Rockin’ In the Free World

How I love Canadian music and Canadian musicians.

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Let’s rhyme off a few who totally dig the scene – Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, The Band, Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson, The Hip, Rush, Joni Mitchell, Blue Rodeo, Rufus Wainwright, kd lang, Bryan Adams, Ron Sexsmith, David Francey, Bruce Cockburn, Ian Thornley, Anne Murray, The Guess Who, Oscar Peterson, The Daddy Cokes, Daniel Lanois, Destroyer, Metric, Harmonium, Hawksley Workman, The Rankins, Sloan, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Leonard Cohen, Matt Mays, Michael Buble, Max Webster, Paul Anka, Saga, The Sadies, Sarah Harmer, Sarah McLachlan, Teenage Head, Corb Lund, The Trews, Wolf Parade and more …

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CANADA KICKS ASS.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Country Home

Recently I discovered a great new (or maybe old?), Canadian music talent …

David Francey

His name is David Francey. His story is very cool.

He lived the bulk of his adult life working as a carpenter, tradesman and general labourer. All the while, he was writing songs about his life. But these songs never saw the light of day as he would hide them away for only himself and his wife to see.

He was finally convinced by his family and friends to perform. He did so, catching the eye of a CBC producer who went on the produce his first album which slowly won him fans across the country. His second album won him a Juno Award for Top Folk Artist. Upon winning, he decided to pursue music full-time and quit his job as a carpenter.

I happened upon this story from the documentary called ‘Burning Bright‘. It’s a great tale of later-in-life success. You get to hear his songs too, which are honest and real.

Here’s a link to his website – http://www.davidfrancey.com

Well worth checking out.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Born In Ontario

Today’s blog marks the first in a week-long “Proud to Be Canadian” series. Today’s post is about my Canadian pin …

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I love to travel, love seeing what our world has to offer. It has given me great respect for the world around us and has offered me a greater love for my home country. I got this ‘travel bug’ from my Dad, who was a proud Canadian.

My Dad was a big believer in seeing the world, experiencing and learning from other cultures. He never finished high school, so traveling became his education. When I was a kid, we would take family trips every summer to see parts of North America. My folks would pack the camper, pack some food, pack the rum (my Dad’s stash) and off we went to see The Grand Canyon or the California coast or Graceland or Las Vegas. I was also lucky enough to travel to Europe with my Dad as a teenager. We saw Switzerland, Austria and Denmark. These experiences left a mark on me, and fueled my thirst for more. To this day, I make seeing the world an important part of my life.

I am very lucky to have had these experiences, and don’t take them for granted. For that I am grateful to be Canadian, as we live in the coolest country on the planet. Not only does our country offer geographical beauty (The Canadian Rockies, Niagara Falls, Cape Breton, interior B.C., just to name a few ...), but we as people are kind, generous, funny, friendly and warm. I can say this from visiting many different places and cultures, we kick ass.

Throughout his life, my Dad worked with many Americans. He always trumpeted the coolness of Canada and wherever he went he carried a pocketful of Canadian pins. Whomever he ran into – a business associate, the waitress at a restaurant, the gas attendant – he loved tooting the Canadian horn and offered them all a Canadian pin.

I remember once being in England with my folks. My Dad gave a pin to a five-year old boy who was fascinated with it. Returning home, the family sent us a picture of the boy wearing his Canadian pin proudly. My Dad was beaming.

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So with Canada Day nearing, I remember the proudest Canadian I knew – Bruce Robertson. I still have a pocketful of his pins, wear them proudly and thank him for giving me the genetic curiosity to see our world. It makes me a prouder Canadian.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

Natural Beauty

The Canadian east coast. Best vacation ever.

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Incredible scenery, down-to-earth people and a new appreciation for how beautiful our country is. Not to mention meeting some great musicians along the way. Every turn was a highlight, but here are a few to share;

*Peggy’s Cove. It’s a real-life postcard. Spent a Saturday night in Peggy’s Cove at the Sou’ Wester restaurant enjoying ‘The Saunders Brothers Show’, a true east coast kitchen party band. With a pint of Clancy’s in hand and a plate of fish cakes I enjoyed some great maritime music with sing-a-longs, spoons, mandolin and tons of laughs.  The guys in the band are super friendly and they gained a new fan (they play Toronto on June 19th!)

*Cabot Trail. I can cross it off my bucket list. Stunning coastline, rugged cliffs, twisty turns and deep canyons. The place is surreal.

*Deron Donovan at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish. Deron is a Cape Breton songwriter and I had the chance to catch two of his shows : honest, heartfelt songs about his life. ‘Capers’ are very proud of their heritage and it shows up in a lot of their music.

*The Celidh Trail. This is a scenic drive along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where The Rankin Family and Natalie McMaster hail from. There is the Celtic Music Museum where you can learn to fiddle and jig, and at every turn a community centre that features music. TONS of musicians in the area, very cool.

*The cities – Halifax, Quebec City, Charlottetown. Halifax for it’s lay-out of the steep hill in the city, the Citadel and the views of the harbour. Quebec City for Old Quebec which, for my money, is the coolest part of any Canadian city. Charlottetown for it’s friendliness, small-town charm and Cows ice cream.

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There were so many memories along the way – driving through the rolling scenery of P.E.I., the Acadians in Cheticamp, N.S., a Lobster Supper, the stormy ferry ride from P.E.I. to Nova Scotia, the stories from the locals about lobster fishing, artifacts from the Titanic at the Maritime Museum in Halifax, the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick and even the St. Hubert chicken dinner outside of Montreal!

We live in an amazing country – beautiful scenery, diverse cultures and a rich heritage that is evident – especially the Acadians –  strong people, very proud of their french heritage and are still keeping their culture alive.

The one thing that sticks with me the most though is the friendliness of maritime Canadians – down-to-earth, laid back, easy going, funny and great musicians to boot. I can’t wait to go back again.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

There’s A World

One thing about making this plunge into a life of music is …

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The positive vibes and great nature of musicians, everywhere!

I’ve been lucky to have met many great people along this road, and bad vibes rarely exist along the path of making music. The positive spirit is alive and well in people who love being creative and strive for a life of music. It’s hard work though, and for some never easy …

A friend of mine recently thought about getting a ‘real’ job and putting the music biz behind him. This is a guy who has worked on Juno Award winning material, has toured and worked with some of Canada’s most famous names and yup, wanted to pack it in. No money, no gigs lined up, barely getting by. But he’s still at it, and can’t think of doing anything else.

He, along with most musicians I know, creates a vibe all his own. You have to make your own scene, trust your own judgement and do your own thing (good lessons in life I do say!). Do that, and people will come to you, doors will open (albeit sometimes only slightly …), because the good nature of people is such a cool thing.

With that in mind I’m planning more gigs, and more studio sessions to record more music. Plus I’ll be opening a studio this summer (those doors will be open …)

Thanks for reading, cheers.

http://www.craigrobertson.ca

The Painter

Inspiration can come from anywhere. This time from a movie I saved on PVR …

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The movie is called ‘The West Wind‘. It’s the life story of Canadian artist Tom Thomson, who died under curious circumstances on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. The movie however, tried to unveil the tale of his life, rather than the romantic mystery of his passing.

He was a man driven by his passion – to paint. For a time he had a very promising career as a graphic designer that took him to Seattle and back to Toronto, where he lived most of his days. But he ultimately gave it all up to pursue his own art and his love of capturing timeless moments in Algonquin Park. Even odd jobs he took on wouldn’t last as he never had enough time to paint. In the end, Thomson started spending more and more time in the north, really embracing his true calling.

He drew countless sketches, painted small works and larger masterpieces. That’s what he did, every day – paint. He sold a few during his lifetime and began making a small name for himself, but nothing like the legend he is today.

His death at the age of 39 is a huge part of his legacy for sure. How he died, which is explored in the movie, is still a mystery. His story is mythical, and us Canadians have nurtured his life into a great national tale. But in the end, he was just a man living his life. A life he pursued on his terms, deciding how to live it and how to create it for himself.

I’m glad I recorded that movie (in fact I haven’t erased it …), as it can serve as a great reminder.

Now I just have to watch everything else I’ve saved (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Departed, The Twilight Zone TV shows …).

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

PS — I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to see Tom Thomson paintings in person, but it is a surreal experience. The Jack Pine, The West Wind, Northern River (the painting I posted here) are insanely amazing. The guy was crazy talented. Here’s a link to the TT gallery in Owen Sound: http://www.tomthomson.org/

http://www.craigrobertson.ca