People seemed to respond to my Myke from A to Z post so I’ll delve a little deeper into things, people and places that have inspired me and changed my life for the better.
DB – I met him through his writings in a magazine for family entertainers. His articles on humour, entertainment and musical parodies struck a chord with me and confirmed that I was not alone in not wanting to accept mediocrity in entertainment. He was articulate, opinionated and able to support his opinions with experiences and examples from other entertainers. His song parodies were insightful, funny and spot on. I started corresponding through letter with him (pre-email days) and continued the correspondence until our paths crossed in the late 1990s.
At some point, our conversations really connected and he invited me to perform with him in 2000 as we shared several musical influences in common. This came about at the perfect time, as I was seriously reconsidering my life as a musician and entertainer as I really had lost any interest in performing. Somehow, he saw something in me that I did not see in myself – he still does to this day and I thank my lucky stars for his honesty, his refusal to let me settle for the lowest common denominator and his constant kicks to the rear. I am forever indebted to this man.
DM2 – A local Christian family entertainer, DM2 represents the kind of spiritual individual who practices and lives what he preaches. While we don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of things, he understands that different people have different views and he is willing to hear them out before adding his two cents. This is precisely what he has taught me: to listen with an open mind and an open heart before filtering through my views. He has also taught me that true Christians will NOT pass judgement on their friends; they will love and pray for their friends and people they hold in high regard, regardless of their beliefs, politics or personal situations.
He, again, welcomed me to Hamilton as a friend, clown and brother. He supported me through thick and thin and is constantly popping by for coffee, conversation and just to check up. Much like DB, DM2 seemed to have seen something in me that I never saw within myself and has provided me with inspiration to become a better person.
DM2 is a true rarity – a non-judgemental, non-preachy, open-minded and forgiving Christian. This man lives what was taught in the New Testament. More Christians can learn from him as I, a spiritual humanist, have! I am forever indebted to this man.
MK – I first discovered his music reading a guitar magazine and was intrigued by the description of his first CD. I immediately went to Sam the Record Man’s on Yonge St. in Toronto and looked for it, happily purchasing it, forgoing my lunch for two days in return. I was astonished, shocked and amused by the music that flowed, ranging from vignettes that were mere seconds long, to a full-tilt multi-tracked monstrosity of a country-western epic named “Lightnin’ Roy.”
I wrote my first and only fan letter to MK soon after and began to explore the music he recommended in his reply, starting with his work with Frank Zappa on the 1998 tour. We have since continued our communication and he still refers to me as his “first Canadian fan.” He has also helped me with gear issues, hooking me up with a cool guitar company as an artist. I am truly honoured by his assistance and support.
He continues to explore his world musically, including having written a symphony as well as toured with bands large (up to 8 pieces) and small (the classic rawk power trio). He has backed other guitarists on both guitars and keyboards. I eagerly anticipate the next adventures he brings me.
The Hopi People – in university, I was afforded the opportunity to first study the Hopi tribes and, later, to work with them on their land. I learned about their culture and respect for all life and the land they lived on. They view their land as sacred and their agricultural work is an important part of their culture and, in fact, part of their religious practices.
The word Hopi is a shortened version of their full description Hopituh, Shi-nu-mu; meaning the peaceful people or peaceful little ones. It is defined as “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite and adheres to the Hopi way.” Sounds like a way to live one’s life, doesn’t it? The teachings and culture of the Hopi people changed my views dramatically and have influenced my views on man’s connection with each other and the world itself.
The Residents – Yes, the unclassifiable musical group/art collective from the San Francisco Bay area. Best known for wearing tuxedos and eyeball head masks, this group has shown me that given a distinctive artistic direction, despite the choice in medium, it is possible to eke out an existence, while maintaining your integrity and individuality.
The sheer mutability and reach of this group (music, visual art, performance art, video, multimedia, computer software, interactive media) has inspired me to continue along the paths I have trodden since grade 8 – for better or worse. I never cease to be impressed, shocked, astounded by each new project and journey this eclectic group of artists sends its fans and followers on.
Hamilton, Ontario – My adopted home town and base of creative operations. Hamilton has the reputation of being a ne’er-do-well dying city, due to its industrial roots and close proximity to Toronto. It has been through some tough times recently, with recent closings of factories, historic businesses and industries going bankrupt or moving and the recent protracted lockout of steelworkers. These factors combined with a historical focus on growth and development of the outskirts of the city and ignoring the downtown core since the 1980’s, have led to the near devastation of the downtown core.
Yes it is gritty, yes it is edgy, yes it is tired and worn looking in areas. However it has provided a place where creative industries can afford to operate and the people who work in these industries can afford to live. When I moved to Hamilton ten years ago, I was at a creative impasse and was focused more on my “day job” than anything else. I was also in the early stages of a relationship with DH, whom I continue to love and respect dearly – I look forward to a lifetime with him. Toronto’s art and music community seemed so closed and close-knit and I could barely make my knocks at the door heard, let alone be let in to the “club.” Hamilton’s doors are open to new voices and visions and welcome outsiders of all stripes – including confused, unhappy musicians with a strong need to express himself through his music, words and visual art.
Durham, North Carolina – DB lives in Durham and has provided me shelter and sanctuary on a number of occasions. His home is a place of creativity, art and spirit that always spurs me to greater heights. On a greater level, the Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill area is a center of creativity with a welcoming community. Since my first visits, I have met a number of musicians, artists and artisans, all of whom have welcomed me into their community and provided me with another “hometown” where I can express myself as a musician, performer and visual artist.
Sedona, Arizona – The first place where I felt truly at peace in the world as an adult and individual. On a class trip with the university, after a long day of travel (delayed flight, van rental troubles) one of the professors dragged a bunch of his students to go on a back road trip with him to head to Sedona and see the sun set over Oak Creek Canyon. We grumbled as all youth would, however when the sun began setting over the canyon and the lights of Sedona below began to show, I felt at one with the world, it was a truly magical moment that I will always remember. Photographs could never capture the beauty of the sun setting over the fall leaves and red rocks.
It wasn’t until later work with DH did I understand about the energy vortexes and spiritual epicentre that Sedona represents. Since that first visit, I know that when I visit Sedona, the same feeling always returns and I will be at ease, creative and at my best.
So that is a good start for now. I will now return you to my usual meanderings on food, coffee and bitching about crummy music!