Happy September 30th to each and every one of our readers out there. We are incredibly grateful that you continue to take this wonderful music journey with us!!!
As we celebrate the sixth anniversary of Great Dark Wonder today, it really boggles the mind to believe that even with the events of the last couple of years, we somehow continued to keep our wheels turning, and the music coverage flowing. As a blog focusing primarily on the live music experience, the aftermath of Spring 2020 forced us, like many, to adapt and evolve as the world came crashing down around us. Sure, concert coverage during the pandemic was minimal, but we survived. And while having to shift our focus largely towards album and single releases during this timeframe may have been (at least in my humble opinion) a little repetitive at times, we managed to ride the waves and pull through. Like many of our artist friends, we persevered, and we’re gradually reaping the rewards of live music once more as society looks to finally move beyond this blot in our history.
Indeed, the plight of the pandemic still lingers for many of our artist friends, who are not only dealing with the aftermath of lost revenues and financial burdens, but are also seeking to re-establish whatever momentum and strides they had made with their careers before we all hit that monumental pause button. Artists are finally able to schedule performances and plan tours once again, but those seeds of doubt are hard to shift – being ever fearful that such plans can come crashing down around them following just one positive rapid antigen test or being exposed to an outbreak of this ever-evolving virus at any given moment during a lengthy tour. Still, as we strive to exercise caution, musicians and audiences have started to reconnect here in 2022. Artists are on the road, fans are traveling too, and the live music experience is slowly but surely returning to some sense of normalcy.
2022 may show a significant improvement over the two years that preceded it, but the year did not exactly kick off with the best of news. Just six days into the New Year, the world learned of the devastating loss of musician Koady Chaisson (The East Pointers) – a good friend here at GDW, and his sudden death left us and many with heavy hearts as we mourned his passing. As we moved into February, that strange sense of déjà vu would hit the music community once more, this time with the tragic loss of Dallas Good (The Sadies) – an outstanding musician, producer, and gentle giant of a man whom we’d had the privilege to meet and see perform on many occasions. Koady and Dallas are both sorely missed, but with true “the show must go on” bravado, their families and band-mates are continuing to write, create, record, perform, and keep the memories of those lost still very much alive. The Sadies paid respects to Dallas through the release of their latest album, “Colder Streams,” this past July (and what a stunning album it is too), while The East Pointers opted to curate and promote their own “Harvest Home Festival” in PEI (which sadly had to be cancelled due to the arrival of Hurricane Fiona), honoring Koady who always shared his passion for both his home and this personal summer event (The East Pointers release their new “House of Dreams” EP today too).
But back to the positive times now – we’ve always used this annual article to recap our Canadian excursions and concert-going adventures, and after being denied such an opportunity 12 months ago (our concert attendance report card was blank between October 2020 and September 2021), it feels SO GOOD to share that we have resumed live music events over this last year. After testing the waters with a pair of low-key shows in MD and VA to close out 2021, we increased the pace coming out of the winter months with a handful of US-based shows, before making that first return journey to Canada in early May. We’re happy to remain cautious, and stick to smaller gigs and venues at this time, but after enjoying six border crossings over the last five months, we’re almost back to our pre-pandemic pace. For those keeping score (did you know you we have a concert tracker on the blog???), our tally includes 8 concerts here in the US, and 5 in Canada, along with 2 full summer festival experiences. And with plenty more on the calendar for the months ahead, those numbers should improve significantly by the time we roll around to this article again in 12 months time – fingers crossed, of course.
While I stated earlier that our coverage had perhaps grown a little stale (prior to returning to live concerts) – well, let’s not dismiss the fact that we had our fair share of fabulous projects that we were honored to be involved with. We’ve premiered new singles for both Alicia Toner (ft. Joey Landreth) and Little Steed (ft. Dani Nash), and debuted a half-dozen music videos for independent artists too, from Josh Geddis, Kristina Dervaitis, and Justine Giles, to name a few.
We also scratched off a “bucket list” item back in December when the opportunity arose to interview both Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo (live, via Zoom) – on the day of their “Many A Mile” album release – which really was an unbelievable ‘once in a lifetime’ moment. Yes, I’m still pinching myself to make sure that was real. Jim and Greg were very engaged during our 30-minute conversation, as we discussed specific album tracks, the band, and the challenges presented by the pandemic to their creative processes. Once again, we extend our gratitude to the team at Starfish Entertainment and Warner Music Canada for pulling the strings to make us a part of Blue Rodeo’s media-access day. We accept that we’re a small fish swimming in a big ocean when it comes to the music industry, making it extra special to be given such consideration and the invitation to participate. And Blue Rodeo’s social media folks deserve a shout out too – we saw you sharing a couple of GDW pieces on your official Facebook page over the last twelve months, and we are forever grateful.
Of course, with traveling and open borders came the chance to finally get out and connect with a few of our own GDW contributors – catching up over a couple of beverages with Steve Murphy in London, ON, grabbing lunch with Jess Lahr here in PA, and enjoying some breakfast treats with Douglas McLean in Gravenhurst, ON. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to do the same with Matt Wheeler sometime soon, and as much as we’d love to grab a bite with Richard Clark, that will take a little more planning, given that he’s on the other side of the pond. Reconnecting with artist friends too has been so good for the soul, chatting at festivals, random encounters, and after show performances – we are always grateful for their smiles, their hugs, and their hospitality – you all know who you are! And one last shout out goes to Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Burton, who joined me for lunch here in our home town just 12 months ago – it was awesome to meet you in person as you made your trek south, and at least give you a short break from those many hours spent behind the wheel.
As for our readers – thank you for taking this journey with us. We truly appreciate all of you, and extend our gratitude to those who chat with us regularly (online or in-person at shows), who share and comment on our social media posts, who bookmark our site in their browsers, and who offer suggestions for our listening pleasures and/or provide feedback on our coverage. The gratitude extends to our friends working long and hard within the music and music-media communities too – earning your trust to represent your clients and their music through our articles and posts means the world to us too. And before I draw this anniversary piece to a close, I have to toss out the shameless annual plug to encourage any of our readers who fancy dabbling in a little ‘music blogging’ to reach out to us.
If you love reading our articles, take delight in our reviews, and enjoy discovering new artists and music for yourselves – Team GDW are always looking to welcome volunteer writers to the family. No experience necessary – just bring your passion for music, and your willingness to help spread the word, like our friend and reader Craig B. did just last week, offering us his wonderful review of the latest Adam Baldwin album release. Go ahead and contact us here on our website, or our social media pages, and we’ll happily provide more information to you (disclaimer: volunteer writers only – we are not looking for advertising opportunities, nor are we looking to promote paid content). We close this annual recap every year with a reminder that we are first and foremost a music blog, written by fans, for the fans – so don’t be shy, the GDW team would love to get to know you and enjoy with you this shared passion that is outstanding music.
Six years of GDW are officially in the books – let’s keep on spreading the word about great music and add yet another candle to the cake in twelve months time. Cheers, Salut, and Merci.