Let it take you there.

October 26, 2011

I flipped through this tabloidy news paper called 24Hr, one of those free rags that have proliferated over the last few years in Canada.  I always find fun ready the horoscopes trying to find some sort of divine coincidences.

Today it said : “Sometimes you have to let the current take you, rather than fight to exhaustion.  You could end up at a better destination.”

It was so timely I shed a tear.  I was hit earlier today with upsetting news, a financial matter I wasn’t expecting and brings unwanted stress….  and of course this is the sort of unsettling event that becomes the springboard for a full on deep dive into the murky waters of insecurity, fear and self loathing.

Oh my guilt.  The guilt to exist, to be alive, to take too much room or not fit in.  Too big, too small, never good enough.  Can one ever feel peace inside this human hide?

Oh this world.  All the rules, the walls, the conventions and shoulds and woulds and the vast crater between what one wishes and what is.

Sometimes life seems as pointless as plowing a patch of high desert.  First the horse dies at the plow from dehydration and malnutrition then the farmer kills himself because  he can’t feed the family.  But then I’ve been in the desert and I’ve seen what 3 drops of water can do.   Implausible miracles happen.  Myriads of very tiny plants come to life, barely visible and bloom,  impossibly beautiful.  Poignant.  Irrefutable power of life.


out of a seemingly dead twig springs beauty


Maybe then, our tears allow for desert flowers to bloom and blow our minds, maybe it’s all worth it.



The temperatures are diving down, I will need a winter coat, I will have to put the bike away, life has definitely taken the curve and is now coming out of it on a new vector.  It means I’ll have to store the bike very soon for the winter.  I’ll be walking.  I’ve not “not had a vehicle since I was 20 and I’ve never stored my bike.  Since I’ve had one, it’s always been there for me to ride, rain or shine.

No bike, think of that. The faithful partner in hibernation, tucked away.  I am just hoping for the thermometer to stay above freezing for at least this coming mid November week end… I am planning to go to Montreal for the SMIM, an event for independent musicians with conferences and workshops. I actually managed to get into a stage-presence workshop presented by the Cirque du Soleil people. But that is 18 days away. We could have snow between now and then. I am wishing for a warm week end so I can brazenly zoom one last time down some sort of highway before putting Beowulf to sleep for the next 3, 4 months…  OMG…


Otherwise, I have been busying myself trying to get out of this non-existence state I’m in right now. I have entered 3 songwriting contests : the John Lennon contest, the Song of the Year contest and the Radio Star talent search. The songwriting contests have these dreamy grand prizes of gear, equipment, home studio deluxe set-ups… winning that would be like making any music geek drool with envy, the ultimate music rig come true. There is also music industry connections to be made… this would be welcome to say the least.


The Radio Star contest is going to require fan voting in order to get into the top 50, a popularity contest of sorts for which I’ll have to beg and plead for votes from my friends, your friends, their first and last born and everyone in between along with any long lost half cousins living in the Netherlands or the No Man’s land.  In short : anyone, everyone with an internet connection…

Details to come.

I’ve also signed up for a songwriter’s conference at the Canadian Music Week in Toronto in March. Hopefully I’ll learn something, be inspired, fired up and maybe I can make some meaningful connection. So far my attempts to find gigs in this town (besides the open-mics)  have failed miserably, falling on deaf ears, vanishing in email inboxes or drowned in the void of some voice mail account that no one answers.


I’ve been practicing my guitar a lot though, I even managed a few days with 4 hour plus sessions last week, the callouses on my left hand fingers are getting deep and polished. I’ve be reworking some songs, tunes I had written with the band Leoffenders and this has been going well.


And on a separate but very actual stream, I’ve also been dreaming of buying this South American hand knitted wool hoodie that must be a half inch thick from this hippy dippy store with Indian, Nepalese and South American clothing and incense. It bears cool old fashioned knitted designs and the inside is covered in soft, plushy, fuzzy material. They wanted $100 for one of those…  that was too much…  then last week the store posted a 20% off sale sign in the window… Maybe it’s time to go get it, no matter how light the wallet is because the temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing this Thursday and I could smile, all toasty inside my hoodie.


And one last piece of good news…. Perry, the producer who has been working with me on my upcoming album has received an award for “best produced independent blues record” for a blues recording he worked on just before I went in the studio last March. Maybe it’s a good omen for our record.  Maybe that is the course of the current I must accept to follow.


Well I should run.  I love you all. Miss you all.  Stay warm.











Oh Fall, fall, fall


Here you undeniably are. The leaves have turned their backs and colors.  They now swirl down and they will, except for the few that are picked and carefully inserted between the pages of a thick, heavy, rarely consulted volume, compost themselves back into the earth whence they came.



I have found a beautiful red scarf, a thick wooly affair that measures at least 8 ft long and 20 inches wide and a black wool cap. The baseboards have started their long dry, hot, slow exhalation of manufactured heat that will go on for months.

The light.   Ottawa`s light is the redeeming feature in the unavoidable gloom following the death of summer. My friend Francoise had mentioned it to me a few months ago, she was right. There is something utterly soothing and uplifting in the local light’s golden hue.  As soon as the sun dares just showing a slight glow, its golden velvet envelops everything in warmth and the dramatic sunsets bring mystery to this government workers town.


Last week I took Beowulf to Gatineau Park to see the colors of fall, we were already a bit late for the brightest reds but it was amazing nonetheless. We went by Mackenzie King’s domain. Holy money. We often forget in Canada how much money politicians make….



Politics have been on my mind lately.  The Occupy… movement is something that I wholeheartedly support. I love the horizontality of it, this leaderless movement powered by a real concern, a true expression of the power of the people, the need for change in how we are governed and in who’s interest the laws of this country and this world are designed.  It is fascinating to me to see the the governing elite`s reaction to this.  They do not know how to address it.  The predictability is broken.  The rules are being changed.  My feeling is that the ones who will emerge, will be the ones who pay attention to this.


For my part, my head is full of questions. I`ve been trying to focus on getting some sort of music activities going around here. It’s like starting from the bottom of a pit with walls lined with red clay. In that perspective last night I went over to Hull to participate in the “brasseurs de tounes” showcase-open microphone. It’s a beautiful venue, a historic building made of stones, a mill dating back a couple hundred years.


I found myself nervous. To sing my songs to French speaking people always feels like a test. I left Quebec 22 years ago, I became someone else somewhere else, to be here brings this otherness up front and center, yet I feel the love.  I am always moved when I sing my French songs and feel the connection as people get the words, the heart of them.  The room is beautiful, the sound system really nice, good microphones and people listen. I`m grateful

Job : songwriter. All you got are these silly songs. Fragile clotheslines of words rhythms, tones, articulations, melodies painstakingly put together with love and passion. They flail in the winds of the audience`s opinion.   Little windows on your soul, your life, of the world. Some days I wish I could just be a guitar slinger, a pro musician who just steps up on any stage, does the job and go home after the show and not have to be so damn fragile each time I open my mouth and play.


My life, this amalgam of sinuous lines of passions carved deep into the stone of this world. The horses, the guitar, the art, my loves, the motorcycle, the road…. Their abstract design has not yet a clear, recognizable face.


Position the chisel. Hit with the hammer. Repeat.  That is all I can do right now.


The Master is gone. I try to remember his words. I try to recall what matters.  He was always insisting on the main lines, to respect them religiously so that the final piece would have this arc through it, a start and a end, a declaration without waver, an undeniable communication.

So I must re-position the chisel, aim, hit again and again, over and over.  As long as I respect the directing lines alive, I should arrive somewhere.

Time goes by as the body slowly betrays the soul, as the seasons flow like an excited brook that brings on the years faster and faster, I hesitate.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, you better face Reality!  A voice said.  But what is real in the end?


Dance with life others say.  And I feel clumsy, not elegant.  Unsightly.


Rain falls on Ottawa.   I know there is, will be answers, maybe now it must be the repetitive, seemingly pointless thousands of  strikes of the chisel on the granite of life on planet earth.

Making a dream come true

October 5, 2011

Making a dream come true


For many there are dreams that stay in a quiet corner of the heart and never demand to exist. Like my dream to ride a motorcycle. It laid dormant for years and years. I had found all the justifications and all the reasonable reasons and the desire to ride a steel horse quietly was subdued by reality and the need seem to be no more.




There are all sorts. The ones provoked by marketing, these usually pass quickly. There are the dreams we get from insecurity, like dreaming of winning the lottery or that sort of “get rich quick” “get a mansion”, They stem from fear or from being insecure about one thing or another. We figure that with a chest full of gold everything will be OK.

Then there are the childhood ones… those always lurk, simmer, nudge us, they are always there, hidden or visible.  Those are part of our fundamental essence. They come from a time when we believed everything was possible.


Last summer I had been invited to a dinner with a Turkish family. They are new citizens of Canada, there is the mom, the dad and two daughters in their early twenties. Fassilette is the mom. I had showed up on the bike and she was trying to tell in a half English, half Turkish how she’d love to ride a bike one day…


I loved her spirit. I said : I could give you a ride, you just need a helmet. Her eyes sparkled. Yes, yes we were going to do this. That was back in July.


Last week, we’re now in September…  I met with them again, I was playing at an open microphone and they came down to cheer me on. The bike ride topic came up again.  Could we do it?  She was about to leave for a month in Turkey, by the time she’d be back it would likely be too cold…   I had seen the weather report and it was going to be great for riding in the next few days, so I said “ How about this week-end?”


Saturday afternoon. Fassilette’s house. Turkish tea and goodies. We chit chat for a while. No one is talking about the elephant in the room in the shape of the yellow helmet she was going to wear and the impending ride…


Getting ready to leave for Fassilette's first ride

“So, are you ready? You still want to do this?” I asked her after a while.


“Yes, yes!” She said nervously, yet beaming.


So we geared up.


The sun was high and warm. In the air, this particular Eastern Canadian autumnal smell I remember from childhood.  The trees are starting to turn in a myriad of hues. The grasses are dried, yellowed almost ready to surrender.


We go through the instructions, mainly I’m asking her to always me to have my two feet on the ground before attempting to dismount or do anything so I can keep the bike upright.  Don’t be afraid to hang on to me with arms and legs.  Don’t make wild moves while we ride.


I got the bike running and she came to sit behind me. I feel she is tremulous.  I will ride as smoothly as possible, I want her to enjoy this. I always feel this huge responsibility when someone sits on the bike with me. Their lives are in my hands. I can’t allow any stupid mistakes.

We take off. I feel her hands on my ribs. She is holding me infinitely politely, yet definitely holding. I do the softest shifts I can do. Stop as seamlessly as possible.  Beowulf is great with passengers.  In some ways it’s as if the whole drive train thrives on the added weight.


I don’t know this area, so I did a “Danielle” which is what I do best : to follow my nose. I turned East out of the suburb then South, I ended up on a beautiful semi-country road lined with trees and fields and birds flying.  A flock of geese… It’s a perfect day for a ride. Warm enough so one is neither cold or sweaty. The sun shines, the breeze is gentle, the traffic is very polite, no craziness from anyone.


Within a few minutes she exclaimed : “ This feels WONDERFUL!”


Awesome.  I thought, the mission has started on the right foot.


We rode for a good 20 minutes going south then I turned back.  I wasn’t sure how long to go.  People get sore butts sitting back there and I never do… so I decided to turn around while everything is still fresh and comfortable.  We did not talk much as with the wind, helmets and the Turkish-English language difficulties there is not much point in doing so.  Shut up and ride, smile, give the thumbs up and enjoy.

What a privilege…  This thought keeps coming to mind when I ride these days.  I don’t ride often, can’t afford it and can’t justify it, so when I do, when I suddenly look at that red bike, feel the wind and the whole experience I am always blown away.  Thankful, grateful and childishly excited on my steel steed.  Wow.  How lucky can I be?


We rode back to her house. Everyone was outside waiting. I pulled next to her house, she dismounted and everyone was helping her take the helmet off anxious to hear from her.






She looked SO happy. She was beaming a thousand suns on this gorgeous fall day.


“You know” She said, “ this was a dream of mine… this is something I dreamed about all my life.. All my life…”




a happy rider

Beowulf and I made someone’s dream come true. I don’t know how to explain this but this was really, really important to me.  It was one of the coolest moments in quite a while for me.  To just contribute something and make someone happy.


So I asked : “ Did the experience match the dream’s expectation?” I had to ask because I’ve had some “dreams” come true that were so… neutral or worse, plain disappointing.


“Oh it was even better!!! I loved it!!!”


I thought : “Gee,  I could go  park myself on a street corner put up a sign like “motorcycle ride dreams brought to life” and make someone happy.  In some ways it was a very simple thing,  but in other ways it was everything life’s about. To see joy you helped create in someone else’ eyes… Priceless. Infinitely priceless.