Giving The Gift of Music

July 27, 2015 § 1 Comment

“Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll
Don’t try to take me to a disco
You’ll never even get me out on the floor
In ten minutes I’ll be late for the door
I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll …” – Bob Seger, in his hit Old Time Rock and Roll

The Detroit rocker is one of my favourite performers of all time and I’ve seen him in concert twice. In a recent visit to our son, Peter, in Kelowna, I did something better than enjoying music on my own.  I delivered some iconic records from my own collection as Peter has a fondness for playing vinyl recordings.

The Ties That Bind is a tune from Bruce Springsteen, another treasured artist. Music is one thing that connects Peter and me the most.

While our son has expanded his tastes well beyond what I encouraged him to listen to, sharing a variety of music was something I made a priority early on.

Over the years, Peter accompanied us to concerts ranging from B.B. King and George Thorogood to the Rolling Stones, Jonny Long, ZZ Top, Seger, and the Boss himself.

Fostering an appreciation of music is important. From the earliest days of mankind, it’s been considered a vital art form.

Philosopher Plato said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

Just as we teach our young to talk, read and write, music is another way to express ourselves. It can reflect our moods or get a message across in ways simple words cannot. It can buoy us when we are cheerful or soothe us if we’re down.

Five years ago, I wrote a blog in this space about what music means to me:

I’ve been to a few more concerts since then, including shows by Elton John, Steve Miller and John Fogerty.

The latter performer, as part of his band Credence Clearwater Revival, has long been part of my musical history and brings back childhood memories.

I recall Proud Mary belting out of my older brother Bob’s bedroom along with Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, Mother in Law by Herman’s Hermits and We are Very Sorry Uncle Albert by Paul and Linda McCartney.

I grew up in Dawson Creek, B.C. where the country music fare was the order of the day on CJDC.

Although not a favourite musical genre, I do appreciate that Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Williams, Sr., Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, George Jones, and Willie Nelson were giants in the industry.

My own musical tastes range from rock and roll to blues, folk and jazz and I’ve been influenced by friends and colleagues over the years.

I’m glad Peter chose to explore music well beyond what I shared with him. But it was a proud moment when he asked to have some of my records.

These included albums by Elvis Costello, the Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, the Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, and ELO.

Here’s Peter’s take on the passing of the musical torch:

When you take a look at my most recently purchased records, the influence of my parents on my musical taste is hardly evident.

Last week I picked up Run the Jewels’ second LP Run the Jewels II, and a few weeks before that, my haul from the local independent record store included The Roots’ …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, Canadian punk-rock outfit, Pup’s first self-titled full length, and Modest Mouse’s Building Nothing Out of Something.

That said, others in my collection represent a heavy influence from the music that was directly passed down to me (the guys from Gaslight Anthem might as well be Bruce Springsteen’s kids) via the stereo on the Saturday and Sunday mornings of my adolescence.

Nostalgia plays a big factor in some of the music that I like. I still think of those aforementioned Saturday and Sunday mornings whenever I hear a CCR song and a lot of the bands that I like pull influence from a genre I like to call “Dad-Rock.” But that doesn’t account for my love of Hardcore-Punk, my appreciation for Hip-Hop, my proclivity for Death Metal.

This is because the significance of what you pass on is inconsequential; it’s teaching how to like music that is focal to a shared generational appreciation for music. Sure, my dad instilled in me a love of Springsteen, Warren Zevon, and Thorogood, but it was far more crucial that he nurtured in me a penchant for the eclectic.

I have been to hundreds of concerts ranging from Pop-Rock acts like Bedouin Soundclash to Black Metal ones like Behemoth, from the Punk Rock of SNFU to the folky strumming of Dave Hause.

Some of my fondest memories are of concerts, punk shows, and festivals and I can’t say that a love for live music, no matter the genre, would have been sparked had it not been for my parents bringing me along to concerts when they could have just as easily hired a babysitter.

I look forward to the days when I can pass on a wide-ranging love of music to my future child or children as it is one of the most powerful things you can do as a parent.

While I enjoy sharing my taste in music with Peter, my own musical horizons have been broadened through him.  Some of my collection includes artists Peter recommendations such as the Black Keys, Mumford and Sons and Seasick Steve.

Peter’s desire to carry on our tradition is music to my ears.


Bucket List Or A Game Plan?

September 15, 2014 § 3 Comments

hotairballoonBeing on vacation recently, I had a chance to talk to a lot of people – family, friends and even some new contacts.

Some of my older friends and family are in the throes of determining how their futures should unfold. Often, they have been busy caring for others – children, spouses and elderly parents – and have never really carved out their own niche.

A few younger friends are also busy charting their own courses, trying to weigh all the possibilities and capitalize on opportunities. One young marketing and communications professional has a small business sideline. Another is employed in the restaurant sector contemplating how to parlay her post-secondary education into a relevant career. A third is exploring human resources related prospects in between positions.

I noted that while decades separate the people involved in these conversations, one thing is common – bucket lists include some similar themes: world travel, seeing favourite entertainers live and even pursuing new hobbies or interests.

This got me thinking of my own bucket list and I determined that in order to qualify, entries must be achievable – without intervention of circumstances such as lottery wins or acts of God – thankfully I don’t cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For brevity, I have narrowed my list to 10 and there are some commonalities with friends, young and old. These are in no particular order:

  1. Bruce Springsteen is a favourite performer and I’ve seen him do a solo acoustic show but now I want to see him play with the E Street Band.
  2. Like my friends, global travel is on my list, but I will be specific: I want to travel to Belgium and Luxembourg – my grandmother and grandfather on my dad’s side were from those respective countries. I have no links there, but would love to see where the Olinger legacy began.
  3. I also want to travel to every region of Canada. I have yet to visit Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, and the Yukon so I have a great start.
  4. Now that I have begun going to the gym, I want to get rid of the pot belly.
  5. Eliminating my dependence on diabetes medication and pills for related afflictions, for that matter.
  6. To ride in a hot air balloon.
  7. For blogmate Wendy and I to complete a book(s) from the content of these blogs.
  8. My short story on my dearly departed furkid Jasper will be published as a book.
  9. Retirement to Vancouver Island. Joyce and I have travelled there four of the last five years and a few times earlier. It appeals greatly to both of us as a place that has it all.
  10. Finding another #furkid for our home. This is not just a matter of getting another dog. Both of our previous pooches and their personalities have been an integral part of our family life.

Now, of course, achieving any goal means setting realistic action steps.

In his Book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey referenced the second of these as:  Thinking with the End in Mind.

Completing a book, for example, takes investments of time, money and courage – we need to be certain others will be as excited about our writing as we are. Similarly with Jasper tale, I have to take the necessary publishing steps, most importantly, completing the task of converting the short story into book form.

Committing to bring another dog into the home, likely a puppy, takes a lot of time and energy since we truly believe pets are part of the family.

Taking on diabetes with a plan of eliminating medications means a daily commitment to exercise, managing diet and controlling stress (the heredity factor is already there). Admittedly, the necessary dedication has not been there.

I must admit that health-related items really shouldn’t be on a bucket list. They should be musts to pursue. However, having them there helps to set priorities.

So, the question I have to ask myself or anyone else, what are you willing to do to cross items off your list?

Since most of us have multiple things we want to achieve, maybe we should view our bucket lists as an action plans.

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

November 3, 2010 § 4 Comments

IMG My Hat

Image via Wikipedia

In January 2009, Bruce Springsteen released an uplifting song called Working on a Dream. I thought of it recently as I reached another milestone on my own wish list – to travel to every part of Canada.

I am getting there but there is much more to see and do in this vast land. After all, it is the second largest country in the world. There is no shortage of diversity from sea to sea to sea!

You could fit the United Kingdom into Canada almost 40 times!  There are more than 100 languages spoken here.

I’ve travelled to six provinces, and lived in three, but have not ventured east of Quebec.  I had yet to find my way north of the 60th parallel until just recently.

Thanks to having the opportunity to attend Prospects North, a business and trade conference, on behalf of the City of Grande Prairie, I travelled to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in mid October. It was a wonderful experience though there was precious little time to explore as much as Brian Glavin, our Economic Development Officer, and I would’ve liked .

Still, Yellowknife reminded me in ways of Grande Prairie in that it has the bustle associated with a regional service centre and seems larger than it really is. Did you know that Yellowknife, with a population of 20,000, is the only city in the Northwest Territories?

I also couldn’t help but think of Northern Ontario and its rocky terrain and lakes.
Yellowknife is known as the Diamond Capital of North America.

I was taken by the warmth and friendliness of the locals and the sense of contentment people had living there and in other northern communities.

As with Grande Prairie, many residents hadn’t intended on staying long upon arrival in Yellowknife or Whitehorse, Yukon, but have become attached to these places.

Actually, 2010 has been a year of rediscovering old favourites and exploring new destinations.
It all started in April when I attended the Alberta Municipal Communicators’ Group meeting in High River, where I had never visited. It is located just south of Calgary.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark hails from the town of 11,000.  W.O. Mitchell, author of Who Has Seen the Wind? and other renowned Canadian literary gems also called the town home.

Joyce accompanied me on the trip and we enjoyed wonderful hospitality, including a recommendation we stay an extra day and hang out for the evening at Carlson’s on McLeod, a well-known local watering hole and entertainment spot.

That was well worth it.

We got to hear Bruce Innes of Original Caste fame play a variety of folk, blues and jazz tunes with support from local guitarist Julian Kerr. The Original Caste is known for two hits – One Tin Soldier and Mr. Monday.

The next day, it was off to Canmore to visit my brother, Bob, and family.

I’m always up for a suggestion for the road less travelled. Several people recommended we take the back roads through some lovely, breathtaking, rolling terrain.

So, off we went through Black Diamond, Bragg Creek and other small towns and villages surrounded by wide open spaces. I can see why artisans of all types are inspired and thrive in places like this.
Joyce had not been to Canmore in many years and it was an opportunity for us to enjoy the mountains on the way home via the Icefield Parkway, Jasper and Grande Cache.

In June, I attended the Canadian Public Relations Society Conference in Regina. I had never stopped in Saskatchewan’s capital on my way back and forth across the country.

On my way to the hotel on the day the event started, I couldn’t help but notice the legendary crazy Roughrider fans getting all whooped up. It was an exhibition game that afternoon. I can only imagine what it would be like during the regular season.

During the conference, I enjoyed a visit to the RCMP headquarters and was also pleased to see how the former train station had been transformed into the casino.

In August, we had a chance to visit Richmond, B.C., where I attended college. Seattle, Washington was new to me and Parksville, B.C., which is one of our favourite vacation destinations of all time.

Not far away is Englishman River Falls ↼a fabulous provincial campground where we stayed several days on our last trip to Vancouver Island, 23 years ago. This was far too long an absence, particularly, for people who had once talked about retiring to Vancouver Island.

We delighted in taking photos along the river and the many other spots for photo ops within the park ⇀only this time, they were all digital images, on Joyce’s camera and my Blackberry.
Next June, the Canadian Public Relations Society Conference is in Saint John, New Brunswick.
That will be my first foray into the East Coast.

My brother-in-law, Dave, has taught at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton for many years and yet we never made it there while living in Ontario for 20 years. We will make it there faster by living in Alberta!

We plan to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary while there.

When I reflect on these travels, I can’t help be struck by how different people view the country. Many will wonder how others would find themselves staying in places like Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Grande Prairie and other communities away from the bright lights and action.

The fact is, though, home is where you hang your hat. What attracts residents of Yellowknife may not appeal to those in Edmonton. Some will be content in Alberta’s capital city but not in Toronto.

I am eager to continue exploring my homeland. It really does have something for everyone. Should you be looking in from another country, come see what I mean.

If you are in Canada, join me in celebrating what we have!

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