Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Diamonds In The Rock

Okay, back to the wild and wonderful world of self-exploration via travel.  In the immortal words of Ani Difranco "I just got kinda....distracted."

So for months before I left, my desire was to immerse myself in the St.John's music culture.  I wanted to see a new band every night, I wanted to converse in order to understand how this musical community thrived on an island so harsh and barren it is known as The Rock.

Apparently the answer was in the question.  Almost every musician/artist I talked to had the same theory, which I am going to paraphrase using a Dylan Thomas quote:
 "Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
They described the colourful homes as a way to counter the thick St.John's fog.  
The music to drown out the gale, and to forget the drowned.
The dancing to prove that their bodies were not still...yet.
Harsh conditions can create such beauty...
And resilience.

It's no secret that Newfoundland is having some serious economical challenges.  With oil prices so low and the over spending by the government during the short lived "boom"; there is much unrest.  Posters are everywhere in the city, calling the Premier to resign.  Unemployment is rising and those with jobs often need more than one.  Darnell, a thickly accented musical theatre actor, explained to me over a pint of Quidi Vidi's 1892 that he (aside from his theatre work) needs two jobs.  He's a chef at a restaurant down the street during the day and a bouncer at a pub at night. "I know you can't tell looking at me, but I get punched 3-4 times a night... Guess eventually the bruises stop showing up." 
A lack of resources is the best way to become resourceful.  That is the grit that you can sense in a Newfoundlander.  We are soft and reserved here, in our comfortable food-only-a-few-hours-away towns.  They are hard and wild and beautiful in their expression of rebellion.  They rage like the ocean and unapologetically dance on their watery graves.  Listen to the music of the Newfoundlanders and you will hear the sorrow and the never ending fight.  I give to you this beautiful example from The Fortunate Ones, introduced to me by Alexi, the Coffee Matters Barista who came out and shared a beer, his musical knowledge and other musings... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xj8IlanhTQE