Well, it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. It’s been decades, literally, of watching this award show and wishing my name were a part of it. What a dream come true for it to actually come to fruition. The whole thing was so exciting and I was just so thrilled to experience it all. From the singer-songwriter night to meet and greets to the red carpet and show itself — I just wanted to be a part of it. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not like that, anyway.
I might have guessed it to some degree. My sister brought me to the airport on the March 11th and I was nervous to get on the plane. The world is changing so fast and it was hard to tell what was alarmism and what was reasonable concern. The airport was strange and sparse – lots of gloves, masks, and eyes shifting with caution. We all moved through the line-ups and made our way through the terminal. I wiped my seat down and put my mind at ease… This was a great day, regardless.
I landed in Saskatoon and got to see my longtime UWO music faculty friend, Eric Paetkau who is now the conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. We drove to his love home where his partner, Karen Moffatt, a great violist who has also played on my records, was waiting for our evening together. I think the highlight of my trip has to be the conversation we had in their kitchen just before bed. When you spend years with someone in a small faculty practicing and chatting day and night, time passes but your connection doesn’t. It was a lovely night. I went to sleep … but woke up to the sound of the phone buzzing, “the JUNOs are cancelled.”
Was I surprised? No, I wasn’t. But I did think that it would have been a whole lot better to have known the day before; the flight was unnerving and now I had to do it all over again — and in the end it was for nothing. So, I put my gorgeous red-carpet dress back in my bag and back we went to the airport. But as Eric drove us back, first he gave me a little tour of my beloved Joni’s town. I tried to take in every building and bridge thinking, maybe this is where she would walk, or hang out, or write music! (No less I got my dog, Rosco — puppy love of my life — from a Saskatoon breeder!) I realized that it was actually perfect. It was Court & Spark that put this all in motion for me when I was taking the train to UWO all those years ago. Saskatoon was a place I wasn’t sure I’d ever visit and it was poetic that it was the place for my first national recognition! Joni’s home town — my first (and maybe only?) JUNO nomination! I got to see it! I got to be there… even for only one night. It’s wasn’t all for nothing at all! It was definitely for something special.
We got to the airport and most people still were not in masks. There were few in Saskatchewan and none in Saskatoon. I told Eric that Toronto was running out of masks and sanitizers and he told me there were lots of sanitizer bottles in the airport shop. I suggested he get some now…just in case. Rudy Blair was there with his mic and camera, just as he was at the CBC building in Toronto when he interviewed me at the Juno announcement in January. This time it was a whole other story. The local news was there interviewing Juno people leaving the city as well. We all looked at each other, nodded, and basically shrugged our shoulders. “Can you believe this?”
Every TV screen read,”JUNOS cancelled” and “Ontario is in lockdown” and “Avoid all unnecessary travel.” It was really something reading this from inside an airport while travelling unnecessarily. Definitely material for a song or a comedy bit. I landed in Toronto and got a cab home. I got home and left my bags in the garage, stripped down in the entrance, put my clothes in the wash, showered and went to bed. The next day I’d start my first day of quarantine waiting and praying that I did not get sick. Lots of people called and I told them the story while hunkered down under the blankets. This will probably be all done in a few months and we can get back to normal. Maybe we’ll get back to Saskatoon in the fall and do the show then…. but somehow, I don’t think so. Whatever happens, I still have my Juno story from my one night in Saskatoon.