Happy Canada Day! –  Online Celebrations in a COVID-19 World

Happy Canada Day!

To all of my international followers July 1st, Canada Day,  is the celebration of my birth nation’s birthday. It’s a day that is full of music, fun, friends and fireworks.  In Berlin the Canadian Embassy and an organization called the DKG (Deutsch-Kanadische Gesellschaft/German-Canadian Society) have put together large Canada Day celebrations over the years.  There are usually a few thousand people that attend. You can find Canadian favourites like Poutine (care of The Poutine Kitchen), Montreal Style Smoked Meat Sandwiches and you can wash the food down with a spicy caesar  or Canadian beers like Molson, Labatt and Mousehead.  There will also be Canadian comics and musicians that would entertain the audience to fill the afternoon.  This year’s Canada Day celebration in Berlin would be different because of the Corona Virus…this year’s celebration would be online.

In early June I was approached by the DKG to do a video for the online Canada Day celebration.  The song had to be family friendly (gulp) with some French lyrics if possible.  I thought to myself that my song “Le Louvre” would be perfect!  As an extra special feature I wanted to have Matthew Presidente from Vancouver play keys and  backing vocals on the song 🙂 

I reached out to Matthew to let him know about the Canada-Day in Germany gig and wanted to know if he would be able to record  his performance so I can add it to the ‘Le Louvre” video.   He said; “Yes” right away and then asked me if I could do a Canadian cover song for his “World is Watching – Canada Day” Youtube episode and I said; “I would love to record Ahead By A Century by the Tragically Hip”.  Now Don and I would have to shoot two videos which wasn’t a terrible task for us for we had shot so many concert videos for the “World is Watching” YouTube series.   Piece of cake!

On Sunday June 14th we prepared and sent a scratch track to Matthew.  His turn around is the stuff of legend!  He recorded the vocal and keys tracks, shot the video and sent the files back to us the next day. 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 16th (my birthday) we proceed to rearrange our 60 square meter (600 square feet) apartment to make room for lighting, 2 stationary cameras and a Candian themed backdrop with a bottle of red wine as a prop.   I wore a hometown black “Winnipeg” t-shirt and a Beret on my head.  As soon as we finished shooting a few off-the-floor takes that we felt good about we shut our film set down and we departed to the pub to celebrate my birthday.   The rest of the week Don would concentrate on mixing the vocals,  instruments and then editing the video.

The next song/video to be recorded and shot is a cover of the Tragically Hip’s 1996 song “Ahead by a Century”.  I must admit that I have never been big fan of “The Hip” (it wasn’t my type of music at that time).   I began to gain  appreciation for them when living in San Francisco  I watched “The Hip’s” final farewell concert at an Irish bar in Noe Valley (a district in San Francisco) that hosted a special Canada night for the global CBC broadcast.
The concert was on August 20th, 2016. The crowd in the bar was so emotional during the show and I admit I cried with the audience. During the show I looked forward to watching The Hip play two songs for the last time:  “New Orleans is Sinking” and “Ahead by a Century”.  It was a truly Canadian moment for us while living in the United States.

The original song is a very simple stripped-down song so, I decided this time I would build an arrangement on my own from scratch.   I didn’t want my arrangement for this song to be a “copy” of the original but, close enough and to add something of my own to it.  My arrangement had to honour Gord Downie  and respect  the original. Rest in peace Gord.  I sent the arrangement with a scratch vocal to Matthew and once again he had sent his vocal, piano and video files to us in less than twenty-four hours.  

Next we proceeded to tear apart our apartment to make room for lighting, two stationary cameras and this time we did a Pride themed backdrop.  We shot my off-the-floor vocal and guitar and next Don worked  feverishly to mix the track and edit the video.  We had the final cut ready and sent to Matthew within days.


Matthew’s “WIW-Canada Day Episode” (link below) would premier on Monday, June 29th at 8:00 p.m. (PDT) meant that it would air in Central European Time (CET) Tuesday, July 30th at 5:00 a.m. so, needles to day Don and I could not watch the show and participate in the live chat in real time.  We watched it the afternoon of Tuesday the 30th and we loved it!  It was so wonderful to see all our of our singer/songwriter friends doing their covers/interpretations of famous Candian songs. 🙂

On July 1st we watched my first musical contribution to a Canada day in Germany
(online) celebration!  The video for “Le Louvre” was one of the last performances before the online feed went to the “United we Stream” DJ set.  I must say Ben McLean was a wonderful online host and I was so very happy to be a part of the celebration.

As a side note…in July the DKG reached out to me in regards to doing an interview for their online/email publication and I gladly agreed to participate. You can see the interview on the DKG Website

It’s time for a cocktail.