Ten Years …

Ten years ago yesterday I played my last set at mariposa folk fest. It was a late night bar set. I think Matt Andersen and I hosted the after party of sorts. It is a fuzzy memory. The next morning my sister and I drove hard to NB.

My dad had been dying of Cancer for some time. Somewhere in the late spring it escalated. Got aggressive. It was clear what was going on. My family gathered and prepared for the inevitable. It was an intense time for my family and I remember so much of it fondly and so much of it is a blur. I recall spending much time beside my father while he slept in his morphine cocoon. Although he was weakening there were still lucid moments for quite a while before it got really bad. I remember writing “Afflicted” sitting there, while he slumbered.

I had scheduled my largest tour yet, of my then very young touring career. It would go deep into Ontario culminating in the prestigious Mariposa gigs. I decided it best to cancel the tour. My father and mother insisted I honour my bookings at Mariposa as it was an important gig. Off we went.

I recall selling out of CDs there. It was an amazing weekend. I felt like a real artist. A real musician. It would be the only time I would ever play that festival. I left feeling triumphant. But I also knew that we were heading home into what would easily be the most trying time in my life.

We landed at home shortly after midnight, I think. Memories are a funny thing. Especially ones rooted in trauma. Anyway, I think less than two hours later, at approximately 130 a.m. AST by my memory, my father shed his mortal coil. I held his right hand. My sister to my left. Mother across the other side of the bed and my brother, I think, at the foot. Like many folks who are in their final moments, we had to tell him to let go. That it was ok to move on. He was a strong man and had waited for his kids to get home. How fortunate were we.

His hand trembled mightily. Like an electric charge. I’ll never, ever, forget it. And then, it was clear, my dad had died. The following days were a blur. Funeral. Visits. Campfires. Relatives. Friends. All a blur. Then the adjustment. Life without my family’s leader. We all took turns in new roles. Dealing with the business at hand. Sometimes literally. People came calling for all kinds of reasons. All very educational.

Years passed. You adjust. You navigate life. You carry on. It goes by you but never away. It can leave you completely for years at a time. Convincing you that you have gotten over it. Then, out of nowhere, a song or a blade of grass, perhaps a piece of pie or a car wash lets you know who’s boss. The void of a parent lost is never filled. Ever. We cope. We carry on. We live. Happily. Unhappily. To each their own.

Currently I write this at what seems to be the happiest point in my life this far and let me tell you, I have had some amazing adventure. Yet still I must reflect for a moment…I’ve had this portable bar for ten years. In it is this bottle of scotch that was on my dad’s dresser. The first time I ever tasted any booze was sitting on my dad’s knee (quite possibly from the very glass in this photo) while he and mom had friends over. Scotch and ginger. Probably Sussex’s Golden ginger ale if I had to guess. The very few times I ever saw my dad enjoy an adult beverage, that is what I remember as his drink. Tonight I will take a “swig” of Chivas for the first time since my dad has passed. I don’t know why I never did before. My gypsy life of the past ten years even afforded me the luxury of forgetting about this bottle for a while. Then, in my last move, I looked in the case and was tickled to find this bottle sloshing around. I knew exactly what it was for. Ten years. Hard to believe. Just yesterday I was beginning my touring career. Here I am now in my forties. Relaxing on my back deck in the prairies. Watching the birds gather. Watering the garden. Thinking of own family. It is peaceful. I have been given some amazing gifts in this life. Some have come at great cost but here I am just the same. Grateful for it all.

Ten years will come and go in the blink of an eye. So I cheers to you, my friends and enemies. Let us not forget one another. Let us keep the memory of what we mean to each other necessary. Let us take a moment and dig up that little moment in time that we have buried deep in our minds and let it turn the sides of our mouths and wrinkle the corner of our eyes. Cheers to our past. Cheers to our present. And cheers to our future. Live well. Love hard.

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Maritime Shows Announcement

Big news folks, This Summer I will make a quick trip to the Maritimes for a variety of shows.

June 30th I will have my Big F’n Band in full swing supporting I Mother Earth. This is part of the Canada Day weekend festivities and I can’t wait to get back in Freetown for a visit and especially to see legendary rockers WITH Edwin singing. Love that first album of theirs. More detail right HERE

July 1st I will take my trio (Karl Gans, Will Pacey) back to the lovely town of Saint Andrews to celebrate Canada Day at The Red Herring. One of our favourite spots to play in the whole wide world.

July 2nd I venture over to the fair Isle of Prince Edward to perform my solo show at The Trailside Cafe in Mount Stewart. Tickets for that one are right HERE. Don’t hesitate…

I hope to see many of our Maritime friends and fans out for these shows. See you SOOOOOOON!

Headed to PEI for the Canadian Songwriter Conference!

Good news folks,

Last week, just as I was leaving for vacation in Nashville, TN, I received word that I had been selected by jury to represent Saskatchewan at the Canadian Songwriter Conference in Charlottetown, PE. This is part of the May Run Music Festival and will involve a few days of songwriting with my pal, Andrew Waite as well as a day of pitching music and culminating in a songwriters circle at St. Paul’s Church on Friday evening. Many thanks to SaskMusic, MusicPEI and Bell Media for this great opportunity.

PEI has always had a special place in my heart. I’ve always had a great support base there and ALWAYS fun shows. I love the islanders. Typically in the past my annual winter solo tour would end in a house concert just outside of Charlottetown so I’m really happy to head there again this Spring for this conference. I’ve also been feeling the words seeking me out again as well after taking some time off writing so I’m excited to see what we can come up with for material while there. Visit this LINK for tickets to the events.

I hope to see all my islander friends on this short but very sweet visit. Next week I’ll be announcing a couple more shows so stay tuned for that as well. Happy Spring everyone.

 

Ross

A Winter Jaunt with The Sufferin’ Bastards

Well, well, well. It’s time once again to shake ’em on down like only the Bastards can.
This January we will go on a Winter Jaunt through Alberta and Saskatchewan. Dig out those old classic tour T’s… The Bastards are back in town!!!

A Winter Jaunt with The Sufferin’ Bastards:
Jan 6th/7th 9.00 pm The Mainliner, Medicine Hat, AB
Jan 10th 8.00 pm Dino’s Bar & Grill, Saskatoon, SK
Jan 11th 9.00 pm Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 12th 10.00 pm Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 13th 10.00 pm Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 14th 3.00 pm *MATINEE* Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 14th 10.00 pm Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 15th 9.00 pm Blues on Whyte, Edmonton, AB
Jan 17th/18th 10.00 pm Bud’s on Broadway, Saskatoon, SK
Jan 19th 9.00 pm The Capitol, Regina, SK
Jan 20th/21st Mikey’s Juke Joint, Calgary, AB

Maple Blues Nomination!

fullsizerenderHi folks! Well, this Halloween I had to double check the inter webs as I read that I had been nominated for Songwriter of the year at the Maple Blues Awards. If you’re wondering what these awards are, here is what their website says: “The Maple Blues Awards is Canada’s national blues awards program. Its goal is to promote blues music across Canada, and to recognize outstanding achievement in the field.” It includes a nationally recognized awards show put on by the Toronto Blues Society at Koerner Hall in Toronto. This year there is also a conference called Blues Summit, where buyers form around the world get together and see what’s happening in the Canadian Blues landscape.

I have been writing songs for about 25 years. A couple years ago I was lucky enough to attend a songwriting camp by Steve Earle. This really changed the way I approach writing and has made a big impact on the quality of my writing. I have long been striving to write what I think are “good” songs. I once had a conversation with a muso friend and he remarked that he didn’t know what made or was, a “good” song. I half jokingly said, “it’ good if you like it”. I think it’s more complicated than that though. I still don’t know the answer but I know I don’t have to “like” a song to think that it’s quality. There’s more to songs that how they make you feel. I can appreciate a good song architect even if the song doesn’t move me. Rhyme patterns. Beats per line. Alliteration. I like the tools of writing. I like using them. I like when I get stuck on a line and have to bust out my tool bag to dig around for the right line or word. Sometimes production turns me off and I walk away form a tune before I give it a chance. I’ve turned around a lot though over the past few years and have really opened up and started looking at music that I wouldn’t have given a chance  in the past. The reason for this is that, One: I was missing out on good music and, Two: I want to learn how to write better songs. The latter has been a goal of mine for years. In the past couple years I finally feel like I’m making headway.

I cut my teeth listening to Dylan, Neil Young, The Band and so many others that have a deeper context to their writing. I’m not saying that every song has to be deep and have an earth shattering underlying meaning but if you’re only adding lyrics to get you to the next guitar solo, well, then you may be a guitar player, not a songwriter. I enjoy a silly pop song or an easily digested melody with no hidden meaning behind the lyric as much as the next person but I also want to be moved. I want a line to stir my brain. To make me think. To turn me on.. As a result of what I want from others, I have been writing my own material with that in mind. I’m not sure that’s right or wrong. It’s just how I go about it. I appreciate that people listen and sometimes ask me about lyric. I have on occasion had such heavy duty reinforcement from listeners, that my music has helped them in tough times, that I know I’m on the right track. As long as I create music I will never stop trying to write a quality song.

I thank you so much for listening and supporting my music. I have been nominated for awards before but this one feels good. I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m happy that work is being acknowledged. Particularly happy to be in a category with Paul Reddick. I’ve been a fan of Paul’s and under his influence for many years and to be mentioned in the same category is further indication that I’m slowly figuring something out. I hope to someday be on that kind of level that can invoke a mini-movie in four or five minutes, like Paul can. I’ve had good teachers and I’m grateful for that. Still I will continue to work to be better. Thanks a bunch.

Now of the sting… these are voting awards…I hate that. I know you do too. But I can’t win unless you vote. So, if you want to vote for me…do it here It’s pretty quick and easy. I appreciate it. If you want to share it with friends, I appreciate that too. Voting for the Twentieth Annual Maple Blues Awards will be open from 11:59 PM Newfoundland Daylight Time November 1st, 2016, through 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time December 1st, 2016

I wish this wasn’t a component of #awardsshowbullshit but it is. Thanks for any kind of support. Big love!

 

Ross