getting ready for tonight

Getting ready for tonight… hope to see you all at the show!

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clairely now & zara ahmed & j stevens tomorrow @ bar le pastel

Hey everyone! I’m playing this Tuesday; hope to see you there!

culture shocked

Have you seen this video?

If you hadn’t, it’s an interview with Margie Gillis – an infamous Canadian interpretive dancer. Her foundation’s website is here. I’ve never seen her dance but I hear she’s brilliant. Regardless, I’m a terrible dancer and watching professional dancers tends to leave me cold, so I haven’t sought her work out. I’m sure she’s great, and I’m glad that she’s won so many accolades. As an artist living in this unceded Aboriginal territory, I know it’s hard to get by without a bit of a leg up. Gillis is obviously a self-made artist with a lot of business savvy and talent backing her up. I’m glad that my tax dollars go toward artists like Gillis.

Krista Erickson is the interviewer in the video. Referred to as a SUNshine girl in this profile on the Toronto Sun website, she is apparently, “rarin’ to go […] unapologetically patriotic and not afraid to call it like it is.” There are nine pictures of Erickson on the link above, and in every one of them her hair is perfect and she’s not dressed like a “seasoned journalist”. Apparently, SUNshine girls have been around for a while in the greater Toronto Area (GTA), but it bothers me that a seasoned journalist and employee of the Toronto Sun would want to be objectified by her own employers in such a public way. I can’t imagine Dan Rather signing up to be a CBS Sex Bomb or Barbara Frum as a CBC iCandy, but I digress.

During the interview, Erickson harangues Gillis about the amount of public money the Margie Gillis Foundation had received in the past. Erickson refers to herself as a ‘cultural philistine’ repeatedly throughout, and describes interpretive dance as ‘not [her] cup of tea’. Her analysis of what she perceives as a problem is fraught with inaccuracies. She attempts to get Gillis to explain why she specifically has won money in grants, and of course, Gillis simply explains that grants are given by panels of peers and that politics have nothing to do with the grants. That said, 1.2 million dollars over 13 years is not a lot of money for an artist of international regard especially once you take into account that those grants were paid out to lots of supporting artists as well via Gillis.

Erickson’s main point is that the invisible hand of the market has essentially given the community of interpretive dance the middle finger, and that Canadians shouldn’t subsidize artistic ventures that aren’t very popular (read: profitable).

I think she’s wrong, but the aspect of the interview that has stuck with me since I was first introduced to the YouTube video is this: Krista Erickson is not a cultural philistine. She’s surrounded by cultural markers and clearly participates in some kind of culture. From the hockey jersey she sports on her SUNshine girl page to her impeccably blond hair and perfect makeup, Erickson is expressing aspects of a culture. There’s a major problem with people like Erickson assuming that their culture is the zero mark; it then follows that culture is superfluous and easily rejected or altered. That kind of attitude is what leads people to make assumptions or assertions about people from different cultural backgrounds, which leads to prejudice and ignorance. After all, if culture is easily thrown away, then why would people with bottle blonde hair and fancy hockey jerseys need to accommodate anyone else? It’d be much easier to steamroll those people in to culture zero.

Now, what you see in the video isn’t really that big of a deal. It’s obviously an argument that wasn’t resolved on air, and judging by the response of the viewership, support is overwhelmingly on Gillis’ side. It just bothers the hell out of me when bright shiny faces like Erickson spew venom.

the updates.

I feel pretty clever right now!  I added an events listing on this website along with a discography.  Check them out.

I’ve been working on re-working Simple Fruit for my next album, 18.93 Metres of my Fibre.  It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s also been pretty hard work without much of note.  I’m also daydreaming about a piano solo right on that bridge.

It’s funny how un-romantic recording music is.  It’s mostly just a cabaret of soul-crushing recordings that are just not good enough until you hit on something that may not be exactly what you’re dreaming of, but it’s close enough to authentic that you can ride with it.  Take, for instance, the recording of Simple Fruit that I have on this website currently.  It’s a fairly good recording, but my throat was sore and I was nervous about singing that song, so my vocals just aren’t right.  They’re not strong enough.  So I’m re-doing it, and I’m probably going to publish a very similar version of the song on this site with piano and call it done – an excellent exercise in eliminating hubris, no?

Speaking of which, I need to practise my glockenspiel.  Please!  Check out my events listing and come visit me at Le Pastel on Rachel E. on the 26th of July.

radio waves & open mics.

Last night, J. Stevens and I went to a new open mic at Shaika.  Shaika is a cafe in Notre Dame de Grace.

That’s me!  I sang The Next Market Day, which was featured on CKUT 90.3 yesterday morning on the Tuesday Morning After Show. Geordie was also featured – it was super cool to hear my songs broadcast out so far to so many.

If you want to listen to my songs on the radio, check it out here.

burritoville tonight.

Hey everybody! I’m just posting really quickly to invite folks to the open mic at Burritoville tonight. It’s on Bishop St, near Guy-Concordia metro. Hope to see you there!

tickling the ivories.

We have a new instrument here at Shoestring Studios, and I’m super excited about it.  It’s beautiful, the action is wonderful, and the sound is pretty unbelievable.

Thank you so much to J. Stevens for taking these pictures!

I’ve been practicing sight reading and trying to hammer out some Simon & Garfunkel.  It’s been painful and slow, and I’ve been having visions from being in 10th grade in awkward music classes, but I think that playing such beautifully constructed songs will help me learn more than pretty much anything else.  That’s what I did with the guitar – I have a book of songs from Buffy Sainte-Marie as well, and that’s how I taught myself how to play.

Oh, I’m so excited!  I’m going to go practice.

red roses & stars.

Last night, I went to the Wheel Club.  I’m always super nervous when I’m about to play in front of a bunch of musicians; after all, musicians make the most informed kind of audience.

But it went incredibly well!  I had some Patsy Cline ready to sing, but a quick chat with the violinist revealed that he knew some songs that I recorded on From the Kitchen of Clairelynow.  I sang ‘Red is the Rose’ and ‘The Star of the County Down’, and I was super excited about how well it went over.  It’s a pretty big compliment when someone wants to trade their CD for yours (which happened) and someone gave me their 50/50 ticket so I went home with some Hank Snow as well.  I sold some other copies, and I went home feeling really pleased.

I really love singing, but I don’t really like learning songs that are absolute classics.  A good example of this is ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline.  She’s an incredible vocalist, and I love listening to that track, but I feel as though her rendition leaves nothing left to be desired.  What could I possibly add to that song?  Cline had an amazing voice, and an incredible sense of presence.  I have my own voice, and my own stage presence, but it’s not the same;  Cline owns ‘Crazy’ even more than its author, Willie Nelson.  ‘Three Cigarettes on the Ashtray’, for instance, is less iconic.  There’s more space for me to play.

I started singing those traditional songs because I realized (about five years ago) that if I wanted to hear those songs the way I thought they should be played.  Experiencing that amazingly positive feedback really supported my theory that musicians need to play music exactly how they hear in in their heads, and that spending time learning music you don’t want to is sort of an energy suck.

I wonder what I’ll play next week!  Oh, yay.

awesome, but odd!

the fright.

Last night, I played an original for the first time in public.

many thanks to j. stevens for taking this picture

We went to the Monday night open mic at Burritoville.

I have my notebook there in case I forgot my song.  I sang Simple Fruit – you can hear it too on the Music.  It’s been mastered with some accompanying instruments (shakers and glockenspiel) and I hope you like it.

It was super scary singing that song in public, but I don’t think I could’ve picked a better place to start.  The crowd was so nice and supportive.  I even gave a copy of From the Kitchen of Clairelynow to the bartender to keep just in case they want some traditional folk music for the background.

long overdue.

Last night, J. Stevens and I went to the Yellow Door and sang some songs.  It was pretty cool.  There were lots of people who wanted to play, and all kinds of interests were represented.  The word, ‘smorgasbord’ comes to mind:  from my traditional folk, to J’s fantastic originals, to spontaneous jam sessions, we heard a lot and had a lot of fun.

Last Monday, we trekked down to The Wheel Club in our finest to give singing country a go.  I sang some Cash and Cline, and after I was done a woman came up to me, kissed my forehead, and told me that I sang the best cover of ‘Strange’ she’d heard in 20 years.  Apparently, it was hard to take a good picture because I kept making rockstar faces.  Playing with a bunch of other people does make you feel pretty cool though.

clairelynow & the folks at the wheel club

It was super fun, and I really enjoyed singing those songs.  I don’t know what I’ll try for next week, but a really nice man named Bob gave me a CD that I need to listen to.  I’m hoping for inspiration!

j. stevens taking the stage

I also love the sign that says, “Bless This Mess”.  It’s not messy.  There’s a lot of stuff, but its not particularly messy, although the beer is incredibly reasonably priced.

In other news, I’ve rerecorded and remastered my first album, From the Kitchen of Clairelynow with a heck of a lot of help from J. Stevens.  He’s taught me a lot and did an amazing job cutting these songs for me.  He also made those Shoestring handcards.  I’m tucking them in my album sleeves.

I’m loving the look of the new album top as well.  I’m so excited about this new release that I’m putting Red is the Rose from the album on the Music. page on this website.