Indie, Slam and getting real


I’m feeling somewhat older these days. And it’s not just because of the way my face has transformed, my body morphed, and my energy levels declined … but it’s this feeling of a lack of connection to what’s happening ‘out there’ in so many ways. I used to feel ‘with it’, and I liked that. But, maybe I can find ‘with it’ again?

Yesterday I had a brief conversation with a promising young musician and family connection, and I was excited to spend a few minutes in the company of someone with abundant energy and zest and desire to experience life to the full. Because I still want that too… no matter my age… the last thing I want to do is to give up and become morbidly out of touch. So, thank God for the young people in my life that remind me of what it means to be relevant and real, and who keep me apprised of how things are, no matter how shocking that can be sometimes.

So this beautiful young woman and I were talking music… her passion… and she referred to ‘Indie’ music. I immediately thought of ‘Bollywood’ (film industry of India) and wrongly assumed she meant music with eastern references and overtones. The more she talked, the more I recognized how wrong my assumption was, so I swallowed my pride and asked, “What is Indie?” She was happy to explain that it meant ‘Independent’ music… sounds and voices and lyrics and an overall uniqueness that doesn’t fall within the norm of pop music. “Oh, I said… like Alternative music?” “Sort of,” she said, and then she cued up a couple of songs on her ipod and handed me the ear bud while explaining why this particular musician was Indie and so on.

I felt so privileged to have her explain this to me. And once I listened and she talked some more I began to recognize what she meant. Then I offered up some examples of my music (from the dark ages) that I considered to be ‘Indie’ and offered her my CD’s to listen to. She seemed enthusiastic about that too. So, thank you to that particular young woman and all the young people who aren’t embarrased by older people like me who are interested in understanding their world. And maybe it ‘s a world that I can participate in too?

Like Poetry Slams… for example. Fairly new to me, not new to today’s kids. Spoken Word recently came into the world’s eye when 34 year old Shane Koyczan from Penticton B.C. spoke his amazing poem about BC at the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies in Vancouver. The world paused in awe and listened to this talented guy speak a poem that was anything but pretentious or out of reach or what many remember poetry being from stuffy english high school classes in the past. His words were real, raw, funny, delivered in a funky hip hop beat type of way that made us pay attention. Wow. I loved it. And I’m now finding out more about this genre and what it means socially as well as to the literary world.

So, I went to a Black History Month event at the public library where slam poet Kevan Cameron a.k.a. “Scruffmouth.” (Grand Champion of the 2008 Vancouver Poetry Slam) delivered a few poems that rivited me to my stacking chair. Followed by a reading by Governor-General Award winner Dr. George Elliott-Clarke that cut into my guts with it’s honesty and content with words that mattered. Dr. Elliott-Clarke is maybe not young, but he speaks like he is.

Again, I’m thankful for the kids, and those young at heart, that are out there changing things up in their own way, and making us sit up and pay attention. So much talent, so much passion. I would count myself blessed to sit and listen… a fly on the wall… when they speak.

Reminds me of a video I watched once at a women’s conference when I was just beginning to believe I might possibly be a writer deep inside… perhaps a poet even… and I was so overcome with emotion because of the words and delivery of this young woman’s spoken word poetry, that I stood up and said, “I want to write like her!!!” Amena Brown throws down words in a way that hits me in the gut and squeezes my heart in response to things that I’ve felt but never put into words.  Passion is contageous, isn’t it! Idealistic, untried, loud, lusty passion from the heart of the young. Do you remember what that felt like? Have you heard it lately? Here’s Amena;

I think I need to pay more attention to the kids in my circle, what they are reading, listening to, saying, singing, what they are passionate about. I need to be an explorer in their world in order to not grow old in mine. I think it might be one way to stay young, on the inside.

So I leave you with a song I know because of my son who introduced me to this artist this year. She’s young (30), and incredibly talented. I’ve not heard many vocalists who can do the things she does with her voice. Amazing.

Can you feel it???

Regina Spektor , singing “Dance anthem of the 80’s ”

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One thought on “Indie, Slam and getting real

  1. She may have mentioned this, but just a little FYI re: Indie music. An important aspect of it is that the music is self produced. These creative and brave artists have used their own funds to produce their records themselves. They are not “signed” to a label like the bands we hear on Sun, Silk, CHUM, etc. (Though Silk does support some local artists – another local rock station played a local band and the DJ was told she’d be fired if she did it again – this is not heresay I heard it directly from her). So…no giant PR and Marketing machines behind them like Sony and Virgin, and the bad news is no private radio airplay. Thank goodness for Internet and College radio and the CBC who are so supportive of this talent. This is real creativity where there are no restrictions or producers trying to put someone into a mould to create something “commercial”. Things are definitely changing in the music biz. My kids haven’t listened to private radio for years and frankly, neither have I because it’s just too repetative (thanks to PR machines and labels). Most of the music they listen to and share, and the majority of concerts they attend to are “Indie”. Sorry about the rant, I do get excited about it because it is such a truly creative result.

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