Last night, leaning against the wall in a stuffy Charlotte Street Arts Centre auditorium, I was struck by the familiar comfort of the annual festival’s kickoff event. I looked around the room while Motion2’s ambient tones gave everyone pause. I knew a lot of faces, because we don’t live in a big place. Some were pals. Others were less familiar. Olympic Symphonium, both playing the role of festival curators and the home team, were tuning up.
OS played a few songs. The tremendously talented Peter Broderick sauntered onto the stage casually to overlap and stole our attention immediately. The home team watched like proud dads from the sidelines. Then Motion2 got in formation for another pass at the crowd. This time, it was weirder, dissonant. It was unexpected. Some people closed their eyes. Others checked their phones. But not many of them checked their phones.
Here’s a thing I love about Shivering Songs: it is a welcome and warm hug in the middle of a season where we are all waiting for something – anything – to happen. A storm. A holiday. Spring… whatever. January isn’t really about January. January is about what’s going to be happening either later in January or once we’ve survived it. It’s about delayed gratification. Shivering Songs, though, is something you desperately want to be present for… not merely in attendance. It gives us immediacy. Shivering Songs gives us immediacy. Something is going to happen and, most importantly, you probably won’t be expecting some of it.
Here’s a thing I love about Shivering Songs: it can be challenging. Motion2 made gears turn in my head. Gears that don’t often turn at many of Fredericton’s music events. They were a little work. I can expect to learn during Shivering Songs. I can expect a little resistance. It’s built in. It’s healthy.
Here’s a thing I love about Shivering Songs: we’re all in it together. Much like Sackville’s SappyFest, there is a community feeling that everyone present is sharing a moment. Unlike the Harvest Jazz and Blues festival with it’s giant tents and teeming crowds, Shivering Songs events are like house shows. They are intimate and we are all friends. And, in that moment where you feel a familiar comfort, you can look around the room and see the faces, rapt, of people experiencing a moment. Together. It is peaceful and rings out into the chilly evening air.
Shivering Songs is a thing that makes me love this city. I wish it lasted a whole week. I’m convinced that it cannot overstay it’s welcome. But those people… those people are always here. Those people who want to share in the moment, the mood, the quiet, the challenge, and the humor. And that’s the sort of thing that can make someone love this city all the time.
Go see a thing this weekend. There’s a whole lot to see. You’ll be warm, regardless of how Shivering the songs are.
Mike Nason @ahemnason
Mike Nason will perform with Henry Adam Svec, Saturday Night.