If you haven’t been following, last year about this time my left arm developed a bit of pain in the elbow which I pretty much ignored all summer and into the fall. By Christmas, the whole arm – from shoulder to wrist, was quite enraged, and by the last couple of concerts before the Christmas break I was having quite a bit of difficulty getting the concerts done, both from pain and lack of strength. After several weeks off, it was not only not better – but worse, and I knew I was in trouble. So I started regular massage and some physio to try to get it to settle down. These things helped but I wasn’t getting the relief I needed when in spring, a specialist in Ottawa told me I was going to need at least six weeks complete rest for the muscles to settle down enough to heal. Another specialist in Calgary discerned that the problem was not just from playing guitar and hauling gear (as I had supposed), but the effects of old undiagnosed injuries as well – whiplash in the neck from an accident few years ago, and stretched ligaments in my wrist from an injury decades ago.
So, Dave (my manager) and I decided to cancel all my summer concerts (as that would do the least damage economically) to let the arm heal and to get the treatment needed for ongoing muscle health. I’m currently in week four of that time and I am very pleased to say that in the last couple of days, it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere. Yay.
The current plan is to continue this for a couple more weeks, and then, instead of hitting the road right away, to take an additional six weeks to record my next CD. This will ensure a more gentle return to playing, as recording doesn’t entail the strain of travel (read: gear slinging) and also, in the studio I am more able to control the length of time I play and take proper breaks until my arm builds strength again for the concert-length work I need it for. I’ll be back to regular touring by the end of September.
Just before this healing time began, I took a couple of days in the studio to demo the songs for the new CD, which is entitled “Kindness.” I’m extremely pleased with the new songs. It’s hard to judge such things, but I think this could be one of the better ones! The band is sounding great and will include some of the usual suspects (Gilles Fournier/ bass, Daniel Roi/ drums and Mike Janzen / keys) but also you’ll be hearing a lot from a terrific young electric guitar player named Joey Landreth. There may be some string arrangements on some songs (not sure yet) but we’re going to try to keep this one pretty simple and not clutter it up too much.
If all goes well, we’ll release the new CD shortly after Christmas (perhaps on iTunes before Christmas) and most of 2011 will be dedicated to touring that new material. I certainly appreciate your prayers. I’ll keep you posted as we go along.
Finally, as you can imagine, this restoration time, and the subsequent time set aside for recording has put a lot of pressure on us financially. I really do need to find some partners who can help shoulder the cost of this time. I sent out a letter in June to past supporters which raised about half of what I need to get through to the end of the recording. If you happen to have some discretionary donation dollars you can direct toward my healing time and new recording project, I would be delighted to have you on board. I am able to receipt donations for tax purposes (through a partner ministry) and if you would like, you can donate online Click HERE or you can call my office for information to donate through mail. Call Faye or Dave at 1-800-845-3499.
Thanks so much for your care and concern. I will be better and back to my pickin’ and grinnin’ soon enough.
I’ll leave you with a couple of photos I took while on recent retreat in Southern Manitoba.
~ Steve Bell
In June I took a week by myself at my friend Heather Bishop’s cabin. Besides reading some great books and writing a new song that will be on the new album, I spent hours sitting silently outside among the monarchs, hummingbirds, chipmunks, chickadees, tall grasses, ladyslippers and milk weed. Lovely.
Don’t you think Ladyslippers look a bit like Brian Mulroney? Or (if you are American) Jay Leno?