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Musical Musings

18 Feb

It’s not often I write about music aside from my obvious love of Taylor Swift.

I find this a bit funny because music has always been a huge part of my life and is one of the few things that can cut to my core in an instant.

My Dad is a musician. Not by trade anymore but it’s his passion and I grew up in a house full of music. The Husband loves music and is often found plucking away at the guitar or learning a new song on the drums. Live music in your home is hard to beat. Especially if it’s that acoustic 1D song that was learned just for you. (But will deny if confronted.)

A good song has always had the ability to stop me in my tracks. I remember one night driving home to my Dads house and this song by Tomi Swick came on the radio. I actually had to pull over because I was so consumed by the song, the lyrics, the acoustic guitar. I was still in University, hadn’t yet met The Husband, and I’m sure my young heart was bruised and looking for comfort and this was just the thing it needed.

Despite being a junkie for boy-bands, Britney and Christina, in high school I had a stack of CD’s that were full of emo music that I came across in some way or another. These CD’s could track-for-track trace back to the boy I had a crush on, the one that broke my heart for the zillionth time, or the victorious moment when I knew I was finally OK again. The best and worst memories of my younger years had a soundtrack and I LOVE that.

Those years were so magical and powerful and sometimes so sad and frankly deserved an epic score.

As much as I love music and have so many songs to attach my memories to, I hadn’t paid much attention to the songwriting or the process. I had always thought about what a song meant to ME and not what that song meant to someone else – which was clearly a lot if it compelled them to put pen to paper, and music to words and so on.

This October that changed for me and the genres of music I love expanded considerably. The Husband and I took a trip to Nashville. A trip I had never really thought would be up my alley but turned out to be one I’ll never forget.

A charming duo performing a cover of ‘Blank Space’ lured us into Jimmy Buffet’s Margarittaville. (Shocking, I know.) This is easily the least Nashville of Nashville bars, but housed some incredible talent. Next thing we knew, it was three hours and a bunch of tequila later and we had gone from Taylor Swift to Neil Young to One Direction to Tracy Chapman and way beyond. They even threw in their own originals and every single song was perfect. The talent was pouring out of every bar we went to regardless of what they were singing.

The Opry was another surprise for me. I had never loved Country music. To be honest, I never even really liked it. By the time we left the Opry I was a changed woman. I thought Country was a bit lame and whiny, but it’s actually so soulful and powerful and beautiful.

At the Opry we got to see Nathan Chapman, the mastermind behind virtually every Taylor Swift album with the exception of 1989 perform. (Although he did produce ‘This Love’ which is one of my favourite songs on the album)

The next day we got a chance to see him again at an intimate Songwriters Circle where he played music, told stories and shed some light into the background of the writing process. This was when I realized how selfish my approach to music had been. The stories and heartache and happiness and struggle are so real for the person making the music. Not just for you. And now we were watching someone who has seen crazy amounts of success as a producer, testing the waters with a solo album. A new kind of vulnerability and uncertainty.

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Nathan Chapman at The Country Music Hall of Fame. 

His album sold for $10 in the lobby and came with a chance to chat with him. I was one degree of separation from my idol, but found a new one in him, and a new love for music in Nashville.

From Broadway to the Bluebird, we saw more than 40 acts over a long weekend, and I couldn’t get enough.

Tonight as I flipped through the channels on TV I caught a clip of someone performing a cover of a Chris Stapleton song on American Idol. I immediately searched the song and it hit me again. That feeling of falling in love with words and a melody and really just the feeling of being in love with music.

While sometimes my taste in music may seem questionable, every song and artist I love I love because they make me feel something.

I love that no matter how much time passes, music can just cripple you, act as a time machine, or lift your spirits when you need it to.

 

An Open Letter to Andrea Swift

14 Sep

Dear Andrea,

It has been 11 years since October 3rd has been THIS important.

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As I’m sure you’re well aware, your daughter will be gracing Toronto with her presence, and I’m guessing you will be there too.

Let me start by saying, this is an abnormal act for me – this kind of open declaration. While I certainly have proclaimed my fan-girl status on social media, I need more than 140 characters to explain why October 3rd will soon become the most important day in this calendar year.

Last year upon finding out concert dates for the 1989 tour, my four girlfriends and my sister decided it only made sense for them to visit me in Toronto to take in this epic event.

Over the past year since our tickets have been purchased, a lot has happened in your life and in ours. Your battle with cancer was announced, your daughter took on the world’s largest company to fight for the right of musicians everywhere to be paid for their music, Olivia Benson came into your family and the #GirlSquad was born.

I am lucky enough to have my own #GirlSquad. Five of whom will be in attendance with me on October 3rd. All of whom are flying half way across the country to see this show.

While my #GirlsSquad isn’t on the cover of any magazine, taking on music giants or selling out stadiums, I’m pretty darn proud of who we are.

In the last year my Sister worked hard to build a great career for herself despite suffering from a serious learning disability and other #GirlSquad members have worked full time jobs while working on their MBA, worked full time and come home to be a kick-ass Mom, finally won the right to have their fiancé live in Canada permanently, and we’ve all worked our butts off to be successful in our careers, friendships and relationships.

After reading the Vanity Fair article on Taylor, I was really taken aback on what this #GirlSquad really was. It isn’t just a collection of beautiful women pretending to pose in a perfect kitchen to help generate more fame, it seems to truly be a group of women who care about each other and genuinely want to support each other as they move through their unique place in this world. That struck me as being incredibly normal, despite how abnormal all of their lives are.

So, I write you today because on October 3rd, my #GirlSquad will be gathered to take all of this in. To be surrounded by thousands of other “Swifties” as we sing and dance our faces off, we will also be in the presence of an artist we all love, not only because her songs are killer, but because she is kind to others, walks through NYC with her cat and wears knit sweaters from her fans.

The fact of the matter Andrea, is that a person like this becomes who they are because of their parents. Thank you for raising someone that at 13 or 30 we can look up to, be inspired by, and have fun with. So thank you, for making October 3rd possible.

Just in case you want to say hello, we’ll be the ones in section 215 row 2.

xoxo Sylvia

First night of Pop Explosion! Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou

20 Oct

Halifax Pop Explosion is finally here. We headed down to Reflections Cabaret Tuesday night to take in Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou.

I’d like to pause for a moment, though, to discuss Reflections during Happy Hour: Like me, you may have only been to Reflections late, late at night, having missed the happy hour that ends at 1:00 am. You should be aware, then, that between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am the prices are straight up fantastic (we’re talking $3.25 for domestic bottles, and $2.75 for well shots).


We arrived in time for the beginning of Pepper Rabbit. After a hilariously long soundcheck, they started in, playing what seemed like a wonderful fusion of Wolf Parade and My Morning Jacket. It was my first time hearing them, so maybe my assessment is way off, but I quite liked what I heard. I’m really happy with this find so far, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of their stuff.

My only real negative about their set was that they were wearing jackets the whole time. It was roughly a million degrees in there, so it was surprisingly distracting to be imagining just how grotesquely hot they must have been.

After they wrapped up, we waited through another lengthy soundcheck (there seemed to be a series of miscommunications between the band and the guy on the board), and Ohbijou took the stage.

I was already a  little familiar with them, and they didn’t disappoint. They couple vocals with really, really great music (I love bands with violins or other stringed instruments).

Pop Explosion is off to a great start, so we’re pumped to check out more shows during the week. Stay tuned here, as we’re going to have posts up every day (we hope!).