What’s in here?
That’s what I thought when I found the brown vinyl carrying case in the corner of the basement. I had packed just about everything for my move last month to Guelph. Now I had reached the bottom of the pile, including some items left by my grandmother before her own final move to England more than a decade ago.
I flipped up the twin clasps on the front of the case. Inside, nested in a plastic base were rows of cassette tapes. Four rows, 10 to a row. Standing upright like closely packed tombstones. Grandma’s old audiocassette tapes, many recorded decades earlier and probably not heard for almost as long.
I packed up the useless thing and brought it with me to Guelph, Ontario. And found that cassettes were hardly dead at all. They were enjoying a bit of a renaissance if anything. Not just for their sound but for their visual appeal as well. In an age of MP3 players, tape cassettes were all around me.
Musicians were recording on them: I arrived in Guelph in time to attend the fourth cassette launch party in this town in just over a year. Not only that, but I met the Guelph multimedia artist who had just installed a new sculpture here in town: a 12-foot-high smokestack consisting of thousands of audiocassette tapes.
What was going on?
Answering the question led to my inaugural full-length broadcast today on CFRU radio on the University of Guelph campus in Guelph, Ontario, where I now live. The station is 93.3 FM. All shows are archived. Check out this link: From the Second Storey.
The show includes an interview with internationally exhibited artist Janet Morton, who gained fame for knitting together hundreds of used sweaters to cover a house on Ward’s Island in Toronto.
I also spoke to James Harley, a composer and professor in the School of Fine Art and Music at U of G.
And we did a live interview with Guelph singer-songwriter Jessy Bell Smith, whose new self-titled cassette was released at that audio party here in town last month.
Today’s hour-long broadcast is my first episode of a planned regular show on CFRU called From the Second Storey. That’s right: the same name as this blog. I’ll be looking at arts, culture, books, music, science and curiosity, storytelling and my new world both here and on the air.
Stay tuned. And tell me what you think.