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The Shawn Special

The Shawn Special

Written by: Shawn Petsche // @shawnoftheshred

1.  If you could live in any era in history, which one would it be and why?

I can’t imagine leaving my current group of friends or traveling back to an even less progressive time. However, as someone whose passion and work lies in music and the arts, I do feel like somewhere along the way we went very, very wrong. It seems to me that musicians and artists are often the foundation to great cities, great ideas and great experiences, with music and art being fundamentally important to every human society throughout history.

These days it sure is easy to feel like that’s being taken for granted, though. So, if I could travel back in time to say, 1950, step on a bug by accident, altering our timeline to right some of those wrongs (and others) that’d work for me too. (Sorry bug.)

2. What is your favourite food and why?

William and May, the former owners of the Western Coffee Shop in Calgary, used to make a black bean beef on rice dish that was my everything. After moving here from Montreal, I’d visit there at least once a week, and considered them almost like my surrogate parents. It was a dish that warmed you up on a cold day and felt like a home cooked meal when you were needing that. It was perfect. They actually ended up naming it the Shawn Special shortly before selling their restaurant, which may be my life’s greatest achievement. The restaurant is now nowhere near the magical place it used to be. I miss it so.

3. Do you have a secret talent?

Though I’m not very good at keeping it a secret, I was once very good at those Guitar Hero and Rock Band videogames (#17 in the world on some of the leaderboards for The Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket – not that I was counting or anything). You’d think I wouldn’t want to tell people that playing a dinky plastic guitar is a talent of mine, but here we are…

4. What part of the city do you live in and what do you love about it.

I live in Mission. As a non-coffee drinker, I don’t really get to take advantage of the four coffee shops within a block of my apartment. As someone who works for a non-profit, most of the restaurants are a few dollars out of the range of what I’d like to spend on a meal. I’m okay with being a fairly pale human, so the abundance of tanning salons doesn’t really sell me on the area either. However, my office is ten steps down from my apartment and most of my best friends live in the area, so overall it’s a win?

5. What three words describe you and what three words would other use to describe you?

Myself: Old, generic, self-deprecating.

Others: I put two co-workers on the spot, both of which were far too kind and professional to say what they probably really wanted to say:
Co-worker #1: diplomatic, kind, positive.
Co-worker #2: prankster, diplomat, thoughtful.

6. iPhone or Android?

I phone it in daily…badum-ching!

7. What’s your next project?

I’ve been writing songs and making demos for Napalmpom’s 3rd full-length LP, tentatively titledThe Welcoming Arms of Napalmpom , and we’ve begun work on booking Sled Island 2018. Both will be truly revelatory experiences (for me at least.) I may re-watch the most recent Twin Peaks series too. Does that count?

8. Tell us about the last book you read.

I guess a New York Times Crossword Puzzle book doesn’t count, right? I recently re-read 17776 (What Football Will Look Like in the Future) by Jon Bois, one of my favourite writers in the world. It’s an online read, but I consider it to be one of the greatest works of art I’ve come across in years. It’s a multi-media project bridging speculative fiction and it deep dives into Wikipedia entries, absurd humour, sports fandom and statistics in a way that somehow comes together into a riveting, touching and oddly inspiring story.

The elevator pitch is that a few space probes gain sentience and observe humanity after the eradication of disease, aging, birth and death; a society now obsessed with playing and watching a distorted version of football that has been iterated on for thousands of years to ridiculous lengths. But that’s a bad elevator pitch for something so, so great.

9. Who are you listening to right now?

My gut and my heart.
Harry Nilsson – The Point!
Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love
Ex Hex – Rips
Wares – self-titled

10. What’s your earliest childhood memory?

I remember a very early school assignment where we had to come up with a sentence. Any sentence. “Superman flies high.” Or “I like chocolate.” Literally any string of words that made sense together. And for some reason I couldn’t settle on one. So instead of writing one, I purposely bumped my head into my best friend’s by “accident,” went to see the school nurse and dodged the assignment altogether. Never got a chance to say sorry to Corey Watson (RIP) for that one.


Shawn Petsche’s split life as festival manager for the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, guitar player for Calgary‘s rock & roll band Napalmpom (and formerly The Adam Brown) and ex-life as visual arts and marketing coordinator for the Pop Montréal International Music Festival suggests he’s somehow found a way to do what he loves.

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