Friday, August 30, 2013

CopperDogs and Englishmen!






Paul McCartney Concert, Investers Field, Winnipeg, Canada/photo by Colleen
 Of Knights and Days in Winnipeg, Canada
                                   by Marie Jarreau
 
I’m quite sure that when young Paul McCartney traded in the trumpet, his dad had given him, for a guitar he had no earthly idea that he would one day be ‘knighted’ by the Queen of England for his contributions to humanity fueled by his music.
Growing up in the shadow of a Mulberry tree and singing in its breeze in a 1960s New Orleans suburb, I had no idea that I would one day be traveling to Canada to attend a concert by my ‘fav-Beatle’ Paul McCartney and in the same trip be presented with a Compact Disc (cd) of my own musical performance – which includes a cover of a favored Paul McCartney song.
 

“Life IS like a box of chocolates!”

 Hard to know what you're gonna get into!




The invitation to visit Winnipeg, Canada by my good friends Colleen and Kris, and to attend the McCartney concert came as the opening salvo to a myriad of adventures tastefully and efficiently scheduled into a one week trip.
It's intriguing to recognize how one thing leads to another! The adventure began with obtaining a passport with roughly three weeks to go before flight time!  Research for this effort uncovered a few family tidbits along the way that were quite surprising!
I’d never before done such begging, pleading, cajoling and championing of public workers as I did when presenting my application and requesting to be ‘bumped ahead’ of all the other people who needed a passport “right away.” As with many things in life there is a provision for us last minute aficionados, for an expedite fee – my passport might be done in time.
So with that extra fee, weeks of nail-biting, nightly phone conversations with the US State Department Representative regarding several administrative glitches (which are subject for a journal of their own) and even, in essence, a notarized letter from my mother ‘affirming’ that she had INDEED given birth to me on said date, - in said location, my passport arrived roughly 48 hours before my scheduled departure date!
An uneventful, restful flight took me to Grand Forks, North Dakota where I was met by Colleen and Kris. The two hour drive took us across the border into Canada through very flat, green prairie landscape. It felt quite nice, not at all like traveling into a ‘foreign country.’ It could have been Nebraska or Kansas or even parts of Northeast Oregon’s grassy plains; and the language was the same with an occasional Canadian "‘ey" thrown in for local flavor. 



 

“Legal ALIEN?”




     With attitudes I would NOT describe as enthusiastic - US and then a few yards down the road Canadian border agents ‘greeted’ us as we made that crossing. 
   Stern, official, direct and with cold probing questions: “Who are you? What are you doing here? Why are you coming into Canada? What is your relationship to one another? Are you bringing in anything we should know about?” the agents attempted to meter our true intentions for crossing the border. 
  Kris' attempts to warm the atmosphere with a bit of humor, didn't get very far.
      A wily “What’s up Doc?” might have been a more appreciated greeting from the border agents; but then I realized that these folks really do have a tough job and they don’t stand guard on the borders to serve as the 'Border Patrol's Hospitality Crew'. They are charged with the critical job of appearing to keep us all safe from those really negative, unhappy souls who might be out to do dirty, nasty things in either of our countries. So I am very willing to cut some slack for the Border Patrol Agents who probably just want to get home to their own families. I've often wondered, however, can we really watch every inch of ground along either border? Do the 'bad guys' only know how to cross the border at 'officially designated border crossings'?
Aren't they tough enough to cross through the burly woods??? Lets not talk about the border shared by the US with Mexico. Anyway, this blog is about "happy" stuff - but:
I wonder if any Border Patrol Agents have ever been ‘knighted?’

 

Autumn approaches
 Pickerel Lake /Photo by Marie Jarreau


The Air Of The CopperDog




           The first order of business upon arriving at Kris and Colleen’s home was a tour of CopperDog Studio where Kris has worked musical magic on my own and many others’ attempt to create the song that would be favored 'round the world. Of course he can only do so much with the material he’s given so we’re all still reaching for that star :o)  
        I think Sir Paul McCartney did find that formula so there's still hope for the next 'musical sensation,' whoever that may be.
     When Colleen and Kris have traveled to Arizona we’ve spent time fine tuning some songs and revamping others to include in a collection we hope will be well received by friends and family and anyone else willing to listen. I’d expected to see the finished product sometime in December, but they surprised me with a celebratory glass of wine and a finished cd of nine songs in decorative case and label near the stroke of midnight, shortly after my arrival!
This was all quite exciting for me and pretty much set the tone for the adventurous week ahead! I’d spent many years in amateur performances as vocalist and guitarist for anyone who would listen, for the sheer enjoyment of sharing the connection that exists between musician and audience. Now, after all those years - here was my voice and even some of my songs addressed and prepared, by one who knows the process, and recorded on a compact disc – just like a ‘real musician!’
Kris and Colleen had encouraged me from the beginning and provided the necessary motivation for me to want to do my level best at the music we worked on. On this night they seemed just as excited and pleased as I was about the completion of this labor of love.
The cd, titled Listen 2 The Noise (be sure to see the Cobblestone Muse blog entry for January 2013), played through CopperDog Studio’s fascinating sound equipment, (I hadn’t seen so many buttons, controls and tiny lights since the last radar air traffic control facility I’d worked in, years ago!) and the richness of the music nearly brought me to tears. The three of us stood in the dim light of the studio listening; savoring the sound, the wine and savoring the bond of friendship-through-music that had begun nearly two years ago. 





This is a photo image only.


Listen To The Noise!!!

      Three of the nine songs are original works written by Kris. He also provides the beautiful guitar work for all but one of the tunes on the CD. Two songs are my own originals that, for decades, lay hidden and virtually silent in my notebook of songwriting-attempts until the encouragement came to look to my own work for recording material. We’d done a few songs on a disc (Coming Into Focus) a year ago but somehow the dedicated work and rich quality of this one, Listen 2 The Noise, just had the feel of a more serious accomplishment.     The lineup of songs on the cd includes:
Fall At Your Feet, written by Neil Finn,
And I Love Him, from Paul McCartney’s And I Love Her
All In The Game, Kris’ updated arrangement of Sigman and Dawes' song, recorded by Tommy Edwards in 1958
Tell Me A Secret, written by Marie Jarreau
Touched By You, written by Kris Baldwin
One Step Away, written by Marie Jarreau, arrangement by Kris Baldwin
What Do You Know About Love, written by Kris Baldwin
Guilty As Charged, written by Kris Baldwin
The Look of Love, by Burt Bacharach, Peter White performance track
     I found it fascinating that part of the work on this not-for-profit effort was completed in Arizona and the rest completed by Kris at CopperDog Studio in Winnipeg, Canada. The world of music production has come a long way and Kris works to keep up with the technology.
 

Sir Paul McCartney Addresses His Subjects




The next evening, we had great seats in the beautiful newly opened (2013) Investors Field stadium, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League {Go Bombers! Remember the adversity overcome by the New Orleans Saints! They're wearing Superbowl rings now!}.
 The usual adjectives to describe impressive events just don’t say enough to cover my experience at the Paul McCartney "Out There" concert on Aug. 12, 2013, but let me just say I was pretty amped up when he began the strains of "And I Love Her" which Kris and I had covered on the Listen 2 The Noise cd!
To get a feel for the excitement of being elbow to elbow with some 31,000 other Beatles/Paul McCartney fans you can check out a number of YouTube posts by other folks who were there. Here’s one to start with:
I didn’t get any photos while at the concert. We didn’t think cameras would be allowed - but actually, I am quite glad I wasn't distracted from the beauty and excitement of just enjoying the concert. It was an indescribable experience. If you ever have a chance to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert - don’t hesitate, rather, make it happen soon.
There was no opening act, no intermission, and no breaks to eat up the time.  Sir Paul McCartney, with his band, performed the entire three-hour concert plus several encores non-stop. He showed us why the Queen of England chose him for 'knighthood' in 1997. But, c’mon, he is 71 years old. Better see him soon!  I’ve checked that one off on my ‘bucket list’!!
Winnipeg sure knows how to welcome a guest!!
 

Pickerel Lake Dew!




The rest of the week in Winnipeg was also filled with good company, great music and lots of it, fantastic weather and touring as much of the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada landscape as we could and still have energy to enjoy it. 
Colleen graciously handled most of the photo documentation for my trip (she is an accomplished photographer in her own right) and made sure I’d have those photo memories for years to come.
In the midst of dealing with an unexpected, extended - family health issue, Colleen and Kris made sure I was not left wanting.  Colleen and I traveled the two hours to their ‘cottage’ on Pickerel Lake where we all would spend several days boating, canoeing, conversing, singing and even fishing (I actually reeled in a feisty fat Walleye {or ‘Pickerel’ depending on your geographical upbringing} which we quickly released back into its lovely clear-water environment – I still think the fish was planted, but Kris won't admit it - LOL!).
While Kris attended to some other issues in Winnipeg, Colleen and I had a chance to visit at the lake. We sat most of the afternoon on the dock conversing on a variety of subjects, listening to the loons singing on the water yet only coming close enough to tease the camera’s shutter.
Our conversation was fueled by the gorgeous day, the opportunity to do ‘nothing’ but enjoy each other’s company and maybe that ‘special’ Apple Cider she introduced me to!  Lovely stuff!
The next evening when Kris was able to join us at the lake, we sat on the boat dock at the cottage late into the night beneath a deep, dark starry sky! The Perseids were dancing! We were ready for one of the most popular meteor showers of the year. I was thrilled to get to watch a meteor shower from the Canadian landscape. At its best, the Perseids can produce more ‘fireball’ meteors than any of the other meteor showers through the year but our viewing time satisfied us with a pleasant handful. Had we stayed longer on the dock we might have witnessed more of the stellar shooting stars but we called it quits after finally counting nine bright shooters and a smaller meteor we agreed could bring our count to nine and a half. We’d already shared conversation that produced solutions for most of the world’s problems – if only we could get those memos out to everyone! And we’d waxed philosophically poetic about a variety of deep-thinker subjects, so with more adventures scheduled for the morning we decided the 'nine-and-a-half good Perseids' count was satisfactory for our evening of star-gazing.
I’ve always been an early riser. Even growing up in New Orleans I learned as a youngster that the ‘early bird’ gets to enjoy the most beautiful part of the day before it’s abraded by the noise and commotion of the later rising populace. On Pickerel Lake, making my way down to the dock even before the sun had fully risen to dry away the heavy dew I had the pleasure of viewing the wispy ribbons of morning fog skating along just barely above the surface of the water. Soon the sun would melt them away.

               
 Sunlight rising to the day
at Pickerel Lake
Photo by Marie
       One of Kris’ favorite ways of showing off Pickerel lake is with an early morning canoe outing while the water is still almost glass-calm, and the air crisp and clear but for the foggy ribbons gracing the lake - undulating across its expanse.
Early morning canoe outing on Pickerel Lake/ Photo by Colleen
I’d never been in a canoe before so listening carefully to his instructions I settled-in up front, paddle in hand and life vest intact, with Kris in the steering end.
It was another experience that leaves me searching for words lovely enough to share it in the literary sense: canoe at dawn, quiet water, pleasant weather; paddles singing a song in gently gurgling circles of water beside the canoe as we slowly glide along the shore; that shore lined with tall green conifers and thick understory of forbs, grasses and berry shrubs; silence and solitude - but for a few brief bits of conversation on, “How lovely is the morning!” 
 
Glass-calm water of Pickerel Lake/Photo by Colleen
The natural soundtrack of silence was punctuated occasionally with simple short bird calls. Golden sunlight painted the trees from mid-level to tops and disappeared into daylight as the sun rose to the day. I'd hoped to spot a bear but the chipmunk 'chunking' across a fallen snag on shore was just as welcome. Wish we could have canoed the whole lake, but we knew Colleen was waiting for us with her delicious breakfast of buckshot pancakes: stacks of delicate flapjacks ‘peppered’ with big fat blueberries - YUM!
If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘On Golden Pond’ you’ve seen Pickerel Lake, except that my experience included a more pleasant atmosphere, not so much 'drama' and much nicer company!
Kris and Colleen’s cottage at Pickerel Lake was also a cozy location to practice the music that we’d offer back at the Winnipeg house for a music filled evening planned for later that night.
Kris had acquired a 1940s-50s era stand-up chrome microphone reminiscent of the grillwork from a 1950s Cadillac, it would lend a special character to the music event.
 We used it to practice the tunes at the lake house and I marveled at the richness of the sound! Before leaving Pickerel Lake, I’d captured a new song about that pleasant environment: Pickerel Lake Dew’ will color my memories into the future.  

Photo by Colleen

What A Hoot!




Our Thursday evening music event took place on the patio at Kris and Colleen’s home in Winnipeg. A beautiful landscape there already, they set up a comfortable seating area just off the sound stage Kris had created for the musicians that would take part. His fellow band members, (SkyDrive performs for non-profit charitable events around Winnipeg) and several other musicians would take part in what Kris fondly referred to as the “Hootenanny.” I’d been introduced to most of the group on Monday evening at the home of fellow musician Ryan.
Ryan and Phyllis had invited us all to their home for dinner before the McCartney Concert.
       A true music lover, Ken who’d had a prior engagement, was missed at our Thursday evening gathering. He had joined us for the dinner and concert on Monday. As I understand Ken has been and continues to be of great technical assistance with Kris’ studio efforts and loves a good melody. Friendship between Ken and Kris and Colleen goes back a few decades. Though they joust with joking camaraderie, I sensed a mutual respect and a valued working connection between Kris and Ken, especially with their love of music, technology, travel and history.
As the festivities began Kris suggested I open the evening of music. He accompanied me on guitar of course; we were joined on stage by, master musician - Ryan also on guitar, and Richard - SkyDrive’s dynamic drummer.
Part of my rehearsal earlier in the day had been a bit shaky but as he’s done before Kris’ suggestion of taking a break and changing location for the rehearsal seemed to help me smooth things out and so at ‘showtime’ I felt quite ready and excited to offer to this group of good friends the music Kris and I had been working on for months.  





Jammin' with SkyDrive/Photo by Colleen
Ordinarily I might have been plagued with nervous tension at the thought of performing for these accomplished musicians and for other folks I’d only recently met. Interesting to me - I wasn't nervous at all. It was as if we were all just old friends gathered together to share the love of music.
We got through the four numbers we'd planned: And I Love Him, Guilty As Charged, Fall At Your Feet and Touched By You with me only forgetting a few words of one song - but ‘the band played on’ and I was able to get back into the groove. Our performance appeared well received and for the rest of the evening music flowed like the fine aged wine we also enjoyed.
It was great to get re-acquainted with Ken and Sunny. I’d met them last year when they visited at Kris and Colleen’s Arizona home, next door to my own. SkyDrive's drummer Richard with wife Bev, and vibrant vocalist Suzanne, with a friend of her's - Bernice, also offered me that warm Canadian welcome. I was looking forward to hearing their great musical contributions to the evening and was not disappointed.
Other folks joined the gathering as the evening moved on: vocalist Garth, and Stephen (another SkyDrive member) with his wife, Dee.  During the 'Hootenanny' Stephen danced around the stage area with the big 'doghouse' double bass adding those rich undertones to the evening's melodies. Garth offered even more vocal energy to the tunes driven home by Kris, Ryan and Richard.
Others joined the stage and offered tunes of their own. SkyDrive vocalist, Suzanne did several energetic numbers that hinted at the group's success as a stimulating Winnipeg ‘dance band’.  She and I joined forces for a couple of vocal numbers, I enjoyed the energy she brought to the stage.
The highlight for me was Ryan’s rendition of Man of Constant Sorrow (from Oh Brother Where Art Thou) toward the end of the evening. Kris and I served as animated-Appalachian style backup singers for that number and I enjoyed the opportunity to do something so different and fun! Ryan's gold toned voice lilting out the strains of that Appalachian standard sounded as though it were playing straight from the film’s soundtrack! What a talent.
Kris' "Boomer Song" relates to the 'baby-boomer generation' when we were just a bit younger always gets a crowd cheerful and reflective on the ‘good old days,’ and it did just that :o)  "Who-wudda-thunk-it!"
Next door neighbors, Allen and Marianne, stopped by later - not to complain about the 'Noise' - they seemed to enjoy the company and music, like the rest of us.
Colleen documented much of the event in photos while also serving as attentive, classy hostess throughout the evening.

Touring ‘The Peg’




         On several occasions Colleen and I spent time touring sites around Winnipeg: the Forks, museums, the planetarium, gift shops, farmers market, the river front (you can’t get down there during the annual spring floods!), the Legislative Building with its ‘Golden Boy’ perched on top, even the famous intersection at Portage and Main – now I too, can say, "I’ve been there!"
My culinary adventures included an introduction to Sushi – yum! Love that ‘Tiger Tail!’ and dinner at East India Company with Colleen and Kris, Kate and Scott. It was yet, another delicious evening. Both sushi and east indian cuisine were new to me. Both fantastic and the owner of East India Co. was so gracious and welcoming; the atmosphere there intriguing yet comfortable; and the food varied, aesthetically appealing and enticingly delicious! 

The 'Quest'




Mornings were always pleasant and laid back as we recouped and regrouped from the day before, sometimes discussing world events, or local events or planning the next event over the morning ‘cup’, often with a song or a guitar practice tossed into the mix. Evenings were equally pleasant and unpretentious, as a change of activity Kris and Colleen suggested one of their favorite movies.
I had not been familiar with ‘Galaxy Quest.’  I cannot remember when I've laughed so hard at a movie that my jaw hurt!! It is now definitely in my own list of Top Ten favorites. If you haven’t seen it – DO! You’ll really get the most out of this satirical film if you are / or were a Star Trek fan. Don’t expect Leonard Nimoy, but do expect copious amounts of side splitting, tear spitting laughter!
I’m quite sure there are things I’ve left out of this journal simply because there were soooooo many exciting, interesting, pleasant experiences that occurred through the week – including my bunkmate, Hope. Hope is a lovely little black and white cat, who slept in the loft above my bed. Each night she’d come in to put herself to bed. I’d ‘hoped’ to get a picture of her as she climbed the tall ladder to her loft, but each time she was just too stealthy and fast.
Her sister Lily, is a snow white feline who has been in the household for many years. Colleen says Lily's days are numbered now due to age and health issues but Lily actually seems to be revving up another one of those nine lives cats are supposed to possess.




Danny's favorite place in the world
seems to be Pickerel Lake/Photo by Marie

The youngster in the house is Danny. He's a beautiful standard Collie, and the spittin' image of 'Lassie.'  Danny is still young enough to cause his 'mum and da' a concern or two over the occasional, "What's he eating now?" 

 

Air Of The CopperDog ll




         With completion of the ‘Listen 2 The Noise’ cd Kris had already begun planning for the next one, along with various SkyDrive and other projects.  
         Before my departure date we’d done the initial recording of another of Kris’ original songs (Waiting For A Miracle) slated for next year’s cd project. The day I was to return home to the US there was time for more guitar-playing and song-singing just for the joy of it as we sat on the porch at CopperDog Studio basking in the remnants of a Winnipeg rainstorm from earlier that morning.
        It was just one more chance to share the music and share philosophies on why we love music and what music does for our sense of well being.
 
  My experience of the Knights and Days in Winnipeg is one I’ll always cherish.

                       Tri-Hull from Pickerel Lake/photo by Marie
 
         

                                              


                                                               
“Thanks C and K!”