Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some incredible musicians. I’ve seen amazing places, met some truly special people and I consider myself blessed to have been able to do what I love for a living.
As I wind down from touring and focus more on writing (and my design career) I’ve been able to enjoy the luxury of just playing music for fun. Not fun as in “on the side” but without any pressure – for the love of just playing. I’ve found that when music is just about having a great time and not about making a record, putting gas in the van or paying for the next tour it’s allowed me to love it more (and get better in the process). In my quest to just enjoy playing music again, I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with some of those amazing people I was talking about earlier.
Once every few months at the beautiful Inner Garden, Chris Assaad, Brian Macmillan, Layah Jane, Oliver Johnson and I get together to play an intimate concert in Toronto we call Grass Roots. At first, it was Chris who really just wanted us to get together and jam more regularly but since then it’s turned into this very cool, very inspiring community that we’ve built over the past two years. The idea is that we can try new tunes, let our guard down and play with the audience as opposed to for them. No showcases, no pressure and no rules except that everyone does their own short set and then we all come together for a tune at the end of each segment. Each event is a little different (we may or may not have made up hip-hop names one night #peppermintmatty) and it feels more like we’re hanging out with the crowd rather than playing a show where there’s this unnatural separation between “the artists” and “the audience”.
Everyone who shows up feels the love too. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback on the format and it turns out people who appreciate music are as sick of trying to hear in loud bars as I am playing in them. The BYOB rule doesn’t hurt either
I’ve always found that when I’m surrounded by great people it inherently makes me want to be a better person myself. Playing music with these guys has been such a joy and I can honestly say that I genuinely look forward to every gig. We challenge each other, encourage one another and we’re constantly looking for ways to be better musicians. That, in my opinion, is the way it should be.
Our next Grass Roots is on February 13th and if you haven’t been a part of event yet, I’d love to see you there. Here’s a rough sample of the magic that’s been known to happen at 401 Richmond.