On the evening of August 7, my boyfriend and I travelled to Stratford for a very special concert, one that I had been looking forward to since the tickets first went on sale last December.
The tickets were a birthday gift from my boyfriend and they were to see a rare, solo performance by Buffy Sainte-Marie at the Avondale United Church. Buffy was performing as part of Stratford Summer Music, and to a sold-out crowd.
This show was the second time that I would see Buffy. I saw her for the first time at Hillside Festival 2016 in Guelph, Ont. where she closed out Sunday night on the main stage.
I’ve been a fan of Buffy for a very long time.
The Stratford show was also a part of Buffy’s tour for the promotion of her new album Medicine Songs, which was slated for release on Nov. 10.
Medicine Songs comes on the heels of her 2015 release Power in the Blood and revisits her material from the last 50-plus years of her career with new arrangements and lyrics. The album includes activist songs such as ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying’, ‘Universal Soldier’, ‘Little Wheel, Spin and Spin’, ‘Fallen Angels’, ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’, ‘Carry It On’, and ‘Star Walker’, to name a few.
It also features two new songs: ‘The War Racket’ (as well as an unplugged version), and ‘You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind)’ featuring throat singer and fellow Canadian Tanya Tagaq. Buffy also wrote two new sections to the Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel Ward classic ‘America the Beautiful’.
“This is a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance – some brand new and some classics – and I want to put them to work. These are songs I’ve been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.”
“I’ve found that a song can be more effective than a 400-page textbook. It’s immediate and replicable, portable and efficient, easy to understand – and sometimes you can dance to it. Effective songs are shared, person-to-person, by artists and friends, as opposed to news stories that are marketed by the fellas who may own the town, the media, the company store and the mine. I hope you use these songs, share them, and that they inspire change and your own voice.”
“It might seem strange that along with the new ones, I re-recorded and updated some of these songs from the past using current technologies and new instrumentations – giving a new life to them from today’s perspective. The thing is, some of these songs were too controversial for radio play when they first came out, so nobody ever heard them, and now is my chance to offer them to new generations of like-minded people dealing with these same concerns. It’s like the play is the same but the actors are new.”
“I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good. Songs can motivate you and advance your own ideas, encourage and support collaborations and be part of making change globally and at home. They do that for me and I hope this album can be positive and provide thoughts and remedies that rock your world and inspire new ideas of your own.”
At her Stratford show, she played so many of my favourites: ‘Cripple Creek’ (with her mouth bow!), ‘It’s My Way’, ‘Little Wheel Spin and Spin’, ‘Cod’ine’, ‘I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again’, ‘Sunday Blue’, ‘We Are Circling’, ‘Not the Lovin’ Kind’, ‘Cho Cho Fire’, ‘Farm in the Middle of Nowhere’, and ‘Generation’, to name a few.
She also played ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’, ‘Darling Don’t Cry’, ‘Universal Soldier’, and ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying’ – songs that give me goosebumps and nearly bring me to tears every time I hear them.
In addition, she performed ‘The War Racket’ (she played it at Hillside as well!). She also performed a spoken word rendition of her song ‘Carry It On’ – similar to her Polaris 2015 performance.
Buffy sounded amazing and sang with so much emotion. She really gave it her all and commanded the stage.
At the end of the show, she was gracious enough to do a meet & greet, photos and autographs.
I got the chance to meet her and tell her how much I loved the show and her work. A dream come true!A very magical, wonderful and special evening – to say the least! One that I will remember forever.