Monday, June 28, 2010

NXNE vs. G20

For those of you who have asked about Toronto and our experience at NXNE, here is a brief retelling.

First off, many friends of ours had expressed an urgent concern for border crossing - being musicians, you are NOT allowed to "work" in Canada without proper licenses and paperwork. NXNE had provided us with a stack of documentation from festival organizers and immigration offices, all of which remained in my glove box. Aside from awkward questions as to our business in Canada and to the length of time spent in the country, there had been no issues worth the amount of worry our friends had bothered themselves with. Raianne had put it best while using her womanly charms on the first customs officer, "if we were in it for the money, we would have quit long ago."

We had been told by the soundman at our performance arrangement that Toronto, including surrounding boroughs, has a total population of roughly 6 million people. I have had a theory regarding the "degradation of systems" which attempts to explain how large populations are not adequately maintained concerning basic human needs. This trip provided me with some interesting fodder for thought.
Music festivals in Toronto are a historical matter, having dated back to the 1800's, organized by some of the cities MVP's. I was a bit surprised then to understand what sort of impact this G20 summit thing would have on June's cultural gatherings. The business owners all complained of detours established and fences erected to ward off protesters during the summit. One Canadian business owner even mentioned the trees being removed from the cities sidewalks due to some speculations that such could be torn out and used as battering rams. As one could predict, all this rigmarole served to depreciate foot traffic from central festival areas; the result was that our performance fell on few ears and I now can blame the world's leaders for poor attendance - another hash mark on a long long list.
Dear Mr. President, please consider holding the next G20 in central Montana for this will prove far safer and cost effective. You will see a hippie coming from miles away. PS. Pack your lunches.


For love of books, good music, good friends and mountains

Mark and I attempted to satisfy many wants for this weekend. First the want of a good backyard folk festival. Annual Reed- Swale folk fest in Rocky Hill, CT. Live music. A rock opera even. An army of children dancing away the day with toy instruments and tired parents. Beautiful sunshine. Check.

Next the want of captivated listening audience in an excellent book store/ Inspirational space Mindful books & Ephemera. Our friends The Pleasants , a recession rock group, I think also share our same sentiments for this lovely place. Let me just say here that firstly these folks, namely Jon and Martha, always deliver. The Blue Kat music parlor series showcases to me all the things a successful art (or any) community needs; a peaceful comfortable space open to all members of the community, a potluck, music/art appreciators, and musicians/artists all in one space. Jon and Martha provide such a great service to the community by sharing their space and the best part is they are doing this because they understand the value of it and most importantly because they value it. Please visit 29 main st. in Jaffrey, NH for a concert or to find that rare or unusual book or vinyl that you have been seeking. Or maybe just for a cup of coffee and some sincere conversation with two great people. I always leave there feeling refreshed and inspired. Check.

Next the want of seeing good friends. Mark and I were invited to crash the after party of Jocie Adams show at The Starving Artist in Keene, NH. Unfortunately we arrived too late to listen to any of the performance. This is the way things go sometimes with performers, everyone seems to be off doing their own shows and it becomes very hard to support each other. Especially when we seem to have shows on the same nights at the same times. Everyone is always working. However it seems that since the Walking Tour ended many of our friends have wanted to spend some time. Perhaps they want to hear the stories of our tour or ensure that we have not indeed lost our minds are that we may be still ok. Laina is an excellent host and with her newly outfitted double bed bunk bed she is always extending hospitality to those musicians who travel up Keene way. Since the Burnt Norton Abbey summer forum last year I have felt that visiting The Starving Artist feels like going to visit family or some of your best friends. Check.

Lastly, The want to climb a mountain. I think anyone who goes to Jaffrey or Keene should climb Mt. Monadnock. Though not an easy climb all the way up the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. We offered up our plans to Keene friends and a new transplant Chris (who attended last years forum as well) decided to come with. It was truly a gorgeous day for a climb, though I think the view can be more spectacular in the Fall months when the humidity has migrated away. The summit of a mountain has a particular effect on me (and probably most people) of how small I am. Also the power of the wind and the presence of the stone against the air. The balance. The sense of time. These things have been around for a very long time. I like to imagine what it may have looked like while most of the landscape was encased in a frozen glacier. The strange desire of humans to want to climb up these things just for a glimpse out. Check.

What a weekend.