Saturday, August 02, 2008

Great night in Gander with the Great Big Sea

It's not widely known outside of Newfoundland, but once upon a time the town of Gander, in Central Newfoundland, had the largest airport in the world, with 10 runways. It's also not widely known outside of Gander that in the days after 9/11 scores of thousands of stranded air travellers were welcomed into the homes of Gander folk, and cared for, while the sorry mess was slowly brought back to some kind of normality. Newfoundland is a fabulous place, where the lifeworld is still well and truly intact; where commodification has not yet run its riotous ways; where people still have a grip on the kind of everyday quality a life can have. Hard, but true. And Gander is the very core of Newfoundland. There is nowhere more Newfoundland than Gander.

Today is Gander's birthday, and as part of the celebrations the city is throwing a three day music festival.

Tonight's proceedings ended with a stunning two hour performance by one of Newfoundland's greatest contemporary gifts to the world of music, the band beloved of Russell Crowe, Newfoundland's pride and joy, the Great Big Sea.

It was a fabulous show, a memorable night, a night that made it good to be alive. Great Big Sea have never strayed from the lifeworld. Their roots are deep in the harbours, the fishing grounds, the Newfoundland banks, the great big sea that supported this mighty island before the cod were fished out. Great Big Sea are steeped in the spirit that has kept this land alive through hard times, and that have kept its people true to the art of living honest lives.

It's a privilege to be here.

To Bob, Alan, Sean, Chris and Murray: thanks for a great night and so much spirit. And to Newfoundland, may your future be as bright as your heart is big.

10 runways! Truly a remarkable place, just like all of newfoundland is, when I was there in the spring, especially loved the floating icebergs, too bad so many people always go only for the coast, while inland has so much to offer!
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