adventures in the far east — of canada!

Meetin’s, greetin’s, and eatin’s at the cabin

In culture, friends, st. john's on July 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Today, I was picked up by mutual friends Karen (another one) and Mike (with the CBC, and also a good friend of a co-worker of mine–small world!), brought to Sobey’s to pick up some food with Jeanne, and ferried to John’s cabin, the guy I met yesterday with his girlfriend at Bridie Molloy’s. They are coworkers to Jeanne, whom I saw first at Christian’s Bar. It was a post-birthday celebration.

Before I continue–what is it with the names of places in Newfoundland? Oh my gosh, they’re hilarious. The cabin was located in Conception Bay South (CBS), but that’s not that bad. But then you can also find: Placentia (town), Dildo (town), Woody Island, Come-by-Chance (town), Blow Me Down (provincial park), and Nameless Cove. People in Dildo celebrate Dildo Day every year, a family-friendly, celebrate the town thing.

Anyway…I had a great time at the cabin. I met a lot of new people, and they were all fantastic and we talked like old friends. A lot of vegans or vegetarians in the bunch (you’d be proud Jenny–I had for the first time tofu cheese, soy cheese, and egg-less chocolate cake), and there was endless food and even more drink! I helped Chris make the giant vat of pasta salad–pasta, black olives, green and white onions, every colour of bell pepper, tofu cheese, salt, and spices–surprisingly good!

On the lake (although it’s called a pond–but a lot of things here are called ponds officially, but they are all massive enough to be lakes, easily), we could paddleboat or canoe. I wish they had a kayak (my preferred small ship for its speed and incredible maneuverability), but the canoe was still excellent!

After our time on the lake, more of John’s friends arrived, and one was the frontman of his band, Mark. He mentioned he was in a local band to me Friday night, but I had forgotten–a 10 or 11 piece band, of which he plays trombone.

And here’s the tangent on the music scene of St. John’s: it is HUGE. It is like nothing else–so many people here are in some way connected to a band. And it is not uncommon for many members of bands to play 3, even 4 different bands. So many people have mastered an instrument or 3, and when I say local bands, you have to banish all presumptions of “amateur” or “unpolished”–during the night, listening to John’s galactic-sized iTunes playlist (of which most was local), the talent here is staggering! Tons of indie, tons of rock, folk, jazz even, anything at all–it was explained to me that the music culture here–everyone listens to local first, then everything else.

The rest of the country may be waking up to the coolness of indie and alternative music, but here everyone’s one more step ahead–they generally only listen to the artists we follow, indie or otherwise, if locally there isn’t something just as good. And with the amount of music being produced here, it is more often than not that there’s a local artist just as accomplished musically, if not as well-known nationally. There are a few places here that sell local music, and they’re full to bursting.

In February, there’s a challenge to put out albums in St. John’s (at least 35 minutes long). Last time, Chris said 78 (or so) were fully produced, and on George Street, there would be an accompanying event where each artist who made it can play just one song from the album to massive crowds curious about new hits. Since there were so many, one establishment had to be A to N and another O to Z!

While they spoke amongst themselves of bands they’ve played, great bands right now, and movements of members in bands, they kindly tried to get Jeanne (from Montreal) and myself into the conversations, but we knew literally nothing of any of the hundreds of bands they must have rattled off. I didn’t mind, it was amazing just to absorb this cultural insight of a place so in touch and in love with music, and how it functions.

Anyway, Kate put on some of John (red-shirted paddleboater) and Mark’s music–SO good (love the track “Little Woodstove”)! They’re getting big here, and will be touring across the country soon, and for the first time will be west of Ontario–into Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, and yes, will be in Calgary August during the reggae festival! And that’s just it–they have such a unique and joyous sound. In the huge musical tapestry of St. John’s, I think they’re still fairly unique as a reggae group. Check out their website, the Idlers. They’ve got 1 album out, and a second coming out in the fall. It’s already all done, just not released, but it was all on John’s Apple, of course.

Next week, they’re playing at The Dock on George Street, and he says they’ll get us in free. 🙂 I’ll be buying their album from them there (Mark and his friends left earlier with the band van, which always has copies on hand) so they get 100% of the money, and I hope to get it signed! Also on Friday next week, Jeanne, myself, and some others plan to be screeched in at Christian’s Bar, the local custom for becoming “honourary Newfoundlers.” We were going to do it yesterday, but some people couldn’t show–the more the merrier, I say, so we’ll be seeing the Idlers after that raucous ceremony of very hard booze, strange sayings, kissing a cod, and a certificate. 😀 I can’t wait!

Some random good times:
-hula hooping with Krista, Mark’s girlfriend
-the impromptu guitar sessions between Mark and one of the guys with him, Patrice, a visiting Montrealer
-Chris’s cheeky “How I met my boyfriend” story
-I played authentic horseshoes! (you chuck horseshoes at a certain distance at a pole, and score according to distance from it)
-the garden I thought was a funeral plot…
-long chatter about anything and everything

In the end, we stayed up entirely too late, had entirely too much to drink, and I had too few hours of sleep before Chris drove Jeanne and I back into town. It was brilliant, and I’m already looking forward to the coming Friday!…

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  1. Love it! Dildo town? haha. I wonder if they like Banana Gaurds.

    And I believe it’s soy loaf, not soy cheese. haha. or maybe it’s cheese flavoured soy loaf? glad to hear there are more of my eating disorder people over there!

    calgary’s pretty lame right now, especially since the stampede is here. maybe it’s time for a visit to the east coast?

    • Don’t tease unless you mean it… 🙂

      But if you do ever come by, then I can actually show you around, and introduce you to the lovely people here!

      And it was called “vegetarian cheese,” and yeah, it was an orange loaf of soy haha. Not bad, but decidedly un-cheesy, but it had protein and very little fat.

      Some of them folks are connected to the local vegan diner, Sprouts. Ooooh. Haven’t gone yet…

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