Fire Away: Live music can soothe your midterm blues

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Written by Stephanie Rennie

Just two weekends ago I, along with many fellow Guelphites, spent two days in musical bliss at the fifth annual Hillside Inside. This event triggered my thinking of the experience of live music and how it is so much more than just a song, but also a story and a foster for community.

To explore the residual excitement from the festival further I spoke with Preetam Sengupta, a local singer-songwriter and founder of Letting Artists Make Art. The premise of LAMA is to give all artists a chance to follow their ambitions, despite the many obstacles that get in the way. Sengupta assists artists in making their dreams come true through his help with tour management, grant writing, and many other tasks that help musicians to prosper.

The roots of LAMA couldn’t be in a better location than Guelph as it is a hub of local musical talent. The Guelph community is renowned for its amazing music scene with events like Hillside, Guelph Jazz Festival, and music bellowing from any bar, church, or community centre on any given night. Preetam expressed that Guelph has “a big scene for being such a small place.”

I feel as though some folks that live or study in Guelph don’t always take advantage of the music community that is just down the street. When asking Preetam about his feelings towards live music, he stated that the root of folk is the stories of the artist and that a record isn’t capable of expressing such anecdotes. After releasing his first album, Sengupta admitted that he has only heard his own record once and prefers to think of the songs from the live performances he has done.

Going out to enjoy live music also enables you to feel the energy in the room as an entire group of people experience the music together and relationships between yourself and the musicians, as well as the crowd around you are built. One of my favourite feelings in the world is the overwhelming sensation of being in a large group of strangers at an expansive outdoor festival, yet being connected through a similar love of music.

While thinking of the difference between live and recorded music, it is also evident that social networking allows people to share their music without ever stepping foot in a recording studio or on stage.

Since the rise of Youtube sensation Justin Bieber a few years ago, my scepticism about the transformation of the music industry began to grow. From a cynical perspective, I felt angered that Rebecca Black was able to become so famous (or infamous) from her butchery of what was once my favourite day of the week. After speaking with a local music enthusiast, my perspective of the current state of music has altered. Preetam expressed his respect for Youtube because it provides an online community for people to share their music. With the decline in outlets like Much Music, this site allows anyone in the world to show their talent.

Preetam noted another shift in the music industry that began many years ago with the decline of record sales and the increase in downloading music. He stated that it doesn’t make sense to try to profit from people that are also struggling and that there isn’t a lot of money to make from record sales. Instead, the industry has shifted by making licensing the key to success.

Despite the busy days that fill the year with midterms and papers, it is important to find a moment to fill with beautiful live music in Guelph. We are fortunate to live in such a prosperous community, so we should take advantage of the concerts and shows happening throughout the year. Live music is a great way to relieve stress, make new friends, and escape from the daily grind.

Preetam will be sharing the stage with Guelph’s Ambre McLean, Toronto’s Abigail Lapell, and Halifax’s Morgan MacDonald for a song circle this coming Saturday (February 18th) at the Happy Traveller (formerly Carden Street Café) at 9:00PM.

For more information on LAMA and Preetam Sengupta:

- LAMA Facebook page
- Preetam artist Facebook page
Link to Preetam's "Raincoat":

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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