By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador
“From Forest and Field” (FFAF) is described by one of its co-founders, Misha Radojkovic as “a very long term musical collaboration between Dave Beverly-Foster and I”. Performing together since they were teenagers, From Forest and Field is the culmination of several years of practice, performances and friendship between Misha and Dave. As Misha explained it, “We're both music writers, and over the years [we] seem to have developed a method of mixing and sharing our music…. It's very easy to get together to make or discuss music. Back in high school, it was common to randomly break into percussive jams and I don't think that's changed much”.
More recently, Misha and Dave began to branch out from the comfort zone of their regular jam sessions and are now playing in public with more frequency. Currently they are looking forward to their Earth Day performance-- April 22, 2016 -- at The Garafraxa Café in Durham, ON which will celebrate the café’s one year anniversary.
In addition to performing, both musicians are also very passionate about the environment. While attending the University of Waterloo for Environmental Studies in April 2014, Dave embarked on a 12-day journey home near Chesley, ON. Usually this trip would take a few hours by car, but Dave camped and walked the entire way by himself! “I left on a Monday morning and I arrived the Friday after the next. In those twelve days I traversed 200km. It was quite a journey. Sleeping in whatever forest cover I could find (usually cedar swamp), I lived through every element that Southern Ontario could cook up: floods, rains, snows, winds, extreme heat, and bugs. I walked over rail, trail, and hard road. Through forest, field and town, I got to know the land and the people like never before.” Dave has written a travelogue of his adventures which is currently being edited. The hope is that one day it will be a book!
Misha has been working away at seasonal jobs repairing barns in the warmer months and repairing instruments in the winter. He picked up this skill in Tugaske, Saskatchewan where he took “a course on constructing flat top guitars”.
Whether they are performing together or with others, Dave and Misha are always musically tied together. “We have a weekly jam with about ten neighbours, and the music we play there is very fun and interesting” Dave explained. “There tend to be more traditional songs there, and the older average age of the group definitely reflects in the repertoire. FFAF is different in that we've played different music in different groups, but the two of us have been the one constant that entire time, for about a decade now. Our musical styles have grown in complement to one another.”
“FFAF has always been my focus” Misha added. “I spent the last few winters out in BC and found some folks to jam with and performed the odd show, but that time was also used to write songs I intended to record with Dave.”
“Personally, I have never quite taken the plunge of using music as my single method of making money, but what is amazing about getting paid for music is that we would be making music either way” Misha continued. “…. Fair wages for musicians are very important. Some people have the idea that musicians should volunteer and getting paid is a bonus, but that's just not fair.”
In addition to unfair wages, other challenges can sometimes include a lack of inspiration and a lack of listeners. “Sometimes the music isn't just meant to be. In some situations, people will try to force it to happen and it just doesn't come out good. There's been a fair number of occasions where [we] have met up to jam but … we just end up shooting the breeze, and it's okay!” said Dave. In the times where spectators seem to be disengaged, Dave takes the opportunity to talk to the audience as well. “It seems to have become my role to do some loud fast-talking to help the audience hear the more important details, like where they can buy our album.” (You can do so by contacting them on Facebook.)
When asked for advice, Misha noted that making music with others is the most important while Dave actually recommended for others to not follow in his footsteps. Then he added, “But if I can't convince you otherwise, busking is key. It helps you develop the careless abandon required to make yourself publicly vulnerable, and it gives you long stretches of practice to improve your musical stamina. And, to emphasize what Misha said, play with others. There's a certain type of rhythmic synergy you can only develop by playing with others, and learning to hear others is essential to becoming a better musician.”
If you can, please support these local musicians by attending their Earth Day show in Durham or at a future event near you!