I love the CBC. I say it all the time, I know. And I LOVE my CBC broadcasters. (Mine!!)

When I heard Candy Palmater would be hosting a new daily afternoon show, I said “Candy for two hours every day?” I think it came out wrong to present company at the time.

“I’m nervous for sure. I feel like all my ancestors are leaned up behind me. When has this ever happened? When has a native person in general ever had the opportunity to talk to the nation for two hours a day? A native woman?”

…said Candy herself, “a gay native feminist comic raised by bikers” no less.

And that’s the thing; it’s huge to have that voice, her voice, every day. I love hearing it. So the chance to meet her and The Candy Show crew was a delight.

You can listen to the whole interview I did with Candy here.

I DO heart CBC! Outside the mothership in Toronto…

I have a new scar (I like scars). It was twice-made three weeks ago today. First, by a thyroidectomy and second, hours later, in an emergency procedure to address an arterial bleed, also known as “that time you were partially decapitated” by my dear (most inadequate adjective) Susan, who was there and who, by being there, may well have saved my life. Doctors had to reopen my neck at the bedside with me still awake, and it was one of the scarier medical moments of my life (a life that’s been riddled with experiencing and witnessing a lot of scary medical moments). Susan and I may have only just, respectively, stopped shaking from the surreal adventure.

We’re okay.

I’m okay. I’ve been incredibly supported by friends through this experience and that support has been a well of feeling love and home.

I can’t yet lift my head too high — so if we hug that’s why I’m resting my cheek on your chest (so cozy!) — and I’m navigating fluctuating calcium levels and new hormones.

Also, my voice. Truth is, I postponed this surgery until after my CD release tour in case it changed my voice. At inspection, my vocal cords are not permanently damaged. They are, temporarily I’m told, by use, changed. My voice is weakened, breathy, and pitchy (pitchy!!). Notes are airy and truncated. Some are out of reach. My voice is slightly unfamiliar and a little wild. I’m getting to know her and she holds surprises. She sounds like me. But different.

It’s only been three weeks.

In the moments that the doctors and nurses were addressing the haematoma, I was staring up at the ceiling thinking “I probably won’t die because there are all these people here to fix this, but I do need space for the pain.” Thank you mindfulness training for planting that thought. I was having difficulty breathing, and blood was pouring down my chest as the surgeon’s fingers pulled open skin, muscle, and pulled clots out of the cavity of my neck. I looked at Susan and saw her fear; I felt fear. I looked at the surgeon and saw his steadiness. I thought about not fighting the pain.

In a week, I’ll be playing a grand piano in Koerner Hall in Toronto as part of my presentation at this year’s ideacity. It’s a remarkable opportunity. And I’ll be showing up with the new voice. All I can do is invite that voice in, and invite others to receive it as I do in every performance. I can’t wish this voice were something it’s not. I can’t fight with it.

Easier said that done, but hey, what’s a practice of trying to be present without reminders of why? Because things can change in an instant.

After ideacity, I’ll be resting this voice and giving it time to return to/find new strength, singing softly to my garden and the trees that frame it, singing to you from here, maybe coming up with new stories of How I Got This Scar (knife fight? Bear attack? Sloppy vampire?), and plotting my next bold move.

xoc

It was a 2013 tour in Germany that inspired the first one-line-for-each-place reflection once I got home, and I like trying to extract, or encapsulate, what stands out about each place — especially because once a tour is complete, there can be such a blurring of faces, backdrops, and events. There are also so many vivid and brilliant moments; some of them are still reverberating, shining, giggling, swaying, sighing in my thoughts and bones.

I like to pause and see what comes to mind — not unlike #ddnd on Twitter (“dear day not diary” and a daily highlight composition) — neither too soon after the tour, nor too long. Today is the day, friends, and I’m thinking of the dots and hearts we connected in song from the west to east coasts.

Duncan, your low hanging moon was not where I left it but how I remembered it, and your sun’s warmth was the first of its kind this year; you began.

Victoria, you represented 1996 and 2013 in beautiful women’s big smiles and a folded piece of newsprint with a picture of me.

Vancouver, you filled a room and my heart with every way and time that I know you, and I noticed your touch every single time in slow motion; you were hard to leave.

Ymir, your certain kind of magic was the solution to the long drive’s equation; you hung my poster — and I smiled wide for it — amid flour and sugar.

Calgary, turns out you’re younger than you look and you sound older than you are; your deft repair turned on lights below and ignited backstage giggles.

Lloydminster, your virtual and physical knowledge differed and we championed a comedian’s first, ending it all on a piano bench with white wine and a chorus of “Proud Mary.”

Winnipeg, you sidled up to the curb in a way to besmirch your near-perfect paralell parking reputation and were touched by the presence of Birds Hill to Berlin and back.

Stony Mountain, the first double, you sold girl guide cookies, belly sweat in your new dress, and talked about “the girls” while we exaggerated stories of potential.

Onanole, we drove into your April snow storm and, unplugged, planned musicals and heard of house fires.

Saskatoon, you won over the Statler and Waldorf of the joint and swooned in the arms of a baby grand, melting in her steel and wood.

Calgary, we returned, you beckoned from the hot tub after singing along.

Edmonton, we tried to nap in the “room for crying” and navigated puzzle pieces from the past, remembering the waiting of 7 years ago most.

Sherwood Park, you panned for gold in the Saskatchewan River and spun pure magic near changing walls.

Toronto, as my new home you showed home well:  replies from here, there, and everywhere I’ve reached my hand out to; you held and lifted.

Montreal, you were the best you’ve ever been, near full, smiling, and seeing at long last via Aurora and 73rd Ave.

Ottawa, your rainy Sunday slowed us all down, not to mention those stairs, but you’re always my favourite hiding place and I was glad to close my eyes and rest my head on your shoulder.

Cole Harbour, you were funny and lovely, setting up a new world with a three day life span.

Saint John, your sunset was just one of the warm faces in the crowd, and after the music your eyes-filled with tears as you told me of your lost one; I noticed what I missed about those stories, this time.

Fredericton, the background noise would come and go but we, a small but dedicated few, travelled its peaks and troughs together, glowing for each other; plus gin.

xoc

Day 27 and only 3 shows left in the tour! Getting the exact same rental car in Toronto as we did in Vancouver made for an easy transition off the plane and back on the road, and the weekend spin from Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa was almost entirely soundtracked by Regina Spektor and Kate Bush in that Camry (I’m having my semi-regular love affair with Hounds of Love). I just about had to move to Montreal when I could not for the life of me take the right exit out of the city, but other than that, smooth travels, friends, prevail. Hard to believe this tour is almost done.

Christa Couture launches her long awaited new album “Long Time Leaving” from coast to coast! Join Christa for the following intimate, solo performances.

Further details under shows, or join the Facebook event.

04/02 – Barrie, ON @ House Concert
04/07 – Duncan BC @ Duncan Showroom with Chris Ho
04/08 – Victoria BC @ Solstice Cafe with Cluny Macpherson
04/09 – Vancouver BC @ CBC Studio 700 with Sandy Scofield
04/10 – Ymir BC @ The Schoolhouse
04/11 – Calgary AB The Ironwood with I Am The Mountain
04/14 – Winnipeg, MB @ Times Change(d), with Kris Ulrich
04/15 – Stony Mountain MB @ House Concert
04/16 – Onanole MB @ House Concert
04/20 – Saskatoon, SK @ The Bassment with A Voice for Vultures
04/23 – Edmonton AB @ The Blue Chair with Tzedeka
04/24 – Sherwood Park, AB @ R ‘Ouse
04/28 – Toronto, ON @ The Burdock with Corinna Rose
04/29 – Montreal. QC @ Le Cagibi with Marie Claire Durand
05/01 – Ottawa, ON @ Live on Elgin with Goodnight Boy
05/05 – Cole Harbour, NS @ Rose & Kettle
05/06 – St. John, NB @ Homeport Home Stages
05/07 – Fredericton, NB @ Grimross Brewing Co, Presented by Roots & Soul with Caitlin & Calum

CrossCanadaLTL

I’ve never been very open to co-witing songs. The thing is, for me, song-writing is deeply personal. When other musicians off-handedly remark, “Hey, we should hang out and do some co-writes” I’m stunned, thinking, “YOU MEAN BASICALLY GET NAKED TOGETHER?” I can jam into the wee hours of the morning with others — there are many ways, of course, that music is playful and spontaneous in my life — but song-writing is messy and divine. Song-writing comes with tears and shouting and sighs, and is part of a tenuous relationship with the muse that I have often felt I couldn’t risk adding anyone else to.

I did, a few years ago, have a good run of co-writes with Don Harrison (two of those songs appeared on my EP Lost: “The Most Lovely” and “Let it Go”) but the key was that he gave me recorded instrumental tracks and then, alone in my apartment, away from any watchful eyes, I’d sing along and later get back to him with the result. Song-writing, at its best, for me, is that: I just start to sing a song, like it’s been on the tip of my tongue and I’ve suddenly remembered it.

But to remember it I have to be alone.

I always felt a little jealous of those that had the comfort level, the lack of self-consciousness, to write with others. What have I been missing out on? Am I just taking it all too seriously?

In February this year I participated in the Aboriginal Music Program’s week long Market Builder Residency, with huge thanks to Manitoba Music and Canada Council for the Arts. When the opportunity came up the participants were encouraged to pursue creative development, not just professional. I decided to take the co-writing plunge and asked the fabulous Coco Love Alcorn, experienced co-writer extraordinaire, if she’d spend a couple afternoons with me and be my in-person co-writing first. Coco and I have toured numerous times over the years, she probably has seen me naked at least a few times, and I felt safe enough with her to let my guard down and be open to other ways of writing.

We laughed a lot. She encouraged me to simplify. We distilled ideas. I was grateful to be pushed out of my comfort zone. And we wrote a couple songs! Alan Greyeyes filmed this one in its complete newness, inside the Coalition Music chapel. Half of the chorus came from an already in-progress song of mine that I may still return to one day — it has rather sadder undertones than this (I will always like sad songs) — and the rest came from the two of us together, talking about home, anchors, and family.

I’m moving. It’s a difficult move. It has an unexpected shape and fitting the contents from the back of the closet into it is clumsy, daunting. I’m writing “change of plans” down the side of boxes, instead of “kitchen.”

I’ve moved a lot over the years and my go-to for empty boxes is McDonald’s. I don’t eat at the place, mind you, but their boxes are strong, a just-right medium size, fit perfectly amongst themselves, and are always in supply.

Twice this month I’ve ridden my trike to the McDonald’s at Gerrard and Pape in Toronto and twice I’ve encountered Amanda who works there. Twice I’ve approached her in my current, somewhat raw state — I’m coming to most interactions lately with my guard down, with a “window in your heart,” as Paul Simon nails it — and asked her for boxes.

The first time, I was still outside when I saw her and asked. She, without a trace of annoyance — I did interrupt her task at hand, after all — announced happily “Wait here!” and made three trips (the second and third prompted by her, “Need more than that?” and my sheepish, hopeful “Yes, if you have them.”) from inside back out to me, her arms full.

The second time I swung by she looked up, “I remember you! Do you need more boxes?” and it took her longer than the last time as they were not readily available. She marched off and took the time to find and collapse another stack for me.

Both times she was so friendly, so quick to be helpful, it almost caught me off guard. I imagined a young woman who inherently considers kindness the default. I hoped she never thinks of it as exceptional. Both times I almost teared up — “everybody sees you’re blown apart.” I’m telling you — because her bit of easy-going assistance felt humane and near tender. I’m not without support during these days of Big Things — I have a few wise, wonderful friends, who are catching and covering me while I push through — but this Little Thing touched my heart.

Amanda shrugged off my thank yous and went back to work, so here is another thank you for her, stuck to this page.

Photo 2015-09-21, 11 12 43 AM
The loaded up trike.

Now that three wintery months have passed, it is time to take this show back on the road!

In a couple weeks, the CD release tour for The Living Record will resume. I’ll return to a couple of familiar places, and then head east to the Maritimes to play shows in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for the first time ever.

I am SO looking forward to taking my west coast self to that east coast to share these tunes with the good folk there. Between now and reaching the Atlantic, I’ll be performing at Sâkêwêwak Festival in Regina, getting my folk on at the International Folk Alliance in Toronto, and performing in Toronto and Montreal.

Here are the dates for The Living Record Spring Tour 2013:
(RSVP to the tour at http://www.facebook.com/events/344477492338065)

Feb 14 – Sâkêwêwak Festival, Regina SK
More info: http://www.facebook.com/events/289392237850958/

Feb 21-23 – Folk Alliance, Toronto ON
If you’re attending Folk Alliance, find Christa at the private showcases listed at: http://www.facebook.com/events/326850470748599/

March 4 – Grumpy’s, Montreal QC
More info: http://www.facebook.com/events/331109240331218/

March 6 – The Spill, Peterborough ON
On a shared bill with Magpie Ulysses and Tara Williamson, info: http://www.facebook.com/events/323888524396502/

March 9 – Revolucion, Toronto ON
More info: http://www.facebook.com/events/554386094571589/

March 13 – Folk Night, St. John’s NL

March 14 – Fables, Tatamagouche NS
With Gabrielle Papillon, more info: http://www.facebook.com/events/148464098639934/

March 15 – Landsdowne House Concert, Fredericton NB
March 16 – Landsdowne House Concert #2, Fredericton NB
With Gabrielle Papillon. If you live near Fredericton and would like info on these two house concerts, email info@christacouture.com

March 17 – The Dunk, PEI
With Gabrielle Papillon, more info: http://www.facebook.com/events/482745465101026/

March 19 – Company House, Halifax NS
Wtih Gabrielle Papillon and Taryn Kawaja, more info: http://www.facebook.com/events/300338820068562/

See you there!

xoc

p.s.
Before I leave town in 7 days for 6 weeks, we’re filming a music video! It’s been a blast planning and pulling it together with director Kate Kroll. We spent all day shopping for wardrobe – here I am getting my vintage on at Burcu’s off Main Street in Vancouver:

And with that (Saturday night at the Toronto Free Gallery), my last gig of 2012. It’s strange to think of it as the last of anything, when I am so very much in the middle of things, but it’s amazing to think of a year ago. A year ago I hadn’t recorded The Living Record yet but it was newly fully funded and the plans were in place. A year ago I was just dusting off my performing self, putting her back together, and trying my hand once more at being on stage. A year ago I was taking steps I wasn’t ready for, but took them for the need of SOMETHING to happen. A year ago I didn’t know where I would be now. A year ago I was saying a few of the same things.

A year ago I may well have been on a plane like this one. Packed, cramped, and catching up on movies I wanted to see but couldn’t admit to wanting to see. A woman just walked by in a black t-shirt with the big white words of “it’s okay to cry” and I’m reminded of something I read a few days ago (where?) saying that we’re more apt to crying on airplanes. Something about the altitude affecting our emotions. I suspect the strain of travel, small spaces, time zones, hellos and goodbyes, also place us susceptible to tears mid-flight, but I’ll take the t-shirt slogan to heart because Robert Deniro in that hospital bed scene definitely got to me.

And with that, a stinking head cold. I don’t mind really. It’s the chance for me to hear myself talk like I’m underwater without getting wet. Mostly I’m grateful that my body waited and waded through the last three months of the CD release, Canadian tour and music video shoot before catching anything. Way to hang in there little one!

Yes! A music video! This past week in Toronto I filmed a music video for the song Parasite with Big Soul Productions and director Adam Garnet Jones thanks to APTN First Tracks. It’s going to be a couple months before the finished product is shared with the world, but I’m really, really excited about it. It was fun, and challenging, and the crew was fantastic. Here’s Adam and I in dueling cowichan sweaters (to which I couldn’t help but describe as mad cowichan disease) because, note, there is no heat at the Toronto Circus School (brr!):

Here I am braving a storm of bubbles:

And later, the crew resets for another shot of the confetti storm:

You’ll get it when you see it. Oh I can’t wait for you to see it!

I’m grateful for all the gigs I’ve had in 2012 and glad even that the last one of the year was in Toronto, my favourite hard place to be. A few of my first 2013 gigs in February will be back in TO actually, and if it’s going to be as cold then as it was this past week, I’m going to need to pack the parka!

xoc