Favourite things Josh Forbes heard in 2018
In the fall of 2015 I was, let’s say, medically retired from my full-time job as a professional driver due to struggles with a diagnosis of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Being unwillingly “retired” meant I learned very quickly that I needed something to do or I would lose my mind. Over the next couple of years I dove into writing poetry and short stories to exercise the brain and fill my time. However, come the spring of 2018 I was looking for something new – a new way to stretch that muscle between the ears. That’s when I answered an online ad for volunteer writers. I didn’t know what I was getting into as the initial ad was rather vague in its description.
When it was explained to me that I would be writing about folk and world music, I thought, “What the hell is that? What is folk music? What is world music?” To me, it was something stuck in the past. Folk music was Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, the Mamas and the Papas. And world music. Is that even a thing?
[Roots Music Canada managing editor] Heather [Kitching], the woman responding to my emails, was certain I would enjoy writing for the site and told me they could be very flexible and accommodating in whatever timelines I needed to work under. You see, with my MS, there are not only physical limitations but mental and cognitive impairments as well, and these can alter in severity from day to day, fluctuating quite drastically. Some days I can struggle to put words and sentences together let alone write a complete article. Some days, fatigue holds me so tightly I struggle to function at all. Even today, I am writing this year in review piece on my phone as my fingers are no longer agile enough to type on a keyboard. I use a swipe function to type so apologize if any autocorrect mistakes make it through my edits and into the final copy. As I continued to explain my many concerns, Heather put my mind at ease, and in early June, I wrote my first review.
One of the many highlights of 2018 was being able to cover the Calgary Folk Music Festival for Roots Music Canada. Before I became a contributor for the website I had already signed up to be a volunteer at the festival. So I had the unique opportunity to attack it from three different perspectives. First as a volunteer, second as a media person, and third as an attendee with a disability. I think the highlight of my festival was taking my 12-year-old son with me and experiencing everything with him. Introducing him to the many wonderful different genres of music out there has been a goal of mine ever since he was born.
If I had to pick my favorite album release of 2018, I think it would be a tie between John Wort Hannam’s Acres of Elbow Room and Colter Wall’s Songs of The Plains. These are two wonderfully different artists who are both masters of their craft. John Wort Hannam was somebody I had never heard of before, a new-to-me artist whose album has been a constant in my headphones, as Daisy (my dog) and I have scooted around the neighborhood every evening. Colter Wall is someone I have been a fan of for a couple of years now, and I was thrilled to get to write about his latest album as well.
A telephone interview I conducted with Cara Luft of the Small Glories was an absolute thrill of an experience as well. One of my favorite perks of this “job” is getting to rip back the curtain and try to see the inner workings of an artist. Cara and I must have talked for close to 90 minutes – about her time growing up in Calgary, her early roots as a folk artist, her time with the Wailin’ Jenny’s and, of course, her current work with The Small Glories. Cara was incredibly forthcoming with her answers and so easy to talk to that,in the end, the article was incredibly hard to write. I had way too much content, and editing it down to a workable article I found was incredibly hard to do.
The article I wrote on Buddy Wassisname and the Other Fellers would be at the top of my favorites as well. Being allowed to reminisce and talk a little about a group that has been a favorite of mine for nearly thirty years was fabulous. I don’t have many opportunities to talk about my favorite Newfie/folk/comedy group of all time, and I relished every minute of it.
As I look forward to 2019 I’m not sure what the year holds in store for me. I try to take everything one day at a time, as I never know what will happen or when my MS might throw me another curveball. I hope there are plenty more walks (on my scooter) with my little dog, Daisy, through the park listening to and writing about wonderful new or old artists, as it is something I have come to cherish.
To all the Roots Music Canada readers out there, I wish you good health and happiness in the New Year.