In June I was in my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is always good to be back and there were so many special reconnects.
One evening in particular reminded me how blessed we were to grow up in a place bursting with musical talent.
I looked around the room at familiar friends… folks I grew up… folks with many shared experiences… folks whose lives have gone through many twists and turns… folks whose hearts have been broken, mended…. folks who faced trials and many triumphs… folks who still turn to share with each other life through music…. relationships that span several decades.
After all, we were there to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday. Six fabulous decades of merriment, mischief and more.
The years melted away in musical moments.
I was so thankful to be there.
When asked why so much music happens in Manitoba, I joke that you can blame the winters. Before video games anesthetised young folks, the best antidote to insanely cold long miserable winters was to practice for hours in your basement and put together a band.
And that stuck. The next generation would see their parents hanging out with friends playing various instruments and singing together. From an early age, we were exposed to music at home and school. Music lessons were part of extracurricular activities. Regular schools would encourage further with structured big band programs, musical theatre, raging ‘battle of the bands’ which equally embraced punk rock to heavy metal to good ol rock n roll and more.
An entire ecosystem encouraged music. Live original music found home in cafes to concert halls. For a population under 1 million, we had a city full of music venues, where you could test out your talent in front of an audience.
And that is key. Not only having a chance to learn but the opportunity to perform. Even in your friends living room…
Back in India, I’m privileged to know many marvellous musicians in Mumbai. Attend some great shows, share terrific times and more.
Yet as I looked around at all the musicians and music lovers joining the last night of blueFROG – once Mumbai’s oasis for parched live music lovers – I knew the simple pulse of everyday music underscoring lives in Manitoba still struggles to take firm root in my adopted home.
This isn’t to gloss over the challenges faced by musicians in Manitoba or underestimate the powerful talent and success in Maharashtra either.
Just to recognize that those jam sessions at home are as important as carefully tailored public gigs. When the ad hoc and informal gatherings to share music flourishes, the rest is bound to follow…
PS – In case you’ve never heard Canada’s unofficial anthem: