It’s a pretty sure bet that as I sit down to write this month’s column, the COVID-19 pandemic will still be affecting our daily lives by the time this feature is shared with you. It seemed insensitive or somewhat tone-deaf to simply put forward the usual submission I provide and ignore that reality.
So I will take a break from humour right now, and hopefully as we turn the corner in the months ahead there will be a time and a place for that once again.
I thought I might rather highlight some of the other features that have occasionally crept into these columns over the years that you may not be aware of, in the hopes you may enjoy some of those writings and recordings while you are practicing social distancing or isolation. I’ll provide some online links to those features in a moment.
In addition to writing humour columns for newspapers and magazines over the past couple of decades, that work expanded in recent times to a focus on a specific genre of music artists. While I’ve long been an ardent fan of music, and especially Canadian music, over the past few years I’ve had the good fortune of interviewing and reviewing folk, roots, blues and Americana/Canadiana artists from coast to coast here, and even across the globe. Many of those reviews and interviews are still online in the Calgary Herald, but they’re also complemented by a series of podcasts that I put together as a companion feature for those columns.
As popular as many of these singer/songwriters are here at home, just as many are in extremely high demand around the world. Time and time again during my interviews these artists shared stories of recurring trips they embark upon year after year to other countries with a deep appreciation for their work.
You can find the interviews on my podcast site or you can download them/listen for free in iTunes (thatdanguy’s Podcast), as well as from iHeart radio.
Over the course of the folk and roots music focus, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with David Francey, Don Amero, Belle Plaine, Shari Ulrich, Rawlins Cross, Red Moon Road, John Wort Hannam, Jeffery Straker, Mary Gauthier, Mitch Dorge (Crash Test Dummies), the late Laura Smith, Séan McCann (Great Big Sea), Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings), and Barney Bentall – to name just a handful. Each and every artist was gracious and earnestly shared nuggets from their careers and their work. You’ll discover a lot about our country by listening to these broadcasts.
Every home has a library of some sort, be that virtual or digital. Many of you may be listening to music day and night to get through this crisis. You can learn more about these musicians and maybe even discover a new favourite artist through these downloads.
Maybe your library leans more towards books, TV or movies. I’ve also had a chance to chat with some authors and actors over the years – for which you can visit my YouTube channel to catch some of those.
You can view videos there with W. Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rules, A Dog’s Purpose) and watch my own very Canadian deference when asking a question of the legendary comedian Jerry Lewis. Plus there are loads of video interviews with more of those aforementioned recording artists, and actors including George Wendt from Cheers and Richard Karn from Home Improvement.
Another common theme in many of these interviews is about the selfless campaigns many of these public figures do annually in their communities or across Canada, raising funds for those less fortunate. Quite a sense of pride in how these artists give back and try to make Canada a better place.
Hopefully my next column can get back to making you laugh, but in the meantime, you may get a few laughs from some of these features. I’m hoping you can also discover musicians you may not be aware of – our wealth of talent here in Canada relies on us discovering and supporting them.