On October 7, I was invited by Vision to their monthly Wellness Centre at the Legion in Gaspé to give a presentation about our collaboration to share archival recordings with the community. I arrived with my laptop and boombox to a room of about twenty women chatting as they finished their lunch and proceeded to set up.
In my introduction I talked about the goals of my collaboration with Vision, how most of the materials were acquired so far, and the strengths and weaknesses of our current collections. In the main part of the presentation, we listened to a 13-song playlist I curated for the event which shows the variety of music in our archives and some of my favourite performances.
The participants were an engaged and engaging audience. They listened closely and patiently to each song and offered their thoughts, feedback, and memories. This kind of listening is a skill that to me seems more difficult in the Internet age where we have thousands of hours of music at our fingertips. And so, it was refreshing to spend the afternoon with a group for whom this listening came so naturally.
You always learn a lot listening to archival music in a group with people who have strong memories of the musicians they are hearing. An insight that emerged from several of their comments—and I think this is something we tend to forget these days, where learning music usually means taking lessons at school or in private—is that the musicians we were listening to all had to teach themselves how to sing and play. All that they had to help them learn—whether music on the radio or from other players in their community—were their own sharp ears and eyes. And patience. The participants at the Wellness Centre seemed to appreciate this detail and I think this helped them enjoy the music that much more.
At the bottom of this post, there’s a playlist with the 13 songs from the presentation, plus about a dozen more that I made for a sampler CD to distribute at the Wellness Centre.
I would like to thank Vision for giving me this opportunity and Jessica Synnott, who coordinates and animates the Wellness Centre (and who took pictures on my camera during the event), for her help. And thanks to all the Wellness Centre participants for the lovely afternoon sharing this music together. I want to encourage anyone living in Gaspé who would like a copy of the sampler CD for themselves, a friend, or loved one, to get in touch with Vision (418-368-3212) or me and we’ll get you a copy free of charge. Below, you can listen to the entire sampler CD: