Love is everything: Jane Siberry and the art of being human

On Saturday night I did the big drive to Brisbane to go to a gig by an artist whose music was the soundtrack to my early adult years. Jane Siberry is part-way through an extensive world tour in which she’s bringing her Salon to people’s lounge rooms.

In a bold move, Jane put the offer out to her fans that if they could find 30 people who were willing to pay $30 each, then she’d turn up and perform in their lounge room. At the time of writing, over 80 Salons have been scheduled.

The Salon tour is all part of her reassessing how music and money can co-exist, side-stepping the cookie-cutter machine that is the music industry to bring music and community back to the people.

When I heard of this concept, I knew I had to go. I love it when people create their own ways of being in the world and this kind of thinking and approach is much needed in the music industry – an industry that makes billions of dollars out of talent, while the majority of musicians are working multiple jobs to support their creative endeavours.

It has been a few years since I’d even heard a Jane Siberry track. However, I knew her album, When I Was A Boy, inside out when I was an angsty, love-lorn twenty-something. I was confident that no matter what direction she’d gone in the last 15 years, I was sure to appreciate her immense talent.

It was only as I began the two hour drive to Brisbane that I reacquainted myself with her music. Its impact on me was immediate. I WAS an angsty, love-lorn twenty-something again. The feelings came back instantly. I even remembered some of the words – which would come in handy later in the evening.

So you could say I was well and truly primed when I arrived at the Brisbane Salon. James Lees and Silver Sircus were the hosting Jane’s performance in the lounge of James’ inner Brisbane Queenslander. There was something very apt about this setting. Not only is a Queenslander the ubiquitous Brisbane house – wooden floorboards, windows open and verandah around to quell the summer heat – but being back in that environment was like coming home. Much of my Brisbane life was lived in these houses and their high-ceilinged lounge rooms and verandahs remind me of happy times with many friends.

I was pretty apprehensive about attending, as Caro was sick and I was going alone. I had no need to worry though, as James was the perfect host and because it was a small gathering, most people were happy to chat.

James and Lucinda Shaw, performing as Silver Sircus, opened the night with three songs. When Lucinda began singing, I was again transported back almost 20 years, watching her performing in a cafe in New Farm. I remembered what it meant to me in the early 1990s to hear her sing so lovingly and cheekily of a queer Brisbane life.

Tonight, she mentions that she is nervous to be singing in front of so many friends but the nerves do not detract from the performance. If anything, they enhance it. I get that this is important. Plus, Lucinda and James have become such wonderful multi-talented musicians that you don’t realise that it’s a drummer (James) and a vocalist (Lucinda) stepping out of their roles by providing piano and guitar accompaniment.

When Jane emerges from the Salon’s green room (ie the kitchen) we are ready for the journey she will take us on for the next two hours. She weaves stories of humanity through spoken word, song and music – accompanied by piano, guitar, and trusty ipod. She is captivating. Stories of pain, love and hope that transport you to the villages she’s already visited in her almost 30 year career – whether it be listening (really listening) to kids in a bus shelter in Britain or greeting the locals in her native Toronto. She speaks of energy and oneness and relationships getting to the heart of our human experience – to love, to connect, to see and bring out the beauty in us all. By the time the encore arrives and the whole room is singing (in harmony!) the chorus of Calling All Angels, I don’t just have shivers up my spine, I have shivers through my whole body.

Like a magician, Jane Siberry has transported us to this beautiful place (which is where we always were anyway – we just didn’t see it). I’ve been to many gigs where I’ve been moved, where I’ve felt one with the crowd and performers, but very few have challenged my thinking and cajoled my senses like this one.

It’s love and sustainability in action – through music and performance. It’s connecting with the people directly – not through profit hungry middlepeople. It made me think about all the ways I could be living love and connecting with the people who need what I do. If how we want to live doesn’t exist, or if the current system doesn’t work, then we have the power to change it, to create it anew. Or perhaps create it a-old?

The whole Jane Siberry Brisbane Salon has made think. And feel. And dream.

And from that place, I am alive.

Love IS everything.