I was remarking the other day that this year we seem to be stumbling from one crisis into the next. Floods, fires, and of all bloody desecrations, a jet fuel spill in our Slocan River watershed. The worst environmental disaster in Slocan Valley history. People stood near the river in Winlaw and held hands, weeping for the desecration of something held sacred. God bless all who are truly working hard trying to undo the damage. Meanwhile the hard backhand of entropy at work. Almost everyone I know, facing crisis of some kind. And now this… Yet amidst the rolling chaos of this ill-fated year, grace notes….
Grace notes. Late afternoon fleece clinging to serpentine Kaslo River on the way to Jazz Fest. The chestnut tones of Muddy Waters as I drive, singing Baby, please don’t go / down to New Orleans / don’t you know / that I love you so… The mind and body blast that was Tiempro Libre Saturday night, the singer getting down into the crowd to lead the groove. I think the Cubans have discovered the second thing besides sex that gives women orgasms. (The other being chocolate, of course.) The driving, energetic sound of local band Approaching Normal on the Maple Stage – a sweet, unexpected surprise. The bassist joked with good reason that they had now made it the ‘Jazz and Rock Festival.’ About time. Dave May’s note-perfect Kootenay Star idling against the rockface in Kaslo Bay – a 21st century echo of the 19th century sternwheelers that knit Kootenay Lake communities together with their soft herringbone wake on the water. The sweet, peaceful vibe that makes Kaslo Jazz Etc. a distinctly Kootenay festival, dear to us all. The way you feel hugged, safe in the leafy arms of Kaslo Bay….
Grace notes. The woman driving a horse carriage down Kaslo’s A Avenue like a whisper. The after-hours hot jazz etcetera scene at the Bluebelle Bistro: The incredible Gabriel Palatchi, teasing out tango and salsa from his keyboards, getting everyone in the room in the groove. And the Sultans of String the night before, transporting us from the shores of Kootenay Lake to a simmering Morroccan hideaway. And all the ladies at the Bluebelle with their wonderful smiles – bless you! The crooked walls just wrapping their century-old arms around that spellbinding sound… A room full of faces whose cares have drained away, if only for awhile… The couple outside the window together all their lives and digging the vibe.…
Grace notes. These past few years I’ve walked through events like music festivals with a strange sense of doom clinging to me. As though I were watching an old world winding down. Not entirely sure I like the look of the new world creeping up in its place. What did the man say? If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Easier said than done some days. Putting the brakes on the mad whirl we call our lives. Just long enough to see what does matter. A wry smile or a belly laugh – either will do just fine.
Grace notes. People who pick up a pop can in the park. People who graciously open their homes to you. People who have a hard slog waiting tables and still manage to smile sweetly, as if you were the first person they met that day. Now that’s a gift. People who can come from pain and lovelessness and yet somehow know how to love. And love deeply, as if they were born to it. Like a certain someone I know. Gifts of the ancestors. Gifts of the day.
Grace notes. Worth their weight in gold.