Last time we chatted, I was taking a day off from tour life and maxing and relaxing in Toronto. We may as well continue right where we left off on this tour adventure.
We had two days off in Toronto, so we went to see some of my Alberta boys (Joe Nolan and Noel Johnson) who are currently playing or just finishing, residencies at the elite Toronto roots hub, the Cameron House.
It was great to arrive in Toronto but it was even better to leave. The big smoke is a little too fast and gritty for me. It’s a bit competitive and I was more than happy to make a short trip up the road to Oakville. We had some time to kill so we went and watched the new Xmen movie. Sean is a super-hero kind of guy and I’m more of a Wes Anderson kind of fellow. I figured I would roll the dice and see through his lens for a change. We snuck in tall cans of Old Milwaukee and it turned into an enjoyable popcorn flick. (The beer had to of helped)
Our show in Oakville was at a place called The Moonshine Cafe. We had a packed house and played with Kitchener/Waterloo’s, Jesse Parent, who was amazing. He nailed a Paul Simon cover like a champ, loop pedals aiding him with the tricky and intricate harmonies.
It was a great crowd of listening folk and our stories went over really well. The owner, John, is a great guy. We stood outside and had a good chat about farming and music. After the show, we pulled into a Swiss Chalet parking lot, stole some Wi-Fi, watched two episodes of Trailer Park Boys and drank one more tall can of Old Mill, before falling into a beautiful slumber.
The next day we hung out in Oakville and killed time before heading back to the big smoke. We ended up playing with two rad brothers from Manitoba, who go by Dalton Crook. Awesome players, awesome dudes; I think it was the starting of a beautiful friendship. My pal Noel Johnson was tending bar and taking care of us, so it felt like a little prairie reunion.
The next day we stopped in and did an interview on Paul Corby’s show, Corby’s Orbit. I met Paul nearly 5 years ago at NXNE while playing with my old band, Nix Dicksons (who are coincidently making a comeback). Sean’s cousin, Andrea, showed up and hung out with us for awhile and brought us a veggie plate for the drive.
We drove up to Peterborough and had pre-show dinner with my awesome friend Greg Bartlett and his friends, Catherine and Scott. I used to work with Greg at the fire department in Calgary and he is a total character. He kept us laughing all night.
I love Peterborough so much, I feel like I have a strong connection with that place. It doesn’t hurt that it was a beautiful evening and that the girls in Peterborough are some of the prettiest in the entire country.
We played a quiet show at The Red Garnet, turns out the bartender Sean Conway, had played a show with me last year during the Stampede. Small world dude! Check him out, he’s good shit, https://soundcloud.com/seanconwaymusic
We ended up staying at Greg’s friends, Catherine and Scott’s house that night. They live in a beautiful house with a majestic backyard. Catherine is a very community minded person with some great historical knowledge of the area, so we had some great conversations before we left.
Our show in Perry Sound fell through for Saturday, so Greg convinced us to play a house show in his backyard in Whitby, Ontario. It turned out to be a magical night filled with great people and a full-out feast. Greg’s parents were pretty much the coolest most hospitable people ever and took such great care of us. People kept on buying CD’s and throwing extra goodies in our merch box. A family friend named Lou put in a whole bunch of Petro Canada gas cards, Canadian Tire gift cards and a whole whack of canned tuna (the good kind man!) The Bartlett family sent us on our way, fed and watered and happy.
We cut through the U.S.A again on the way home. Before that we spent the night in Sarnia and played some Tennis and stopped at the local music venue to network.
We spent our first night in the U.S.A at a place called Wisconsin Dells. I had no idea what this was and we assumed it was just a sleepy small town....WRONG!! It was a America’s playground. We checked into a Super 8 hotel for $53 per night. Somehow that included FREE wristbands to America’s Biggest Water-park, Noah’s Arc, hahaha. So naturally we couldn’t pass that up, we spent the better part of the next morning and afternoon on the artificial wave pretending we were body boarding.
The following night we made it to Ashby, Minnesota. I bought a bottle of wine and we threw our sleeping bags on top of a hill a ways from the highway and soaked in the stars. I drank most of the wine and we just told stories and looked for shooting stars and tried to name constellations. I’m a bit of an eternal Tom Sawyer so I loved it. I woke up with the sun shining on my face and birds chirping. I didn’t move for a good half-hour. That’s how mornings should be...peaceful.
We booked it up to Saskatoon the next day and caught up with some friends. We played our second last show at the Underground Cafe with Sean’s old buddy and my new buddy, Graham Tilsley. Graham is a standout guy who typically plays with other people’s projects but is now launching a solo project. He plays really smooth, first-base music. We dug it.
I’m sitting here preparing to drive to Lloydminster. This will be our last official show of the tour. If you would have asked me 5 years ago I probably would have championed Toronto and threw Lloyd under the bus. But touring has changed the way I see places. I’ve been shown unbelievable kindness in places like Lloydminster and Peterborough. I’ve seen strong communities and great people. I’ve seen sharks and opportunists in some of the big cities. Those places aren’t for me anymore.
Tonight I will get to see one of my favorite human beings...Brenda Robertson. She is Sean’s girlfriend’s mother...and in a round about way....has become a good friend of mine.
This has been a really beautiful tour. We’ve met some amazing people and seen some great scenery. It feels like we are making some headway. Good things have been happening and show offers are coming in. It feels like a small but sustainable music career has been developing.
Regardless, if this is all it ever comes to I will still be happy. It has been a hell of an adventure and that is all I’ve ever asked for since I’ve been a little boy. Adventure. An examined life.