There are bands and then there is Great Big Sea (GBS). I first heard of them back in 1995 when I was working at a not-for-profit organization. A friend of mine came into my office one morning still excited about this group she had seen in concert the previous evening. “OMG, Danny, they were so good. They played forever and got everyone up, dancing and singing. It was so infectious. I just loved them. I hate to tell you this, but they are going to be as big to Canadians as Blue Rodeo.” She knew I loved Blue Rodeo as the number one Canadian band of all time. Her gushing was over the top and so sincere. She is a pretty serious person so maybe that’s why I was so surprised. GBS had obviously touched something in her. I’d have to check them out. I would eventually attend one of their concerts and then buy their CDs. I became a fan myself. Being of Newfie birth, I immediately felt a kinship with their music. But it was more that that. These guys were just a BIG presence – full of fun, loaded with talent and you really felt like you were part of them as you listened to them sing and play. However, it would not be until over a decade later that I would come to really appreciate the deep soul, compassion and caring nature of this band. A very close friend of mine had a sister who was dying of cancer. Obviously, he was distraught, as was his family. He loved his sister so much and it broke my heart to see his family on that journey. When it was close to the end, my friend had ensured his sister was in a special treatment hospital in Vermont where there was a very slim possibility that a last-chance cancer drug might help her. I called him one day to see how she was doing and the news was not good. He said that she was in rough shape and he had hoped he might take her to see Great Big Sea – her favourite band. GBS were to play in Burlington (Vermont) that weekend on the Friday night but it was for naught because she was too bedridden and weak. I figured there must be a way to get GBS to visit her at the Burlington Hospital before the gig. I didn’t know anyone in GBS, but being a Maritimer, I figured through the six degrees of separation thing, I might be able to connect with them somehow. I called a friend in Newfoundland who called a friend who called a friend and soon I was speaking to one of the members of GBS. I told the story and made the request. I could feel in his voice his disappointment that they were not going to be in Burlington until just before the show. They were on a bus and stopping in Montpelier to do a radio interview. But he said: “Dan, I’ll talk to the lads.” And then he called me back and said, “Tell your buddy to put the radio next to his sister’s bed in the hospital when we are doing the radio interview in Montpelier and they will sing her favourite song (which was a GBS song). So later that day, they did just that and GBS not only dedicated the song to her but the whole radio interview and mentioned her several times. And I know as a result of this there was joy and there were tears all around. Great Big Sea did that because they have great big hearts and they love their fans. And there was no bigger fan than my buddy’s sister. God bless them – it just goes to show the power of kindness. My friend’s sister died days later. Her family sang her favorite GBS song at the funeral. Welcome to Ottawa, lads!
We Erred in SPACES Issue: In the March-April 2013 edition of Ottawa Life Magazine, we featured a story entitled Bringing the Comforts of Home Outdoors. The main photograph in the story features a property designed by award-winning, Ottawa-based Welwyn Wong Landscape Design (www.welwynwong.com). As well, Advantage Group (www.theadvantagegroup.ca) – also based in Ottawa – did the landscaping work and Techo-Bloc (www.techo-bloc.com) provided the landscaping stone that appears in the photograph. The photo was taken at an Ottawa-area home that used the design services of Welwyn Wong and the landscaping expertise of The Advantage Group to create what is truly an exceptional backyard SPACE. Ottawa Life apologizes for not crediting these companies in the story.