After a slow winter it’s always a pleasure to get back on the road again. March was a crazy month to say the least. I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it all in, but somehow we made it happen.
At the tail-end of February I drove out to Winnipeg with my friend Mariel Buckley for the Prairie Winter Song Retreat. We were two of three Alberta artist sent out to Manitoba for a co-writing session. Three artists from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were set-up in groups of three everyday, and expected to write and perform a new song.
It was a challenging experience but I can honestly say that I came out of it with three really promising songs. There was some monster writers and I learnt a great deal from seeing how other people operate. A songwriter named Grant Davidson (Slow Leaves) told me to think of a song like a painting. I’ve always thought of songs as stories so that was a nice alternative for me that has opened up some new possibilities.
I followed that off with a nice little West coast run to Vancouver Island. I brought Dylan along to play pedal steel and we played some really nice gigs. We played a great house concert in Victoria and a nice folk club in Chiliwack. We hiked in to some strange railway crash in the woods near Whistler. All these boxcars just slid off the tracks and into the forest. People have painted them all sorts of colours. It was beautiful, like a pop-up art gallery. It was one of those cool, local secrets that we wouldn’t have discovered normally. That’s what touring is all about.
At the end of March we played a show in my hometown of Taber, AB. We rented out the curling club and hauled a bunch of sound gear down and put on a show. I was a little nervous about playing at home but it turned out to be a great night. We will absolutely do it again next year.
In April, I went down to my parents place and spent almost a week there helping out on the farm. I always enjoy going down there; it’s a nice break from the road and the city. I’m not too sure if I’m built for life in Calgary. I enjoy being at home on the farm, and on the road. I have a solid crew of friends and a support network in Calgary so I certainly can’t complain. But at the end of the day I am a road dog, and that’s where I belong.
I followed that off with a prairie solo tour that went really well. I had the pleasure of opening up for John Wort Hannam at the Lyric Theatre in Swift Current. We played to a packed house and an amazing audience. I had wanted to play that room for a long time, so it was great to get the opportunity. John was really good to me and I’ll always remember that. He sat and watched my entire set and was a really positive and encouraging guy. I realize that those are the type of shows that I want to be doing. I also had a nice show in Saskatoon and got to play at a great new room in Prince Albert called the Rock Trout Cafe.
Touring solo is a strange beast, but I find it’s necessary to make a living. It’s incredibly expensive to bring a band on the road, or to even bring one, hired musician. Playing solo just makes sense economically. Fortunately, I knew enough people out in the prairies to keep me company. I also spent a great deal of time using my Goodlife Fitness membership in every place I went. That really helps keep you stay healthy on the road.
I’ve got a great spring and summer coming up. On Sunday May 8th I’ll be running a Spartan Run in Big Forks, Montana at 8 AM. I’ll follow that up by opening for Fred Penner at 8 PM in Lethbridge. I can’t say it’s ever slow and I can’t say it’s not interesting.
Looking forward to catching everybody on the road.