Song and dance man
Living life one gig at a time

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 07/00) - Hundreds, Gaston Saravanja says when asked how many gigs he has performed in Yellowknife since he first hit the stage in 1991.

Even though he has graced just about every local venue that has a stage, the home-town favourite can't help but see a little irony in where he got his first break.

"My first gig was in New York City," Saravanja says. "It was a disaster. I couldn't keep my eyes off my shoes."

After taking an initial crack at the Big Apple, however, Saravanja returned to Yellowknife to fine-tune his chops and work on his stage presentation. Between various trips abroad, including several prolonged stays in Victoria B.C., Saravanja continues to call Yellowknife home.

These days, Saravanja can often be found singing and playing his guitar at a local pub from 10:00 p.m. until closing six days a week, where requests are never a problem for the talented musician.

"My motto is any song you like," he says. "I know hundreds."

Through all his local performances, Saravanja looks back most fondly on the days when the Bush Pilot's Brew Pub was still open and his main-stage appearance at Folk on the Rocks '96.

"I was suppose to be playing alone but all these amazing musicians showed up to play with me," Saravanja recalls. "It was great."

Even though he has made a decent living as a local bard, Saravanja contends that performing covers for a living is not all that inspiring.

"It's easy to lose sight of what your original intentions were," Saravanja warns. "Do something else for money and keep your music clean."

Saravanja hopes to give up the pub scene some day soon and concentrate more on his orignal material, but he also says that he would simply be happy as long as his personal appearance does not go to pot.

"In 10 years time, I just want to be able to look straight down at my shoes without seeing my gut in the way, that's all," he says.

"I've been a human jukebox for 10 years and I'm at the end of my line, but if you see me busking in front of the liquor store, try and understand," he adds.

Ah, the life of a struggling musician.