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The 2022 Jeremy Dutcher Tour University of Victoria Farquhar Theatre · Friday September 9, 2022 by colin newell

Jeremy Dutcher Canadian Tour

Marking my first outing back into the world of live entertainment, Andrea and I bought tickets for the much anticipated Jeremy Dutcher and band at the University of Victoria Farquhar auditorium Friday night.

It has been two and a half years since I sat for some live music — a very long wait. And without question, this was worth waiting for.

Jeremy Dutcher is a classically-trained Canadian tenor, composer, musicologist, performer and social activist, born in New Brunswick. A Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) member of the Tobique First Nation in North-West New Brunswick, Dutcher studied music and anthropology at Dalhousie University and currently calls Montreal, Quebec home.

Many know him from his CBC radio exposure and his project of interpreting 110-year-old wax cylinder recordings of ancestral songs and creating breathtakingly haunting arias and ballads in dialogue incorporating samples of those recordings.

Dutcher, winner of the Polaris Prize capping a five-year journey to produce/release his debut album, is one of the approximately 100 individuals who speak Wolastoq. Described as a “severely endangered language”, Dutcher feels composing the songs developed a closer relationship with his own ancestors, creating a medium for healing among the younger generations – victims of generational trauma, cultural suppression and re-navigating an anglo-centric narrative in Canadian music history.

Prior to seeing Jeremy, I had little exposure to any of his multi-media work, videos, live stuff – etc. So it was an extra special treat to see him and the band with no expectations on how he would approach his material.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see a very sparse stage set-up with little more than a piano, acoustic bass, drums, guitar and a trumpet.

Jeremy Dutcher is a very fit and particularly hirsute fellow who commanded the stage in a way reminiscent of performances by Jim Morrison, Robert Plant and (yup, I’m going there…) Freddie Mercury of Queen. There is no denying this man is a force of nature, who seemed to have a maturity and sophistication way beyond his years.

And despite the fact that the bulk of the performance was in Wolastoq, the music held the audience captive through feeling and emotion — at one point the audience was split in two groups to provide a 2 octave drone in the key of G for one of his pieces… and it was pure magic. The line between audience and performers was completely dissolved.

Jeremy’s band consisted of UVic alumna (and Oscar Peterson School of Music faculty) Tara Kannangara, on trumpet, composer-producer-multi-instrumentalist Bram Gielen on double-bass, Spencer Cole,Toronto based drummer, pianist, vocalist, and composer and Thom Gill on some very funky guitar. These were very accomplished jazz musicians.

Jeremy Dutcher’s single 105 minute set felt like something of a seance – a connection with spirits long passed – or a raising of memories – a healing – a learning – a yearning for a better connection to who we are – to the Earth under our feet – to the misfortune and misdirection of our colonial past. Not so much as an exercise in judgement (from Dutcher…) – not at all. His was a position coming from a place of peace and love – a more encouraging exercise… way more than a series of learning moments.

And based on the standing ovations (three) the room as a whole achieved something. Something tangible. Something mystical. Something progressive.

And for a moment, back to the dialogue on pop stars past, Jeremy made me imagine what it would be like to be in an intimate live space with the likes of Jim Morrison of the Doors. It was palpable. He exuded a twin-spirited kind of sexuality that was hard to quantify in purely human terms. He effortlessly played with phrasing, fluid and flawless ascending and descending legato. Little hand gestures reminded me of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Honestly, I have not had this much fun and this many tears at a live performance, well, ever.
So bravo Jeremy Dutcher and band! My first thought with his last note was: When can I experience this again? It was that good. Catch him when you can. Check out Jeremy Dutcher on his website.

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time author of the website – writing on the subject of cafe culture since 1996.


Movember in the fast lane - year 12 Movember Captain · Tuesday November 16, 2021 by colin newell

Colin Newell as Movember Captain - all these years

12 years. It is easy to dedicate yourself to a cause that you believe in. A cause that has touched you and your friends and your family in so many ways.

Movember has been here for a while. What is it? It is the month of November dedicated to not shaving and thinking about and talking about the perils of silence and isolation.

Wellness. It comes in many forms. Physical and mental well being. I have not met a single person who has not struggled with one of these. And the difference between not coping and thriving can often come down to a conversation.
I have been having those conversations for over a decade.

And what is fascinating for me is that it was almost 10 years ago that my doctor tapped me on the shoulder to say, “Hey, Colin, maybe we need to have a closer look at this…” I was lucky. Numerous tests, blood work, MRI and an immensely uncomfortable biopsy later… and I was cleared for take off – to return to my normally scheduled life.

In that time, 10 years, several friends have battled cancer all the way to the win column – with bravery and sacrifice. Others, like me, have suffered their share of mental turmoil as crises have come and gone. But what set these experiences apart was having extra arrows in our toolkit – conversation, dialog, resources, support, solidarity. The one thing I preach over and over again is; Do not face any crises alone if you can at all avoid it. Sadness, anxiety, depression and strife love the cold darkness of isolation. Do not try and go it alone. I tell everyone. I am here, 24/7, if you need to talk. If you need a shoulder – even a social distanced shoulder, or a virtual hug.

In most cases, with professional help and guidance and the loyalty and listening skills of friends, most dark periods in our life can be overcome. I always say, the sun will come out again. It is a bit of a platitude, but it is true. For most of us, we have known good times. The good times do come again. It takes work.

Please support the cause. Movember in Canada raises millions of dollars and supports upwards of 1000 different programs.

My Movember Space

Sean McCool and Colin perform Hallelujah

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The Soul Commotion - photos and music from the 1990's · Friday March 19, 2021 by colin newell

Soul Commotion from the archives!

Download here – Track-1-Small.mp3

The Soul Commotion 1993

Way back in the 1990’s I did a photo shoot for a Gospel R&B band that rehearsed at Glad Tidings Church. The objective was to get some tight band shots for use in promotional materials. I shot a few rolls. The band leader was not excited about the results. So I put them in my film archive with the other 12,000 film images I have taken over the years.

Now 27 years later I am opening the archive. I also have a copy of the bands 4 song EP that I am digitizing for them – and I will scan all the other photos. Above is a sample track for downloading or listening.



Rethinking the social bubble before schools re-open - with Dr. Iris Gorfinkel · Friday August 14, 2020 by colin newell

Of the many things that are forefront in our minds, especially the minds of parents, at the very top of the list is the concept of back-to-school, the ever shifting shadow that is COVID19, and the possible efficacy of any future vaccines.

We live in a unique time – a time that requires the best minds that we can find. And, as a lay person listening to all the reports with an ear glued to the Canadian media, one voice that stands out is the voice of Dr. Iris Gorfinkel.

We spoke with Dr. Iris Gorfinkel from our sunny patio in Saanich this afternoon. One thing became clear immediately: The good doctor has an inexhaustible focus for the crisis at hand but also a delightful self-deprecating humour on the subject of her long time love affair with music and the piano. We spoke of the mindful life savers in our personal realm and, as it turned out, music itself was one of those meditative exercises that keep us on course. But for now, the challenges at hand remain front and center in the doctor’s world.

This is her essay on the subject of Rethinking the social bubble before schools re-open:

When kids return to school in just a few weeks it will greatly impact social bubbles that contain both children and seniors. Children and adolescents will be exposed to other students in groups in which physical distancing may not be possible. This carries serious potential risk to those older than 60 years and those with chronic conditions who have school-aged children in their social circle.

Just last week the Toronto District School Board released an impressive 50+ page document describing well thought-out plans to bring children back to school. Bringing kids back isn’t just about the didactic teaching of core subjects. It’s critically important for children’s social skills, lends stability to at-risk children’s lives, provides reduced-priced daily meals and supports both physical and mental health. It also allows parents and guardians to re-enter the work force. The document describes the stringent control measures that are to be put in place including not only masks and hand sanitizer use, but also recommendations on restricting class sizes to 15 students with physical distancing in place along with some at-home learning.

These measures are critical but like all proposals intended to control the pandemic, it is far from perfect with plenty of unknowns. There is the question of adherence on the part of students, teachers, custodians and bus drivers with the suggested measures. Will everyone wear a mask? Wash their hands? Practice physical distancing? What will happen with the oncoming colder weather? What about aggressive contact tracing? Will kids or staff come to school when they have the sniffles?

When we look at the experience of other countries, school re-openings have been sobering. Israel was one of the first countries to re-open its schools and serves as an illustration of caution when moving too precipitously. Within days of reopening in May, COVID-19 infections mushroomed in Jerusalem forcing a widespread shutdown of schools.

We continue our grapple with the unpredictable in Canada. Schools have complex social structures with variable physical layouts, unique student and staff bodies, and a myriad of social dynamics. These factors make accurately predicting the impact that school reopening will have on the number of cases of COVID-19.

It is for this reason that returning students should be considered high risk to vulnerable populations. It follows that, when possible, kids should avoid contact with those over 60 and those with chronic conditions when schools reopen. Instead they should communicate by phone or electronically. When possible, this precautionary measure should be left in place for a minimum of one month following schools’ re-openings. After this, we will have a much better idea of the impact that returning to school has had on the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

Should the number remain low, easing back on complete physical distancing can then be reconsidered. At that point, it still would be prudent for students to continue to wear masks, adhere to hand washing and maintain physical distancing.

Canada has recently exceeded 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. We’ve seen close to 3,000 deaths in Ontario alone. Ontario also boasts the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest hospital bed ratios in the western world during a pandemic for which there remains no known cure and for which no safe and effective vaccine is yet available. It is sobering to contemplate that these numbers may well represent only the beginning of what’s to come.

Rethinking the social circle of vulnerable populations when schools reopen is a consideration that for many may not be an option. But not rethinking seniors’ social bubble in advance may cost far more in terms of human suffering, hospitalization and death. A bit of advanced planning may well help to mitigate infections in our most vulnerable populations.

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel

Dr. Gorfinkel graduated from McGill University and completed her post graduate training at the University of Toronto where she was named Intern of the Year. Following this she became a Clinical Instructor in Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia, maintained a family practice, and served assessing women in the emergency room on the Sexual Assault Service at Shaughnessy Hospital (now the BC Women’s Hospital).

She moved to Toronto where she maintains a full time general practice and participates in clinical research.

Care to read some more on the good doctor’s latest initiatives? A National Vaccine Registry Blueprint Check over here

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and author of the coffeecrew website… his meandering on the subject of specialty coffee goes back decades…


COVID 19 Chapter 2 - A science look at what it is and what it is not · Friday March 27, 2020 by colin newell

Being prepared - ready your mind

Some interesting COVID 19 and Virus stuff gathered from a few sources.

  • The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipids (fats) which, if absorbed by the cells of the (eye)ocular, (nose)nasal or mouth mucosa, changes their genetic code.
    Mutation converts them into multiplier and attack cells.
  • Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it cannot be killed, but decays on its own.
    The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and the type of material in which it is found.
  • The virus is very fragile. The only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat.
    Soap or detergent is the best weapon, because the foaming action and alkalinity of soap breaks down the fat layer.
    By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
  • Heat melts the protective layer. Use hot water above 25 degrees to wash your hands and clothes. In addition, soap and hot water produces more foam making it even more effective.
  • Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol content greater than 65% dissolves the fat layer of the virus.
  • Any mixture with 1 part of bleach and 5 parts of water directly dissolves the protein.
  • Pure Hydrogen peroxide is very effective but only in its pure form but it’s hard on your skin.
  • Don’t shake used or unused clothing, sheets or clothing. It can attach to porous surfaces. Lifetime – 3 hours (fabric and porous), 4 hours on wood, because it removes all moisture and does not let it detach and disintegrates, 24 hours (cardboard), 42 hours (metal) and 72 hours (plastic).
    Active virus molecules can float in the air for up to 3 hours.
  • Viral molecules remain very stable in air conditioned homes and cars. They also need moisture and darkness to remain stable. Dehumidified, warm and bright environments will degrade it more quickly.
  • Ultraviolet light breaks down the virus protein.
  • The virus cannot go through healthy skin. If you wash your hands regularly, rubber or cloth gloves may be little to no value.
  • Vinegar is not useful because it does not break the protective layer of fat.
  • Any agents, like mouthwash, which can be 65% alcohol can be an effective weapon against the virus.
  • In limited spaces, the virus can concentrate. More ventilation and fresh air is better for slowing down the spread.
  • Wash your hands after coming in contact all the obvious things like door knobs, car doors, door handles, etc
  • Avoid touching your face. It is human nature to touch ones face and this is the leading cause of transmission and propagation of the virus!
  • Moisturize! Wash your hands a lot, because molecules can hide in micro wrinkles or cuts. The denser the moisturizer, the better.
  • Keep your nails short so that the virus doesn’t hide there.

These are all good suggestions and there are likely more. Bottom line: A little knowledge goes a long way!

COVID 19 spoken word thingie

COVID-19-Audio-Primer.mp3 Download