Crooked Forest’s Year in Review: 2021 Edition

I know everyone’s saying it, but it really is hard to fathom that it’s already December 30th 2021. The last two years have been bizarre, eye-opening, gut-wrenching and confusing to say the least but, we’re here and that’s cause for some sort of celebrating.

I’ve maintained for years that I’m against the idea of penning New Year’s resolutions in any sort of traditional sense. Somewhere along the way, the more I found myself saying things like, “I’ll just start that after the weekend, Monday’s a clean slate” or “As soon as the weather gets better, I’ll get back to running” and other white lies to myself, I realized there’s no real sense in putting anything off in that way, especially when it comes to bigger, bolder resolutions, like the ones we tend to return our attention to around this time of year.

Instead I like to use this week to take a few minutes (or however many I need this go-around) to take a look back at the year we’ve already more or less completed. It’s really easy to forget all the little victories along the way and these days I need any morsel of support and praise I can give myself.

And it’s easy to forget all the really fun things that happened that got me excited about something, made me think, laugh, or just provided enough distraction in the moment from whatever other terrible thing I was dealing with at the time, and this is also a good time to give some sort of gratitude and thanks to those that made it possible.

So, in no particular order, here’s a few of the things that I’m thinking about today that happened this year.

I released a lot of music and some people even listened to it.

Like, more than I really expected to at all.

At the top of the year I put out “Roots” a ‘live’ acoustic guitar and vocal demo record of old tracks and new. You can hear that still on my soundcloud page.

Some of the songs off of “Roots” are already being reworked, starting with a full-band production of “Blister”.

After “Roots” I put out “Stumped/Stoop’d” which was mostly intended to be a bit of a goofy folk record I conceptualized one day in Barrie, but it also gave you the fist glimpse into my ‘solo’ record, “Jestem Krzywym Lasem”.

And “Jestem Krzywym Lasem” got a lot more play-throughs than I’ve ever seen before. Right now the debut single, “Driveway” sits just over 22,000 listens and that’s a BIG DEAL to me! Thank you!

I also started dabbling in creating my own music videos, like the one I put out for “Driveway” which just uses stock video footage and “Without You” that I shot in Barrie, starring Dakota, my bernese mountain dog.

And for the first time since launching Crooked Forest, I was able to collaborate remotely with some other great musicians on some tracks – one of those is Blister which will be out soon, but the other is Wasted Time, currently dominating my Spotify chart. Special thanks to Shane Slimmon for rockin’ the drums on these.

I played a few gigs.

Yeah, I started my Twitch livestream channel, but I played like, real gigs, too.

Was stoked to be part of these online events this year:

Thanks everyone for having me out! Or, in, I guess.

And many thanks to Comedian Matt Render for having me out to play The Ice Queen in Roncesvalles, Toronto; My first in-person gig as a solo musician and one that I’ll never forget.

I appeared on some podcasts, IG Lives and radio shows.

It was a little intimidating at first but I had a lot of fun on all of them, like these ones:

Special thanks to Tom Kwiat, Natalie Jean & Kenny Feinstein for the chats.

I officially debuted the Jaimee Eat World project.

And I released 7 tracks so far that you can listen to and read about on the Jaimee Eat World page. I’ll be talking more about this real soon on the blog in more detail, hang tight.

I started The Treehouse and The Side Barre Music Podcast.

As if it wasn’t enough to be working on original music and cover song productions and all the bells and whistles that go along with that, I wanted to start conducting my own interviews with other artists too in the best way I know how, so I built The Treehouse out of some old plywood I had hanging around.

Was stoked to be able to interview so many great artists already, you can read all about them over on that page.

And I released the first few episodes of what I anticipate to be many Side Barre discussions. Follow the podcast on Spotify and Anchor to keep up!

Special thanks:

I travelled a bit.

Perhaps a little against my better judgement, but I went to Chicago for the first time this summer and caught 1-day of Lollapalooza and 2-days of Jimmy Eat World, so we’re calling it a win.

Speaking of concerts, I caught some great livestreams.

While I wish I’d been able to watch some others, these ones were big highlights and if you didn’t get a chance, hopefully you can see one by these artists in the future:

Jimmy Eat World: Phoenix Sessions (3-recordings – now available on YouTube!)
Death Cab For Cutie – Live at Red Rocks
Bob Dylan
The Starting Line
MxPx (these guys do livestreams all the time and they’re great, so no excuses!)

I stayed away from alcohol again.

About 1 year 9 months strong today.

And I quit smoking weed (again) and came to terms with the fact that I even suck at moderating that. About 7 months down for this one & counting.

Okay, so those are some pretty great highlights, now for some lowlights.

Because it isn’t a true year in review without embracing the faults & misses, too.

I got suspended from Twitter a few times.

And I had to remind myself that word’s matter.

I moved out!

Isn’t that a good thing? It would’ve been, if I didn’t have to promptly move back home after just about 4 months of the strange experience that was Barrieland.

I quit my job, putting myself in the poor position of being without an income for 6 months now.

This one’s still a little tricky to grapple with but, I can’t say I miss working for OsgoodePD. I do, however, absolutely hate the stress that has come with not being able to find work since that whole thing went down.

I finalized my divorce.

This one is more of a positive but it still feels like a shitty thing to throw into the highlight reel given… everything.

I signed on and promptly off with a management/PR agency.

It was only a 3-month contract. On the one hand, some of those podcast/radio slots I landed wouldn’t have happened without them. On the other hand, I’m not sure it was worthwhile or the right time to dip into that pool. More on that later.

I chopped half my hair off.

And it’s taking FOREVER to grow back, you guys!

Okay that’s enough.

Whenever I’m able to look back at the year with more positives than negatives, I consider it a win.

I don’t quite know where we’re going from here but hopefully we can turn some of those lowlights into highlights in 2022, starting with the whole job thing.

Thanks for reading & for supporting me and my music and various projects through 2021. Hopefully you stick around for the new year & hopefully we spend more time climbing ladders than we do falling backwards down the slides.

Time to set some new goals.

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