These Shoes

March 2, 2015

Today, my barding self is another year older, and I find myself pausing for reflection.   Exactly 3 years ago, I released my very first recording – What’s Life All About?, a collection of songs I haphazardly recorded myself with a couple of microphones and my laptop.  It was symbolic of many changes in my life – the biggest of all being the decision to go down a full time musical road.

In anticipation of a different life, I made a small purchase – my first ever with the intention of walking down that path.  Naturally, they were a pair of shoes.  Here…meet my shoes………..

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Starting a new journey takes a good pair of shoes, but I had no idea the magnitude of adventure that awaited me with these guys.  They have stood with me upon many stages, they have been amongst some of the highest mountains (literally), they have walked the soil of many countries and coastlines.  They have known love, loss, friendship, life, death, and every emotion that travels alongside those feelings.  They have known the spectrum of magic from the lift of inspiration, to the devastation of failure, and carried on.

These shoes have endured much more than I could have ever imagined.  They are a vault of invaluable memories, and will always have a special place in my heart.

The soles have finally worn through, and it is time for a new pair of shoes.  However, I am keeping these guys for sentimental reasons, perhaps making a guest appearance in the future for special occasions :).

Do you have a special connection with an old pair of shoes?  Never thought I could have become so attached to them.

In honour of my shoes, I leave you with a tune from that first recording I did, inspired by my sister-in-law, Steph.  May your feet guide you to many wonderful memories, people, and experiences, and may you have a friendly pair of shoes to share the ride with!

Follow Your Feet… (click to listen)

Mr. Bard

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“I Hear The Whale!!”

August 21, 2014

There are times in life when it is necessary to stop and marvel at incredible sequences of events that lead to one perfect moment.  I bring you one recent circumstance from my journey while playing on the Marine Atlantic Ferry between Argentia, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Cape Breton.

WARNING – THIS BLOG POST IS ABSENT OF ANY SUBSTENCE OF INSPIRING NATURE, AND WAS WRITTEN FOR PURE ENJOYMENT OF LIFE’S FUNNY LITTLE OCCURRENCES.

One late afternoon before I was about to begin my onboard performance, I decided to take a walk on the outside lower deck (#7), to get a little sun and ocean breeze.  I hadn’t been outside more than a minute when a man I had previously met on another crossing approached me and asked if I had seen the whale.  About 5 seconds passed, and I was amazed to see the water surface below breach with a burst of air, followed by the massive tail of a hump back whale.

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I immediately ran up to my room to grab my camera, and ran to the high outside deck (#9) to see if I could get a better angle for a photo.  A few minutes went by, and I saw he beautiful creature again, managing to get a few great shots.

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I stayed a little longer for another opportunity, but it seemed as if the whale was heading back out to sea.  I zipped across to the other side of the boat to try my chances there, but to no avail.  However, as I approached the door back inside, the great wonders of timing displayed themselves.

On the way back in, there were a group of people leaning against the railing, looking peacefully out towards the ocean.  As I entered their proximity, one man began to pass gas……….Now, I use the term “began,” very purposefully, as what was to happen was beyond anything I previously thought possible by a human being on this earth.

I would have quantified this ripper at a magnitude strong enough to blow his pants off, yet to my disbelief, it began to accelerate in velocity and volume…

Shortly after my recognition and acceptance of the situation, I began to chuckle…..upon noticing others reactions to the free musical production, I began to deep gut laugh….but the best was yet to come.

Just as the performance was building up to the crescendo, the man that originally notified me of the whale’s existence came bursting through the door, camera in hand, and eyes poised to the horizon.  He ran head first into the fart to rule all farts.  I could tell he still had the eager goal of getting a photo as I had done by the look in his eye.  In that moment, the man’s expression grew more excited, his hands fumbled with his lens cap as he raised the viewfinder to his face and towards the water.

At this point, my tear ducts began to flood with the hilarity of the scenario, only to be pushed further by the photographer yelling – “I HEAR THE WHALE!!!!!’  He then began to bring other’s attention to the presence of a whale…

I dropped to the ground….hard….paralyzed in what was one of the funniest sequence of events I have ever witnessed, only to be topped off with the man’s final realization of what the sound actually was.

As his face melted from overjoyed discovery to dumbfounded numbness and shock, I experienced a fierce cramping of my abdominal muscles, and a new world of silent state uncontrollable hysteria I had never experienced before.  Camera whale man quickly departed the premises, never to be seen again.

During the whole process, the conductor of flatulence never once budged or altered his stance, confidently delivering his gift to the world.  If only he had known what had happened behind him….Maybe he did!

Happy Tails from the road :).

Mr. Bard

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I write this blog with the greatest of urgency, as I feel its content will ease worry and sleepless nights felt by many around the world.  I have personally suffered vicious night sweats and post traumatic stress surrounding this topic, and I have been in recovery for years.  With time and training, I learned to manage/contain these feelings so that they would stop spilling into other facets of my life, but the scars run deep.  Some damage isn’t repairable……until now……….

Have you ever reached that point in your day, week, or for some….month…..that you hit your absolute rock bottom low?  You know what needs to be done, and it’s the last thing you want to do.  However, it comes to a point where you simply can’t go out in public anymore…….you have to do your laundry!

Just to be clear – I do not speak of laundry this way because I despise of the act of cleaning clothes.  No, this tale clings closer to the heart.

Have you ever felt that feeling of hope and excitement when you collect all that needs to be washed in your bin/sack/open arms?  It’s like you’ve stumbled upon a fallen or injured comrade, and carrying them to the machine is like delivering them to the much needed medical attention they deserve.  You place them carefully inside with the proper healing agents, and send them on their way – only wishing them the best and brightest of futures……

Time passes, and moment comes….You open the washing machine door, happily unloading your clothing reborn, but quickly realize something is wrong.  You check again, and still, something is not right.  Panic begins.  Your core body temperature rises, and no longer can you think clearly.   Your sock partners…….HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED!!!!!!!

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After the murder scene shock wears off, you now find yourself in a tremendously uncomfortable situation:

You must explain to your orphaned digit covers that their life mates are missing, and they will most likely never see them again…….most likely a sockicide.

You try to council them that they will find peace, that they will move on to other socks and once again find happiness.  You introduce them to other shapes, sizes, grains, thicknesses, cuts, patterns, and colours, and eventually, they come around.  I have discovered that new sock pairings actually become stronger than they were before, and achieve a certain degree of balance that previously was unattainable.  They make better decisions, they perform better in the workplace, they are warmer in their relationships and give back more to community.

Nonetheless, how does one go on knowing there is an unanswered disappearance of their loved one?  The questions…..the doubts……

The coin flips…..Just the other day, I had a stunning discovery.  After years of being victim to serial sock abduction, I have learned to numb myself to the pain, only allowing myself to feel the joy of mating a lost sock with another.   However, upon unloading the final garments to be dried, out of the corner of my eye and beneath the thick rubber insulating sleeve………. I saw…………..a signal flare!

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I was stunned….paralyzed…..absent of all thought in discovery of the underground smuggling channel.  I felt light headed. Plagued with rushes and visions of past occurrences, an uncontrollable emotional outburst WHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH was released amongst the basement corridor as I stumbled backwards in disbelief.  All this time………..so many socks, lost to the slippery underbelly of the washer liner….and for what?

The answer, we may never know.  Upon peer review with sockpert, Brooklyn-Prior-Acosta, another potential explanation exists in what is deemed LINT…..In other words = Brutal cremation of stray socks in the dryer that escaped the threat of the washer.

Whatever the cause may be, it is my wish that this discovery be shared with all those you love and care about – Share with those that have felt the pain of sock loss – those who have optimistically woken up to their day, only to have their dreams crushed by finding a single lifeless sock, standing alone in an empty drawer.  No longer my friends…..no longer…

Help reduce or end the merciless phenomenon that is sock loss. Save the socks you can. Always check under the black rubber sleeve of sock stealing doom :).

Sincerely,

Mr. Bard

10Km For A CD….

June 1, 2014

I wanted to write this story up a couple of weeks ago, but I am glad I waited, as the media side of it just got better!

Last summer when I was in Halifax, something called Word On The Street was happening – an event for Canadian authors to share passages from their newly released books to the public.  Among the authors was Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio, reading from his hilarious book, 1982 – a look back in time at life as a boy in Grade 9 in the early 80’s.

One of the stories he mentioned was how much the process of acquiring new music has changed.  He spoke about the full day adventure it used to take to walk to the train, ride it for 40-45 minutes to downtown Toronto, finding Sam The Record Man, locating that new tape/CD, feeling the success of accomplishment, and then repeating that journey back home just to listen to it.

Today – we can tap a few images on any hand held device, and have a whole album in minutes…….I know this saves time and all….but think about what is lost…..

While in Victoria for my walking tour, my friend Lauren put on this album (Brother’s In Bamako by Eric Bibb and Habib Koite) while I was over for dinner :

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I have been keenly searching out more world fusion music (Always open to more suggestions!), and I really liked the vibe of this album.  Sooooo….the next day, inspired by Jian’s album trek story, I decided I would do the same.  Lauren told me I might be able to find the album downtown Victoria at a place called Ditch Records, so the next day, I charted my course, and set sail :).

Along the way, I had a massive realization…..Victoria is where the very first Noodle Box restaurant started up!!!  I came to know the Noodle Box in Vancouver, as I used to live around the corner from the one in Kitsilano, and it quickly became my favourite restaurant.  It may be better to say that I lived at the Noodle Box….Highly highly highly recommend!

Anyhow, it just so happened that the first conceived Noodle Box was on my way to the record shop on a street called FISGARD….Just try saying that out loud and with attitude and conviction…FISGARD!!!!!  Repeat if you’re ever feeling like you need a pick me up….haha.   Love it.

I found it in China town, and had a great hang out with the employees there.  Met a new songwriter there that worked there too.

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Now full of delicious Kung Pao, I re-calibrated, and headed for Ditch.  I couldn’t actually remember the last time I went into a music shop looking for a CD, and when I asked about the Bibb/Koite album, I was sent to the back.

Digging through the Eric Bibb section brought about a touch of excitement…similar to a treasure hunt in a way…..This album was more likely the type you would only get from a concert, so the chances of finding it were low.

I flipped through a variety of albums, slowly getting to the end of supply with no sign of it yet…..Eric Bibb has a bunch of albums, and it made me curious about his other works.  After going through the whole section, I got to the last slot……WHAMMO!  ONE LEFT!!!  SCORE!!!!  What a feeling of achievement I felt….at this point, the quest for this CD had given me a great walk in sunny Victoria, took me to the birth place of my favourite eat spot where I met cool people, and now rewarded me with an album was ultra pumped to take back and listen to……..however, the story doesn’t finish here.

I have only been to Victoria a few times in my life, and I have always had a special attraction to the wharf area near the Parliament buildings.  A visit was a little out of the way for my journey that day, and I still had a 90 minute walk to pick up my gear for a gig I had that night…but I went anyways.

On the seawall was an amazing artist by the name of Marty Machacek plugging away on a really cool distorted image painting.  I stopped to chat with him and his wife, and we exchanged stories of what we were both doing.  I was surprised to find a variety of works he had painted from the Calgary region, particularly Bragg Creek, and this caught my attention.  One of my cousins and his family have lived in Bragg Creek for a while, and another literally just moved there.  We ended up exchanging our art, and I left with a print Marty had done of a home in Bragg Creek which I sent to my cousin as a house warming gift.  I just got a call that my cousin received it, so I thought I better share this tale.

Last layer of awesomeness….I recently got tagged on facebook by a woman I met on a walk around Thetis Lake near Victoria…saying that she saw me in a Shaw TV piece……..As far as I knew, I had done nothing with Shaw on my walk, but when I watched the link…sure enough….they did a bit on Marty, and it happened to be the moment when I was talking to him and his wife!  I had no idea.  There was a guy there I thought was taking photos, but guess he was video recording. Haha.  Anyways, I was going to share Marty’s website, but here is the clip that I video bombed instead :).

Check out more of Marty’s work – http://www.martycultural.com/. It rocks!

So, to recap……..I could have just downloaded Brothers in Bamako in 5 minutes to my iphone……………..enough said!

Thanks Jian and Lauren for sparking the idea for this 10km journey and blog!

A few days ago, I took about a half marathon walk throughout Courtenay/Comox on Vancouver Island, and I have to say, that walk ranks among my favourite in Canada thus far, and I highly recommend going for a stroll there.

This blog will be more photo based, as what I saw is best shared this way.  If you take a walk down Comox Road, this is what you’ll see….

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All these signs made the walk such a fun scavenger hunt – especially the dick-head one…HAHAHA!  Most of them are easily viewable from the road, but a few you wouldn’t see unless you were walking because of the way they are hidden.  I love touring by foot for that reason – seeing this country and it’s people for the details.

Between Courtenay and Comox is this really wicked estuary/bird sanctuary you can take a rest at.  I met a woman named Liz there who had moved from England to Comox in 1947, and lived there ever since.  The two bottom photos I took because of what she told me, and she deemed this “local knowledge.”  :).  If you look closely at the left mountain picture, see if you can make out the image of a little girl picking flowers….

The right mountain photo is apparently “The Forbidden Plateau.”  She didn’t tell me why, but then went on to say a couple climbed it and got married up there last year.  Haha….Would have liked to hear more of that wedding story!  Perhaps if you go wandering through, ask and see if you can find out the rest.

A Coconut Moment

May 5, 2014

In June of 2011, a lot changed in my life.  It seemed every pillar/foundational category of my life (health, relationships, family, career) all stepped on ripe banana peels and fell down tall spiral staircases.  I can honestly say that it was the darkest time in my life, and finding motivation and inspiration was exceptionally difficult.

Looking back, it was also the biggest turning point in my life – one that came with the decision to do music full time.

At that point, I was gigging around a bit here and there, and had tried my hand at busking on Granville Island, more for love of the atmosphere than anything -particularly the Ferry Docks and the Market Courtyard.  My Dad loved the creme pies there…..However, when I left my previous job to do this, playing at Granville Island essentially became my life line, and there were times when that was so challenging it was scary.

My hat goes off to full time buskers, as you truly need a solid shell, and a deep deep determination to make it work.  In my mind, this is the most challenging performance forum, and if you can master that context, you are well equipped to take anything on.

This post, on the other hand, is not about busking.  It is about the wonderfully caring and perceptive people that exist in the world, and a recent happening inspired me to share this.

One morning in 2012, when I was in a really difficult headspace, I happened to be busking at 11am in the Market Courtyard at Granville.  During my set, I saw two people walking by, drinking out of a coconut.  This was amazing to me, as that is one of my FAVOURITE things to eat/drink.  I mentioned something mid song to the pair about where they got them, as I wanted to go get one if I earned enough that day.  They happily told me, and went on their way.

Near the end of my set, I was floored to see them reappear, a coconut in hand with a straw sticking out of it, which they gently placed near my open guitar case……………………

I was stunned at the kindness of this gesture, and at that time in my life, it meant more to me than I could ever explain.  In that single act of thoughtfulness, they launched my spirits into such a warm and positive place…it gave me the drive to get out of one of the deepest funks I have been in, and spurred me on to achieve some incredible things.   I will remember that moment for the rest of my life, and refer to it often as my “Coconut Moment.”

One of the pair, Bianca Kempe, creator of an amazing entity Doze, became one of my greatest friends.  We actually don’t see each other that often – a few times a year if that, but she’s someone that has always been amazing to connect with.   She is changing the world in so many ways, and always inspires me to do more.

Last week before heading out to Vancouver Island for the next segment of my walking tour, I decided to go play at Granville Island one last time, as my license to play there was expiring on May 1st, and I wasn’t going to renew this year. I played for  4 hours that day under the beautiful sunshine, and loved every minute of it.

Right near the end of my last set, who do I see?  Bianca, who I hadn’t seen in a year, walking out of the crowd with a coconut in her hand, straw sticking out, and just as before, placed it gently near my guitar case.

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I started to mawl…..that is my made up term for manly bawling…haha….the kind where you can’t control the coming forth of tears due to a surge of powerful emotions, but you try nonetheless.  Especially when you’re singing amplified.

So, for the second time in my life, I was graced with a Coconut Moment.  It left me with a deep seeded, revitalized happiness to know people like Bianca are out there, and that she keeps doing the amazing things that she does.

It’s spectacular how far one thought and act of kindness can go.  Doesn’t take much to positively affect someone else’s life :).

 

 

 

 

Many moons it has been since sharing a barding adventure here.  Lately I have been reporting more from my email newsletter (email michael@michaelaverill.com to receive these) or my music website http://michaelaverill.com/, but recently I have felt inspired to start writing here again.

Over the last year I have been amazed with the idea that everyone is connected with 6 degrees – ie, through at least 6 people you know somebody who knows somebody……spooky!!

However, my recent year has yielded a great deal of empirical evidence that this in fact, is not the case.  I have concluded that it is more accurate to claim 1 Degree of Separation.  An example you say?  Of course…….:).

Through my I’d Rather Walk Tour, it seems almost every person I meet knows a mutual friend or family member.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the Nanaimo Folk Connection Coffee House to meet a woman that shared the same last name – Sue Averill (an amazing host and a wonderful musician).  She heard an interview I did with CBC last year, and connected with me out of curiosity due to our mutual last name.

The night happens on the 3rd Friday of every month, with an open stage and a feature act, unplugged/completely acoustic.  I played a few tunes and shared the story of my Dad’s song history with CBC, and why I am doing what I am doing now.  Afterwards, a man named Mike Sadava, who was playing in the feature band, came to talk to me about a man he knows that is writing a book about walking.  He also asks if I know a Mavis Averill…….haha….Mavis is my Aunt, and it turns out that until last year, he lived in the same neighbourhood in Edmonton as my Aunt, my Aunt sang harmonies with him ages ago, and his wife Anne was in a book club with her to boot!

The plot thickens……..

Mike put me in touch with a man named Keith Encinas and his wife Keli- house concert hosts on Vancouver Island, and a truly inspiring family.  It worked out for me to play at a fundraiser last night with them to help raise money for the Cancer Society and the Bandwagon Project, driven by The Lion, The Bear, The Fox, and Music Heals.  Incredible projects that I was happy to support….and once again, by 1 Degree, I know the guy driving Music Heals (Chris Brandt), so the circle just keeps spinning round……..

Crazy, yet again, how small this blue and green sphere we live on is.  I would be willing to bet that at any given time, if you are around people, someone is connected to you via one person!!  Just ask :).

On a completely random note – Keith took me to Thetis Lake yesterday in the Victoria region – an absolutely beautiful park and trail system. Highly recommended to go!  It is the time of season where the Arbutus trees are shedding their bark, and with a touch of rain, was one of the coolest forests I have walked through.  I took a photo of one of the bronzy orange under layer of one tree, and wanted to share it with you below.  If you look closely, there is an “HS” carved into the bark…….Any thoughts or made up stories as to what it means or stands for?   There will be prizes for the most creative interpretations!

Stay tuned for more barding stories…………………..CAUSE THE BARD IS BACK!!

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The Flying One Eyed Fox

August 11, 2013

Why hello there!

It has been eons since I last blogged about my unusual or comical barding adventures, and a great deal has happened since January.  Since shifting more of my writing to www.michaelaverill.com, I haven’t had stories that I felt different enough to post separately.  As I sit pondering for a moment in Conception Bay (good place for it), Newfoundland, I am recounting the variety of goofy tales I have amassed that I believe would be entertaining to share.  Thus, after a long departure from this realm, I feel it is time to revive THE BARD BLOG!! Happy swimming white tigers everywhere!

The story I feel fit to share today is one that came from my time on Prince Edward Island in July.  Through a wicked chain of connections I ended up at a wonderful family birthday party on the north side of the island near Cavendish.  The land is so gorgeous on PEI, and in this particular region, beautifully open glowing green fields meet white sand beach and endless ocean.

The folks I was staying with lived just off the beach, about a 2 min walk from sandy dunes that go on for miles.  It was a clear starry night, so I decided to put up my tent with the cover off.  There were no city lights to compete with, so every star was visible with the backdrop sound of waves crashing.

I went down to the beach with a group from the house going for a night swim.  As they had their dip, I started unraveling my tent and gear.  On their way back they informed me that foxes parade around the beach at night, no real threat, but just to be aware they are around.  They disappeared into the darkness, and I continued to raise my temporary barn.

A couple of things started going through my mind.  Firstly, I had never seen a real fox before, so I was partially excited, but also mildly edgy at the same time not knowing what their behaviour is like.  Secondly, I hadn’t really realized it until that moment, but that was the first time in my life I’d ever been in a big open space like that camping solo without a friend or family member nearby, and my phone was out of range.

I had a pretty powerful flashlight with me to help set up, and every once and a while I’d shine it around to see how far it would illuminate the beach.  One on of these occasions, I happened to see a single, small, circular, orangey flash in the distance…..the like I would compare seeing cat/raccoon, or deer eyes reflected from car lights.  I immediate reaction was…..FOX!……but there was something strange about it all……I carried on running the poles through the sleeves of the tent, then stood up, rotated in lighthouse fashion with my light to do my fox survey, and BLAM!!! There it was again…..It was closer this time, but the strange thing about it was there was only one eye.  I thought to myself…”I’m being stalked by a one eyed fox!!”

I finished the basics of my tent foundation, threw my gear in hurriedly, and now wondered how peacefully I’d be sleeping with a garnish of adrenaline now running through my body.

Weirdness progressed…..With my last flashlight survey, I caught glimpse of the reflected single eye, this time 12 feet in the air!  My inner dialogue was as follows – “HOLY #%*!$!!!! A FLYING ONE EYED FOX!”

When I actually stood in one place for a minute and focused on one spot with my light, I started seeing more flashes, but independent of light being shone on it.  I turned off my torch and observed, and sure enough, the occasional orange flash would ignite the darkness.  At that moment I realized what was going down…….FIRE FLIES!!!!

I had never encountered one before.  I’d always heard about them in songs and stories, but I wasn’t 100% positive they actually existed.  News flash!  They do……….introducing ignorant west coaster to the Maritimes!….yup…..I’ll have you know there are a few funny tunes developing around stories like this, and I am looking forward to sharing them with you ;).

So, when in the Maritimes setting up your tent in the dark, beware the devious flying one eyed fox!  Sneaky buggars they are!

Words of wisdom from…

Mr. Bard

Just a short one today…pun completely intended…..

One of my barding adventures in Strasbourg led me to the water – ie. the swimming pool – and I found myself the answer to a mystery I’ve been told about in the past….the reason every man in France wears tiny bathing suit.

Quite plain and simple really.  It’s a rule that all the swimming pools have that no man is permitted to wear anything loose or even a board short type of swimsuit.  The rationale is supposedly for hygienic reasons.  If you come into a pool wearing shorts you just wore outside, you bring everything those shorts have been through with it…which makes sense.

However…I beg the question……What if a man spent his day wandering around in public in a pair of these beauties seen below, and then went swimming? Would he be rejected at the pool, or just everywhere else he went in his day?

And now….deep thoughts…..

I know, it’s no Caramilk sercret, or maybe it will be to some of you…in any regard, I am sure this will be helpful to someone in the future in their travels to France, or their understanding of how the world works.

If you’re going to swim in a pool in France, BRING SOMETHIN’ TIGHT!  YEOWW!!

Aqua Educated Bard

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So…..This is something I couldn’t not share..

I am currently barding in Strasbourg, France, and last Friday I had a house concert here.  What I am about to tell you will hopefully change what you say to people who are going out for a performance somewhere.

As many of you know, I have been fascinated with words lately, and in particular, taking notice of how we use certain phrases.  Look at “Break a leg” for example.  There are many thoughts about where this comes from, but it seems mostly it came for performers saying this to each other.  No one ever wished one another good luck before a performance..the same happened at horse races, so they’d say “Break a leg,” as more of a superstitious head game.

At my concert, we got into the roots of saying “Ca va,” or “it goes,” in French.  It is used to basically ask how are you doing….however, “it goes,” refers to the state of your digestion.  If you are “going,” well, that means you are in good health.

This led into the discussion of a common phrase that is said to performers instead of “break a leg.”

How it used to work – when people would take horse drawn carriages out for evenings – people would arrive at a venue, and get out of their ride.  What then would follow would be the horses doing their business on the street……Now…here’s the fun part….

If many people came to your show, that meant many people showed up in carriages, which meant many horses pulling those carriages, which meant ridiculously large piles of horse s*** on the streets outside the venue.  Thus the symbol of large piles of horse s*** meant that your event was well attend….Thus thus…to wish a friend a grand night at their performance – you would wish them large piles of S***!

Isn’t that wonderful?

Mr. Bard