Saturday, March 21, 2015

Deep In The Heart Of Kemptville

Sometimes, the stars line up and the galaxies light a path that's almost too bright. Something sparkles and tears in the inner wall of our human fabric, and we are privy to a shining moment of golden greatness.

Last night, I experienced something while playing live at the Branch. I've played many times at the Branch - and in fact, it's become a second home to me. The owner and head chef Bruce has taken me into the fold and has started to accept me as part of the scenery. I work there. I play there. And I've become familiar to that little, enchanting haunt. It's a part of me.

But last night, I had the chance to open for multi JUNO nominee and ECMA winner Dave Gunning. I'd met Dave before at the Shelter Valley Folk Fest a few years ago, and we instantly connected and began shit-shooting about some of our mutual friends from the eastern lands of this great country. And within minutes, I got along with this slightly sheepish but consummate pro of a musical player. I remember hearing hearing his voice and seeing his fingers move, and equating it to an old thunderous man with a shotgun of hilarious, raspy passionate wisdom to extend outward.

Skip forward two and a bit years to last night - and my friend Ben and I are lugging in and setting up our gear on stage to open for him in the tiny town of Kemptville. Immediately, the tall, snap-brim hatted blue-eyed figure emerged from the bar, and he approached me and offered the use of his mic or any of his gear and his pedals. 

We talked about a few of our mutual friends and a tragedy that happened to one named Jay Smith. Jay was a man that died too young. A brilliant songwriter and phenom guitar player, I only met him over the course of three days while shooting videos for Matt Mays. Jay played guitar for Matt and died four days after I left the band. Two years later, we still both felt sad just talking about it. 

The show went on, and something about it had a different feel. It was all a bit magical, and ethereal. A packed crowd was huddled in and ready to listen. Bang. I made a few jokes, and felt like the banter was strong out of the gate. My words were hung on. Gunning's mic was pro and there was a slight cathedral reverb that cascaded through the room. You could have dropped a pin between songs, and it would have echoed. They were hanging on my every jargon-esque word. I even played a song about Jay, and barely got through it. Ben joined me halfway through my set and lit up his powder blue custom SG, and I lost grip of my pick for a second, but Ben kept the rhythm and I made an adjustment, and we kept going. We had a chemistry, and the vibe was light and kind. After our 9 songs, we were greeted by two new listeners and appreciators who were into the Graven feel. Many people said many kind things. 

Before Dave took the stage, he had his guitars saddled to his person and he approached me and said some very kind and genuine things. He said that he dug my tunes and that I have some very strong songs, and that anytime I was playing, he would happily come and listen. I was floored. He also said he loved the song about Jay and the even hearing him talked about made him feel comforted in a strange way. He then took the stage and blew the minds of everyone in attendance. His gravely voice, otherworldly picking skill and distinct and poignant stories were on point. 

I sat with my friends Jill and Christian and breathed in the moment. People were grateful. My old camp friend Azura showed up and brought me a piece of cake. My parents came with their friends the Rourkes and loved what they heard (but they always say that). My new friend Adria brought a friend and said some kind things. My friends Brad, Polly and Carey told me it was one of my best shows ever. I was fully in it. It's a night I won't soon forget. Nights like these make the struggle worth it. 

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