Those of you who follow my blog know that swimming is my "thing." Not only is it my physiotherapy - the activity that keeps me mobile through the decades of living with rheumatoid arthritis - but when I swim, it's a form of poetry in the water. And what are songs, if not poetry set to music? Dependent upon on my need, there is a cadence and rhythm to my strokes that can be as soothing or enlivening as the music that is the soundtrack to my life.
COVID-19 changed all that. And that's an understatement!
As a replacement activity for my regular swims, I began Operation North Delta (OND). A friend who was doing the same in her city, suggested that I walk every residential street in North Delta, the adjacent municipality. As a "street walker," as another friend calls me, no street is to be unexplored, and they haven't been. I have just one more outing to go and I'll have completed OND!
Missing Novelty During COVID-19
OND fulfills many needs for me, especially during the height of restrictions. One thing that was missing (and still is, to some degree) is the need for novelty. My walks in neighbourhoods that I'd never visited, despite being close to me, provided a much-needed diversion. I gathered all sorts of garden ideas and saw examples of artistic rock art. I even found a local producer of honey. On sidewalks, in windows and on garage doors, I read many uplifting messages of inspiration and hope written by children. But best of all, was the impromptu concert that I came across one sunny day in May.
Ironically, about two weeks earlier, my sister told me how she came across a front porch concert - a guitarist and cello player. I was thrilled for her and just a wee bit green with envy, but as fate would have it, that envy dissipated when I was able to follow the music.
Follow the Music
From a distance, I heard the beginning notes of "Take It Easy" by the Eagles. Even though I had mapped out a different route, I decided to follow the music. A lesson in allowing for flexibility while accomplishing your goals!
A band was singing, strumming and beating in a garage, while maintaining physical distancing. I felt a bit shy, so I harboured under a tree across the street and enjoyed the impromptu concert.
Eventually, I continued on my walk, but as the weeks passed, I regretted not getting more information about the band. All I knew was that they normally played in nursing homes, but of course, for the time being, those gigs are off the books.
Fortunately, I was able to rectify that. After a phone call from Bob Turpin, one of the band members, I had the privilege of attending another practice session.
In that phone call, I learned that Bob was not a life-long musician. When he retired, he decided to learn to play the guitar at the age of sixty! That's encouraging for all of us who are interested in aging well. Research shows that learning anew skill that is not so challenging as to overwhelm, but challenging enough to stimulate neuronal growth, helps to prevent mental decline.
He mentioned how they enjoyed seeing the audience perk up at their gigs in nursing homes. Music is connected to memories and for some of those residents, it's the only key that will unlock the door to those memories. Ironically, as I type this post, "How Bizarre", is playing on the radio. Instantly, I'm transported to New Zealand, where it was our unofficial theme song. It was ubiquitous - playing on the radio in coffee shops, stores and boom boxes!
As a stress buster, next time a song elicits a pleasant memory, spend some time recalling the memory. Involve as many senses as possible and then notice how you feel.
Rock n' Folk
Rock n' Folk - "Music for all occasions!" - is made up of Jamie Fear, Stewart Martin, Frank Kathwaroon and Bob Turpin.
Jamie sings and plays guitar. Stewart plays the guitar, mandolin, banjo and penny whistle, as well as contributing to the vocals. Frank plays a very cool set of electric drums, while Bob plays the guitar. Judging by the camaraderie, they enjoy playing together. That energy is transmitted to the audience and provides a much-needed positive emotional contagion.
At what I've come to regard as my private concert, if one can consider sitting in the driveway "private," I felt fortunate that I was able to bask in the positive energy that this group generates. I was uplifted by singing along to songs like "Wonderful Tonight", "Wagon Wheel", "Pretty Woman", "Sloop John B" and other great tunes that have the power to temporarily blow away that dark pandemic cloud.
When I asked Bob if it was okay to list the contact numbers to book Rock n' Folk, he said - and I agreed with him - that "it seems strange to do so during these times." Hopefully, the COVID-19 tide will turn sooner rather than later. When it does, please contact Stuart at 604-649-4608 or Jamie at 604-532-1525 for bookings.
As we make our way through these turbulent times, make the effort to follow your music, wherever it may lead, but as always, be safe!