The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra draws inspiration from the amazing spaces where they have the privilege of being welcomed. They have spend countless weeks creating and writing tunes on Cortes Island, Quadra Island, Gravelbourg Sask., Winlaw BC and Lasquiti Island on the west coast of Canada. The music is tied to land and the people past and present who reside on the land. Because of this connection between art/music and geography/environment, one of TMO’s core values is responsible stewardship of the land. Environmental protection, Indigenous rights and Social Justice are all areas where TMO is involved in effecting positive change. The band is in a unique positions as a group of socially conscious young musicians to effect positive societal change not only with their music but with their ability as mentors and leaders. The following are examples of different programmes and initiatives that represent the band’s core values.
The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra participated in the summer of 2012 in a collaboration called “Infinite Influence” presented on the main stage at the Folk On the Rocks Festival. There were five solo artists and TMO involved in the collaboration; Pura Fé who is “recognized for creating a new genre, bringing Native contemporary music to the forefront of the “mainstream” music industry.”Grey Gritt a Yellowknife local who “makes fulsome, swaggering sounds that burgeon from the blues.” Wesley Hardisty whose “roots are in Northern, Métis and West Coast fiddle music.” Travis Mecredi “a Metis guitarist and sound designer from Yellowknife.” And Pat Braden who “is considered a prominent creative voice of Canada’s North.”
The group of ten musicians all of whome had never played together before created a 45 min long set that showcased the talents of all the solo artists, supported, facilitated and produced to great degree by TMO. The first piece was a sound scape built around a recording of Travis Mecredi’s grandfather speaking about how life used to be when he was a child. The second a Canoe song or paddling chant put forward by Pura Fé. The third piece was song by Grey Gritt that the “band” of ten, arranged and ochestrated taking advantage of the complex instrumentation available. The forth creation was piece brought forward by Pat Braden that spoke of the hardships associated with living off the land in the north. The fifth tune was a fiddle tune written by Wesley Hardisty and filled out by TMO and the other collaborators. To end the set the whole group joined together on the Métis fiddle tune “Whiskey Before Breakfast”.
Drummer for TMO Paul Wolda is from Cortes Island BC. He informed the group of the plans of Western Forest Products to log the remaining pocket of old growth forest on Cortes Island and TMO in collaboration with Popt TV put out the following video to spread awarness about the issue. To support the fight against this logging TMO also donated a song to a compilation CD being sold to raise funds for the resistance.
TMO facilitated a three day workshop with 40 children in Calgary Alberta in late August of 2012. They were working with an Alberta Charity called The Legacy Foundation. “The Legacy Children’s Foundation’s Gift of Music Programs have been well researched and mirror programs from cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and the international ‘Guitars Not Guns’ project recently initiated in Toronto. The common thread that binds these programs is the incredible success rate of assisting youth to complete school and refrain from criminal behaviour… the end result being contributing, self-reliant citizens.” The boys from TMO taught Song Writting, Jamming and African Hand Drumming workshops to a group of amazingly talented, inspired and creative youth ranging in ages from 10 to 18. A diversity of cultures, skill levels, ages, languages and genders were represented.