To Know A Man's Heart

Here's the movie as LINK

Love Is In the Air

Albert Normandin photographs an intimate scene on location for Heart Of A Dragon on The Great Wall of China, where he witnessed a level of emotion that one rarely capture.

Albert Normandin Blog

We Are All Disabled - Part 18

Don Alder is a musician and partner in a grand adventure - "Man In Motion" that forever changed the way we see disability. He lives alone in a basement suite over run by guitars, note books full of ideas for songs and everywhere, memories of going around the world with his best friend, Rick Hansen. 


I'm just home from Hawaii where my harp guitar and I played along side, Chris Hadfied, Astronaut and YouTube superstar as he sang the David Bowie's line, 'Ground Control to Major Tom'. And as if one very cool, talented and celebrated spaceman wasn't enough, along the road on the Big Island, I met Captain James Kirk on leave from Star Trek but still pushing the boundaries of time with humour and grace.  

And then I met a fellow named Alice Cooper. Alice may never have piloted a rocket ship but managed to do things on stage that outraged our parents, sending them into outer space every time his big rock and roll show complete with dead chickens and warm blood, arrived in town. 

On route back to Vancouver, I stopped in Maui to catch my breath and to stand in the shadow of a man who changed my life. I've written about Marshall before. He was the father I never had. His lanai is still in his family and is filled with the memories of a life so fully lived in the service of others.  It's really a sanctuary and I'm privileged to have known something of it's magic. In that place, remembering Marshall, I came to think differently about heroes and life. 

Was someone really a hero because they are famous for being famous? Or because the media love the way they sing, dance, act, play the guitar, or look great wearing bling? Or maybe it's about walking on the moon, being elected president or winning the Superbowl? Or someone who gives their life so we can live a better one?

In the solitude of Marshall's very private Hawaii, where he and I used to play bocce, those questions seemed to slip out of my mind. I couldn't concentrate, at least not on something so abstract and far away from the confidence Marshall brought to my life. 

I lost track of time on Maui. I thought a lot about the choices I'd made in life, how many great adventures I've had, and how lucky I am that music has remained such a good and trusted friend while other things have slipped away.  

As I write this,  I'm so thankful to have people and places that bring me such peace, even in the middle of the night when the time change from travel causes your body and especially your mind, to remain wide awake.

When this happens, I return  to the memory of the warm wind at Marshall's in Maui and the realization that those who seek attention are never really heroic, while those who work long and hard in pursuit of dreams can be heroes of a kind; but real heroes now and always, are just ordinary people called to do extraordinary things, often with great sacrifice, unselfishly in the service of others.  

Hawaii was productive and all things business but there was time for heroes to sign my harp guitar. And  I did feel Marshall when I slowed down enough to hear the wind. In that moment, I came to realize, I sometimes search for answers that I already have, but I search anyway. At least until I realize my heroes, the real ones, have always been close by.

We Are All Disabled - Part 17

Dancing on the Edge of Fame 

Watching the annual music awards season roll through reminds me, I've learned a lot about the business of being famous and what it takes to be in that spotlight.  At some point, I think we all bump into fame. Sometimes that spotlight is exciting and sometimes it's not. When that happens, I find myself looking for the exit.   

I love creating music and being at the centre of that process, especially when an idea becomes a song. And I'm learning to like performing or at least becoming less nervous about it, thanks to the gifted musicians who have taught me so much.                            

When you perform, mostly its for people who love music and appreciate what it takes to be in front of them, playing and singing about the most intimate parts of your life.  But selling your music and yourself are part of an entirely different world. That's where the show business begins and everything gets hard, at least it does for me. The story of how I won the 2011 Worldwide Guitar Idol in England is the best way I can describe what I mean about show business and dancing on the edge of fame. 

The year before in 2010, I'd won the Guitar Superstar event in the US and before that in 2007, I was Fingerstyle Champion. But on that far away stage in England, none of the history mattered.  I had jet lag and wasn’t totally focused. I wasn’t physically up to speed. My hands and nails were too dry and my head wasn't ready to play.  I forgot to change the strings on the guitar, so it wasn’t playing properly or sounding right. 

Making matters worse, my guitar was accidentally smashed before I performed. 
It was barely hanging together with duct tape and it was slipping in and out of tune. Standing under the lights preparing to play,  I  had flash back and not a good one — of walking on stage after the Who performed and picking to the guitar Pete Townsend had just destroyed.

Then I took a breath and opened my eyes back in the real world, still in England with the audience waiting patiently for me to begin.  My nerves were on fire and yet somehow, I slipped into the music and played my heart out. Nothing else mattered, at least until the music stopped. Then I began to think too much and began looking for the exit.

Incredibly, I heard my name being announced along with the words, winner and Guitar Idol in the same sentence.  Part of me was swept away in the applause but the other part believed, I could not have won because I just wasn't prepared. Besides so many things had gone wrong.  It was confusing. Struggling, then winning and being celebrated for something, I could have done so much better. 

I was alone in the spotlight, overwhelmed and not sure if I deserved being there.  I just couldn't get my head around what was happening. Fortunately like many things in life, it was not about what I felt emotionally,  it was about what someone else decided, objectively.  Maybe they heard something, I didn't?  Maybe I couldn't hear at all because playing your heart out, you go somewhere else?

Nonetheless,  I left England in 2011 a Guitar Idol. Thinking about it now, I might have used my time in the spotlight to thank Linus for the use of his blanket throughout my career and the guy who invented the Duck tape that kept my guitar and me from falling apart.  I have never pursued music because I wanted or expected anything from it.  I play because it helps me remain at peace, in a world that can be confusing, unfair and sometimes absolutely delightful all in the same moment.