So last June I am sitting at the Mandarin restaurant celebrating my birthday and I receive a phone call. It's a coordinator from VIA Rail Canada letting me know that my application was selected to be a part of their Artist on Board program and that in March of 2018 I will be going from Toronto to Vancouver and back, playing for patrons on the train.
Fast forward a few months and I am spending my days Googling and calling lists of venues, emailing, trying to booking shows in and around Vancouver. I solidified a 16 date tour between March 11- April 3, hopping back on the train for home.
For local shows and the most recent East Coast Tour, I pack my car to the roof with my two tower speakers, soundboard, bag of cables, Merch table, Merch tote bins, clothes, guitar,and we're off. Heading out to the West Coast where I wouldn't have a vehicle and would be taking public transit to most shows I needed a compact way to bring everything I needed.
I headed over to Long & Mcquade Markham to test out a portable PA system. The guys in the Rental department were great. They recommended the Bose S1 Pro, it's a relatively new addition to their store but when I described my situation this was the solution they offered me and it worked AMAZING! So much sound from such a compact unit, it had great controls and effects, and it fit in my duffel bag!
I grabbed a duffel bag with wheels and packed it with T-shirts, hats, CDs, and the PA and hopped aboard VIA Rail Westbound.
The train was delayed leaving the station and we continued to stop to wait for freight traffic throughout the ride (26 hours total delay!) but it was an absolutely AMAZING experience. The hospitality was great, the food was fantastic, and I met some really cool people along the way. I truly recommend taking the journey at least once in your lifetime to see our beautiful country's landscapes.
Upon arrival in BC we had to navigate the public transit system. Grabbing a Compass Card at Main Street Station and heading to Coquitlam Central to stay at our AirBnB in Port Coquitlam. It was a great spot to stay, our host Christina was really accommodating and the location was convenient for popping in to Vancouver, about an hour SkyTrain ride, but out of the hustle-bustle of the city.
Everyday before heading out we would pop into the Waves Coffee House on Shaughnessy Street in "PoCo", as it's known locally, and would grab coffees and snacks. After a few days the owner approached me, seeing my guitar case and gear and invited me to play a set for his customers before leaving the city. So on the last day of my tour, Easter Monday, I played at the Waves Coffee House from 11 am - Noon. I sat down and had a coffee with the owner, Fairboz, after my set and he explained to me that to him, music was essential to the human experience, it brings people joy and connection. I could not agree more and I am grateful to have been able to share my music at his cafe.
That Easter Monday marked not only the end of my first West Coast Tour but also the one year Anniversary of finishing my album recording for The Freedom Sessions AND the Guinness World Record for Longest Concert Ever by Multiple Artists, which I was a part of. It also marked the day I met my girlfriend Puppet at the Guinness event, who now travels with me across Canada and does most of my graphic design and promo work (including the typing for these blog posts!)
My first show of the Tour was at Witchcraft Beer Market where I met fellow folk/rock musician, Ben Crosby. Ben invited me out to feature at one of the local Open Mic's that he hosts at Rock City Burgers in the beautiful town of White Rock. If you're in the PoCo or White Rock areas I highly recommend popping in to one of his Open Mic's or catch one of Ben's shows, he is a great guy and the crowd of fun talented musicians/artists you will meet there will feel like family. You can find the list by clicking here.
The Artful Dodger Pub is a long bus ride to and from PoCo, especially after midnight, but the place is PACKED on a Tuesday night! Luckily for the second show, it wasn't pouring rain which made the bus trek much more pleasant.
Thanks to everyone that came out to The Manchester Pub for the second show of the Tour! It was a great show and it was nice to meet and chat with all of you. A special thanks to Jim for coming out and supporting me at multiple shows.
Also Thanks to Steve Iggulden, whom I met on the train and is the man behind the camera on a lot of the great performance shots from the train and throughout the tour. You can check out some of his other photography here.
Thanks to Allie, Lee and everyone over at Big Rock Urban for having me!
If you're in Vancouver you will want to pop by Callister Brewing in East Van. It is a cool Brewing Collective (the first one in Canada) that includes MorningStar Brewing, who hosts the weekly Happy Fridays Live Music Series, as well as Night Owl Brewing, and Real Cask Brewing on tap. The owners are fantastic people and be sure to check out the local artwork which currently features some amazing pieces by the talented Lee & Bon Roberts.
Speaking of fantastic people and artists the next show brought us to The Heatley which is also in East Van, owned by musician Michael Brennan of Blood Maachine. I'm pretty sure they serve the best nachos in East Van.
At The Heatley, I shared the bill with gypsy/folk rock band dangertree. You will want to check these guys out. Down-to-earth cool guys making great music.
I was chatting with the guys after the show and lead singer & guitarist Kale Beaudry suggested we check out Lynn Valley Canyon which is a short bus ride out of the city and makes for a nice quick dose of nature.
SMXLLSo we texted Steve to come hang out with us and walk the Lynn Valley Canyon.
First though, we fuelled up at the ever-popular Jam Cafe (yes, we waited in line for 45 minutes) located on Beatty Street just outside Stadium-Chinatown Station. Man, oh man was it ever delicious! Banana Walnut Pancakes for the win.
Then we were off on our way to Lynn Valley Canyon.
Ending our day with some Salmon Jerky from Longliners in Granville Island Market and then walking over to Kitsilano Beach, where we hoped to catch a colourful sunset as we had done the week prior. We didn't that day. It started raining. Still a great day was had by all.
At The Fairview Pub Steve came out and filmed my live performance of the title track from my upcoming album "A Matter of Time". If you haven't already done so, you can see that video here on YouTube. Like it, Share it, All that Good Stuff.. :)
After a great show at the One20 Public House in Delta we headed back into Vancouver to The Brighton pub.
I absolutely loved the vibe in The Brighton! Everyone was welcoming, attentive, and a lot of fun.
Upon seeing me perform through the window of the Brighton, artist couple Jackson & Lacee stopped in and did some really neat live sketches of Puppet and I.
I got in touch with Jackson a few days after the show and will be commissioning him to do the artwork on the upcoming album. We met up and went over concepts and he is brewing up something very very cool.
When we post events across social media or up on the website and music channels we are never quite sure if anyone sees it.
Walking up to Red Truck Beer Co. there was a group of brothers who upon seeing us started hollering and cheering for me saying that they came across my music on iTunes and saw I was playing at Red Truck and a few of them drove in from 2 hours away just to see me perform live! I didn't catch your names but THANK YOU so much for coming out and supporting my music! That was quite the entrance.
The day prior at The Brighton I was also told by a couple that was in town from Calgary and found me on Songkick, enjoyed my music and wanted to catch a show while they were in town. Super cool. Thanks guys for the love and support!
At Billy Miner a new friend of ours, "Rocket" Rod and his wife Shandra came out caught the show and were kind enough to help us out and drive us home so we didn't have to navigate the Sunday bus schedule. He also snapped this pic and introduced us to the Photo Editing App Snapseed, which is pretty cool. It was great talking with you both and we truly appreciate the ride home!
On recommendation from our AirBnB host we hiked the Buntzen Lake Trail. It was an absolutely awe-inspiring place. Breathtaking beauty everywhere. We got a great day for it where it wasn't too hot or cold and not many bugs. Took in mountain views, lake views, and tortilla chips with salsa.
It took us about 4 hours to make our way around the trail, stopping at times to just sit and soak it all in.
No trip anywhere would be complete without Record Store shopping! Among the stores we popped in to we came across Beat Street Records on Hastings in the Gastown area. I loved the vibe of this store. I also scored this find! A limited-run Wailers "Catch a Fire" record with the two part Zippo style case!
You can also now find "The Freedom Sessions" 180-G 2LP in store at Beat Street Records! Located at 439 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC
Foamer's Folly Brewing was a packed house! Thanks to everyone who came out to watch me perform. What a fantastic crowd! Thanks to the Owners for having me and helping me share my music. The guys behind the bar- Byron & Craig! Thanks for the support guys! It was great to meet you Sue, Scott, Ashley, so glad to have met you all and appreciate your kind words.
Over at Trading Post Brewing Eatery we met Tracy who made an interesting suggestion that I cover Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" (which was originally written by Prince). She thought I could give it a cool spin. I had actually never heard the song before. Searching it on YouTube I came across a really cool Chris Cornell cover of it. Thanks Tracy for coming out to the show and for the suggestion.
On my journey I was inspired to write a few more songs and I look forward to sharing them with you all!
On my return home aboard VIA Rail I had the honour of meeting Fabien who works for VIA Rail and who started the Artist on Board program! I also made some really fun new fans from South Korea.
I tried to stay up late when we got to Saskatchewan as I heard we may be able to see the Northern Lights but had no luck.
So many beautiful views though and I am so grateful for the experience and everyone I had the chance to meet because of this trip!
Looking forward to resting up before the next big tour out East where I will be a part of the 2018 Living Roots Music Festival !!!