How’s everyone doing out there? July 21 edition
This was supposed to be the June 19 edition of How’s Everyone Doing Out There, but due to a WordPress glitch, we just realized it didn’t publish! So here is this week’s belated edition.
The summer is a time when artists, fans and industry people would normally be gathering at summer festivals and catching up after months of not seeing each other. That’s just one part of the summer festival experience we’re missing out on this year, but we’ve decided to do something about it here at Roots Music Canada. We’ve started calling up friends and colleagues in the music business to see how the last few months of have gone for them. We’re featuring clusters of their responses in these columns. So without further ado, here is this week’s edition of How’s Everyone Doing Out There?
Kate Reid – Queer singer-songwriter, educator and academic
“Luckily for me, my work life hasn’t been drastically impacted by Covid,” Kate said. “[M]ostly, I haven’t been gigging steadily for a number of years because I have been a full-time graduate student since September 2016.”
Kate did lose a couple of scheduled house concerts due to COVID-19 and a booking to give a keynote address for Bluewater District School Board’s annual Gay Straight Alliance Conference. But she was able to do a show with one of her major influences, Ferron, right before the wave of cancellations hit.
Over the past few weeks, she’s done a couple of online shows and an online book launch at the Ginger Press Bookstore in Owen Sound for a book called: 20/20 Hindsight: Being Gay in Bruce and Grey: Reflections on Decades of Change.
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It’s a collection of stories written by LGBTQ2S+ elders in Grey and Bruce Counties in Ontario about how inclusion has evolved over the years, while homophobia and transphobia persist in certain ways, Kate explained.
The stories were collected and edited by activist and former school teacher Joan Beecroft, and Kate wrote the introduction.
Beyond that, Kate really used the spring to focus on completing her doctoral dissertation, the research for which she had finished prior to quarantine.
“The quarantine was actually a little helpful to me because it meant that all social obligations and some conferences I had planned on attending in May and June were cancelled,” she said, “and this allowed me to focus on my writing and get my dissertation finished and submitted. And on June 25, I defended my dissertation called ‘Music to our Ears: Using a Queer Folk Song Pedagogy to do Gender and Sexuality Education’ and completed my PhD!”
Now Kate has just started a post-doctoral research position at York University, where she is part of a team that is investigating how musical arts programming promotes and supports the well-being and belonging of newcomer refugee children in the GTA.
She also helped organize the Radical Artists and Activists Against Racism (RAAAAR) concert stream on Saturday to raise money for anti-racism work.
That event has so far raised more than $6,000.
Proceeds from the show are being donated to the Black Legal Action Centre; Raven Trust, and The NAACP Legal Defence Fund.
Louise Taylor – fan
Louise works in social services, so let’s just say, she’s not short of work right now – though her job has shifted to work-from-home so she has more time to enjoy music, she said.
“Even pre-Covid, going to live shows and listening to new music has been what kept me sane (relatively),” she said.
When the pandemic hit, she set out to try and help artists by contributing to tip jars, buying tickets to streaming concerts, ordering merchandise, and directly donating to artist where she could.
“I looked at it as a way to give back to the music community because I feel like the musicians have given so much to me,” she said.
“I have been really fortunate in being able to find new music from artists I may never have heard of otherwise because they wouldn’t be likely to tour here.”
The music she’s really enjoying right now includes the new releases from Ken Yates, Peter Katz, Richard Inman, Kellie Loder and Poor Nameless Boy and Tuesday night livestreams with Ron Hawkins from the Lowest of the Low.
She has also taken up learning guitar, which she said gives her a whole new appreciation for artists’ talent.
“There were free lessons being offered online so I dug out an old guitar and started,” she said. “I’ve already upgraded to a better guitar. I can’t say my talent has upgraded, but as they say, I suck a little less than yesterday… most days”
Louise is normally a very social person, she said, but she’s learning to appreciate the solitude of pandemic life.
“I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life, since that’s the safest way to socialize in person outdoors,” she said.
“I do miss the sharing of music in person. There’s a line in a Blair Packham song that talks about ‘wondrous communion shared in music.’ It really is a beautiful thing to share that with other people. You start off a show as strangers, and as the evening progresses, you realize you are really enjoying being with these people. “
Raphael Geronimo – Band leader, Rumba Calzada
“I have been doing okay,” Raphael said. “We started recording a new album in 2019 for Rumba Calzada. But since Covid hit, it put everything on hold.”
Raphael’s bandmates are all older musicians, and some have medical conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19, so they’re not taking any chances, he said.
In the meantime, Raphael has been working on the album with a Filipino musician living in San Fransisco who put together nine old classic traditional Filipino tunes but with a Latin/Afro-Cuban twist, he said.
“So I bought a new Mac Book did all the percussion using Logic Pro X and had to learn how to record in small spaces, living rooms, an apartment, my sister’s bedroom, small music studios all here in Vancouver and sent all the tracks using Dropbox. Now that I’m done, I am using my new skills to work on my new Rumba Calzada album.”
Raphael is hoping that the band can start rehearsing again in August or September and be back in the studio October or November, but he recognizes that the pandemic might have other plans. Like most people, he has struggled with the emotional impact of that uncertainty.
“The emotional part is the hardest in the mornings getting up,” he said. “With no gigs to look forward to and ‘fuel my creativity’ or ‘inspire me to continue,’ it is deflating for me. I need to push myself to make a coffee and push myself to the studio and start work, then everything starts to feel better once I start hitting the drum.”
“I do see this type of hardship or sense of loss in Facebook amongst other musicians,” he continued. “but now, as gigs are slowly starting, they are getting happier. I know for me I just need to start creating music and it quickly changes for the better.
If you’d like to check out that album of adaptations of traditional Filipino songs, it’s by Chris Trinidad. Watch for the new album by Rumba Calzada later this year or sometime in 2021.