What's In Your Fridge: Michelle Demers Shaevitz

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      What’s in Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Michelle Demers Shaevitz,

      Who are you

      I am the Artistic and Festival Director of the Mission Folk Music Festival, wife to Ben, mom to Elliot, and twin sister to Michael. I split my time between Mission, BC and Seattle, WA. I’ve been a part of the Mission Folk Music Festival for about 30 years, as a volunteer, a staff member and in my current role for the last (2 or 3?) years. The festival has always been a really important part of my life and the musical highlight of my year. If you’ve never been, picture a beautiful park overlooking the Fraser River full of friendly people and amazing artists and their music from here and beyond. The festival has always prided itself on its intimate and welcoming vibe, its affordability, and the brilliant quality of the music it presents both on the daytime and evening main stages. You can come and camp for the weekend, there’s a Wee Folks area, delish food, a licensed Bistro, an artisan market, and the chance to participate in a Festival Choir—so lots to see and do! Please follow your folk, check out this year’s lineup and experience it for yourself!

      First concert

      Technically, my first big concert was Stryper in the SFU gym around 1986. I went through a religious phase that involved our youth group trekking to the top of Burnaby Mountain in a K car and rocking out to the yellow-and-black Spandexed Christian rock band. I may have had a brief, slightly repentable crush on Oz Fox.

      My first actual concert paid for with my McDonalds job money was Fine Young Cannibals at the PNE Coliseum in 1989. We had the older brother of a friend drive us in from Mission and he ditched us the second we got inside. When “Good Thing” came on, I danced so hard I took out the people sitting behind us. I think that T-shirt is still in my parent’s basement. I flipped a lot of burgers for that T-shirt.

      Life-changing concert:

      I’ve been lucky to hear some amazing music at the Mission Folk Music Festival: Mariza, Texas Tornados, Judy Collins, early Tanya Tagaq. But my life-changing concert took place in 2006 and it involves roadtrips, surprise openers, and the Winnipeg folk supergroup the Duhks. Leonard Podolak invited me down to Seattle to see the group play at the Moore Theatre. “Sure”, I said. “Banjos, old friends, and duty free–what could go wrong?”. Well, a lot can go very right. What Leonard didn’t tell me was that the Duhks were opening for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and that a certain young, mandolinist was opening. That mandolinist was Chris Thile (Prairie Home Companion) on his first solo foray away from Nickel Creek. Faces were melted and friendships were cemented. Also, I met my future husband on that trip. So yeah, there’s that.

      Top three records

      Dolly Parton The Grass is Blue  The lady can sing. She can kick butt. When I need a kick in the pants or a new perspective on life, this album brings me back to my roots, and reminds me that I can get it done, and that Dolly would do it with dazzle. Also—it was her 37th album and she was without a label when she made it. Seriously? Who wouldn’t want Dolly on their label?

      Joni Mitchell Blue  I first heard this album at a friend’s place in the late '80s. It was a time of big hair and Madonna. Joni seemed like the antidote to that and in turn has been a touchstone for me through all phases of my life. I love that everything she was living at the time showed up on this album. Relationships? Check. Travel? Check. Redneck boyfriend living in Greece? Check.

      The Band The Last Waltz  I love old country, roots, and trad music. This album meets those needs, but it also tells a story of friendship and camaraderie when you consider who jumped on board to play. I first listened to this entire album after getting into a latenight argument with an old folkie around a campfire at the Mission Festival. I was 19 at the time and full of opinions that might not hold water today about folk cannons and standard bearers. He helped me see sense and taught me that just because something or someone is popular, doesn’t mean that “it ain’t talking to ya”.

      All-time favourite video:

      Bonnie Raitt "I Can't Make You Love Me"  So…Video Hit’s Samantha Taylor and I were BFFs. At least that is what I told myself every day at 3 p.m. when I would sit down in front of the TV after a long bus ride home. We lived rurally so didn’t have cable or MTV. Music videos and that show were my link to music, fashion, and the outside world. My favourite video of all time is Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. The shadowy images, the fire, the windblown backdrops. Bonnie’s voice. It came out right as I entered university and proceeded to get my heart smashed into a million pieces. *sigh* Prophetic or what?

      What’s in your fridge?

      Much. Cheese,  I know that everyone has cheese in their fridge but does everyone have their own cheese buffet? I currently have 9 kinds in there. We host a lot of guests so it’s our go-to snack. Also, its cheese. My current favourite is Tete du Moine that you shave with this ridiculous shaver that makes cheese feathers. Cheese feathers! I made my husband buy it for me because of course I need a cheese shaver. It’s gotten to the point that my six- year-old goes into the fridge, holds up a random round and asks “can I eat this or is this guest cheese?” That’s when I know I’m winning at this Mom thing.

      Three empty jars of pickles.  Empty jars of pickles? Yup…eat the pickles save the juice. I read up on how fermented products are the new kale. So, I keep the juice and shoot it like its Saturday night at the Legion. Sooo tasty. Amazing with vodka. Less amazing to friends who let you know that your love of pickles and cheese is weird. Which explains my social situation in high school when you consider I spent my entire grade 12 year eating cheese and pickle sandwiches.

      Playdough.  I’m a mom. I occasionally try to be a Pinterist mom and usually fail spectacularly, but one thing I’m good at is making play dough. I keep it in the fridge so it doesn’t harden or mysteriously show up on my couch. I do need to remember that it isn’t actual dough and not try and make cookies out of them (which may have hypothetically happened when guests were coming over). This is why I trust cheese. It has never let me down.

      For more information on the Mission Folk Music Festival, including ticket prices, the full artist lineup, and performing times, go here