You go “sledding” at church when you purchase a ticket to experience ethereal sounds from an obscure festival within a cathedral styled place of worship. A revitalized music scene has emerged from the sombreness of the pandemic. Musicians saddled in loneliness from their basements have powered up their skills and are now showcasing. It’s a stopover on Calgary for musicians looking for more of the lime light needing to build a fan base away from the clutter of social media.
On the eve of June 23rd, three acts took to the stage at Calgary’s downtown United Church. Opening was Laura Hickli. The sound man prepared for Laura alone but she brought five compatriots along thereby a delay ensued off the mark. Then it happened. The emotive Laura Hickli jolted us to attention with her intriguing physicality behind her keyboard. There was as much joy in consuming her translation from song to body as there was in interpreting the contrasting melodies. A pointed ballad completed a set filled with dreamy pop soundscapes colored with samples of shoegaze and slide guitar. It was delightfully different in theme with sledding at Sled Island.
Next up was Magella. This powerful singer from Montreal enraptured from the outset with her powerful voice. She introduced herself alone on stage and opened with the accompaniment of a loop. A drummer and guitarist settled in and took their place afterward to pay fill. Literally, these two musicians played accompaniment cognizant of the varying spectral of sound alone emanating from this singer who characterizes her sound as “diasporic blues”. Guitar solos were precise and laden with the charm of some jazz. The songs flowed pleasantly and the finale ensued with the drummer getting his chance to shine with an up tempo song fitting of high energy grunge. During her audience repartee, she made reference to “the project” as if this trio is temporary. Well….evident from last night, this outfit has synergy.
Closing out the night was “Spelling”. Again….the focal point of the ensemble was the singer. At only 32, Chrystia Cabral has her own Wikipedia page so let’s get that out of the way. Her album “Mazy Fly” released in 2019 was well received universally by music critics and her rise has been unorthodox. She has an unwavering voice complemented by a high energy band. The drummer is so tasteful with dynamics and the chordal sounds oftentimes circulate in the major scale thereby defying alternative trends.
The crowd was delightfully appreciative and the setting was surreal especially in lieu of one particular track in which Laura Hickli represented her departure from religion. This all in context of if being three months to the day since her and her band mates had rolled their touring van down an embankment having struck black ice while on tour. I cast a blessing for all in house atop the highest of pews (photo) and departed the gathering with a warm reconnection with old clients just outside the church door.
Victimhoood abounds and group think is having an effect on those tasked with putting up internet headlines and then the drivel that follows. It’s come to light that there is a First Nations Group dismayed that they weren’t counseled in B.C.’s decision not to go forward with a 2030 Olympic bid and the press is giving them a voice. It’s ludicrous and argued by this group in the context of recommendations made by a commission dealing with “Truth and Reconciliation”.
Here is what I’d like to see happen in the context of truth and reconciliation. I’d like to see every indigenous citizen in our country leave tax exempt reserves and pay tax through work like everyone else. Temporary transitional housing and job training should be provided at a cost to taxpayers. Reserves should be put back to nature just like the requirement bestowed upon natural resource firms once operations cease. There should be a complete excavation of these grave sites with accountability. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be amended restricting the liberties of those who cannot care for themselves due to mental health and addiction issues so that they can be rehabilitated. The democratic process should be updated to reflect discourse through strict regulated administrative means as opposed to scenes of intimidating road blocks. In other words, I’d provide apprehension powers to the state for unlawful protest apparently more strict than what’s currently available. I’d encourage the complete removal of any affirmative action protocols at every level of government, industry and schools. The new stat holiday “Truth and Reconciliation” day should be abolished. I would amend school curriculums at the secondary level to include compulsory course work in personal development, free enterprise, economics / industry, business administration, capitalism, and capital markets.
Gordon Lightfoot’s 2022 Calgary performance was unforgettable. Twenty seconds into the opening number, Gordon Lightfoot needed a dose of oxygen and there was some awkwardness in the crowd. At 84 next month one questions what keeps him going especially considering emphysema having been a smoker. However; once he found a chair and regained his composure with the aid of his caring support group…the music started to take shape.
They played all the hits familiar to you with some brevity. Lead guitarist Carter Lancaster provided some lyrical support to “Sundown” but with all other songs…Gordon was right there with all lyrics to all songs despite a voice past its peak. The Grey Eagle venue in Calgary does have good acoustics and the levels were set perfectly. Ian Tyson seemed to be with us throughout the evening with mentions of the ’88 Olympic performance for which they teamed as well as credits toward closing pre encore number “Early Morning Rain”. The band was tight and acoustic guitar support and short solos from Lancaster made for the perfect blend with Gordon. In select songs Lancaster played a ES-355 style semi-hollow with nice fat tone.
You could feel the audience light up once “If You Could Read My Mind” came around and it had a great sentimental feel in addition to the clarity of delivery. Honorable mention goes to keyboard player Mike Heffernan for harmonizing with Gordon beautifully. Speaking of “Beautiful” it was beautifully done. This is a finger picking song and Gordon is still up to the task despite having had a hand issue. In fact, Gordon’s guitar playing was much better than expected…especially on his 1942 Martin. He nicely introduced songs with poignant opening single note melodies.
Every song kept me interested. It was more than the music. It was the witnessing of a Canadian music icon at work at his age that brought mystery to the evening. In fact, once the standing ovation waned at set’s end and Gordon opened up the closing song with a defining lick from “Rainy Day People”, the simplicity of the song colored with melancholic movement spurred emotion and the surreal sense that we all were lucky to have seen this man and his band live given his contribution to Canadian music.
It’s August 13, 2022, thirty-one degrees and a little warm for tennis. I ponder the dark side of man and liberty without limits as I listen to the haunting opening track to Above and Beyond’s live acoustic performance at Porchester Hall from some years ago.
I digest the news. It impacts me and simmers in my subconscious mind upon going about my affairs. I think about those who actually believed that Donald Trump was good for America and were duped. I wonder about the blind eye we turn to the homeless. I question the conduct of our police and the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. I wonder about the creeps stained by social aberration unable to find their place with a propensity to commit evil deeds. There are the weak minds amenable to anti-social agendas while religious sects quietly confront. We speak of war with rules as we normalize the invasion of Ukraine. Underpinning man’s propensity to inflict harm is the hopefulness of youth perplexed about what the future holds in store served by a smattering of unfiltered opinions, propaganda, and deceit blabbered through “platforms” of “social media”. Free speech although virtuous in theory has unfortunately been central to hurt and consequent suicide. In fact, I postulate that the ultimate quest for liberty without limits has stained the consciousness of a society by leaving the addicted and mentally unfit to their own devices ultimately.
Nobody is immune from the potential of chaos brought by circumstances beyond one’s control. There are those who espouse such righteousness at times in life when seemingly in control. Unfortunately, destiny serves all despite inklings of immortality and resilience. The internet has brought a forum to all but not all speak responsibly and not all possess capacity. Activism run amok sponsored in part by internet access presents the plight of an author speaking his mind, the ghoulish fandom of populism, the irrational refusal of facts, and cowbells in a town square on a Saturday afternoon. The thoughtful amongst us are quiet because notions of reprisals are real. The quiet majority feels queasy.
The homelessness mess stains the first world. I’ve seen the look on faces of people stumbling upon homeless folks underneath downtown Calgary underpasses. It’s one of troubled disappointment. It’s just a moment of their day which passes whereby the mind becomes dispossessed quickly upon returning to daily affairs. There’s not sufficient intrusion on the mind for passersby to engage wholeheartedly. However; tomorrows arrive and incidences have become more frequent.
Upon returning to train station on foot (Chinook) from Long and McQuade today…I came across three lonely souls with their shopping carts in tow. None of them looked like what one might presume to be a homeless person. Stopped and spoke to a man who looked to be 40 or so. He mumbled as he spoke but he was coherent. The train of thought had logic. He didn’t look that bad in terms of hygiene and did acknowledge his shortcomings. (don’t want to divulge specifics). You can imagine probably most everything and anything as to why people end up on the street. When I asked if anyone spoke to him with a barrage of questions like I posed today….he replied no. I left him on his way.
Down the road a ways a police van was stopped on the side of the road. I approached it and spoke to the two officers. I shared that I had spoken to this homeless man and asked what the city is doing about them. He said they receive “AISH” (Alberta Income for The Severely Handicapped) and help is available. However; it’s apparent that many of them don’t reach out for help. I shared that this man said that he had never asked for help. Reference was made to restrictions and limitations imposed on the police with my ultimate suggestion that the “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” requires and update in order to effectively deal with the problem. One officer concurred but opined that few have an appetite to seriously consider the political challenge of such an undertaking.
Next I went for a beer and fries at Joey Tomatoes at the Chinook mall and then to Staples for office supplies. Upon arriving at my office I found a lady sleeping behind my office building. I checked for her respiration. Another set of officers arrived just as I had left her and I pointed her out to them. Then onwards to some Options Trading review in the office on a long weekend Sunday afternoon.