Music Lives!

Patrick Ballantyne and Donna Creighton

This Wednesday GAIN Music and 39 Carden Street will be hosting two fantastic musicians during February’s edition of the Singer-Songwriter Series. If you’re a fan of live music but want to forego the bar scene, this event will be for you. Both Patrick and Donna are established musicians with a rich history of music. We got in touch with them to answer a few questions:

Music Lives: When did you first start making music?

Donna Creighton: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say at birth. I was born into music in a house where music was the first language and instruments were my toys. I started to make up tunes when I was little. By little I mean age 2 or 3. My baby book says I was whistling tunes I knew at 18 months, so really it was musical babbling as a concurrent language to speaking. By the time I was in the double digits, 10 and on I was improvising over simple melodies on the recorder and singing harmony along with the radio, performing in music festivals and singing in school and community choirs.

Patrick Ballantyne: I started singing along to the radio when I was 3. I used to serenade the older kids in our back alley while they played basketball or hockey. I knew the words to every beatles song and must have drove the neighborhood crazy. I taught myself guitar when I was 14, and started trying to write shortly after I could string two chords together. I am still playing those same two chords and almost have them down perfectly!

ML: When did you decide you wanted to make music professionally and what were your first steps?

DC: I decided at age 16 that, if people did for a living what they did as a hobby then working would make them happy. So, to be happy, I would have to work in music. I practiced, did Royal Conservatory Exams and continued to build a traditional repertoire of both classical, folk and rock music.

PB: My first ‘professional’ gigs were playing in local Windsor bands while in school. I’ve never been entirely full time though…I haven’t got the courage!

ML: How has music changed for you since you started?

DC: Music, like language, is constantly evolving. Immigration and globalization and web surfing allow more and more cultures to influence what was once primarily a white English arts focus in Canada. I have enjoyed the musical fusion that is occurring. Traditional and cultural instruments from other cultures are being used in pop music, fusion bands have popped up and I like the change in the sonic landscape. I’m listening to the radio again where for many years I couldn’t stand it.

PB: I don’t think music has changed for me at all. What has changed is my gradual recognition of how necessary music is to my well-being…I’m insanely crabby if I don’t play for a while…whether in my home studio, in the garage with friends or in front of an audience. I used to think sometimes that music was an indulgence for me…now I know it’s no more of an indulgence than water or food.

ML: Can you share one favourite moment from playing live in recent years?

DC: I think my favourite moment happened last year at my Donna! Back From the Dead concert at Aeolian Hall in London ON. I was playing the classic guitar introduction to Heart’s Crazy on you and just when it was time to start singing the song, I forgot the words. My band was so on the ball that they circled around with me like a pigeon looking for home until someone from the audience yelled out the lyrics to me. It was an syncretistic and authentic moment where performers and audience were totally together as a unit: a moment that cannot be recreated and can only happen live.

PB: Well, it likely involved the Moonshine Café in Oakville…playing there is like putting on a comfy pair of pajamas and wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket. You feel welcomed and relaxed. That said, playing the Bluebird in Nashville several times was a career highlight!

ML: How did you find out about each other?

DC: I was discovering musicians on Reverbnation and “fanned” Patrick who “fanned” me back…it’s a Reverbnation thing. We started talking about gigs and performing and decided to share an evening.

PB: Twas the old fashioned way…the internet…mutual likes on reverbnation…and casual discussion about playing a show together sometime…and NOW is the time! (well, Feb 12th…)

ML: What are you most looking forward to about playing in Guelph?

DC: I really enjoy performing live. For me, it is my most comfortable way to communicate. I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with a Patrick, a ‘new to me’ accomplished song writer in a ‘new to me’ venue with a brand spanking sparkly new audience.

PB: It’s a new and intimate venue for me. actually,  I’ve had the pleasure of playing in Guelph only once before, which is a bit surprising given the rich arts scene there. Also, I’m just finishing a new album and this will be my first chance to try out some of the songs.

ML: How can people find out more about your music?

DC: Oh lots of places. I can be found at, on Facebook at, or on  Twitter at @DonnaMCreighton

PB: On my website at or on Facebook at

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