Without internet or TV at home for going on five weeks now (customer service hasn't made it across the ocean yet), and without the time at school to do a lot of surfing (I shouldn't even be doing this right now), I'm increasingly thankful for a great little invention called the "podcast". I don't know if you have to have an ipod to get this stuff or not, but on itunes you can subscribe to tons of free "podcasts" which is basically like creating your own little radio station. And this is where I go to stay grounded in some of the things that are most important to me:
American football and Canadian music.
By listening to ESPN's PTI, Football Today, and Soccernet podcasts I keep appraised of my sporting interests while walking around campus. Sure I end up ignoring most passers-by, but guess what? They all have headphones in anyway. If you are a sports fan I highly recommend PTI, on TV or in podcast form. What an entertaining show. With the hosts' rapport I daresay it would even be entertaining to a non-sports fan, not to mention a decent lesson in how to fight and stay friends!
But the thing I really wanted to mention in my fleeting moments before hitting the books this morning is the "Canada Live" podcast by CBC Radio. With my subscription to this podcast I now have on my ipod what amounts to five (and counting) free, good quality sounding, fantastic and recent Canadian live albums! The concerts are abridged, and are interspersed with comments from a host and the odd interview, but these are short and sweet and actually quite good. I love it.
So if you are a beginner to the amazing Canadian music scene I don't think you have any excuse for buying what your local radio station is selling you, when you can easily discover what's out there with such tools as this (and CBC radio 3). Sure, there is still stuff on there not to like, but that's the great thing about it: You give a listen, and if it doesn't grab you, you sift it out and download what you want.
Anyway, pictured here is the Great Lake Swimmers (led by front-man and beautiful song-writer Tony Decker). You can hear a recent concert of theirs if you like. As the host said, lately they have been taking Canada, "not by force, but by the fragility of their sound." Great description! They really are worth giving a listen.
The other four concerts I've downloaded in the last few months include Joel Plaskett (I call him a Canadian treasure), Bruce Cockburn (where've I been all you're life?), Hey Rosetta! (not bad, some of you might like them more than I do), and Chad VanGaalen (recent Polaris Prize short-lister). Any of these would be a great place to start, not only if you want to get to know what's up in Canadian music, but if you want a few hours of solid musical enjoyment.
As I walk by Scotland yards, loving it but missing home too, I sure appreciate that at least a few pieces of Americana and Canadiana are only a fingertip away.