MUMFORD & SONS : A Photo Story

All photos were shot by my dear friend, Samantha Gatez. If you are interested in seeing more of her work go like her Facebook page!

Perfection

Joy

Beautiful

Amazing

Reckless

Love

Magical

Freedom

Mumford & Sons

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To read more about my love for Mumford and my concert going experiences check out these posts:

A Musical Review & A Love Story

I Love Live Music!

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I Love Live Music!

I love summer. Summer is warm and bright and filled with so many live outdoor music performances! If I could, I would spend the rest of my life at outdoor music concerts. There is an energy at outdoor live performances that cannot be replicated indoors. Maybe it’s the warm fresh air, maybe it’s the large crowd, maybe it’s the night sky and the stars overhead. Who knows. All I know is that I cannot get enough. This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend not one, but two outdoor concerts!

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Kira Isabella @ The Mississauga Waterfront Festival
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Mumford & Sons in Niagara on the Lake

The first was a free country music concert put on by the Mississauga Waterfront Festival. This concert featured the up and coming Kira Isabella!! She is a Canadian country singer from Ottawa and she is currently touring all over the place. She has a super sweet attitude and a whole lot of spunk! We managed to get right up to the front and had a great time dancing and singing alone, despite the fact that it rained all day and we were essentially standing in mud. It was a really fun girls night activity. My current favourite by her is called “Gone Enough”. Give it a listen!

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The second concert was Mumford & Sons at Niagara on the Lake. This was my second time seeing Mumford and they did not disappoint. I am a very big fan of their music, read about my opinions on their new album here. Even though we ended up in the middle of the crowd I felt so moved by and connected to their performance. In the middle I had room to dance and be free! And thanks to screens beside the stage I still had a good view of the band. I don’t have very many pictures from this show because I took videos instead but I was at the concert with my friend Sam, who is an aspiring photographer. So with her permission I’ll be posting some of her pictures at a later date. For now here is a sampling.

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Will you be attending any Music Concerts this summer? Share in the comments!

♫♩ A Musical Review & A Love Story ♥

Everyone has a favourite band. A favourite song. A favourite quote.  For me all of those things come from the same source. Mumford & Sons. The band, in my opinion, can do no wrong. They are flawless, in every sense of the word. There are a number of reasons why I love Mumford. First and foremost, they are spectacular musicians, song writers and performers. You can see, hear and feel the passion that goes into making their music. Secondly, Mumford is the reason I met Lucas.

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You see Lucas and I actually went to the same high school, two years apart (for the record, I am older). We had mutual acquaintances, I had heard his name a few times in passing but we never crossed really paths. In August of 2013  I went with a group of friends to see Mumford play at the Gentlemen of the Road  traveling concert festival. The festival was essentially two days jam packed with live musical acts with Mumford as the closing act on the Saturday night.

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The venue was about 2 and a half hours west of Toronto. I was traveling and camping with a group of 4 girls. Myself, Karin, Sam and Alicia. When we arrived on the Friday afternoon we went straight to setting up camp. That was easier said than done. Do you know how many poles come with a camping tent? So many! Since it was going to take us a while to set up Sam decided to call in reinforcements. Two of her friends from high school who were also at the show for the weekend, Lucas and his buddy Taylor.

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No joke, as they wandered over to our tent disaster I looked at Lucas and thought “who is he? He is very cute. I must know him.” Luckily the feeling was mutual. The rest of the weekend kind of went by in a whirlwind of music, beer, sunshine, dancing and laughing.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

When I think back on that weekend I feel like Lucas and I were inseparable. I think he was by my side from the moment I met him to the end of the weekend when we had to drive home again. But somehow we managed to avoid having a picture taken together. The whole weekend was almost too perfect. If someone had told me that the whole thing was a dream I would have believed them.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

I think there is something magical about music, especially live music, that brings people together. In a lot of ways Lucas and I are major opposites. He is a free-spirited, spur of the moment kind of person. I am meticulous planner and goody-two-shoes. I like to think that we have influenced each other for the better. He has helped me to relax and enjoy the moment and I think I have helped him to find a stronger sense of direction in terms of his goals and such. But I honestly don’t know if we would have had that connection, that spark, if we had met anywhere other than at a concert.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

So you see, I feel as though Mumford & Sons brought Lucas and I together. Naturally I was devastated when they announced their hiatus in September of  2013. They had just given me an amazing weekend, an connected me with an amazing person and all I wanted to do from that moment on was go see Mumford play live music, with Lucas at my side.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

After a very long year and a half they have finally made their way back onto the music scene with their brand new album, Wilder Mind, released on May 4th.

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At first I was really nervous about this new album. In their time off Mumford ditched the banjo, which they were essentially famous for, in favour of a more classic rock inspired sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some classic rock, but to me Mumford is synonymous with indie, and rock isn’t indie. The first single dropped from the album was titled Believe. I’ll be honest, on first listen it felt like Coldplay and I was confused. It was a great song but it didn’t sound like the band I knew and loved. So when the new album finally came out I was expecting to be “meh” about it.

Oh! How happy I am to say that I was wrong! I’m not sure exactly how to explain this but I’ll try my best. There are a number of good songs on the album, there are a number of great songs, and there are a few just okay songs. But as a whole, as one piece, from beginning to end, listened to in the order they intended it is perfect. The album tells a story, the songs compliment each other, the music ebbs and flows through the entire work. While the banjo is noticeably not present the music still feels like Mumford in the vocals, the orchestral background music and in the lyrics. I beg of you, please do not listen to this album on shuffle. Hear it how Mumford intended it to be heard.

I think Mumford and Sons successfully accomplished what Taylor Swift also accomplished with the release of her most recent album 1989. Both Mumford and Swift managed to change their sound without compromising their music or betraying their loyal fan base. I feel that they were able to do so because they made a strong, confident 180. Instead of writing songs, they curated entire albums. And that, I feel, is what makes all the difference. It is a magic that we are lacking today. Because of iTunes we have the “luxury” of picking and choosing songs, rather than listening to entire albums. So a lot of artists make a few great singles and really poor albums. Although with the renewed popularity of vinyl records this is hopefully going to change.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Wilder Mind, do it now! And if you have, what did you think?! Share in the comments!

ONCE; A New Musical

Happy hump day! I hope everyone is feeling alive and well in the aftermath of St. Patrick’s day. When I was in university St. Paddy’s was a big deal. Anyone and everyone busted out their green and went overboard on green beer. It was fun while it lasted but out in the real world that type of behavior is totally inappropriate for a weekday, weekends are still fair game though.

This year, instead of celebrating the luck o’ the Irish with booze, Lucas and I decided to celebrate with Irish music by seeing the musical production ONCE, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. In addition to being a fun St.Pat’s date night activity, tickets to the show were one of my birthday gifts for Lucas.

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SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this post may contain spoilers. Similar to how granola bars may contain peanuts. Basically I can’t make any promises…

Before the show Lucas and I decided to go for a nice dinner, because #datenight. We selected a restaurant called Baton Rouge. IMG_6045Lucas got a super delicious looking burger and fries. It had onion rings on it! Mmmmmm! And I got a grilled veggie sandwich and a green salad (eating out isn’t as fun when your not allowed to eat deep fried foods but it was still very delicious).

Then we went to the show! The Ed Mirvish Theatre is one of my favourite places to see theatre. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house (as long as you’ve got your glasses) and the architecture and design is just stunning! High arched ceilings, elegant stair cases, ruby red carpets and curtains! I’ve now seen 6 shows there!

Just for some context, here is the show description from the Mirvish website:

Set in modern day Dublin, ONCE is the story of a Guy who gave up on his music—and his love—and the Girl who inspired him to dream again. This irresistibly breathtaking production is performed by an extraordinary all-Canadian cast of actor-musicians who sing, dance and play their hearts out live on stage. Directed and choreographed by the brilliant team of Tony Award winner John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett, ONCE will dazzle you with its originality, wit and unforgettable music.

IMG_6041The stage was set to look like an Irish pub and during pre-show and intermission audience members were allowed to get beer and water from the working bar on stage! How neat is that?! While people lined up for drinks the performers danced around singing popular irish folk tunes. Talk about audience interaction! It perfectly set the mood for the show!

The music was excellent. Absolutely beautiful! Unlike traditional musicals the instruments were played by the singers/actors on stage. There were 2 violins, a cello,  multiple guitars, percussion, and a piano. All these instruments were onstage the entire time and always played by the cast. In many productions this would have been unsuccessful but it worked really well in the Irish pub atmosphere and it showcased the talent of this cast excellently.

Speaking of the cast, it is entirely Canadian! This is a big deal for me because I am extremely passionate about the growth of Canadian arts and culture. I strongly believe that the best way to grow our artistic scene to a larger scale is by having Canadian artists shine on Canadian stages. Because if Canada doesn’t showcase our talent why would anyone else. Annnnyway, the leads of ONCE were Ian Lake and Trish Lindström (Photographed below). They both did an excellent job of portraying their characters. A heart broken Irish man and a spunky, single mom from the Czech Republic.

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Photo from http://www.mirvish.com

 The downfall of this musical for me was the plot. ONCE is advertised as the love story to end all love stories and that is how it began. It had me getting all emotional and sappy. And then… the end happened. And while it was still beautiful it wasn’t at all what I expected. In fact it didn’t really feel like the ending at all. I was left with questions and confusion and a need for more. But I suppose that makes this musical more realistic than most. Instead of providing a clean cut happily ever after it provides an unsatisfying ending which is lacking closure, which is an accurate description to how most real life relationships are. That being said, it was beautiful, exceptionally beautiful. Even if it didn’t give me the cookie cutter ending I was craving.

For the record, Lucas also really enjoyed the show. He didn’t focus so much on the plot but rather the music. He said it felt more like a folk concert than a musical and he loved that. I wouldn’t be surprised if I come home to find the soundtrack on my iTunes.

All in all it was a fantastic way to access my inner Irish on St. Patrick’s day and it was a super fun, out of the ordinary date night. My final review: 4 Stars out of 5. If you are in the Toronto Area and you enjoy good music, I suggest going to see ONCE!

ONCE is on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until May 31st.

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Photo from http://www.mirvish.com

Musical Musings

If music be the food of love, play on.

~ William Shakespeare

To me, music is emotional and expressive. Music is thrilling and exciting. Music is constantly moving, touching, exploring. Music can be happy, sad, beautiful and tragic all at the same time. Music is exceptional.

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I love listening to music, I love watching music, but most of all I love performing music. I’m no professional or anything. I don’t get paid to sing but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love. It is important to me to always have some sort of creative outlet be it music, dance, art or drama. I strongly believe that the creative arts help us as human beings to connect with one another on a more meaningful level. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, what social background we come from or what religion we believe in a C major chord will sound happy to everyone.

I’ve been involved with the arts from a very young age. My mum had me in dance and music making classes at the age of 3. While I’ve tried my hand at many various art forms my go-to has always been singing. I really became passionate about vocal music in high school. I was very lucky to attend a Creative Arts specialty school where I was given exceptional instruction in music theory, music history and music performance. In addition to all my regular high school courses. Here was where I fell in love with choral music. There is nothing more magical than performing with a group of singers as one entity. Below is a video of one of the three choirs I participated in singing a super fun song called “I’m a Train”. This piece is originally by the King Singers. (I’m standing in the light of the window).

See how fun was that?! Sometimes choral singing gets a bad reputation as being “boring classical music”, but that is so not the case!  I may have left high school over 6 years ago but I am still singing. In university I sang in the musical theater productions and I sang in a choral group. And currently I am getting my singing fix through a local young adult choir in Toronto. We practice once a week, on Tuesday evenings. The music we sing is everything from regular choral mass arrangements, gospels, jazz numbers, ect.

Last night was our first concert of the New Year. It was held in a small church with amazing acoustics. This means that the sound rings and bounces off the walls. It makes for a great performance space. We sang a medium length 5 song set and it was so much fun! Two of my best friends sing in the choir with me. We all stand next to each other and it is such a fun way to spend time with them on a weekly basis. Lucas also came out to see me sing last night. It means the world to me that he supports my music when he can. I know that choral music isn’t his favourite but he is always happy to come and listen. I think he is learning more and more about the art form with every concert he attends. The choir has more concerts coming up in April and I cannot wait!

How do you get your creative fix? Share in the comments!

You Can’t Stop the Beats

A few weeks ago I was in a health rut. In addition to actually being sick, I had no desire to work out or to eat well. That caught up with me faster than I imagined and I was not feeling so hot. So I chucked the junk, put my running shoes on and started fresh. I’ve come to realize that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to health and fitness. More often than not I talk myself out of the last mile or the last set. “I’ve come this far… and that’s good enough” is what I tell myself. Therefore I’ve never reached my true potential, I’ve never pushed myself to my limit and I’ve never seen real results. That is about to change.

So, how do I plan on making this change?

Step one is simply acknowledging that my will power is lacking and now that I am conscious of that fact I will fight back when the voice inside my head says “that’s good enough”.

Step two is guidance. If I could afford a personal trainer I would get one but I don’t have that kind of dough. So I downloaded an app called Couch to 5k. Seeing as I am running a 5k in the spring I figured it would be a good idea if I got myself a virtual training program to help me reach my goal.  The program is designed for beginner runners, like myself. Using walk/jog intervals it gets you in shape to run a 5k over the course of 10 weeks. I’m on week 2 and so far so good!

Step three is music! My iPod is bursting with chill, indie folk music and easy going pop. It’s fun, it’s carefree, it’s beautiful, it’s relaxing. It’s so not good for working out. At other time of the day you wouldn’t catch me listening to electronic dance music but I’m pretty sure those top forty remixes were made for runners. They keep a constant beat, they are fast and they are usually pretty long. Essentially, they are the perfect accompaniment to the sound of my feet hitting the belt of the treadmill.

So I’m in the process of creating the ultimate 5k playlist. Starting with Zedd’s latest single I Want You To Know which features Selena Gomez. Confession time: I love Selena Gomez. I thought she was the coolest when she was playing Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place and my opinion of her hasn’t changed since. The song which was released on Monday February 23rd is the perfect candidate for my running playlist. The lyrics are fun and the beats are fast. This song is going to keep me going kilometer after kilometer. Take a listen!

What song is on our running playlist? Share in the comments!