Ten Minute Tea: The Wintersong Edition, Part 2

The 4th edition of Wintersong Music Festival will take place in Stouffville, Ontario from January 20th-21st. The free annual festival draws thousands to the local area in the shoulder-season of winter, giving a much-needed boost to the local economy. Having generated over one million dollars in associated tourism revenue for the Town of Stouffville (Music City North), they were applauded as the single most impactful relief effort for small businesses coming out of the pandemic. Their stellar lineup is meticulously crafted with gender parity and diversity in mind, and hosts exclusively Canadian artists.

The first tea + soundtrack + visuals curated by Hungry Lake is a sad, stadium-psychedelic-folk-rock band fronted by Stouffville’s own Josef Thomas. They make brilliantly composed, gut-wrenching tunes that are inspired by everything from the writings of Stephen King. Catch their performance at Latcham Hall on Friday, January 20th at 11:45pm.

My wife made this tea a while back during a heavy winter storm. I don’t think there are many things better than drinking hot beverages by candlelight watching snow whip across the sky and ground. The smell instantly brings me back to this moment any time I am in line at Starbucks or Tim Hortons. I could be having a terrible day, but one whiff of apple spiced tea can bring me back to a place of calm. 

Tea: Picking a tea was the most difficult part of this activity, as I don’t drink traditional hot or herbal tea. I might actually be slightly allergic. It gives me a mild headache. Joe from Hungry Lake suggested I choose Arizona ice tea instead, but I don’t care much for all that sugar. I settled on Arizona’s “Hard” version of their iced tea because at least it’s got alcohol in it. Having said that, I don’t like vodka. In summary, I’m choosing coffee (but you can go with Arizona green tea w/honey if you like).

Video: Everyone should check out the YouTube channel Soft White Underbelly:

It was created by a photographer named Mark Laita, who ditched his corporate career in order to bring exposure to the homeless population on L.A.’s Skid Row. His channel is a collection of black and white interviews with homeless folks and other social outcasts occupying a similar ecosystem. Mark has interviewed prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts of all kinds, criminals, sexual abusers, inbred families and more. I love his interview style because he interjects very little and otherwise allows these outsiders to tell their stories in full. The candidness he gleans from his subjects is inspiring, and helps to shed light on the type of people society would rather sweep under the rug. Having watched dozens of these interviews, a recurring issue amongst the homeless seems to be childhood trauma. What follows is then a “chicken or the egg” scenario in terms of addiction and mental health issues. Anyone like Mark who spends their time cultivating more compassion for vulnerable people is doing this human thing okay in my books. Highly recommended. 

Song: For my musical selection I’m going with the song “Loretta” from the recently released One day, Maybe… LP by my pal Sunray Minor. Juan and I share a mutual producer by the name of Jason Cabanaw. Jason originally showed me some of Juan’s music years ago and it was really impressive. I’ve yet to meet Juan in person, but he added harmonies and instrumentation to a solo song of mine a while back. This is his debut full length record and it blew me away. He’s a young guy based in Montreal that I hope more people will listen to. “Loretta” is his album opener and features a frenetic, meticulously crafted arrangement with more hooks and ideas than your average full-length album. I get Hawksley Workman and Rufus Wainwright vibes. Give him a listen!


Today’s second tea + soundtrack +visuals is curated by Casey Baker Neon Cowboy. Casey Baker Neon Cowboy is a singer songwriter from Niagara, Ontario whose band Neon Cowboy is a provider of atmosphere. Catch their performance at Chucks Roadhouse on Saturday, January 21st at 7:00pm. Often described as Alternative Rock and Alt Country, the dark and moody noise generated by this five-piece rolls in like an urgent storm. Their low tunings and primitive percussion growl in contrast to the emotionally charged vocal harmonies and wailing delayed guitars. Casey Baker Neon Cowboy channels the frequency of the human condition.

Where the Cattle Cross

The Tea:
Ginger Cardamom Tea.

This tea will be well received by those who like the zippy flavour of ginger. Add honey if you like to balance things out with sweetness. The tea is comforting and soothing while it stimulates and activates your senses. There is a holistic quality to the taste that comes from the earth. It puts one’s mind at ease to consume a beverage that came from the ground and not a laboratory. I like to remember to breathe in through my nose and let the ginger tingle. I like to think this drink makes me feel calm, but alert. 

The Song:
“Let’s Rock N’ Roll Again” by Matt Paxton. Produced by Aaron Goldstein with backup vocals by Carleigh Aikins (Bahamas, Dwayne Gretzky).

Matt Paxton

Matt Paxton is a singer/songwriter from Hamilton, ON. This particular song has such a wonderful blend of acoustic folk and crunchy analog rock. Matt’s voice and phrasing are gentle as he describes a scenic landscape overshadowed with his feelings of missing the days he spent in that place. He is nostalgic for the person with whom he built those memories and speaks as if he’s overdue to return to this place and that person’s company. He hangs on his pronunciation of words at times like Bob Dylan but he certainly has his own voice. He sings so gently atop a song that is bursting with emotion and a desire to put something back where it belongs. 

The Visual:
“Domestic Bliss #3” by Emily Andrews

This image is packed with messages open for interpretation. Personally, I like the image because it triggers me to zoom out and take a moment to consider time on a grand level. Outer space, dinosaurs, and gender roles are all a part of the vast history or earth. Things can change in an instant or be formed over millions of years like a diamond. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of day-to-day life and think that my perception of the world is absolute truth. In reality, I’m on a planet that has been hurtling through space for billions of years and though I want to use my energy for positive change, in some moments, I am merely a passenger in time.

This Post Sponsored by our Proud Partners Home Love Hamilton.

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