Friday, May 15, 2009

Play It Forward

One of the things that made me proudest of being a Barenaked Lady was our commitment to helping others. Together, we developed a reputation for compassion and dedication to causes near to our hearts. We helped local charities, arts groups, pitched in when there were health or political crises, and always had a great time doing it. It's a great thing to be able to contribute what one does for a living to a great cause. I've been happy to see that my pals in BNL are continuing this tradition with shows to benefit causes such as cancer, literacy and music education (and a tasty ice cream to boot).

I was thrilled to be invited to participate in a few benefit gigs myself lately, and it seemed to make for some fitting first live appearances post-BNL. A couple of weeks ago I played at People For Education's Telling Tales Out of School gala. At the last minute, Jian Ghomeshi cancelled as the host, and I was asked to host it as well. It was a great event for a great cause. PFE have been working tirelessly for years to advocate on behalf of public school students and their familes here in Ontario, and with three sons in the public system, and as a graduate myself, I was more than happy to help out.

Then, last week, I played a set at the fundraising party for the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation in Central New York. I've gotten to know Central New York pretty well over the past couple of years, and Caz is a beautiful little enclave set around a lake. The Foundation has done a great job of maintaining the village vibe as well as warding off the behemoth likes of WalMart et al, ensuring that their community doesn't die the same bleak death of so many other parts of the state/country/world. Driving along Erie Blvd in DeWitt and East Syracuse can be pretty depressing sometimes (goodbye Arthur Treacher, goodbye Krispy Kreme, goodbye Batteries Plus, goodbye Goldberg's Furniture, goodbye Emerald City Video and on and on), so good on 'em. And besides, I thought it was damned nice of them to ask me to play their event. It would be easy for a lot of people in that area to treat me like a pariah, but instead, they've treated me like a friend and neighbour. Even if I spell neighbour the Canadian way. The party was in an airplane hangar, surrounded by vintage aircraft and motorcycles, and when I showed up, the party was in full swing and people were having a blast. They welcomed us, fed us, and sang and danced to the music. There is some bizarre YouTube footage of it, complete with dancers who look like fresh-caught fish flopping on the dock, and a man in a loud madras jacket who looks like he's checking his blackberry until the camera zooms in and you can see he's singing along. Thanks to everyone there for a great night!

On top of those shows, a bunch of other concert announcements for this summer have ben trickling out, so I figured I'd better consolidate them here. Folk Festivals are a huge part of the summer here in Canada, and I have great memories of playing at them, as well as attending them (my Dad was the Chair of the Mariposa Festival when I was a little kid), so I'm trying to hit as many of them as I can this year:

July 4 Mariposa Festival, Orillia, ON
July 10/11 Vancouver Island Musicfest, Courtenay, BC
July 12 Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, MB
July 18/19 Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Vancouver, BC
July 25/26 Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary, AB
August 7 Festival of Friends, Hamilton, ON
August 21/22 Ottawa Folk Festival, Ottawa, ON