Assiniboia, Saskatchewan hosted the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards this year over the weekend of July 9-11, 2023. This weekend marked a very grand, epically significant and perhaps a sign of things to come for me as a Sask. Music D-Lister, a writer, and as an individual who is a member of the 2LGBTplus community. Let's go back to the very beginning alright? So become a D-Lister with me or should I say the table at the lunch room where Janis Ian and Damian sat vs the table the Plastics occupied.
My venture into this business of art began as a little emo kid in the late Myspace era. In these early days I started to write songs, practice them and then eventually perform them along side a large amount of cover songs. A lot of those early shows happened at a venue that exists in my memory as the place that started it all, “Mystic Java”. Yes this was a staple and the first venue I played as my performance moniker “Andreea The Narrative”. These early shows happened in 2008 or 2009. Fast Forward many years later of being just on the cusp of the scene.
As a little outsider I found myself mostly playing very small venues and the odd open mic night. After I released my first record in 2013, “The Narrative”, I started to get some more attention. This is more or less a non linear coming of age story consisting of 5 tracks. Fast forward to 2016 the second release dropped. “Haunted Former Lives". This is a telling of stories via a non linear method about a number of themes that torment the soul ranging from a variety of things. At the forefront of this record is a ghost story that took place in the historic Senator Hotel/ Winston's Pub in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Back to the plot. After a hella long drive of listening to the record from TV’s “Archer” “Archer :Charlene” among other country roots bluegrass and folk albums over the almost 3.5 hour drive. This generalized playlist kept me going, alert and got me ready to scream “OUTLAW COUNTRY”!!! As a plant based life individual, finding plant based options proved to be a bit of a challenge. The Moose Jaw/ Superstore came through with vegetable sushi. After a brief stop back on the road I went.
Once I finally arrived in Assiniboia I checked into the motel, “121 Steakhouse and Motel” . It gave off a giant Schitt's Creek vibe. It's a place that reminds me of that show for a number of reasons. One being the bare amenities present, and the very minimalist room features. What features it lacked were the customer service and wholesome family run aspect.. The small town mentality of friendly, caring and kind service definitely showed. Not only did the owner and her family come through on the service, they also accommodated my big city, plant based life. They even learned my signature drink of choice from the television show “Archer '' was the “Black Mexican”. This drink is equal parts tequila and coffee liquor. After a few of these I was at my drinking limit. Also of note there was super fast free wifi for winding down and watching Netflix.
I opted to have a friday night alone watching netflix vs going to the pre party cabaret. I thought that this was wise for my mental health and my physical health as well. I ended up watching the last episode of “Ultimatum :Queer Love” which was kinda good kinda trash at the same time. I would compair watching it to watching Jersey Shore for the first time back in the day… Yep that kinda dates me to that time. Ahahahah early 2000’s.
The following day being Saturday, being the reason I ventured down to Assiniboia, The presidents brunch/songwriter/gospel/roots showcase. Yes that is right, a special super laid back industry level showcase. I told my closest friends and family that i would swersey reallsie take photos and videos of this and get other persons to do so as well.
It was absolutely mind boggling to have been able to share the same stage with such talented folks. The show was organized in two groups performing in the nashville circle style the first group consisted of Micheal Dey, Alli Daine and performing as a duo Ken and Esther Olsen. I was also in this amazingly talented first group. The second circle consisted of Adam Johnson, Tommy John Ehman, Jeffery Straker and Dan Cugnet. Just to be included, visible and to be taken seriously while sharing my voice in a small town, southern Saskatchewan was definitely a feat that took a long time to reach. So many thoughts were swirling inside my head and the overall weight of this opportunity.
I checked out the various individuals selling their wares in the outdoor area and checked out some of the artists. After a bit I decided to go back to the motel and have some down time with netflix and air conditioning, Yes that's right AC! A luxury that I don't possess. During this time I also was to get ready for baby's first red carpet. Yes that's right bbs first red carpet.
I decided to diy and get my “look” together on my own. I am no fashionista but somehow this little queer individual figured it out. I think perhaps those years of watching the fashion channel and being glued to America's Next Top Model paid off maybe. Then again who can remember. Once the red carpet thing was complete it was time for the main attraction, the award show. So I found myself a seat and got to enjoy the first awards show ceremony I had ever seen in real life. So many thoughts swirled through my head at this point. It was like a rapid action game of guitar roulette, apples to apples and the gossip girl board game combined. Yes, that is a lot. Much similar to a runaway train running right off the tracks.
As far as the award winners, and nominees, I am truly proud of your outstanding hard work and sacrifices that lead each and every one of them. It's not an easy go of it to be in the scene and continuously creating, promoting and everything in between. Life of course plays a big role in this cycle. There are many brilliant individuals that aided in the journey. Family, friends and community play a giant part of that.
Much like anything there was an official after party at the venue sponsored by the SCMA’s and of course there was the alt party which I chose… Yes the alt after party consisted of me returning to the motel and curling up with Netflix. There was also a bag of chips in attendance. What can I say? I'm a classy lady… Wink. I found myself choosing introversion, introspection and relative quiet. Do I regret not becoming social, the answer is a giant no.
The following morning I did a super fast pack the car, got “Brunch” and hit the highway time. It being another long as f drive back I decided to take an alternative route and drive up through Elbow Saskatchewan. Why, well why not! In the wise words of a young boy by the name of Eric Cartman, “Whatever I do what I want!”. The point I am trying to make is I made a very much wanted and intended trip to Elbow to support my amazing friend’s scary dairy shop. My friends shop is simply called “The Shop” and out of that space on main street she sells scary dairy treats, slush puppies and non dairy vegan friendly italian frozen sorbet . Outside of running her shop with her lovely children (2 being a son and a daughter) she is a very brilliant tattoo artist. She has a little shop across the street. I personally have received 4 tattoos from my amazing friend Robyn. Her tattoo shop is “Letts Fine Line” she does flash and some permanent makeup creations. Both offshoots of tattooing I personally can vouch for and definitely will visit again. But ya family is deeply rooted into both of Robyn’s businesses. Of course my trip to Elbow wouldn't be complete without a delightful catchup and chat.
All and all the takeaway is that it was a fun weekend filled with all the feels and I am eternally grateful for every minute of it. Would I do it again, hell yeassss. The responsibility and power I held as a queer folk artist made it more important for me to be visible, present and showing that there is a place for my voice and voices like mine in the scene. It being pride month and the 10 year anniversary of my first commercial release made it of a greater importance to be out proud and true to myself. Overall the scene is love for this little Sask Music DLister.