Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
As the snow continues to fall on my little hill in the woods, I find myself wanting more and more to live the good life. Or a good life. Thoughts of cultivating new life are starting to spring up, seeds have been ordered for the garden and plans are being drawn for new raised beds. I’ve also started baking and quilting again and dreaming of a homesteaders life. After a very busy and challenging 2013, this new year of the horse seems to be one about positive change and hard but worthwhile work.
The new record has been delayed for a few months so we can work on it at a less frantic pace, and plans for summer shows and fall touring are well under way. I find it hard sometimes to just be here in the moment, enjoying winter and all that it brings us. The quiet snow days, family time in the kitchen with Isabel as we try out new recipes for bread, pizza and cookies. Isabel, it seems, is turning into an inspired baker and lover of experimental cooking.
I have been re-reading The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing, remembering that if I can put in a good four hours of solid work a day, that is usually enough. So I send Isabel off on the school bus, make a pot of coffee and set to work on emails, taxes, grant applications and the ever-important job of restocking the indoor woodpile. Occasionally I actually get to play music and work on new songs. That is when I feel like all the effort I put into other realms pays off with time for creativity.
At my last appearance at the Dunk, I was able to play a few new songs that I hadn’t performed in public until then. There is great satisfaction in that for me, like showing off your brand new baby to the world. That show was particularly fun, my favourite time at the Dunk in a while… I’m not sure exactly why. It could have been the massive amounts of chocolate (it was a Valentine’s Day show after all), the lovely group of new and old friends who came out, and the cozy atmosphere of Hal’s house full of great conversation. I think the best part for me was the chance to listen to and play with my neighbours and friends.
Bryson Guptill opened the night with some originals from his upcoming record and classic covers, my favourite for his set was Lightfoot’s Song For a Winter’s Night. Almost seamlessly, the Stanley Brothers got up next. Of course, Mike and Malcolm Stanley are not brothers, but father and son. They were a mighty duo with the 12-string and 6-string guitars solid like a train, and such great songs from both of them. I played the last set of the night with Jon Rehder, doing a bunch of fun covers (Everly Brothers, Tom Waits, Patsy Cline) and some of our own material.
Hal announced that night that there are changes afoot at the Dunk, some great changes in my mind. There will be fewer shows, but, with any luck, better crowds and more meaningful experiences. Each month there will be one event, as opposed to four concerts, with the emphasis on community, which is how the whole experience began at Hal’s. Annual events, like the Winter and Summer Solstice, the Fiddlehead Social in May and the Pie-Off will continue and new events that will take advantage of seasonal festivities will be happening now too.
I look forward to seeing these changes at the Dunk and the continuation of Hal’s ideals of supporting local and emerging artists while creating cultural sustenance for us in the community. I look forward, also, to all the changes in my own life, however they may unfold. We all keep marching along and with luck and hard work we sometimes have the sense that we’re headed in the right direction.