Always happy to see him at the Blue Chair.

Always happy to see him at the Blue Chair.

“He takes the stage with a boyish innocence that belies his worldly experience. His songs and stories capture the audience; his presence brightens the room. Marty’s music reflects his genuine love of life.   We are always happy to see him at the Blue Chair.” 

Harold Wollin, owner
www.bluechair.ca

Give Lots Away and Live Simply

Footprints:

Poland, Germany, Greenland, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, United States Of America, Canada.

7 Favourite Activities:

Motorcycle Trips, Sailing, Surfing, Mountaineering, Longboarding, Rock Climbing , Cliff Jumping

6 Favourite Quotes:

"What people think of you is none of your business" -Paul Cohelo
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Gandhi 
"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." Charles Darwin
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Dr. Seuss
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Albert Einstein
“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.” Dalai Lama XIV

Favourite Writings:

Oriah Mountain Dreamer - The Invitation
Rudyard Kipling - If
Stephen King - On Writing

4 Favourite People I Want To Meet:

You
George Stroumboulopoulos
Nick Vujicic
Chris Martin

3 Favourite Songs:

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Little Wing
Muddy Waters - Got My Mojo Workin'
Coldplay - Kingdom Come

2 Favourite Places:

Chile - Lago General Carrera
Canada - Tofino - Incinerator Rock

1 Life Moto:

Live it. Honestly... Stop overthinking, stop stressing, stop measuring up, you were made perfect with all the parts needed to succeed. Believe it :)

More Than Music: a Motorcycle, a Microphone and Marty Pawlina

Looking up at the night sky, he could still feel the 180 kilometres per hour his motorcycle had travelled a few short hours ago.The rush of driving into an endless horizon was unforgettable.

As he glanced over at his now damaged bike, he remembered how quickly everything came to a grinding halt. He remembered the feeling of being thrown through the air, striking the hard, salty surface. All of the sprockets tore off in the accident and the clutch was gone — there wasn’t much left of his beloved bike.

It was a right of passage into independence and understanding …and the ability to overcome – that’s how that trip changed me.

At first, hitting the soft spot in the salt that caused his accident hadn’t seemed so awful. Sure his difficult dismount probably rivaled that of most Olympic gymnasts, but sometimes an accident makes an adventure.

The night sky, however, changed everything. The beauty of the sunset and the majestic storm clouds now gone, he realized that nobody knew he was planning to drive across Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s salt flats. No one was expecting him to return to a hotel room, or a gas station or a rest stop. Nobody would search for him if he wasn’t back by a given time.

Marty Pawlina found himself deep in prayer. “I feel like I had a really good conversation with myself and my Maker and it was: I don’t want to live for a cubicle and a keyboard at home. I’m going to finally live for something. It’s going to be what matters most to me: my family, my friends and my music.”

That was 2010, the year that 24-year-old Pawlina planned a one-week trip to Peru to climb Mount Machu Picchu. But when sudden flooding ravaged the region, he found himself in South America with no definite plans. Spontaneous by nature, it took mere moments for Pawlina to give up his promising career in e-commerce, hop on a motorcycle and ride across the continent for six months. If he was frugal, his savings would allow for an extended adventure.

After a sudden accident, Pawlina found himself with an entirely new outlook on life.  Rather than return home to his career, he would pursue one of his greatest passions: music.

While most aspiring singer/songwriters long for a life of fame and fortune, Pawlina’s outlook is different and has not gone unnoticed by the local music community he tirelessly supports through fundraising. His experience in South America left him with a different and refreshing musical goal: to inspire change through music.

THE MUSICIAN BEHIND THE MELODIES

“Many times, I’ve experienced people thinking that I’m very open and very overconfident. I’m actually much more introverted,” says Pawlina. It’s an easy misconception to make, particularly if you’ve seen Pawlina on stage. At 27, the 6 ‘4” tall singer with dark brown hair, green eyes and a relaxed, comfortable style certainly fulfills his label as the “friendly giant,” given to him by Jacky Tang in local blog, Edm Magazine.

Pawlina was born and raised in Edmonton with his older sister, and his parents, Polish immigrants, instilled deep family values in their son. With stories of motorcycle trips and family vacations in theChevy fun craft minivan, Pawlina’s love for home comes through in every conversation. Not surprisingly, his love for music began there as well, from piano time with his mother, a talented pianist, to playing saxophone in junior high, music was always part of Pawlina’s life.

“When he was maybe four years old we bought him a Fisher Price guitar,” says his mother, Iwona Pawlina. “It was blue and yellow and I think it played some tunes. Who knows? Maybe the gift sparked a greater interest in music. He looked good with the guitar.” Although he didn’t learn guitar until high school and vocals until post-secondary, Pawlina’s current music style – modern folk – certainly suggests the Fisher Price instrument was influential.

As high school graduation passed, Pawlina continued to play music, though his post-secondary education took him on a different career path. After starting a digital arts program at MacEwan University, and subsequent arts and computer programs at the Vancouver Art Institute and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Pawlina planned to work in digital media, ecommerce and marketing.  But his working life saw him try many different roles first, including tree planter, sailing coach and oil-rig worker.

Like many young graduates, Pawlina put off working life. He wanted to explore the world and let his hobbies of mountaineering, hiking and sailing direct his journey. A trip to Peru seemed like the perfect opportunity.

BREAKING DOWN AND BREAKING OUT

Ready to embark on his journey across the salt flats, Pawlina snaps a photo with his beloved motorcycle. (Source: Marty Pawlina, 2010).

“I was travelling solo and I knew the risks involved with that, and for some reason it didn’t cross my mind that anything could happen in a place like that,” says Pawlina of his decision to take his motorcycle across the salt flats.

The hard salt, like concrete, meant he could drive as fast as he wanted. At just over 3,600 metres above sea level, and an area of 11,000 square kilometres (Uyuni Salt Flat, Brittanica Academic Edition, 2013) no one would pull him over here. He left early in the morning to beat the tourist rush. The feeling of the cold wind while he rode was exhilarating.

What Pawlina didn’t know was that geysers pushed water above the salt. As beautiful as the mirrored horizon appeared, the salty water left his radiator caked and broken, and created the soft spots in the sand that would cause his accident. Crossing the flats would not be easy.

After hours of repeatedly push starting his bike, Pawlina reached a small town, where he purchased water, fuel and food. He wasn’t ready to give up yet.  With directions from a local man, he would make it to his revised destination: a small island in the flats where cacti grow. Pawlina put his motorcycle in  full throttle, and returned to his drive, determined to arrive by mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, his directions were wrong.

Just as navigating the salt flats presented challenges, so did understanding and finding a place in the Canadian music industry. A difficult industry to break into, Pawlina once again found himself in a vast place, with people offering many different directions. The illusions and difficulties Pawlina faced as he crossed the Bolivian salt flats were not unlike those he faced as he worked toward recording an album.

Although Canada’s music market was ranked seventh in the world in 2012 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Licensing Digital Music in Canada, Music Canada, 2012), the average salary of a musician is low ­- in Alberta slightly more than $12,000. (Wage Info, Alberta Wage & Salary Survey, Government of Alberta, 2011). Like many others, Pawlina realized he would need additional employment to pursue his music career. Quoted a minimum of $10,000 to record an album, a cost that would triple to achieve international exposure, he needed cash flow. So, he took on freelance work in e-commerce and found his current full time employment in marketing and advertising for a local homebuilder. Music as a full-time career was tougher than he first anticipated – long days and nights became the norm.

But when he was first, and sometimes frequently, met with rejection, it became difficult for Pawlina to appreciate his time investment.

His philosophy: believe in your own greatness or no one will, and when it seems easier to imitate others, stay true to yourself. It’s worthwhile in the end.

Pressing forward in this tough industry, Pawlina sees his difficult time in Bolivia as a learning experience; “It was a right of passage into independence and understanding and the ability to overcome – that’s how that trip changed me.”

LUCK NOT LOST

“I just happened to be so lucky that the place where I finally was content with giving up was a place where buses were coming across the desert,” says Pawlina.

Due to the hard salt, tire tracks weren’t visible, and after two days of walking across the flats, this seemed as good a place as any to stop.

For two hot days,  Pawlina walked, the soft spots in the salt that had caused his accident appearing and disappearing every few steps. The flats were beginning to look like a conveyor belt and it felt like he hadn’t moved an inch – everything looked the same. Though he suspected he could survive longer than two days without water, he felt exhausted, lost and helpless.

Suddenly a speck appeared in the distance, a bus. As it approached, Pawlina could make out a bumper sticker, one he will never forget: Christ guards us all. Slowing down, the tour bus let him on. He remembers the passengers and driver took good care of him.

“They charged me half the price, actually, for the bus route, because technically they picked me up halfway through the desert,” says Pawlina, laughing. “It was so funny given how bad I must have looked.”

The luck of encountering the bus and his return to safety was not lost on Pawlina. The help he received that day changed him – he wanted to help others and inspire change himself. His music seemed the perfect place to start. “I like to think that we can approach our lives in the same way [as song writing], that it’s never too late to rewrite a moment. Maybe something that we experienced that was difficult, we can rewrite that into something that was positive,” says Pawlina.

For Pawlina, music is more than fame and fortune. Although his goal includes international radio play, using his music to better his community and the lives of those around him is important. Pawlina has played several hundred shows since his open mics as a young adult, but now chooses his gigs carefully – playing for charity is a top priority.

For the past three years, Pawlina has played at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre to raise money for theStollery Children’s Hospital Foundation in Edmonton. World Vision is another charity he  supports, raising funds at shows when he can.

In October 2012, Pawlina started, to his knowledge, Edmonton’s first Friday night open mic at local coffee house and wine bar,  Roast. A portion of all beverages sold at the shows is donated to the Keiran Tate Memorial Fund.

Despite a packed schedule Pawlina can’t imagine not hosting the event. “One of the greatest things about music is sharing the stage with another musician,” says Pawlina. For him and many other aspiring songwriters, open mic presents the opportunity to meet and learn from one another and unite the music community.

PERSEVERANCE AND PROGRESSION

For now, Pawlina will continue writing and recording his album with producer,  Louis Sedmak, known for his work with country musicians like Ian Tyson and Duane Steele. After two years of hard work, a grant from Rawlco Radio, a Canadian radio company (Rawlco Radio, 2013), and significant savings, Pawlina hopes to release his first album, which remains unnamed, by the end of 2013.

When asked what his favourite song on his upcoming album is, he doesn’t hesitate to say a tune calledCome Home. Beyond sparking his desire to pursue his dream, surviving the sudden accident in the Bolivian salt flats made him realize there is no better place to travel then home. “It’s something we all need to hear, that someone misses us and wants us to come home,” says Pawlina. And until his album is complete, home is where he can be found, enjoying strong coffee, his mother’s perogies and helping the local music community.

“I think in some way shape or form, I’ll do it as long as I live. Whether it’s just being a rock star for the kids at Christmas, or writing a song for a friend that’s going through a hard time, it’s something I’ll always do,” says Pawlina. “I hope to pursue this in a larger way across Canada as my career grows.” 

An Open Heart and a Microphone, with Marty Pawlina

We are here with Marty Pawlina. He has agreed to do a short interview with Edm to highlight a new event he has started hosting at 

So, let’s get started. Introduce yourself and a bit about your background.

Hey I’m Marty. I’m sure this would be a great place to say how long I’ve been playing guitar or singing, but I guess the best way to describe my musical background would be “Inspired”. My parents are adventurers, my friends are good people, this world is a beautiful place, and I’ve done my best to live open to all that life and love offers.

What is the main goal you want to achieve with your music career?

Everyone has that one thing they think about around the clock, and for me its always been writing and performing music. My main goal with music was to re-write the tough moments of life into beautiful ones, and to capture great moments in melodies I could share with everyone. I like to think of my set as a picture album full of places we’ve all been to. My dream would be to write the song that changes how people might think about a situation, person, or place. To write a song that introduces new ideas that make us better partners, parents or friends.

Like a song, we can re-write our lives. My dream would be to make the world a better place one lyric at a time.

What inspired you to start you own open mic at The Roast?

My first time visiting Roast was an unforgettable experience. It was obvious the place was the perfect venue for live music and get-togethers with friends. It was filled with good vibes and great staff. It was easy to see the potential for a musician hot spot. I have been playing open mic’s for almost 8 years now, but this is the first open mic I have attempted to host. I was inspired to start an open mic that was more accessible to the writing community and the youth community I am involved with. I met Matt Hall (the owner of Roast) October 2012, and asked him if he would consider opening his doors to the Edmonton singer/songwriter scene. He was thrilled and the Mic has been running ever since. He even donates a percentage of sales on singer/songwriter nights to the Keiran Tate Memorial Fund giving much needed support, mentoring and instruments to youth in Alberta.

How do you feel about the music and arts scene in Edmonton? What kind of musicians have you met here and what is your impression of them?

The scene in Edmonton is a vibrant family known for its incredible talent and support for each other. I have yet to experience a new open mic player or Folk Fest main stager that didn’t passionately talk shop about music here. There are also amazing local mentors that have helped myself and others along the way, most notably Rob Heath, Rhea March, Louis Sedmak and Ruth Blakely. Musicians Rob Heath, Chloe Albert, Chris Wynters, Phil Nugent, Carrie Day, Oj Clarke (Off Whyte Band), Darryl Matthews, Erin Faught (The Collective West), Cadence/Nathan Burns, Brian Mcleod, Jay Willis, Lisa Nicole Grace, Tim Chesterton, Robyne Walters, Erica Viegas, Wool on Wolves, Rob Angus (The Wheat Pool), The Command Sisters, Mars and Venus, Justin Wisser (Short of Able), Beth Portman, Karissa Kochanski, Kira Hladun, Julie Jonas, Mitch Holtby, REND, Scenic Route to Alaska, Tatam Reeves, Jamie Price, Tanner Gordon, Scott Cook, Jeff Morris, Ciara Proznik, Joe Nolan the list goes on and on, have all been local inspirations to me. I’ve seen them progress and grow in their art. The kind of musicians we have here are the kind that make the shut-ins from Alberta winters come alive. I feel truly fortunate to live here.

What would you want to improve about the arts scene in the city?

If I could change one thing to improve arts in this city, It would be local radio stations making an effort not just to play Canadian content on radio, but local Edmontonians as well. How cool would it be to have a live open mic night on radio.

It would be a great idea to have a local radio, and it might not be a far-fetched idea. There are some people who are interested in the same idea, so don’t be surprised if they pop up. Well, Marty, thank you for your time.

You can catch the Open Mic at The Roast during the first Friday of every month, or if you want more info you can contact Marty Pawlina.

by Jacky Tang EDM