Season of Change

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a whirlwind of a year so far. It started off a little slow, but picked up the kind of speed that I imagine a ‘whirling dervish’ would.

I feel so very different than I ever used to. I don’t know how I shook it, but I have so much less guilt over things these days. It’s become easier to accept the things I can’t change, nor control and to just let them be. it’s also become easier to recognise them which is really nice. I also care a heck of a lot less about pleasing people, and as cliche as it sounds, I feel so much lighter for it.

Sunsets are one of my favourite things

There are some things missing from my life1… but I have faith that everything will come in time. There are relationships in my life that began to make me feel a little bit of pressure to find what I’m looking for, romantically, and it was very tempting to get frustrated that it’s not materialising sooner but then I just look at my never-ending-to-do-list and forget all about that. Thank goodness for priorities. Thank goodness for work.

I’m excited2 for the change of season that’s around the corner. Partially because one of my favourite events of year will be happening around that time, but also because it means I can hopefully have a yard sale and get rid of some a lot of the clutter around this house.

I know it might seem silly to wait to get rid of it all but I can’t afford to just give everything away. I need to try to make some money back. I won’t make much, but I will make more than I would if I were to give everything away for free. I had been using the Bunz app to try to trade the things I no longer need for other things but life, and work got too busy and scheduling and flakers get exhausting.

Last year, I sent out an open invitation to joy and it helped me get through a very difficult time. This year, I’m sending an open invitation out to romance. I’m ready. I’m also done chasing it for myself. I know what I’m looking for; I know what I want. I also know what it looks like and what it feels like. I’m also not afraid to say no anymore. So, let’s see what this new season and this year brings. Of course, the invitation for joy remains open; that’s why it’s so much easier to come by these days.

Footnotes:
  1. not just in the romance department, though that is definitely included[]
  2. and slightly terrified – hello global warming![]

A belated recap: My Canadian Music Week 2016

I was able to catch quite a lot of live music during the week, and I’m sure I could write about a lot more than I have here, but these truly were the performances that really touched me – or that I was able to stay for long enough to have been touched by them. I know it’s not the first time I’ve admitted that it’s a highlight of my life working for the festival, but it isn’t always awesome shows: I do actually get work done!

My favourites this year:

Lights at Danforth Music Hall

Lights at the Danforth Music Hall | Monday, May 2nd

At this point, I hadn’t been to a show in ages. Ages. I’ve been to small shows, and they have been lovely and intimate but there’s something about attending a show by someone who has been through it all, and has continued to hold on the thing that makes them magical.

It was an acoustic set for almost 1500 people, and you could feel the intimacy in the room all the way at the back of the balcony where I was seated. I am ashamed to admit I haven’t listened to any of her latest stuff but that didn’t stop me from enjoying her incredible talent.

What a delightful way to start my Canadian Music Week experience.

Royal Canoe at Mod Club Theatre

Royal Canoe at Mod Club Theatre | Wednesday, May 4th

I hadn’t planned on staying long, but the route I chose to check-in on my venues for the night made me quite late for my check-in at this venue. I’m so glad it did. I ended up being able to catch Royal Canoe‘s entire set, which was so much fun. I wasn’t that familiar with their music, but it was easy to enjoy.

Definitely a highlight of my week.

The People The Poet at Cameron House | Thursday, May 5th

I tried so hard to make it back to the area from the east end of the city to catch some friends, The Cat & The Queen, playing at The Hideout but I didn’t quite make it. So I thought I would check out The People The Poet at Cameron House. I discovered this band from Ireland while I was investigating international bands, and our potential transformer needs and had penciled in a few of their showcases in case I could catch them.

As a lover of Mumford and Sons, the Head in The Heart and of Monsters and Men, these guys were right up my alley. Would definitely go to see them again if they made their way back to Canada.

Demi Louise at Drake 150

Demi Louise at Drake 150 | Friday, May 6th

I wasn’t able to catch her whole set as i had to get started on my schedule of venue-checks for the evening, but I managed to stay for a couple of songs performed by this gentle-woman. I first met her last year when I advanced the shows at the same venue. She reminds me a lot of Rory from the GIlmore Girls, except that she actually has musical talent1. With a buttery voice, tunes that are funny and serious at the same time it’s hard not to swoon when she starts playing.

Very glad I was able to catch her set, ever-so-briefly.

Motel Raphael at Lee's Palace

Motel Raphaël at Lee’s Palace | Saturday, May 7th

Three years ago, my life was very different, and meeting and working with this band was one memorable experience. I was still Stage Managing. They were gracious, humble, and they rocked. I’m very happy to report that they still rock, and I can only assume they’re every bit as gracious and humble (I wasn’t able to stick around to stay hello – duty called).

I can only hope they keep coming back so I can continue to catch their live shows. So much love for these gals (and their band).

Who did you get to see at Canadian Music Week 2016?

Footnotes:
  1. where Rory did not[]

It’s All Happening: Canadian Music Week 2016

When I first signed up to volunteer for Canadian Music Week, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had gone through the biggest – at the time – breakup of my life. I can’t possibly be ashamed to say that most of the best things in my life have come about because I was trying to continue finding the light while my heart was broken. I can’t be ashamed because I’ve had years of evidence that this is just how I am; just how my life plays out. I need to own it1.

I remember filling out the form online, and not really expecting to hear back from them. While I had been on many committees and organized many events for school2, I had never been involved with something on this scale. To my delight they wrote back and offered me a Stage Manager position. In my first year, A Stage Manager. ME!

At least those were the thoughts going through my head at the time. Looking back, it of course makes sense. I have a knack for logistics, and I had plenty of experience organizing events. I’m so grateful that he saw that in me.

Year after year, I would look forward to this time of year – up until a few years ago this would have been in March – because when I was doing work for Canadian Music Week3 was the best time of my life. I remember a boyfriend-at-the-time asking me why I loved doing it, and what I get out of it. He tried to figure out if I was doing it for the contacts, or if I was doing it to get a job, to get into free gigs, or to find hot musicians to date4.

And truth be told, sure, I would like all of those things but the fact is that whenever I am doing something for Canadian Music Week – or any event I love – nothing else matters. I have stage fright, but I have to present to a room full of people? No problem5. My heart hurts for reasons I’m not willing to divulge at this time? Definitely no problem!

I don’t actually get to see that many gigs since I started as a Crew Chief though6 but I’m hoping this year will be different. I plan to make the most of this year, both by attending the conference and checking out some shows that I know will kick-ass7.

I love the people I get to work with, and I can’t wait to rock out8 this week.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 9.40.23

Footnotes:
  1. Maybe that’s why none of my relationships ever work out… but I’m going to save that topic for another blog post[]
  2. both high school and university[]
  3. whether I was getting paid or not[]
  4. I know better now of course: Musicians and I, just don’t mix[]
  5. except for when there is a problem, but you can’t win them all[]
  6. We manage the Stage Managers, it’s a whole lotta managing[]
  7. because let’s face it, the line-up is always stellar[]
  8. in every sense of the word[]

It’s All Happening: Lessons learned from Volunteering

By now, I would be neck deep into my fifth year as a Stage Manager for Canadian Music Week – that is, if they hadn’t moved the festival to a warmer time of year1. As I yearn for the late nights, live music, and the perfect outlet for my need to organize-the-shit-out-of-everything I thought I’d list a few lessons I’ve learned about volunteering for festivals such as Canadian Music Week and North by North East.

CMW logo

NXNE2014-logo

The simple things
Becoming a volunteer is pretty easy. For both Canadian Music Week and North by North East, you can simply apply on their respective websites. There are a lot of different positions, and you can choose from volunteering for the conference or the festival but I’ve always been partial to volunteering for the festival. I feel like I get the most out of it because the main perk I’m seeking is to be able to enjoy some live music – full stop. I’ve had a lot of people question this, and I don’t know what to say other than sometimes I’m just that simple: all I want are the feels that good music brings.

Lesson 1: Pay attention?
There is going to be a lot of information thrown at you and all of it is going to be important. Some of it is only going to be important to keep at the top of your mind, and not for every day use but you should still know it. You should also pay attention to the subtle ways that the volunteer coordinator and their team like to do things; even if it’s not the way you usually like to do things – making them feel at ease about your competency to do the job will go a long way. And I don’t mean that you have to read their minds; it’s okay to ask questions – but be careful that you’re not asking questions that have already been covered in the material they gave you. So: pay attention 😉 and do your reading.

[As a stage manager or assistant stage manager] You also need to pay attention to the bands you’re dealing with, because the way they do things will vary as much as Toronto’s weather does. Some bands will prefer to do things via email and will have their own system for playing festivals down to a science, others may still need you to hold their hand2. The ability to pay attention to, and adhere to the subtle cues that people give you3, has been one of my favourite lessons learned from volunteering for these festivals. No matter what role you end up working, it’ll be good to pay attention to a lot of subtleties that will be everywhere.

Lesson 2: Things will go wrong
This is one that can be applied to life, but4 it’s so important to remember when working a music festival. With so many moving parts, it’s only a matter of time before something slips and/or falls into the cracks because life is beautifully imperfect like that. The most important thing I’ve taken away from this lesson is that the people who are in charge, whether that’s the volunteer coordinator or the festival coordinator or the programming coordinator, have given you guidelines for doing your job for a reason. You can deviate from their guidelines so long as the main objective is achieved, but if you miss the point and something horrible goes wrong – no one is going to be happy.

I’ve been pretty lucky, I haven’t had anything majorly bad happen while I was working as a stage manager5. I can only hope that with more experience, I can continue to avoid major catastrophes.

Lesson 3: Open your mind to new experiences
I usually ask to work every day of the festival, and even though I’ve been volunteering for so long I’m sure I could ask to work less so that I can take advantage of the free festival pass that I get and see some big name bands with my friends. I highly doubt I will be doing that though. You see, it’s just that I think it’s best to discover new music; listen to something you wouldn’t normally listen to when you go to a festival. I could be wrong, but I think that’s what these festivals were created for in the first place.

…which brings me to Lesson 4: Know your venue, and how to get there
When I volunteer, I don’t make requests about bands, nor venues to work with – to an extent. I do request to work venues that are closer to either my place of work or home so that I’m not too stressed trying to get to the venue on time. Stage Manager & Assistant Stage Manager shifts start as early as 5pm for some venues6, and if I have to trek across the city – I may not make it7.  With NXNE, it’s pretty easy – I just hop on my bike and I know exactly how long it’s going to take me to get there.

Anywho, that’s all I have for now. I’m sure there are a few more lessons I’ve learned, and I’ll be sure to add them to another post when they come to me. If there’s anything you want to ask me about, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. You can also send me questions via the contact form on my Author page.

Happy volunteering!

Footnotes:
  1. or so we hope[]
  2. for example, bands who are not from Canada[]
  3. whether they are aware of it or not[]
  4. we are not talking about life right now[]
  5. actually, I do have a story but it is not my story to tell so I will have to save it for a face to face conversation; i.e. ask me next time you see me[]
  6. depending on what time doors open[]
  7. On the TTC? It is more likely that I will not[]