That’s a Wrap

Category: community 269

“Thanks for offering up a warm challenge to us when we often need it most.”

Mike Nason

Like a lot of people, this weekend was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. Maybe it was for you, as well. It’s hard sometimes to feel up when there are voices that want you to feel down. It can be hard to find momentum when the key keeps switching from major to minor. Following a stellar Thursday opening for Shivering Songs – one replete with friends, warm tones, and an earnest appeal to healing – I woke up Friday in what felt like another universe wholly. Lunch with a pal was crushed by audio of what felt like an unnecessary formality played on big televisions. We couldn’t eat fast enough. I don’t know if the bottle of whiskey I picked up on the way home was to lift my spirits or to drown them. I intended to suck it up, regardless.

But, Friday night was beautiful. People gathered in churches and libraries, the bastions of community, to sing, clap, admire… to soak up the reverb as though it was a source of heat on a chilly, humid evening. Friendship II. We caught up with friends visiting from out of town. We watched groups of friends play music together. We made friends with strangers. At Wilmot United, sometimes the laughter of a crowd can feel like we all know the inside joke. There’s a closeness; we’re familiar. By the end of the night, I’d changed my tune. “It’ll be fine,” I thought, “if we have community… if we can look at – and talk to – people like they’re people too.” Spirit lifted.

Saturday was a whole other thing. Breathing in the air made you want to kick ass. There was marching downtown, which no-doubt pulled from the festival’s numbers. Marching in solidarity with an historic event just 14 hours south. Festival headliner, Basia Bulat, joined in as the group streamed by her hotel. Facebook and Twitter feeds were as full of optimism as I was while watching New Brunswick’s Lydia Mainville during the Songwriter’s Circle event at Wilmot United. If I had to pick from any festival-wide highlights, she’d be the one. Equally disarming and effortlessly talented, her gentle voice and haunting looped cello made me forget I even existed. I wished I’d caught her other sets, but sometimes at festivals it’s way too easy to dismiss the names you don’t know for the ones you do. I guess, we do that almost every day.

A dinner distraction in one of Fredericton’s restaurants where you don’t get cell reception. We talked about anything else. We got full (and drunk) enough to be sleepy before heading to YogaGrow for LUKA and Museum Pieces. LUKA were dreamy. I described them to friends as being a cross between Timber Timbre, sultry Yo La Tengo, and The Blue Jean Committee. In a great way. Museum Pieces were expertly honed at the sort of Maritime performance that made the room feel like it was a house party on some foggy coast. Then again, that could have been the fog machine. They brought a fog machine. I have to say that YogaGrow is such a welcome addition to the list of venues. Small rooms have such a capacity to be good venues. It’s hard to feel distant when you are essentially on top of a band.

My Shivering Songs attendance ended after that show. My presence at the festival didn’t end, though. I wanted to see everyone at once. I also wanted to sleep until 2020. I woke up to texts and DMs and instagram photos of the night before. More smiles. More friendship. Full rooms. People wanting to know where I was or filling me in when pals said something amazing they thought I’d like. Running festivals these days is hard work. The waning dollar and richness of the festival circuit can make booking difficult and attendance feel competitive. But, everywhere I went this weekend for Shivering Songs there was an overtone in the room. One of gratitude. One of support for our community and support for smaller voices. Support for the local and the immediate. Support for expression and art. From the very outset, Shivering Songs has meant to be a reprieve from the harshness and boredom of winter. This year it served, for me at least, as a reprieve from a broader narrative so that I could focus on a more encouraging, local one.

I’d like to thank Grid City for letting me contribute this year. It’s always a pleasure. And I’d like to thank the organizers of Shivering Songs for what is always a special time. Thanks for offering up a warm challenge to us when we often need it most.

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