Sunday, October 15, 2006

O to the C to the FF

What a whirlwind of a weekend. It's hard to know where to start when it feels like so much has happened in such a short period of time. I guess I'll begin with how I spent the last few days... when I wasn't curled up in bed, recovering from a variety of late nights, beer and spontaneous crying fits.

I was at a hotel in downtown Ottawa, crashing the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals' yearly conference. What an amazing experience. I was officially there on behalf of my weekly paper, but hell, I'm a musician above anything else. Never before have I felt more at home with a group of strangers. In every lobby, hallway and staircase were musicians toting banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, various percussion instruments, upright basses, keyboards, a real piano (!) and a host of other exciting things. There were promoters, festival directors and industry gurus everywhere I went. It's possible that I have never geeked out so much in my life.

Sometimes I forget that my real roots as a songwriter lie with folk music. It's easy to get distracted by other genres, especially considering the plethora of remarkable music out there. But folk music is undeniably my longtime love. I hosted All Folked Up on CKCU FM for many years, and I continue to obsessively attend folk festivals and shows. I basically grew up at Rasputin's Folk Cafe, where I started performing with my first band, and even waited tables there briefly. I am a terrible waitress (really, quite awful), but I hung on because the perks were too good to give up. It was worth the music alone, not to mention the chocolate cake. I started learning guitar at the Ottawa Folklore Centre when it was still packed into that tiny store on Bronson, and followed the school to Bank where it still works its magic. My earliest musical memories involve copious amounts of Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, Paul Simon, Jesse Winchester and Joni Mitchell. When I saw Jesse Winchester at the Ottawa Folk Festival a few years ago, I thought I was going to cry myself dry. I guess I'm trying to say that, while I will happily talk anyone's ear off about their genre of choice, folk music keeps me chugging along.

So the conference. I convinced my partner and my dear friend to come check out parts of the weekend with me. They are both big music fans, but I'm not sure they were prepared for the emergence of Andrea the Folk Junkie, a side of myself that rarely comes out amongst non-folkie types. We have all become closer as a result of the experience. Allow me to explain with a quasi-fictional situation that is an amalgamation of my behaviour all weekend.

Picture my friend Heather and I sitting in a conference room, which is temporarily set up with a stage, and packed full with musicians. A bluegrass band is entertaining the crowd.

Me: Oh. My. GOD. Heather, look at his banjo. It's a piece of art. He's brilliant. HE'S A BRILLIANT PLAYER. Can we please get closer? PLEASE? I want to get a better look at his technique. Ooh, he plays so WELL.

Heather: Uh, we're in the second row.

Me: (GASP) HEATHER!! Madagascar Slim just walked by us. I was close enough to shake his hand. I think I may have drooled on my own leg.

Heather: Slim what? You drooled on MY leg, for your information. Why are you poking me?

Me, poking Heather: THAT'S Harmony Trowbridge. It's possible that she wears the best lipstick EVER every time I see her. She is such a gifted songwriter. This one time, she sang a song about a bee....

Heather: Do you realize that you are clapping your hands together for no apparent reason?


*It's possible that I repeated that last line about a million times throughout the weekend, as Heather can attest.

I will spare you my truly endless gabbing about the whole experience, because I swear I could write all day. I stayed every night until about 3am, went home, crashed, and then returned. Despite being an emotional basket case this past week, I was able to feel at home for the first time in a long time, sitting drunk in a hotel hallway, listening to the sweet sounds of the conference. Fuck the emotional rubbish. I was surrounded by banjos and people who could sing harmony. It was musical therapy. I'll be writing a piece for this week's XPress on the OCFF, so there will be plenty more there soon.

I will finish this segment by saying that folk music, in all its forms (bits of roots, bluegrass, soul, rock, hip hop, pop, jazz, indie and world music are included, believe it or not) is alive and well in Canada.

...... And they lived happily ever after. THE END.


In other news, I bought a hot pink cell phone. This may sound exciting and devastatingly sexy, but I still can't figure out when it's ringing, nor can I figure out how to properly check my messages. Totally un-sexy. All I know is that sometimes my pocket vibrates and it tickles my leg a bit. (A bit sexy?) Later on I realize that perhaps someone was trying to reach me. Ugh. How does one equate a dull buzzing with a phone call? I'm allergic to ring tones. Suggestions welcome. I find it especially funny that my partner has the same phone as me, except in blue. HAH. I would make a puking gesture if it wasn't so cute. And so fiercely ironic.

Ooh, my leg is buzzing! Hello text message! How do I read you? Stupid little buttons....

And for the next post? I got a Myspace. I shudder, I pine, but I will explain. Promise.


Anonymous said...


Wish I could have been there!
Is Erin Benjamin back at the OCFF? I love that lady!


Andrea SK said...

Dunno about Erin Benjamin... but I was thinking about you all weekend! Next time we should go together.

Anonymous said...

PS: Andy Sheppard is such a treasure. I saw him open for Don Ross a while ago and I had no idea such a musical talent lay in that CBC boy. Yum.