Submitted by Josh Grossman on Thu Nov 19 11:58am

Usually at this time of year we'd be in the thick of planning the upcoming festival, making offers and even getting certain shows ready for sale. But until we have more clarity on several fronts, we're in a bit of a holding pattern. I'm doing the usual agent outreach, but the conversations are a bit, well, absurd: "So what's the plan for the Festival?" "Don't know. Got any artists looking to tour?" "Don't know." Repeat.

Meanwhile, I don't have to tell you that the news from here at home is concerning - COVID numbers are high and official messaging on controlling the spread is confusing; we have two young kids in school, which, for us, has added to the stress of the situation. We're doing our best to stay positive and put on a brave face...this comic by KC Green (abbreviated from its original form) almost perfectly catches how I'm feeling many days.

Despite the unknowns of the upcoming Festival, work has remained busy and fulfilling. Our Summer Concert Series and Casa Loma Sessions (the last of which, featuring Molly Johnson, premieres this Tuesday) were a welcome reminder of the magic of live music. Initiatives like our Act4Music presentation and our co-presentation of Allison Au at this year's virtual DC Jazz Fest (with the generous support of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC) helped put local artists in front of an international audience. Our recent involvement in COJAZZ, the first ever Canadian Online Jazz Festival, was a ton of work, but the end result was satisfying - it felt like a truly collaborative effort with colleagues from across the country, and provided a national stage for seven very different local artists. We've just launched our "Stories From Home" initiative, which invites musicians to relay their experience in their own words, and we'll have an announcement of another major event soon.

Music - even if not live - remains a go-to source of comfort and inspiration for me. I've been checking out the occasional online concert (I admit my patience for more screen time is short) and have tried to keep track of new releases. Happily, an abundance of new music has been released over the past several months, and I've especially enjoyed albums by musicians who seemed to have dug a little deeper for their newest projects, exploring more closely some of their musical influences, and making records which feel like reflections of who they truly are as artists.

And then there's humour. Social media can be, frankly, toxic, but I've been grateful for the many posts that, if not making light of the situation we're in, at least have tried to bring some levity. If you like your humour political, for example, check out Pat LaBarbera's recent Facebook reimagining of lyrics of jazz standards. And this image, which has been circulating in the past few days, humours my music nerd side while simultaneously calling attention to the frustrating side of certain internet security measures:

Just like the classic albums which help to centre me musically, there are certain clips that I turn to when I'm in need of a laugh. These two get me every time.

I'm thankful for family, music, humour, work and more...What has helped you find some positivity?