Shambhala the 20th: Can’t Burn Our Spirit!

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It was a decade ago when, while hotboxing the car of a high school acquaintance, that I was told of a magical place filled with music and love, where every stranger is your friend and you can spend the days in costumes climbing tree forts or lounging in hammocks, and the glowing nights engaged in perpetual dance. The sliver of an image conjured in my mind of such a place intrigued me, but became forgotten as days and weeks and months passed and I never saw that person again.

20170812_001119The notion remained latent within me, however, and re-emerged years later when a close friend of mine returned from an adventure in the Kootenays, extolling the beauty and harmony of Shambhala music festival. For him, the journey to the electronic festival became a recurring pilgrimage, and he continuously urged me to join him.

“That’s not really my scene,” I would foolishly say (being at that time a chronic patron of any punk or metal show I could afford to attend), though I did in fact feel quite enticed.

“It’s everyone’s scene,” he assured me.

20170811_202318So finally I went there for a single day, partly thinking if I just went once he’d stop harassing me to go, but also excited at the prospect of attaching personal sensation to what thus far seemed to me a space belonging to a dream. Without getting into detail about that first time (it’s already been written in my past blog post: “Happy Shambs!”), I found the experience to be wondrous, and I went back on another day pass the following year. The next, the same thing, with my wife now coming with me. And this summer, for the festival’s 20th year, she and I scored our first set of tickets for the entire weekend. Having progressed from charmed but tentative newbie into Shambhala enthusiast, I could not wait to properly experience the place that now endlessly calls out to my soul.

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Thirtying in Cuba

When I left for Cuba I was 29, and now I’m in my 30s. Really, I don’t feel very old. The milestone is no big deal to me, and I would have been content enough to mark it at a pub in Kamloops. But Brittany (my wife) thought fit to arrange a much grander celebration, and I sure am glad she did. With much help from my brother-in-law, she gathered a 15-person group of family and friends for a week of tropical weather, breathtaking sights, and a vibrant culture steeped in centuries of momentous history.dscn13252

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Merry Christmas, Elevator People


It was an office ugly Christmas sweater party, tamer so far than those of the past few years. Nothing had been broken and nobody had vomited on each other. This was just a jovial night in a hotel at Sun Peaks Resort with perhaps a few too many drinks, but no disasters—until a group of us decided to take the good times of the evening to a nearby bar.

From the 4th floor we boarded the elevator, all of us upbeat as the doors closed behind us and we started our descent. There was chatter, laughter, dancing, and jumping around.

That’s when the elevator stalled.

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New York Punk Band Guessing Game


First of all, let me specify that not all bands featured as answers in this game are actually from New York. They do, however, all in some way relate to a week-long trip my wife and I recently took to the city. (My wife’s name is Brittany. I also have a friend named Melissa who is pretty cool and who I promised a shout out in my blog, so here’s shouting out to her!)

Anyways, the idea is for you to follow the course of our journey in the paragraphs that follow, and to fill in any blanks with the appropriate musical ensemble. The first person to correctly guess them all in the comment section at the bottom will win a shitty prize. Let the game begin!

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Headed West to Yellowstone

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Boy, I’m runnin’ from the law.

First of all, if you haven’t listened to the song Firearm by Casey Baker and the Buffalo Sinners, please do so now and enjoy what I consider lyrically one of the best tunes ever composed (you’ll also understand the reference above).

We were actually headed southeast towards it, but Yellowstone Park was the ultimate destination of our 10 day road trip, with plenty of stops before and after. As our busy summer now continues I have no time to post extensively about each place we saw along the way back, so let me break it down into brief daily summaries.

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Trailer’s Delight

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“Red sky at night…” my wife spoke of the rust-coloured shades permeating the evening horizon. If the nautical saying could be applied to land then this was an omen of good weather for our next day’s camping trip.

Instead it rained, all day and through the night.

We had faced such weather in our tent before. Like in Halifax when bursts of rain billowed under the fly to dampen our slumber, or during a foggy stay in St. John’s when we saw our breaths as mist and doubled up on blankets in the night. But this time we didn’t bring out tent. For the first time as a camping couple, we would be kept safe and dry in the comfort of a little teardrop trailer of our own.

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Meat Loaf Night in the Okanagan


Words by Cory Stumpf
Photos by Robin Arundel

It was the kind of concert that transcends generations. From elderly bikers to high school hipsters, Meat Loaf fans of every ilk filled Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre last night. Whether their first experiences with the legendary artist were streamed on Spotify or cranked loudly on 8-track in a beat up old Volkswagen back in the 70s, all united together under a shared passion for his music, and all went wild when the man took the stage.

If there were any concerns that after more than four decades of performing he might not still have what it takes to stir an audience with his vocal prowess, these were dispelled the instant he opened his mouth. Though his singing at moments came out somewhat gravelly, he did his best to bellow the powerful notes that he is known for, ones that many other singers could never hope to hit throughout their whole careers. And when he did pull them off his voice seemed to permeate and shake the space of every atom in the venue. The impressiveness of his ability to still wail like an angelic mammoth at the age of 68, and to come out and do so a mere week after having collapsed on stage at a separate concert in Edmonton, overshadowed any flaws that might have existed. And those flaws really were few and far between.

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The Things I Never Wrote About


Apologies. This blog has been lately neglected in favour of school semesters rooted in upper level English studies, intensive on reading and writing and consequently heavily demanding of my time.  And while I greatly enjoyed exploring the realm of Canadian theatre or delving into survival narratives by literary icons ranging from Dickens to Poe to Atwood, it certainly is nice to have some extra time to indulge in written pursuits of my own.

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Farewell, Amsterdam. Farewell, Europe.


It couldn’t last forever. Alas, our flight home loomed within our futures, and we were soon due to return to Canada. We had fit more into our weeks in Europe than we ever could have hope for, but as the remainder of our time there dwindled we felt determined to squeeze in one more party at the end of it all. Being set to return to Amsterdam for a brief stay before catching a plane from there we decided to find a rowdy concert in the city.

While still in London and a few days away from returning to Amsterdam, I visited the website of Paradiso, the long ago church turned music venue that over the years has hosted a range of talented and inspiring acts.  There was only a handful of artists listed whose performances were not yet sold out and which corresponded with our timeline, so of those we picked one on a whim: Beans & Fatback. None of us was familiar with their name or a single song the band had written, but after sampling a couple of tracks we decided theirs was an energetic style that we would be happy to take part in live.
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