TEN YEARS AGO, in 2003, an acquaintance of mine named Elaina Martin created Westfest. This free-of-charge Ottawa street music festival first took place on June 12, 2004, the year that Jane Sibbery was the headlining act. Elaina was then, as she would remain, what is generally termed a force. Every June since, with the help of local businesses and community volunteers, she has steered the festival to harbour. One of the highlights of my time in Ottawa was performing at Westfest 2010, on a bill with Sloan, a memory which came to the surface as the festival once again took to the stage on Thursday June 6, 2013.
• Podcast 025 | Week of 06.01.2013
Download entire podcast (320 kbps mp3).
Liner notes for the album Homage, by Flecton Big Sky
Like you and me, like everyone, making it up as we go along, Flecton Big Sky has turned out a few … let us say, debatable … decisions in life along the way. Life by necessity is material for improvisation: when the results are harmonious, it’s out of sight — and when it’s a fuckup, it’s a case for hindsight. Well, friends, that’s life. But then there’s music, and in music Flecton Big Sky has made excellent decisions. In his choices of songs and collaborators, he’s demonstrated over the years a knack for creating, to borrow from Pablo Neruda, “a generous, vast wholeness / a crepitant fragrance.” Harmonious, out of sight, sound — all without a plan, without a thought of road’s end. It happens that I’ve been around when some of the improvisation was going down, and I could never figure out how he does it, how he makes music without ever thinking about making music. Without ever preconceiving. Here is a man who goes into the studio tabula rasa, a blank slate. A few days later, out he comes, improbably, with these sounds of his. What’s the deal? I puzzled over that one for a good long time. The problem was that I was looking at it from the music point of view, not the life point of view. Sure, Flecton the man is also Flecton the musician. They’re both just making it up as they go along. It comes down to decisions, but not of the musical variety. Flecton is a man with a great, sensitive soul. He trusts his instincts, and his instincts serve him well. He trusts his friends, and his friends trust him — as well they should, because there’s no one more trustworthy than Flecton. This is the secret to his music, this trust. Flecton connects to certain music and musicians through gut instinct and sensitivity. And once he’s connected, he stays connected. He’s never forgotten his roots. They continue to nourish him. He’s loyal to a fault. Respect, loyalty, due acknowledgment of one’s indebtedness, and music as a soulful connection: these are the meanings of homage, a word derived simply from the word “man.” In this case, the man who is Flecton Big Sky.
– December 2010