Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stimulus @ Cafe Vivant

This last Friday I played a gig at a cozy little coffee house on 33rd St. in Saskatoon called Cafe Vivant. Smearing artichoke dip across my soul and dousing my heart's flames with Stella Artois, I proceded to perform quite the unique set. I had chosen to write passages of poetry as segue between songs and thus created a "rock-opera" of my own design. It went as follows; I would read each passage and then play the song highlighted in bold, offering only seconds of applause between songs as I always feel overwhelmingly humbled at the end of the song in that space when you are either praised, judged or ignored.

>Our hero's story begins as any lonely minstrel's would; obsessing over his songwriting in order to stuff meaning into that small small hole in his heart that hurts so badly when empty. Not even the completeness that nature has always offered can passify his (APATHY).
>His treks through traffic persuade him to become preoccupied with his digitized rainbow of control; (LIVING IN THE AMBER LIGHTS).
>When those with power are drunk on it, he is left to seek integrity in the most obvious place; nature, (SUN & OCEAN).
>Submerged in a world where power is out of reach, our hero turns again to a colorful drug-induced world of his own creation, where the caged tiger within can chew through the bars and roam. (SEVEN CAGED TIGERS - stone temple pilots).
>Still clinging to a sub-par source of solace, the hero finds a girl who makes every sweetness he has ever known taste like bitter ashes. (BITTERSWEET & WARM).
>Our hero envies the girl's acceptance of every harsh reality he has struggled with. The acceptance you concede when (YOU KNOW YOU).
>He feels his shortcomings swell like a sewer drain in spring thaw. She has caused the will to change to coarse through his veins faster than the will to leave the mall courses through a grandfather gone shoe-shopping with his wife. If only he knew his feelings were in vain. (IF - pink floyd).
>Our hero feels the truth, the magic, the hope, all of it... disappear... (PRESTO - rush).
>Imminence of the hero's returning anguish comes to him in a dream. Winter and a direct dismissal are enough symbolism for him to cry upon awakening, dreading their (SEPERATE WAYS).
~Set Break~
>Conserted to leave the past behind, our hero again takes comfort in his world of musical complexity and morals become a stronghold, as well as (NOBLER PURSUITS).
>A persisting dream of the girl prompts our hero to dwell on her memory and collide the music he had found solace in with the dreary ache of his love-declined heart; (JUST WITHIN REACH).
>Our hero becomes absorbed in defeat, saying to himself "...maybe alone is my destiny. I have never needed territory. I have only sought love only to have been denied it time and again." (I, THE THROW AWAY - matthew good band).
>Filled with only dreary, ache-filled sounds, he is cast from the music scene within the town as a noisy watchdog is put outside in the rain; helpless to (FIND COMFORT).
>Finding himself in a cocoon of solitude, he resorts to the meager companionship of his radio in his attic. "Radio, your light is bleak and a fine dirge for (I, OF THE MOURNING - smashing pumpkins).
*At the very second I finished belting out this one, there was this eruption of applause that I remember remarking on with "that felt good" :O)
>Turning to his television for the daily news, our hero finds a refreshing sense of loathing, stirred by images of powerful territories invading the weak, those ravaged, exploited in times of struggle by the media, (BEING USED).
>Amid a stormy night alone in his house, our hero reconciles his grief and loneliness by feeling the connection to everyone on the planet; left to hope that THIS storm isn't the one that ends it all, doubting, (STRANDED).
>Seeing hope doesn't always happen when face to face with a lover. Sometimes hope is just found in the natural progress of time and change; (THE TIMES THEY ARE A'CHANGIN - bob dylan).

The size of the venue, being SMALL, accommodated only 20 or 25. Therefore, during the songs I had an awareness of everyone being very attentive. This has only happened once or twice in performances so I was very flattered and content even with the total occupancy of the show beneath 30. Afterward, my good friend Simon and I ventured off in search of a frosty cold pint in celebration of a show well done.

The next morning I spent my third Saturday in a row at the farmers market, busking with my guitar. I used to do this all the time on Broadway when I moved to the city the second time in 2005. I also spent a fair chunk of the summer months busking at festivals in the city with my good friend Ryan. But lately I have been infatuated with recovering the sense of self that my good friends love me for. So I have gone back to the drawing board if you will, trying my luck at making people turn their heads toward my talent for music.

Cheers to my loyal reader(s) :O)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The White-Trash End-Of Summer-Bash

This passing Saturday I had the good fortune to attend my friend Kellie's house party dedicated to the, shall we say, "less ambitious" in regards to fashion and class. The event (found in the title of this blog) brought again to life the celebrated lifestyle of the Trailer Park Boys that littered society around 5 years ago at the height of the Canadian tv show's popularity. While it has remained a popular show and still impacts many Canadians daily, apparently, this was a one-night-only dose. There were mullet wigs, bras hanging from clotheslines strung across the kitchen and living room, paper plates that would serve more adequately as napkins, and the tallest beer cans within the Canadian border (Boxer, apparently). I was attired in freshly slit-kneed jeans, a 'vintage' denim jacket that I was frequently seen in back at Wesmor High School in Prince Albert, an offsetting pair of aviator shades to add mysteriousness to the look, and to top it off a shiny hairstyle slicked back and held more than firmly with at least a half cup of "styling product". On the kitchen counters was an arsenal of macaroni salad, potato salad, and freshly husked corn cobs, to pair with whatever miscellaneous mystery meat everybody brought for their own barbecuing indulgence. Image and menu aside, the first priority of mine was to concoct the most befitting country song/white trash anthem/musical joke in honor and celebration of the occasion. Here she be :O)


I was drunk driving into town one day
The old Parisienne is the only way
Ever since Mom's Sunfire up'n'died
Mom owns a diner with a salon in the back
Where you can get yer nails and hair done in black
And at the same time get yer chicken done deep fried

Patio lanterns, And dust on all the bottles
Never ever being alone
Never doing any wrong, Just playing those mean old country songs
On the old front porch at home

Got to the diner in time for lunch
Some cold hot dogs'n'KD to munch
Planning Friday night with old Delphis and Clem
Pick up some whiskey and some lemonade
Then hit the Auto Salvage with a raid
Then steal some Christmas lights from Wal-Mart and hang them

Patio lanterns, And dust on all the bottles
Never ever being alone
Never doing any wrong, Just playing those mean old country songs
On the old front porch at home

Well Mom's old diner burned down last night
Left the curling iron by the pilot light
And the town declared a public holiday
Collected insurance and so next year
I'll steal Mom a '98 Cavalier
From the Auto Salvage and be on my way

Patio lanterns, And dust on all the bottles
Never ever being alone
Never doing any wrong, Just playing those mean old country songs
On the old front porch at home

As you can imagine, this was an instant hit.

The party goers eventually 'wrastled' an old dresser into the backyard with a sledge hammer ready to beat it into a very effective firewood pile. With some help from my geetar playing compatriot Ryan, we proceeded to entertain the firepit drunks well into the night. At around 1 am or thereabouts half of the crowd took a cab down to the ideal destination for a night like this; the Longbranch (the local country western bar). I opted out of that cab ride, knowing full well the amount of teeth I had at that point in the night could easily be chiseled down to half simply by setting foot in that bar... especially looking like I'd just stepped out of a time machine from Kentucky in 1976. A drunk redneck starting a fight at the Longbranch isn't that hard to predict. So I landed a spot on Kellie's couch to crash for the night and later the next day, after quite the cleanup operation and a lunch at Original Joe's that only got nibbled at, I checked out the famed "banjo bowl" football game between our Saskatchewan Roughriders and neighboring province Manitoba's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The banjo bowl has, for about a decade now, been the sequel to the meeting between the two teams on Labour Day. If both provinces were to go without these two games each summer, I think the chaos would be worse than the regular bodypainting and vehicle-torturing that seems to cling to these two teams like a bad cold. It seemed like a fitting end to the weekend that was shrouded in a very comfortable trashy aura.

Plenty more where that came from, I'm sure. It may not be until next summer though. Slit-kneed jeans are a little chilly around here 8 months of the year. Cheers readers!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The friend I am writing about has long been the best of my feeble guild of friends.
First, however, I must prequel this praise of her spirit and loyalty with a blurb about my most recent ambition. Today I signed into the Primerica Financial company. I will be training to show clients, whether in debt or outside of debt, how to properly manage their accounts in order to ultimately save for a rather desirable early retirement. My managements of my clients' mortgages, car payments, and sheer VISA craters are the new "arrows in my quiver", if you will, that I will be retrieving in fine Sagittarian fashion :Op
To this friend (you know who you are) I owe a formidable debt of gratitude for loyalty in friendship, a debt of conversations spent talking about her ambitions and not my selfish meanderings down Chance Ave., and a big big hug and a cup of hot cocoa (H&H cocoa). I need you to understand that you indeed are my best friend. While I have been mulling over ideas of how to attach a rope to one of my arrows, shoot it up and out to ground level and climb out of this debt crater I'm trapped at the bottom of, you are always there in my heart or at the end of the e-tunnel as a shining light in my dark. Do know that you give me hope to find what it is I'm pursuing, and once I've found it to pursue something else. You give me courage to do what works for me, not always focus on pleasing others with my talents. You remind me that there are other people like me who, once they've made a strong connection, nurture that and build onto its roots.
I played Lydia's last night and got Mr. Jones, the host of the open stage, saying after my set that I was the most underrated songwriter in Saskatoon (!!!). He himself, and for the last couple of times now, pitches my cd to the audience as being a great listen and very unique. I sold 3 and gave one away to a guy who introduced himself to me as (another Shawn btw) a floundering student. My sympathetic side got the better of me as it usually does and I handed him a freebie. Nobler Pursuits, my new song, has been atop the set each of the last two times playing there and I'm proud to say has turned the right heads. Kevin, the new sound guy, and Ian the former one have both complemented me on the subtle intensity of it (in not so concise a way but conveyed in the same direction). So I am once again feeling pride in my very neccessary creative side, the side you always said "shone" :O)
Where I am only learning about financial investments, it would seem I have always had an instinct for which friends to invest in. *strong warm embrace when you read this* It is a chilly Saskatchewan night that I would love to share with you.

Readers, stay comfortable and be happy yer not at that sh*tstorm of the Democratic Convention in Denver... scary.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


My first week back in Saskatoon has been quite a progressive one, to take a term from my vastly overused musical vocabulary. The day I returned to Saskatoon I went out to FolkFest with my friend Kellie. We got viking helmets at the Norway pavilion, drank to ethnicity's sake, and danced as randomly as we could both dance at the Ukraine pavilion, before going our seperate ways home for the night. Sunday I continued disassembling my laundry bags from working out in Drumheller, while listening to Pavement's Wowee Zowee collector's edition 2 disc set of goof-rock. I got back to the chocolate factory on monday to find my machine, Bo Jackson (cause Bo can do everything, and because it's the 'dark' chocolate machine), waiting for me to crank out another 8 or 10 batches of chocolates that day. Just the next day I found myself at a meeting for Primerica Financial. The result of the presentation before me was my signing up to take training to become an advisor for the company and pursue part time work for them. The earning potential, and the convenience of their office being located just 3 blocks from the chocolate shop on 2nd Ave, only beckoned stronger that I take this opportunity for all it's worth. Later that night I tested my new song Nobler Pursuits on the stage at Lydia's Open Stage night. It got some good reviews, but my rendition of Nirvana's On A Plain struck a more familiar and, subsequently, a stronger chord with the roomfull of barhops and drunk aging 90's-alternative fans. By wednesday I was gassed from struggling to maintain the manic pace of giving 110% (as the meatheads and jocks will say) in the chocolate factory, so I gave in to a movie night, watching Crash and Nirvana Mtv Unplugged, both of which I picked up at the library on Taylor St. south of me. I guess I wanted to see what was so fascinating about Nirvana even after all these years. I resolved that people find an outlet for a neccessary kind of sympathetic feeling when listening to Kurt, since he was a little more than a sympathy case. In some selfish way I feel like a bit of a Kurt myself lately; going through some personally tough months although no more tough than anybody else's tough times. I am thinking with great anticipation for September though. On Thursday or Friday I confirmed with Harry at the chocolate shop that I would be taking Tai Chi in September with his group of students just off Broadway at the Cosmo Seniors Centre. The concious awareness that Christmas season will be causing my hands to tense up prompted the decision to responsibly care for them with some kind of exercise regime. Conveniently, Harry was happy to have me join.
June and July had me feeling like I was going over Niagara Falls in a barrel at some points but I am now feeling collected and like I'm riding the tour yacht at the base of the Falls, feeling the mist on my face. I can't yet say if university auditions are still my main aim this winter, what with all these new developments making my plate seem as full as it needs to be for now. The idea of having opportunities as promising as being able to save up and record an album by after Christmas and to subsequently have something to tour and promote are undoubtedly more appealing than buying a buttload of music theory textbooks. *pondering and thinking and pondering*
Thanks for tuning in~

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Month off... or ON

There is something refreshing about getting away from "it all"... although I haven't yet figured out what that "it all" is refreshing to get away from. One gets so absorbed in making the everyday work to your preparations, if not expectations... anyhoo, I think I'll post some photos of my entailment far far away from "it all" in order to explain whatever it is that I mean. I think all it means is that I would rather have shared this "all" with someone very very special~ ...and I didn't.
Blog, eat yer heart out... I think I've wrapped yer game of wonderment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I think my Gran is my favorite older person. I have learned to avoid the word "senior" because of its relation to "elder and senior abuse" in the media of late. The phrase older person still relates them to being a person, and not some relic that's placed on the fringe of society because they can't keep up. Gran can sure keep up. She keeps up with people so religiously that my mom has had a cell phone for about two years and still hasn't given Gran the number. Gran can be intense.

Gran's name is Vera, and she has been alone since November '05 when Grampa died. It took her a little trying to get the wheels turning again after that. With the house a literal firestarter, full of Grampa's old school books and sports almanacs and encyclopedias and out of print religious literature, she has since been trying to clean out the house of all this almost completely unsalvageable reservoir of paper. Where I just lost 3 grandparents in the last 30 months, I can understand with no problem at all that you can't just immediately remove someone like that from your life and move on with no problem. Much is the same with breaking up from a relationship with someone you loved dearly. Gran didn't just go nose to the grindstone and start moving out boxes and boxes of books to the dump. She went through each one with the timid fervor of one who was recanting every fun time, every cute little relic or picture, every cubic ounce of love and memories shared with this partner of 50-odd years. After feeling the opportunity to be with someone I loved (and still love) shrivel and die, and thinking that I'm the lonely one, I can find comfort knowing that Gran is doing something that takes a lot of courage; closing out her life on her own steam. I know that's all it amounts to anyway... all you ever really have is yourself... but a companion can be the greatest treasure and the desire that fills your heart and makes you forget about ever feeling lonely.

I just talked with Gran this afternoon and she is in as sarcastic and good spirits as she can be. That while having a broken down washing machine and random beggars coming to her door. How Gran makes sense of the world is a reminder of how much potential I have to make my life a very happy one. She absolutely cherishes the friendships she has left in her life, in her family, and in her past. I haven't met half the people I will meet in my life, and I know there is a lot of opportunity for me to find someone who understands my need to belong to someone else. Maybe my feelings that linger in this most recent relationship are just the prologue to a really sweet and true friendship. I have gotten past dwelling on repairing what part was broken, and am now more interested in which parts still work. *hugs for B when you find this*

I love you Gran~

Friday, July 11, 2008


I met Evan in 2006 when I started working at a great little Greek place in the Midtown Plaza food court called Opa! Souvlaki Of Greece. He and I spent the next 12 months embracing each of our (friendly) regulars at the kitchen, learning the secrets behind each one of our rivaling kitchens, regretably becoming informed on our gay boss' attempts at relationships, and telling some of the most unrepeatable jokes known to young men anywhere. The opportunity arose in March of 2007 to join forces at a different employer - Harden & Huyse Chocolates. We both understandably defected the Greek place, finding ourselves (sometimes scrambling to be) learning how to craft chocolates while listening to the most tedious collection of classic love songs on MAGIC98.3FM. Harry, our chief chocolatier who hails from Singapore, piously fuels our day with a consistent dose of Bryan Adams (at least 3 a day), Chilliwack, Michael Buble, and Barenaked Ladies. I have learned over this time working with him, however, that this is only to harness his and our senses of humor. After 200 listens to Colbie Callait "Bubbly", one can either scowl in paramount disgust or chuckle to oneself that "yeah, it could be worse... I could be that dj who also has no choice but to listen every day... but who also has to make it sound like a "hot new song" every other time. Brutal job.
I kinda took Evan under my "wing" when his dad died while we worked together at Opa!. I thought at the time about what it would be like losing my dad, and how we haven't yet had a good chance to spend time with each other on some kind of friends level. So Evan became the person I made the most effort to be a good friend to. Once I could see that he was getting back on his feet again I think we made a concious decision to make every day at work together really zany and hilarious. Things could be really dreary working for two and a half years with the same guy but not with Evan. I'm not sure we connect on a lot of levels; since he is a skater and I am a musician, our conversations sometimes make as much sense to each other as a hot dog vendor parking right outside the sally-ann. But I have gotten him interested in bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and oddly, Rush somewhat. He's a great friend, simply for putting up with all my strange idiosyncrasies and musical rants. I rarely get the chance to hang out with him after work, since we live on separate ends of town and riding the bus in this city can take an hour and a half to get from end to end. I can't say I'd want to work with anyone else as closely, as we've gotten pretty deep into each others lives from just chatting on the job. Evan, I love you buddy and I hope you find something that makes you happy.
Readers, you may want to refill yer teacups. I'm feeling a groove here.