Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Sometimes life bunches up--not unlike pantyhose--and a whole bunch of stuff lands on one weekend, and all of the stuff is important and none of the stuff is disposable. When this happens, you just gotta be like, "Okay, I'm going to wear the same outfit all weekend and not sleep and pretend like it's actually one really long day."

This past weekend was like that, and one of the items on the packed schedule was Winterruption.

The fine Folk Fest friends at RFF have added another festival weekend to the year (bless them)--the summer one is at the beginning of August, and now there's a winter one in the middle of January, right when everyone in Saskatchewan is collectively weeping, gnashing teeth, and altogether melodramatizing as a result of -50 temperatures and an endlessly crystallized landscape as far as the ice-encrusted eye can see. It's a good reason to leave the house. If your vehicle will start.

And what a great idea. After all, what does Saskatchewan have that Hawaii or California or New York doesn't have? Right. Actual Winter.

(New York people would probably contest this, and I would contest them right back. With indignance. I mean, they have a thing in January called the No Pants Subway Ride. If you can walk around in January with no pants on, you don't have Actual Winter. IMHO.)

Actual Winter is kind of our Thing, and maybe we should be more proud of it. Like a kid in junior high who gets made fun of for being so tall and lanky and then becomes the star of the basketball team. Maybe winter is going to be our secret weapon that we all hated until now? I figure, instead of running away from the cold, why not have lots of sweet events and make it a place people want to be? Make it so people want to fly north for the winter instead of south?

(This is, admittedly, partly me trying to talk myself into liking winter. It's a thing I do a different variation of every year.)

Anyway, the point is that I went to Winterruption this past weekend. It warmed my heart up, if not my poor, blue fingers.


IsKw√© (Thursday night at the Exchange)

I first heard Winnipeg/Hamilton musician IsKw√© at last summer's Folk Fest--I walked past her stage just in time to hear her cover Bjork's Army of Me and stayed for the rest of the set (obviously). She has a tremendous voice (I mean, watch the video above), accompanied by powerful storytelling (again, watch the video). Really beautiful, moving show. I'm not sure what her upcoming tour schedule looks like, but if she comes anywhere near you, go.

Begonia (Also Thursday at the Exchange)

Thursday was the night of strong female vocals at the Exchange, I guess. Do you know Begonia? Get to know Begonia. I loved her. She was charming and hilarious and her voice did crazy, dangerous things in a way that never scared me once. Like being in the passenger seat of a skilled stunt car driver. Because I totally know what that's like.

Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids (Friday night at the Artesian)

Welcome to your new favourite podcast, which needs no explanation because it is exactly what it's called. This was my second time sitting in a taping of GRTTWaK and it was just as painful as the first time--and when I say 'painful,' I mean that my face was contorted with laughter for 120 minutes straight and when I left I felt like I'd been getting x-rays at the dentist. My friends Kate and Robyn both read from their childhood diaries/journals and I'm pretty sure they were crowd favourites. This was also the first show I've been to (of any kind) where the audience actually emitted a genuine, collective, loud, "Awww..." when the host told them the evening was over.

This thing comes through town often enough, but it always sells out way in advance, so join the mailing list if you want to go next time. I'll be there for sure.

Fred Penner (Saturday at the Knox-Met)

It's one of those insanely weird life moments when you find yourself sitting next to your son watching Fred Penner sing The Cat Came Back. Because childhood is like a planet you lived on once that blew up when you turned 12, or whatever, and you escaped with only the clothes on your back and then you grew out of those, too. And you became a teenager and then you became a technical adult and then you became an actual adult and then, oh wait, here's Fred Penner waltzing back into your life with his songs about food and his kazoo made of tissue paper and a comb...

Just an absolute trip.

(And I have to admit that I loved it. We took my brother TJ along with us, and he loved it too. It was a good little afternoon date with two of my favourite people. Plus: I feel a little kinship with Fred, because he has a sister named Suzy who has Down Syndrome and I am someone named Suzy who has a brother with DS.)

Anyway, those were the best of the things I made it to, amidst the busyness of the weekend. I wonder if there's any chance of it getting as big as the summer Folk Fest and having day stages?
(Hint, hint, whoever's reading.)

I'm very good at hinting.