Friday, June 13, 2008


I met Mason in 2003 I guess. I knew his dad Mario from this very fetching Irish Pub in Prince Albert called McKee's, the venue used for this acoustic jam night where players in the town would come and either play along, play their song, or just meet up with other players they hadn't seen for a while and share a chat and a pitcher of Pilsner ale. Mario was one of the two original founders of this jam night; the other was Don. Both guys developed into great friends of mine, through their admiration of my playing ability and of my astute methods of learning their songs. I later lived with Don and his wife Caroline for a short spell, along with his daughter Sarah, another close friend of mine.
Mason, who had just moved back from living in Vancouver, would be there every other week for the jam night, if not every week (Wednesday night). He shared my interest, at the time, for bands like Led Zeppelin, Tragically Hip, and Pearl Jam; those of a classic rock nature. Classic rock was like this hidden treasure in Prince Albert, the town itself being immersed in Country Western culture with it's farming and ranching roots. Also brewing in the town, under the surface of country grit and old-time religion, was a weak gang-infused and high-school nurtured sense of hip-hop, and a strong wave of folk music. Both of these styles were interests of Mason's at the time as well. Bob Dylan stationarily controlled one whole cd-tower in Mason's basement suite when I first visited it. His chess interest was a further common thread of mine and his so we became really good friends. I moved to Saskatoon to move furniture and when I came back 6 months later to find the same old dull land of opportunity to get a really red neck, Mason was one friend who hadn't escaped the miserableness of it all yet and so we became even stronger friends. He and my friend from high school, Tyler or "Gersh", and Sarah, and a different handful every time it seemed, would get together in vigilant McKee's fashion for those remaining 8 months I would live in Prince Albert. I became, more or less, Mason's guitar sensai, guiding him with how to play the Tragically Hip's Ahead By A Century or Pink Floyd's Fearless. Usually he impressed me with either his drive to master the riff, or his perceptiveness to choose a song that was easy to learn in the first place.
Mason moved in with me in September '07 here at the bachelor pad. He has been studying to be or working as an electician for the entire time I've known him (see second photo - just after receiving his journeyman certification, with Ed our building manager). He is not only an inspiration financially, since he obviously has the material world within his reach any time he needs something new or used. He is an inspiration physically and mentally for me, reminding me that if I do need to sacrifice a few years from my upward climb to some kind of musical notoriety and devote time to getting some kind of ridiculously paying full time day job, it will only benefit and nurture that musical interest and flame within. Mason is currently on a 3 month (or more) holiday down in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. He went to Costa Rica this past November and couldn't get enough of the tropical weather so he went back this summer. Thanks Mase, for either pushing me to do better, or just being ok with where I'm at. I love and miss you buddy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rundown Pt. II

Where was I? Oh yes. Parents squabbling.
No they haven't divorced. In fact they still live together and are the perfect 'misery-loves-company' ad. I seldom talk to either but usually it will be mom calling about how things are going. Dad is not the type to call his son and chew the fat. He still believes he's in the mid-story section of the Prodigal Son parable.
So I started high school with a drive to learn some musical instruments. I began halfway into the first semester of grade 9 taking bass guitar lessons. After school, the mighty guitar club took place, 4 or 5 strong. Here, we would print off songs from the internet written in 'tablature', a language used by guitar players to display where to put your fingers on the fretboard. I continued bass lessons through to grade 10. Grade 11 came the demise of the band program, so I made the computer lab hate me by using their paper reserves to print countless sets of tablature to learn songs. Grade 11 also saw me start hanging out with the affectionately named 'stoners'. Despite their habits curbing my ambition to get the best of grades, I learned a lot of great bands and styles of expression from this group of friends. By the end of high school, I had become quite renowned as the guy in the lobby at lunch hour jamming and playing songs I had learned in the last 3 or 4 years. Grade 12 also saw me begin writing songs. They started out just being Nirvana mimics, but eventually the amount of musical ambition I had overcame my frustrations and inner turbulence, and I began writing in the fashion of greats like Rush, Tool, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and The Tragically Hip. Songs that push the creative envelope fascinated me, and you definitely find your interests rubbing off on you after obsessing over them as I did. Now musically, you will find me blogging till the cows come home, but I should state before I undertake those posts that I grew up having country music slopped into my lap and, where I don't entirely detest it, I give no credit to the undeniable ease of writing a country song. Rock and Folk has always suited me better.
After high school I began working at Pizza Hut. Staying on with them in Prince Albert for about a year and a half, I moved to Saskatoon to live with some friends from high school. There I worked out of a delivery vehicle, learning the city as good as a city official. The business folded and I went back to Prince Albert to reconsider the move. However it was often and always realized just how mundane the town was, and after meeting someone who became very special to me (Nikki), I moved back to Saskatoon, where I've been since. Now this someone who was special to me became more a liability than a companion, due to bouts with schizophrenic breakdowns. On one of these occasions, and after many, she just left on some whim to travel to Alberta, and I haven't talked to her since. Nikki's mother used to call and ask me if I'd talked to her lately but I haven't received a call from either for more than a year. Needless to say, my psyche was shaken from being in a relationship where I'm the only stable one, and I witnessed firsthand this friend slowly becoming a problem.
Heartbreak is one way I'd describe that experience.
*deep breath*
Since the demise of that treasured companionship, I've gone from Pizza Hut to working at this greek food court chain Opa! Souvlaki Of Greece, to now being a trained professional chocolatier with Harden & Huyse, with whom I'm currently laid off for the summer.
Work aside...
In January this year after a very stressful, cold and lonely Christmas season, I found a companion again. :OD She is tall, beautiful, loves reading, and she shares my interest in songwriting, music, cooking, theater, and travel. She is also the mother of an adorable, quickly growing son, and it wasn't hard falling in love with her after spending a few weeks getting to know her right in her own home, as going-out was sorta not an option with a son to look after. Since those few weeks getting to know her, I have spent a lot of nights and days with her and her son, hoping I might become that companion in her life. We've seen a few really good shows together in that time too. She makes or breaks my day from simply being in it or out of it. I tell her often that I have envisioned a future with her and I am dedicated to being there for her if she will accept me. So far she has accpted me. :O) Even if I like Rush!
Lately the situation is that her plate is so full with working 2 jobs and taking her son to the sitters', and being involved in a musical on top of that during the evenings, that I have become an afterthought in her day. Where I understand her side, and I can see that she has no time to think about feelings for me right now, the time I've spent apart from her in the last month is the most agonizing feeling in the span of my life. If that isn't love, where it hurts more to be without her in my life than if any person in my family dies or if one of my guitars was stolen, or if I became severely injured somehow, I'm not sure if I'll ever find love. Keep ya posted how "things go" with this current emotional roller coaster of mine.
That's pretty much enough to get you up to speed with where I'm at. Any questions, comments, advice, innuendos, remarks, or slashing criticisms are more than welcome.
See you readers soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Rundown Pt. I

Ok folks. This is where it all began. Shawn Wonka didn't always used to be a Wonka. You should know that right now.
It all began in Prince Albert Sask. Born ten minutes to midnight. You can use yer charts to figure out the significance of that, but I find none in details like that. 1984. And no, I wasn't so fortunate that my parents listened to Van Halen. They were more interested in moulding little Shawn into that perfect specimen of a pure hearted man. Understandably, this is what every parent would hope their child turns into later in life, but they chose the direction of religion to apply this coat to my personality. Therefore, I grew up believing strongly in the Bible, in their Adventist doctrine that every kind of meat was bad to eat because in the end times it would all be determined to cause disease, and most importantly that doing anything 'secular' (or ordinary fun, by any other description) between the hours of sunset friday night and sunset saturday night (the hours of the sabbath) was a great sin.
Now growing up in the Prince Albert area, there aren't a lot of distractions to divert one little pastor-protege from his forced beliefs. The sports suck and therefore don't inspire that kind of future in a boy's life, the gangs involved in the city's boundaries are admittedly enough to make any person pray for their safety when walking around, and most of my friends from school lived a mile or more away since I lived on my Grandfather's farm, which my father kept up as best he could. So I was conveniently snug in my forced and heavily monitored beliefs and so you'd think this would allow my parents to sleep at night. Funny because my mother and father argued more than Archie Bunker and Meathead, which later led to my father developing a strange twitching-kicking motion in his sleep and since then they have slept in seperate beds.
More to come. Don't go anywhere.