CC CHRONICLES: Throwback Thursday / ‘Prairie Boy’ & the Victims Voices Matter Conference 2010

Published by cctadmin on July 15th, 2015

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Once upon a time, CC Trubiak wrote a song called ‘Prairie Boy’.  The year was actually 2010.  The setting, Ottawa, Ontario.  At the time I was a full-time social work student at Carleton University, working my way through the program in hopes to one day become a qualified counsellor.   However, as a singer/songwriter I was just getting my feet wet in terms of working on the independently recorded They Say I’m Different (Torrid Productions).

While I was studying at Carleton I got word that a two-day conference called Victims Voices Matter was being put on by the Ottawa Police Service queer liaison committee and Ottawa’s queer community centre project.  The conference itself would cover a wide range of topics from reporting homophobic violence to letters from victims of hate crimes and workshops on queer terminology.

I thought the conference idea itself was a great one; not only did it seem progressive but somehow I thought anything that encourages the breakdown of gay stereotypes and the building of bridges between the ‘gay community’ and the larger society was good in my books.  You could imagine my surprise when one of the organizers contacted me directly to invite me, as an openly gay singer/songwriter/social worker to write a song in honour of this two-day conference.

I took the opportunity seriously – and thus went home and worked on a song that I felt would hopefully encapsulate my story in a snap-shot.  After experiencing bullying in my own youth growing up in Flin Flon, I could appreciate how the conference was about building support and understanding between the queer community and police officers.

Out of it came ‘Prairie Boy’; a song that draws a lot of visual images of feeling like a loner in an unwelcoming world.  A young ‘fairy’ boy who’s a vulnerable, yet resilient dreamer.  Not only did I get the chance to perform it at Victims Voices Matter, but I was able record it as well – produced by The PepTides band leader Claude Marquis.

I recall about 150 people attended the conference, with RCMP officers joining police from Hamilton, Cornwall, Peterborough and Waterloo.  It seemed to me that the conference generated discussions and broke down some barriers.  I for one, was honored to be a part of it and looking back on it today after some time – I can’t help but be proud of how this little song was born.

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CC CHRONICLES: Family Matters

Published by cctadmin on July 13th, 2015

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CC CHRONICLES: Throwback Thursday / Elmdale House Tavern 2011

Published by cctadmin on July 9th, 2015

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Once upon a time Ottawa’s Elmdale House Tavern hosted a launch party for They Say I’m Different. The launch itself took place on July 26th, 2011 and it marked one of my first ‘real’ live performances as a singer/songwriter.

As someone who grew up paralyzed whenever faced with singing in front of people, everything leading up to this milestone was pretty scary; and in a city like Ottawa, which is just bursting with professional musicians, it was even more so. The seeker of growth and change within myself however, compelled me to face my fears. What better occasion to start doing that than having your first independently recorded project to promote?

They Say I’m Different is a little folky album that was recorded over 2010 and I had assembled back up support from friends and fellow artists Danniel Oickle (piano, backup) and Olexandra Pruchnicky who were there with me that night at Elmdale House Tavern. I frequented the tavern myself for years and watched a lot of great performers do their thing there – so I was pretty excited at the thought of launching the album there. To this day I still get nervous standing in front of a crowd, and on this occasion I was especially anxious – all the generated interest in the album and the launch had me fearful I wouldn’t live up to the hype. Yet, there I stood, arms open.

A couple of things stand out in my memory; one being that my sister Ebony and her partner James actually came to Ottawa and saw the show. That brought a comfort to me, an element of home – and I still remember her crying from her table, embracing me afterwards. It affirmed for me that I was facing my fears with good reason; because behind my fears was the real me, and that’s what people were gonna get from my shows. From that day forward.

The other standout about this memory was feeling a great sense of love from the crowd; comprised of familiar Ottawa faces and a lot of strangers. To this day I’m thankful for the opportunity, to the Elmdale House Tavern, Danniel and Olex for being a part of something very special to me. THANK YOU! Here’s to conquoring fears!

Photograph courtesy of Bonnie Findley.

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CC CHRONICLES: Throwback Thursday / Anne Murray circa 1999

Published by cctadmin on July 2nd, 2015

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Once upon a time a young man made his dream come true when he saw Anne Murray sing live. That young man was me of course, and to this day I still remember that performance well. Growing up I already had a thing for a lot of 1970′s folk and country, so discovering Anne Murray came naturally. I find her voice unique and heartwarming, and her personality down to earth. Songs like Snowbird, What About Me?, Danny’s Song, Love Song and You Needed Me – all showcase her warm alto and rich tones. You can imagine my surprise when I found out she was playing live with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra circa 1999; though I could not find anyone who would go with me at the time. I made it my mission to buy a ticket and see her in person even if I had to enjoy the experience solo. In 1999 I would have been 20 years old – working in Osbourne Village’s Blockbuster video; I didn’t have a lot of money but I made it work.

That actual night I remember sitting centre stage in the 8th row, thinking to myself that I had to be the youngest person in that entire packed audience, which was strange I thought because to me it made sense that you should want to see Anne Murray perform, regardless of your age. It was an eye opener though to find myself alone in a sea of elderly people – yet here’s the thing – I had the greatest time all by myself. I chatted with the people on either side of me and I could sense we were all in agreement about one thing: Anne Murray was a class act and we were excited to be there. When Anne entered the stage, she was nothing short of professional and on point. Every song I wanted to hear – including some of her Christmas hits, I got to hear – and impressively enough she never faltered and every word was crystal clear and delivered with grace and gratitude. That’s what I love about Anne Murray: she doesn’t demand attention nor is she a high-profile celebrity – yet she is a consummate vocalist.

The other memory I have of that night was that she only changed outfits once: she went from a white pant suit to a black pant suit. No muss, no fuss. I even snapped a few photos from my seat which I share here today!  THANK YOU Anne Murray for your musical gifts as well for the opportunity to see you live!!!

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Happy Canada Day!

Published by cctadmin on July 1st, 2015

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Not easy..

Published by cctadmin on June 30th, 2015

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CC CHRONICLES: The art of letting go vs. pushing away

Published by cctadmin on June 29th, 2015

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Sometimes I get ‘letting go’ confused with ‘pushing away’. Do you know what I mean?
Life seems to be a series of lessons in learning the art of ‘letting go’; be it from the small scale of releaseing your soother as a baby or sharing toys with siblings as a child – to larger scale of learning how to to say goodbye to someone who passes away or surrendering to the expectations you have on the people or world around you … maybe even washing your hands of anger or pain. Certainly existence presents us all with times where we truly do have to ‘let go’ verses holding on to the emotions, presumptions or the people who it would serve us better to separate from.

I’m still discovering that art; ever considering if there is in fact a sure fire formula in which to ‘let go’. I used to hold on to childhood confusion (perhaps there’s residue even still) but years away from home provided opportunities to ‘grow up’ and experience life completely separate from boyhood, resulting in time to broaden my life perspective. Blessed with a newfound understanding that life and people can evolve, as could I –  I feel gratitude and peace with that.  Nothing is ever completely black or white.

Experiencing the feeling of letting go is liberating, if you know you’ve done it.  Personally I want to live life with as little baggage as possible and instead live it with as much joy and love as is avaliable; but joy and love are difficult to achieve when you are attached to old wounds, right? Or new bruises you don’t know how to communicate much less heal.

As someone who understands this much, I’ve not found it any easier to let go per se, but I have gotten better at spotting those things which I cling onto; like expectations I put on others without knowing it, or flawed thoughts. Life has always presented me people and places in which my error-ed beliefs are directly challenged.

On the other hand, because I’m no expert on the art of ‘letting go’, and given I’m still learning that dance – I recognize my  own ability to potentially drive people away.  Put up walls and push people away in confusion.  My intention may be to come from a place of ‘letting go’ and yet I can still wind up sending people away – leading me to wonder – what gives?  How do I learn this complicated dance between letting go and pushing away?

It had me thinking:

If ‘letting go’ is waving goodbye, giving a hug or coming from peace…
Pushing away is turning your back, putting a hand up in protection or coming from fear…

In the end – all I can do is keep dancing, figuring things out trial and error; knowing nothing is black or white, we’re all allowed to make mistakes and grow –  and that the ultimate goal is to learn and live with love and joy.

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CC CHRONICLES: Thank you for the music

Published by cctadmin on June 25th, 2015

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Thank you for the music.  I sometimes think to myself that I’m lucky to have music in my life, as a way to express things inside.  In actuality I have the hardest time telling people how I feel, particularly if how I feel includes anger or confusion or resentment.  Pain.  Its easy as one-two-three for me to listen.  But to share myself honestly all the time?  It can be a difficult thing to do, and perhaps especially for those of us who are very sensitive people to begin with.

That’s why I love coming home and picking up my guitar, weather I’m just fiddling around or seriously working on songs.  I write from a very personal place but I also love story-telling.  It helps me to focus on melodies or create them along with  the words inside that get otherwise very scrambled up in my head whenever I’m faced with opportunities to actually say them in life.  There are many times I go through writers block, which gets irritating when you might have a slew of thoughts inside that are all cluttered up but you’re incapable of speaking.  Even just humming along with my guitar gives me an anchor and an appreciated feeling of comfort.  I’m also very excited about a batch of songs I’m working on;   and I’m proud to say I have some very special people in my life who I’ve been collaborating with more, as a way to share and make some hopefully stellar music in the collective process.  I think there are going to be some special things ahead.

Special thanks to my Dad for buying me this guitar last Christmas and to my sister Ebony for helping him with the big surprise.  I’ll always cherish this guitar.

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CC CHRONICLES: Throwback Thursday / Camp Stephens 2001-2002

Published by cctadmin on June 25th, 2015

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Once upon a time I worked at a children’s camp.  Growing up in Flin Flon, there was no luxury of going off to a camp with programs quite like Camp Stephens; a YMCA/YCWA camp located in Lake of the Woods, Ontario. I did however, find myself working for and residing on the island over the summers of 2001 and 2002.

At the time I was working at a YMCA daycare center in downtown Winnipeg; seeking adventure and challenge. It became an opportunity I couldn’t resist and at 22 years of age I was a bit of a free spirit, in fact it was after these two summers that I landed myself permanently in Ottawa, where I then stayed for ten years.

It did not matter I had no summer camp experience nor did I come equipped with that sense of encampment history, much like the alumni and staff I eventually came to work with. It mattered not that it paid little and was located on a remote island where they had to boat staff/kids out. Experience was what I craved and I do believe I got it over those two summers. Beginning as a camp counsellor, I ended up working as the Head Cook for a period of time too. So many good memories of those dog days: all the children playing and laughing; youthful camp counselors who seemed to be hooking up with each other left and right; sleeping in cabins on bunks and waiting for letters to reach me from family or friends back home; and those weekends off where we’d all boat back into Kenora for the day and eat at Boston Pizza and stock up on luxuries for weekends of planned debauchery. That is, until the new batch of children came and it was time to get back to the grind in our respective roles.

There are a couple of stand-out memories even today: I recall crying by myself on the swim dock one sunny afternoon while everyone else gathered in the food hall for lunch, likely surrounded by laughter and camp cheer. It was my inherent loneliness.  In spite of any mission to live on the edge I felt out of place for not being a life-long ‘camp kid’; especially remote in the belief I was the only identifying gay on the island; an isle otherwise full of boys and girls bursting with hormones and sexuality. And that was just the other staff!! On the other hand, I call to mind many unique people, having a lot of conversations with peers and eventually feeling included and a part of the amazing tradition that is still Camp Stephens. I have reminisced about walking in the dark back to my cabin from the food hall, giving haircuts to new friends on cabin floors and soliciting free love advice; dancing to Destiny’s Child in the kitchen while we all slaved and prepared meals for over 120 kids and staff around the clock. I remember skinny-dipping at night with girlfriends in escape the hot hot heat; feeling liberated while treading water in the moonlight.. only to rush back to the cabin before the onslaught of mosquitos or sand flies. So many special people. THANK YOU to Camp Stephens and all of my past friends and the children whom I have long since lost touch with; the summers of 2001/2002 were the stuff youth is made of and I’ll gladly continue to cherish the memories.

Below is a photo from back when, of myself and my kitchen ‘girls’.  I still hear them laughing and talking.

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Sensuous Carly Simon / No Secrets

Published by cctadmin on June 20th, 2015