Enter…the Gospel singers. Just when I thought life in New Sydney couldn’t get any more interesting amidst Jane’s porcelain Dachsunds and Siamese cats and Tiffany lamps galore I’m presented with Allison and Gerald.
They arrived yesterday evening after having dinner down the road at the Black Spoon and are tired after their travels and landed soft at A Boat to Sea, where they stay each time they pass through this way on touring.
They are the duo Infinitely More and this clip of them singing ‘On Flanders Fields’ will break you if you have a pulse. It is what Gerald suggested to me to watch when I ask if I could listen to their music online. Gerald put the poem to music and tells the story of how him and Allison were making the long drive to a gig when he googled and found that someone had taken their song and used it to create a video tribute to a woman whose husband had died fighting in Afghanistan. He tells me it is one of the things he is most proud of, and humbled by.
Jane tells me there a few guests that she really looks forward to seeing and that this couple are among them. And here they are, Gerald framed by the white painted bevelled door frame (can timber be bevelled or is that just glass?), and Allison standing in Jane’s dining room. I notice that Allison is swaying, almost imperceptively but it is there, following an orbit the rest of us can’t see or perhaps hearing music that the rest of us can’t hear. She reminds me of the percussionist, David Shephard, that I met at a great little restaurant in Charlottetown called Local 343 – he sat next to me at the bar and began drumming out his own tattoo on the bar with his fingers, tapping his feet in time.
But back to Our Gospel Singers – Allison’s hair is a deep, warm red and her skin is – I want to say milky and I will because it is, dammit and yes, her cheekbones are superb. I am not responsible for life presenting me with a beauty that clichés want to cling to for dear life and proclaim ‘over here guys! This one! I’ve found her, bring your mates, all of them –Yep, you heard right – she sings too – bring a keg, we’re going to need it!’
But I’ll do my best not to sink the woman with them so that you can get a sense of how strongly she holds herself, back straight and head held high – how she holds her place in the world quietly, without apology. Within moments of meeting them both Gerald has told me to go the Black Spoon and order the Cajun Seafood Pasta, that they are about to record their 8th CD, that he has written plays, and that they have around 50 songs that they have to cut down to about a dozen.
He tells me all of this in a voice that I enjoy immediately – it is low and rises and falls with his words and he speaks quietly, which lets me feel he actually does want to hear what I’m saying. I’ve felt this with my muso mates – the best of them like to play in the real sense of the word– which means listening and hearing and inviting other voices to delight in what can be made together. A perfect recipe for good conversation and good music – and a lovely tonic to shore yourself up against a storm front that has us huddled indoors searching for dry wood for the fire.
The three of us talk about writing, a conversation we’ll dive into deep over breakfast the next morning but for new we laugh at the awful, brutal task they are facing where they’ll have to ‘kill their darlings’. I suggest that perhaps they can hold those songs safely, somewhere to be released on another CD but straight away Gerald looks panic stricken and says ‘but I’m writing more and those new songs will replace those old ones’, and I see the poor, hard working, things, washed downstream on the river of his creativity, cold and alone. We give them a moment of silence and consign them to the Great Abyss of Creative Injustice.
Then I remember I’m not on my beloved Brunswick Street and this little seaside town likes to go to bed early after dinner and I do not want to caught out standing in the rain like I was last night, being told the Lobster Pound and Moore restaurant shuts at eight o’clock and arriving at 7:40pm was not going to cut it (another story that I will tell you – it ends so deliciously well and tells you all you need to know about the hearts of people out this way). So I leave.
I go to the Black Spoon. The waitress laughs when I tell her I don’t need a menu and order the Cajun Seafood Pasta. And it comes to me laden with lobster, scallops, fish and ringed by a perfect circle of mussels. I thought I was full. I really did. Soup for lunch. No bread. But then there is this sorcery. The sauce, true to Gerald’s description, has a ‘kick’ and, with my first glass of white wine since I arrived in Canada (up to now it has been strictly a single malt, malbec kind of place) I fall into heaven, willing myself to forget the waistline (takes seconds) and even finding room for a caramel lava cake pudding – because, to bastardise a book title given to me by that lovely fellow guest, Michael, who I have promised to tell you about – I am right and I am not an idiot. Cheers!