Five years ago I was eight and three quarter months pregnant, Kazoo! Fest was about to begin, and I was about to release a baby and an album. My finished album had come back from the plant ten days early and me and Dave Lander day-tripped to Toronto to pick it up. It was a Thursday, and Mandibles were playing the Ebar that night.
That particular year I was playing in a ton of different bands. During Kazoo Fest alone I was scheduled to play the Saturday morning with Richard Laviolette and the Oil Spills, Saturday night with the Burning Hell and Sunday morning as Jenny Omnichord.
My baby wasn’t due for another ten days, and I got to the Mandibles show that night with copies of my cd in my bag and excitement to kick off the festival. D Alex and Jordan Howard convinced me to give them copies of my cd – despite my insistence that it wasn’t to be “released” until I gave birth to my son Otis – promising they wouldn’t even open the shrink wrap until they received a text from me announcing my arrival. It was a fantastic show and I was over the moon.
The next morning I went into labour. Andy rushed to Guelph from London, I called the Midwives, and even negotiated a last-minute record deal with Stuart Duncan of Out of This Spark. We spoke on the phone between my contractions, and I was relieved that my cd wouldn’t be born without a label. I was in labour for about five hours, and despite my dad’s wishes that i would set up a birthing station at the Family Thrift Store so “everyone could be a part of it” I gave birth at home, and it was beautiful and insane. I texted D Alex and Jordan Howard and told them they could listen to their CDs. Instead Jordan hopped on his bike in Toronto and rode down the street to Soundscapes to put my cd on the shelf so it could be officially “released” the same day
Obviously my brain was on my baby that day, but I still lamented that I would miss the Timber Timbre/Forest City Lovers/Hylozoists show that night. The baby was 9-days early, and I had definitely not totally switched out of show-mode yet. I was flattered when someone told me Paul Aucoin gave me a birth-day shout out from the stage.
The next morning was a little harder. When the sun came up on an obviously beautiful day and I knew that the Oil Spills were playing on the Kazoo stage in downtown Guelph that afternoon while I was laid up in a bed, my heart broke a little. I lay on my bed in the sunshine filtering in through my window, while Richard and the band played a beautiful set. Once again, my recent delivery was announced from the stage, followed by texts and messages to me of congratulations from all kinds of people I love. I missed the show, but it was nice to know the wonderful kazoo-ers were thinking of me in my absence.
That night was the hardest. The Burning Hell – one of my very very favourite bands and a band I had been playing in for the past year – were playing a show at “The Family Thrift Store – MY STORE! – with the band One Hundred Dollars. I tried sooooo hard to convince myself to make it to that show. My dad was phoning me, offering to secure me a comfortable place to sit. I was watching the clock and gauging each hour if I had possibly mustered up enough strength and healing to tolerate the show. Kazoo! Fest folks and The Burning Hell were giving me updates on attendance and the store was filling to beyond a maximum capacity (it was the biggest audience it had ever held at that point). Eventually I was crying and resigned myself to the fact that the show was going to be too intense, too full of people, too everything for a person who had given birth the day before and for their new infant. Everything that made the show great we’re the reasons I couldn’t handle it. The band came by and visited me and the new baby, and people constantly checked in with me throughout the show, but no amount of stage-shout-outs could heal me that night. People STILL talk about that show five years later, and talk about how it was one of the best shows they had ever been to. It’s still the biggest thing I’ve had to miss.
The next morning we were down to the last day of Kazoo Fest, with one remaining show: The Pancake Breakfast. The Pancake Breakfast show is my favourite event of the festival. It’s always at the end of the string of shows, bringing together sleepy and happy and hungover music enthusiasts, filling them with volunteer-laboured pancakes and sliced oranges and hundreds of cups of coffee with a soundtrack of some of the most peaceful music of the festival. It’s the perfect last show, it’s symbolic of everything that makes this festival great, and it’s the one show that EVERYONE can come to. All of a sudden all the toddlers and children who have been stowed safely in homes and at babysitters the last few nights are free to come and be part of the festivities. There are always people you will see that morning who you missed most or all of the other nights. It’s a morning show, it’s a relaxing show, and it offers a different venue to accommodate anyone who hasn’t been able to manage the other events, whether they’re underage, or just too tired or over-worked to make the night shows.
And that particular Sunday morning Kazoo! pancake breakfast I was scheduled to perform as Jenny Omnichord.
And OBVIOUSLY there was no pressure from the folks at Kazoo! to make it to my set. But they kept my slot for me just in case.
And that Sunday morning, one and half days after having given birth, I pulled myself out of my house, and I made it to the show. It became my cd “double release” party, and Kazoo! Fest became baby Otis’ first show. And my music was the first music he ever heard outside the womb.
And it made up for everything.