A Few Thoughts Post Juno Songwriters' Circle 2014

I was blessed enough to be at an industry brunch today - a chance to meet some new people and reconnect with some I already know. Networking. Scary sometimes, but absolutely necessary in the field of music. And as one conversation and handshake leads to another, I ended up chatting with Tom Wilson from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, meeting his daughter and manager Madeline who graciously offered me a pass to the Juno Songwriters Circle (hosted by SOCAN) I am favoured today (thank you Madeline!)

The circle was chock-full of talent: Randy Bachman, Tom Wilson, Shad, Little Miss Higgins, The Sadies (Dallas and Travis) July Talk and Matt Epp, but the stand out artist for me was Matt. I've known him for years. In fact, we played a show together many moons ago. This year he's a songwriting nominee and playing amongst hall-of-famers.

Here's the thing about someone like Matt. He does his thing. He is who he is, and he does his thing. What I mean to say is that he has given his life over to music and making music as a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly thing. It's his life. The first time we met, he hadn't recorded yet. He was starting out and just excited to have an opportunity to learn, to grow, to watch, to listen, to absorb. He started with what he had…some guitar playing, jamming with friends, playing for no to little money and writing, writing, writing. I remember him telling me once that he wanted to be as prolific as Bob Dylan, and just write 'where he was at', and release songs that told the story of life exactly as it was and where it was in the moment (I paraphrase, but I was listening)

All this to say that it was really wonderful to see and hear him today, not only because of the personal connection, but because I know that this road has been a long one for him and he's walked it with not a little hard work, determination, and, above all, passion - a passion that is still evident. And frankly, of all the songs I heard today, his were my favourite.

It also strikes me that as someone like Matt does his thing, the moments are pure. He doesn't seem to worry too much about "should bes" and "supposed to bees" but just keeps at his craft - his joy. And one pure moment leads to another pure moment and…well, other people want to be a part of that, and before you know it you've ended up somewhere you might not have predicted, but that is exactly where you are supposed to be. For Matt, today, it was the stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre, with other great artists, sharing that joy with those of us there.

So my encouragement today (for me and whomever else needs it) is: Do your thing. That thing that fuels your passion. I'm assuming that for you it's songwriting, since you're here reading this. But really, what is it? Whatever it is, do it with your whole heart and don't focus on what it should be (in your mind) but rather on what it is, in this moment of time. And don't quit, as long as it still puts a smile on your face and, if you're lucky, someone else's too. All will be well.

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