Joe Henry Knocked My Socks Off

Just finished catching a great Joe Henry gig at Hugh’s Room.  Heck of a good songwriter, and having Kevin Breit come up and do his thing with him was a real treat.  That guy can just straight up play.

External image

Donut Demographics

After the gig, I sat down at Coffee Time, which has become the defacto poor person’s Tim Horton’s.  Something that I’ve noticed around Toronto, is that you can usually figure out the financial demographics of a neighborhood, by the coffee/donut shop that inhabits the area.  The higher demographic areas usually feature a Starbucks, or some sort of higher end artisinal, fair traded and occasionally pretentious espresso shop.  The middle class gets the uniform blandness of Tim Horton’s (and occassionally Starbucks) and the Parkdales and Dundas West’s get Coffee Time (or if the ‘hood is really bad, a less recognized variant of a Coffee Time).  Food (and coffee) for thought, the next time you’re out and about in the city.


As my hand and shoulder are still a bit on the fritz, I’m going to be focussing as much as possible on cardio and core strength while they heal.  In this evenings case, it means about 45 minutes on the eliptical machine, and a hundred sit-ups afterwards before I finally call it a night, head home and upload 

Vic Chesnutt

External image

However, before I go, there is a small story that I want to share.  During his set, Henry mentioned the passing two years ago of the musician Vic Chesnutt, who took his own life on Christmas day.  A few weeks prior to his passing, I headed downtown Ottawa, through ice-rain and bitter cold, along with some good friends, whom I promised would be in for a good show, and we saw Mr. Chessnutt, with a back-up band comprised of members from Fugazi, A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You Black Emperor.  Because the weather was so inhospitable, the show was sparsely attended, and began thinning out before Vic and his band had even hit the stage.  What happened next, was a show that I’ll never forget.  It was music, at it’s most brutally honest and profound.  Standing in the audience, most of whom seemed as spellbound as I was that night, watching a man so visibly physically and emotionally suffering, exposing himself in a way that I could never dream of being able to do, I had the profound feeling that I was watching a type of art being created on a very different level than most other shows I’ve been to.  There was something so real about that moment, so painful and gutting, but also so cathartic, and I walked around, somewhat in a daze over the next few days as I tried to process what I had seen.  I didn’t know at the time, and perhaps it is hindsight that colours this somewhat, but there was something different about that night.  When I found out a few weeks later, that he had taken his life, I wasn’t surprised, just saddened and understanding.  I hoped that his pain had finally ended, and appreciated that, as Joe Henry said tonight, Vic Chesnutt built rooms with his songs, for other people to inhabit.  It’s a better world, with those rooms out there to step into.

I know that some-day, we’ll all have to end the book.  That’s the terrible beauty of life, and like a fight, it’s about going the distance as much as it’s about the knockouts that you throw along the way.  It’s about learning to duck and roll with the punches and hardships, and to find the strength to overcome, and most importantly to transcend your situation to find a deeper meaning.  It’s about love, and once you’ve taped up, and pushed yourself past pain and exhaustion, you get to a place where you understand that pain, is love.  To love is to feel pain, as Patterson Hood said, there’s no way around it.  I’ll finish this with two songs, because they should be heard together.