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Sunday, November 11, 2018

For all the musicians who have left us

Many, many musicians have left us over the last few years, both internationally and at a local level here in Trinidad.

Some were close, close friends. Some deaths were natural, some were suicides.

The hardest part about losing someone close to you is that you never have a chance to properly say goodbye, especially when it's sudden. But then again, saying 'last goodbyes' is not something anyone does well.

And I don't think anyone plans their 'last goodbye speech'.

Every death, whether of a musician friend or an artist I admire has left a void in my life. And I naively thought that these people were going to be in my life for a long, long time.

And I know that I have been putting a benefit concert on hold for a long time now, the one for my oldest friend who died suddenly two years ago. And honestly, I know that it must be done, but emotionally, I'm not at that point where I can give it my best.

When you spend so many years with someone playing music and they're not there anymore, even though you're not in a band, it just feels so strange to continue playing the music you made together. It just brings back too many bittersweet memories.

Everything comes rushing back, almost as if on memory overload.

But I know I have to do it sooner or later. I know that I will have to put aside the pain and play the music of my teenage years.

But in the meantime, I'm brushing up my chops, practicing as often as I can and enjoying music in my own space.

And for all those who have left this life, thank you so much for your music.

Safe travels to the next life - Andrew Moffat, George Elias, Justin Lee, Marc Thavenot, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland, Colonel Bruce Hampton, Greg Allman, Prince, David Bowie, Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul, Good Downie.

May each and every one of you rest in peace.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Summer is over, back to teaching...

So the summer tour is over. I was away for six weeks playing a handful of shows with Kobo Town, as well as a few jams and recording sessions with Chlorine Dream and my old mates from BOUND. I even did an improv jam with my cousin Zach Kellum in a yoga studio (I was drenched in sweat when it was over).

It was a great time seeing the wilderness of Canada, the mid-west and Niagara Falls. And as always, it is a true joy to go across the Atlantic to Europe. France is an amazing country - the food, the people, the history and the architecture. Germany is one of the few countries that got the entire concept of design and functionality right.

There were memorable shows and shows that weren't special in any way, but that's how it goes really.  We always tried to do our best and play our hearts out. One show we had to wait for a torrential thunderstorm to pass us by. One show in France saw us take four different trains and spend over eight hours travelling, but the view was amazing in the end.

We had a few days off after the first gig in France and we stayed in Paris, we walked everywhere and ate like kings, I think I had probably a dessert with every meal (I love you Cafe Gourmand).

The day before we left for Berlin, we took a train to Montpellier, ate in the town square, took a street car to the beach and jumped in the Mediterranean Sea, the temperature was absolutely perfect, and we all thought out loud, 'Yes! this is the life!'

The hardest part of the tour was flying out that early morning on the 18th back to Toronto, a connecting flight from Berlin to Zurich, then to Toronto, then drive in traffic to Niagara Falls and play a gig that night. The time difference and jet lag caught up with me while I was on-stage and I could feel myself falling asleep, even though we got through the gig pretty okay we were all tired from flying.

But all in all, it was a great summer!

Here were a list of Kobo Town tour dates...

July 10th - Festival Park, (Toronto, ON)
July 21st - Ness Creek Folk Festival (Saskatoon, SK)
July 23rd - Improv Yoga Class with Zach Kellum (Toronto, ON)
July 28th & 29th - Calgary Folk Festival (Calgary, AB)
August 4th - Festival du Bout du Monde with Kobo Town (Crozon, France)
August 10th - No Logo Festival with Kobo Town (Fraisans, France)
August 11th - Festival Les Aeriennes with Kobo Town (Mende, France)
August 17th - House of World Cultures with Kobo Town (Berlin, Germany)
August 18th - Niagara Falls with Kobo Town (Niagara Falls, ON)

And now that summer is over, it is back to school. I'm preparing all the different classes to sing Christmas carols for the last day of school. What a job! What a life this turning out to be.

Music teacher during the year, touring musician during summer.

Thank you God for the miracle of music and being with me on this journey called life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Summer tour 2018


My head has been so hot with teaching this past year and a bit that I have only just started back gigging again.

I'm doing an acoustic guitar duo thing with long-time school mate - John Hussain. We're calling it 'EH!' - Emmanuel & Hussain, get it? Cool huh?!

I also have a handful of shows with Kobo Town in July and August so that should be fun, as it always is.

Here's the list of dates…


Hope to see you guys there….


Thursday, November 9, 2017

The unsung heroes of our lives

You know, we all idolize the wrong people.

As kids, we plastered posters on our walls and bought magazines of our 'fav' pop or movie star.

Now as adults, we look at soulless, gutless, mind numbing TV shows and movies. Horrid 'reality' shows about disfunctional housewives, people with way too much money wasting it on nonsense and families that most of us would never emulate in our own home (the Kardashians for example).

And we spend hours wasting away, wishing our lives could be like this person or that, when we should turn off the TV and spend time with those closest to us - our family and loved ones. These are the people that will stick with you through it all. Not those damn movie stars.

The people who have helped mould us when we were younger - our teachers, get no credit at all.

Teachers are the building block of any society. Teachers make the leaders of tomorrow.

They should be the real heroes, not any 'star', because we try to look up to these people and they don't even know who we are, they know nothing about us and in truth, we don't know anything about them either, only the facade that they put forward on TV, on social media and it really is a very good lie.

Most of the people we idolize and admire live very messed up lives. Do you want to live a messed up life?

Start admiring those people who know you and want the best for you.

They are the real heroes of your life.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Gord Downie

When I first heard these lyrics 'He said I fabulously rich, c'mon just let's go, she kind of bit her lip, jeez I don't know', I was hooked.

That was the summer of 1995 and the band was Tragically Hip, a group out of Ontario, Canada.

The album was 'Day for Night' and I played that tape so much that it warped. I rewound that first track 'Grace, too' over and over until I knew every little bass tweak and vocal nuance that Downie made  coming down to the end. There were no lyrics at the end but Downie was sort of, well, it's hard to describe unless you listen to the song. He wasn't saying 'Yea, or Awww' or anything audible for that matter, but somehow the song has so much intensity at the end. Not to mention it was so bloody groovy.

I just fell in-love with that song, the album and the band after that.

I bought a few more albums and they unofficially became my summer Canadian fling. There was something gritty and easy-going about them and I loved Downie's lyrics and his way of just saying words almost as if he was having a conversation with me, the listener.

My one regret is that I never saw them live.

My heart broke last year when I found out he was diagnosed with cancer, and like so many music lovers, musicians and Canadians all around the world, we all felt a huge sense of loss when Gord passed away on October 17th, 2017.

So many great musicians have left us over the past few years and while I shudder to think of who we're left with, I know one thing for sure, Gord Downie's musical legacy will forever live on.

It is a huge loss for the Hip, it is a huge loss for Canada. Gord Downie will forever be one of the great Canadian songwriters. And though it will never ease the pain for your family, I just wanted to say 'thanks so much for the music, Gord, may you rest in peace and may God be with you on your next journey'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The will to carry on

The last few years have been rather unprecedented for me because of the number of personal losses that I have experienced.

I have lost schoolmates and friends, my father, my longest standing friend as well as a few musician comrades along the way.

Some have died from natural causes and a couple of friends were murdered. Some were sudden deaths,  others like in the case of my father, it was watching him slip away three weeks after his first and only surgery.

Just recently in May of this year my favourite Grunge singer - Chris Cornell committed suicide, he was only 52 but then on what would have been his 53rd birthday, July 20th, another singer - Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging as well.

I can't help but feel that maybe I was naive for so long, thinking that all my friends, family and comrades and people that I admired would always be around me all my life. Or if not around me, perhaps in my life one way or another.

If anything, what I have learned over these last three years is that life is absolutely impermanent, always changing and nothing can ever be taken for granted, because as the saying goes 'here today, gone tomorrow'.

I do find that I have a hard time with death, I go through initial periods of shock and grief and then I try to carry on, but then there are days where I sit and think about all who have gone to the other side and I think that life is just not the same and that I don't know how to continue, I don't know how to be happy sometimes.

Perhaps it never will be the same, and that's the sad part.

The hard part is getting up everyday and putting my best foot forward, not because I want to, but because those who have gone would want me to 'keep on keeping on', as Al Green would say.

And that is the hardest part of life, keeping on when you have less and less loved ones to travel that road of life with you.

But, I'm starting a new chapter in my life soon and I have to think that this is the most important part of my life, and yes life will never be the same, but I have so much more to give and to live for, I have so much to look forward to, that I just can't give up now, I can't stop trying now.

I remember the line from a very sad movie about a child kidnapping once, the choir sang 'If the song is to be sung, then we must keep on singing'.

So, in loving memory of Damien So'Brien, Rawle Francis, Paul Emmanuel, Andrew Moffat, Justin Lee and George Elias; I gotta keep doing what I do.

May you all rest in peace.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

God be with you.