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May 14, 2009

Alberta Spring

As some of you are discovering, although I still call Ottawa home, I am currently in Edmonton with my family and their landscape design and construction business. It was a decision I made based on my need to musically invest in Western Canada before heading back to Europe to tour in the fall and the desire to spend quality time with my family especially my infant niece and to reconnect with old friends.

After almost two weeks of working for my family, I feel like I have just been to boot camp. My funky high heels are replaced with steel-toed boots and my lily white musician hands are already chapped, calloused and covered in alkyd paint. In two days, I have become an expert at irrigation system repair and have become quite intimate with man-made cascades and ponds. In front of an audience of yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, tri-coloured blackbirds, rabbits and a mallard couple that insisted in following me around for about an hour, I somehow managed to slip into the cascade that I was cleaning yesterday, and found myself up to my knees in swamp water. It was a hard day

Spring has taken its time in Alberta this year. Everyday, however, Im hopeful that summer will finally arrive. During my first weekend here, the sky suddenly turned black. A familiar squeaking sound caused me to look up to the heavens to witness about a thousand sandhill cranes circle until they fell back into formation on their way to their summer destination in Northern Alberta. Every night, the songs of wood frogs and the boreal chorus frogs lull me to sleep. Ill hear the wood frogs all summer, but the boreal chorus frogs tend to move from this area as summer ensues.

Being back in the area reminds me of my past intense relationship with the great outdoors. Unfortunately this lifestyle came to an abrupt halt after I was stung by a wasp for the first time over ten years ago and discovered that I was deathly allergic. Soon afterwards, my lifestyle moved to urban areas and the indoors where I pursued my academic, artistic and musical passions.

Speaking of musical passions, Im slowly putting together a backing band in Edmonton. Tomorrow evening, Im playing Hulberts (7610 115 Street) with local institution Tom Murray on double bass. As soon as shes available and Im back from touring, drummer and percussionist Erin Zier will be joining us, as will perhaps other musicians as I continue writing and arranging songs for my next album.

Im going to spend the next eight weeks flying from one end of the country to the other to play a variety of events including NXNE and Fte de lt in Toronto, Ottawa Bluesfest, a conference in Victoria, a wedding outside of Montreal and a three-day tour with the amazing Mathias Kom.

Wherever you might be living, I look forward to seeing you all sometime over the course of the summer!

Marie-Jose xx

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