It was right in the middle of my evening when I had the thought, “well, this is just about perfect”. I’d just left a show at the Fredericton Public Library where Dr. Wendy Stewart, a neurologist at DAL/UNB SJ’s medical school, gave a talk how how music effects the human brain. She showed the crowd diagrams and ran us through exercises to show us how our brains latched to meter, how we anticipated rhythm, and how, though association, we tie sounds to feelings. JOYFULTALK hit us with electronic dissonance. Jim Bryson swaddled us in washes of delay and reverb. A child yelled out, “this music reminds me of the faces of people! Like, happy people!”
I left just before JOYFULTALK rounded out the evening (and can I just say how wonderful it is to see music in the library? They’ve got a really wonderful space in there.) to catch Donovan Woods at Wilmot United Church. The church has always felt like Shivering Songs home base. In some ways I feel like the festival hasn’t started until I’ve hugged at least one long-unseen friend on my way to find a seat.
Trying to sneak along without interrupting anyone, I tiptoe through the balcony looking up at the projections of stars on the ceiling. The crowd is hanging on Donovan’s every disarming word. His banter is honed. I’m trying very hard not to trip over something. I sit down just as he starts a song about how post-industrialism has gutted the spirit of a small town. “They don’t make anything in this town anymore”, he says. I look around the room of observant folks who don’t have to be from Donovan’s home in South Western Ontario to know exactly what he’s saying.
Donovan tells a story about how graceful Tim McGraw’s jeans are. I realize that he doesn’t really stop to tune his guitar so much as he stops to tune up the crowd. He sings a song about how he doesn’t know where Portland, Maine is. People are chuckling. We’re all friends here. And that’s when I realize how perfect Shivering Songs is.
How many festivals offer an opportunity to learn about themselves, laugh, cry, whisper, yell, clap, stomp, and joke. We’re all at our best when we’re not taking ourselves too seriously.
Over at the Capital Complex, Some Dads are putting on a clinic. Seasoned vets. Old hands. Pros. They have gripped the room with their vice-like tightness. We cannot escape the incredibly good time Nick Cobham and company are having. The place is full and overjoyed. LCON are up next and offer a wholly different set of tones. More contemplative. Certainly more electronic. Pensive and haunting. They are the eye of the storm before London Ontario’s WHOOP-Szo blow the shutters off of our houses. I tell a bunch of people bands I think they sound like and really, probably, that does them an injustice. WHOOP-Szo take no prisoners. We’re bludgeoned with huge tones and some discordant feeling of, like, menacing joy. If it was still something I experienced, my ears would have been ringing.
On day two I took in a lecture, was made to feel anxious by two men with keyboards, drank a beer in a library (which, as a librarian, was very liberating), pondered the demise of Canadian Industrialism at the hands of global capitalism, wondered how jeans can represent gracefulness, was moved by whispers, and was slammed by volume.
Pretty good day two, if you ask me. See you out there for round three. There’s so much to see! Hit the schedule and buckle up!
See full festival details by visiting www.shiveringsongs.com