A hand-crafted rainbow by Kiva Stimac, in welcome contrast to boulevard St-Laurent's bleak winter look.

Collaborations with On Ensemble are among my favouritest musical things- fantastic sounds, heavy beats, humour, and four of the warmest human friends anyone could ask for. Invariably, however, our time together is so compressed that we feel afterwards like we’ve been in a traffic accident, a week’s worth of experiences crammed into 24 hours… with no sleep!

What is also so very special for me is that from day one (March 2006, it was), sharing music with Shoji, Kris, Maz and Kelvin has always felt so remarkably comfortable and natural. There is never a need to talk much about what needs to be played, or what moods need to be created, as we are often already on the same page. It’s a pretty rare thing, something which makes our collaborations come together very quickly, very organically.

I believe this comes across onstage as well. I know the audiences we play for can feel this simpatico, and I often feel that we somehow manage to draw them into our little circle, creating some very intense performances. The spaces we play in reverberate with the sound of drums, but also with the vibrations of many people resonating with the same frequency.

This is the way it felt on Wednesday night, at La Sala Rossa, here in Montreal.

As a musician, what more can you ask for?

My thanks to On Ensemble for traveling so far, in the snow- one of them in shorts even (at -8C in Montreal!)- on little sleep, under stressful conditions (Kelvin’s wife delivered their second child the night before!) and for being such pros; Thanks also to Steve and the entire Suoni Per Il Popolo team, including our stellar sound-man Dave and the staff at Sala Rossa; Thanks to Arashi Daiko for the continued and enthusiastic support; Janet and Festival Accès Asie for their help with promotion and other pesky details; and a big thank you to our intrepid team of volunteers, Yukari, Danielle, Elena and Florence, for arriving at the nick of time and handling things beautifully.

I am now looking forward to making trips to the new On HQ in LA in February and March, so we can continue what we started here in Montreal. Minus the snow!

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