Shivering Postscript

Category: community 387
Photo: Matt Carter
By Mike Nason

I woke up on Sunday morning gravel-voiced and foggy. I could still feel the donairs in my system. Don’t ask how. My balance probably booted up a little slower than usual when I rolled out of bed. Coffee tasted extra good. Shovelling could wait. Normally, many of these feelings are largely accompanied by some vague sense of regret. You know, the kind where you say, “maybe I shouldn’t have had one more drink” or “pizza is never actually a good idea” or “it would be tremendous if the room were spinning a little less”…

But, on Sunday, I felt full and satisfied. Like when you eat a big breakfast and the concept of sustenance doesn’t even cross your mind until the evening. I felt full of warm fuzzies from Shivering Songs: friendships old and new, pensive moments with tense crowds, smiles from the cheeky finales of beautifully arranged songs, and I was even happy to discover that my sneakers were still soaked from my shuffle home down the middle of Northumberland Street in snowy silence.

Warm fuzzies, for the record, appear to pair well with Alpine.

At the Capital Bar, around 12:30am Sunday morning, a room full of people are worshipping Greg Macpherson. Like, worshipping. Belting out hymns drenched in reverb and hammering away on his guitar – which must have the largest strings in the known universe. He might as well be a full choir. His flock, smiling, chanting along… no one is worried about how they are going to get home. They already are.

Friday evening, around 8pm, at a re-imagined Urban Almanac space (please, please let this sort of thing keep happening), Halifax’s Gabrielle Papillion opens up a voice that is at least two feet taller than she is. I’ve never heard her before. She jokes about how one gets on television’s hospital drama death scene soundtracks like it’s as normal as having a useless masters degree. It’s honest and awkward. Her songs are very pretty. She didn’t learn to write or sing songs that beautiful from school or television. I can’t figure out her sense of scale.

Saturday afternoon, 3pm or so, in Wilmot United Church. Buck 65 tells us a story about being a young boy and laughing uncontrollably at split pants (and Incredible Hulk intimates) in church at a family funeral. Fifteen minutes or so later, we’re all giggling alongside him in church while folklorist Henry Adam Svec belts out his least favourite folk song written by a CFL player. “Life is like Canadian football… you don’t get many chances… there’s a lotta room to move around.”

At Owen Pallett on Saturday night, my girlfriend turns to me and says, “I feel like I’m being water boarded”. In my head, I replied “by feelings, though, right? And isn’t it awesome?” I get it, though. He’s intense. These are the least shivering songs of the festival. He stands tall over us at the church, defiant. Whether playing solo “bummer jams” or intricately layered and pulsing rhythms with his full band, he’s demanding our attention. It’s giant and frustrating and beautiful. After every song I feel a little bit like I’m standing in the wake of a tornado. It’s awesome in the way the word “awesome” is never used anymore. I’ve never experienced anything quiet like it. I’m still carrying that show around with me. It’s rare that anything follows you out of a venue, tucked away in a pocket to unpack and snack on later.

Thursday Evening/Saturday Afternoon/Saturday Evening: Peter Broderick submits his proposal for Mayor of Shivering Songs. He has my vote. He’s unbelievably gentle in a way that almost feels manic. Is it possible that he could perform for the whole weekend and never run out of songs or new instruments to play them on? I’m fairly certain he’s some sort of genius. He might even be making it all up on the spot. I also feel like he probably can’t actually sit still. On Saturday night he duets with Owen Pallett and my heart is full. Please, please come back to us Peter. I know you have so much more to share with us.

Friday night, Urban Almanac, Bry Webb croons quietly to a silent room in his gruff tones. He’s a proud and humbled dad. He’s one of Canada’s greatest rock stars. I have to restrain myself from blurting out something about the Constantines. He’s just a man, he reminds us. Oh, right. I wished more people could have fit in the space to see him. I wished he were playing the church. I wished I could have been in two places at once to see Andy Shauf also. Missing his set was my only regret of the festival.

Saturday afternoon, 3pm-ish, Giller Prize winning author Sean Michaels has the crowd participate in a reading of his novel. The building is entirely silent except for Sean’s voice and our bleeps and bloops. He asks us to raise our hands to hold an artifact up in this magical, joyous moment. I can’t help but feel we’re all lifting up this little festival.  Just a bit.  Later, before a group donair dinner, Sean says, “I’m trying to come up with a pun involving donairs but all I can come up with is Donairys Targaryen.” So, I mean, we can be friends for life, right Sean?

2am Sunday, shoes soaked with a face full of snow. I set my bass down in the snow in its gigbag and snap a few photos of the empty streets. I’ve been inside for hours and didn’t even notice how quickly the weather had turned. It’s fitting, right? I didn’t feel inconvenienced or unsafe. I just seemed appropriate. It’s Shivering Songs. It’s challenging and beautiful. There’s supposed to be a storm that brings us all inside with our friends so we can share a few great moments together.

I can’t wait for next January.

10881501_10155133762940525_6289123061005248248_nMike Nason @ahemnason 



alt text

Related Articles