Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring Re-String



Spring thunder booms like a cannon from a distant ship - still a ways away but getting closer with every morning birdcall and every extra hour of light. Today, the city is covered in ice and sleet and grey grossness. Cars are turtle shells of crystal freezers. People retreat and do not face it. They do everything they can to avoid the onslaught. But it still rattles their windows with beckoning branches that scratch like annoying arms from a winter record that keeps skipping.

With every day and every waking hour, we are getting closer to something - some final pinnacle. Whatever that is, none of us seem to really know.

Fatherhood is weird. Owning a business is weird. Getting old is weird. It's all a bit fucking weird. Your being and output and action level changes - and I would guess that even your DNA does, as well. You think less of just being - and more about all the things that need to be done.

Three more shows on early spring horizon and then a bit of a lull until Bluesfest Bonanza. Looking forward to working out tunes and seeing what sticks to the wall.

It's hard to be focused these days - but I'm thankful for music because it really does hone me into the zone of the moment.

Wakefield. Irene's. Pals.

Good vibes comin'.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Deep In It

"What do you love about playing music?"

"For starters - everything." 

*(post below pics)*





























The road is an animal - an unrequited, untamed beast of burden that fills our souls and bellies with fire and longing and fear and joy all at once. When you decide to hit the tour-trail and play shows with someone you haven't spent much time with before, there is always the risk that it will go terribly - but Megan Nash, of rural Sask, proved to be an easy going, quickly familial pro and passenger - almost like a distant cousin - and a powerhouse of song. The shows were warm, busy, intimate and engaging - and filled with kind and receptive souls. It's hard to put fingers to keys and make sense of the whirlwind of multi-town activity that took so many months to finalize and actualize - and that is now freshly in the rearview mirror of memories. From a small but warm-sounding room in Montreal at Le Cagibi with the cool, hip-Hawaiian tropical tunecats of Yitzy - to the historic and classic tavern-style McCloskeys that Dan has really spruced up in Chesterville - the Legendary parkay checker floor and supersonic sound-vortex of the magnificent Black Sheep - the few hundred feet up wildly urban view of the Horseshoe and Rivoli from Lee and Stephen's super-intimate Penthouse condo house concert space - and finally, to the warm, familiar, hippie, pierogi-powered and picturesque Wilno Tavern set in the rock-cut hills of Hwy 62 - I am thankful. I am thankful for the songs I haven't written yet. I am thankful for the beautiful, blue-sky weather we had every day of every drive - and I am thankful for my amazing, beautiful, love-exploding family that I have to come home to and move forward with through the coming spring and summer months.

This life is a lot of looking forward and looking back - it's difficult to be fully in the present. But on a tour, your focus becomes laser-like - you are locked into every song - and every set - and every room - and every new listener, supporter and road family member. You get the lay of the land and you take some mental notes and you stand up and sing and leave it all out there.

The road is our guide - our beacon that tells us that there are places that we can still push ourselves. No matter what age or life-stage we are at - we can learn.

We may be done with the road, but it is never truly done with us.

Peace and love. May we never stop learning.



Monday, February 26, 2018

exist

Deep winter dark. Quiet. The treed property of our Gatineau pad and the dark streets on which I walk the dog are thick with reflection. I think a lot about death. As the days come and go and I grow older, I focus on existence. What exactly is this matrix we are in? I wake up sometimes and have immediate anxiety over the fact that I will perish. What good is that knowledge? Would it almost be better to not know that we die? I'm not sure. 

I think about my daughter as she speeds through various stages of kidness. I'm a passenger on a ship that does not stop. It steams on towards...something. It's hard to tell what is waiting. 

My late thirties were filled with a lot of beauty and reflection. I soaked up those post marriage years like butter marrow in the deep alcove of a marinated flank steak. I worked a lot but my off time was my own. In having a child, you truly cross through a threshold and you see that this life is so not about you - and that we really all are small potatoes. 

Everyone thinks their shit is so important. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sneaking Suspicion

Expectations skirt around us. They flutter in easterly breezes and spring meadow winds. We do the things that we think we should - and why? What drives us from point A to point B? We are animae. Enemia. Aenima. Pulse. Pulsar. Pluribae. 

I'm glad I grabbed this app. For ages, I've been looking for a quick add for the blog. I've been needing something that will help me get the words to the places they they need to go. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Writing > Righting


It's hard to get to a space where the words flow out - like wine from the upside-down spilling crown gullet of Cassiopeia.

I long for fireside notebook sessions, where I can just write everything down and slow the pace and hear the hot centre fire-snap-pop. I want my hand to cramp from the feeling and passion and the momentary driven wavebreak.

But those aren't things in my wheelhouse these days. I forge the path of parenthood, and my schedule and my time revolve around my partner and a tiny being that has come into our lives.

Lately, she's been climbing the stairs of the house - from the bottom, all the way to the tippety top. It's bizarre to think that children were a far notion from my freewheeling bachelor mind, even two and a bit years ago. And now, I am moving into a new phase of hurdles and struggles and mountaintops and valleys. My universe has shifted, and is shifting.

It's daunting as I watch her, because our stairs are open underneath. And at times, I want to pick her up or at least form a safety net the entire time, but she senses it when I do that. And often, she'll turn on the second last step and want me to grab her - even though she's capable of finishing.

It's as close as we can get to having a godlike feeling in this life. Because we know that, as adults, someone did that for us at one point. Someone watched over us.

But it also begs more metaphysical questions like 'am I being watched, now?' or 'is someone caring for my ultimate best as I do the same for this tiny nugget of humanity?'

The answers are not that simple - but we trek on. Towards all of it.

The stairs and the stars.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Seagull Oceanside Canopy


We board up. We survey the conditions. We wait for the break.

And we ride and hope to we don't bail hard or eat the board.

Never before have I felt so out of control with life than I do with a daughter.
Yes- she is only just a biscuit over a year old. Yes - I know I'm relatively young.

But I remember a time...I remember a time where I couldn't wait for my fingers to fly about the keys and crank out rhapsodic prose that would lick the lips of the lyric-thirsty reader. Hell - there were mostly no readers. It was mostly just me reading my own shit. This blog was my own wheelbarrow - unloading the dirt of my mind upon the garden of thought and reflection, and taking stock of the bright, sparkly, multi-coloured peppers, carrots and beans of reflection.

But now, I slog. I sludge and trudge. I stoop to the demands of the day, and my posture wilts with each waking hour. I try to get ahead of the curve, but the pitch floats and then flies into the mitt of Catcher Time before I even think about the idea of swinging.

Sloan is a growing person - and a 'growing concern' the best sense of the term (to use my dad's words). I am just more cognisant of the fact that the light of our lives is fading. Every breath takes us closer to our last. Some days, I find it really hard to get death out of my head. The concept of dying and departing - not only from your own loved ones, and your city, and your families, and your music - but from your own body - just seems super bizarre and implausible.

But there are some things that help it slow down a tinge. Family time. Cutting down on plans with people. Exercise. Writing music. Writing just to write. Release. Open conversations.

There must be more.

We can only hope.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time Capsule Swallow


I finally have a moment. A moment to take a breath, sit back, smell the new kitchen air in my new nature-engulfed, heavily treed riverside home, and free fall into the existence of the day.

There's a sad, stark beauty to this life and I think it can be summed up in this truth:

When we are well, and connected, and living in a full, fresh way, time is a lightspeed silver jet above the clouds, and we are usually ram-jammed busy and unable to really step back and take mental snapshots of all of the beauty we are experiencing.

But when we are unwell, or sad, or low, or down on our luck, or not in the best frame of mind or relational atmosphere with those around us - we have all the time in the world. Too much, even.

Time is a taunter - a fickle minx that lurks in the shadows. We think we might grasp it and see a glimpse of its movement...and then it is gone. I think the best we can do with it is just to zen in - take a minute away from phones and computers, and just be in the stillness.

The day is getting on. The late day sun of the post 1:30 glow hits in, and we start to think about our homes. We get into our comfy mindspaces - filled with music and blanket forts and glow-in-the-dark star ceilings.

We tuck in for the winter, and hope we can sleep it off again and emerge renewed.





Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Where It All Comes From


Keep on keeping. Don't sleep when you're weeping. I can't believe that Slow Leaves came to town on October 13th and I played that show with him (Grant) and his pal (Rusty) and my homeboy Marc from Still Winter Hills.

Time is a tidal wave. It creeps up in the oceanic dark, under radar, and then throttles you -thrashing you to the ocean floor of existence and consciousness.

Sometimes I have dreams about long flowing hills. I don't know what that's about.

I also dream a lot about the ocean. And fields. And lost love. And withering hearts.

Some people in this life have saddened me more than others. Everyone is sad - we all carry around our buckets of sadness and regret and hate and hurt. But it's what we do beyond that point that makes us into who we are. Do we leave the buckets by the roadside...or keep carrying them?

I simply don't have the time for small-town/small-mind drama.

I live how I live, and I make tracks on the naysayers.

But isn't it beautiful to let go? TO just....release.

That, my friends, is where it all comes from.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Don't Come Around Here No More



I haven't been here in a while. My thematic poise has crumpled and is cowering in a dusty moving box in the recesses of my addled mind. That's the life of being a parent!

This blog is a luxury on a day where I have little booking or musician networking or show promo or social media conglomeration or miscellaneous tax/box work or new business opening discussions or grocery buying or baby helping.

Many paths have converged to bring me to this point. There are some regrets. There are some misty eyed past kaleidoscopic moments that make me look down the arid path of my youth, beset on all sides by dandelion memories and cross-pollenated and withered friendships.

But truly - you win some, and you lose some.

This saying usually applies to battles - but it rings true for people as well.

But as far as winning, I have won two of the best people in the randomized human lottery that no monetary amount could ever cover.

Jillian is the most beautiful, the most funny life partner I could ever have hoped to find. In all of my past relational yearnings, I could never find the right balance in another mate. I tried but the scales always tipped. J has it all. All I could ask for, and all that I yearn to come home to and discover new life adventures with. And Sloan - my sweet Lord. What a growing bundle of expression and joy and love and personality and cuteness and absolute wonder. I never knew that my heart could be so full and in pain for a human being, but I am definitely in deep. Deeper than I ever thought possible.

I think for a few years, I wanted a simple life - but my simple life involved playing music with friends, spending way too much time at a lake with people who smoke too many cigarettes and probably drinking more often than I needed to. Well, the music has picked up and is definitely frontal in the lobe of creativity and connection these days, and the drinking and smoking are way down on the priority list.

Creativity and connection are at the top. If I am not being creative in my artistic pursuits, I am lost. And if I am not connecting with my family and my neighbours and friends, what good am I?

Yeah - I don't come around here no more. But when I do, I am free.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Summerspeed: August 4, 2017

Show night. The lights were right. Songs were tight.

The crowd was a pure delight.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Summerspeed: August 3, 2017

I can't believe we are that close to Autumn. I want to feel carpet and grass on my feet.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Summerspeed; August 2, 2017

I'm done standing in line to be friends with people.

Get with me, or get with yours. Don't take auditions for friendship. Everyone can see your insecurity.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Summerspeed: August 1, 2017

August ain't over yet. It has just begun.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summerspeed: July 31, 2017

Narcissism will be the end of Donald Trump.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Summerspeed: July 30, 2017

Baseball is summer. It will always be.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summerspeed: July 29, 2017

Friends arrived. Montrealians. Kids. 7 and 6. Boy and girl. Best friend and his wife. Been having an amazing time.

Best weather weekend of the summer.

Went to wading pool in my neighbourhood drinking a blueberry beer.

Trippin' the life fantastico.

Captain Hill.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summerspeed: July 28, 2017

Long work day, and bad news from a potential employer seasoned with a semi-bright dusting of sweet joy through a newspaper interview about my music.

Moving my laptop around at 1390. Common occurrence. Best weather of the summer is yet to come. August looks crazy on paper and will be in reality.

Yipes.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summerspeed: July 27, 2017

Calibrese.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summerspeed: July 26, 2017

Whatever happened to Rick Moranis?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summerspeed: July 25, 2017

My brother is a lot like Will Hunting.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summerspeed: July 24, 2017

Klingon Kingdom.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summerspeed: July 23, 2017

Leaving the lake is always hard. My baby and wife keep changing - my baby moreso than my wife.

But the reunion is always sweet.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summerspeed: July 22, 2017

Summer speeds past. Gas gets passed through the airwaves of yesteryear.

My head peels layers on sunburnt skin into my receding hair.

Nobody wants to pet the bear.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Summerspeed: July 21, 2017

One time, I went to something called a cell group at Allison Mahoney's house. It was early in the morning and outdoors. People drank coffee in metal mugs.

People cried when they prayed.

I think that's where I first came up with the idea for the song called End Of The Day.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summerspeed: July 20, 2017


This song reeks of old summers, dandelion fluff, crusted yellow grass and street stink.

The memories rattle by like empty tin cans in the alleys of your past.

Urchins of song - methuselahs of the moment.

I've been spinning it to infinity.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summerspeed: July 19, 2017

Change the locks, change your socks.
Don't be a friend to the man sellin' hamhocks.
Repeal to the wonder in your lungs.
Repeat every beautiful song that you've sung.
Give it a taste and let it wash your face
and stop runnin' and just walk in the human race.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summerspeed: July 18, 2017

The days speed by too fast.
Mirrors in a splintered memory glass.
Highways break into hounddogs callin'
from longings gone and blacktop ballin'
make it last - do what you can to be better.
wear it out like the old threads of the sweater.

get comfortable in your shoes.
feel the dirty streetwater flow and ooze.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summerspeed: July 17, 2017




Another summer day - into the fray.
Lecture life.
Listener love.
Make it all slow down.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summerspeed: July 16, 2017 (Tom Petty)


Some nights, you get the table scraps.

Other nights, you get to sit at the foot of the masters and soak in inspiring rays of light. My friend Matty Foreman won tickets from his local watering hole to see Tom Petty at our local, massive scale festival, and immediately, he thought of me as a co-rider on the journey.

We were a ways back from the packed stage, in the lofty Coors Light Chill Zone (or whatever the fuck it was called), but it was a beautiful night. I guess when you get really rock and roll famous, you can play hits for an hour and a half, and that's exactly what he and the Heartbreakers did. Walls. Won't Back Down. American Girl. Wildflowers. Free Fallin. Learning to Fly.

All of the fixin's. It was downhome goodness.

We drank it in, walked home and grabbed a nightcap at a packed Pubwells, and parted ways into the half-cloudy, half-starry Cap City night.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summerspeed: July 15, 2017




Dinner at the folks. Local yokes.
Cloudy gray. Summer stay.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summerspeed: July 14, 2017 - Weekend Bachelor


I'm out for a stroll, cats.

My lover and loved daughter and dog are not around this weekend, so I shall see what trouble I will get into (for a few nickels). Honestly, I'm looking forward to doing very little. It's funny how age does that to you. In your teens/twenties, you thought 'I can't wait for summer so I can DO EVERYTHING".

Now, a free pocket of time is a chance to clean, do laundry, watch some dumb comedy videos and work on some songwriting.

Hardy har, chaps. I'm a city boy. Let's grab some noodles and broth.

Catch me on the flapjack stack.

Hidy-ho! Friday-go!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summerspeed: July 13, 2017


The future fades. The minutes are few.

We are throttling on. Baseball with Ed, Dad and Ad was a treat. Best weather night of the summer so far. Unreal how that worked out. Many tall boys consumed and many Ottawa bat-stick rallies occurred, causing them to beat the Miners 8-2. 

Had a burger AND a poutine. Felt like a big, flabby fatty. Fuck it! The sun set with the green of the outfield casting us an emerald glow of youth.

We were kings for a minute. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summerspeed: July 12, 2017


I've been thinking about Rickles. It's hard to think of a comparable guy who could make the most composed people absolutely lose their shit with laughter. He deconstructed. He made the serious much less serious.

It makes me think about art. Why is art always so goddamn serious? Does it need to be? Don't we find the greatest moments of enjoyment from his bullshit ball of mud when we lose ourselves in a gut-tightening hot minute of whimsy? I think we do.

There are way too many people with no avenues for their anger. Racism is real. Social disparity is real. Hunger is real. Unemployment is real. Disgusting cowardly acts of murder are real. We all know that.

But why do we always try to fight the serious with more seriousness?

The sky is a thin-veiled grey-white today. I climbed the stairs at work and did push ups. I'm looking forward to a night in with Jillian and Sloan. She's calling.

I like these blog posts. It's a new type of brevity-writing, and it's less flowery for me. But a little more muddy and gutty.

Onward.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summerspeed: July 11, 2017


Here's Joel playing his first version of an album song. I saw him play this live at the Ale House in Kingston (now defunct) on September 30, 1999. I was there with Brendan Lorimer. Twas great and a truly ear-bleeding evening once the band kicked in.

The haze of strange dark summer clouds still pervade the skies of the Cap City corridor. This is actually yesterday's post that I'm writing today.

I walked to Lone Star for lunch and seriously enjoyed the hell out of a fish taco and some free salsa and chips. God. It tasted like pure heaven. I was ravenous.

After dinner, my old pal Mark Richardson came over and met Jillian and Sloan. That was a real treat. Mark and I were born on the same day in the same hospital. We don't always stay in touch, but when we do connect, we have good in-depth discussions. It's good. I wish him well on his new adventures to Chile with his family of three!! Cameron, Jack and Bea(trice). Wow. I can't imagine having more than one - let alone carting them across the continent! Mark and I almost got hit by a taxi when we walked to his car. Fucking crazy drivers.

It was a hot sleep after a few craft brew. And that was that.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Summerspeed: July 10, 2017

It's a Monday. It's been weirdly dark and cloudy all day with a front hanging over the city. Had a Wild Wing salad with my dad, and pickled willy's. The parking in our hood has been nuts because of Bluesfest. This is a lull time for shows, so I'm hoping a daily entry will slow down the summer.

"I don't want to become everything I despise" - Rivers Cuomo.

Pretty basic day. Went for a coffee run with my dad and we stuck behind a losery Honda CRV driver who had a bumper sticker that said 'if you're going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair'. I'm blessed to have a workspace with my dad where I can promote and work on different projects. I need to do more social media for my dad, though.

Gonna hit up farm boy and a bra store with J and S tonight. BIG party!

Looking forward to working on some songs later this week. I need to get a pickup put in my Sigma, and to have that classical in my folks basement set up.

Sun might be coming out. Weezer's 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End' is a work of art.

Also - I think I might really like Mac Demarco.




Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Kenny Rogers Summer-Speed




"We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing."

-Charles Bukowski


I feel a need. The words have to come and the busy outside world needs to hear my inside thoughts. Even if they die on the doorstep of introspection - they will die in the daylight. Too often I see the silence of good and creative friends as their lives dwindle by. They speak of projects that stay in the shed and barely get breathed on. They talk of should haves and would haves, but the worldstorm rumbles and crashes on, and ruthlessly waits for no one. It breaks hearts and necks, simultaneously.

Soon, seasons blend together and patches of years go by and nothing of consequence happens. Another day rockets by and another sleep closes the eyes of our intentions. Morning cracks and we are instantly rushed. We grow older and move into new stratospheres of age groupings. We calculate our chances. Our days. Our hours. Our seconds.

Our potential.

And yet, in the galaxies of our lost friends and broken relationships, people pay these thoughts no mind. They march onward in bare feet towards the dark, silent woods of the end. They make no booms - they sound no barbaric yawps. They live in their suburbs, and they water their lawns of sober saltless dinners.

The summer is speeding by with an epic Fox comet-tail style; it's a trend that is much talked about in the hot street-steam of the moment but will be long since forgotten upon the slow birth of winter.

Much like our lives.

My life and daily outlook has changed drastically in the past year and a half. I wasn't planning to venture down the road of parenthood when it happened. My gorgeous life partner and I weren't in a mode of hatching and planning and bullet-journalling where and when and how we would conceive a child. But it happened. The pregnancy happened. The birth happened. The hard late December and almost all of Janaury in a hospital happened. And now, she is here - with us. It's hard to picture life before this precious seed of a flowery shrub of a human came into the frame.

A few weeks back, I got to go see Kenny Rogers light up the Jazzfest stage with my dad. Kenny Fucking Rogers. The Gambler. It was a frozen moment in time for me, as my 71 year old dad and my 40 year old self stood watching a gold-voiced, cane-walking man whose vinyl releases warmed the floorboards and walls of our house for eons of time. My dad, who sang a lot in church, would sing Kenny's songs while the records played and he had most of the lyrics down to a T. I wasn't expecting to be as affected as I was, but both of us stood in a sunset Confed Hill park in sheer, buttery enjoyment of a man who still took the time to talk to audience members, tell jokes about Mick Jagger being '102 years old' and 'that damned Dolly Parton', and sarcastically push governmental concert goers to get a bit more animated and loose in their singing and involvement. For a 78 year old, Kenny sure had all of the fixins of a true Southern Gentleman who had novels of stories to tell, and buckets of trial-by-fire wisdom to share, and he can still sing decently - and to hear how his dream of music began by being inspired by the legendary Ray Charles.

The whole night was a reminder - a broken stinger in the skin of time. We are all moving on. The ports of past experience float away in our rearview as we ship off to new and foreboding and exciting destinations.

And it left me feeling hopeful - in the sense that we don't need a ton of time to make a mark. Everyone thinks about building a legacy. A gold watch. A degree. An RRSP. A company. An invention. But even in opening the door of a coffee shop for a sullen stranger, couldn't we make enough difference in that moment to make a ripple in the ponds of love and light?

I want to keep building. I want to keep opening doors. I want to help those around me.

I'm here to listen, and gather, and to walk beside you.




Friday, May 19, 2017

Sometimes, the world wins


Be still...wild and young.
Long may your innocence reign.

(*note: this is a post I started yesterday, but couldn't get around to finishing. As I type this, various species of birds are chirping in tall pines around the property of Jillian's parents place in the Haliburton Highlands, and my daughter is having a beautiful, side-span nap on our bed. I am doing my best to be rooted in the moment*)

Try as we might, and fight as we fucking fight, sometimes the world wins. We try to endure. We push on. We make healthy choices. We go to bed early. We do the things that we need to do. We raise families.

We do our best to cheat time. But in the end, we know that the bullet train is on the tracks, and we know that it is indeed coming.

But maybe we just need to take a moment, and Be Still.

Lately, death has been the theme that has usurped all of my social media feeds. To bring you up to speed, an international superstar/rock star, otherworld-talent, well-loved musician and front man (supposedly) killed himself at age 52 (Chris), and another local mutual friend, bagpiper, and sound engineer who did the lion share of recording on my new album died of cancer at age 40 (Tom). This all happened within 72 hours. Both of them left behind children and significant others. Though both deaths are very different in nature and scope, they are both fucking terrible storms of life that a select few will have to teeth-grittingly endure.

I suppose, in a way, I haven't taken to the emotional pulpit and scoured out a sentimental, loving-memory post for either - even though both people influenced me indirectly. I was a huge fan of Chris, and possess at least four of his albums and some of his solo works, and I spent time with Tom on more than one occasion, in both creative and recreational settings. He recorded most of the drums and guitars on my latest album.

I suppose I haven't done this because I've weathered something similar in my personal journey and past.

In March of 2013, a mutual friend, and amazing guitarist and musician (who I only had one conversation with) who was 34 (Jay) supposedly committed suicide while touring with a rock group in Edmonton. I had just finished spending 4 days with the band (Matt Mays) and shot some social media videos for them. That same August, a close friend (Dale) of my brothers and mine (more my brothers - mine through proxy and pub-chats) died of Leukemia at age 43 in his parents home in Maxville, Ontario. It was a tragic time, and a I was surrounded by a hotbed of fuck-this-worldness and I was newly separated. I was awash in a sea of rage and questions and alcohol. I dug deep in conversation around both tragedies. I scoured the earth for answers. I cried on lonely night drives. I feared death more than ever. I turned over every rock.

But in the end, I realized that the greatest healer was not drinks. Or weed. Or distraction. Creativity and physical activity helped, sure - and they served as outlets - but they weren't the end game. I could power out songs, and bleed out the words, and sing them aloud in my empty parents basement at the top of my lungs. That helped a bit, too.

But the greatest healer - the greatest effector - was Time. It was going to bed, and waking up, and gaining a bit more distance. It was being okay with bringing it up in conversation - even when you think it might 'bug' someone else. It was living life as I always had done. And it was also allowing others around me - including myself - to be exactly where we needed to be. And it takes time to get there.

And this was one of my greatest revelations in this time:

People need to feel however the fuck they need to feel. Too often, I see invisible hands all over the place that are directing folks in their emotional navigation,  and what actions and steps they need to take to get from A to B.

But I say fuck that and step back. Grief is a motherfucking demon, and it can manifest itself in whatever way it wants to. You wouldn't believe the array of emotions I saw among friends when Jay died - and at first, I'd think 'how can this person be so mad?! They were friends! Why don't they feel more sentimental or miss him more?!' or vice versa.

But If people want to crawl, we don't need pull them up and make them run - we need to let them crawl. If people need to sprint, don't stop them and make them slow to a jog - let them sprint. Because in the end, they will get there. We just need to be at the ready - and to be beside them - crawling, or sprinting, or walking with them.

The only thing I've been able to sort of equate death to (but it's still really obviously different) is like losing a friend; that person is no longer in your life. They are gone. For whatever reason or differences, your paths had to part. It's sad, and it sucks. There might be traces of them, but they're just gone. The joy that you once created together had to end. There never are easy answers, and you're left to sort through a lot of things alone.

But what you do have, and what no one can take from you, are the memories. Funny thing about us humans; we really have a way of pushing through the shit that happens in our lives (especially in relationships) and we tend to remember the good more than the bad. We are a resilient bunch. Much like Andy Dufresne talked about music while being thrown in the hole at Shawshank Prison, our memories are a place that no one else can get to. They can't be fucked with.

May those memories guide us all as we forge onward and make sense of the chaos and pain and hurt.

Laura Biddle works as a grief counselor, and has written some amazing passages online about dealing with grief and moving on.


"Hope, I believe, begins with acceptance. To accept the moment that IS, is a spiritual practice. This loss, this feeling, this emptiness, this sorrow, THIS despair is real for now. Acceptance takes time and attentiveness, time that urges us to be compassionate with ourselves, trusting that hope will emerge through the multitude of emotions no matter how painful they may be. Acceptance is a practice of living NOW, with trust that this is a time for grief and there will be a time of hope. From here, there is only forward, and forward is hopeful. Acceptance is the first step in restoring hope."



Too often, as we age, we wade through the shallow end of life. We don't dive in. We play it safe. And sometimes, we are afraid to share our real and honest emotions because we are worried that we might offend someone who is going through a hard time. We ball it up. We compartmentalize. I can't tell you how many people have said the shoulda-woulda-coulda (WSC) phrase in conversation with me - and these are people in good health, in their 30's and 40's.
'I should have taken this job.'
'I would have played sports in high school if my parents had let me.'
'I could have dated so-and-so but the timing wasn't right, and she'll always be the one that got away'.

Life happens all around us all the time. To live in a WSC state is to cheat life. It's putting yourself into a fantasy - an alternate reality. Fuck WSC. Sure - we can all feel that twinge from time to time- and that's normal - but it's the staying and swimming and living in it that is not normal. It's counterproductive.

My new friend Tariq wrote a great passage about hockey and life recently, and his words struck me. It was about his childhood hockey-watching experiences, and how the Sens recent run has conjured up so much more than just cheering for a team in the playoffs:

"Even as I sit here writing these words, decades later, my goose bumps are apparent. My eyes are wet. My heart rate is slightly elevated. And, after all this time, I still don't understand why I feel this way. The answer is pretty simple: Hockey is not life. WE are life. We breath emotions. We suffer pain and loss, we approach euphoria with the understanding that it could be taken from us in an instant. We consume joy like a drug. It's what keeps us going. It's what makes life worth living."


Feel how you need to feel, but never ever feel like you need to apologize for your emotions. Let the words out. Laugh hard and tell people you love them. Let your love howl into the evening air of your existence, and drink up the starry summer skies.

Because in the end, although it consumes a lot of our thoughts, I don't really think death is anything. It will happen. Henry Scott Holland would agree:

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!


All. Is. Well.


-Henry Scott Holland



Monday, May 15, 2017

The Vibe of the Journey



The exercise of writing takes vigor. It takes energy and want and desire and the slightest, needle-light-ray twinge of focus. It takes meditation.

I am out of practice.

Sure - there have been circumstances that have arisen in my life that have skiffed my feet to deviate from the original course - and that's alright. A gorgeous life partner! Switching jobs and homes. And towns. And the birthing of a beautiful daughter who needed extra medical attention the first month of her life. These things happen in life, and in no way do I feel that they've slowed me down - but they have just taken my laser-gaze away from my words. They are all things to be celebrated! It's a different phase. A new road.

But I'm getting hungry again. The storm of life is residing into a bit of a manageable trickle. I am finding myself again. Words are starting to come out, and I've even created the first new songs in about 5 months. Songwriting has always been a grounding force for me, and a therapeutic release. It's a process of dealing with a feeling or emotion or mind-state (anger, joy, sadness, reflection, future-vision) and putting those thoughts into forward motion and action as they leave your mind and hit the paper.

And no matter what joy and tribulation and testing and jubilation comes, I walk the road. The goal is perpetual motion. I want to keep learning and growing and getting better, and I feel that I'm on that course. Being a father of a tiny human being and the partner of a beautiful woman are part and parcel to that - and though both things happened in unexpected time zones - isn't that just life to a tee? We are never ready for when the beauty hits. It just comes in waves upon waves and takes us to where we need to be - as where we need to be and where we think we need to be are two very different destinations.

The spring has hit in pure, unrelenting sunlight. The flood waters of the Ottawa area are lowering. The bugs will be out in droves. I am looking forward to long walks with Olive the dog, and a frosty evening pint on a dusty, summer walk. I am looking to running through the forest in my parents neighbourhood, and under yellowed-streetlight tunnels in the downtown region. I am looking forward to the lake and time spent with family and friends. I am looking forward to see those I love change and grow and learn around me. I am looking forward to engaging my community and getting involved.

Let us live lives of meaning, freedom and trying - and not be like the cotton-mouthed folks of Bukowksi's words:

"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die.
"The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is This What You Really Want?



Lately, the tides have broken. I am washed into a new existence, and I truly don't even remember where the shore went. I feel very out in the open - exposed. Like a misshapen naked man in a dream full of his old classmates and teachers. I have, in many ways, lost my old bearings and the map before is new and different and wild and bizarre.

Having a child is a thing of inexplicable beauty - a thing of thankfulness and ultimate, deep, rich, colour-soaked joy. But it is also a test of every part of you. If there were ever any doubts about your character or your sticktoitiveness or your sheer ability to get things done, having a child will boil the bones of you over a flashpoint gas fire.

But once you push past the ghastly ghouls of your slacker past, and beat down your desire to sip fruity drinks by a pool all day and rake in residual cheques, there is a real and pure beauty.

There is a deep resounding joy. You see this tiny person, who was somehow/magically brought into the world by you and your significant other, start to grow. You see her change, and you watch as the innocent corners of her lips start to form a smile - and her eyes follow and widen. You hear her start to test her vocal chords and stretch coos into longer noises that are both cacaphonic and otherworldly. A baby really breaks the ethereal plane of who you are - who you used to be - and who you are going to be. Your consciousness is horse-kicked to the ceiling of the only room you've ever known, and then blasted 10 floors upward - breaking through layers upon layers of the insulation, framing and steel of your being.

And something strange also starts happening in other facets of your being; you start to understand your parents. The worry, the stress, the late nights, the concern - everything becomes less about you and more about your child.

Never has a song been more real to me than when I started listening to Sonic Highways by the Foos. I haven't loved everything Grohl and crew have put out over the years, but I've dug most of it - but when I heard I Am A River, it came out in the wake of knowing that Jillian was pregnant, and it chunked a resonant chord deep within my catacombs. When that riffy, strummy, feathery part starts at the apex, it gives me chills.

We grow up thinking that we are it - that the world begins and ends with us and us alone. There is no before and no after. But there is no greater wrecking ball to that thought than having a child of your own. You grow, and you change, and you watch this child change with you - and there is an epiphany and a fear that comes with knowing that we are really just vessels. We pass things on - and we leave. Not only did Jillian give birth to a being that will most likely outlast and outlive me, but this thing could also maybe/possibly one day give birth to another being of its own. Now THAT is some serious shit.

I am truly a river.
May the beauty and joy and fear and everything wash over me.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Just to Fuckin' Write



There have been comings and goings and runnings and walkings and christmas stockings. My life has been a run on sentence for months now, with little punctuation, and a lack of clear, concise thought.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that that is just the way these things go.

And by these things, I am, of course, referring to my recent departure down the road of parenthood.


I am a father.


Wow. Just typing those words gives so much sonorousness to their end effect.

This past Christmas season, everything changed in my life. And I truly mean everything. Words have more meaning. The minutes have more use than they ever have, and the seconds speed by in a firework post-smoke pop, more so than they ever have.

A tiny bundle of joy has joined the life of me and my glorious partner. While traveling somehow out of me, to conjoin and blossom in the body of my partner, who carried her around for nearly 9 long, arduous, joyous months, she shot out after many hours in a godlike moment of wonder and terror and joy. To see a child pulled and pushed out of a human being is an experience that is unlike anything else. You feel like you are watching a primordial ritual of sorts - something that a mortal should not be allowed to watch. Almost like ancient spirits pulling an animal out of a rock. It's beyond surreal. And I'd highly recommend it to anyone with the right amount of love and patience.


We lived on a precipice, and now, we are on the other side. We have reached a different level in the video game of life, and in doing so - we have unlocked many more beautiful, eye-jewelled levels to come. And we bash on through them together. And now, we are in the sweet, interesting, and sometimes painfully long hereafter. This state of being involves a lot of testing. A lot of movement testing and soft-shush therapy happens. It's the way. Sleep. Change diapers. Feed. Repeat. And somewhere in there, we do the same things (just without diapers...for now, anyways).


Thank you, God. Thank you, world. Thank you, Life. For all of it.



Monday, November 28, 2016

The Trembling Sigh




Dear reader:

Tonight is a night of solemn November sanctuary. It's a night of finding the verbal vibe. Recovering the lyrical laminar flow that Gord Downie spoke so passionately about in the 1995 Heksenketel vhs video that my brother owned. I hope you can forgive me, reader.

I've been vacant for a while in the department of detonative words. My word-wick has been trimmed, snuffed, shortened and even dampened by life circumstances.

In short, I just simply haven't had the fucking time. I worked all summer. All fall. With maybe two/three days off scattered here and there (and that's being generous), I scoured. I burned the midnight oil. I dug deep.

Since early May, my life has been on a beautiful collision course of change, joy, panic, bewilderment, elation and ultimate thankfulness. I don't know where the sleeps have gone. Road-rubber-trails burned between Ottawa and Haliburton. Sleepy kisses. Morning americanos. Sticky cups in cup holders. Fumbling for change.  Grunty drives with a car full of sticky kegs. Bread. Product pitches. Lead-boots on the pedal down Mitch Owens towards Boundary Road. One car down and one gained. Crazy backwoods Quebec festivals with metal-meathook pierced humans in the heat of midsummer. Veggie chilli. Late night lugtreads. But before I get into that...

In early May, I scored a cool, unique job with a local craft beer company. This was right around the time I trucked across the country in the Blue Butte with Ali McCormick (as her traveling sideshow guitarist) and her uber-unique partner Will (master of the roadwitch). And about 7 months prior, I had found new love with someone who, at the time, was a partner I had come to deeply admire. Now, though, many moons away from that strange and fateful early summer month, she is my only partner. My only world. A spoken understanding at Christmas in a dark, upstairs night in the pine-woods-laden dwelling of her parents cemented the everything of us. My partner for life. Or at least, we hope and dream and plan towards the idea of that being the case! And many events have led us to believe that is the case. As the glorious lady of light and I were living in a strange Manotick apartment, and I was running ragged all over the Ottawa valley region to set up counters and serve beer for this company to the pandering wherewithal of thirsty oglers, another opportunity surfaced for me to get deeper into the beer company. The distribution side presented itself to me, and I placed a hook in an acquaintance, and I took the line to the boat and jumped in. But it didn't work out.

It's not my deal.

And that's really alright. It is. As I move further to background, I see the beauty of Beau's for what it is, now - a young, burgeoning, green company with a lot of excited employees who are passionate about community and their solid, organic products that are pretty damned tasty and bring people together. Make no mistake - I will continue to promote and consume their products.

But I've taken on a new opportunity - here in my hometown of the Otown. The cradle of the 613. One that uses my skills and seems to be the right fit.

Yes. Another opportunity, yet again. The shifting sands of the job-life of Matthew McKechnie have altered yet a-fucking-gain. Life doesn't get easier at 40, folks. You truck on. But this one is close to home - close to family, and just maybe, it's one that I avoided for a long time. And one that I feared out of finality and longevity.

And that's that.

And though the road will wind itself through thickets of regret, sadness, and even embitterment, it's easy to get pulled down those safe and enticing pathways. Sure - I've got some bones to pick, as we all do - but in the end, bones end up in a graveyard. And anyone picking through graveyards has to have a few screws loose!

In a comedy special last year, Bill Burr talked about his religious background and touched on the notion of 'walking away' and 'letting go' of religion. He spoke fiery words of hellfire into a microphone, mimicking an amalgam of pastors - as he made the motion of the microphone getting further away, and the speaker becoming more muffled and distant.

He did this to illustrate the concept of letting religion go to find the better part of himself.

I'm letting go. I'm moving on.

Yet again. It's a pattern that I'm getting used to, and sometimes worried about - but it's a pattern that has saved and rejuvenated me many times, nonetheless.

When we settle, we settle with the dust. Settling looks different for everyone - there is no key. No navigational tool. No legend on the map. May you find what your settlement looks like, and avoid it at all costs.



I'm excited to be closer to my family, and to crack open the sky of this coming dawn.








Sunday, August 21, 2016

Beginning Of The End Of Summer


 I remember sitting at the waterfront with fellow staffers many moons ago, as a late teen, at Camp IAWAH. One of them was a lifeguard/waterfront head named Graham Thompson (who went by the camp name of Huck) and he was a few years my eld. It was about this time of year in 1994 or so, and the wind was really picking up and cutting through the elms and maples along the shoreline and we were wearing long sleeve shirts for the first time all season. He commented on the wind, as Wolfe Lake sported a few caps out in the middle. He said something to the effect of "ya feel that? That wind in the trees? That's the beginning - the beginning of the end of summer." I got a good song out of that. 

In my 39th summer as a human, there's something more metaphysical about this time of year. It seems to be symbolic of the rapid changes we go through, and the hyper-vivid images of our lives that project in the skies all too quickly over the treetops of our memories. While the dead heat of summer causes us to slow down, the late August wind picking up reminds us that nothing stays the same. We grow up. We get older. We work more. We let grudges go a little quicker. We feel pain in parts of our bodies that we didn't know existed. 

These days, I work a lot, I move fast and I rarely stay still. I work a lot for a craft beer company, and when I'm not doing that (which is almost never), I'm in a zone of stasis or movement. I'm not able to put the time in cultivating and fostering friendships that I would like - but that's for a good reason. I'm growing something. I'm building something. I'm lucky to have found a gorgeous partner who understands my shortcomings and who accepts me as I am - but who sees the best in me on a sun-earth-moon gravitational basis. We are not the same person, and it's not always easy and it takes a few scary conversations to find the destination, but we always get there. 

This summer has been a sea of humid smoke, product based conversations  and shucked empty 50 litre kegs. I have been by the water of Otter and Stormy on a few occasions, but I have been on the ground. Dukin' it. Carrying the loads. Doin' it. And doin' it (fairly) well. 

The fall is coming friends. The seasons don't stop. Friends might fade. Relationships may alter. But don't deny love. Let it poke its leafy head through your sidewalk heart. Stock up on what matters to you. Don't let the winds of rumours or regret avert your mighty ship. I must remember that as well. 

Good things. 








Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Another Summer, Another Step In The Bucket












Sitting here in a Saskatoon Starbucks on a beautiful June day, I know that I'm lucky. I do. Once again, I have hit the hammerhead cross-Can trail to serve as a hired gun for Ali McCormick, and to play a few of my own tunes along the way. Touring is a strange beast. I remember the first real tour I went on was with Joel Plaskett across Middle-Ontario as a social media video guy in 2010. I remember thinking that every town seemed so bright and different, and that it was a bit circus-y and wild, but I was in love with all of it. Every moment. Every venue. Every smell in every room. Every joke in the car.

A few tours later, both as a video guy and a musician, I feel a little differently about the big, bad beast of Touring with a capital snaggletooth T. It's a bear. It really is - and you don't even realize how tired you are until you sit somewhere. The adrenaline you gain from playing gives you a shot of superhumanity, but that few hours of power is counteracted by the stasis of the road. The waiting. The smell of a stale car and multiple people sleep-breathing. And even after you've packed and re-packed the car, there is never...NEVER...enough legroom. You notice the idiosyncrasies of your fellow travelers like you never have before - and it all gets a bit squirrely at times. But after you do it, you feel like you've been through something. You've cut your teeth on some kind of life test, and you form bonds that connect to the fibres of your very being.

I've been thinking more about existence more than I ever have in the last many months, and the endurance marathon that we all run in the wild, scuttling, careening ride of this life. And man - I have been through some shit! I have been through some dark nights of anxiety and worry and unrest. Struggle. Hardship. Brokenness. Divorce. Deaths - some young, some old - but all of them uniquely difficult.

And I'm also lucky to have been through the weird social dramas I've been through. Friend break-ups. Rumours. Gossip mills. People going their separate ways and allowing bitterness and negativity to run their anger machines. It's unfortunate that those passive-aggro cellar dwellers don't understand that if they don't do the work, and don't have the balls to awkwardly and nervously and PERSONALLY confront people in life, when shit gets weird, they are going to rot their existences away in a bitter exile. Because it will always be their worldview that wins - and 10 times out 10, the fault will never lay with them. The world will be against them. And it's sad. And you miss those people. And it sucks to have circular, cyclical conversations with those people, but it's the unfortunate road that some may take. Patterns are hard to break.

But I'm here - and lucky for all of it. To have been through those lulls and hurts and blows and lows - and to really be in a position to appreciate when things are alright - at least for the moment.

And I'm lucky to miss someone. Man, am I ever. And to somehow have digitally stumbled into the best person I have come across in this life, who is ready to embrace me and be embraced back when I get home after 12 days of travel is an amazing thought. I want to spend a day smelling her face and hair. It's tough to step in the bucket, and really commit to that fastball when it comes down the pipe. Nobody wants to swing hard and miss. But when we do take that step down the baseline, and take a massive cut - and we connect with that pitch - the result is pretty otherworldly. J and I are not waiting for anyone or any timeline - we are truly building a life together. And it's pretty damn brilliant.

Thankful.










website statistics