See Joe Smile Reunion/Thom Turns 30

When Thom said he’d like to celebrate his 30th birthday with a concert, it made sense that we would reunite the full band lineup to play. 30’s a big milestone and deserves some fanfare, and that’s exactly what we provided. It also turned out to be a farewell to the home that served as our main practice space for many years.  The old family home was sold this summer and so Thom’s 30th birthday concert became a farewell to Maley Lane, as well as a special birthday surprise for his mom, Cathy. It was fun returning to the house to practice, all of us living quite a distance away from it now, and being graciously welcomed by mom with snacks and drinks while we practiced. Just like the old days… The party was a private affair, just for family and friends, but when I think about it, See Joe Smile has always played for family and friends. Even when we played at new venues to new people, we always had family and friends present and I’d like to think our music welcomes people into a friendly and comfortable atmosphere, too. We missed Kaitlin who has just given birth to a boy, a few days earlier, but we were happy my wife, Michaela, was ready to jump in and sing. She’s been singing with the band for any full band appearances we’ve made over the past five years so it was great for her to join us for this special occasion. The setlist included our most popular SJS originals and a few of our favourite covers: It’s All Been Done (medley...

Sgt. Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

In the early 2000’s, before blogs, Facebook and Instagram became the most important means of personal online expression, there were free websites that would allow a person to make their own website. As long as you knew some basic html, you could work with the templates provided to create a space on the world wide web that was all your own. A few of my friends and I did just that, creating webpages that reflected our personal interests and updated people on what was going on in our lives. It turns out that both of my webpages, from my highschool and university years, are still online. “Great, Joe. Your old website is still up. So what? What does this have to do with Sgt. Pepper’s 50th anniversary?” says an anonymous guest’s voice. Well, I used to write music reviews, something I started when I did my co-op placement, in Grade 12, at The Charlatan, Carleton University’s student newspaper. I liked writing album reviews (still do, though I don’t have time for it anymore), and I’d post them on my website. One of them was for Sgt. Pepper. Sgt. Pepper made an impression on me long before I realized it. As a young Joe, I had access to a limited number of tapes, all of which belonged to my parents, until I could start buying my own. The Beatles’ blue album is the first Beatles tape I can remember actively listening to, enjoying songs like Sgt Pepper, With A Little Help From My Friends, and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I did my Grade 8 song project on Penny...
Concert Retrospective #1

Concert Retrospective #1

Teitur @ Cafe Dekcuf February 2004 Hi friends. I’ve long had this idea of a recurring blog post topic. In fact, about five years have passed since I took pictures of my old concert ticket stubs and corresponding t-shirts. I did this for two reasons: in case I forget about all of the great concerts I’ve attended and because I liked the visual way it captured the memory.   So here we are in early 2004. I had only recently begun seeing live shows down in the Byward Market, exploring my newfound independence as a 19 year old university student. My pal, Steve had begun performing as a solo artist and it was a real joy to support him at his shows. This one was a big deal because the headliner was an emerging singer-songwriter from the Faroe Islands, Teitur. My buddies and I saw him when he opened for John Mayer, a few months earlier at what turned out to be my first major concert experience at the Corel Centre (now Canadian Tire Centre). To get the opportunity to see him play again was amazing luck. Even better, this was a much more intimate venue, with a high probability of getting to meet him afterwards. It was also special because my pal Steve opened the show. What I most enjoyed about Teitur’s live performance and his songwriting, in general, was how poetic it all was. The imagery he employed, the metaphor, the honest emotion dripping from every phrase, for a 19 year old guy in the midst of a tumultuous transition between highschool and university, crushing on girls to...

Refuge

Refuge is a word that has been on my heart a lot over the past six months. Its cousin-word, “refugee”, has been very prominent in the news during the past few years, and for good reason. Thousands of Syrians left their homes to find a safer, healthier and happier place to live. A few of those families were helped by my home parish of St. Augustine’s, and we welcomed them into our community, helping them get a fresh start with housing, clothing, ESL classes and fellowship. For many of us, we will never find ourselves needing to leave home and start anew somewhere else. I do feel, though, that in our lives, we are in need of some kind of refuge. We need a safe place to go to, away from busy routines, emotional turmoil, mental health struggles and more. As part of a planning committee at my parish, we discussed ways in which we can better fulfill the needs of our community. In my reflection and prayer, my mind turned towards organizing an event that would help all of us pray about how our parish should proceed, moving forward, but would also help individual needs, too. I brought forward a plan to re-introduce the practice of monthly evenings of Eucharistic adoration to our parish. These evenings would provide an opportunity for those gathered to pray, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, supported by music, words of reflection, and times of silence. In this way, a dynamic prayer experience would be created in which people could find refuge. Refuge, for those who attend, is an opportunity to unburden...

A Special Year

2016 was a special year. My wife gave birth to our firstborn daughter. She has been an amazing mother and it has been a privilege seeing her grow into this role over the past 10 months. We are slowly getting the hang of this parenting thing and are thankful for the blessing of good health that our baby has had. As for music, well, I had good intentions to keep up but the days aren’t getting any longer! My free time has decreased significantly and I’ve had a tough time adjusting to that. I’m still leading music at mass at St. Augustine’s every Sunday though, and I recently formed a praise & worship group that plays monthly, every 3rd Friday, for our REFUGE adoration evenings. They’re off to a good start and will hopefully continue to grow in the new year. This fall, I began working about 6-7 days a week between two jobs, and that has also been a factor in how much time I have for my hobbies. Some days it’s a challenge just to spend quality time with my wife and daughter! So, when people ask me how my music is going or if I’m playing any gigs these days…I usually answer that it’s just not that high on the priority list. Being the best father and husband I can be is something I’ve realized I need to put more effort into and hopefully that is visible to my family. Still, I can’t deny my musical desires and interests and I’m often inspired or thinking of new song topics, cover song ideas, arrangements, etc. I’m trying...

Parodies, EPs and TV

Here we are, at summer’s end (#foofighters), and it’s about time for an update. It was an absolute joy to be a part of two weddings last month, leading music for both of the wedding masses. Weddings are always a good time and it is a true honour to sing and play for a momentous occasion, especially when it’s for people I know. Prayers of blessing upon the couples who wed and may your love burn bright for many decades. Things on the forefront of my mind these days, besides work and family life, include: That time where I said I’d record another EP for the Folk Series I’ve started. I need to get on that. A reminder to those who might have missed the announcement earlier in the year, it’s going to be a collection of Taylor Swift songs. I was on a real Taylor kick last year when 1989 was released. Not so much at the moment but I did prepare some arrangements that deserve to be recorded. So that’ll happen soon. Parodies! One of my favourite things to write is a parody or alternate version of an existing song. Working at the restaurant has provided me with plenty of gems of inspiration. One, in particular, really caught my attention and the attention of others…which is a spoof of Drake’s “Hotline Bling”. I’ve turned it into “Headset Ring” and it’s about a girl who won’t come through the guy’s drive thru anymore. It’s literally about restaurant life and I intend to put a few sneak peeks of it on Instagram before I share the full thing. TV!...