Kivalliq performer Sam Tutanuak of Rankin Inlet has spent most of the Covid-19 pandemic living in Iqaluit.
During that time he became exposed to a far wider variety of musical performer, in theory at least.
The vibrant live scene had quickly gone silent with the arrival of Covid’s threat, so Tutanuak spent his time preparing material for his second album and exchanging musical ideas with performing artists such as Jamal Shirley.
Tutanuak said the silencing of the music scene was totally depressing, especially since that was one of the main motivations behind his move to the capital.
The veteran performer effortlessly rhymes off a list of popular performance venues he’d become familiar with in the city, even taking a second to throw in a shameless plug for Alianait’s work organizing major fundraisers in Iqaluit.
Tutanuak said all that stopped in a heartbeat after pandemic guidelines were set in the territory.
“That happened and we all were just like, ‘Wow, what are we going to do?’” said Tutanuak.
“How are we going to showcase ourselves?
“I was so thankful for Alianait Music Festival support staff who reached out to us and said, ‘We can’t do live performance, but we can do virtual, would you be interested?’
“I said, ‘Yes! Anything!’”
Tutanuak’s desire to give virtual a shot became quickly obvious and the light that immediately surrounds all performers when they get the notion they may soon be on stage first presents itself.
Tutanuak seemed to realize in a single moment the limitations of the virtual performance.
“That part hurt, man,” said Tutanuak, when asked about the lack of feedback from a live audience.
“You don’t see the facial expressions of the head bobbing, toe tapping and hand clapping, but with virtual you do get to see other musicians playing for an hour or two.”
“I got to see Jeff Peacock — just a great lead guitar player — over at one of the stores and he was like, ‘Are you playing anywhere at all?’”
“I told him no and he told me he was just playing at home and had written a couple of songs — and I had written a couple — and he said ‘Great, after this pandemic is over we should get together and see what happens?’”
Tutanuak smiles and waits for the silence to end.