Music is my biggest weakness, especially live music. I grew up in a musical family. In fact, if you Google Weekend Warriors, you will find my brothers’ band. Three of my biological brothers play in the band. For two of them, playing in the band is all they do. The other one — the wiser one — has a full-time job and only plays on the weekends or at special functions like weddings.
I used to play with them, and still do every now and then. But, as I got older, I started creating my own music and started to learn the songs and dances of my forefathers. I went a different direction when our dad said, “Anyone can do a cover song. Try making your own music.”
I took his advice to heart. However, as he would mention later, he didn’t think I would do the traditional music of the North American Indian.
“I thought you would write your own music,” he said. Regardless, I know he was happy someone in the family decided to carry on the traditions.
Even my mom, with her limited English, used to sing. One New Year’s Eve she won first place when she belted out Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter. It was nothing to have a house full of people with musical instruments playing and singing. This was how we would spend our summer Sundays at our house on my home reserve.
We would set up the instruments outside and hold a jam session. We were always joined by other people from the reserve. If there was one thing I can safely say about the First Nation I come from, it is that it has an incredible amount of talent.
Indeed, this could be said for almost every reserve, especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Back in the day, we didn’t have the Internet or, for that matter, a ghetto blaster. We were lucky to have electricity.
If we wanted music, we had to make our own. That continues even today with the younger generation. But, truth be told, they don’t make music like we used to. Not that I don’t mind the music (or least some) the younger people are listening to, but it’s all starting to sound the same. Or am I just getting older?
One of my favourite Saskatoon summer activities is to walk around and listen to buskers, whether it is downtown or on Broadway Avenue. Heck, I’ll even stop and listen to that young man or woman strumming and singing away in front of a store.
Most of the time, I’ll throw in a buck or two into their collection. I know for many buskers the only way they can eat is to earn a few dollars from busking. Only on a very rare occasion do I give change to someone who is panhandling. I realize they, too, have situations, but I would rather give what little I can spare to someone entertaining the people.
People might think it’s easy being on the street and performing. The hassles and smart-ass comments from passersby sometimes get under one’s skin. It soon slips away. Most people are nice and will stop to listen.
The farmers’ market is also a good place to listen to buskers. There is nothing like a Saturday morning at the market with great outdoor entertainment. One day you might see me with my hand drum. Please give generously.