The two great 19th century gold rushes on the western side of the continent were rooted in San Francisco and the Cariboo.
The two modern-day homes for musician Madeline Tasquin are the San Francisco Bay area and the Cariboo region. She was born in Quesnel and has a home in Wells where she spends time in the summer to reconnect with family, friends, nature, and a music fanbase found all over the northern B.C. map.
She finds these fans at the Robson Valley Music Festival (Aug. 11-13 in Dunster), the MOM-Music On The Mountain Festival (Aug. 18-20 in Fort St. James), and here in her home area. She is a headliner at the Sunset Theatre’s Speakeasy Cabaret with a 9 p.m. concert on each of Aug. 4 and 5, then at the Barkerville Brewing Company on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. She will also be out in front of her house doing front yard busking on Aug. 26 for Worldwide Play Music On The Porch Day, and hopes other musicians around the Cariboo will do the same, as a sort of comeback from the lockdowns that kept musicians and listeners so far apart during the COVID occlusion.
“COVID, yeah. Right now it feels like music had a place in the mental health epidemic that was probably already there, lurking under the surface, but definitely was brought to the fore and heightened by the pandemic,” Tasquin said. “Live music has such an important part of bringing people back together again, reconnecting folks, so I feel very grateful for what I do.”
Mental health became front-of-mind, pun fully intended, when COVID closed in around us all. It broke the membrane on some people’s thinly contained emotional grasp. It chiselled into other people’s otherwise strong intellectual grip. Even for those who maintained regular thought functions, it at least forced new realizations about how each of us interacts with self, community, world.
Tasquin responded with music, writing, expression. She Zoomed out the Emma Goldman Dance Hour for those looking for an online hoot. She wrote new material, of course. But she also threw away her creative map – she was typically on routes of modern folk, alt-pop, with tinges of jazz – and went altogether new places.
“I feel like the whole COVID time, I said yes to a lot of things. There was time and space to learn new skills and explore creativity. I embraced my love of techno so I got a set together of electronic, synth-based, cheesy ’90s dance music,” she said, for example. “I felt my voice really open up as I’ve learned to set boundaries in my personal life – the mind-body connection. When I first started performing, I felt like there was an invisible hand holding on my throat. I just wanted so badly to sing, and share music in that way, and I felt great when I was singing alone, then as soon as anybody was watching, the hand would be there on my throat. It has been a real gift and very fulfilling to work through that. I feel my journey has been really rich.”
She’s handing that process off to other singers, now, as a creative coach. She prefers to call it coaxing more than coaching.
“Every human has a voice. Everyone can sing. I think it’s a crying shame that some people think you’re either born with it or you’re not,” she said. “It so appealing and regenerating, and can be really empowering to discover nooks and crannies of your voice, and feel free to explore and have ownership of your own voice. My biggest job, as a music coach, is to egg people on and help people get out of their own way.”
She also created a form of group expression she called her Secret Choir. She’ll be demonstrating at some of these local shows. To join her, reach out by email: Madeline.email@example.com.
She just turned 42 – the answer to life, the universe and everything per the novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and so all this travel and realization and personal/family goings on, and artistic creation has her thinking about what it’s all about – this life thing.
“Saving the world through music,” she concludes, simply. “Don’t forget your towel.”