January 13th @ Free Times Café

My first full time job after university was working for a public broadcaster in Toronto. I won’t name the broadcaster but it wasn’t the CBC and it just broadcasts on TV in Ontario. I wasn’t in the production end of things, I was in something called Learning Systems Design (yes – LSD). At one point I was asked to write a position paper on some type of restructuring for part of the organization (and you are quite correct to wonder what qualifications I had to embark on such a task because I had none).

I don’t remember anything about what I wrote but I do remember the meeting where it was discussed. There were a bunch of people in the room – not just from LSD but from other departments as well. It would have been cool if there were departments of Potential of Technology (POT) and Systems Produced Enabled Engineering Design (SPEED), etc., because it just would have been fun to play duelling drug acronyms – but the place didn’t really have a sense of humour so that didn’t happen.

After I did my presentation someone from another department presented an alternate approach. Once he starting talking I realized immediately that whatever I had suggested was never going to fly and what this guy was saying had already won over the room. And it wasn’t the content of his talk; it was that he spoke with an English accent (and to be fair he was from the UK so it probably was legitimately his accent). As he went on I could see everyone was so enthralled by his accent that he could have been reciting The Cat In The Hat (a great book admittedly, but I think Yertle the Turtle is Dr. Suess’ greatest work). I wanted to jump on table and yell, “Don’t listen to him!!! It’s just the accent!!! There’s nothing there!!!!” – but I didn’t because I knew all was lost.

Canada’s irrational love for British accents has not diminished over time (and I realize that there are many types of British accents but we don’t care, we love all of them). Just over the holidays I saw a bunch of ads with voice overs done by people with English accents. The most ridiculous was an ad for Volvo. It showed a Volvo driving through winter terrain while the announcer, a woman with a British accent, extolled the virtues of the car in Nordic conditions. Volvo is a Swedish company – they know winter. We’re in Canada – a country with real winter. So why have they hired someone from a country where three centimetres of the white stuff shuts the place down to tell us about this car’s handling in ice and snow. It’s because Canadians stop thinking critically when we hear that accent. It is a long standing vestige of our colonial past.

I say all this not to complain but to acknowledge reality. There is no point fighting this irrational response. So because the purpose of this missive is to tell you about Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room’s two – yes two – upcoming shows this month – both at the Free Times Café (on College just west of Spadina) and because we really would like you to attend one or both of the shows; once you’ve finished this piece I’d like you to reread it imagining you are hearing it from someone with an English accent. If you have the capabilities to have your computer read this to you, then by all means do so, but make sure that it is read with an English accent. If your computer can’t do that or it can but you can’t figure out how to make it do it and you have a friend or acquaintance with an English accent, ask them to read this to you. You will be amazed, trust me.

So here are the details. We will be doing our regular once a month show, featuring a widely eclectic mix of tunes from around the world, on Sunday, January 13 – yes the second Sunday of the month not the third Sunday. The show will start, as usual at 8 pm and as a special treat to help folks cope with post-holiday shopping blues, there will be no cover. The reason we are doing this show a week early is because once this one is done we are going to work on our annual Robbie Burns show which will be held on Friday, January 25, because that is Robbie Burns Day. That show, featuring free haggis (please come anyway) will start at 9.30. Members of the band will be on stage after 8 to provide some pre-Burns musical entertainment so come early to make sure you get a seat. Again no cover but again, haggis and again, please come anyway.

Hope to see you there.


P.S. As you can imagine, there will be lots of bagpipe tunes at Burns night – can’t be helped. But haggis stuffed in the ears works quite well at dampening the sound – see there is a use for haggis after all.

January 13th Set List:
Set #1:Set #2:
Gravel Walk / Andrew Renwick’s Ferret
Histoires Sans Paroles
Little Black Pearl
And It Stoned Me
Hieland Donkey
I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight
I Mean It When I Say I Do
I’ll Tell Me Ma
The Sisters Of Mercy
Barrett’s Privateers
Black Muddy River
Come Together
Home For A Rest
Roddy McCorley
Lake Dore Waltz
Trashy Women
One Day I Walk
Right In Time
Pencil Thin Moustache
Wedding Dress Lament
Wild And Blue
Country Squall
Lay Down Sally
I Wanna Be A Blues Guy
I Won’t Back Down