Hi everyone, Mike here.
It seems that its been a while since we posted here.
A long while. According to this blog, poor Leah has been painting that door for nearly two years!!
In truth, that door has long since been painted; we’ve been so busy doing things, some fun, some not fun at all, that we just sort of neglected to write about the stuff.
Ok so, lets see..last post was in September 2013.
October saw us ramping up preparations for our first house concert. Aside from finishing up a few light reno/upgrades, the big thing was cleaning. How do two people with full time day jobs clean a giant church? Every day, for a week, that’s how. Some of the fixtures presented challenges:
I also got to design and install our sound system, which was pretty fun. I used an old A/V cart that was left behind and modified it to hold the front of house system. I also set it up so it can be wheeled all around the sanctuary, so its easy to use for recording and practicing too!
So on a cool November evening, after much prep, and even more worrying and fretting, we welcomed Karyn Ellis and Kim Beggs for our first concert. I don’t believe I have ever taken on a project as big as this whole “lets live in a church thing”, but I also have never experienced the the payoff of seeing the fruits of our labour so intensely. Every cursed stroke of a paint roller and bruised thumb from a poorly aimed hammer evaporated instantly once the music started.
So, having passed the hurdle of hosting our first concert, we began working on the next 4. At the same time we began what would be a very difficult year.
In the spring of 2014, my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and had been undergoing treatment. We received word in March of 2015 that his condition was terminal and we would only have a matter of months with him.
During this time, and between weekly trips to and from Sudbury to visit my family, we were able to host Brian MacMillan and Scott Cook. Two of my favorite songwriters, performing in our house. If that’s not comforting at a time it was needed, I don’t know what is. You may remember from the last post (the one from two years ago) that I recorded a short video of me playing one of Scott’s songs (easily one of my favorite songs of all time). I have also been playing with recording the audio from the concerts, mainly as a way to stream it online so my family up north could take part. I haven’t had a chance to do a whole lot with the recordings yet, but you never know. I did however get to put this together with some pictures of the concert:
Despite my father being stronger than I could ever imagine, he lost his fight on June 4th, 2015, with his family by his side. I knew he was in pain, but he never complained, he just wanted more time.
During the crazy months driving back and forth to Sudbury, we did have some other excitement. We had an unexpected house guest, who decided to move into the ceiling. Squirrels can be cute, from far away, and definitely not when they are chewing their way into your house higher up than any ladder you own. We had to hire a pest control company to come and convince them to move, but it seems to have worked.
The other exciting thing that happened was Leah and I got a little camper. A vintage 1972 Serro Scotty Gaucho. It’s has some quirks, but we love it. We aren’t really the giant camper types, but its nice to have something that will fit in a parking space, and the table is big enough for some rainy day boardgames. This is going to be our home for a few weeks this summer for sure.
After losing my father, we were in need of some musical therapy. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long. Aside from a busy season of festivals, we still had three concerts to go in our own house before winter took hold again.
We started in late June with a great concert from our friends Shawna Caspi and Allison Brown. We learned a valuable lesson about scheduling and long weekends. Despite a relatively light crowd, we got a great intimate show. Followed by a wonderful day at the beach!!
A couple of months later we welcomed our friends Karen Morand and Manitoba Hal. We did some touring with Hal on the east cost a few years ago, so we were looking forward to hosting him in our house. The life of a touring musician being what it is, Hal was working his way back from British Colombia on the train, which, due to a derailment out west, was not running on time. Not to worry, Karen played a little longer, we had a nice meet and greet, and just in the nick of time, Hal came roaring in, plugged in his pedalboard, and before catching his breath, played one of the best sets I think I’ve ever seen. Sometimes that’s the thing about stress, if you can focus that energy just right, it can make for amazing results.
For our last concert of 2014, we snagged Gathering Sparks, essentially a supergroup with Sam Turton, Jane Lewis and Eve Goldberg. Between the three of them, there are more than enough songs and talent to make a whole season of concerts. It still amazes me that we get to host performers of this caliber in our own home. The joy we get sharing it with our friends and neighbours, and the satisfaction of giving the performers a positive experience, makes all the hard work worth it.
With our last concert of 2014 completed, we went back to focusing on our normal day to day. My mother is moving down to SW Ontario, so we spent the winter looking after her new home. Lots of board games and hot chocolate during the cold winter months .
Oh and music, more music too. Leah spent most of the winter planning and writing and planning some more, and in a few weeks will be recording her second album, right in our own house!! This is another of the dreams we had when we started this adventure, and to feel it coming to fruition is wonderful.
Aside from Leahs upcoming album, Manitoba Hal stopped by for a few weeks in March, and spent some time with a recording setup upstairs.
The music in this video is the result of some of these sessions.
Also, I’m learning to fly.
So that’s about it. Sorry for the long post, but its been two busy years, hopefully we’ll be able to update more frequently.
In the meantime, look at this page, it seems relevant too!!