Have you ever experienced something that changed your life one month to the next?
It was the summer of 2003 when I had the opportunity to see two of my favorite bands play live. Pearl Jam live in Montreal, followed by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals live in Ottawa. A pivotal time in my life – that was one Canada Day Weekend I would never forget.
A month later we experienced a black out in much of Ontario & the East Coast. Although my home town of Niagara Falls was not affected, I was living in Ottawa and we were without power for over 30 hours. It was an eye opener for so many people who take constant running electricity for granted. We were forced to slow down, go outside, light candles & BBQ’s, talk with neighbours – share with the community.
Perhaps it was the lack of light that gave me clarity. Something inside switched. With the sound track of my summer concert tour playing on repeat in my head – I could no longer go on uninspired.
Energy that Inspires
When a band like Pearl Jam performs live – the audience tunes in. The energy that fills the space for a brief moment in time carries the concert goers far beyond that day. After 20 years of writing, recording, performing and touring – they are still going strong. A band that although sees its ups and downs, has made it through over two decades proving to not only preach sustainability – but actually practice it.
Over the past 6 years, I have had the pleasure to meet some of Niagara’s finest musicians thanks to a network of artists that was created Downtown Niagara Falls on Queen St. These artists are filled with a raw talent that should not go unheard. When I go to a local show, at a local venue where you pay what you can and get close to the band – I am uplifted. It is undeniable that music heals the soul.
Breath of Fresh Air
When I first met the Queen St folk – there was this amazing space called 4555 for everyone to gather. I came across it one day on my lunch hour when I was working downtown at an accounting firm. Walking into the space – I felt at home. The inspired minds behind the project welcomed me in and invited me to sell my jewelry there while local performances would go on around me. What a place. Short lived, but never forgotten. Our cities need these spaces to inspire a community that might otherwise wander alone looking for an outlet.
Now that we are presented with all this localized talent – how do we make it last? Well just like a plant needs love to grow – so do our Artists. After all, bands like Pearl Jam started out this very same way. The Grunge movement came about in the late 80’s in Seattle and was perpetuated by collaboration amongst the contributors.
You see the same thing here in Niagara – a musician from one band, lends itself to another. They play gigs together; they go to each other’s shows. Bottom line – they support each other.
Often the people leading a life of purpose and passion are labelled as hippies – like it’s a bad thing. It is of course these passionate people that add colour to our city walls and work at building a sustainable community for the next generation. The decision is up to the consumer – do you want to be a smart centre city or a city that was built on Rock & Roll?