I just interviewed on Mainstreet, which is CBC Radio 1’s 3-6pm drive home show that covers mainland Nova Scotia. Thanks to Bob Murphy and the Mainstreet team of Dianne Paquette, Rob Doublett and Producer Alex Mason for being as terrific as they always are. Bob and I had a great talk, and it’s always an honour when someone’s obviously listened to the record and have specific questions. Yay, Public Broadcasting.
I’ve just finished up the first run of dates for the release tour. Thank you SO MUCH: Tonye Aganaba, Guilt&Co., Moksha Yoga Vancouver and Rachel McKinley in Vancouver, my beloved band members from Red Moon Road, Moksha Yoga Kildonan and the legendary Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club in Winnipeg MB; Jennifer and Andrew and Braegen Miller, Ross Neilsen, Alanna Martineau, Kristin Synnott and everyone at Wine-Oh’s in Calgary.
It takes a village to raise a musician, my friends, and you kept me alive and singing for a few weeks there, almost as far from home as one can get in this stupidly huge country. I had such a great time with you all.
But part of my village died, on the last day of it.
I woke up after a raging last-night gig in Calgary to get the news over Facebook (how else?) that my beautiful friend Emily Ugarenko had died in a house fire the night before.
Neither she, nor the house into which she had welcomed me over and over again, existed anymore.
We were both foodies, so we were thick as thieves, right from the get go when I showed up as a member of my client Charlie A’Court‘s band, for a house show. These things are always a bit rushed and chaotic, but Em and I hit it off and before long she’d booked me for a solo show, and would happily put me up whenever I was on the way past. We would eat and drink famously, she’d fill me in on her dating adventures (I was waiting for the update on the new boyfriend!), her joy and relief at getting a new job she’d be good at and make an adult’s paycheque for, we’d talk about my job(s), my person‘s job(s), her roommate Hannah’s joyful transition from barista to Military Police member, her beloved Pitbull rescue work, gossip, moving her to Nova Scotia, back to gossip, back to the dogs. We’d clink our glasses one last time, and trundle off to our respective rooms, to meet again in the morning, yack more and make something amazing for breakfast together (breakfast poutine! hashbrownwaffles!), maybe I’d order up some of her art for someone before I collected one last hug and took off, grateful to have her in my extended road family.
What has been heartening in the week since has been to see Facebook light up with grief, and to realize, of course, I wasn’t the only one. This was just what she did, how she moved through the world. And there’s the lesson. Not that old ‘tell your people you love them’ chestnut, as much as, Wow, she made everyone feel that way. She was a one-gal joy machine who loved nothing more than finding a stray (literally or figuratively) and giving them a home. She loved skulls (they were everywhere in her place); music, food as a metaphor, making shiny stuff, Nova Scotia, and above all, otherwise unloved dogs. A lot of us are really going to miss her, but we know we’re better for her. Our sad will give way to gratitude, and eventually, some grim kind of joy. I call it a #Smorkfest now, when I make something fun in the kitchen, and somewhere, I can feel her snicker. I plan to spread the philosophy to the stray musicians we put up all the time. There’s no more fitting way to remember her.
For upcoming shows, consult my Facebook Artist Page.
I’m doing a quick set at Casino Nova Scotia‘s East Coast Country Night series this weekend, then spending the Summer working on bookings for the Fall. Get in touch anyway you want. If you’re in Manitoba, I will be returning to the Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival at the end of July, and playing dates from Edmonton back to Halifax via VW microbus! Dates TBA, keep in touch!
Bye for now,