My 100 Most Significant Musical Moments
I noticed recently that I’m coming up on my 100th blog on this site. Not actually true, because I’ve deleted a few. But it would be weird to put up my 100th a few posts ago and try to explain that one, so here we go. The deleted ones don’t count.
Like a lazy sitcom, I’ve decided to celebrate this milestone by recapping my 100 Most Significant Musical Moments instead of writing something real. Even worse, I’m going to divide that in two and take up two entries with it. And…also, there’s only about 60, not 100. Note too that I did not say “Top 100” musical moments, because some of these are bad, though significant in my musical development, and are worth mentioning. Basically, it’s a mess.
Not actually anticipating anyone being interested enough in me to read them, I’ve nevertheless divided them by category for ease of reading. They are also not in any order of importance.
Performances I’ve Seen
1. Pete Seeger in 2008 at Hugh’s Room, where there were Standing Room Only tickets. Never thought I’d get to see him.
2. The Dixie Chicks at the Air Canada Centre in 2006; that concert in Shut Up & Sing that sold out in a few minutes. I was squashed in between a couple of families high in the stands. The Chicks sang “Not Ready to Make Nice”, and I swear, that entire audience was right there with them. I’ve never experienced a moment like that, all back of the neck hairy, with so many other people. If you were there, you know.
3. Rush. 2012. When they came out on stage. Enough said.
4. Seeing Chris Coole and Chris Quinn, the best banjo players of our generation, jam it out on the tiny Hugh’s room stage at the annual Banjo Special this year.
(You get them all here…John Showman, Andrew Collins, Quinn, and Coole. Coole is on guitar.)
5. Ian Tyson and Corb Lund at the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. That’s a good combination. Also, any Ian Tyson concert (I’m grateful for every one).
6. Chris Isaak. Oh my god, Chris Isaak. When he came out on stage at Massey Hall this past fall. I never thought I’d see him either.
7. Scoring tickets to the Grand Ole Opry in 2006 to see Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello, and Emmylou Harris play together.
8. Seeing an Elvis impersonator play for four hours at the strip mall’s restaurant across from Graceland. We were afraid to leave, so we stuck it out till the end.
9. k d lang at the 2011 Calgary Folk Festival, singing “Hallelujah”. Worth mentioning, not just because she was so obviously happy to be at home, but because she had the whole backstage area wrapped around her finger as she performed that song.
10. Going with my parents to see Sting and being far more impressed by his “opening” act, Annie Lennox. Jeez, that woman can sing.
11. Skipping work to see Chilliwack at the 2001 Stampede.
12. Getting thrown out of the mosh pit 30 seconds into the Foo Fighters show in Edmonton. And wondering where my brother had gone.
1. Riding in the back of my friend’s pickup every Friday night during high school, listening to the Chili Peppers and Green Day.
2. That time when we took something magical at a house party and about 12 of us finally fell asleep together on a mattress at 5 am, and we were woken up by the same fucking Billy Joel song playing on repeat downstairs. I then got up at 8 and stumbled into Calgary Co-op to work a shift on the express checkout. My friends came in around noon and huddled a short distance from the register, saying things like, “Gillian, remember last night?” “You look awful.” And then my parents picked me up and were all, “What is wrong with you?” I hated Billy Joel for a long time after that.
3. The night my two girlfriends and I went to see Great Big Sea at the Saddledome and walked over to the Ship (sorry, these are Calgary specific places) and met three guys during an argument about which one of us was the best kisser. “We’ll solve that for you!” they offered. We ended up with a tie. Huh. I’ll finish the story here, because I can’t admit the rest of it online. Also, this is pretty loosely connected to music. The concert was fun though.
4. Driving through town with my best friend with “Better Off As We Are” blasting.
5. Going to see Elliott Brood at Hugh’s Room with my friend and boyfriend; the whole room was drunk-jumping-up-and-down by the end of the show. I then dropped my jacket between the subway doors as they were closing and practically had to be carried home.
6. Sorry, most of these are about substance abuse: when my colleagues and I got drunk at a music conference party in a Regina backyard – the president of our organization just kept filling my glass! There was nothing I could do! I went to bed at 4 am, then got up at 7 to chair a session, trying to ask intelligent questions while keeping my breakfast down. I then had a “very important meeting”, but I won’t go into that one.
7. Singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” on the Vancouver Sky Train to piss off my teacher (and likely the rest of the passengers) with friends on a band trip.
8. Meeting someone at a conference in Edmonton in 2007. He took me for lunch and we argued about the new Top 100 Canadian albums book. We’re still best friends, and since then I’ve also become best friends with the author of said book. I seem to have a lot of best friends.
1. When my supervisor, Rob Bowman, stepped out of the PhD defense room and said “Congratulations, Dr. Turnbull.” I had swine flu and no idea what had happened over the last three hours, but I do remember that moment well.
2. Conversely, when my first undergrad piano teacher listened to me play a sonata, then said, “Oh I remember your audition. I wrote on your form: ‘this student will get into the program over my dead body.’” Um, sir? See #1. Also, suck it.
3. That damn Brent Miller, always upstaging me at the end of Miss Haydu’s piano recitals. (But seriously Brent, you were awesome, and I hope you’re still playing.)
4. I had to play piano in front of my grade four class, and I was so embarrassed that before I went up to do it, I whispered to my teacher, “Can you tell them not to clap please?” She said, “I’m sorry, I have no control over what they do.” Words at no other time uttered by a fourth grade teacher.
5. Learning to play mandolin, just for a little while, from Andrew Collins.
6. Preparing final rehearsals for our high school musical (yes, these happened 20 years ago), and getting a call from home to tell me that my clarinet audition failed to get me into the university music program. Honestly, I don’t know why I auditioned on clarinet; I’d only played for about 2 years. I had a rather successful (see above) piano audition the next year.
7. Sitting with my best friend in the university practice rooms in April 1997 waiting hours for our year-end jury. We each played our three pieces hundreds of times, in between promising to find a hammer and break each other’s fingers just before the jury so we wouldn’t have to do it. We still make similar dramatic promises to each other.
8. Gathering several generations of students to play a concert for our band teacher when he left the high school. It was very Mr. Holland’s Opus. Not really.
9. Studying with Rob Bowman, Bob Witmer, Louise Wrazen, Adam Krims, and Victor Coelho.
10. So taken with my university choir’s performance of a particular piece, I ended up clapping with the audience. I was onstage. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy.
Rest on the way next week…