Hard to catch up on 2016, it moved so fast as the present runs at us with such speed, its the age of everything and such flux is keeping us all off balance. It was one hit after another, there was little time to mourn for one deceased celebrity before another washed up on the news.
It wasn’t just celebs but systems that fell too. It seems by many counts to be a year not to be celebrated but of course there is always reason to be cheerful, even if its just to have survived the year. Many friends a generation younger are celebrating, they’re are growing families, homes, work projects, having children, Music Festivals will be even more a family affair and yes I still believe music can save us all - stay tuned.
Some of my fave moments happened at festivals in 2016; being interviewed by Steve DeTaeye at Hillside (4 pm - 30 min mark) about a piece I wrote on the best little Royal City gathering; River and Sky, Hillside’s Northern sibling - a fave festival that had The Sadies play on a beach for what seemed liked hours, also the afternoon chat with METZ, and introducing them onstage as the closer. Also doing an Apologue in-car podcast with Simon Head (ep 87) about Oshawa’s music heritage, not mush of it left, many of our venues have become shelters - something ironic in that I guess, they were once our shelters.
I had the chance too to interview Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone magazine's first official photographer, and I finally met David Marsden, for a coffee and a chat. I also interviewed Buffy Sainte-Marie (through my new freelance job at Metro, which I began in 2016), and witnessed Gord Downie’s "Secret Path" show, twice. Canada’s band toured the country as its farewell.
Downie has used the spotlight to highlight the plight of Canada’s aboriginal communities - He has said many times the country, in 2017, should not celebrate its past 150 years, but should look towards building the next 150 years - ahead by a century is our Gord and we can only hope his name does not crop up on the news as among those we will mourn this coming year.
Records to note; Jadea Kelly’s album “Love and Lust”, an absolute tour de force that will only get bigger and bigger, such a deep personal story; also Meghan Patrick’s debut “Grace and Grit” - Meghan too has a star on the rise, she is one who gets it all on every level and I think she will emerge in her own time as one the country’s finest singer/songwriters. As well The Standstills have emerged as the one’s to watch over on the harder rock side of things.
I had gone to see Lennon and Maisy at Field Trip but unfortunately it was washed out by a drenching storm so I missed them, however they did come into town for the Music Scene’s talent contest, an opportunity to chat with The Stellas too then; but its not just the Nashville family we should take notice off, Tracy Penhale Stella is a member of the Oshawa group The Professors of Funk led by Derek Giberson. Giberson organized a charity Christmas concert featuring a solo by Tracy, - (I was in the Rogers Live Broadcast truck and she was wonderful) - Cadence Grace was also a guest singer. The concert raised about $10000 I believe, for the Back Door Mission in Oshawa’s core.
Politically it was a strange year but as all politics are local lets look not south of the border but to our own south, South Oshawa, which seems now to begin at Adelaide north of Hwy 2 instead of the traditional south of Hwy 401.
The good man behind the Back Door Mission, told me Oshawa’s core has a concentration of poverty, addiction, bad landlords, unsafe housing and prostitution that is if not worse than then on par with Vancouver’s East Side - a place with an international reputation. As Oshawa expands north we are leaving a broad vacuum at the core of this city and it is being filled with the hopeless. More needs to be done. We are also continuing to lose our creative minds as they leave the city for more opportunities. It seems to me we need them more than ever as the old system is falling and failing. Rather than fill the vacuum with exclusion lets fill it with inclusion.
Councillor Amy England got this, and went further with it, creating a documentary on the community garden there, and also we must give a shout-out to Carol VanderSanden and her own mission to grow gardens all over the city. The latest is by the hospital. Now they are the very definition of someone creating hope, and art.
As for for further future hope creators, we have a crew of young musicians, Headswirl, Native Other, Laughed The Boy who are digging through the back catalogues and building new from the pieces, music inspired by everything. Seems a good time to slot in a shout out to Wildlife and their recent released album, “Age of Everything”.
As for fave album - these got a lot of repeats on my player, its a toss up between Okervil River’s “Away” and Preoccupations’ S/T debut, but I will say the Most Important Record of 2016 was Secret Path. Get it if you don't and join the conversation to create an even better Canada. In 2017 be better and mostly be kinder. The world needs it.