SongDay: Best of 2014

Press play for fifty of my favourite songs of 2014. Or listen on rdio if that’s your jam and read along my year end review.

You know that traveling and music thing I love? I did a lot of it last year. I think the highlight would be traveling from the Rockies to Montreal for 4am poutine dates with my best friend to Ottawa to see Joel Plaskett.

And not just any Joel Plaskett show, Joel Plaskett with the NAC Orchestra. There are few things that just get to me like Joel Plaskett’s Light of the Moon guitar solo. So just imagine my delight when I heard Light of the Moon paired with an orchestra. Best.

I also caught Joel during Sled Island in Calgary, a relatively short jaunt. It didn’t rain out Sled Island’s parade like the year before, but it did rain, but that just added to the atmosphere. The outside set during a thunderstorm? There were people dancing barefoot in the rain and it was amazing. And of course, he played Lightning Bolt during the storm, so yeah, amazing.

There were some great shows in Banff too (basically no travel). Kevin Drew played a tiny club at the Banff Centre. I love combining my favourite things, so when their surprise guest was one of my fave authors, Joseph Boyden? I cried tears of happiness as he read aloud from the Orenda as Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin jammed.

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Is it superconnected? Or time to leave?

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The Arkells played a killer set outside in Banff too! And back to Calgary, Rah Rah, Rich Aucoin, and the Mounties played some deadly sets to warm up my winter.

I’m sure you’re all wondering if I saw Hey Rosetta! and you know I did; a small club set in Edmonton and then a larger outside set at Calgary Folk Fest. Sets from Rufus Wainwright and A Tribe Called Red were also Folk Fest highlights. I didn’t travel too far for Hey Rosetta! in 2014, but 2015 watch out!

I did make another long trek for music last year though. I roadtrip’d from the Rockies along the west coast to California and caught both Bombay Bicycle Club and the War on Drugs in San Francisco. Solid shows! And then it was back to mountains, nature, and coastlines for the rest of the trip.

Creating a numbered list of best albums of the year is always a struggle, I mean, how do you decide? Based on number of listens? Musicality? Its cohesiveness, concept and flow? I know people that create their own algorithms, but can you really assign math to feelings? So, I’m still working on my numbered list but have these playlists for you in the meantime.


SongDay: A Cup of Kindness

Whenever I mention wanting to travel to a place to close friends, they ask “Is Hey Rosetta! playing?” and laugh. It’s kind of become a running joke. What can I say? I love to travel and I love music, so combining the two just seems like a good idea.

Have I driven eight hours solo to Philadelphia and been interrogated at the CAN/US border with a car search because who has ridiculous plans like that? …Yes.

Have I begged my boss to let me off work an hour early because of rock n’ roll to drive five hours to Edmonton so I wouldn’t risk missing a second of Hey Rosetta!’s set? Again, yes.

Do I have a million more stories like this for other bands I love? YES!

So, I shrug and look down when the answer is probably yes to when I’m questioned about my next ridiculous travel plans involving seeing shows.

Intimate in BurnstownLast xmas, I kind of sort of combined the trek home to see my family with following Hey Rosetta on tour. I love you, fams! And I also love Hey Rosetta! So, I flew from the Rockies to Montreal (because I also love food and hello Montreal Smoked Meat poutine and we’ve already established that I’m ridiculous), took a train to Ottawa, rented a car, picked up my best friend, and drove to Burnstown to see… Hey Rosetta!

Burnstown was a pretty neat place to see Hey Rosetta! The Neat Café is kind of out in the country outside of Ottawa, an old one room schoolhouse turned into a restaurant and venue. You should go there if you ever get the chance, it’s definitely a unique experience to be squeezed in tightly to an historic building for an intimate show. Hey Rosetta! were great and worth my travels.

The Grand KingstonThe bestie and I went back to Ottawa where we spent the night in jail. And then bailed out on an early morning train to Kingston for another show (thanks Via reward points!). I love Kingston! The Sleepless Goat especially! After wandering the town, delicious food, we went to the Grand Theatre for Hey Rosetta! show number two. It was fun hearing the same set in the larger theatre venue, though I missed the omission of the cover of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas.

Oh, and Two Hours Traffic were on their farewell forever tour, so the bestie and I walked across town catch their set too.

St. John's Stadium SprinklersAfter Kingston, I spent some quality time with the nearby fams, and then it was off again. But I didn’t go home to the Rockies, no, I squeezed in a flight to St. John’s. I’d wanted to see Hey Rosetta! on their home turf and had heard amazing things about their hometown xmas shows so I had bought a just-in-case ticket earlier.

Mummers!I’m glad I did! St. John’s and Newfoundland are amazing! I’d been there once before as a teen and have wanted to go back ever since, occasionally contemplating just up and moving there. The xmas Hey Rosetta show there was even bigger, filling a packed stadium in their hometown. It was magical… the music, the mummers, the confetti that fell from my coat for weeks after.

I enjoyed the show so much I found a ticket for the same show a second night. Totally worth it! And bittersweet to return to the Rockies. Oh, and maybe I kissed a cod.

Confetti Snow

Farm Friday: Animal Behaviour

Badonka Donkeys

It seems the party last week was a one time event and everyone has been hanging out in their usual digs. And hey, my fence fixing has held up! Skills!

Does anyone have any advice for keeping donkeys occupied and curbing chewing? I have been putting out bark, downed branches, wood shavings from a local mill, and leaves for them to nom on, but they are still fixed on eating their shelter. I know they’re not worried about their protection from the next cold snap or windstorm like I am.

It seems like one of the alpacas is becoming a problem chewer as well. One alpaca is always off by himself, so I dubbed him Mr. Lonely. And well, where there’s a Mr. Lonely, there’s a Hawksley. And look at his showy haircut, tell me that’s not a Hawksley.

Fancy Hawksley One morning, Hawksley stayed in the shelter. I’m not an alpaca expert, this is really my first working with them, but I was worried at this unusual behaviour. All the animals always rush to the fence to see me in the morning (probably moreso their breakfast) so one staying inside is definitely weird.

I went into the pen and called Hawksley out, urging him to go eat with his mates. He was coaxed over to them, but lay down instead of eating. Something was not right. I brought some treats, and he tried to eat them, but then threw up. I called every vet in the valley for advice.

It seems Hawksley just had an upset stomach and was completely fine the next day. I think he may have taken a lesson from the donkeys and started chewing his shelter. Farming fun!

Farm Friday: Party Time! Excellent!

Wise Old Goat Tree

What a day on the farm it has been! As I was walking down the hill toward the pens for morning feed, something didn’t look right.

The horses, donkeys, and male goat live together in one pen, while the alpacas, sheep, and a female goat live in another beside it.

I squinted to figure out what was up. Donkeys in the alpaca shelter? Horses too? And the female and male goats happily butting heads? What? Party time! Excellent!?

Remember the donkeys adding new doors to their shelter last week? Well, it seems they decided to help out their neighbours. They nom’d through the wood part of the gate separating the two pens and the fence fell. And hey, a new shelter to play architect with by eating!

Thankfully, all the animals love to eat so much that the sight of me means food. The donkeys stepped over the downed fence in a nice little line and headed for their feeders. The horses were following as I ran through the outside gate and was able to intercept the alpacas from joining.

I was able to get the gate back up as the ram was backing up, preparing to… ram. And then distract everyone with hay while I fixed and fortified the fence. We’ll see if it holds.

Farm Friday: Coldest Days

Sun Tanning

It’s been a harsh week. Winter has come in hard again and mercury is in deep retrograde. With it comes fun things like clearing snow, oh that wet heavy snow equals hours and hours of fun, as well as ensuring water lines and troughs don’t freeze.

During the last cold snap, I spent a lot of time battling ice out of the troughs and carrying pails of water from the house in fear of frozen lines. And by battle, I mean beating ice formations out with a piece of lumber. You know, sometimes you just skip showering because you have a horse’s water trough thawing in your bathroom.

And let’s not forget my adventures carrying 50lb mineral blocks around in -20°C! I have been lugging logs around for the donkeys to chew on. They’ve been adding new doors to their shelter despite the cold. I picked up a new salt lick to add to the pen in case a diet deficiency was causing the unwanted chewing and was surprised at its weight. It took a bit for me to realize the # beside the 50 on the lick was not a hashtag, but an old school pound sign.

Mercury was direct for a few days, so I’m glad I was able to get one last hike in. It looks like I have a place to take a bath the next time I need to thaw a trough.

Hot Springs - Historic Baths

SongDay: Puppy Edition

I missed this week’s Farm Friday, sorry. I was a bit preoccupied with the arrival of two foster pups. Puppies along with a huge snow storm, regular farm duties, and a few ills don’t leave for a lot of time to write.

But what do puppies have to do with music? Well, I struggled with names for them before turning to my old friend music. These two adorable husky crosses have been named Harriet and Laika. I love Hey Rosetta and Harriet really suits her.

I’ve also been super interested in the Soviet space program. And hey there’s Arcade Fire song about the first dog in space. Laika’s a pretty sad story, but hopefully this pup will be adopted and have a much happier ending!

If you want to read a happier ending for Laika the space dog, I highly recommend reading Jeanette Winterson’s Weight.

SongDay: My Name Is Mathias

I was totally stoked and surprised to this week’s release of “My Name Is Mathias.” I’ve spent time in Peterborough and that time was filled with a lot of the Burning Hell shows. I love the Burning Hell. I love when my favourite musicians cover my other favourite musicians. So, no surprise, I love this release! Check it out:


The loss of a parent is the worst. I’m still struggling with the loss of my mother, so kudos to Nick Ferrio, Andrew Stratis, Jud Haynes, and all the contributors to this album to help Mathias through this tough time. The best!

Update: Mathias is donating the proceeds from this album to the Kingston Humane Society. What an awesome idea! Buy this album!