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.
As previously noted, FiVE EASY PiECES (comprised of DOUG McGREGOR, ANN ROSS, DEREK KEMP, CHAD PABiANEK & myself) are a group, who for all intensive purposes have our own respective things going on outside of this musically, but have formed together for the musical fun we partake in on Saturday evenings at DOUG & ANN’S cottage in the woods.
Last night DOUG & ANN invited us to join them to perform at a couple of fantastic community events in the Fall & Winter seasons.
First, on Friday, October 12th we will be performing at the United Church’s Coffee House; a silver collection fundraiser for the this years chosen recipients, THE WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTRE, more specifically their lunch program. So this will be a great opportunity for people to come out & support their local women as well as the arts. The show will be starting at 7pm, going no later than 9:30/10. There will be more information to come, as well as some additional acts so stay tuned as these details come to surface.
Another special event coming up will take place at NORVA CENTRE, on Thursday December 27th – perfect timing for the Holiday festivities. HOME FOR THE HOLLiDAYS: A NiGHT OF FUN & MUSiC WiTH DOUG & ANN & FRiENDS took place last year as well, so this will be the second time such a night will happen & I couldn’t be happier to participate. Again, along with some other local acts who will be ‘home for the holidays’ – & ready to play – FiVE EASY PiECES will also round out the night & boy are we looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a lot of fun & there is no way people will want to miss out on this down-home night of music & Christmas cheer; so be sure to bring the kids, your partner, friends – there will be fun for all! In addition to the music & cheer there is of course, a plethora of local art to soak in & appreciate, so all in all its not to be missed.
In the meantime, check out some photos from last night !
I’ve been fortunate since settling into life as I now know it in Manitoba, to be connected musically with some really talented folks here. I’ve mentioned DOUG & ANN before – they are the glue that has brought five of us together for these jam sessions, all which have taken place on Sunday evenings, up at their little log cabin in woods on the outskirts of town. In addition to DOUG & ANN there are a couple of very gifted musicians by the name of DEREK KEMP & CHAD PABiANEK – these fella’s have been collaborating as a singing/songwriter duo (who go by the name ‘NATURE’S CHiLDREN’) for a couple of years now. (Check out their video ON MY WAY below.) Rounding out the four of us is myself, ever happy to sit in & jam along with everyone. These sessions are very loose, yet the goal is to eventually take whatever end product these times bring & play them for a crowd here in town. DOUG has christened us ‘FiVE EASY PiECES’.
Last night was yet another great end to the weekend – like I said its interesting to see what kind of musical magic results from these inspired sessions & if anything I enjoy the opportunity to connect & let the sweet sounds take me away while I’m here up North. In addition to a few videos included here, check out some selected images taken from last night.
Where to begin? It is a whirl-wind these days for me, as change is on the horizon. In short, I will be packing up and shipping off to Flin Flon, Manitoba near the end of July, for a new and exciting job that starts August 1st. I will be a Mental Health Clinician for the Youth and Women’s Team in Primary Health Care.
The reason I don’t know where to begin is that in truth, my heart & mind are all over the place these days. On one hand, I find myself here in Ottawa, for all intensive purposes still a part of this city & the various projects I’m involved in. On the other hand, as I enjoy these last days here, my mind simultaneously races with thoughts on how to best prepare for what I’m about to embark on back in the Flin Flon community. As I straddle both worlds – I’m both sad and excited; it’s difficult for someone like me, who struggles with fear & anxieties to express exactly what it is I’m feeling, because it is a combination of things both logical & illogical, & sometimes the line between each is hard to decipher.
I will say that I’m extremely happy with the life I’ve made in Ottawa up till now; 10 years ago when I first sauntered into this town I really had nothing but my back-pack & that was all. No particular goals or plans – I was rather aimless. Years later I’ve seen myself go to college and University; I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way – conquered a few demons here and there too. I’ve seen romantic relationships come & go, & have been more than blessed to be with my partner Alain for almost 6 years now.
To the outsider looking in at what the life of CC TRUBiAK is all about; one might see a bright & confident guy with tons going on. I’ve grown to understand that perception is all so relative; yes it’s true that I’m extremely lucky & blessed but make no mistake – there is so much more to everyone than meets the eye. For all of my gifts & shine, I’m incredibly flawed but ever-striving to understand life & my part in it; how I can above all, love & laugh. At 33 years old I still search for answers to questions about who I am & how I can get the most joy out of life.
One thing I’m committed to is getting somewhere with my social work career. Career & finances have been an area of life that I have yet to conquer – & having graduated with my degree a few years ago now, it feels time to face my fears of job search in that area, which is why this opportunity to move away and focus on career couldn’t have come at a better time. The universe is obviously listening to me.
Some may wonder – well, what’s up with your arts/photography/music? As the arts were in my youth, they will remain an integral part of me, even as I make my way back to Manitoba. I’ve been so incredibly fortunate over the past two years in terms of the public’s reception to my art. I used to keep that part of me very hidden & so to be so welcomed into the Ottawa art scene at all has given this small-town guy a great deal of encouragement, to say the least. I’ve published a book of self-portrait photography (Hail The Narcissist, 2010), released an independent CD (They Say I’m Different, 2011 – also nominated by Xpress for Best Album, Best New Musical Act), played gigs around Ottawa (City Hall, Elmdale House Tavern, Mercury Lounge, Club Saw Gallery, The Rainbow etc), and collaborated with a multitude of talented folks whom have influenced me immensely, by virtue of embracing me creatively.
Yet – as successful as I have been in this area & as much as I will continue to create music & art, I have also spent the past two years grappling with how I feel about the music/art industry, as well as my place in it. In all of the fun & excitement that comes with ‘being seen’ (& one has to remember its usually more in my nature to be reclusive & close to home than it ever was to be out & about in any scene), I found myself becoming conflicted at times, unsure of how to proceed next within this industry (or if in fact I wanted to). I would ask myself: what is my desire here? Let me put it this way; what I love & want most – is to express & connect – but more and more I find myself wrestling with the industry & the appearance of it all. Sometimes I’m just compelled to run away, find some log cabin somewhere I could avoid thinking about self-promotion or managing. Somewhere I don’t feel so affected by image or what the general public might think or perceive.
I’m not terribly interested in certain aspects that clearly come along with attaining success in the music industry; I’m a terrible schmoozer, I can’t stand to be in environments with so many competitive egos, & I have a lot to learn about selling myself. If the art scene is likened to the schoolyard at recess, I often feel like the quiet kid who will see all the children playing on the jungle gym or swing sets….wanting to connect & play – but finding it difficult to penetrate through a lot of BiG personalities. At least for this point in my life…. In most cases these ‘kids’ are just as insecure as I might be – but who just wear it differently. I might ask them: “Can I play too?” I both admire them as well as feel apprehensive. I might see them role play and posture, wanting a turn at it myself, often finding that PRiNCESS over there playing QUEEN of the CASTLE just can’t stand to let anyone else wear the crown for a bit! It feels to me, less about connecting and more about who you know, & where you stand in terms of status within the rest of the playground. Oh, I always find a way to connect or make friends, & I have met a great deal of like-minded folks – but I guess it goes to show that now-a-days I’m not so interested in playing the games that come along with recess as much as I am about focusing on creating something that speaks to who I am. Period.
On that particular note, after all the fantastic projects I have & continue to work on are said & done – the one that I’m most attached to at this point is the collection of recordings I’m doing with DARREN HOLMES. Together we’ve been slowly working on another album of music, and I’ve spoken about this several times throughout the year as we’ve recorded. There are many creative hands coming in on this album (as both songwriters, musicians) as we continue work on it; and to go back to what I just previously said about the industry side of things; I couldn’t be more proud of the results thus far, & further more I have taken away any previous pressures for this to come out at any particular time, or for it to achieve any specific kind of success. I do know that whenever this album sees the light of day – its contents will speak to who I am intrinsically, better than anything I have released previously as an artist. I’m not sure where this confidence comes from per se, but I do know that all I’ve ever really wanted to get out of releasing my work to the public, is a chance to say something deeper about the person I am, for aren’t we all just trying to be heard in the end? I will never make any claims that what I have to say is particularly any wiser or better than what my neighbor has to say – but I do still think we all strive to be heard, in whatever way we can. This is my ultimate goal as an artist – & as a social worker I suppose – inspire people to share their voice.
Flin Flon is just around the corner for me & as it approaches, understand that life as I know it, is about to change. As scary as it is for me to face the unknown, I do so with the hope that I can somehow make a positive difference there, and for my own journey. One thing I promise to do while I am away is document Flin Flon in whatever ways I can. This community is filled with riches; people have stories there I want to share somehow, as a photographer, writer and humanitarian. I will do my best to share with you all the goings-on there. In the meantime – I’m choosing to spend the remainder of time I have in Ottawa, surrounded by my friends & loved ones who have made my time here so beautiful.
p.s. Special thanks DANNiEL OiCKLE, OLEXANDRA PRUCHNiCKY, BONNiE FiNDLEY, DAN ZiEMKiEWiCZ & SARA AiNSLiE for the amazingly fun video shoot we all took part in last night at MERCURY LOUNGE. Can’t wait to see the results for Dan’s video ‘Caring & Hate’. ZiEMKiEWiCZ also touched me with this thoughtful gift he and GUiLLAUME picked up for me on their travels – ‘Hushabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of DOLLY PARTON’. I’ve got it on now & it’s inspiring! <3
When you go to C.C. Trubiak’s website, the first thing you see is a Joe Dallessandro/Peter Berlin-inspired photographer of the musician’s lower torso and crotch. The “Enter” icon wittily appears as your cursor hovers over the fly in his jeans. What you see when you enter – as 2B did when we visited his charming apartment in Ottawa’s Gliebe for a private concert in his living room – is an artist living a trunk-full of paradoxes: the sensitive diva, the exhibitionist introvert, and perhaps the most contradictory of all: the gay folk musician…
When I arrive at C.C. Trubiak’s charming home in Ottawa’s historic Gliebe neighbourhood, it’s the morning after a big show with collaborator Danniel Oickle at the Mercury Lounge. Dressed as satyrs in vintage fur pants with ornamental horns, the sprightly Trubiak had sung and read in Oickle’s song cycle Corruption of the Flesh. Readers may recall Oickle and Trubiak as coverboys for the Capital Pride special issue in a sexy series shot by Dan Ziemkiewicz. Over the past year, the two have evolved in tandem, each singing on the other’s albums – Oickle sings on the track “Blue” – and supporting their live shows. Though their styles may differ, their drive to create is their common ground. While Oickle seeks inspiration in Kate Bush et al, Trubiak workships at the altar of one great diva: Dolly Parton.
From Fags to Bitches
For the folkster and photographer, Dolly represents the contradiction “between something glittery and shiny to look at, but underneath there is so much more depth.” On this, he picks up a copy of Dolly’s autobiography, My Life and Other Unfinished Business, and reads a passage about her rags to riches story. “Materially lacking but more than rich in spirit,” is the mantra that Trubiak returns to when he’s mustering up the fire needed to make it as a queer musician. (We decide that our shared middle class semi-rural stories aren’t so much rags to riches as fags to bitches, possible title to a memoir, depending on who writes theirs first!). Icons like Dolly, mixed in with some Joni Mitchell and Peter Berlin, were the inspirations that helped the pensive songster overcome his emotionally difficult childhood in remote Flin Flon, Manitoba.
“The primary message that I learned from growing up in Flin Flon was ‘you’re different, you’re not welcome, you make us uncomfortable,’” Trubiak recalls. “What I learned from that was ‘don’t express yourself.’ That was where the birth of my art and writing started in high school, soaking in books and film, alone.” Trubiak describes growing up in the 80s in rural Manitoba as “living amongst the cultural detritus of the end of the Seventies,” which may be why so much of his music is imbued with a deliberate anachronism. Trubiak’s preoccupation with the analogue past is reminiscent of the nostalgia and eccentricity of certain other Prairie visual artists with tendencies toward the pre-digital. Is it about reclaiming the tough times?
“Back then, my influence musically was with folk and country: Joni Mitchell, Dylan, the confessional aspect of their music.” The otherwise mild-mannered empath says he sticks to folk because he loves the idea of being able to tell a story. “I’m in pain, are you in pain?” he asks in his plaintive but rich tenor. The pain of being a queer boy in an unforgiving rural place could have made Trubiak into a statistic: in high school, like so many who feel different, he struggled with feeling suicidal. “Prairie Boy” was written for the occasion of Victims’ Voices Matter, a conference he was invited to perform at by the GLBTTQ Community Centre and the Department of Justice. The pun on “fairy boy” is a part of healing his teenage self, much as his photographer side expunges any thoughts of shame around his sexuality. (Seriously, folks: check out his photos.)
The transition from loner to performer was a decade-long process, and one that paralleled Trubiak completing a social work degree, which may take him back to Flin Flon some day. The country influence on his music stays low-fi, including a Tammy Wynette cover – “Till I Get it Right” – that he sang to me live, finishing with the wet eyes of someone who lives the emotions of the song every single time. “One of the toughest things about performing live is that I feel like I could cry every time I sing,” he says as I wipe my own eyes.
Check out CC Trubiak’s “Lonely Blue Waves (I Want You)” on Youtube.
Last week or weekend (time flies so its a tad difficult to keep up with the details!) DANNiEL, OLEX and I met up in preparation for our show at SAW GALLERY for H’ART OTTAWA’S 10th Anniversary Gala Event. Working on a low-key, more acoustic set with these two, I’ve got a short little video of us doing AFTER THE GLiTTER FADES, a STEViE NiCKS tune that I covered on my CD THEY SAY i’M DiFFERENT (2011, Torrid Productions). It’s always a joy to sing this tune with my friends. Check it out here – and be sure to come check us out on May 25th.
Further info on the gala (called Ten pl+s Ten – you can also find it on Facebook):
H’Art of Ottawa is celebrating their tenth anniversary and you’re invited to join us for an exciting evening of art and entertainment !
The folks at SAW Gallery have thrown open their doors and generous friends of H’Art have organized a party on May 25th from 7-10pm. T…he evening will feature live entertainment, a silent and a live auction, some great treats to nibble on, and a cash bar.
But at the center of the event will be the art work that H’Art of Ottawa’s artists have created as a result of workshops put on by 10 of Ottawa’s professional artists. Come and see how their inspiring time at the H’Art Studio has been interpreted in our talented artists’ work….and meet some of the artists who have donated their time and talent to help H’Art of Ottawa build a broader network into the arts community !
Drop in and rub shoulders with Centretown Ward Counselor Diane Holmes, Mayor Jim Watson, and Ottawa-Centre MPP Yassir Naqvi who will be in attendance that evening to wish H’Art of Ottawa success as we unveil our ambitious plans for the next ten years. All proceeds from the evening will go support the programming at H’Art of Ottawa.
Don’t miss a moment of what promises to be an exciting evening of entertainment, fun, friends, and great art.
Please feel free to share this invitation with friends and family…we look forward to welcoming you all!
Lin Rowsell, Executive Director and Jennifer McKay, President of the Board H’Art of Ottawa The Bronson Centre 211 Bronson Ave, Rm 304 Ottawa, ON K1R 6H5