Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Japan or bust

Jennifer Geens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 04/05) - Moira Cameron will be in desperate need of a catsitter come July.

Her three felines will be on their own when Cameron, Steve Goff, and Dawn and Steve Lacey, otherwise known as Ceilidh Friends leave for Japan. They'll be part of Canada's cultural program at Expo 2005 in Aishi, along with other Canadian musicians like Alanis Morissette.

And, by the way, it's Ceilidh Friends, not Ceilidh and Friends. Ceilidh is a gaelic word that means a house party with music and dancing and storytelling. The four began making music together 15 years ago after meeting at one of these parties, which is where they got their name.

Some can't seem to accept their name as is and this has frustrated them so much they have even considered a name change.

"We considered 'The Rolling Stones,' but that's taken," said Goff.

The Friends applied to be part of the cultural contingent in June 2004, but heard nothing for six months.

So they were surprised when OYE Canada, the cultural organizers, informed them they had been selected to go.

Ceilidh Friends and a dance troupe from Baker Lake are the only cultural representatives from the North heading to Asia.

The Expo lasts for months, so performers' travelling dates have been staggered throughout the summer. Ceilidh Friends are lucky to be going during the week of Canada Day celebrations. They don't know what to expect from other countries' performers.

"We don't know who we're going to meet, but we're looking forward to finding out," said Steve Lacey.

Though their journey will require a 12 hour flight from Vancouver, Dawn Lacey said that's no big deal.

"I've taken the bus between Yellowknife and Edmonton," she explained.

Besides being hardy travellers, the Northerners will have an additional advantage as they're learning some Japanese prior to their trip. They hope to promote the NWT as much as they can.

In Japan they will do their stuff for an hour a day onstage in one of Canada's pavilions. It will be a festival setting with people milling by, pausing to listen for a few moments, so they're trying to find sets of songs that will grab attention.

"I'm picturing a giant Raven Mad Daze, only without the shaving cream," said Cameron.

The theme for the fair is "nature's wisdom," and Canada's contingent has adopted the theme "wisdom of diversity."

Ceilidh Friends say they fit in because they play a slew of different instruments and many kinds of music, ranging from blues and jazz to folk and even songs from the Renaissance, the type of thing they'll be performing at a medieval dinner next weekend at HotShots.

"We've got the diversity covered, but I don't know about the wisdom," said Cameron.

Besides the catsitting, they'll have to work out the visa thing, which is complicated because they go through the cultural programmers, and the programmers deal with the Japanese consulate on their behalf.

There's also the matter of shipping their musical equipment overseas -- something they've never had to deal with before.

"Maybe Alanis will have some room," pondered Steve Lacey.