Sunday, October 10, 2010

Premature tour completion

We cancelled our last three shows in BC -- Kat had to tend to a family emergency.  So long until the next tour; it's been a blast :)

Friday, September 3, 2010


This kitty ran out of the woods while we were hiking near a camping spot.  It followed us around for a half-hour through the high reeds and up and down hills before we picked it up and took it back to our site for tuna fish and a bowl of water.  We later found the owners by driving up and down the road and knocking on doors.  It was definitely the best kitty in the world.

This is Bertha, the early-model Volvo that carried us around camping spots, and later, across BC to Vancouver on a curvy highway in the rainy, misty night.  Pierre the violinist is driving; Francois the guitarist is on the kayak.

This is our favorite campsite.  Left to right: Kat (cut off), Pierre (rolling a cigarette), Francois, and an awesome vegan baker / tea enthusiast named Sarah Louise, who hosted us in Calgary until her roommate started being bitchy.  In the background: the icy river where we would occasionally swim for a brief moment before running frantically back to the fire.  Alberta in August is still chilly.  Just upstream, the river runs through a deep gorge, which we splashed through to find a big waterfall.

I'm on Vancouver Island with Sarah Louise now.  I have a week to kill before a kayaking trip with my family, so I am exploring with her and her friends and helping her prepare for a potential business opportunity involving tea-infused organic vegan baked goods for a local chain of tea shops.  Kat is headed for Louisiana for a brief visit with her sister.  Our next show is Sept 18 in Vancouver.  More then...

The best venues, according to my tummy

Most of our shows are at bars, but we've played a string of concerts at other random venues.  Anywhere that will book us is usually selling food and drinks, and recently, they've all been giving us tasty samples.  Yum!  At the Oolong Tea House in Calgary, we sampled a Chai-Yerba Mate blend.  The Wild Flour Bakery in Banff gave us pesto focaccia, and a pulled-pork panini.  The Crushed Grape in Regina wins the prize, though: dinner (steak for Kat, morrocan-style catfish for me) plus a selection of fantastic red wines until they put the chairs on the tables.

Best non-comestible payment was from Music Trader, a record shop in Winnipeg, who gave us $40 in store credit.  We listened to albums for an hour or so with a few people that stayed after the show, and picked up CDs by the Duhks and Broken Bells for our hosts there, Frankih and Fi.  (Of course, we ripped them both after they opened the packages ;)

Gypsy Days

In Montreal, we made friends with a French Canadian named Francois.  We made plans to meet up down the road, and all through Manitoba and Saskatchewan we heard reports that he was just a week behind us, three days behind us.

Finally, in Calgary, Alberta, we met up with Francois in front of a closed-down pizza joint.  He had booked a rideshare: a 1980s-era Volvo with a canoe on the top, driven by a frenchman named Pierre.  Pierre and Francois are both musicians (guitar and violin, respectively) and we all went camping illicitly on an indian reservation.  We spent a few great days roasting vegetables on an open fire and rescuing a kitten (cute pictures coming, I promise).

Francois and Pierre had plans to beeline to Vancouver, but they changed course and played several shows with us, unplugged and smelling of woodsmoke.  They were awesome shows: the new instruments added so much to the music, and they're both very good-natured people, so there was so much more good energy on stage.  (One of the things I've learned about being a musician is how important energy is: it's partly distinct from the music you're playing, it's crucial to give it to the audience, and it's crucial that they give it back to you.)  These shows had the best energy of all the shows we've ever played: everyone in the room (including us) had a big smile on their face the whole time.  We made those rooms into big families.  I honestly can't believe that we had that effect.  It was pretty magical.  One girl told us "Everyone here is so cool and friendly and happy!"  I'm really happy we ran into those gypsies: these last few shows have been the highlight of the trip for sure :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Northern Lights!

I had no idea this happened during the summertime, but apparently, it does!

The day before the northern lights, I saw a beaver for the first time.  They make awesome slapping noises on the water from time to time for some reason.  Then, the day after, a bunch of Canadian geese flew overhead in a v formation, honking.  This part of Canada (northern Ontario, around Lake Superior) is gorgeous.  There are more lakes than humans, in my estimation.  Tomorrow, we head out for the farmland in Manitoba.  I'm definitely sad to be leaving.

Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless

After an awesome show at a kayaking lodge (the room was on a peninusla, with big windows on three sides looking out on lake Superior), we had an alarming task in front of us: hitchhike from Wawa to Thunder Bay.  Wawa is a famously bad hitchhiking spot; it's known as the worst place to hitchhike in North America.  Neil Young even wrote a song about it -- it's called "Helpless".  I had to shave my beard in preparation so that I would look less like an axe murderer.

(Before, during, and after the shaving.)

Everything turned out great in the end.  We waited about two hours, then got a ride from a friendly Quebecois photographer in a pop-top sleeper van with green polka-dots.  Turns out he's got a blog too! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010


We played a show in a town of 1400 at a venue called The Auld Kirk.  Tome, the proprietor, is the kind of guy that we love to do shows with: a patron of the arts, an enthusiast for the kind of music that isn't just background noise, and a very hospitable host.  (He took a lot of time out of his schedule to show us around the area, and introduce us to the menagerie of small animals on his farm.)  He records all the shows he runs, just because he's awesome.  I've got a cd of the full show, but here is a video and two tracks that you can gobble up right this second: