This particular portion of the journey is something I’ve been looking forward to but at the same time avoiding in my mind. The first time experience of going to a ‘POW WOW’ at an Indian reservation is something I can’t wait to do… revisiting my home town… I’m avoiding it a little bit mentally. I haven’t been to my hometown in almost ten years and it’s been really put as a distant memory in my mind. It’s not to say I had a bad childhood but the tail end of my time before I left, my parents finally separated after 25 years. This experience was the last taste in my mouth before I went to university and it really was sour. My folks had what you could say a rocky break up. My dad was the support beam for me my whole life while my mom was like a storm always spreading strong negative energy all our ways. She wasn’t a bad person per say but she was really selfish and thoughtless sometimes on her decisions and emotional out bursts. It really took its toll on all of us. I couldn’t wait to leave and when I did I haven’t been back since… until now.
It’s the 16th… I’ve rented a car for me and my crew and we were off to Lakefield Ontario, my old hometown. The purpose of this piece is to give the viewer some background on why this story means what it means to me. The beats of choice for this trip are mixed tunes from The Greenskeepers, Theivery Corporation, Kruder and Dorfmeister, and so on… so if you know these bands you’re getting a sense of the mood. I’m relaxed and ready to absorb the moment; Nothing like a little highway driving in to cottage country to start the day right.
We arrive in Lakefield and some things have changed but there is certainly a lot that hasn’t. I see a skeletal of the past with the present popping through. It certainly would have been nice if McDonalds existed during my childhood days. Nothing beats the quarter pounder combo… oh yeah. As we ventured through the village the memories just came and went as we continued to the destination that was still to come. The school sign was freshly painted but the driveway to the campus was the same… as we drove in I was getting a real sense of déjà vu which was really cool. I grew up at a private school out in the middle of nowhere. Lakefield has a population of 2300 people and is smack dab in the middle of farms, woods, lakes, and anything else you might think of as country surroundings. My dad was a teacher at this rich kid school where we lived as a family. Our house had a living residence for students attached and my father would play surrogate dad for about 50 teenagers. To give you an idea of what kind of teenagers he had to deal with lets just say Prince Andrew was included in the mix. It was really weird as a middle class family living there having to share your dad with rich kids and growing up with an assortment of people who had traveled half way around the world to go to school here. It was truly a unique and eye opening experience with pros and cons.
As we set up the cameras and took a stroll around the campus I opened up about my early days and it ended up being really rewarding dealing with things I hadn’t thought about in a while. A new appreciation for my childhood came to the surface and even though not every memory was a positive one I feel it’s good to reflect on your up bringing. The themes covered in this project are about connection and family. As I track down my surrogate restaurant family from ten years ago it’s nice to understand and bring to the surface my blood relations in order to really appreciate the journey I’m going on. This trip meant a lot to me and it even gives me the courage to reconcile with my mom… soon. I won’t lie to you… I went to my old house and saw the car in the driveway but my mom and I are not there yet… but I feel after this project I will be able to tell her everything that I feel and I’m hoping this one time she listens.
The second day to the weekend involved a couple of things that I really looked forward to. First was the experience of a culture that I grew up around but didn’t appreciate at the time and the second was getting to see one of my biggest role models in my life, my dad. The POW WOW was in the middle of bush out by the Curve Lake reservation about 30 minutes outside my hometown. The Ojibwa people do an annual celebration of their culture which kind of culminates other Indian cultures into one 2 Day celebration. For the course of two full days, led only by the drums of the elders, the celebration flows to a rhythm of beats and chants that have been carried down from generation to generation. People from the surrounding areas come and watch and participate as the dances and beats of the drum continue from the early morning until it’s time for bed… then it begins all over again. The similarities to the dance culture in terms of the celebration of music within a community are very much the same. You could compare the different drummers and chanters that participated as the d-jays while the community that embraced and took part from a dancing and spiritual sense is where a lot of us feel when we go to a party. It’s about expression which dancing is… communication stems from this expression and even though you can be strangers with the people you participate with at first, it’s really easy to come together when you’re involved in something like this. The footage we got will really knock this point out of the park… I look forward to bringing this chapter of the story to the screen.
The second thing that really made this day special was seeing my dad again. He came out to the POW WOW to say hi and actually help in communicating the Native message and purpose to the viewers on film. You see my father is a retired professor who has his masters in Native studies. He actually was the first white guy to graduate Trent University with a Masters in this field and he was kind enough to share his thoughts to myself, the crew, and the audience. He really shed some light on the parallels of the two cultures and their connection to music and performer as a guide to its community. I’m really excited to share it with you the viewer and I promise a new perspective will come from listening and seeing it for yourself.
Overall another great success; the stars seem to be in alignment and I’m really looking forward to the editing room as well as ironing out the details for the next trip. I’m off to LA again and possibly Vegas pending on the d-jays schedules. I plan on reconnecting with Mike in LA, one of my old friends from the East Side days, also I plan on going and doing some studio time with the artist Rithma in order to show the audience what goes in to making the music we love to shake our asses too, but as for the profiles I’m doing next… it’s a surprise.
Let’s just say it’s a big one and I can’t wait!!!