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Old 10-02-2005, 03:08 PM   #1
charlene
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Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,630
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Ron Jones sent this to me and since I don't see him posting it here I thought I would!
lol
thanks RJ
Char
this is Joel's website link:
http://www.joelkroeker.com/


CANUCK BARD
By Joel Kroeker

N U V O M a g a z i n e
Autumn 2005
Volume 8, Number 3

I tend to travel a lot. My work as a musician requires it. Sometimes I go
as far away as Europe, Thailand, New Zealand or Palestine, and for twelve
years I lived all over the United States. But no matter how far I go I
always feel like a Canadian away from home. That "Canadian-ness" goes so
deep that it even informs the music I make. Thus, I've come to the
following conclusion: There is something "Canadian" about Canadian music.

The problem is, we Canadians are programmed to look outward for
international acceptance before we recognize the value of what is produced
right here on our own permafrost. Sure, we can do commercial schlock with
the best of them and those of us who blindfold and gag our inner Hoser long
enough to attain that "region-less" dialect are sometimes rewarded with
American dollars, or better still, euros. But the Canuck bards who are
known for their writing mastery all share a high winsome sound so pensive
and nostalgic it can wrench the hardened gut of a lone prairie coyote to
tears.

Now, I'm not saying we don't have a great deal of musical diversity in this
country. On the east coast we hum in three four time while pulling salty
lobsters from the sea while in the Canadian Shield we write heart-crunching
wheat-ballads of lost love couched in farmyard metaphors. Maybe it has
something to do with the boundless empty space that shrouds our cities or
the whistling prairie wind or that we all secretly know we can escape up
into the great untapped northern wilderness if things get too hectic down
here. But no matter where one is on this vast land there is something
signature Canadian about the way we make music and it's recognized all over
the globe.

In my travels as a musician I've begun to gather clues and anecdotes as to
just how this elixir of the Canadian muse tends to be received
internationally. I remember strumming a swampy old acoustic guitar in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti along with the shadowy Vodoun beats pulsing outside my
window. There was a kind of magic in the mango-scented air as the fruit
bats flew in and out of the window punctuating my every cadence with
voiceless shrieks as if to taunt me. I was surprised to find that even
surrounded by these intense primordial drum rhythms my chords still sounded
like Trudeau doing a pirouette behind the Queen.

Being from Winnipeg, I've toured the prairies in winter many times and
there's a special place in my heart for barren moonswept tundra. Despite my
penchant for the lonesome highway, however, I think there is something vital
about the empty space between the chords of a Canadian-strummed guitar. No
matter where you stand it bears a certain resonance, and weight, like frozen
gravity. That big red maple leaf is hard to hide. It's like a national
archetype. The Balinese have the Gamelan, the Italian Baroque have their
figured bass, and we have that high winsome sound. It's what we do.

In some contexts Canadian music is almost a genre of its own. While living
in the little town of Bethlehem in Palestine in '97 I met an Oud player who
showed me some ancient Arabic tunes. Then I played him a couple of my songs
and "Long may you run" by Neil Young. He said, "What is that, jazz?" I
said, "no, it's Canadian".

Later that day I made my way into Jerusalem, six kilometres away, to buy an
instrument from the great Oud master Mustafah al Kurd. I played one of my
songs for him amongst the din of the street and the wafting fragrance of
fresh falafel and before I got to the first chorus he shot back, "you paying
in Canadian dollars or Shekelim?" Somehow he knew.
Last year I was on the shores of Raleigh Beach in Southern Thailand. While
performing tunes all night for the drunken tourists after a couple of Red
Bulls I heard one heavily accented voice in the darkness call out, "Kim,
we're down here, the Canadians are playing songs on the beach." How she knew
from our lyric-less strumming that we were Canadian I don't know. Must be
that high winsome sound.

More recently, I was on the Greek Island of Hydra, where Leonard Cohen
"stood on the marble arch". Accompanied by an entire Greek dance class, two
nuns, a transvestite and a donkey, I reaffirmed my Canadian heritage by
reluctantly performing a song I wrote as a thirteen year old in Winnipeg to
the tune of "O Canada", to which the donkey replied, "know anyone in
Toronto?" Apparently he had relatives there.

Sometimes we underestimate how readily our Canadian-ness is recognized on an
international level. Some inflections of our music find their way to the
most unlikely places. While living in Auckland, New Zealand I often played
shows with a local Kiwi band called Snap Attack. One night I launched into
Thunderstruck in order to try and establish some "down under" cred but the
audience would have none of it. They demanded something Canadian, so I
broke into the first two lines of Four Strong Winds and then the crowd took
over. They knew every word. Brought me to tears.

We Canadians often wonder how we are perceived abroad, especially in
relation to our mighty neighbours to the south. I once asked a German guy
in a small town just outside of Frankfurt what he thought was distinctive
about the Canadian sound and how it differed from American music production.
He said something in German about horses and lollipops that I didn't quite
understand. Maybe it was his particular dialect or maybe it was because he
was only four years old but I did get the distinct sense that he was quite
certain of his sentiment. It was obviously something he'd been thinking
about.

Later that week I found myself in Interlaken, Switzerland yodeling backup
vocals along with two mohawked alpenhorn buskers honking their way through a
rendition of Snowbird. They had maple leafs shaved into their sideburns.
My surprise at their knowledge of Anne Murray repertoire was eclipsed by
their astonishment that Canada now had a two dollar coin so I flipped a
toonie into their empty Alpen horn case. I think it was the only money they
made that day.

Even in badly performed Canadian music something uniquely Canuck and magical
comes through. Once, on the North Shore in Hawaii, I was performing solo on
a Ukulele in a local café. A Hawaiian man came in just as I was flubbing
the lyrics to a Joni Mitchell song so badly that he asked if I was
French-Canadian. I figured he was half right so, in order to save face, I
simply replied, "Oui," and then headed for the beach.

Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised when our national existence is
acknowledged globally. After all, there is a great deal of talent in this
country of ours. But the fact is, Canadians don't play a particularly
powerful role in this highly media savvy world. In fact, as residents of
the northern reaches we often find ourselves above the media frost line and
thus off the international radar so we tend to rely on the inner flame of
our own soul for inspiration and affirmation.

As Canadian songwriters we are tending the flame that was cared for by the
Greats before us, such as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and many
others, so we tend to have enormous faith in just what this land and its
relative isolation can produce. But when the lead sled dog sniffs in our
direction even our humble Canadian hearts swell with an understated sense of
pride. I got to experience this recently when I attended a press conference
in Toronto for the release of Gordon Lightfoot's album "Harmony". As Gordon
walked in we were introduced to each other and after a few pleasantries he
said, "good work, Joel. Keep it up," and then gave me the patented
two-fingers-to-forehead salute. That's when I realized that no matter how
we as Canadians are received internationally what really hits home is when
we are accepted on our own home turf.

You don't have to be a shrill nationalist to feel the buzz of being
appreciated in your own backyard. Bigger fame and fortune may lie out there
across the vast open sea, but our Canadian soul is right here in our own
'hood. That proud thump of your own heart, thrashing against your sternum
as the hometown crowd calls for more - maybe that's the real Canadian sound.
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2005, 03:08 PM   #2
charlene
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,630
Default

Ron Jones sent this to me and since I don't see him posting it here I thought I would!
lol
thanks RJ
Char
this is Joel's website link:
http://www.joelkroeker.com/


CANUCK BARD
By Joel Kroeker

N U V O M a g a z i n e
Autumn 2005
Volume 8, Number 3

I tend to travel a lot. My work as a musician requires it. Sometimes I go
as far away as Europe, Thailand, New Zealand or Palestine, and for twelve
years I lived all over the United States. But no matter how far I go I
always feel like a Canadian away from home. That "Canadian-ness" goes so
deep that it even informs the music I make. Thus, I've come to the
following conclusion: There is something "Canadian" about Canadian music.

The problem is, we Canadians are programmed to look outward for
international acceptance before we recognize the value of what is produced
right here on our own permafrost. Sure, we can do commercial schlock with
the best of them and those of us who blindfold and gag our inner Hoser long
enough to attain that "region-less" dialect are sometimes rewarded with
American dollars, or better still, euros. But the Canuck bards who are
known for their writing mastery all share a high winsome sound so pensive
and nostalgic it can wrench the hardened gut of a lone prairie coyote to
tears.

Now, I'm not saying we don't have a great deal of musical diversity in this
country. On the east coast we hum in three four time while pulling salty
lobsters from the sea while in the Canadian Shield we write heart-crunching
wheat-ballads of lost love couched in farmyard metaphors. Maybe it has
something to do with the boundless empty space that shrouds our cities or
the whistling prairie wind or that we all secretly know we can escape up
into the great untapped northern wilderness if things get too hectic down
here. But no matter where one is on this vast land there is something
signature Canadian about the way we make music and it's recognized all over
the globe.

In my travels as a musician I've begun to gather clues and anecdotes as to
just how this elixir of the Canadian muse tends to be received
internationally. I remember strumming a swampy old acoustic guitar in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti along with the shadowy Vodoun beats pulsing outside my
window. There was a kind of magic in the mango-scented air as the fruit
bats flew in and out of the window punctuating my every cadence with
voiceless shrieks as if to taunt me. I was surprised to find that even
surrounded by these intense primordial drum rhythms my chords still sounded
like Trudeau doing a pirouette behind the Queen.

Being from Winnipeg, I've toured the prairies in winter many times and
there's a special place in my heart for barren moonswept tundra. Despite my
penchant for the lonesome highway, however, I think there is something vital
about the empty space between the chords of a Canadian-strummed guitar. No
matter where you stand it bears a certain resonance, and weight, like frozen
gravity. That big red maple leaf is hard to hide. It's like a national
archetype. The Balinese have the Gamelan, the Italian Baroque have their
figured bass, and we have that high winsome sound. It's what we do.

In some contexts Canadian music is almost a genre of its own. While living
in the little town of Bethlehem in Palestine in '97 I met an Oud player who
showed me some ancient Arabic tunes. Then I played him a couple of my songs
and "Long may you run" by Neil Young. He said, "What is that, jazz?" I
said, "no, it's Canadian".

Later that day I made my way into Jerusalem, six kilometres away, to buy an
instrument from the great Oud master Mustafah al Kurd. I played one of my
songs for him amongst the din of the street and the wafting fragrance of
fresh falafel and before I got to the first chorus he shot back, "you paying
in Canadian dollars or Shekelim?" Somehow he knew.
Last year I was on the shores of Raleigh Beach in Southern Thailand. While
performing tunes all night for the drunken tourists after a couple of Red
Bulls I heard one heavily accented voice in the darkness call out, "Kim,
we're down here, the Canadians are playing songs on the beach." How she knew
from our lyric-less strumming that we were Canadian I don't know. Must be
that high winsome sound.

More recently, I was on the Greek Island of Hydra, where Leonard Cohen
"stood on the marble arch". Accompanied by an entire Greek dance class, two
nuns, a transvestite and a donkey, I reaffirmed my Canadian heritage by
reluctantly performing a song I wrote as a thirteen year old in Winnipeg to
the tune of "O Canada", to which the donkey replied, "know anyone in
Toronto?" Apparently he had relatives there.

Sometimes we underestimate how readily our Canadian-ness is recognized on an
international level. Some inflections of our music find their way to the
most unlikely places. While living in Auckland, New Zealand I often played
shows with a local Kiwi band called Snap Attack. One night I launched into
Thunderstruck in order to try and establish some "down under" cred but the
audience would have none of it. They demanded something Canadian, so I
broke into the first two lines of Four Strong Winds and then the crowd took
over. They knew every word. Brought me to tears.

We Canadians often wonder how we are perceived abroad, especially in
relation to our mighty neighbours to the south. I once asked a German guy
in a small town just outside of Frankfurt what he thought was distinctive
about the Canadian sound and how it differed from American music production.
He said something in German about horses and lollipops that I didn't quite
understand. Maybe it was his particular dialect or maybe it was because he
was only four years old but I did get the distinct sense that he was quite
certain of his sentiment. It was obviously something he'd been thinking
about.

Later that week I found myself in Interlaken, Switzerland yodeling backup
vocals along with two mohawked alpenhorn buskers honking their way through a
rendition of Snowbird. They had maple leafs shaved into their sideburns.
My surprise at their knowledge of Anne Murray repertoire was eclipsed by
their astonishment that Canada now had a two dollar coin so I flipped a
toonie into their empty Alpen horn case. I think it was the only money they
made that day.

Even in badly performed Canadian music something uniquely Canuck and magical
comes through. Once, on the North Shore in Hawaii, I was performing solo on
a Ukulele in a local café. A Hawaiian man came in just as I was flubbing
the lyrics to a Joni Mitchell song so badly that he asked if I was
French-Canadian. I figured he was half right so, in order to save face, I
simply replied, "Oui," and then headed for the beach.

Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised when our national existence is
acknowledged globally. After all, there is a great deal of talent in this
country of ours. But the fact is, Canadians don't play a particularly
powerful role in this highly media savvy world. In fact, as residents of
the northern reaches we often find ourselves above the media frost line and
thus off the international radar so we tend to rely on the inner flame of
our own soul for inspiration and affirmation.

As Canadian songwriters we are tending the flame that was cared for by the
Greats before us, such as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and many
others, so we tend to have enormous faith in just what this land and its
relative isolation can produce. But when the lead sled dog sniffs in our
direction even our humble Canadian hearts swell with an understated sense of
pride. I got to experience this recently when I attended a press conference
in Toronto for the release of Gordon Lightfoot's album "Harmony". As Gordon
walked in we were introduced to each other and after a few pleasantries he
said, "good work, Joel. Keep it up," and then gave me the patented
two-fingers-to-forehead salute. That's when I realized that no matter how
we as Canadians are received internationally what really hits home is when
we are accepted on our own home turf.

You don't have to be a shrill nationalist to feel the buzz of being
appreciated in your own backyard. Bigger fame and fortune may lie out there
across the vast open sea, but our Canadian soul is right here in our own
'hood. That proud thump of your own heart, thrashing against your sternum
as the hometown crowd calls for more - maybe that's the real Canadian sound.
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Old 10-02-2005, 05:26 PM   #3
Sydney Steve
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That is a good read. A beautifully written and thought out piece Char....
Doesn't make me want to be Canadian though (lol)
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Old 10-02-2005, 08:28 PM   #4
charlene
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that's okay Steve,,, plenty of others who do....

Char Canuck
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Old 10-02-2005, 08:28 PM   #5
charlene
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that's okay Steve,,, plenty of others who do....

Char Canuck
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