Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trade Show Music Night

Cambridge Bay was hosting the annual Kitikmeot Trade Show this week, which means the entire town was bustling with energy as delegates from all over the region filled every hotel room / spare couch, rubbing elbows with each other at the banquets and presentations while trying to sell each other their business.  It took a bit of an adjustment to get used to all of the hectic activity.  Searching for parking spots? Having to watch out for pedestrians crossing the road?  Having to wait in line to get into places? WHAT IS THIS, TORONTO?

Most of the events were limited to trade show delegates only, but they did host a public event for the community on Wednesday night, bringing in musicians from all over Nunavut as entertainment.  It seemed like every single person in Cambridge Bay came out and crammed themselves into the Community Hall.  The room was so jam packed, people were sitting on the floor and standing in the doorway.
The Premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna

The first performers were the father-and-son duo Colin and Gustin Adjun from Kugluktuk, who switched back and forth on guitar and fiddle, playing an assortment of bluegrass, folk, and gospel tunes.  The audience adored them, and every song, different couples would run up in front of the stage to start dancing, kicking up a storm with their mukluks.  I've always admired the way people can just lose themselves in the music and dance freely without an ounce of self-consciousness. This town sure loves square dancing.

They were backed on bass by our own David Evalik, who I've had the pleasure of playing with at a previous jam session.  I'm always impressed by how easily some folks here can just pick up and instrument and jump in, going with the floor without any instructions or sheet music.

teaching baby to dance

The second performer was singer Kelly Fraser of Sanikiluaq. I rarely ever meet anyone from Sanikiluaq - you really should look at where it's located on a map. Kelly is known for her covers of popular songs that she sings in her native tongue Inuktitut, especially Rihanna's Diamonds. She told us stories about how her mother used to run the local radio station, which gave her exposure to all these old songs.  It was neat to hear Creedance Clearwater in Inuktitut - as well as Pink.

She was very sweet, and people gave her a warm reception, enjoying the songs that they were so familiar with, sung in a new language.   It was neat because most people in town don't speak Inuktitut - if anything, they speak Innuinaqtun.  But her songs about Inuk pride, and going outside in the cold winter and feeling alive, transcends language barriers and seemed to reach out to all of the Inuit folks in the room - especially when she did an cover of Psy's "Gangnam Style" - in Inuktitut.  The whole room bounced with her as she sang "Oppa's Innu style".

everyone loves Kelly

The children were infatuated with her.  They don't get to see live music nearly as often as kids do down south, so they all crowded around the front of the stage, singing along to all of the choruses. I realized something that night: there's something eerily unsettling about hearing a mob of small children chanting "TONIGHT. WE ARE YOUNG. LET US SET THE WORLD ON FIRE".  When grown men (Fun.) do it, it's epic.  When a mob of small children do

Headlining the show was Nelson Tagoona from Rankin Inlet. Nelson describes himself as a "throat boxer". His music is a unique combination of the Inuit style of throat singing and the hip hop technique of beat boxing.  Pretty clever. His performance was enthusiastic and his attitude was incredibly positive, hopefully a great example for all the children that were watching him transfixed, as though hypnotized.  They could not believe the sounds coming out of the guy's throat.  Nelson weaved stories from his life into his performances, stories that often became lessons about believing in yourself.  He switched fluidly from electric guitar to acoustic to just beat boxing, playing with his talk box and pedals  and various microphone effects with obvious ease.

Overall, it was an enjoyable night.  We don't get to have live music as often as in the south, so it was great to have a chance to listen to a wide variety of music from all over Nunavut.