There are good things happening here in my hometown.

Last night the streets were full of us as we venue-hopped through the downtown core to see a large and motley crew of excellent musicians & performers in the 3rd year of Otherfolk.  This happens twice a year – February’s Lupercalia has the same marvelous effect on us.  We get a shot in the arm, a kick in the backside, a great jolt of energy through our collective nervous system.  We come out and come alive – almost like they do in Quebec (where folks habitually have more fun).

Tonight is the first night of the 3-day Summerfolk Festival, where we gather (residents, ex-pats, exiles and rebels) to reconnect each loop to the next, while listening to incredible playing and camping on the shores of Georgian Bay.  It’s kind of like a collective Relax:  “wow you and I haven’t connected for Months, and I’d really like to talk to you.  Are you going this weekend?  Good.  I’ll buy you a beer…”

Oh, and several thousand folks from out of town join us  for both of these togetherings and become honourary Owen Sounders for the duration.  It’s great – really really great, that a town of 22,000 can do these things, AND keep hopping with live entertainment, art exhibitions, film, spoken word, and fine fine crafts every other day of the year.

I love my town.

sometimes mistakes are more interesting - an accidental long exposure

This was taken on the Saturday of Lupercalia in Owen Sound, 7am-ish before I took this cello to hospital in Paisley. It’s wednesday now, and the world of daily work and longer-term projects has re-established it’s mastery over the ship. I’m on lunch now from one of my other jobs, catching up on tasks and chores for a third.

But after that weekend of playing with and for people, I’m different. This is how music performance works for me – call it whatever you like, but there are physiological and psychological changes that occur after each show/ session, especially if there’s been a fair amount of focused preparation leading up to it. If you read about music and neurplasticity there are scientific clues there that will astonish you.  A book called “The Brain that Changes Itself” is a good place to start.

I wake up now with Tyler Wagler’s, Willi Henry’s and Joel Morelli’s songs in my head, REHEARSING them while I walk, while I write, while I report, meet, stop for lunch, read a book, stare at the sunlight on the bay. I don’t choose to do this, it just happens.

Tulipwood back of the Otter Cello, as I now think of her

I also have images of my new borrowed cello made by luthier Sibylle Ruppert flashing through my thoughts, and I KNOW I’m committing our sound to memory – learning about it while I do other things, so that when I practise again We are better.

While these things are going on in the back of my mind, the ‘front-end’ is more functional, more efficient, more alive, more perceptive and more fun to be with.  ahh.  happy sigh.

…the MORAL of this story is that everyone – EVERYONE – should play music, learn music, listen. And we should teach EVERY kid, too.

…and now I must return to work…..


dear friend of mine, literally coming apart at the seams, on her way to cello hospital in Paisley

Lupercalia was a great success this past weekend – it’s safe to say that the little local music festival that filled the streets and packed ten venues in Owen Sound is the first of many – also safe to say that it will grow. Thanks Josh R, your promoter skills are much appreciated.

I played twice – three times if you include the 3.5 hour recording session with Tyler Wagler on Sunday morning. The other 2 were 6pm with Willi Henry & Patrick Dorfmann @ The Ginger Press, then at midnight crammed in with Tyler and Joel Morelli.

I was not playing my friend, the last cello made by Edouard Bartlett, the one I’ve played every morning these past 2 months – she hates the winter cold/hot/dry of this place, and has come apart on her shoulders. Her voice squeaks where it always sang – so I took her to Sibylle Ruppert, a fine luthier and friend from Paisley, who let me borrow this new girl….:

tulip wood back, maple ribs, BC spruce belly, no corners.


Tiny, lightweight, little imp of a cello, with a shockingly big voice
Definitely female. I've never seen or played a sexier looking cello.

I miss my friend – we have grown into each other these past 10 years.  It will be a while before she comes back to me here.  In the meantime, I play this sleek little otter-girl, and we get to know one another.  It’s exciting and sad and weird, and unsettling and challenging all the time. Will I get along with otter-girl?  Will she work with me, will her voice grow even bigger and mellower than it already is?  Will I find a way to keep her?  Are we meant to work together?  hmmm.

I know I’ll never sell Ed’s cello, though I might rent her to a student I trust.  Could I have two?

Somebody should do a study on the complex, intense bond between a musician and his instrument.