Great Dark Wonder: Celebrating Seven Years Of Sharing Great Music

GDW Anniversary

Okay, so the official anniversary is not until tomorrow, but it’s Friday, and we’re vacationing in Toronto right now – let’s celebrate and kick off the weekend in great spirits. We’ve been sharing our musings about Canadian music now for seven years, and thank each and every one of our readers out there for helping us achieve this milestone. We are incredibly grateful that you continue to ride shotgun on this wonderful music journey with us!!!

I’ve said this before, and I’ll no doubt say it again, but when Lesley and I launched this little music journal of ours into cyberspace seven years ago, never in our wildest dreams did we imagine racking up so many spins around the sun with these birthday celebrations. Intended originally to be a personal online blog for sharing our concert adventures and music tastes with friends and family, somehow GDW very quickly blossomed into our little blog that could (as Lesley so eloquently described it during our first anniversary piece).

GDW Anniversary

Twelve months ago, I used this feature partly as a forum to discuss a gradual return to normalcy heading into the post-pandemic era, and with it, the ‘bright-side’ of traveling once more – attending shows, connecting with friends, and enjoying those adventures north of the US border that were not feasible during lockdowns. With another (still cautious) year under our belt, experiencing these joyous moments that were so easily taken for granted once again (almost at a pre-pandemic pace) has lifted our spirits like a huge breath of fresh air. We live for the live music experience – it is absolutely essential for cleansing our souls – and I don’t need to express to other music junkies just how much our souls are fully scrubbed and proudly beaming once more these days. Oh, and just as we have in years past, we’ve inserted a selection of the wonderful feedback received from artists, videographers, and publicists – which further maintains our feeling good status.

GDW Anniversary

Long time readers may recall those earlier days of GDW, and how often we took opportunities to travel and catch shows both in Canada and here closer to home. The tempo would steadily decrease in subsequent years as ‘paid employment’ responsibilities demanded more of our time, and were forced almost to a halt when faced with social distancing, lockdowns, and non-essential travel restrictions. Over the last twelve months, however, that tempo has changed course (for the better) – and like the physical nature of a pendulum, is once again swinging back in our favor. Much happier with our activities over the last year, check out these (long overdue) interesting statistics compiled between October 1st 2022 and today (previous year in parentheses for comparative purposes):

  • Amassing an unknown quantity of miles/kilometers traveled (how many oil changes?), we made the trek from our home in southern PA to Canada on 11 (6) occasions.
  • During those 11 excursions, we attended 19 (7) live music events across Ontario, in places such as Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, and Gravenhurst (# 20 takes place tomorrow – we like round numbers).
  • Equally happy to hit the road to support Canadian artists who ventured into our neck of the woods, we attended 18 (6) shows here in the US too, in PA, MD, DE, DC and VA.
  • Oh, and you’ve likely seen us post clips of shows featuring artists from the US, UK, and Europe too; we saw a total of 6 (2) established non-Canadian acts in concert over the last twelve months.
GDW Anniversary

Spreading the word about the live music scene was a founding principle when creating GDW; one sacrificed during the pandemic as we forcibly diversified our attention towards album and single reviews to keep the GDW wheels turning. Let it be known, however, that this was never intended to become a permanent shift. There are plenty of dedicated sites and journals out there devoted to new music releases, and we tip our hats to them all, knowing firsthand the time and energy that must be invested to cover them diligently (it will burn you out quickly if you allow it). Moving forward, we’re grateful that this uptick in live music performances permits us to make a long overdue return to our roots, and to focus our editorial spaces with comprehensive coverage of the live scene once more. There is always great music being made, so we shall still post reviews about studio recordings from time to time – just not as frequently as you’ve witnessed during the pandemic-era.

GDW Anniversary

We took delight in our last annual recap to share gratitude to the artists willing to collaborate with us to launch their new releases here on our pages. With GDW content always written for the fans, by the fans, we strive to make this a trusted online space for musicians and fans to connect, making it an absolute honor when artists ask if they can debut their new music here with us. Looking back over the last year, we proudly premiered seven music videos from across Canada – for BC artists Laura Kelsey and Claire Coupland, ON artists James Gray and Joan Smith & the Jane Does, and the stunning tune “Alma” from emerging QC folk band Little Misty.

So that’s five, right – I know my math is a little off here. But, can we add just how excited we were to be given the opportunity to debut not one, but two music videos for Emm Gryner. What an ego-boost for us fans who happen to run a music blog about Canadian music in our spare time – that this ON-based and critically acclaimed recording artist presented us with such opportunities. Thanks Emm. And let’s also tip our hat to Team GDW contributor Steve Murphy, who helped us premiere the single “99 (A Hockey Song)” from Hamilton, ON artist Ben Somer last year. As a hockey buff, Steve was clearly the team member of choice for this one. And here’s a teaser for those of you that have scrolled down this far – we have a possible video premiere coming soon for a Manitoba-based artist. Not confirmed yet, but there is a desirable opportunity hovering on our radar…stay tuned.

GDW Anniversary

Shifting gears back to those concert-going adventures, we’ve had some pretty fun encounters whilst out on the road over the last twelve months, and often when least expected. Given that we are celebrating seven years, here are seven examples that stand out:

  • Bumping into Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor outside of a hotel back in November. Not only was Greg kind enough to pose for a picture, he was keen to chat as we waited together in the check-in line. Truly perplexed to think that even having the Order of Canada, Greg still has to give his name and show ID at the check-in desk.
  • After plenty of GDW coverage and DM’s throughout the pandemic, it was fabulous to finally connect in person with Windsor, NS artist Terra Spencer in late November. Terra is lovely, an awesome artist, and one who makes you feel like a long-lost relative when she locks you in a bear hug with a vice-like grip.
  • Receiving an invite to Bianca Bernardi’s album release show in Hamilton that same weekend, courtesy of Tim Allard from The Redhill Valleys. Great to see the whole band in attendance, and several other pals in the room. Oh, and witnessing Bianca being welcomed to the stage by legendary Canadian actor Graham Greene – talk about icing on the cake.
  • Another Blue Rodeo moment – but when the American half of GDW surprised the British half with birthday present tickets to the band’s once-in-a-lifetime “Songs Seldom Heard” show at Massey Hall in February, even thoughts of the seven feet of snow falling in Buffalo the week prior failed to deter us from arriving at Shuter St. that night (the weather did play ball – it was meant to be). We got to hear “Side Of The Road” – life is almost complete now…
  • Oh, the pleasure in surprising artist friends when we attend their shows and purposely did not give them a heads up. We managed it three times over consecutive days in March – we’re talking about you Julian Taylor, Candace Lacina, and Melanie Peterson – seeing those smiles form on your faces when you recognized us in the room(s) were all priceless.
  • Catching a show from The Sadies here in PA last May. Upon learning that Dallas Good passed away in early 2022, our hearts sank – as did many – for this wonderful human being. And that the three band members dug deep into their souls before continuing their journey, they continue to honor their fallen comrade every show. Their presence in the Keystone State was emotional and outstanding, both.
  • Another invite to an exclusive event, our thanks went out to Emm Gryner for an evening of music in Wilmington, DE recently – just a short cruise along the PA Turnpike for us. Having debuted two music videos from Emm’s latest “Business & Pleasure” album, it was amazing to be seated up front in an intimate backyard barn setting on a glorious late summer’s eve to witness these tunes firsthand.
GDW Anniversary

Okay, I’m sure we’ve convinced you that these last twelve months have been pretty special and a monumental time for Team GDW. But, of course, we couldn’t do without you – our readers and our contributors – and the support and enthusiasm you provide to keep us pushing on and creating content about the music scene. It seems that every year I toss out a last-minute shameless plug to recruit music fans who fancy dabbling with a little writing (all we ask is that you are passionate about the music), and welcomed occasional video contributions from our larger GDW family – Craig B. from Ohio, and Louise T. from Toronto. And for those of you that put your trust in fate, we sure did – because making the acquaintances of both Craig and Louise originated from a 2019 concert that all of us happened to attend – albeit in entirely separate circumstances. Both have become good friends, and we truly value their contributions.  So come on, don’t be shy, the GDW team would love to get to know you and continue to enjoy with you this shared passion that is outstanding music.

GDW Anniversary

Seven years of GDW will officially in the books come midnight tomorrow – let’s keep on spreading the word about great music and the fabulous live music adventures yet to come. Thanks again for taking this ride with us! We’re renewed for an eighth season – let the road trips commence, let the music keep playing. Cheers, Salut, and Merci.

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.

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