Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
It’s been quite a year for everyone I know, really. Hardships with the economy, health of body and mind, and rushing, rushing from the summer into the preparation of the fall for the cold and dark months ahead. I always welcome December and the feasts it brings, I also welcome a month of not straying too far from my home and being with family. Right now I’m sitting in front of the woodstove, cuddling with my cats who are happy to have me back after a busy fall. I can see the woodpile outside, only half finished, now covered in the season’s first snow. I also see my suitcase left on the floor, full of a tour’s worth of clothes and bits and pieces of my life on the road.
I guess I have stalled a bit, out of gas, or perhaps just in need of a little break - time out to reflect and get back into writing songs and into the joyful spirit of the holidays with my daughter Isabel in mind.
I recently toured the Canadian Prairies, stopped home for a week and set off again across the pond to the UK for a tour of bangers and mash, divine cheeses and disastrous coffees. There has been quite a dramatic difference there since my last visit to England a year ago. Venues have been having a tough time getting people out and some have even shut down completely.
It’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of economy and art. Even in my short career so far I have seen trends come and go and come back again. Who ever thought the 80s would be cool again, and even more interestingly—Yacht Rock. Everything is fair game and will be recycled, but I wonder what is new. It seems everything new is really just a modification of what already has been, and perhaps that has always been the case.
For me, my songwriting is not about being innovative and ahead of the times, but making something that is honest, musical and inspiring to me. Something that touches hearts and minds, that is what I aspire to and that is what I like to listen to. I’m lucky to live in PEI, a place full of great songwriters and musicians. Some you can go see at local venues, but so many local songwriters you may never get to hear unless you’re sitting around a campfire with them.
One of the greatest songwriters I have ever run across is our own Mitch Schurman. So many of his songs give me shivers and really, I just wish I had written them myself. For so many years his music could only be heard by him in person, but with his first release of music, hopefully a broader audience will get to share in his music. I’ve heard rumours that he may be working on another collection of songs.
Another of my heros, on many levels, is my friend and neighbour Malcolm Stanley. Known for his years of creating beautiful pottery, Malcolm has been writing songs as well, sharing his music with us down at the Dunk and elsewhere along the Dixon Road. Beautiful words and melodies, songs about what he sees around him, friends and seasons and family.
Malcom has just recently recorded an album of these songs that we’ve been treasuring for so long. It has become a sort of Dixon Road project, so many of us coming together to bring it to light. Hopefully it will be ready to go by February and will have a lovely painting of Malcolm by Perry Neatby on the cover.
I hope for everyone a nourishing new year and hope that inspiration will find each and everyone of you, that you all may bring your buried treasures and secret wishes to light.