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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 CoffeeCrew.com – writing on the subject of cafe culture since 1996.

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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



A song dedicated to my supporters. Sean McCool and Colin Newell on vocals and guitars.

Sean McCool and Colin perform Hallelujah


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Instant Pot Pasta Sausage Tuscan Pasta · Sunday October 24, 2021 by colin newell

Instant Pot Pasta dishes - fast and delicious

Since I was introduced to the Instant Pot around 4 years ago, I have never tired of the ease of use, the time saving attributes and the sheer tastiness of many of the recipes.

This pasta dish is among my favourites.

It is quick, fast and easy – and oh so delicious with a big glass of red wine and some of the chewy focaccia bread that I make regularly.

At the heart of this dish are pork sausages, but you can source any kind of sausage including plant based. You can sub in chicken. Add a few sliced artichoke hearts. Whatever you have on hand. This is, after all, the building blocks of quick pasta recipes. Don’t have penne pasta? Consider Fusilli, Rotini and many others. Explore. Have fun!

Ingredients

Two cooked and sliced caramelized Leek and Onion sausages
1/2 Jar of sun-dried tomatoes – 1/2 cup or 75G
Heaping tablespoon of mince garlic
Tablespoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
16 ounces of Pasta (Penne)
1 container of low sodium chicken broth – (4 cups)
1 bunch of spinach
1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1.5 cup of cream cheese (Chive infused)

Instructions

In the Instant Pot stir together chicken broth, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir in sausage and pasta – and try to submerge pasta down into the broth (do not stir!)

Set to 5 minutes quick release.

After quick release, add Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream cheese and spinach. Mix.
Put lid on and let steam for 10 minute – with warm setting on.

After 10 minutes, stir and serve. Bon appetit


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and food-beverage writer/influencer – active in the city, Province and country since the late 1980’s

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Trust in life and you will see - The Movember series chapter one · Tuesday October 5, 2021 by colin newell

Way back in 2013, I was struggling with an assortment of things – as many people do.

Troubles: They come and go… in varying intensities for most of us.

That period of my life was particularly problematic with the loss of my dad, my mother-in-law, a brother-in-law and a close friend. Stuff like that can overwhelm. And the best thing you can do is talk about it to someone – seek professional help – or confide in someone you trust.

And from my circle of friends came some gentle and creative suggestions. One of which was to listen to (and watch) a few videos from a Jamaican-British spiritualist speaker by the name of Mooji. Many people have heard of him – and probably as many question the efficacy of spiritualist – new age – mumbo jumbo. That said, I gave one video a view – and then a repeated view – and it had me smiling. And it tweaked that “Hmmmm, is this video meant for me feeling?”

The whole point of my misery at the time was the fact that my World appeared to be spiralling out of control and there was nothing I could do about it – and yet at the end of each and every day during my personal crisis, things did seem “OK”. At least they balanced out as it were. The sky never fell. Nothing terrible befell me apart from that gnawing feeling of loss and constant unease.

When I combined my take away from this video and some similar to it – and added some meditative tools, like mindfulness and living in the moment, the darkness slowly started to ease and the skies cleared. Before long I felt joy again.

Now I know that one cannot feel happy all the time – it is no more complicated than looking around at the state of the Planet. It’s messed up. But each and every one of us have to live and keeping putting one foot ahead of the other. There are few other choices.

In this series of blog posts through the end of November, we are going to talk about emotional health, self care, smiling during a pandemic and growing a moustache for mental and physical wellness – something I have been doing for 12 years!

Stay tuned!

Some music – One of my favourite cover tunes is from my home studio – I’m singing and playing the guitar and piano and everything else… this epic old Rolling Stones songs resonates on so many levels and reminds us – sometimes exactly what you need is right in front of us. Enjoy! Be at peace… and find your own wellness.


You can’t always get what you want…

Download – You-Cannot-Always-get-what-you-want-v11.mp3

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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…

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