I volunteered to work at this February’s coffee-house because it was the debut of “Jason Camp and the Posers” aka my brother- James Dean McGuire and Graham Richard’s band.
I also wanted to blog about it, take photos and videos and write down my impressions.
The Haida Heritage Centre hosts the “Haida Gwaii Coffee House”, once a month in the amazing Performance House space. This event showcases local talent, brings people together and is a lovely way to spend an evening.
These are my impressions from the evening including photos and videos.
During the soundcheck the space was filled with beautiful haunting melodies. Echoing voices within these cedar walls. There’s something happening here.
6:30 pm, nobody’s here yet, but the spirits are dancing in the building as the melody awakens their souls.
Jason Camp and the Posers’ soundcheck was filled with stunning sounds, reverberating yells. The lead singers voice is strong and Graham isn’t hitting the drums lightly.
Soulful and loud. Triumphant.
I wonder if this is the first time the Haida Heritage Centre has been shaken this hard?
Graham hits the drums as hard as he can, smiling at James, who sings “If a tree don’t fall on me I’ll live till I die.”
Around 7:30 a crowd of performers showed up, most, if not all of them are from the Haida Gwaii Semester Program.
All of the performers are too nervous to go first, so Graham steps in to break the ice and tells a sweet story of a love once felt for a girl he met at a party. They drank Jack Daniels together and so he sang about whiskey, love and love for whiskey.
One of the students that I have seen wandering these halls stands before me. Her name is Cara. She sings a Rolling Stones cover. Nervous she stands. No shoes on her feet. She takes off her glasses so she can’t see the crowd. She has a beautiful voice full of country attitude on a rock classic. Her right leg twitches as she sings. In true coffee house style when she gets nervous the crowd cheers her on, she replies “Thanks guys. You’re all really nice.”
Up next is Emily, she is tiny. Graham lowers the mic for her.
“Well I love a man who’s in love with his hometown- something tells me she will always be around.”
Then “The Moondogs”, the band formed that day.
They saw the moon on the way into the building and chose their band name.
It’s a beautiful name.
They sing a Dolly Parton song. They whisper chords to each other. Emily sings while an electric violin, banjo, guitar and mandolin play.
Smiling faces and tapping toes in the crowd.
A girl in red pants sways to the music.
Then there was Sejal. What a talent. Singing acapella she silences the crowd. Eyes stare at her in wonder. She taps her purple converse shoes to the beat.
The Feature Performances begin- all three bands featuring Graham.
Anna’s in the Churchyard is up first, made up of Graham and his girlfriend Molly. They sounds beautiful together, voices in perfect harmony they sing “close your eyes i’ll be here in the morning, close your eyes i’ll be here for a while”.
Solo Graham is next “I’m going to play some emotional music for you before the punk starts”.
My friend is wonderfully in touch with a part of himself that most of us hide.
We all have to put our feelings somewhere, in song lyrics like these, in poems, in attitudes and punches thrown.
The time has come for things to get loud.
Screams, hoots and hollers from the crowd.
Jason Camp and the Posers.
James McGuire and Graham Richard.
Whatever you want to call them, everyone is here to see them.
People look up when they hear his voice “I’m alright”.
James and Graham look at each other and smile.
Music like this is only good when the musicians can play and the singer can sing.
I didn’t know what to expect and they were great.
James Dean the dancing queen comes out- while Graham’s head swaying is on point.
Just like that my first coffee house experience is over.
I left feeling like I had witnessed something special.
It is truly amazing how much creative talent there is on Haida Gwaii.
I am lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people.
Blog written by Michaela McGuire, Photographer, Project Officer at GNC & HHC & new-ish Skidegate resident.