I still don’t have a formula for how these pieces come to be. I can write something the night of the show, within a week, or if life is really busy, it can stretch over two. For what it is worth, I continue to use this online space as more of a public journal, to reflect on how a show made me feel, and what the artist has come to represent in my mind and my heart.
Last Sunday night, I packed up my truck with a blanket, met some friends and headed out to experience the first outdoor show of the year on the expansive grounds of Serenity Performing Arts Centre along the North Thompson River.
The band gracing the stage was The Lion The Bear The Fox (Christopher Arruda, Cory Woodward and Ryan McMahon). It was their third time performing here together.
The lives of these three men have become harmonious with one another over the past three years as they have grown together as a band from that of solo artists.
What they have is something special, they are not just in a band together, they are best friends, they are brothers. It is this kinship to one other that has elevated the quality and heart of their music.
I tend to refer to the live shows out at Serenity as an experience. You don’t just listen to the music, you feel it, you breathe it, you live it.
For the band and the audience on this night, it felt as though we were getting to know one another among the vastness of open space surrounding us. The transition from house concerts in a tightly confined space to 45 acres of open sky can take time to adjust to. As an audience, the beauty of the surroundings always enhances the music, but the physical space creates a different energy from the intimacy of the house concert experience.
As the night went on, people became attuned to the fresh air, how loud we needed to cheer to have it resonate with the band, and to the messages that each of these men conveyed.
What was immensely clear is the respect each of them have for one another, the music they create, the people they perform it for, and being able to perform in the first place.
At the mid-break set they dispersed among the crowd, catching up with those they had met before, meeting those they had not, and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the venue.
The highlight of the entire night was when Ryan made the call to move the show down to the bonfire for an acoustic performance of their last three songs. This was a genius move as not only did it give people a chance to warm up around the fire, it solidified a connection between the band and the audience.
Christopher, Cory and Ryan all have their unique qualities – from the tones of their voices, to the lyrics in their songs, each brings something different that provides a balancing quality to their three-piece ensemble.
It was incredibly interesting to have seen Ryan play solo only a week before. His energy was completely different this time around with the band. His antics and emotional intensity was tempered, he was balanced. This is what they bring to one another, balance.
As I write this, Cory has left their current tour for the best possible reason – to be at his wife’s side for the birth of their first child. Cory was bursting with anticipation, the love for his wife just hanging there, waiting to return where it belonged. But he still gave his time and attention to the audience, listened to their stories, delighted in their company and performed in a heartfelt way.
As it turns out, Cory only left the tour for a few shows and was back in the fold last night, with his beautiful family in tow!
Maya Angelou once said, “ I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Thank you to The Lion The Bear The Fox for inspiring feelings of hope, love, loss and redemption.
The band is currently on tour. Check out http://www.thelionthebearthefox.com for details. They have a special live EP available for purchase on this tour with some audience favourites. Choice tracks: “All I Ever Do,” a political, yet heartfelt tune with a timeless message and melody; “Above,” one of the most touching, beautiful songs I have heard in awhile (written on behalf of their friend for his children before he passed away).
With peace and love I dedicate this to Cory, his wife Sarah and their newborn daughter Willow.