How Music PEI tried to crush me

Stephen Pate, Always on the Street Victoria Row Charlottetown PEI 2008
Stephen Pate, Always on the Street Victoria Row Charlottetown PEI 2008

I don’t think anyone likes to feel abused. Although I may appear tough, it’s hard to take abuse. However, you have to suck it back many times in life.

The abuse I’ve been dished by Music PEI has shaken my confidence. I’m used to rejection, criticism, disapproval, personal attacks like you are. Decades of it – we all get it and learn to live with it.

In business, I’ve lost deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. You learn to let it slide and move on. Mostly you try to learn what went wrong and not repeat it.

I was so badly shaken by Music PEI’s rejection in May that I seriously thought of quitting music altogether.

It took doggedly playing day after day, week after week during the summer to shake the feeling I was incompetent or no good as a singer songwriter. Thanks to Chris Budhan for believing in me and letting me do my thing on Victoria Row and the great people at Baba’s who listen to my songs old and new each week.

Continue reading How Music PEI tried to crush me

Losing $100 on the first day of spring

Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, March 21, 2009

Yesterday was the first day of spring. It was sunny but quite cold. I wanted to make it special so I went downtown and lost $100 in a money machine. The $100 should have put me in a funk since money is never easy to come by. I put it all behind and spent the most pleasant three hours in recent memory. Continue reading Losing $100 on the first day of spring

Where is the best hamburger?

McDonald's whoa did the price go up

The humble hamburger just got the heist when MacDonald’s upped the price recently to over $8 with taxes for the Angus burger meal.

Wendy’s is only slightly behind them with new higher pricing.

The poor girl at MacDonalds tried to tell me the price was the same.  I’ve had a MacDonald’s hamburger too many times not to be a connoisseur on quality and price.

I wouldn’t mind paying more if the staff were getting something close to  a living wage, north of $10 per hour.  That is not the case for PEI’s wage slaves working in fast food joints.

Continue reading Where is the best hamburger?

A song to sing – Open mikes popular with all ages in clubs and community centres on the Island

Stephen Pate, Nick Teter and Ted Simmons, Baba’s Open Mic

The Guardian

Ed: Excerpt. see link to Guardian for the complete story

There’s an air of professionalism at Babas in Charlottetown where musicians are taking their music to the next level.

The place is a gathering spot for burgeoning songwriters who come to test out their new material.

“Anyone who has just come is invited to come up and sign the performance list,” says host Nick Teter, adjusting microphones for musicians Andrea MacDonald, Ted Simmons, Stephen Pate and a poet simply known as Alan.

As the emcee, he spends the evening mingling with artists, keeping their sound levels and spirits bright.

“If you play, you get a free glass of draft for your 15 minutes of fame,” says Teter, who has a definite knack for making people feel at home.

“It’s important to welcome people, especially if they’re new. If no one comes over to talk, sure, they may get up to play once, but they may never come back.”

The artists like the time that Teter puts into the show.

“Nick encourages everyone and is not afraid to show his appreciation. That’s why I come here — for the camaraderie and a chance to play my own compositions,” says Pate, after testing out his latest song.

For Simmons, the draw is getting to play in front of a live audience.

“I come every week to practise my live stage show. I really enjoy the atmosphere here,” says the singer-songwriter who performs a dynamic version of Bob Dylan’s North Country Blues.

Meanwhile, Teter gives a sigh of relief that all the music slots have been filled.

“My biggest fear is that no one will show up and I’ll have to play a lot of songs.

“While that normally isn’t bad, it’s not my show. It’s about the artists,” says the singer-songwriter.

A few blocks away, the mood is warm and relaxed at Hunter’s Ale House where artists have gathered for another open mike night.
Blake MacIsaac and Daniel Bowlan, Hunter’s Open Mic

Hosted by Danielle Bowlan, the Monday night gig is the highlight of her week.

“It’s fun, and interesting. We are always getting to hear new music and meet new people,” she says.

During the show, which also includes performances by Jessica Keough, Kassandra Veenhuis and Blake MacIsaac, she and Laura Oakie team up for some tight harmonies on Volcano and Nine Crimes and are rewarded with applause for their efforts.

“We’re constantly singing together. We enjoy coming here,” says Oakie, who is also a member of the Disco Rockin’ Llamas.

Daniel Bowlan and Laura Oakie, Hunter’s Open Mic

After playing together week after week, it feels like home, says Bowlan. “We’re all friends here so no one is afraid to go on.”

After playing together week after week, it feels like home, says Bowlan. “We’re all friends here so no one is afraid to go on.”

When you enter the Twilight Zone

When you enter the Twilight Zone you always wish the camcorder is on record. Unfortunately the camcorder is usually home in its case.

Last night at the end of the storm I went downtown to play at Baba’s. Lights out. Everyone gone home.

I called some friends and they were settling in for the night or already asleep. I went to Hunter’s for wings, Keith’s and a chat with Blake and Steve.

On a whim I drove out University Avenue after catching the first green. There was no one around except a single snow plow working his way by the liquor store. The stores were deserted.

Then it happened. I caught the green at Kirkwood. Weird, I never got the green there before.

As I sailed by Chapters, it dawned on me that I was going to get the green at Belvedere too. I glanced toward the dark fields and the Farmer’s Market.

I don’t remember what happened at UPEI except I got the green there as well. I was in a daze, the white fields and snow banks all merged. Nothing seemed real except the green light at the end of the road for the mall entrance. It stayed green until I passed and then went to red.

I should have my camera, I thought. I could record this and post it on YouTube as a surreal video story of the storm.

What if we set up a site with fellow video journalists and called it Not Just the News or NJN for short? We could cover stories the paper and CBC won’t. Real stories about the real people we know. Post them on YouTube, Facebook and Blogger. That would be cool.

The next light turning left on the Trans Canada was green, good to go. Then the light by National Music was green.

As I turned down at the green light for North River Road, I was in a trance. The streets and buildings blurred by.

Would Holland College journalism students be interested in the project?

The Wal-Mart light was green, then the Ellen’s Creek light was green.

We wouldn’t need a building or an office or any of the standard overhead. Just inexpensive camcorders, editing software and imagination.

The light at Belvedere was looming still green but the walk light was orange. Yes, I passed through. Where was I?

At Nassau a car approached from the left and the light turned green for him. I stopped momentarily before turning right, my trip to the Twilight Zone over but the VJ idea was taking hold.

John Lennon Tribute Raises Money for Charity

Charlottetown, Saturday December 12th 2007, Baba’s Lounge in Charlottetown hosted the John Lennon Tribute Show. Organized by Dave Nicholson as an annual event since 2000, this year’s show raised over $1,300 for the Upper Room Ministry.

It was a night of love, peace and rock and roll. More than 20 local artists volunteered their talents to entertain the overflowing crowd and raise money for charity. Organizer Nicholson led the house band of Shayne Coady, Jason Rogerson, Thomas Mears and Chris Coupland.

The music of John Lennon and the performers left the audience with the belief they had attended one of the best shows in some time. The crowd were entertained until the last encore and the lights were turned on.

A few of the more than 20 performers included Andrea MacDonald, Ashley Gorman, Chris Roumbanis, Laura Oakie, Steve Gillespie and Stephen Pate who drew on “Imagine” and “Give Piece A Chance” to inspire the audience.

The Upper Room Ministry, which provides free meals for anyone in need, has been operating for more than 20 years in Charlottetown. The Ministry is entirely voluntary and relies on donations of food and money to help those in need of food. Baba’s Lounge, located above Cedar’s Eatery, has been a haven for local musicians, visiting artists and their fans for decades.

Synchronicity one more time


There are moments in life and music when the events collide to form moments of synchronicity. Last night at Baba’s was one where Ryan, Alex and I played away on five songs and caught the groove.

Only habit can explain why I went last night. I was exhausted from a day of promoting the message of Hope for Islanders with disabilities. I got home at 8 pm and began to practice. I wanted to perform Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom, a poetic but long song from 1964.
Andrea was back in the Host’s seat at Baba’s, albeit only as replacement for Nancy who is the new permanent host. We talked about her road trip and the summer of music that approaches.

By the time I got up to perform Ryan and Alex arrived so we repeated our trio act from the week before. I’ve been playing with Ryan for a few years but only 3 or 4 times with Ryan. Kerrie introduced us. We never practice, a strategy of chaos looking for a Muse.

The stage lights were out so I couldn’t see squat of the lyrics. We got a moderate groove going but I just could not see the song sheet. I probably know 80% of the words but that is not enough. I quit after 3 of 7 verses. It was a bar clearing performance.

OK boys lets kick it up. We did two fast original blues numbers and the sound caught the groove. Alex was laying down a solid and imaginative bass line to my left. Ryan was alternatively noodling and soaring on acoustic lead to the right.

We did Rainy Day Women (aka Everyone Must Get Stoned) but something didn’t click with the crowd. We liked it but they seemed indifferent.
Andrea asked for a 5th song, so off we went into It Ain’t Me Babe. Forget what you know about that chestnut. This is a funky bass driven blues number than drones between Em+g and C+g. I’ve done it by myself with the synth guitar plus organ, which is cool. This was the first time with bass, which this arrangement needs. The song grabbed the groove and held it. The audience was caught up in it, the moody bluesy insistent groove. It really worked.

That’s why I play, for those transcendent moments when the music catches and pulls you upward and away from the earth. It happens often enough to keep me hooked

It Ain’t Me Babe

Wow – the new arrangement went over great at Baba’s. I could see people were held by the tension. I should think about recording it this weekend – that sounds vague doesn’t it. It would be better if I had my drum kit back together and could cobble together a bass. Drums will have to wait – the music room is too crazy but maybe I can find a bassist.

Disability Support Blues went over well. That is a triplets groove song – too fast or too slow and it bombs.

The next two “Is Your Love in Vain” and “Your Song” suffered from the proximity effect – two finger style ballads with string accompaniment lulling people to sleep. Robert Arsenault used to insist in the band Expecting Rain – one ballad per set of 8 songs. He knows.

Expecting Rain 2004: Todd King, Jeff Smith, S Pate, Robert Arsenault, Heidi Juri, Matt Chandler