Published Nov 29, 2012The Exclaim! Holiday Gift Guide concludes with input from a host of Canadian musicians about the ups and down of gift-giving. Today, that means artists talking the gifts that have warmed their hearts the most over the years, and which have called for feigned enthusiasm to mask disappointment and confusion.
What's the best gift you ever received?:
● Tariq Hussain, Brasstronaut: I grew up in a small town in the Eastern Townships where my father worked for a textile company called Albany Felts. It was the mid-'70s and Albany Felts was doing okay, I guess. So, every December, the bosses threw this big Christmas party and gave out presents to all the kids of their employees. One year, I got a G.I. Joe action figure that came complete with a swamp boat that had a spinning propeller and a hammerhead shark. I remember my seven-year-old hands gripping that gift pretty tight that night. For the record, I do not currently collect or play with action figures.
● Austra: Super Nintendo, age 8.
● Rolf Klausener, The Acorn: Every time a girlfriend would say: "No, like this."
● Basia Bulat: My mother knew I was going to Montreal to record my first album (Oh, My Darling) just after Christmas, so she surprised me with the Martin dreadnought guitar that I've used on all my recordings. Knowing how hard and how many extra hours she must have worked to get that guitar for me was really overwhelming — I'll use it on every album I make.
● Aidan Knight: 1992, Roberto Alomar-signed baseball. "To Aiden, All My Best."
● Rah Rah: 16-year-old scotch and an Etch A Sketch.
● Rose Cousins: The three most amazing gifts I've ever received were paintings that were made for [me] and [were] deeply meaningful to me and still are. [I started] full, ugly-face crying when [I received them]. Personally made gifts take time and thought, and these ones were made by people who know me well and it showed.
● Old Man Luedecke: Well, sometimes it's hard to receive gifts, certainly to give them. A few years back my wife surprised me with a box parcel under the tree long before the any of the pressure of the gift giving season had given me a clue what to get her. She thought she had nailed her gift this year: it was useful, practical and something for someone who's full of beans. It was a '70s-era green slow cooker. Two settings, brown interior crockery lining. We'd been together a while but I think she aimed to surprise and delight with this thoughtful gift. Unfortunately, I picked up the box soon after it appeared, shook it and said, "Oh, a slow cooker." I'm not sure if I knew I was right but her blush gave it away, and she's never let it go.
● Darcy Hancock, Ladyhawk: The obvious one would be my first electric guitar. It came out of gift season when I was 13. My parents and my uncle surprised me a week after the neck broke on my acoustic. But a few years ago, my lovely wife surprised me: when I got home from playing a show with Hard Feelings on my 31st birthday, there was a giant weber smoker in my living room.
● Jully Black: The Best Gift I ever received was a trip to South Africa with a Louis Vuitton purse waiting for me upon arrival.
● Lindi Ortega: The best gift I ever received was the She-ra Crystal Castle that I got from my folks when I was a kid. I kinda still wish I had it!
● The Luyas: My dad helped us buy our tour van, so we named it after his middle name. Henry is basically my home now, so that's probably up there. I am continually overwhelmed by his support and generosity. An ex-boyfriend gave me a race car set for my birthday a few years ago and that was pretty sweet, too.
What's the worst gift you ever received?:
● Hannah Georgas: We had some family Christmases growing up where the money was really tight. I remember getting calls from my friends telling me about all the crazy gifts they got from their parents and feeling embarrassed to tell them that I didn't get much. Oh adolescence...
● Austra: [The book] Our Bodies Ourselves at age 13.
● Rolf Klausener, The Acorn: At 15, when my best friend accidentally kicked me in the groin at Tae Kwon Do. I returned the gift, the following class.
● Tariq Hussain, Brasstronaut: I enjoy those Christmas gift exchanges where you draw numbers out of a hat and steal presents from each other. Inevitably, though, I end up with some trinket I prefer to give away or stash at the back of my closet. One year I was part of a gift exchange that included — believe it or not — a mini vintage keyboard as one of the gifts. This was a new height in Christmas gift-exchanging that I'd never witnessed before! Naturally, it became the most coveted gift of the evening and I, too, was coveting it pretty hard. Sadly, I never even came close. I don't remember what I ended up with finally, but I know it wasn't the vintage keyboard. Whatever it was, it was definitely worse.
● Darcy Hancock, Ladyhawk: My parents have given me a corkscrew for Christmas for the last several years. Some were more fancy than others, but after the first year, they have kinda gotten useless.
● Lindi Ortega: The worst gift I ever received was a talking Cabbage Patch Doll. It creeped me out and reminded me of Chucky from the movie Child's Play.
● The Luyas: My sister once gave me a lump of coal for Christmas. Haha, Amanda. Very funny.
● Aidan Knight: I mean, [Roberto Alomar] did spell my name wrong...
Tomorrow, we wrap up the Exclaim! Holiday Gift Guide with musicians' holiday wishlists.