Good times last night at Johnny’s Social Club; where Five Easy Pieces sang for a Relay for Life Fundraiser. Thanks very much to folks for coming out & supporting the Camp Maraiche Girls & Friends Relay for Life Team as well as us in Five Easy Pieces; the evening was a success thanks to their hard work & planning, & a slew of delicious cupcakes they made for the crowd.
As always, I enjoy getting up to play with my Five Easy Pieces friends, tho we rarely get the chance to jam & rehearse like we did over the winter, it always seems to come together ‘easy’ when its time to plug in the amps & sing. Thanks to Doug, Ann, Chad & Derek for the musical times. Very talented group.
Coming up next I’ll be playing a solo set at Pioneer Square for Flin Flon’s 80th Birthday, June 28th; as Flin Flon’s Trout Festival begins. The following Saturday, June 29th I’ll be joining a line up of talented locals at NorVA Centre for an open mic night of music. Mark Kolt will generously be accompanying me on piano for both these solo shows; & what a treat that is for me personally.
Here’s a few snaps from Johnny’s Social Club last night.
When CC Trubiak sat behind his assigned table at the Living Books event in Flin Flon, Manitoba, his mind raced about the questions he might get that night and whether or not he was ready to open up. As an “open book,” that was his job for the evening, to talk about his life as a gay man to anyone who cared to sit down and listen. But considering Trubiak had just moved from Ottawa to Flin Flon three weeks earlier, he had no idea what might come his way.
“I was floored at the response,” says Trubiak, a short, slight, scruffy 34-year-old with wide, welcoming eyes.All night long, townspeople old and young flocked to his table, sat down across from him, and quizzed Trubiak about coming out. “In some ways it felt like I was getting the red-carpet treatment,” he says. “People kept saying, ‘We’re so happy to have you here. Flin Flon needs you.’”Trubiak was shocked to hear such welcoming words, especially considering his painful history in the small prairie town, a day-long drive north of Winnipeg. He was born and raised in Flin Flon, and if anyone had ever said he would return as an adult, he would have called them crazy. “Familiar with the expression ‘When hell freezes over’?” he jokes. “For years that was my initial thought on ever returning to Flin Flon to live and work.”
When Trubiak was growing up, he says, his hometown revolved around three things — mining, hockey and fishing — and he could have cared less about any of them. He was small and unathletic, an obvious sissy, and that made him the target of taunts from other boys. Every day, he feared they would turn violent on him, so he stayed as invisible as he could. “I wanted to connect and be accepted,” he says, but when he realized he was gay, he felt he had to hide even more. During the summer between grades 7 and 8, he decided to kill himself rather than face another year at the only high school in town. “In my 12-year-old head, life was better in another realm,” he says. “I was taking my ticket out of there.”
When Trubiak woke up in the hospital he found out he had support, after all. His family recognized his suicide attempt as a cry for help. He returned to school in the fall, got permission to skip gym class and eventually started seeing the guidance counsellor. Every week, she let him use her phone to call a social worker at Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre. Trubiak also started sending letters to his mother’s gay brother, Sterling, who had escaped Flin Flon years earlier and settled in Ottawa. Sterling responded with envelopes full of gay-themed DVDs, books and magazines.
“That’s when the dreamer in me was born,” Trubiak says. He started writing songs and performing them alone in his bedroom. He didn’t dare sing in public, though.
For the next few years, he endured high school knowing that as soon as it was over, he would get the hell out.And so he did — first to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, then to Winnipeg, then finally to Ottawa, where he earned a bachelor’s in social work from Carleton University. Trubiak started singing in clubs and cafés and, in 2011, put out an indie-folk album called They Say I’m Different. One of the songs is called “Prairie Boy,” and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture: “Head hung down in shame, it’s plain and clear you ain’t welcome here.” Trubiak found a boyfriend in Ottawa, and they settled into an apartment together, but he couldn’t land a position in his field. Then one day his sister called from Flin Flon to say there was a job opening for a social worker. His mother got on the line and said, “You can have your old room back.”Trubiak’s first response was resistance. “The thought made me physically sick,” he says. But after weeks of sleepless, sweaty nights, he started seeing a return to Flin Flon as an opportunity to gain work experience, go off the grid, and get to know his family better. Trubiak scored the job, promised to stay for a year, and assumed he would keep a low profile. That lasted for exactly a week, until someone from the new Flin Flon Arts Council asked him to perform at a music festival called Flonstock. There, one night on the prairie, Trubiak met a gay guy in his early 20s who shocked him with how out he was. “He was unabashedly, overtly gay,” Trubiak says. “The hair, the clothes, the short shorts, the total sense of style, owning who he is. I could never have been that brave.”
Since then, Trubiak has met other Flin Flon gays he could have never imagined meeting as a teenager — and he started singing with a folk band called Five Easy Pieces. Flin Flon has shrunk, he says, thanks to a declining economy, but he doesn’t see that as a bad thing. “Now it’s embracing an arts culture,” he says. “Even though it’s become smaller, it’s strangely more inclusive.”
Opening up at Living Books and performing at festivals and cafés isn’t the only way Trubiak has been a positive queer influence on his hometown. Working as a mental-health worker, he turns over his office every week to a young client so she can call the same Rainbow Resource Centre that helped him two decades ago. And just the other day, his old guidance counsellor invited him back to his high school to speak out against bullying.
“I have the feeling of being a valued member of the community,” he says. “Professionally, I have never been more invigorated. Creatively, I have never been more alive.” He still plans to leave again this fall, to return to his boyfriend and (hopefully) a social-work job in Ottawa. In the meantime, his music is being inspired more than ever by prairie sunsets he once looked at and thought he would never see again.
I’ve never been ashamed to say I don’t have a drivers license but I am also very proud to say I am learning how to drive. At 34 years old, I have lived my life thus far, never having known what it was like to face that fear. And I do say fear because I recall being 16 years old back in high school when I had my learners license – I never got passed that stage all because of some awkward driving expereices that compelled me to give up on going the full nine yards with it.
Back then it worked: I eventually moved to Winnipeg, then Ottawa, where having a license was never an issue in terms of mobility. I could walk, bike, bus, run – anywhere; & yet as independent I felt doing these things, I admit something was missing & I felt hindered in some ways, particularly in the job field where having a valid license is imperative if you want to compete for jobs. I started having day dreams of overcoming this fear & imagining what it might feel like to hop in a car on my own, behind the wheel, and just go – the possibility seemed so endless! I could leave a party anytime I wanted ; I could be the guy who offers to drive my friend home when they’re too tipsy; or blare my country music as loud as I want because it was my vehicle. I especially wanted to know what it might feel like to hang my elbow outside an open window, wind blowing on my face, sun shining & feeling independent on a whole new realm….
I knew that in this year home in Flin Flon, I would not only have an opportunity to remedy this lifelong dream, but that furthermore – I was gonna seize it once & for all. After all, learning how to drive in a small town like Flin Flon was considerably less frightening than the idea of learning how to drive in a bigger city – plus, my mom, bless her soul, offered to purchase an old Grande Jeep Cherokee for me to bounce around in & practice in. I think she felt better about this than allowing me to drive her prized truck; & I have to say I take pride in my little beater.
Within the first four months of returning to Manitoba I studied for & got my learners – this time I felt more proud of myself then I ever did at 16. It was a milestone for sure. I practiced a lot over the first months home but I have to admit that over the winter months I didn’t drive much; now that spring & summer are here – there’s no more waiting to finish what I started.
I feel exhilarated & slightly nervous. I’m gonna do this! Today my friend Stacey took me out in my jeep & I drove us away from Schist Lake & into town where I took her down Main street, through Creighton, Saskatchewan – back around again & right to The Candy Bar where I treated her to the best ice cream in town. The sun was shining – my window was down & that breeze was shining in our faces.
Never heard of this band before – but as soon as I heard VETiVER‘s ‘Roll On Babe‘ from 2008′s THiNG OF THE PAST I was quite taken. It appeals to my day-dreamy sensibility – & low & behold I discovered VETiVER is an American folk band that has been making music since 2004. Ain’t it nice to discover something new now & again? Here’s my song choice of the day. Enjoy!
ELiZABETH LEVY wrote over 80 children’s books in a variety of genres, but as a kid growing up – her long-running mystery series ‘Something Queer is Going On‘ (including titles Something Queer in Rock n’ Roll; Something Queer at the Haunted School; Something Queer at the Ballpark; Something Queer at the Library to name a few) were among my favourites. I believe I was introduced to them as early as Grade 2 when we’d be allowed to pick books in the elementary school library. I was drawn to the illustrations, which were always by MORDiCAi GERSTEiN.
I could read about the adventures of amateur sleuths Jill & Gwen, & their basset hound Fletcher for hours on end. I loved to read; & while the details of their adventures are a bit blurred at this point in time, I still recall Jill, with her big red head of hair, & Gwen, tapping her braces with her finger. Rounding out the trio was the ever inert basset hound Fletcher. Together they solved mystery after mystery, balancing each other out in strength – I wanted to be like them! I could begin seeing many situations & circumstances I found myself in as potential mysteries in the making – weather at school, visiting my grandparents on farm in Saskatchewan, or traipsing around the neighbourhoods & back alleys with my friends. I was curious & searching for clues to mysteries that weren’t even there!
Here’s to those children’s books of our times that got us using our imaginations! Thanks Mrs. Levy!
Everyone should get their yearly dose of cheesy 80′s movies (Teen Wolf; Satisfaction; My Tutor; Weird Science, to name a few); which is why I found myself laying in bed all of today doing just that. To put it in context, I have an injured foot due to an unfortunate minor accident (worry not, I’m in good shape) as well as the beginnings of a sore throat – all of which had me very content to stay in bed.
And what does one do when laying in bed all day? Surf the net for one; I found myself perusing Youtube for anything shiny to distract me; landing upon a certain 1983 bomb of a movie called ‘A Night In Heaven’, starring LESLEY ANN WARREN & former teen hunk CHRiSTOPHER ATKiNS. The movie is hardly worth reviewing here; it was pure guilty pleasure: bored school professor (Warren) flunks charming student (Atkins) for flubbing his way through class. Low & behold he’s a student by day & stripper at night – where the professor eventually lands herself when her zany sister comes to town. An awkward affair ensues – we get some soft core porn scenes with the sexy Atkins, who is most interesting to me because his short-lived career of films (all of which he was a scantily-clad boy-toy) indicates he really was sort of a flash in the pan. Every cougars wet dream. I also recall him playing Sue Ellen’s much younger love affair in the mini-series ‘Dallas’ in the mid-80′s.
Best moment for me came when it was time for the prim & proper sexually frustrated professor to discover her recently flunked student doing his strip tease at a very 80′s discotheque, adorned with a lot of 80′s women screaming & carrying on uncontrollably. Atkinson, or rather ‘Ricky The Rocket’, as his stage name goes, enters in full on stripper-astronaut attire, gyrating & seducing women to this MiCHAEL DES BARRES & HOLLY KNiGHT song ‘Obsession‘; done again in & around this time by one hit wonder group ANiMOTiON. Personally I enjoy this original version more. Quintessential 80′s moment set to a very typically 80′s song, which I enjoyed enough to sit through the rest of the crappy tale. How it ends is irrelevant but I can say it would be interesting to hear Warren & Atkins give their behind-the-scenes commentary if anything – to at least answer the question: “What were you thinking???”
Just two evenings ago FiVE EASY PiECES opened for Vancouver-based band THE ABRAMSON SiNGERS @ Flin Flon’s very own Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
A small, quaint, charming space – St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church was by far one of the best settings I’ve had the honour of playing in before. Being Ukrainian myself, the sights & scents inside took me back to the many little churches like this that I have visited in my lifetime, having seen them because of my beloved Grandpa & Grandma Stan & Mary Demchinsky, who passed away in 2009. In fact the church they are both resting outside of, which is located in vast & open landscape of Saskatchewan is a lot like this one in many respects, with all the beautiful details. I couldn’t help but think of them as we arrived & began stage set up; ironically I was born & raised here in Flin Flon yet I had never entered this church though I had passed it countless times though out my lifetime.
Needless to say this church set the stage for the night of music & fun that lay ahead; giving the perfect atmosphere as well as sound. It was a treat to open for THE ABRAMSON SiNGERS, a fine band – & without doubt we were happy to play for a crowd of just under 100 people, all very warm & enthusiastic.
Thank you to Luc & Katie (of ‘BABA’S HOUSE’, respectively) & THE ABRAMSON SiNGERS for the invitation to get up & do our thing; it was a honour & pleasure to sing amongst such talented musicians. I enjoyed meeting you & had there been more time I sure would have loved hearing more about your travels. I wish you the best on the remainder of your tour – & keep on inspiring folks with your music.
As a side-note, we of FiVE EASY PiECES were one easy piece down, as Derek Kemp was ill & unfortunately couldn’t make it at the last minute, so he was sorely missed to say the least. Below are some images taken during set up – & one of THE ABRAMSON SiNGERS in action. Enjoy!
Something I’d like to do a little more often in life, & particularly on this website of mine, which I tend to view as a sorta crock-pot of my world as it may be – is to honor the people, places & situtations I get to be a part of. Trouble with that for me has always been – where does one draw the line? I certainly don’t like sharing too much about my personal life or the personal lives of my friends & family – one ought to be mindful in sharing things with a sense of purpose.
In the case of these photos – I wanted share them as a testament to those little moments in life where I find myself surprised & touched by the love of people’s families. I have many wonderful friends, old & new – I haven’t necessarily plastered photos of their personal lives on the internet regardless of how often they inspire me yet these chosen images sum up something rather simple yet so big about life: the love of family.
I was invited by a friend to come to her two daughters joint birthday party & from it came a few colorful images of those tiny ‘moments’ that can pass all top quickly but are worth remembering forever.
Thank you friend for inviting me in – may you & your family be blessed! Enjoy these.xo
Always had a big thing for American folk singer, songwriter, activist JOAN BAEZ; a talent with a distinctively strong vibrato voice & a penchant for songs about social issues. In my high school days I went on a Baez overload, idolizing her career performing in coffee houses, romancing DYLAN, & a lifelong commitment to political & social activism in the fields of nonviolence, civil & human rights & the environment.
A performer for over 55 years there are no shortage of classic albums or songs, but after a 10 year hiatus from listening to her I found myself humming this cover version of hers; the MiCK JAGGAR/KEiTH RiCHARDS penned ‘No Expectations‘, from the 1970 album ‘One Day At A Time’. Well worth checking out!
Last December I was contacted by an old pal of mine named Kaj Hasselriis, whom I’d met at the age of 17 when I first moved to Winnipeg. Kaj is a fantastic person & our friendship is unique and greatly valued. Not only is he a friend but a very talented and adventurous free-lance writer, who although is right now living in Paris, was at the time residing in Toronto. At the time he was writing for the publication Xtra! & he wanted to know if I’d be interested in doing a possible feature.
Though I’d done some previous media before with regards to projects I’ve worked on, I was particularly interested in taking him up on his proposal because, for one, I love and value Kaj, but two, because I appreciated the opportunity to share a little bit about my story. Kaj’s interest was primarily in asking me about my experiences in growing up queer in a small town, only to leave & return again almost 15 years later, in my case, for professional development. Something about timing of this year and all that I have experienced personally, professionally and creatively made the opportunity seem not only fitting but somehow serendipitous.
It was a lot of fun, as well as enlightening for me to consider his questions about my background & for that I’m really pleased. Also, while he made no promises that the article would even see the light of day, I felt a sense of accomplishment in having a platform to share but a piece of my life with a friend.
Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to eventually learn that the feature made it into the Ottawa publications. Thank you Kaj, for sharing the opportunity with me, as well to Darren Holmes for providing the photograph.