Thursday, October 24, 2013

Writers Festival kicks off

I just remembered I didn't actually report in about Detroit. Will do: soon.

Tonight I ran to CKCU to do an episode of Literary Landscapes, talking about the upcoming funding drive and the Writers Festival, which just kicked off tonight with a lovely event with Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor from Blue Rodeo (which I scurried off to after the show was over) - a look back at the creation of the iconic album Five Days in July, with messages and interviews from the musicians who were part of it, conversations about the creation of the songs, and covers performed by various musicians, as well as by Jim and Greg. Very cool.

(It occurred to me, sitting in the overflow room with my friend Terry, that I'm fairly certain I went to a Blue Rodeo concert on what was probably my very first - and therefore pretty awkward - date. Which made the evening a little surreal for a moment or three.)

Anyway. It seems to me that these songwriters' events - curated by Alan Neal from CBC's All in a Day - are a unique beast, and really Writersfest is the only place I can imagine them working. Which they do, marvellously - people do want to hear the stories behind the songs, and hear the songs, and the cross-pollenation that Alan manages to get by inviting - and getting - people like Jully Black and Mike Dubue to, say, come cover some Blue Rodeo tunes on stage means that you're getting a really unique event. Not a concert, not an Inside the Artist's Studio kind of thing; something in between the two, with a kitchen party vibe thrown in too, as the musicians start to relax and jam and play with each other.

The Festival continues tomorrow: I'm taking George Elliott Clarke to a couple of schools, and the evening's packed with coolness, including a launch by David O'Meara, Stephen Brockwell reading from his new book, and the Newlove Awards...