An Open Letter to the UFC Fighter “Ragin” Kajan Johnson

An Open Letter to the UFC Fighter “Ragin” Kajan Johnson from Dusty Exner of Kill Matilda

**UPDATE: hey all – if you want to read Kajan’s awesome response and the comments from there, and you can’t see them, click on the title of this blog, and it will bring it up on a separate page. The comments are below. Thanks again to my amazing husband for encouraging me to come forward with this – its been a healing experience both for myself and for Kajan I believe (as he’s expressed to me). **

Hey Kajan,

I thought of you the other day while biking to work, and something weird happened. I remembered what it was like growing up the child of two same-sex parents in a small northern town. I remembered how your voice was the loudest, the harshest, the most hateful. I started feeling upset. By the time I got to work, I was in tears and having a full-on panic attack. I had to leave for an hour and just walk until I could clear my head.

It’s been about 10 years since we last saw each other and I know that people grow and change over time. I certainly have. From what I’ve see online, you’re someone who has followed their passion and now you are a UFC fighter, succeeding at something I have no doubt you’ve worked tirelessly for. You are training to fight in Vancouver on June 14th at UFC 174 – pretty amazing. It also looks like you’ve become a person who cares about “the little guy” and an outspoken advocate for oppressed peoples. I can’t help but wonder how you can post tweets like the one below about the LGBTQ community and forget the way that you directed homophobic hate toward me in our shared past.

does this include yourself as well?

does this include yourself as well?

I moved to your town of Burns Lake BC when I was about seven years old with my mom, her “best friend” and her best friend’s daughter. I immediately became the most hated and picked on kid in school. Kids were always saying something mean to me, something about my mom, a word I didn’t understand. Lesbian.  I didn’t know what it meant but I knew it was bad, derogatory. So before I even knew what the word lesbian meant, I was already defending my mother, and myself against these attacks. “No she isn’t!” I would cry, “no I’m not!” I remember the day I asked my mom if what all the kids were saying was true – if her and her best friend really were lesbians. When she told me yes, I cried and cried. I hated her. How could she be this awful things that kids beat me up and teased me about?

Our relationship suffered for many years after that. I couldn’t tolerate her showing any affection to her partner. I told her she wasn’t to touch, hug or kiss her partner around me. If I even heard the sound from the next room of them kissing I would feel sick to my stomach, I would get angry at her. The few friends I did have (and not many people chose to associate with me), I was embarrassed to bring around. I would warn her that my friends were coming over and I would beg her not to be in the same room with her partner in case anybody saw, or noticed. Our relationship was affected for many years. I resented my mother so much for being in a relationship that forced me to suffer through endless years of taunting and bullying, including being beaten up and physically abused several times.

I’ll never forget the first time you talked to me in the hallway. I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t know how you knew me. You’d walk down the hall with a few friends and make sexual comments at me as you walked by and all your friends would laugh. I didn’t know how you knew my name or how to react, but it made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed and I soon began to dread being alone in the hallway when you and your friends came by – I knew that I would be the butt of your sexual jokes. Soon after that you started making fun of me because my mom was a “dyke” and you started calling me homophobic slurs too. You called me a “dyke”. You called “lez”.  You said shit like “eugh, that’s fucking disgusting!”. And you laughed.

Mercifully, my family moved to Prince George just before grade 9. I spent a blissful year in a new crowd of kids who didn’t know my secret, but who also didn’t seem to care. By the end of grade 9 I had gone public with the fact that I had 2 moms, and people were actually pretty cool about it. I don’t know exactly when you transferred to my high school in Prince George but seeing you in the hall brought a feeling of dread. My past had followed me. But maybe you were a different person – we both left Burns Lake behind. I remember trying to say hi to you a couple of times – I was naive, I thought maybe you didn’t like me because you just didn’t know me, that I could win you over by being really friendly and cool.

The first time you called me a fucking dyke at our new high school in Prince George, I felt hopeless. I’ll never escape my past, I thought – even in a new city, the taunts and the hate had followed me.

I remember the time I screamed in your face. I finally had had enough - My mom had broken up with her partner, my grandmother had moved in with us and immediately had a stroke, and shortly after that my mom had a nervous breakdown. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had to quit her job. We moved in to the trailer park, we lived off my mom’s small disability subsidy. We were the poorest of the poor white trash. I lived alone with my now-single parent. She cried a lot, and laid in bed. She wouldn’t answer the phone and when her friends came to the door she made us hide and turn off all the lights. I worked a part time job to help buy groceries. You made your homophobic remarks on the wrong day and I grabbed you by the shirt and shook you as hard as I could. I windmilled my arms and legs as my friend pulled me off you.  I laid in the sick room for an hour after our encounter, shaking and crying. I just kept saying to the counsellor who tried to talk to me that I didn’t understand why you hated me so much.

Where did those feelings of hatred come from? Why were you so threatened by someone you never met? Have you ever even met my mother? Because she’s a pretty lovely, beautiful person. Why were you so homophobic?

The social anxiety is something that’s never gone away.  Even writing this letter makes me feel afraid. While I’m glad to know that you’ve found discipline through your study of martial arts and your career in the UFC, just knowing that you are out there and that you can kick the crap out of anyone at any time for any reason makes me start to sweat and makes my heart pound.

When I realized in my teens that I didn’t identify as 100% straight, I hated myself, I felt disgust. I felt like I had betrayed myself after all the times that people had said I was a ‘fucking disgusting lez’. I engaged in high-risk behaviours with men because I felt like I had something to prove. I hated my mom for being “a dyke”. There was a wedge driven in our relationship and I feel shame when I think back to the contempt I treated her with, just for being with the person she loved. I couldn’t even begin to develop a relationship with the woman my mother loved – I could never see her as anything but a target for my angst. she was the woman who turned my mom into that hateful term – into a fucking dyke lez.

Sure, other bad things have happened in my life since then and I’ve dealt with them. Yet here I am, all these years later, still victimized by your attitude back then. I think it’s because I was a child and I didn’t know how to defend myself. As I became a teenager I tried to put on a tough face and say things like “fuck you!” to show that your words didn’t hurt me, but my little self-defenses felt so fucking pathetic.

I have a good life now that I have worked hard for. I have a wonderful husband, a strong First Nations man who coincidentally was also raised by two women. I live the life I want to live as a touring musician playing in my band, Kill Matilda. A few years ago, I wrote a song about the missing and murdered aboriginal women, which is an important issue you’ve talked, tweeted and hashtagged about too.  You’re a man who has experienced racism and small-town prejudice as a person of colour, and you’ve taken those hurts and become a successful fighter. I’m a woman who has experienced small-town homophobia and sexism and I’ve turned those experiences into anthems for strong women.

But when I see you post these tweets like you are so much on the side of LGBTQ people, it absolutely infuriates me and makes me shake to think that you could so brazenly take that stance without ever considering apologizing for all the hurt you caused me. My rage, my shame, and my memories make me feel crazy, even all these years later.

I just wanted you to know that I still think of you, and that as surely as you leave some real welts on your opponents in the ring, you’ve left a mark on me.

Zombie USA Tour Blog #1 -#Throwbackthursday: Tour Memories

Hi all

We’ve been so busy in the first two months of our tour I haven’t even had time to sit down and write this blog. Since the beginning of September we’ve been as far south as South Carolina, as far west as Tennessee, and all the way back up to New York State again. From there we went south to Philadelphia, and west through Cleveland, Louisville and Indianapolis. We’ve put about 8,000 miles on the van and played more than 80 shows this whole year across Canada, and on this tour, New York, Virginia, Baltimore, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The van is holding up well though we’ve had a few fuel filter/fuel pump issues and a few leaky windows (which we fixed with caulking).

I remember our very first tour to Winnipeg and back in 2009. Dave Roberts, who later became our lead guitarist, came along as our opening act. Marlene Lau was our lead guitarist and Marcus had just joined the band on drums. Our first tour van was a super leaky, very uncomfortable white Econoline van. It had leaks all over the place and no interior lining or passenger windows. If you sat up front it was so creaky and loud you couldn’t hear anything and sitting in the back meant you were basically in a dark, leaky steel tube on a bench seat with two other people. VERY uncomfortable. I usually sat in the middle or directly behind the driver’s seat and I brought about seven books, which I crammed in the small space between the seat and the van wall. I called it “the Library” and I’ve always brought a library with me on tour ever since. So far on this tour I’ve made it through “My Inventions”, a collection of Nikola Tesla’s writings, and “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. I’m going to try to blog a book report for all of you about every book I read while on tour :)

Our tour to Winnipeg and back was a bit like Joe Dick and Billy Talent’s tour in Hard Core Logo (minus the ending)- there were a lot of fuckups and hiccups. We drove into Calgary in a rainstorm, after which I lost my voice completely for three days, our show got cancelled in Saskatoon (but we begged the venue to let us play to no one anyway) and in Winnipeg a crazy MMA fighter smashed a bottle over his own head and bled all over the place. There was definitely a sense of adventure. Going on tour for the first time, no matter where, no matter how big or small a tour, gives one a sense of ultimate freedom- you’re bringing your art to new places and playing new stages. Of course, we mostly played tiny shows, but it was the sense of the thing that mattered.

Our next tour was in 2010, this time one-way to Montreal. This time we were escorted by our friend and videographer Nathan Skillen. I highly recommend any band that has a friend with a camera to bring them – being able to do tour blog updates was invaluable and a lot of them were hilarious and memorable, like the time we played in Sudbury or Marcus’s first time at La Banquise (the best poutinerie in Montreal – oh, you don’t know about poutine? THATS A WHOLE OTHER BLOG). Once again we faced our share of adversity, like rolling into Thunder Bay after a long-ass drive from Winnipeg only to discover our show had been cancelled. On the 2010 tour I think I only lost my voice for one or two shows, a vast improvement from the three day bout of laryngitis I suffered on the first tour (probably due in part to the leaks and crazy rain storms we faced in Calgary). Coming to Montreal was life-changing; Quebec is like a second home to us. People there really love and support live music and the city is so vibrant and full of culture. It’s also just dirty and broken down enough for the likes of us – when things are too clean and tiny I feel a bit out of place. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a trailer park.

2011 was our most epic tour to date – Dave Roberts had taken over on lead guitar and flew out from Vancouver to join us. Marcus had just returned from Hong Kong and also flew in for the one-way tour west. After not having seen each other for so long, things were sometimes tense; we all got on each other’s nerves. In fact I think it’s fair to say we’re all still a little traumatized from that tour. There was a lot of scrapping, to say the least. We had less shows cancelled but only a quarter of the way into the tour, our tour vehicle (this time a pontiac Aztec pulling a trailer) was totalled by a drunk driver in Montreal. Actually what happened was that he hit our car with his, basically drove up the rear passenger side door and flipped his car onto it’s side. Aside from a dented door we thought we had got away clean, but little did we know that the majority of the impact had been absorbed by the rear axle, which cracked. The body shop in Montreal that repaired the door didn’t bother to put the van on a lift so they never noticed. We drove all the way to Prince Edward Island and back on a cracked axle that could’ve given way at any time and probably would have killed us if we’d flipped on the highway with the trailer. Luckily it finally gave way in Toronto while we were travelling at a low speed. We all nearly lost our minds with stress, none more than Mykel and I. I remember Mykel sat in the parking lot near the dead Aztec for about three hours and just didn’t speak to anyone. We thought the tour was over before it began. It was easily one of the lowest points in my history in Kill Matilda. After a few hours of being totally upset we found a place to stay and got to work – I borrowed money off all my friends, got in touch with the insurance company, we found a van available to purchase on Craigslist within our budget and the next day we took a look at it, took it to a shop and hit the road again. We didn’t even miss a single date. If there’s one thing I can say about our band it’s that we weather some seriously crazy shit but we never give up. Through illness, mechanical problems, financial problems and anything else life throws at us we never let it stand in the way of us being able to rock out. The rest of the 2011 tour was definitely rocky, with a lot of tension between all the members, but the shows were great, the fans were amazing and in the end we all made it back alive.

10710874_10152751631025126_6133280160573373421_n

After that tour, all the touring we’ve done this year has been a piece of cake. Even though I know we’ve already played 27 shows on this tour, which is almost as many as we did on the 2011 2-month long tour, it barely feels like we’ve gotten started. We haven’t been seriously sick like we’ve gotten on other tours, I haven’t lost my voice, we’ve all been getting along and having fun, though there has been a lot of work. It’s amazing to feel like we’ve “leveled up” in terms of our road experience. We’re a much tighter unit and we know what touring is really about. Rolling up to the venue, getting loaded in, loading out, the driving, the sleeping – everything is like clockwork now.

The shows have been small because we are breaking into all new markets. Audiences and fans have been amazing – the South really stood out to us, but every place has it’s own distinct charm (mostly in the form of places that serve food for $5 like Waffle House, Rally’s and Cookout). Definitely money has been tight and we need all the support we can get, especially because of a few hiccups (like how both my regular guitar and backup guitar broke on the same day, or how insuring this old van was about three times more expensive than we thought it would be). I know a lot of people wanted to help out with our indiegogo fundraiser and weren’t able to so if you still want to support us, some fans suggested we set up this gofundme site for fans to make donations towards gas and meals for us. Every little bit helps so please check it out and help out if you can!

 

 

Thank you!

Hi everyone

I write this while accessing free public wifi in Bryant Park, Manhattan, NYC just steps from Times Square. We made it! The first few dates of our tour have been great, no problem, although accessing reliable internet has been a bit tricky so we’ll try our best at keeping in touch with you all.

We wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the smashing success of our indiegogo campaign and everyone who supported us. It has been amazing to see so many people be so generous to help us continue making our music and following our hearts.

 

You! You did this you lovely people!!

You! You did this you lovely people!!

I first off want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. We had friends, fans, family and even strangers contributing to this fundraiser, and a lot of you put up with repeated requests for your hard-earned dollars from me! In the coming days we will be sending out messages to those of you who purchased things that need to be mailed, etc. For anyone who purchased vinyl please be aware that it will take a few months to get the vinyl to you as it’s a long process of pressing.

I need to  give credit to Mykel Exner taking charge and running a successful campaign He poured hours upon hours into setting it up creating content for youtube, When we first decided to launch the campaign, we had some doubts, and we had some doubters, even in our own “team”. There were those who said our ‘indiegogo perks’ were too expensive, or that we were asking for too much money. But I have to give credit to Mykel Exner for knowing our worth as a band and as  a product and believing that we could do it, even when others did not believe in us. For making sure that everything looked shiny and great and finding people to join our team  . Without his dedication to running a quality campaign I am sure that we would have fallen short, like so many other bands and Indiegogo hopefuls have before. With his hard work and your help we SMASHED our goal of $5,000 for a total of $5,607.

Because of all your love we have been able to get the van we needed to make this epic six-month journey possible. We got a 1979 GMC Vandura with beds and a stove in it… The van sat for a long time before the people we bought it off of got it in their hands and nursed it back into health with some know how, some TLC and a lot of money. We had friends and professionals look at the vehicle to make sure we weren’t going with something that would just breakdown and everyone who took a look in, around and underneath the van were astounded at its mint condition. HOWEVER… we nearly weren’t able to insure it! Something I learned about Ontario: insurance is private and many companies will straight up NOT insure a van over 20 years old. That was a nail-biter…I spent a day running around to brokerage after brokerage, panicking that I had poured all the money into a vehicle we wouldn’t be able to insure. Don’t worry, we got it sorted. Helga (the name given to our van by it’s previous owners) is safe, durable, roadworthy and will be our home until the end of February.

 

oh Helga my Helga

oh Helga my Helga

Kill Matilda fans have equipped us with the machine to keep our dreams alive and our tour a comfortable safe… Thank you so much for loving and believing in us and what we are doing out here!

 

Look how happy you made us!

Look how happy you made us!

I Only Got Here Because Of My Tits

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about women, sexuality and the music industry for awhile. I got a little sidetracked but there’s nothing like a bit of vitriol in the belly to get one motivated to do one’s blog housekeeping.

Let me tell you something about me; I’m a sexual person, like pretty much every other person on the planet. Not in a weird way like I’m stealing your dirty laundry, but in a way where I think sex, flirting, and sexuality is fun on many levels. Here’s the other thing: I’m a musician, and a music industry professional, a person who has worked with bands for a few years now coordinate tour after tour. And I’m a woman. And that puts me in a very precarious position. You see, there are sometimes that I’d like to express myself on social media in a flirty or sexy way. But I don’t, and I can’t. My musical integrity hinges completely on how I represent myself as a woman, and the amount that I am taken seriously as a professional and musician is in direct proportion to what percentage of my body is either covered/uncovered by clothing. It doesn’t matter how much I rehearse; it doesn’t matter how many songs I’ve written; it doesn’t matter how many shows I play – people out there will always discount and discredit me not because they don’t like my style of music or think my musicianship is poor, but specifically, these people will count me out because in their mind clearly, I have used my sexuality to get ahead. My modesty can and will trump my years of professional experience as a booking agent in the music industry, my investment and my skill as a musician earned through countless hours of practice.

This leads me back to some facebook/twitter drama last week.

dustysnewtatt

Mykel and I had a little fun with an internet random who first admonished me after seeing this photo I posted on my personal Instagram which feeds to my personal facebook timeline.

 

Due to my choice to spend money on my first tattoo in 2 years rather than musical instruments this random person who knows nothing about me went out of their way to judge my music and value. I have more than enough instruments, thank you very MUCH… I happen to have some very pricey and rare ones!

I reinvest every penny I earn back into my music career and haven’t had much in the way of disposable income lately. Soooo… I can’t treat myself once? Am I not allowed to post pictures on my personal facebook timeline to share my life events with my friends (of who this fellow  is supposedly one)? He pulled the old “you don’t know who you’re talking to, little girl” (little girl?! I’m almost 30! the diminutization of women is one of the most common forms of sexist oppression that exists… when people call us “baby”, or “honey,” or “little girl”, it’s a way to let us know that we are not the equal of the person who wields that terms and clearly establishes them as the dominant/wiser/elder/more respected party in the conversation). Finally we got all the way to me being told that my band sucks and people only like me because I show my tits off.

ULTRAFINAL

aaaand.. this is why I DON’T show my tits off! Man… would I love to show my tits off. They are great tits. I am not ashamed of my body. I’m not exactly skinny, sure, I have some imperfections, but I love my body. It’s strong and healthy. I carry all my own gear, I lift weights, I ride a bike. And dammit, I’m sexy! But I know that once I cross that line, there’s no coming back. I’m not even anywhere close to the line and still the accusations of my sexuality being the only thing going for me come rolling in – this is not an isolated incident, but it is the perfect exemplification of my conundrum. In other words, this is what I’m fuckin’ talking about. My integrity as a musician, and the integrity of all female musicians, can be called into question at any time, trumped by sexuality. Insult us, tell us we suck, tell us our music is no good – but don’t dismiss our bodies of work, our mastery of our instruments, our power of composition, our artistry, simply because we are women who have tits. It is the epitome of insults, an implication that I don’t work as hard as anyone else and that I “get by” on my looks. Let me tell you something – looks only get you so far, and living on your looks is probably anything but easy (I imagine it takes a lot of work to look good enough that it can pay your way anywhere). But I digress.

If you’re a male-gendered or male-identified person who takes women in the music industry seriously completely apart from their sexuality, this article is not about you. And good on you. I just want to put that out there because by no means am I painting y’all with the same brush. Don’t feel defensive, but realize that what I say is true, and my experience is real. Sadly there are still a large percentage of menfolk out there who will simply not take female musicians seriously no matter what we do. No matter how good or how largely accepted we are, it will always boil down to – do we flaunt our sexuality?

This is where my dilemma comes in. I must tell you that I have, to this point, furtively guarded my sexuality like the good china you only bring out when company comes over, because I am aware of the system that I exist in. But I’m angry. Why SHOULD these two things be connected? We can accept that a person can be a talented artist as well as a father, or mother, or politician, or activist, or welder… whatever. You get it. People’s identities occupy multiple spaces at once. Your experiences as a father, mother, or sex trade worker might influence your material, but WHERE IS IT WRITTEN that a person can’t be an excellent performer, singer, guitarist – and a sexual being?

Women’s sexuality in music is problematic because for a long time, we know that it was used as a marketing tool above and beyond the calibre or quality of the product. Yes, it is true. Sex sells. Big breasted beautiful women sell. In the past, I would argue that these women’s sexualities were packaged and sold in spite of their talents and autonomy, often against their will, because there was no other choice for them and because someone with more power said they had to – check out Charlotte Church’s experiences here. But we are living in 2014 and this is an age where I think we are all a little smarter and we can engage with these kinds of issues in a more critical way. Whether a woman’s sexuality is in the hands of the record label or the marketing firm, and it’s being used without her participation to sell records, or whether a woman disowns her sexual self because society at large will discredit her artistry if she embraces it, is the same side of the coin. The power over her sexuality, the control and the decision making lies in the hands of others, not in her hands. Let’s take for example Nicki Minaj and the whole “anaconda” scandal – this amazing article breaks down why you should think twice about judging Nicki’s sexual displays. What about Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the hypersexual rap machine from South Africa, once voted one of the “Top 10 Ugliest Celebrities“. She’s certainly not playing the tired old trope of big breasted blonde Pamela-Anderson type – yet she owns her sexuality, wears it proudly and is one hell of a rapper, regardless of being sexual or nonsexual.

It’s problematic when we forget that a person can be sexual and can be good at something. Wait, did I say person? Let me rephrase that – that a WOMAN can be sexual and be good at something. You know who was really openly sexual and slept around and even got naked and waved their genitalia around in public? Charles Bukowski. Pretty sure no one accused him of getting by on his sexuality. What if Miley Cyrus waved her genitalia around in public – might she lose some respect as an artist? (oh wait). How about Jim Morrison, Pablo Picasso? Did anyone ever accuse Jack Nicholson, who openly alleged that he slept with more than 2,000 women, of NOT being a good actor and of having slept his way to the top? Gene Simmons, Charlie Sheen.. I could do this all day. You get my point. Women don’t get to brag about how many people they’ve banged because other people will already be talking about how many people they’ve banged in a negative connotation. Maybe women want to reclaim their right to exist as sexual beings AS WELL AS being respected as experts in other professional fields. I know I do. I’m envious of those awesome suicide girls fillin’ up my instagram but far be it from me to be able to engage in any kind of empowered, consensual, provocative photography – I won’t even wear a skirt without tights underneath at our shows. Frankly I’m a bit of a pariah when it comes to this stuff and this is exactly why.

In conclusion; I would like to think that as a society we are enlightened and sex-positive enough to move foward realizing that identity is not black and white, nor is it a one-sided thing. We are musicians, businesspeople, punk rockers, mothers, fathers, kinksters, femme fatales, nerds, composers, athletes, activists, academics and deviants ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Expand your mind, please and thanks. If and when you see me showing off a bit of skin just appreciate it but don’t devalue my art because of it.

 

How To Play In A Band With Your Significant Other

People are often surprised to learn that my bass player for my band, Kill Matilda, is also my husband. I’ve seen and heard horror stories about bands breaking up and imploding because balancing your personal relationship dynamics with your band dynamics is next to impossible – personal issues become professional issues, personal time becomes work time, and so on and so forth. Through years of scrapping it out and relentless commitment both to our relationship and to our band, I’m pretty proud of what Mykel and I have, so I thought I’d throw out a few tips n’ tricks for all you love-bird musicians out there!

 

1. Realize that your personal relationship dynamics might not be the same as your band dynamics

Usually in most bands, each person has control over a certain aspect of making the band work. This could be divided up in various ways; one member might handle everything related to booking while another is in charge of songwriting, etc. In our band, Mykel is the brain when it comes to in-room jam space politics (he’s sort of our “music director”) as well as managing us in terms of “big picture” stuff. Me, I handle the day to day operations as well as things related to admin and booking. But since I’m the frontperson of the band and in our relationship I tend to take charge of details, it was hard at the beginning to ‘give up the reigns’ and not feel like I should be taking charge of the band just ’cause. This led to a lot of arguments and fighting between Mykel and I. He felt like his good ideas weren’t being heard and honored just because I had a need to make all the decisions. For my part, as a female rock musician I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about stepping back and letting my husband make all the more big picture decisions. It got to a point where I wanted to direct a music video for us, which had historically been something he’d taken the lead on. It ended up being a huge mess and we finally realized and agreed that a more clear separation of duties was needed,  but also that both parties had to defer to the judgement of the other and back each other up. The problem was, when we were undermining each other it often spilled over into self-esteem issues in our relationship. When I wanted to suggest a course of action and Mykel didn’t feel it was best, I took it personally, like my husband thought I was stupid or something. If I was messing around in the jamspace or hadn’t practiced my parts and he gave me heck, it would often turn into a fight. It took a while to realize that who did what and what the expectations of each person were differed from our private relationship to our band one. I had to accept that Mykel was going to hold me accountable to come prepared to band practices even though he’s normally much more forgiving and accepting of my disorganized, absentminded nature. He had to let go a bit and trust that I would get all our booking done right despite how he knew me privately (as a fairly scatterbrained person) and learn NOT to interfere. Now, I make all decisions regarding bookings and administrative needs, and Mykel trusts me. I trust his judgement on strategy and promotion/marketing and we back each other up with trust and respect, rather than undermining one another.

 

2. Have a clear definition between “band time” and “personal time”

I feel like the key to what makes us so successful as a band is that Mykel and I just obsessively work on and talk about band stuff almost all the time. We are always brewing new ideas, scheming and planning over our breakfast, over beers, and on walks. But, sometimes it can get a little intense. When one person is really enthused about an idea and the other person disagrees, and you’re supposed to be having a nice day together, it can quickly turn into an argument. You can’t help but feel a little resentful that on your day off you’re now embroiled in a stupid argument and you can’t help but take it personally. This is why it’s so important to sometimes make an effort NOT to talk about the band. Remind each other that you’re having personal time and don’t forget to keep your relationship fresh by having interests OTHER than your band!

On the flip side, the ability to always be working together on band projects can help your band get ahead more quickly and be able to do more. If you play in a band with your significant other, yet you never communicate about band stuff in your private time, you SHOULD be! Toss ideas around over a meal or on a walk or drive. Two people in a relationship are more on the same brainwave than two people who only meet up once a week to jam. Take advantage of the ability to put your heads together and discuss big-picture ideas, strategy and keep each other accountable on tasks such as getting new merch printed, updating your website, etc.

 

3. Don’t be jealous

Everyone likes a dude (or lady) who plays awesome music. Playing in bars means a lot of drunken hitting-on happens. Let’s face it; a person who plays in a band is sexy. If you don’t like attention and you don’t like playing the role of someone who has a bit of mystique and a bit of a “character”. Our onstage personas are either extensions and exaggerations of ourselves or even sometimes full-on characters. Part of enjoying a show isn’t just the musical aspect – if all you have going for your is your sound, and your live show doesn’t add anything extra, why should anyone come to your show rather than just rock your CD? You come to a show for the live entertainment, and part of that is the role that each band member plays. This obviously can lead to some affectionate attention, and frankly it’s something I think people should encourage. Rock and roll is sexy and fun, capitalize on that! If your parnter plays in your band, it’s necessary to understand that being a sex symbol or possibly being a little flirty now and then is your JOB. There needs to be ground rules about what’s allowed or how you and your partner represent each other to the public – you may choose to keep your relationship secret or you may choose to be open about it. You may choose to be REALLY open about, haha! Make sure both parties are on the same page regarding what’s OK and what’s not OK when receiving attention. Remember that it’s normal for people to be hitting on your significant other – wouldn’t you?

Most importantly, make sure to respect the frontperson/supporting band member dynamic. Since I’m the lead of my band, and a lady, I tend to get a lot of attention at shows. Mykel, being a fellow and more in the background, doesn’t always get as many accolades. It’s important for me to make sure that he knows he’s my rock star just as much as I’m everybody else’s and that he’s not being left hauling all the gear while I hog all the fame and glory. Although this dynamic might not always apply to regular bands, if your partner is in your band that means that their girlfriend/boyfriend isn’t the one in the front row jumping and screaming and singing their songs. That’s something that other people in bands DO get, and it’s important to honor that person and make them feel as sexy and important to you! Likewise, if you’re playing the supporting role, you have to remember that your partner and frontperson is doing their job by soaking up all the attention and being the social butterfly that they so often are after your set. Remember that you’re just as important and that you’re a team!

 

4. Make private time for just the two of you

You’re always surrounded by fans, friends, or your bandmates, especially on tour. It can be easy to forget that apart from being bandmates you’re also a couple. Make sure your bandmates understand that you two need some alone time occasionally. Ditch out of a party early and chill together, or go for a drive in a new city you’re on tour in. Just don’t neglect the relationship while you’re on tour. Every person needs a different amount of “down time”, or “personal time” with their partner. Introverted people may need a lot more quiet, one-on-one time, while extroverts might need more time to socialize with others. Recognizing these differences in what the other person needs is an important key to avoiding stress and fighting on the road.

 

That’s all I can really think of right now! Playing with your significant other can be a blessing or a total nightmare. If you can stick through it and be committed to working out the kinks it’s definitely amazing to be able to tour and play shows without having to be separated from your partner all the time. We love it! <3

 

39599_489166645125_4734097_n

April Shower Bring May Flowers

Hi all;

Just a quick update this time. I’m going to work on my consistency in the blogosphere and try to work on weekly blog updates for alll you KM hardcores out there. We are here in Toronto getting settled and setting up the rest of our year: we will be playing many shows in Quebec and Ontario and are planning a tour to the states for later this year. Who knows what else might happen?

We dropped in at CMW to see some of our friends in The Deadset and Gypsy Chief Goliath. It was so awesome to see so many music lovers out supporting rad bands. We look forward to our showcase at North By Northeast next month – keep an eye out for us!

Here are a list of our upcoming shows-

May 23 – the Cage, Toronto ON FB EVENT HERE

May 24 – Fitzy’s By the Bay, Barrie ON

May 30 – The Rockpile West (Etobicoke/Toronto) ON FB EVENT HERE

June 13 – CIDERFEST, St-Hyacinthe QC FB EVENT HERE

June 19 – Manik Mondays, Montreal QC

We will be coming to a town near you over the summer! If you think there are any festivals, shows, venues or events we should be playing, let us know! We want all the suggestions you have.

In other news, my guitar amp was stolen last month. It was upsetting and kind of a clusterfuck but it seems that there’s nothing we can do to get it, or any of my pedals, back. That’s about $600 or so worth of gear. Luckily, I found the amp of my dreams just sitting in Long & McQuade waiting for me! I am the proud new owner of a Mesaboogie Dual-Rectifier head. Now’s the hard part; paying for it. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I’ll be selling some hand-made art and putting deals on our merch to help cover the costs.

Image

Musical Misogyny

Earlier this week we premiered a video through Exclaim.ca’s website which has been garnering a really interesting response. This video was a triumph for me because unlike many other hard rock/punk music video you’ve ever seen, every major character and player in the video was a woman, none of whom were being objectified or sexualized. The theme of the video was a showcase of women’s aggression and athleticism, and an alternative idea of women being sexy that isn’t a bunch of girls in booty shorts shaking their shit. I wrote a blurb to that effect and I’ve been surprised since then the amount of vitriol that the video has faced from (male) haters all over the internet.

Could it be that this video is poorly produced or that the song sucks and that is where all the hate is coming from? Sure, but it’s unlikely; our 2010 video for “She’s A Killer” was arguably not very good and the song itself was a crappy recording that we did in our kitchen, yet in over 30,000 views in over 4 years we haven’t received the breadth of hate that we’ve gained in 4 days with ‘I Want Revenge’. So why is this video, and the commentary that went along with it, receiving so much negative attention?

In my opinion, the answer is simple. We have tons of awesome male fans who ‘get’ it, who support and find a woman who can rock as hard as a dude, hit as hard as a dude and be sweaty and up in your face totally awesome. But there is a very real ‘old boys club’ of rock and roll that feels VERY threatened by seeing a band fronted by a strong woman and a video full of strong aggressive women, with absolutely no tits and ass to be had. This very concept is so shocking, and so new to some people that it’s offensive and is inspiring hateful feelings. Deep down, these dudes are feeling threatened. There is a documented phenomena of men reacting angrily toward women trying to occupy what’s traditionally been men’s space in music. When women represent themselves as experts with regards to musical canon or knowledge, the reaction from this Old Boys Club isn’t just the typical internet shitty trolling – it often goes so far as to include sexualized insults and even threats of violence. Even blogs related to how to ‘get ahead’ with your band are written for men with male-gendered language; for men, by men. The possibility that a woman might be the one reading, engaging with or creating things in the music industry is such a stretch that many writers don’t even bother to consider that the people they’re writing about might be women and thus don’t even bother to hide their gendered use of language (note in this article, everyone the writer suggests you bring onto your team is a he – from the accountant to the booking agent. Apparently women don’t work in the music industry at all?). I believe this kind of territorialism extends to women performers as well. This video has provoked an angry response from these very dudes, who want rock and roll to stay a man’s game and for women to know their place, which isn’t being in front of a camera in anything other than a slutty outfit.
The commentary I made about this video talked about my desire to create a piece of media that featured how sexy women could be without overtly sexualizing and objectifying them (you know, like every other music video in the world) and the very first comment was “no one cares about this shit”. Well guess what guys… people do care. A lot of people. They’re called women, and they make up 50% of the population. Welcome to 2014. I was also called out on talking about women being sexy without being sexualized because I had posed for a VERY NOT risque, semi-clothed “sexy” photo which is on my facebook wall. Again, it seems that these men demand that women be either the Madonna or the whore; the idea that we can be both just does not compute. I personally am a big fan of girls being sexy, and I would never say that it’s a bad thing for a women to be sexual in media. I DO think it’s a bad thing if it is the ONLY way a woman can be represented and surely enough you almost never see women in the rock and roll industry who are fat or ugly or otherwise unkempt, unlike their male counterparts. One of the goals of this video was to create an alternative concept of what makes  a woman sexy, but it seems like that idea is very unwelcome to some. Keep us in the pin-up photos in bikinis holding guitars, but don’t dare let us in front of the camera screaming in your face. The truth is that I believe that a sexually empowered and powerful woman can be overtly sexual when she chooses and is also sexy and cool even if she’s dressed in a t-shirt and jeans; it’s all about attitude and intention, and to me the women in this video are so amazing. The video itself is groundbreaking for this reason and the backlash is an indicator of just how much misogynistic sentiment is still creeping in the cellars of the rock and roll industry. Who care about this shit? Only all the women who work in the music industry, make music, and buy music. So pay attention, haters.
See the video that’s causing such a stir here.

Tour Update #4: Regina to Montreal, Kurt Cobain, Driving Forever

Hi guys

Since my last tour update we played with some amazing bands in Regina. I really enjoyed the kick ass locals The Man and His Machine, and my particular favourite for the night was Palisades from New Jersey. They put on a really well polished show, they were hard hitting and really got the crowd moving. I’m always curious how a band formed only a few years ago (they were formed in 2011) is able to accumulate over 100,000 likes on facebook, tour support, really mint-ass gear and shit. It’s definitely taken us years to get spit and polish and I have to ask myself if these bands don’t have someone doing the majority of the heavy lifting for them? Heaven knows I would love to have a little of that myself – being a DIY band means learning everything the hard way. It’s weird; there are two kinds of bands. The first you never see playing locally until suddenly they’re opening for <POPULAR BAND X> on tour with some guitar sponsorship and they are touted as being from your home city, which is curious, because you’ve never heard of them or seen them play and they definitely didn’t “rise in the ranks” because no one really knows them. These are the bands that seem to have everything us DIY bands are striving for, or at least they LOOK like they have it (read; money). The other kind of band is the kind of band you saw when you were a teenager at the community centre, or who have played with your friends band, who accumulate and grow their fan base through the process of playing shows and getting better and bigger opportunities. Although this kind of a band tends to start with less of the money and the polish, they make up for it in legitimacy, which leads to committed fans who stick with you through the years. It seems Kill Matilda is in the latter category, and it feels really good to always be growing, doing better, improving and seeing our dedicated and loving fans grow with us. I like to think that this kind of musicianship means we are participating in and growing in a national musical community. Not that it’s bad to start out at the top with lots of money and sweet gigs; that’s pretty sweet. But, each approach and strategy has it’s pros and cons.

Speaking of bands and their development, today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. Here is a very interesting story of a band; unlike the two examples mentioned above, there existed a magical time in the 90s when music was still making everyone money and even bands of total junkie fuckups could become world famous. Don’t interpret what I say as derogative; I mean it in a loving sense. Kurt Cobain was a total and complete fuckup and the fact that he could become famous as a musician is to me, such an amazing crazy thing, neither good nor band, just remarkable. It could NEVER happen in this day and age. The time of musicians-cum-junkies is almost completely over because being in a band these days means almost constant work in a cutthroat industry with very little resources available for everyone. You have to be at the top of your game. It used to be, in Nirvana’s heyday, that your ethos and your art were all that was needed to bring you head and shoulders above the competition. People, and record labels, loved Nirvana’s music because Kurt Cobain had a special ability to connect with something so deep, so sad, and so primal that it connected us all to that part of ourselves. His epic unhappiness with everything earthly seemed to be conveyed through some kind of magical, beautiful, touching wormhole of emotions. In short, his voice, his words and his melodies moved us. And it didn’t hurt to have Dave fucking Grohl on the drums. But, think about it; Kurt Cobain was a self-loathing lazy junkie at the same time. He didn’t wake up in the morning, check his twitter, do all his own booking, and do all the driving on tour. He was able to exist in this pure bubble of just being an artist, a music-maker, and everything else took care of itself because the music was THAT good. Has there not been music as good or as touching since that time? No, there totally has been. But the eras of Kurt Cobains and Elliott Smiths are over; if you aren’t gonna do it for yourself, no one is gonna do it for you, no matter how good you are.

Beyond that, it also seems the musical and social pendulum has swung so far from the kind of crass self-loathing that Nirvana embodied that it’s unlikely that, at least in the next little, a band or an artist could come along and do something similar to what Kurt Cobain did. These days its not very cool to hate yourself and to sing about killing yourself. In fact, if you so much as post some sort of self-harming selfie on Instagram or Facebook, you better believe that shit will get flagged and taken down. Maybe because the playing field of how we interact with each other and our culture has been so changed through the internet and social media, and our constant interconnectedness, people can’t be so irresponsible anymore. Because that’s really what Kurt Cobain was; irresponsible. And it was cool, in his time. But imagine someone doing this today, using drugs flagrantly, being a total flail, talking about hating themselves… I feel like the collective hivemind of the interwebz would reject that person as just.. a loser. I guess what I am trying to say is that Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain, were a kind of miracle; the perfect collusion of several elements. Like an eclipse or a planet or comet that comes into view that we won’t see again for another hundred years or so. Everything had to be just right. The industry had money and was looking for the next big thing and plucked this (relatively) unknown band from obscurity (lord knows they couldn’t have done it themselves with that kind of a work ethic). The culture of the 90s, living in the shadow of the post-80’s economic boom, still privileged and rich enough to start having a vague self-hating sense of ennui played a role. People were just fresh out of the Cold War, which I think also probably gave a lot of young people a sense of gothic existentialism; only years before the threat of nuclear war was real, and frightening. Now there was nothing to be frightened of but there was a lot to hate, especially with regards to consumer culture, because people had money! All these things; economics, world events, culture… they are all related to music and what we as a society like and don’t like, will accept and not accept.

But, back to us.

Regina was followed by Brandon, big thanks to A.P.O.D. productions for hosting us! We had to immediately leave Brandon and drive through the night as far as Kenora, ON, where we crashed at a motel from 5:30 am to about noon, and then hit the road again, arriving in Thunder Bay in the nick of time around 8 pm. Seriously, why is the drive across Northern Ontario so long? How does it take 8 hours to go less than 500 kms? We pulled a repeat of the night before and hit the road right after our show to embark on the 10 hour drive to Timmins. The show in Thunder Bay was awesome; definitely check out the band Forever Dead,  a highlight for me. I also really enjoyed the Bay Street Bastards, who played a sort of combination of celtic-punk-meets-Gogol-Bordello.

We made it safely to Timmins around 2 pm after a 10 hour drive and immediately crashed out till our show. I’ve been pleased and impressed with the calibre of shows this tour; no matter where we play, and with who, people are happy and excited to hear us, they buy merch and we make friends. That’s all you can really ask for. We enjoyed a few days off in Sudbury visiting friends, a few more in Montreal, and a quick trip to Sherbrooke to play bar le Magog with Hardluck Battleground and Fate Hope Glory. Sherbrooke is a really beautiful city and always one of my favourite places to play!

Last night we returned after a too-long separation to the stage in Montreal and it was glorious, both to see old friends and familiar faces and to play for the awesome punks of Quebec. If you’ve never been to Quebec, or partied at the Death House, or been to a show, it’s definitely an experience you should try to have once in your life. It’s hard to put into words but the people and the culture of Montreal just hold a special place in my heart and Mykel and I felt really happy to be back in the ‘hood.

Next up: Sorel, Toronto, and ALL OF ONTARIO.

Tour Update #3: THE PRAIRIES – Rum Running & Hair Dye Freezing

Hi all; apologies for the delay on this update. It comes to you from March 27th. 

We made it through the perilous frozen tundra of Alberta sans winter tires. Since my last update we’ve played Edmonton, Edson, Calgary, Red Deer & Moose Jaw and we are on to Regina tonight to open for Abandon All Ships.

The question of whether or not to winterize the van has been on our minds since Kamloops. We had plans to hook up a cheap set of winter tires in Prince George, but the morning of, we ironically became stuck in a snow bank in Burns Lake and by the time we un-stuck ourselves, we didn’t have time to stop on our way to the show in Valemount. We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy awesome road conditions despite the freezing temperatures we’ve been enduring. In Alberta it was so cold that everything in the van froze solid including my beauty products. I went to go touch up my hair only to find that the dye in the jar was so cold I had to scoop it out with a spoon like ice cream! Some of our beers froze and exploded…didn’t anticipate that. The funniest part is that as I was explaining this with dramatic flourish to our host in Moose Jaw last night he just gave me a funny look and said, “well yeah…that just, like, normal”. OH REAL CANADA. I forgot who I was talking to. My exciting story of frozen goods was pretty par for the course. He said they’ve gotten about 5 or 6 days at -50 this year.

Edmonton was a great show at Studio Music Foundation. Big thanks to the other bands Knuckledown, Betty Sue’s A Tramp & Reckless Rebels. It was probably the most legit punk show so far of the tour and we appreciated seeing some fans who drove all the way out from Lloydminster to rock with us.

We played Edson at Fat Greasy’s, what a great little venue. I mentioned to the bartender that my brother had lived in Edson about 13 years ago and he remembered him! A few other people in the bar did too. We stayed in a motel walking distance from the venue and it was one of maybe five times in my almost-eight-year relationship with Mykel that I’ve seen him drunk; I specifically made him stay at the bar and party with the locals, because he is burdened with a sense of unerring responsibility. So, when everyone else is getting shitfaced and laughing and having fun, he’s usually the one wrapping cables, double checking that we haven’t forgotten anything, and making sure we all get to where we are going safely. Any of you who added me on Snapchat got the exclusive Drunk Mykel snap!

Next up was Calgary and one of my favourite dates of the tour so far! Aside from bumping into the bagpiper (bagpipist?) from the Real MacKenzies unexpectedly (mini reunion!), we played the “Dark Carnival”, so our set was featured among burlesque dancers, stunt performers (ie, dudes with giant hooks pierced in their backs with a rope strung between them having a tug of war and a dude nailing nails into his nose) and other awesome bands. We saw lots of old friends and made lots of new fans too. BUT FUCK WAS IT COLD AND SNOWY JESUS GOD

Red Deer & Moose Jaw were small shows with nice people, and we learned that apparently Al Capone was involved in rum-running during prohibition using this set of tunnels that make an underground network in Moose Jaw. Pretty unexpectedly cool… even in the small corners of Canada that seem sleepy a darker history lurks… other than that I’m excited for our gig tonight…first time Kill Matilda has played Regina! Hold on to your fuckin’ hats, prairie people!

Tour Blog Update #2: Kamloops to Hinton. My Bully Died, I Caught a Cold, We Almost Lost Our Gear.

Okay, we played too many places for me to list them all in the title. 

We’ve just pulled up in Edmonton where our trailer door burst open mysteriously in the parking lot. Graham, who was driving at the time, said deadpan: “oh my god.”

“what?”

“the trailer door is open”

“what do you mean?” 

“I don’t know how I can be more literal. THE TRAILER DOOR IS OPEN”

I leapt from the van to find that the trailer door was indeed open although why we still haven’t determined. Luckily, nothing fell out. So after a bit of a scare we’re settled in at Marcus’ friends place drinking beer from Three Ranges brewery which we picked up in Valemount. I had to take a few nights off drinking after waking up hungover more times in a row than I ever have in my life so I’m happy to report my liver is ready for a bit more of the punk rock life. 

In Kamloops we played with the Real McKenzies and local band Second Day Sober. For a Wednesday it was a great turnout and we were honored to share the stage with some legit Canadiana punk. RM put on an amazing show. The next night we were hosted by West Metal Productions in Vernon, BC. I was really impressed with the strength of community I felt in Vernon. Everyone who came out seemed to be aware of or involved in the Armstrong Metal fest, or was friends with or associated with some locals bands. The overall feeling was really lovely and accepting and the afterparty in our room was a lot of fun. The ladies of Vernon and I built a pretty wicked blanket fort. 

We made our way through Williams Lake (another good turnout and a fun night of heavy drinking) and ended up in Prince George on St. Patrick’s Day. If you didn’t already know, Prince George is one of my hometowns. We’ve played here several times and always had a blast. The funny thing is that almost no one I know ever comes out to my shows, other than my best friend Tesia. The popularity we’ve enjoyed here comes entirely from the new generation of showgoers and punk rock kids and I’d say that the scene is as good as, if not better than, when I was a teenager attending shows. We played with Mediocre Minds, Crones & Jamie Bell. The lowest point was the shit-ass side roads of Prince George, which were so icy and snow-covered that we actually got stuck, nearly hit a truck and basically ruined the electrical input of our trailer by bottoming out so long and so hard on the piles of ice that took up space on every road. Luckily for us we have a lot of loving friends who came to our rescue the next day and repaired our electrical hitch. 

Our next show was in Burns Lake BC. This is my other hometown, where I spent time from the age of 8 to the age of 13. This show was of particular importance to me because other than a short visit for a friend’s wedding in 2007 I haven’t been back in a long time. I always tell people that I’m from Prince George when they ask where I’m from, because my time in Burns Lake wasn’t pleasant. Growing up as the child of two lesbian parents in a northern town of about 3,000 meant almost constant bullying, on top of what I’ve realized only as an adult was acute childhood social anxiety. I didn’t know what to expect from the show, which was being hosted at the shop of one of my peers from back in the day. 

My heart is filled with love to say that the show was awesome and everyone was rad. I think when you’re a child, and you face rejection, judgement, and hate, there’s a part of you that never recovers, a part that always craves acceptance. We had an amazing time and played with local band Azrael and Prince George metal band Kleaver who came out as well. It was really lovely reconnecting with everyone I’d seen as little children who were now all grown up. 

There is something that makes Burns Lake a place that captures my heart and it’s only from playing this show that I realized it. It’s a very small community, but being in the north, there is a disproportionately high rate of death for young people from accidents. When I think back on it, there are about seven or eight people that I knew as a child who are no longer with us who didn’t grow up. I was most struck by two of these; while speaking to a young man at the show who wasn’t sure if he knew me, I mentioned that my “moms” had owned the local general store, to which he exclaimed, “oh, the dykes!”. The way he said that brought me right back to my childhood, where the word “dyke” was as sharp as a knife. Not everyone had been so judgemental so it occured to me to ask him his last name and see which family he was from. It was my experience as a child that the kids heard it at home from their parents and brought it to school. When he told me his last name I knew immediately who he was; his bigger brother had been one of my worst bullies. When I enquired as to the status of his brother I found out that he’d since died when he was 18. As much as I didn’t have much love for that kid, I am deeply saddened to hear this news. As I looked around the room with all these young people that night, I realised that almost everyone in that room (because I knew almost all of them and their histories) had lost a brother, or a cousin, or a friend. 

The resiliency of the people of Burns Lake through so much tragedy and heartbreak makes me love my hometown. Looking at the faces of the kids I’d known, how happy they were to be rocking out with us, and how openly they accepted me after all these years heals some of the wounds I’ve carried around almost all my life. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget and I was so glad to see family friends and familiar faces. That night we stayed at the home of some family friends that I used to babysit for, who also lost one of their sons. It wasn’t until last night in Hinton, laying in bed after the show, that I had some time to think back about this boy; I used to babysit him and his little brother, who was at the show that night. He was a really sweet little guy and the pictures all over the house of him gave me an opportunity to remember him. Two deaths; one of a kid who hated me, one of a kid I loved, both of which affected me equally. Dear Burns Lake; you broke me and you made me, I can’t forget you and I’ve always missed you and wanted your approval, and the lives of the people are deeply entwined with mine. 

We played Valemount for St Patricks day and all I can say is I’m very impressed with how hard such a small community can rock out! Hinton didn’t let us down on a Tuesday night either, though I’m sorry to say both Mykel and myself woke up with the most awful colds and Marcus and Graham had to put up with us coughing and sneezing up a storm in the van on the way to Edmonton, Now for a day off to rest and recover!