If you are a lover of music, this is one fantastic week to be a Yukoner.
Check it out: you have Justin Haynes, Jean Martin and Ryan Driver playing at the Old Fire Hall on Saturday; then Don Ross and Brooke Miller will be at the Yukon Arts Centre next Tuesday; and Fred Eaglesmith takes the YAC stage next Thursday while Sonny Rhodes appears at the Yukon Convention Centre the next night.
And this follows a heady week that saw The Weakerthans (The Weakerthans!!) along with The Constantines at the YAC and Coasters.
With the exception of those last two, these are not household names, but they are big names in the music industry and known by those who appreciate music played for the right reasons.
This is music that tells stories and stirs complex emotions. It is music that demands to be listened to and therefore does not have a glitzy performance element.
Each of these musicians coming to the Yukon over the next week is an expert practitioner of music. In these venues, the audience will be silent because it will be such a treat to hear this calibre of music played at its best.
Indeed, the silence will last a full five seconds after the last note in many cases as the experience sinks in.
Justin Haynes would find this level of concentration to be a bit much. He Toronto musician told me he even hopes to have a couple of drunks in the audience: “We can get pretty head banging in our own little ukulele way,” he said.
Based in Toronto, Haynes said his usual audience has a high percentage of musicians because, more and more, they are the only people who appreciate the passion and life’s work of a virtuoso (my word, not his).
And yet he is coming to the Yukon.
That tells us something. Obviously these musicians know they will get a good crowd here. Does the average Yukoner appreciate music more than the average Torontonian?
Something else that is telling are the connections these musicians have to the Yukon. Haynes is friends with our own Kim Barlow. They write songs together and he helped her with the Lucky Burden CD. And he has performed at several Longest Nights.
Then there is Fred Eaglesmith. His “Fredheads” got to meet Gordie Tentrees when they toured Europe recently.
And our own Juno Award-winning Brandon Isaak is bringing up the Texas-born “Disciple of the Blues,” Sonny Rhodes, for the Yukon Convention Centre show.
Obviously, we have some musical ambassadors who are gaining enough respect on the world stage to re-assure these musical legends – and legends-in-the-making – to come to the Yukon.
Let’s not forget the influence of our music festivals in the summer. Many, many musicians visit the Yukon for the first time to attend one of these festivals and, after jumping off the stage, they blend in with the audience to be blown away by the experience just as everyone else.
So, with no disrespect to our Yukon bands that throw a party like no other, this next week is going to be a treat for music aficionados.
First, on Saturday, May 9, go to the Old Fire Hall to hear how a well-played street-sweeper bristle sounds (I kid you not).
Then, on Tuesday, May 12, go to the YAC to hear one of the top guitarists in the world, Don Ross, perform with his wife, Brooke Miller.
On Thursday, May 14, Fred Eaglesmith will be telling his quirky stories of rural life, dogs, guns, drinking and farming.
And, completing the Grand Slam the next night, Sonny Rhodes and his lap steel guitar will show you what real blues music sounds like at the Yukon Convention Centre.
It’s great to be a Yukoner this week.