January 17th @ Free Times Café

This band started as a lark filling in on Scottish covers for our first Burns gig at the Free Times Café in 2004. When we play for you this January 25th we will be entering our 13th year together. Who knew? Sometimes small doors open up into big Living Rooms

And we cannot have a monthly gig (or two) without a monthly rant containing, not incidentally, a monthly slag at bagpipes … I say be kind as it seems to amuse him. But he does seem to approaching, if not fully in, the O/C camp and is thinly disguising a deep love of The Noble Instrument, notwithstanding protestations.

Here he is:

When I was in high school we lived in Waterloo, in a house a few blocks away from a golf course. I was on the course a lot, but not playing golf, because I don’t do that (OK, to be precise, I have played golf a few times and I’m really, really, really, really bad at it). Most of the time I was on the course it was at night. Why? How about there wasn’t a lot of ambient light on the golf course so it was really good for looking at the stars (what do you think, it has a ring of plausibility to it, doesn’t it?).

If you’re on a golf course late at night, as I often was, you will on occasion have the experience of seeing worm pickers out on the course and let me tell you it is an otherworldly sight. Worm pickers wear lights on their heads so what you see at a distance is a collection of lights marching across the course and the lights are all about five to six feet off the ground. By the way, I’m not making this up, worm picking is a real thing and it’s a big business in southern Ontario, and worm pickers use head lamps – and if you don’t believe me (and I admit I have given you reason over the years to doubt me) check out this video from the History Channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDsxrdvDmtE)

I hadn’t thought about visons of worm pickers for a long time, but over the holidays, when I was talking to someone about something (the details are clearly hazy) I was told, “You don’t want to open that can of worms.” And with that the memories flooded back.

And you know what, as much as I searched my memory I don’t recall ever seeing a can of worms. Worm pickers keep their worms in a bucket. When you go to buy worms for fishing or for vermiculture activities the worms are also in a bucket or in a box – you never find worms in a can. By the way, vermiculture refers to ‘the management of worms,’ although I don’t see why they need such a fancy name when worm management works fine – worm wrangling is probably a bit of an overstatement.

So why do we talk about cans of worms? And why is opening a can of worms such a bad thing? The answer to the latter question is pretty clear; if you put worms in a can they’ll all be dead when you open the can, but I don’t think that’s what the expression is getting at. If the point of the expression is to make an analogy between talking about things that will create discord and disharmony and opening a can of something you wouldn’t want to open, then I’m not sure why worms are the subject.

It would normally be at this point of the missive that I would say something clever like, rather than not wanting to open a can of worms, it would be better to speak of not opening a can of bagpipes because if you open a can of bagpipes you’d actually have a bagpipe, and not only is that a pretty horrifying thought it is also a complete musical analogy for discord and disharmony. That is what I would usually do, but I’m not going to do that here because it wouldn’t be appropriate under the circumstances.

And what circumstances are those? Well, this month Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room plays two shows at the Free Times Café (College just west of Spadina). The first is our regular third Sunday of the month gig on January 17. The second is our annual Robbie Burns Night show on Monday, January 25, which is Robbie Burns Day. The show on the 17 will start at 8, as usual, and there will be no cover, as usual, and will feature, as usual, our regular eclectic array of tunes including some that we’ve never played before, because that is the kind of daring musical group we are.

The show on Burns Night will also have no cover, but it will start at 9 pm, and there will be haggis and lots and lots and lots of bagpipes (and even if there is only one set of bagpipes, they will be playing a lot so by the end of the evening it will seem like there were thousands of them). This is one of our most popular shows and so, given that fact, I thought it might not be the best time to diss the bagpipes since, at least on Burns Night; people seem to really like them. And that is why I am not suggesting we replace the term ‘can of worms’ with ‘can of bagpipes’ (or at least I’m not suggesting it this month).

Hope to see at one or both shows.


P.S. I think we might all agree that it would be appropriate to replace the term ‘can of worms ‘with ‘can of haggis’ because I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to open a can of haggis.

January 17th Set List
Set #1 Set #2
Dark Island
Now And Then
Five Days In May
Different Drum
Prairie Lullaby
The Baby Tree
Roddy McCorley
Bad Weather
My Back Pages
You Can’t Stand Up…
Butterfly / Evite Gabriel
She Loves My Dog More Than Me
China Girl
A Little Bit Of Rain
When Will I Be Loved
A Prayer
Too Young
Tunnel Vision
Wedding Dress Blues
Come Monday
Our Last Date
Sisters Of Mercy
Mary Said…
You Can’t Sit Down
Volcanig Jig
When The Night…