6.36 Live Music

“This is why we need live music,” the owner of Folly Brewpub at College and Dovercourt said to me from behind the bar. I was at Folly to hear my friend and amazing singer/songwriter Arlene Paculan play a set. Folly is a great place - they brew their own beer in house and are very artist-friendly. I’ve even done storytelling shows there that Arlene has put on.

Arlene had been away touring across Europe for a couple of months and this would be the first time seeing her since she got back. It’s nice to have a place where you’ve gotten to know the staff and you can hang out with your friends between sets.

First, I found singer/songwriter and Open Kwong Dore Podcast guest Joseph Kargi sitting at the bar. We talked for a while and he got behind his piano to play a few songs. While he was doing a sound check, a little girl made her way from the back of the bar. A man, whom I assumed was the father, followed closely behind. She was just wandering around, as kids do, when Joseph hit a few keys on his piano. The kid immediately froze and her eyes went wide.

Joseph played a song and the kid stood transfixed. The dad kept trying to take her hand and dance with her in a goofy dad-like way, but she wasn’t having it. She stared at Joseph, taking it all in. I’m sure she has seen live music performed, but I wonder if she had ever been this close to it.

The dad finally gave up his dancing and the little girl ran to the back of the bar. I thought perhaps she had had enough, but she quickly returned, this time with her mother and younger sister. She was so excited, she wanted others to join in on the experience she was having. The dad lifted the girl on to the stool at the bar and she didn’t move a muscle. Every once in a while, the front door would open and the dad would mock-shiver, saying, “Oh, it’s cold up here!” It seemed to be some kind of signal to say, Let’s go back to our table. The girl ignored him and he finally gave up.

It would be fascinating to see what was going on inside that girl’s head. You could feel the wheels moving, something was being planted. I imaged her growing up. The following week, she would start asking her parents for a piano. She would say, “A piano like the one the man was playing.” For her next birthday, she would receive a keyboard and music lessons. When I took piano lessons as a child, I had to be dragged there. This girl would have her coat on, waiting for her parents to drive her to the music lessons. Alone in her room at her keyboard, she would start singing along with her playing. For her next birthday, her parents enroll her in singing lessons. At first, she learns to play and sing other people’s songs, but soon, she starts coming up with her own lyrics. As a teenager, she plays in front of audiences whenever possible - at school, family gatherings, friend’s houses. During university, she starts playing at open mic’s - the first place she goes to is Folly. She asks the owner if she could play a set, explaining that it was here where she first was exposed to live music. All through university, she becomes a fixture in the local music scene. And from there, she spends the rest of her life as a musician.

And I’m taken back to the bar. The little girl was still on the stool, still stared. Finally, the parents were ready to go and all through getting her coat on, she kept staring until they finally dragged her out the front door.

So, yeah, I agree with the owner of the bar. This is why we need live music.