So you want to be a Calgary Band Parent?

by Mark Zaugg 18. June 2016 22:01

Well, chances are, you may or may not want to be an actual "band parent" but maybe your child is interested.  There are a number of routes to getting here.  If you've played in a marching band while you were growing up, you'll probably already know much of what I'm talking about and this is probably not meant for you.  But if your child comes home clutching an application to join the band and you don't really know what you're in for, I want to share some of my experience over the past three years to encourage you to say, "Yes, absolutely you can join!"

A little background: I've always been musical, but I've never played in a marching band myself, so almost everything I came across was new.  Everyone who knows the Calgary Stampede knows of the Calgary Stampede Showband, but I wasn't sure of the relationship of the two or how Calgary Round Up Band or Stetson Showband fit into the mix.  I knew they were in the parade each year, and they popped up all over the place during Stampede.  I also know that musically, they're pretty good performers and you have to be talented to play with them.  Beyond that, I filled in a lot of the detail with supposition.

Going to the parent orientation meeting helped me and if you have a child remotely interested in band, attend one if you can.  A couple meetings have just wrapped up, but ask the bands if you're interested, there will probably be more over the summer.  You're going to hear glorious stories about how wonderful of an experience it is for the students, you might not hear how great it feels to be a Band Parent, too.

On commitment

Participating with a marching band is not (and should not) be for everyone.  It takes a lot of time and effort from your child and if they lose their desire to be part of it, it's completely fine to say, "That's okay, let's find something else that is for you."  As a parent, please understand you'll probably see the most apprehension over the first three months.  If it's totally not for them, you'll both recognize it quickly.  However, by the time you get to about Christmas the butterflies start settling out, you all start understanding the rhythm and flow around you, and it becomes more enjoyable and the waffling tends to go away.  In our case, I knew my son loved it once he started talking about what it would take to audition for Showband.  There has been no looking back, and I'm grateful he stuck through the early apprehension.

Practising at home

Part of commitment is the desire to become good at what you play.  My musical career ended when practice became unenjoyable rather than just playing what I loved.  I never have to tell my son to practise.  Usually I'll hum along and he'll correct me when I get a part wrong.  Or he'll stick a melody in my head and catch me whistling one of his songs while I'm washing dishes.  Playing his instrument is fun - it is play!  The people who go are interested in bands will find it within themselves to practise.  The rest of the band rallies to help everyone around them get better.  Let that encouragement come from the band, all you need as a band parent is a little patience and willingness to let them play the songs in their heart.  The squawks and screeches you loathe vanish quickly when they love what they're playing.

Flutes are pretty easy on the ears played at home.  The brass instruments can use mutes to keep it bearable in the house.  I feel a little for drumline parents who don't like constant drumming.  Personally, when I rode the bus with the drumline, I slipped into the groove and bopped along all the way home.  It can be comforting having a steady rhythm tapped out around you.  Find enjoyment in your son or daughter's practise.  Which leads to:

Instrument choice

In my case, my son had to carry his instrument up a steep hill every day so he chose something light.  Smart kid.  There is an instrument and role for every child - leave it up to them as much as possible to choose what they like.  It leads to better commitment and makes the practising easier.  Choosing an instrument might happen in school, long before you have any input.  That's a good thing!  Let your kid find something that works for them.

Rent your instrument through the school program, at least to start with.  Give your child the flexibility (and the safety) to change instruments as their interests change -- or even grows!  Multi-instrumentalists are fantastic musicians, but there's no way you can afford to buy everything up front.  When they settle on a favourite, buy one if you can.  There are some great beginner's instruments available.  Don't settle on the cheapest either, they're going to have to sound good out there.  In our case, we got a beginner's flute and we're currently saving for an upgraded model.  It's been a bargain for the amount of time he's got on it.

And most importantly, I've heard of a band member deciding to stop playing an instrument and join the Colour Guard.  You do not need to be a musician to be part of a marching band, Colour Guard is an essential role, too.  The work put into choreographing the Guard got my attention early - they work every bit as hard as the musicians into honing their craft.  The visual effect during a parade or a field show makes the difference between a good band and a great one.  My stereotype was crushed early:  Colour Guard is not for girls in goofy outfits.  They carry replica guns for good reason!  Boys in Colour Guard can massively increase the range of things Colour Guard can do.  If your son is interested, encourage him to try it!

As an aside, this post is very much inspired watching the Stampede Showband's Colour Guard come off the field beaming triumphantly after a performance, then I saw them go through 30 seconds of recovery realizing they spent every ounce of energy they had, then forming up and proudly leading the band to their muster area.  I will never think of Colour Guard as anything but gifted, graceful, talented, and elite endurance athletes.  Which leads me to:


I have always believed that everyone needs to do one sport passionately throughout their entire life.  Sometimes the sport will change, sometimes you'll do more than one or play sports seasonally, but one's physical and mental well-being requires a sport.  If you're concerned about raising a console crazed couch potato because they're not interested in sports - encourage them to join a band.  To paraphrase Matt Dunigan, "Nothing goes together better than marching bands and football!"

Marching band fully qualifies as a life sport.  Those kids are working hard, not only exercising chest and lungs but also stepping in time, sliding to one side or walking backwards - all at the same time!  They don't just walk a parade, they are walking a parade blowing full tilt into a tuba!  When's the last time you walked a couple miles?  How about doing it at a set pace, carrying something heavy, while modulating your breathing and embouchure?  (Your embouchure is basically using your face muscles to provide a good sound.)  They are all athletes.

Personal development

I touched on it a bit when I talked about practice, but much of what I've observed is the band improving by supporting other band members and a growth of the people within it.  If I told you that in just three years your 12 year old kid will turn from awkward and apprehensive to a solid, upright person who is proud of who they are and confident in their skills would you be shocked and amazed or clamouring to sign up?  All adolescents are going to grow leaps and bounds over those years, but kids in Round Up are light years ahead of the average kid.  Having been around Round Up these past three years makes me proud of each and every one of them.  They are well behaved, polite and decent people - it is my honour to know those people.

The practical

Okay, you're child's interested, you're convinced it's a good idea to give it a shot.  What are the practical things to know?

Calgary Round Up is for students Grades 7 through 9 and Stetson Showband takes students Grade 10 through 12.  Both bands will accept any student, and you can (and should!) join even if your child missed the first year of eligibility.  Stampede Showband requires auditions, and I see a lot of interest in wanting to eventually play with them.  Round Up and Stetsons each have great pages on joining the band and I'll send you there to answer your questions.  The instructors are mostly people who have been through the program and are professional and top rank musicians.  This is a Grade A, top class organization from instructors to support staff to parent volunteers.  In my experience, the board is always thinking about what's best for the band families.

Fees this year are $850 for both bands.  On top of that you'll be paying for tour and some incidentals like show tickets.  Tour varies each and every year - my recollection is Round Up tours have cost $1200 - $1500 depending on the year.  They have optional fundraisers to help defer tour costs, they have been high quality fundraisers and I usually buy plenty of burgers, Spolumbo's sausage and steaks to help me get through performance season.  The fundraisers helped me out on several levels.

Call it around $2500 that I spent last year on band.  I'm not wealthy by any stretch, so that's a significant cost to me, however the outright value behind that has been immeasurable.  Not only has it been a weekly (and towards Stampede, daily!) activity, but it's been a fantastic way to plug kids into events in and around Calgary.  Parent's don't go on tour as a rule, but the kids have gone to fantastic summer adventures where they become better musicians and fantastic people.  I think most band parents will tell you they get extraordinary value for what band costs.

Time-wise you'll have to get back and forth to practice every week.  Thursday for Round Up, Wednesdays for Stetsons.  The bands try to keep it as central as possible for parents across the city and you will learn the venues very quickly.  Most months they will hold a band camp over a weekend.  Band camps are often centrally located, but treat them all as special, weekend-long events you could potentially chaperone (more on that soon!)  You will also need to set aside time to work 7-10 Bingo's, possibly a casino, and one day during Stampede to help with Kinsmen lotteries.  If you have a flexible schedule, it's easier to pick up Bingo's on short notice.  I try to book about half my bingos early on, and half later in the year on weekends or evenings (if possible).  It has always worked out, so far.  Extended family helps a lot (and I thank them for the help!), but if you're like me, you'll find all of the Round Up community becomes an extended family in it's own right.

The performances are incredible.  Yes, there's the Calgary Stampede, but there are also parades in several towns around Calgary that are also fun and fabulous.  There is an annual Christmas concert at the Jubilee.  There are several "Field Show" competitions in and around Calgary where the bands put on a themed performance.  They're a joy, and bands compete against each other - usually as a way to test their own progression.  You'll regularly see six or seven really great bands playing one after another.  You're going to want to attend as many as you can to watch the band play.

It all takes volunteer time and effort to put the whole thing together.  You can offer as much of your time as a volunteer or chaperone as you wish.  I really enjoy being around the band and love being a parent chaperone on weekend band camps and as many performances as I can hit.  "Hell Week" occurs just before the band puts together their final performances, and the kids work incredibly hard to polish their show and make it as wonderful as possible.  The final opportunity of the year is to chaperone on tour.  I haven't made it yet, but I know a bit about how much work and fun those tours are by the photos and the stories.  Show your kid how proud you are, go volunteer and make it possible for them to be part of a magnificent band.

My son is moving up from Round Up to Stetsons this year.  Ultimately, this is a thank you letter to everyone involved with the Calgary Round Up Band for the incredible program they've put together.  I sincerely hope that I can encourage other parents to let their kids enroll and be part of something historic in Calgary, current in song and style, and one of the best things imaginable for your child's future.

Let them try it.  It'll be magically for them and you.

Join the band.

To Gordie and the Hip, with deepest love.

by Mark Zaugg 4. June 2016 19:58

Gord Downie will almost certainly never read this, but if he does, what I’d most like to say to him is this:

Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean.

Well, in fact I don’t and never really did.  But I’d love to tell you something special and precious and as dear to my heart as I can possibly get.  For years I have heard people discussing what “New Orleans is Sinking” really meant.  Mr. Downie (forever “Gordie” to me, although we’ve never met) I need to tell you what it meant to me.  Not want, this is a need.

In the early 90’s I was just out of university, typically underemployed, working extremely hard, and struggling to find a way to a career that would sustain myself and my fledgling family.  I was working in crop research not too far from where the Great Plains ended, and there was never a day me and my crew didn’t go out into the field without the Hip keeping us company.  There were the radio hits, and the songs off the albums that meant just as much to each of us.  For me there was especially Bobcaygeon, Thompson Girl, Wheat Kings and Fifty Mission Cap which was the first song I sang to both my kids.  But there was particularly a song so powerful and so special to me that it changed my entire life.

My memory is muddled, what’s this river that I’m in?

I was 32.  I had a two year old daughter and an unborn son on the way.  I was not in a happy place for a guy that wanted nothing more than to be a Dad and a family man.  New Orleans is Sinking took a very special place in my life.  One day, my ex-wife happened across me out of context just as I was singing, “Hey North, you’re south / Shut your big mouth” and shot me the foulest dirty look I ever got in my life.

The joke’s on her.  I wasn’t telling her to shut up.  "Now Orleans is Sinking” was a metaphor for my marriage to me.  It was going down, and I really didn’t want to go down with it.  As my world eroded around me, one of the very basic things that kept me going through literally one of the very darkest moments of my life was the realization that as my marriage / New Orleans sank, I didn’t have to swim it out.  I could, and did, take another route through life.  It hurt, it sucked at times - and still does on several levels - but I tried as hard as I could to be true to myself.


“Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs,
My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking ‘bout those years.”

More than just stuff, I left behind a whole lot of hopes and dreams in that time.  And I’ve accepted that no one is going to even care about it beside me, so I need to stop caring and move on.  No bullshit, this is a man alive because of words you crammed together.  More than just alive, I’m trying to make my corner of the world a hell of a lot better than the New Orleans-in-my-mind that I left behind.  Not to be confused with the real New Orleans which is definitely on my list of places to visit.  I’ll pay my dearest tributes to you once I get there.

Today I’m in a much better place.  If you will, my hands are in the river and my feet up on the banks.  I’m feeling pretty good.  Good enough to scream.  That’s okay by me.

I’m definitely sad I won’t see you play live.  I won’t go knowing some profiteering fuckbot scalper took advantage of us.  Gordie, please understand that my heart’s there.  My heart will be working backstage and doing all it can to ensure you and the boys put on the best show of your lives.  I would do almost anything to be there live.  But not that.

I don’t swear much on this blog, but fuck the scalpers.  Fuck Ticketmaster for their shitty process.  Fuck the unadulterated greed.

Please Gordie, you make sure you and the boys put on the show of our lives.  Let’s get the last one televised.  And I swear to ghod, I won’t be there in person, but I’ll be there in spirit to say thanks for everything you’ve given me.  You know you mean the world to Canadians.  You mean my very life to me.  Rock on.

As It Happens - The Remix

by Mark Zaugg 4. September 2013 07:08

My letter sent tonight to As It Happens:


Hello Jeff, hello Carol.

I doubt you'll recognize me just from name alone.  I'm the fellow that called in many, many years ago (maybe the 40th anniversary?)  That alone might not give you much of a clue, but the next part will.  I'm the dork that began reciting the phone number along with Barbara Budd.  Four-one-six, two-zero-five, three-three three-one.  I first noticed it when there was a guest host (Jeff, was that you?) that said "Four-one-six, two-zero-five, thirty-three thirty-one."

To me, it will never change.  To hell with the damned 1-866-whatever number.  I shall always know to call 416-205-3331.  The discerning listener put a wee pause between the second and third threes.  And I thank that discerning listener for getting it right.

Now you may think I have a particular disdain for change.  Honestly, I don't.  Or I try very hard to accept change.  Go with the flow, roll with the tide, blow with the wind as they say.

No, Carol, Jeff and the rest of you As It Happens family.  Some things are sacred.  What comes next, measuring distance from Aberdeen?  Perhaps this year we'll get a reading of "The Shepherd" by Rinkside Don Cherry?

Curried Soul has a special, recent connection for me, too.  My son started playing flute last year.  When I played for him my absolute favourite flutist I ran straight to Curried Soul.  Moe Koffman remains absolutely untouchable in majesty and brilliance throughout.  The purity of his notes, the dead right pitch and the tone remains perfection.  (If I can have my one, restrictive, suffocating parental wish for my own enrichment I would force my son to play me Curried Soul before I die.  Probably while I die.  That would be cool!)

So tonight, with great agita, I sat down and listened to As It Happens for the much dreaded remix.  I had to hear what this SoCalled Josh Dolgin came up with.  He did not disappoint.  Neither will I.

If you're waiting for that moment of enlightenment, that sudden change of heart, the willingness to accept change, it's not coming.  It's pretty hard to take snippets of something great and make it into something better.  Curried Soul makes me dance around my kitchen.  Curried Soul eases the burden of my daily chores.  Curried Soul makes my heart sing.

The remix makes me a curmudgeon holding out against change.  Sorry Josh.

Eternal love, As It Happens.  Look at it this way, you just drove another sale for Moe as I search for a copy of the original to call my own.

From Calgary, with love,

 - Mark Zaugg

My friend always - Stompin' Tom Connors

by Mark Zaugg 6. March 2013 23:03

Hey Tom, sorry to hear the news today.

Honestly, I'm lost in that horrible mix of feeling sad and feeling grateful.  Sad because I won't get to see you again.  Grateful that you are such a big part of my life, and always will be.

I first had the Stompin' Tom experience when I was in my 20's.  I was working with another fellow, he was driving us to the job site.  We got rolling and this amazing song started playing.  It was your Snowmobile Song.  I was stunned.  It was incredible to me that someone would write a song about snowmobiling, but it was twice as cool when the song had the sense of all the fun, the dips, the rises, the turns of actually riding.

Shawn lunged with horror to eject the cassette, I stopped him and made him keep playing it.  All that day we listened to that tape over and over again.  It was the start of my love of your music.  Of *our* music.  For it very much belongs to each and every Canadian who embraces it.  It's about us, written by one of us, telling ourselves about us, and I will never forget it.

You know, Tom, that was 10 years after you gave back your Junos.  I didn't know about your childhood.  I didn't know about how you started playing in the Horseshoe.  I was told about you bringing plywood on stage - that was a pretty common story of how you destroyed the stage with your Stompin' so you always carried a piece of wood with you that you were free to crush under your boot.  Over the years I collected two fragments of your plywood - both left at an ex-girlfriend's house along with your DVD.  They don't matter as much to me anymore, but the music - the music means everything!

I saw you live twice.  Once was at the Jack Singer.  I got a single seat on the end of the third row and it was a show I will never, ever forget my entire life.  Wow, you kicked up a great show.  The first five or ten rows were CRAZY with fans.  It was wild, it was a party, it was Canadian.  I bought $200 of CD's I love more than anything.

The second time was when you came to the Jubilee.  I will treasure that show more than the first time, though.  That was the show I went to with my children.  The music they knew throughout their whole life was played right there in front of them.  My kids were at that age when they could just enjoy it.  They sang along with the songs (along with me, of course!) and we clapped and stomped and had a great time in the crowd.  We drove home together singing together and remembering just how incredible your music is.  Just a side note, Tim Hus opened for you that night and played right along with you that show.  Tim's another friend of ours, when I last met him we told him we were at that show and Tim had a little twinkle in his eye and said, "Oooh, you were at *that* show."

Tom, every Canada Day I listen to your songs and remember why I love our country.  I remember why I love you and your music and how it makes me a better person, even a better Canadian.  I'm proud to carry that torch you're passing, Tom.  Your version of the Maple Leaf Forever will always be my favourite.

Thanks, Tom.  I'll try to do a little stompin' of my own in your boot prints.

Tom's message to us:

 "Hello friends, I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin' Tom."

"It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with it's beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world."

"I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future."

"I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done."


Your Friend always,

Stompin' Tom Connors

That Damned Magical Weekend

by Mark Zaugg 1. June 2011 01:49

Some days are magic.  

I'm not talking about just a good day or a really fun day.  I very much mean a magical day that surpasses all expectation, a day that defies explanation, a day that forever changes your world and leaves you a better person at the end of it.  A day that revisits you over and over again to return even more gifts and blessings to you.  

I'm not talking about a day that defines me as a person, although I've certainly had those.  I did not change as a person at all.  I think in my case I'm thinking of a day that defined my direction and forever has changed my course in life.  For the better, I believe.  So much of what I feel is shaping me today can be traced back to one single, special day.

To explain how I got there may very well take my entire life's story.  How about instead I jump in at the point where we have a single dad with not a lot of money and two pre-teen kids to keep amused and occupied in Calgary.  Bicycles and festivals filled a lot of the gap.  We hit every festival I could discover that was cheap and not too far out of the way.  My goal was to be outside and get out of a drafty apartment every single weekend after a hard, cold winter.

I can't explain why the magic happened on the week that it did.  We were at Lilac Fest, we went to SunFest, we went to handfuls of festivals, sometimes two or three on the same weekend.  We saw many of the same people event after event, we met many new people along the way.

My magical day happened August 23 last year.  There are a lot of factors that lead to it.  A festival involving bikes has to appeal to me.  I attended Bow River Flow the previous year (it's first year) and while I originally felt dismissive towards it I found that we sincerely appreciated the moment.  Returning was never a question because my kids hugely connected with it.

If you've been around here a while, you know what happened.  In brief, I changed my mind about who I was going to vote for and decided I had to take a better examination of the candidates.  Win or lose, I decided I would work with my choice and support him or her in their bid for office.  I thought hard about choices, I weighed my options, I took it upon myself as a responsibility.  I chose the right guy, and he continues to prove to me that I made the right decision.

Naheed gets to smile about how he ruined my life.  In reality, I think that feeling of engagement was always there, I just needed a way to express it and a person who I believed would sufficiently represent my views.

But the magic of that weekend is not held solely within political re-engagement.  

Stemming from Mayor Nenshi ruining my life, I began talking about #BetterYYC.  Earnestly trying to do one thing each and every day to make Calgary a better city.  Some days it was literally the one thing dragging me out of bed in the morning.  Some days it feels like I'm completely on my own.  Other days one or two other people jump in, renew my ideas and spur me on.  I'm still trying.  Trying to encourage someone else to do one thing each and every day, trying to do one thing on my own every day.  It originated from that one day, Aug 23.

Last year, for the first year since I was in Jr. High, I rode my bike year round.  I did it for my health, I did it for my lungs, I did it to save money, I did it to save time.  But I did it.  I love riding my bike, now I know that I can completely love riding my bike even when it's 20 below.

A bicycle is my single favourite form of transportation - of freedom.  I know that I can personally extend it to the entire year and do so safely.    That love of alternate transportation reestablished itself at Bow River Flow.  Sure, I rode my bike in the city before, but now it became my primary choice of getting around.  I got to say that for the census this year.  That felt exhilarating.

I've become much more aware of Bike Calgary and I'm feeling a greater affinity to a community of people like me.  I'm very interested in what we're going to develop for bicycle infrastructure in Calgary to make bicycle commuting more attainable to average cyclists.  I've met Sean from Bike Bike who was immeasurably helpful in helping me transition from a fair weather cyclist to the cyclist I want to be.  I feel good to ride my bike along the river every morning and see the dog walkers and say good morning every day.  I attended An Evening With Mia Birk, and got my own copy of Joyride.  I'm not sure if it's ironic or imminently sensible that listening to Mia meant I finally started to understood the Bow River Flow.  

These are all ways that the decision to reconnect with my bike year round continues to return wonderful moments to me.

I thought that somewhere I spoke about how wonderful and surreal it was at the Bow River Flow to have a parade with the Ogden Legion Pipe Band in front and Calgary Escola De Samba behind, while my children and I were in the middle ringing our bike bells in time to the beat.

I'm not Scottish, but I love the bagpipes.  Strong, bold and distinctive, they can rock you, they can be moving, the can express touching heartbreak.  There's never been a pipe band I haven't enjoyed and when they're as good as they were that day I like it all the more.

But Samba?  Wow, the Samba was new to me.  It moved me in a very literal sense.  It was incredible fun to overlay with the festival.

Years ago, my aunt asked if I was a drummer.  Uhm, no, no I wasn't and just where did the question come from, anyways?  Apparently I was tapping out a rhythm and she thought that it sounded pretty good.  I must have a very strong sense of rhythm in me.  In another festival somewhere near the end of the year the kids and I ended up playing in a drum circle and I got the sense of what it was like to really play.  Another good moment.

I'm not sure who runs @yycsamba, but whoever it is found me on twitter and followed me.  I'm a fortunate man, I probably wouldn't have sought them out.  I've appreciated that they get my love for #FunkFridays, but I've had very little actual connection with the school since.  Until #Sambafied.

Last week I got the invite to go to Endeavor Arts and take part in the school's #Sambafied event.  I got to play a couple drums, I got to watch a whole bunch, and I got to reconnect to that kid that beats out rhythms on kitchen floors.  It very much brings out a sense of fulfillment to be part of a group creating something more than you can on your own.  I completely enjoyed it.  I might have to do some creative thinking of how to take it up, but I'll work on it.  It's become this surprising piece of my life that I value greatly.  It may take me a while, but I at the very least I'm a friend of the band and someday hope to be a full member.

One of my favourite parts of #Sambafied was when I got to watch Valerie Roney (or, as I like to call her, @vlrny) hammer on a surdo while completely lit up with joy.  It's easy to understand the appeal after trying it just for a moment.  I want a little more of that joy in my life, too.

I've mentioned Valerie before, but the past week I've been reading her blog cover to cover, if you will.  It's given me pause for thought and a great deal of consideration.  Cause to reevaluate things I've been doing wrong or haven't been doing at all.  I've reconnected, at least somewhat, to my creative writing.  I'm sure it's horrible, but it's horrible *mine*.  There are a few people around that have told me I can implausibly weave a coherent story out of my narcissistically-addled rantings.

And, while I'm at it, I need to mention Art Walk With Art because that was my introduction to Endeavor Arts.  I went out in an attempt to stretch out my #BetterYYC experience and really enjoyed it.  You have to remind me on that more often, Art.  I have to get out to another one soon.

It's good to challenge one's complacency - after all, isn't that what I've been discussing all along?  August 23rd, 2010 was the day I actively started challenging some of the complacency I was getting swamped under.  It hasn't been all smooth sailing, I continue to learn just how dumb I am for a smart guy.

In the process I've tried to make for a better city, and I suspect I might be in the midst of making myself a better person for the effort.  I am feeling more connections with my past, I'm remembering things I used to do that brought me joy that I haven't been doing.  I've already reconnected with my love of space through the interest of my children, now I've been rediscovering more things I'm passionate about.  I haven't specifically changed as a person, but I feel more freedom to strike out and be the man I want to be.  Stretching, growing, feeling better about myself.  Taking good chances.

I'm not sure where I'm going, I just know it's a better direction.

Four Strong Winds

by Mark Zaugg 5. February 2011 22:40

Okay, I'm working on this reputation of long, rambling, hopefully meaningful or descriptive blog entries and giving quite the skewed perception of who I am as a person.  I'm going to fix that a little tonight.  

I'm giving you two dimensions of myself.  

I had to run out to do a couple errands this evening, so I hopped in the car and thought I'd flip over to the hockey game when I got sidetracked by Randy's Vinyl Tap.  He played a song and suddenly the thoughts that have been swirling for the past week crystallized.

You're going to get it or you won't.  It's all fine by me.

It's the same old song.

Never did flip over to the hockey game.

Paul Quarrington: The Songs arrived this morning.

by Mark Zaugg 9. June 2010 03:45

Hi Rebecca,

I got Paul's CD this morning.  I was kinda busy and it was really hard to not rip it open then and there.  I held out for about an hour, then put it into my computer at work and listened to the first couple of songs as I could.  I try to hold judgment on whether I like or dislike an album until I've heard it a couple times.  I loved this one on first listen.  Every song is rich, meaningful and significant in some way to me.  It's got that unnervingly familiar and yet entirely foreign feeling that Paul's work always manages to bring out of me.

I was late to discover Paul.  Sort of.  A friend of mine told us about a movie playing downtown at one of the artsy theatres that we should go see, so four of us piled into whatever junker I was driving at the time and saw Whale Music together.  Just before the movie started, I met one of the other grad students from the university who asked if I liked the Rheostatics too.  "The who?" I asked.  There are two particular things I remember well about that night:  The music was among the finest I'd ever heard and at the very end of the credits, the four of us were sitting in our seats, every one of us both slack jawed and smiling - so much as that is possible.

It took a few more years to understand just how much Paul's fingerprints have been embedded on my life.  Whale Music the movie led to the Whale Music the album, which led to Whale Music the book.  Once I discovered the novel, I found King Leary and from there Paul's other books.  The pinnacle for me was when I realized some jerk scribbled in my copy of Civilization before I managed to buy it.  I was really mad someone would ruin a book like that before I realized Paul must have signed it while out on tour.

But then I started to understand not only the breadth of his talent but how much I was surrounded and drawn to it as well.  It wasn't enough to know that he put out great work, I realized how much of the stuff I really enjoyed involved Paul in one way or another.  If it's Canadian and it's good, I just figure there's a credit somewhere that reads Quarrington.

I remember Arthur Black playing this astounding band called "Continental Drift" that just blew me away and endless years of frustration never finding a copy.  Long after Due South finished it's run, I learned that Paul was involved.  I just figure he's somewhere in the background all the time now.

I saw you this year when Porkbelly Futures played at the Bow Valley Music Club this past year.  I loved it, but we all know that's a given by now.  How about something you don't know?  About once a week, when I'm riding my bike to work I'll get held up by a train at a crossing that's somewhat hard to avoid until it's too late.  I thought to myself, "I *hate* waiting for that train."  As soon as I finished that thought I started singing under my breath, "Mmmm mmm mmm, Mmmm mmm mmm, Gotta love a train."  I sing it every time I cross those tracks now.  Thanks for singing along in my head.

Thanks for getting The Songs out to me.  Be sure to pass thanks along to Judith too, just in case my copy passed through her hands.  Pass on thanks to all the Porkbelly Futures from me.  The best thing of all is that Paul's introduced me to a bunch more friends with talent to share.  And thanks for the updates!  I'm @Zarquil on twitter, I've been plugging Paul Quarrington: Life in Music and Cigar Box Banjo on there and in person.

Let me end with the highest praise I can offer to Paul and by association to the rest of my friends on that side of the wire:

Thanks, Paul.  Thanks to the rest of you.  You inspire me to play my guitar until I'm good enough to play the songs I've been writing.

  - Mark

On 2010-06-03, at 8:19 AM, Rebecca Campbell wrote:

Greetings Folks —

We're heading into our first summer without Paul, and posthumous PQ activity is already in full swing: Many of you will have tuned in to Bravo's weekend broadcasts of Paul Quarrington: Life In Music, Bert Kish's new film documenting Paul's musical swan song; Cigar Box Banjo: Notes On Music And Life, is flying off bookstore shelves as we speak; and The Songs is finally ready for your listening pleasure.

Judith Keenan and I spent Tuesday afternoon stuffing and addressing your preorders, and they're winging their way towards you now. If it's not too much hassle, please let me know when you receive your copy, so I can keep up with any strays. If it doesn't show up in the next couple of weeks, I'll look into tracking it down or replacing it.

Once again, let me thank you on behalf of Paul, David Gray, Martin Worthy, and everyone else who put so much into the production of this amazing recording, for your contribution to the process. Don't forget that you were part of the making of this record, and that Paul was honoured and humbled by your investment, and your pledge of faith.

I hope and trust that you'll enjoy it for years to come!

All the best,


Remembrance Day 2009

by Mark Zaugg 11. November 2009 22:48

Life has been so turbulent in the past few months, and particularly the past few weeks, that it's been a huge struggle lately just to keep my feet on the ground. 

There are a few things I can count on.  Remembrance Day has long since been one of the rocks I can rely on to tie my kite down.  Most years I try to take notes and kinda keep track of highlights and particularly good moments or thoughts that are presented.  This year it all went out the window, and I stopped even trying to take notes and just kept trying to stay focused in the moment. 

Remembrance Day, for my friends who are not Canadian, is on November 11th, the day of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I.  In Canada it is a commemoration of those who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict and in our Peacekeeping forces around the world since Lester B. Pearson created the idea of modern peacekeeping forces. 

Canada is no different than many other countries who have went through generations of peace.  Remembrance Day has waxed and waned over the years.  Just a few days ago, I heard some lady on the radio talking about how she would just keep right on talking through the two minutes of silence because war is bad.  Yes, yes it is.  And thank you to the soldiers and sailors and airmen who put their lives on the line so that you have the opportunity to talk through those two minutes of silence.  Tyranny knows no bounds, but it is in the acceptance of a differing opinion that we defeat tyranny - even if we must sometimes protect the other opinions with force. 

I definitely stand with those who remember.  I always have.  It's a personal conviction and with great gratitude that I say I remember.  My grandfather fought WWII with the Soviet army - artillery I believe - until he was taken prisoner and placed in a Nazi POW camp.  My friends have served - some still serving - with the armed forces and I consider them amongst the finest, most honourable people I've ever known. 

It's a tradition I've shared with my children for the past - wow - nine years.  From those first years of holding my daughter on my knee as she strained to see the brass band and holding an infant son trying to comfort him and keep him from crying through the minutes of silence to attending with two of the most marvelous and honourable young people I've ever had the pleasure to know.  Today I brought a Tamagotchi for my son to play with while waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Once we were seated in the Jubilee Auditorium he reached it over to me and showed me he had collected 1914 points and whispered, "Dad, that's the year World War I began."  Just when the ceremony was about to begin I leaned over to him and whispered it was time to put it away and realized he was already stuffing it into his pocket. 

My daughter was translating some of the French for me, talking about facts and figures from the history of Canadian armed forces, and sat proudly and respectfully throughout the ceremony.  How good does that make a father feel? 

Particularly a father who feels like he's being sent scurrying in every direction right now? 

I feel wonderful and proud of my children.  I feel very grateful that we can spend a day together in remembrance of the service of others.  I feel very pleased that we have some traditions together that are just accepted and a touchstone in our lives and no matter how scattered our world gets, we have something solid to hold fast. 

Our annual tradition is to shake the hand of someone in uniform.  Thank you to the kind gentleman who freely shook our hand this year, thank you for serving in our air force.  You, sir, are a man I admire wholeheartedly.

I'm thinking much of the family of Sapper Steven Marshall today, and for 132 other families who have lost loved ones serving in Afghanistan.  My heart goes out to you all.  I thank you through remembrance and by teaching my children remembrance and respect.  It is well and truly the least that I can do.

So tonight I feel that I have a little better perspective and a lot more resolve to deal with my piddling problems.  Tomorrow, I will not forget.

A little self indulgence.

by Mark Zaugg 24. July 2009 16:41

Sorry for flubbing "Tomcat Prowl", Doug, but don't you just remember the time I nailed "Nobody But Me"?  Takin' it Day By Day, Mr. Bennett.

Getting back on that little red wagon and shooting the lights out.

by Mark Zaugg 25. May 2009 19:56

You'll be happy with what I give you and you're going to like it.  Damn it. 

Let's start off with my pal Loudo.  Yeah, I'm singing along.  I expect you to sing along too.  And for some real strange reason I wanna go to Little Rock. 

Next day was a little bit of Santana Magic (tm) by Carlos (r).  Bella.  It's muy bellisimo.

Then we go to the incomparable Willie P. Bennett.  Willie lives in my heart forever.  The song was Willie's "This Lonesome Feelin'", but not finding it on youtube I replace it with one of my absolute  favourite songs he ever wrote.  Willie, you're a giant amongst legends.  This makes me wanna go paint the town..  Err..  Red.

Then we go back to some Bowser and Blue.  It's short.  You'll love it.

Next is Joe Walsh with "School Days" from "Ordinary Average Guy."  Am I seriously the only guy in the world that liked that album or something?  Thhbt.  No youtube for you.  Say it with me, Weber.  "Joe Walsh, the only Eagle that matters."  Attaboy.

Lastly, I'm going to end again with the Rheostatics, but instead of the Rheostatics themselves, I'm going to include a cool little video I fell across tonight and instantly loved.  It is a treasure.  You are very star, Sirant!


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


<<  March 2019  >>

View posts in large calendar