A drum beat on the radio demonstrating the influence of swing music takes me back.
The drummer is Steven Adler, the song a cut from Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 classic Appetite For Destruction. The example was unexpected, but a comparison of songs, one featuring Adler on the skins and another his replacement, Matt Sorum, quickly brought to light the former’s swinging rhythm.
There was coincidence to this, as the band had been on my mind recently, along with thoughts of my father and the upcoming Roots & Blues Festival – all packaged together in a sense of nostalgia.
While I understand the reasoning behind it, I am still kind of blue about the cancellation of all our community events this summer, including the Roots & Blues. For more than a decade I’ve covered the festival for work, and taken in its performances, activities and food when off the clock. From that I’ve acquired numerous memorable moments. Among them, enjoying a workshop at the 2006 festival featuring, among others, Feist and Hawksley Workman, and photographing The Family Stone from the Main Stage pit at the 2018 event. Most memorable for me though are the late afternoon outings with my wife and son, sitting together near the Main Stage, enjoying the music as the sun sets and the heat of the day is flushed away by a cool August evening.
Hearing a bit of swing on the radio brings those thoughts and related feelings to the surface. Music is powerful trigger for nostalgia.
Hearing Guns N’ Roses, I’m not transported back to 1987, but about 16 years later – a year or two before my dad passed away when, for some reason, he got into the band. I didn’t understand this late appreciation of his for ‘80s pop metal until recent, when it hit me like a wave of, well, nostalgia. I realized that maybe it wasn’t all about the music, but also his connection with two young boys (my brother and I) and the music they listened to before they became young adults and moved away. Now, it seems, that music connects me to him.
While we can’t enjoy Roots & Blues live this year, a virtual version of the festival will be hosted on Black Press Media websites, including the Observer, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 14, 15 and 16. See rootsandblues.ca for more.