Great Dark Wonder: Celebrating Our 4th Birthday

Okay, so our official birthday is not until tomorrow, but I’m sure that nobody minds us celebrating a day early because we’re pretty darn proud to have made it this far.  I’ve always enjoyed writing and sharing these anniversary pieces for Team GDW, as it always prompts me to look back over the last twelve months at the wonderful things we’ve seen, heard, and accomplished.  Entering the start of our fourth year, things were looking great as we headed down the stretch of 2019, and with some great shows announced for 2020, our plans for another busy year started formulating very quickly.  Indeed, everything was looking quite rosy – but we all know what happened next – I don’t feel the need to depress you any further about life as we know it from mid-March onwards.

At this time I would normally look at our travel adventures over the last year and report back on how many times we ventured north to Canada.  I would tally up the number of shows we attended in Canada and share that information too.  I would look to see how many of our favorite artists toured down here in our neck of the woods, and offer feedback on those shows too.  And finally, I would share about how many artists we were fortunate to catch live.  But instead, this global “killjoy” has quickly pulled the plug on all of this enjoyment since March, making this annual snapshot feel more like a half job, in which case, I’d rather just skip sharing these numbers this time, and move on. 

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Oh, and don’t get me started on the recent news about the Visa fees for foreign artists touring here in the US being increased by over 50% over the next few months!  Independent artists are already struggling financially – and are now given another slap in the face should they want to bring their music to US audiences too.  Breathe deeply, calm blue oceans, breathe deeply, calm blue oceans, these things hopefully have a way of working out.  Okay, I’ve had my moment to vent about things that are, in fairness, completely beyond our control.  Nobody could have foreseen a global pandemic, and nobody could expect anything less of bureaucrats looking to line their pockets from easy prey.  From here on, no more negativity – because we certainly have many positives to reflect on from these last twelve months.

Team GDW welcomed two new members to the family since our last annual review.  Joining us in late 2019, from deep within the Almaguin Highlands in ON, author, musician, and radio personality Douglas McLean not only adds his personal touch to his detailed articles and reviews, he also introduces many interesting and locally sourced artists to our pages.  Douglas take pride in exploring the stories behind particular songs/albums, unpacking the messages, meanings, and motivations of the artists and their music.  Joining us too in early 2020, from here in Central PA (of all places), we welcomed Jess Lahr to the team. Jess considers herself a ‘newbie’ to the Canadian music scene, but has quickly found her ‘voice’ on our pages with her passionate reviews.  Here are a few words from our two latest recruits:

My name is Douglas McLean and I love Canadian songwriting.  Great Dark Wonder is one of the best resources I know of for new, emerging musicians, as well as for more established, well-known writers and performers.  I joined the team of contributing writers for GDW this past year.  It has been one of the more exciting adventures of my professional involvement in Canadian music and one of my better decisions.  Not only are site hosts Martin and Lesley a couple of the nicest folks you could ever meet, but their knowledge of the Canadian music scene is encylopedic. During my first year with GDW, my assignments have been exciting and expansive.  I have had the opportunity to explore music that I had not yet experienced and have had the privilege to share these discoveries with readers and enhance my growing library.  Congratulations on another year and thank you so kindly for inviting me along on this marvelous journey.” (Douglas McLean)

Hello everyone, Jess here.  Happy anniversary to Great Dark Wonder!  It’s been an honor to be a part of this awesome group.  Joining the team has opened my ears to a plethora of new artists who have been a welcome change from mainstream media.  Breaking away from the radio and tuning into amazing artists such as Cayley Thomas, Kellie Loder, and Scott Mackay has been so refreshing.  One of my favorite memories is the evening in March when The Young Novelists performed in Shippensburg, PA.  This Canadian duo put on a fantastic show and it was a pleasure to chat with them afterwards (pictured in header).  I am looking forward to listening to more artists, adding new favorites to my music library, and sharing some with all of you – our fellow music lovers – along the way.  Cheers to Team GDW! (Jess Lahr)

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If you enjoy reading the contributions from our team members, and fancy dabbling with a little writing about great Canadian music too, we are always looking to add aspiring reviewers to our family.  Alternatively, if you have the urge to write just a few words about one of your favorite artists, maybe you should check out “GDW: By Request” – a feature we debuted this past summer for our readers to share a song of choice.  This feature puts you in the driver seat – just pick a tune (preferably one that has a public domain video that we can use), throw a few lines together about your choice (100 words or less), and you may just see your name and choice in lights.  So come on, don’t be shy – whether you express an interest in contributing regularly, or wish to provide a one-time piece – go ahead and submit your request to us today via our Facebook page.  And always remember, we are first and foremost a music blog, written by fans, for the fans.

Another positive that we have witnessed over these last few months is how artists continue to harness their creativity, continue to put out fantastic new music, launch new albums, and live-stream shows through social media.  Sure, we’re all still adapting to these new challenges during such crazy times, but there is no denying that the quality of music continues to be at an all time high, which helps keep us music blogger types honest and motivated to share the music and spread the love.  And while we can’t attend live shows right now, we have plenty of our own concert footage currently being transferred to our new YouTube channel.  If you are looking for some great clips from our expansive archives, please check out GDW on YouTube, and check back regularly to see if footage of your favorite artists has been added.

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As we head into our fifth year, we remain optimistic about this great music scene.  We may not be racking up the miles for our Canadian excursions at the moment, but borders shall not remain closed forever; live music shall return in some form or another.  We can’t wait to get back out there once safe to do so – to catch up with those live events, and to reconnect with our friends out on the road – whether at shows, festivals, record stores, and everywhere in-between.  In closing, we are equally grateful for the acknowledgements and appreciation reciprocated to us by the artists that we’ve covered – a selection of such kind words from the last twelve months are scattered here throughout this article.  Stay safe out there – see you all on the flip side to once again enjoy this shared passion that is outstanding music.

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.