Shave and a Haircut and a little music

Jesse, Alec and Calgary in Haileybury I've written about Alec Morrison before and referred to him in the previous post about our show at the Miner's Tavern. Others have written about Alec as well and he's shared his story quite a bit over the years. I've got a lot of admiration and respect for Alec Morrison precisely because he is committed to communicating - even when you can tell it's not always easy. And it's that drive to communicate that got him through a couple of stints at the infamous North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, which was finally demolished in 2013 - but not before Alec got permission to record tracks for his "Already Been Where I Was Goin..." CD in the vacant facility.

Alec is an artist in a variety of media: poetry, painting, printmaking, sculpture, even certified blacksmithing - and, of course, music. To all of these he brings a kind of punk sensibility, honed in his turn-of-the-millennium band, Bayl. But behind the occasionally frenetic chord changes is a keen and often humourous eye for poetic details that comes out in songs like "2 A.M. Toast" or "Trapper's Daughter" or "New Shirt New Tie".

We knew at the outset that Alec would be part of Saturday's show at the Miner's (for which he mounted a one-man regional postering operation!) but Alec had also asked if I'd be willing to let him play Voyageur in a more private setting. He'd hoped to do a recording with one of his mentors - First Nations artist Hugh McKenzie - but Hugh wasn't able to make the trip so instead we convened at one of several unconventional performance venues that are part of Alec's regular circuit: laundromat, makers market and - in this case - barber shop. Alec had invited friends Calgary Alberta (pictured, right... and yes, that's really his name!) and his son Jesse (pictured, left) - himself an amazing self-taught guitarist. Alec has deep connections going back to childhood with local First Nations communities so he performed his own smudging ceremony - taking in Voyageur as he did it - and committed a couple of songs to video after Jesse had had a turn. We talked about a number of things - including his trip to Ghana at age 11 - but his most amazing story was about how he obtained a signed copy of the latest Tinariwen CD for his dad's 70th birthday. Not surprisingly, it all came about because of his fearless commitment to communicating!

Special thanks to Haileybury Barber Shop proprietor Rae Giguere - not only for hosting us on Tuesday but for the follow-up shave for me and lineup for my wife, Sarah, yesterday!

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