Penitentiaries, recording studios and family

Rueben deGroot in the studio shadows

Rueben deGroot in the studio shadows

image The gates of Kingston Penitentiary are closed. The oldest incarceration chamber is permanently closed. The doors, as ominous now as ever, are bereft of invitation. It was Friday evening and as I drove by, my first thoughts went to all those who do service, who volunteer to carry messages of hope and new ways of living to sentenced individuals. Those doors swing both ways and people do find restoration.


Later that evening we were sitting with an extended part of our family, those relations that are not genetic but born by shared experience, time and story. We toured sectors of Kingston, looked at houses that Rueben and Gabriel had restored, redeemed from perdition. We shared food, meandering conversations and played catch-up story on years. At the end of the evening we took a tour through a recording studio. Now I spent a few years in the vinyl-based era of the business, my friend Don still knows the names of every producer, Todd still cheers when Slayer relics appear on stage and Margaret still turns the volume down. This studio was a work of art. Electronic art. Studio art. Woodworking art. It was a sanctuary of of music with an inner temple for the musicians and a court yard for the mix and meddle masters of the trade. The moment of Rueben deGroot proudly seated at the console playing his latest track was why his neighbour built the best studio he could. The house next door is coming down and the musicians residence is going up. Love of craft, love of excellence creates these moments.

Later that evening Margaret and I went to Gabriel’s house and graciously accepted the offer to sleep in his house. This was not just any house. This house restored by his own hand rivalled anything the loft developers could produce. This was home. In Toronto, at the gift-show, I captured this aided selfie of Margaret and I with a pillow wedged between our heads. I knew our family was extended by every experience we shared. That evening the other Don posted a photo of circled blue adirondack chairs in the courtyard at Keystone. The circle of family was larger than I imagined.

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