Every month, I will be profiling an extraordinary human being who lives in our community. If you know someone who is doing something interesting with their life, I want to hear about it. Send me an email at [email protected].
It was always there and she was always drawn to it.
“It becomes like oxygen,” says the musician of making music. “Do you enjoy breathing? What happens when you can’t breath? It’s like that.”
Maybe you’ve seen her walking around town. She used to walk everywhere, part of the reason she was able to shed a substantial amount of weight. She’s tall with long, brown hair and she’s got a vibe to her that totally emulates a free spirit. She enjoys being social just as much as she enjoys her own company. She’s open and honest and raw about the choices she made that led her to who she is today. Christine was just 17 when she moved out and was living on her own. She got reckless real fast but learned from the mistakes she made.
“What a long, strange trip it’s been,” she says. Of course, she’s quoting one of her all-time favourite bands, The Grateful Dead. But it rings true when she reflects on her life.
“I can’t think of one person who hasn’t had ups and downs, but it’s how you choose to roll with the punches. And laughter is the best punch medicine.”
The memories are still fresh. Christine was about three years old, driving in the back of her family’s Ford Pinto belting out the theme song to the Tom and Jerry Show. Even then, she says, at such a young age, she had an understanding of harmonies and backup. It was an inherited gift. Passed on through the Heron bloodline. Her father was a musician and he was consistent with his effort to teach his daughter how to play the guitar. Christine admits it. She wasn’t too enthralled about weekly practice. There was no burning desire to follow his lead. But when she was 14, her father lost his left arm in an accident. That tragedy sparked something in Christine. She had an awakening.
Shortly after my dad’s accident, after it all sunk in and hit home, I remember the Nirvana song Polly. It was that song, for lack of better terms, that I played through the pain of learning bar chords.”
Quite literally, Christine says, once she learned bar chords, the world opened up. When she was able to make the sounds she wanted, she had a new-found appreciation for the guitar. She realized that all along, her father wasn’t just going through the motions, he was trying to give her a gift. She started to take music more seriously. On the plus side, her desire to want to sing aloud never dwindled. That voice was hers and no one could take it away.
The music she liked to listen to, she learned by listening to over and over and over again. Undeniably, she had an ear. Around the same time she picked up the guitar, she started writing her own music. The two went hand in hand and seemed like a natural fit. Putting pen to paper gave her another outlet for her emotions. Teenage angst, misery, heartache – “all that good stuff” transposed itself onto paper. A musician was born.
“I’ve always been a weird kind of cat as far as not fitting in so the more I learned to play, the more I realized I had my own little, outlet for my weirdness.”
Now, after honing the craft for more than two decades, it’s become something so much more than a way to pass time. It’s a way of life. It helps brings home the bacon (in between serving and bartending) and that itself is rewarding. And besides that, it’s the ultimate high. Christine has done just about everything, musically speaking. She’s been a busker on Main Street on more than one occasion. There isn’t a local bar she hasn’t played at until the wee hours of a morning. She’s been hired for private functions like weddings and parties, and she never minds a paying gig around a campfire. She’s seen the bright lights performing at The Silver Dollar Room in Toronto and has also joined the Waterhouse Band at the Horseshoe Tavern. She’s lent her voice to dozens of local charity events, fundraisers and telethons. She calls the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce “a beautiful resource” for paying gigs.
Christine has collaborated with many other local musicians and speaks highly of the talent that is pretty much bursting from this town. She has a ton of musician friends who she consistently jams with and that’s part of the allure of living here. There’s so much support. And that certainly helps fuels her musical fire.
“What more can I say other than where do I start? There’s too many. Huntsville is a hot spot for talented musicians.”
She has also come to love and appreciate playing with a full band.
“When you have a band backing you up, you have the vivid colours, layers and textures that give the components for bigger and better sound.”
If you ask her about the Algonquin Theatre, chances are she’s going to gush. She’s taken the stage there for many local shows, most recently The Last Waltz. Each and every time she takes that stage, it’s like a homecoming. There’s a sense of pride and a sense of belonging. And it’s not just because of the stellar setting. The theatre boasts impeccable sound that Christine says is incomparable to so many other venues she’s played at.
I love the Algonquin Theatre. It’s always a pleasure. If you can consider going home to be an honour, that’s what it feels like.”
Music is the one thing Christine can always count on to make herself feel better. No matter what. It’s her comfort. It’s her joy. It’s her up when she’s down. It not only has the ability to enlighten her, but it awakens her as well. She has seen, first-hand, the ever-present human connection to music. And it’s a beautiful thing.
“Sometimes I still feel like an awkward teenager that no one can relate to and I pull into myself. That’s when I pick up my guitar and strum until I feel better.”
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