action as a leader, but also as a lover. We want to care, and empathize, and contribute to the community around us. But we are also haunted by the demons of failure, fear, and vulnerability.

at the intersection of Parker and Jude, i am strengthened to take on the world.

But even more important, I’m empowered to allow myself to love as honestly as I am capable. In the face of the angry, hateful fear ruling political decisions, the hope created by these interactions with music and the rest of living are critical for keeping sane.

I’m all for documenting our intersections into each other’s lives, and making those collaborations better, but I’m also about keeping out tsunamis of disaster.. as the moon got too close, my cosmic awareness was a tide that washed out some of professional rhythm.

As much as I love Parker’s music, i have had to distance myself from the community which introduced his beauty in the first place. That letting go has been cleansing. The dream which introduced inspiration into my life was something that (now, I see) was temporary.

The future is still to come, and I am more careful now with attachments. But Parker is still one of my top 3 potential kid names… and i’m ever so grateful for the empowerment which resulted from learning how to talk to musicians as publically real people, thanks to those dear radio friends.

I’m working on acceptance, appreciation, + civil duty to address that which needs improvement and/ or radical change. I’m committed to growing a career which will support this interest in thoughtful responses to the world. Whether that’s in map, music, or hugs, I’m not comfortable staying silent in a world in such distress.

to those who have contributed to this vulnerable strength, I thank you. for those who continue to fight louder, stronger, and more deliberate, i support you. for those trapped by new systems of rules, i want the world to accept diversity for you and us all.

as for the Gay Nineties: try on this new music video for size. great new work, team! in honour of those decadent days which sustain our lust for luxury..

http://www.sonic1029.com/2017/01/06/listen-gay-nineties-decadent-days-new/

 

A nasty woman’s rant clinging to optimism and honesty 

​Sometimes I challenge myself to believe we silently elected Trump the same ways Harper remained in power for 10 years, by not speaking out, by accepting our cultural bias blindly even after becoming globally aware. Our maps are the story of this awareness shift. That our resistance must tell the story and allow it to evolve.

This challenge has been embodied by the nature of our culture within this geography. 

Our fear of self-care, of narcissism, of true honest love is what keeps us rebelling against our mother (earth, in this context). 

I understand narcissism, much of my anxiety is rooted is in attempt of being humbly mindful of all the insecurities that prevent acceptance of yourself within the world around you. 

I understand healing from the pain of awareness – ignorance is no longer bliss when the shield is ‘woke’. 

This past year I’ve been inspired by a call to action, sourcedby the generations evolution which has got us to this point. To experience creationism (if only a delusion, say some) is to allow a collective reason for hope. Surrounded by such a glorious world of rugged terrain and magnificent forms of life, I’d declare God too. 

But for the transformation of that obsessive attachment to that story to have magnified our ignorance to the power of our energy bill.. means North America needs an attitude adjustment, maybe elect a president who would make Sublime – What I Got as the first dance song, with a follow-up from Uptown Funk. Or something. America, I thought you were cool! Oh right, as a quick filter into the lens of racism we’ve realized there’s still something very tragic happening within our consumption culture that has elected a corrupt businessman to take away the freedoms within which he was raised to take for granted, and  somehow is getting away with it. 

As a relatively well-adjusted ‘woke’ Canadian also living within these freedoms only a border away, yes, I am concerned about the effect. I am concerned about the current state of environmental protection requiring improvements, not further pipeline risks and pollution at the cost of our dignity as a species. If there’s a god, she’s probably not too pleased about you not cleaning up your room regardless of how you pray in words of thanks between requests. 

And so, this idea of women’s inferiority told through generations of institutions has been magnified to pussygrabbing and abortion rights decided upon by men. If 2015 was Justin Trudeau electing a 50/50 cabinet, but Trump/Pence 2017 is blantently mysogenist and ignorant.. how can that dichotomy exists between neighbours, we wonder in silence. Afraid to ask America about another black eye or second ‘stay normal’ triple-triple in their hand (after we explain this is Tim’s slang for coffee, eh). 

That’s where I’m at with this, how can our altered perspectives exist simultaneously..? But, both that confusion and the question itself, are important to how this earth operates.

And so, we ask them. We MUST continue asking them. Why did you think you could get away with that? When have you checked your privelege next to those seemly worse-off? How did that feel, do you even understand what you are saying?? Yes, I’m a nasty woman. I bleed and can ‘by pure accident’ become pregnant yet forced to raise a child, but you say that’s my fault, that you or any other slimeball can grab my precious pussy because you’re a star, or a man, or assertive enough.

I’m a nasty queer, how do you like that? That, maybe you don’t do it for me. That I too, have trouble controlling my own sexuality at times but that does NOT mean it is okay. It means there is a lesson to learn. Consent, triggers, moral code, ethics, decency… I could go on, but I best stay focused. 

I have some other things to be afraid of, thanks for environmentally aggravated GMO/pesticide/processed exacerbated analphylactic relationships with food. So, my day to day consists of reading food labels, asking ingredient questions, and being hyper aware of what’s around me. ‘did he just walk by with a peanut butter sandwich?’ ‘those muffins looks great! There’s eggs in them, right?’ ‘cool, trail mix! Hey, is that a peanut?’ Whoops.

One hospital trip to stabilize anaphylaxis without healthcare and supportive family would have been an expensive local vacation. And, I can’t imagine if I wasn’t near my epi-pen.. but Canadian healthcare literally saved my life without a bill attached.

So, I appreciate that Obamacare has been revolutionary to the USA for the past 8 years. And for Pres.Drumpf to now be burning those documents without even catching a whiff of the wax seal melting, is -as our new demagogue puts it -‘Sad!’

It all infuriates my anger reconciling with those more dominant world events happening in real time. (Mind you, I’m still weeping over the loss of the Alexandria Library 2 millenia later..) 

To be able to also live within a community that has Race to the Bottom & Whistleblower as a soundtrack..reinforces that dichotomy of ignorance surrounding islands of awareness in our collective headspace. thoughts of ‘what do we do with this now?’ dominate.

To retreat into the safety of melancholic depression, I find peace in the concept of these imaginary islands I’ve been creating. Representative topography. Emotional geography. Visualization of headspace. Favourite places refined to an ideal. Safe workshops of hope recycled from despair.

And that’s where I go when reality is too much to process. That anxiety I mentioned? It’s the gravity that keeps the water suspended next to land, that which creates flotation and peace. 

In each cyclical transition of my life, as they’ve come around again and again with deeper resonance, there’s a persistence in healing energy to be offered next to the pain. One blessing I’m grateful to be aware of. And so it goes. 

One year ago I visited Halifax in search of peace from the particular emotional storm I created this time. It was an extension of my definition of running away – a flight over Canada. And again, this weekend I was in Halifax, an afternoon drive from home this time. Perfectly timed gathering with the one who encouraged me to stay during that first visit. Those synchronicities have been dominant lately, fueled by accepting positive opportunity regardless of whatever negative must be endured. 

Apart from global events, I am optimistic about 2017. School has been a welcome change, and will offer great possibility for personal progress beyond past regrets. The mantra ‘i wanna get better’ echoes next to other anthems of enlightenment ca. 2014/15. (See: music journal.) 2016 being the death of so many inspired souls was a more dreary playlist, but hopeful + steadfast towards love just the same.

I’ve asked a lot of questions in 26 years, I think it’s time to start writing some answers:

Favourite Song: So Much for Everyone – Dan Mangan or Salem – Marin Patenaude (and the Follow Through, Revenge of the Trees – Into the Night II is also rad as fuck.

Favorite Cover song: Hang with Me – Dan Mangan (cover of Robyn), or Jolene – White Stripes (even though that one time I said I didn’t like it better than Dolly’s, sorry Pete)

Best road trip playlists/podcasts: well, ch-ch-changes 2016 Spotify one lately, both ‘Fo Twenny’ and 3:56 are neat random assortments based on length of songs (equal distribution in a playlist is somewhat strangely neat); podcasts – DTFH, Joe Rogan Experience, Alan Cross, CBC radio 3 interview series’, vinyl cafe..

Favourite Place to see a Show: this might be the hardest question for me, formerly the Artery ( ❤  rip) though Aviary is just as rad. Honestly, house concerts rule too. Riverhouse Cafe weekend jam sessions gave many lovely memories. But for, ever, no matter the band? Nancy Appleby Theatre in Athabasca, AB. (home)

When did you laugh the hardest: probably at a Cake Monday dancing to Uptown Funk on the counters wearing a banana costume. Or smashing a gingerbread house with my grandma. but also laughed out coffee on my computer monitor yesterday, sooo…

Patronus (formerly spirit animal): ‘flying buffalo’ aka moose (according to the highway signs in northern Albrrta)

Cartographic Conversation

This past September I packed up my life from the corners of Canada where I’ve been hiding and moved to the Annapolis Valley for the first of two years attending CoGS, a respected but secret place for mapheads.

(cover photo courtesy of NASA, landsat5,+ ERDAS Imagine)

I have embraced my affinity for visual memory recall, and the affinity for photos, spatial displays, and visualized directions whenever possible. Ergo, it was about time I took those skills and developed them into something employable.

Getting here took a year of being unemployed, detaching myself from the emotional loss of a comfortable job, and resettling in a new version of familiar on the other side of Canada.  During this time I got to the heart of what I truly love – spending some time and “Pogey” dollars on travel. By the time I wound up back on the East Coast in March 2016, I’d been to every other land province in the country  for atleast 12 hours since leaving Edmonton in Fall 2015. (Sorry Newfoundland, someday!)

And yet, it was the best kind of preparation I could have designed for myself. If I were to do it all again, I would do few things differently if only for the improved state of mental wellbeing. Road regrets aside, I’m glad to have documented many of the adventures on paper maps with coloured notes. Pathways + people of places etched into memory banks. These banks I draw from on days when transition gets too heavy.

Here, is Lawrencetown (not the beach). For a town that turns out hundreds* (*~2) of cartographic wizards annually, it’s constantly surprising how confusing its location can be for nearly everyone trying to figure where they have to go to be spatially informed. A college tucked in the heart of the Annapolis Valley, it turns out. It’s not really on the map for much, but it hits the mark for maps.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the course of the past year, and I’m exceedingly grateful for the amount of rad tunes, fun folks, and window-seat-views I have the privilege to remember.

The next step, as it always is with growth, is to take what was and magnify into a continued beauty. Mapping opens the doors to what I have always Trump-ed about: what “should” be and how it “could” be done. Damn him and that attitude. Independent thought is alive and well. Love conquers hate.  Questions conquer fear.

Fear has no place here, says the wise Ken Stead.

So much for fear, echoes another bearded bard Dan Mangan.

In every ounce of sadness, confusion, and melancholy, there is a fellow human who has lived through worse and wants to share that moment with you. Music wins.

I’ve come to learn many parallels between cartography and composition. Notes and phrases move across piano keys as swiftly as the eye connects dots via contour lines, streets, and rivers.

Psychogeography is just that – allowing emotion to bleed into the documentation of living.

For now, it’s watersheds and text placement. Remotely sensing our community’s infrared, even, has a colourful subtext.

So much for Alberta.. Time for happiness in the form of hectare calculations.

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6Q with Old Towns (Robbie Shirriff) in Halifax, NS

While in Halifax for some midweek evening shows, Robbie, his girlfriend Becca and I moseyed around on a beautiful afternoon. We recorded this interview on Citadel Hill in beautiful sunshine with a mini picnic and some banjo pickin.

After knowing Robbie for a couple years now, we were overdue for this promotional chat. It was serendipitous to meet up with him on the East Coast after we both found ourselves in new realities next to the ocean.

 

Always a pleasure, Robbie!

Check out his tunes here:

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and keep an ear out for more shows @ http://www.oldtowns.ca

Thanks for listening!

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I don’t often free write at 2:17am but here I am, wired, anxious, reflective, and visualizing happiness.

Somethings I did today:
-I participated in the #myanxietylookslike #mydepressionlookslike Twitter trend, and I feel amazing.
– I talked to my dad for more than 5 minutes over the phone and it was easy, enjoyable, constructive…
– I identified with how I am ‘queer’ by gentle comparison with the larger public population at the Halifax Central Library and felt comfortable with it.
– I bought my favourite tea even though I can’t afford it. At the direction of a best friend.
– I began to really let go of some hang ups from MTA, and Edmonton. Nothing’s the same, enjoy the memories. push forward.
– I cleaned, a bit. Enough to become productive again. Damn bed bugs, very grateful for the exterminator coming again soon.
– I registered for an allergy conference – hoping to find networks and courage.

I drew, wrote, painted, and read good things today.
I consumed no alcohol today, even though I had brunch at a bar. (It was delicious)
I remembered MK, AC, JN; those who are forever young in their death and love.
I made a playlist of neat songs I like, as ‘me’ as can be, for now.

I cant keep being so paralyzed. It’s time. Do.

evening cyclist + solo wanderer

I truly enjoy making tracks at night,

Travelling lightly across streetlighted paths,

knowing silence deeply against the rain

escaping from demands of regular bustles

city rules and cyclists’ despair

Jane’s walks are infrequently important reminders of care.

Care for the parents and children in community.

Gentle acknowledgement of citizen equalling responsiblity

Enjoy this city, don’t let sleep keep you from truth.

navigate, dessicate any blind spots of fear

 

‘Hey Jude, don’t be afraid’ echoing in these inner ears.

 

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be a half-hearted fanatic

Today, while overlooking the Halifax harbour and making funny faced selfies i stumbled into some great advice found in the heart of a grassroots grant-writing book:

” be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. ”
– Edward Abbey

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It’s especially important to love the world we fight for.