Oh my goodness – have we ever been having a fun time! I’m sitting on the train in a glass car driving through Ontario as the sun sets. It’s hard to believe all the “official” shows on the tour have finished. Time has flown by and it’s been busy, but wonderful. Every day seems to bring a new adventure, new people into our experience, and new moments to cherish. Just tonight on our train show, a rapper was in the crowd. I threw it out to him to freestyle to the chords we were playing, and he busted out this amazing rap during one of our songs. Moments like this sometimes take you by surprise. Sometimes they don’t work at all, but when they do, they are magical!
I last updated from Vancouver, after which we had a few days off in Saskatoon for Victoria Day long-weekend. So many coincidences made our time in Saskatoon memorable. A really pretty little city, I took the liberty of walking around and checking out some venues while we were there. I went into a little bookstore and randomly ran into a girl I went to University with who worked there. A few minutes later I sat at a pub to grab a beer and soon heard: “Hey Erica!”. There was no way I knew this many people in Saskatoon, I thought, and it turned out that they were calling for another girl with the same name. As I went to pay my bill, I passed by her, and asked if her name was Erica, because mine was too. We ended up chatting and she told me that she had just bought tickets to the finals for the city Poetry Slam at the theatre across the street. Not only did she suggest I come, but that also that I judge the event since I knew no one in town and was unbiased. Of course, I jumped at the chance and I’m so glad I did! The event was so cool – 500 people under the age of 35 crammed into a theatre to hear stories and poems on different topics. Being the finals, all the entries were amazingly polished, and the 5 judges in the audience (including myself) help up scores after each presentation. We either got heckled or applauded by the audience depending on our verdicts. It was a ton of fun and so great to see a community of young people supporting the arts like that!
That same day (right before the Poetry Slam) I also decided to grab a coffee and started (only slightly!) eavesdropping on the table beside (hehe hey! I’m a songwriter….never know when I might hear something good ;) The girl said that she had just flown back into town and run into the Sheepdogs on her flight, who mentioned they were playing a free show that weekend. I piped in and asked for more information about it – turned out they were doing a hometown show the next day and shutting down the street. Wayne and I felt pretty lucky to be in town for this show as 5000 came out, they closed down Broadway, and we took in this great band from the front row for free!
The next day we were back to playing 3 shows on the train and meeting tons of people on the way to Winnipeg. Riding into the city along the river was so beautiful and we fell in love with the huge new human rights museum and little sights along the way. We were so lucky to be hosted by a lovely lady, Lee, in Winnipeg, who hosted us for a house concert. She was a force to be reckoned with! I have never met anyone who was so interesting, and so filled with excitement and genuine warmth! Firstly, her house was built by a Belgian castle architect and is a small castle replica. She was redesigned the whole thing all on her own, decorated it with all her own artwork, has several degrees, has 5 kids (3 adopted), has traveled the world (even been held hostage in Mexico), and is a touring blues musician. After a couple glasses of her homemade wine, she toured us around the amazing castle house and showed us her 16 guitars and mandolins. We jammed late into the night and she thought us some mandolin basics. The house concert the next night was just as fun – our first set was our own music and the second a big jam with a group of amazing blues musicians in the audience. Wayne and I were both in awe of how solidly all the people played. We were lucky to be given keys to our own little apartment in the castle and showed around town by Lee. The next night, she even joined us on our café gig (along with a guest in the audience who joined along on a couple tunes with his harmonica). When I think of the whole experience, I am so overwhelmed to have been welcomed so openly by someone who didn’t even know us! We were so lucky to have met Lee and have caught her contagious love of life! We also visitied UMFM on the University of Manitoba campus, and did a live interview and recording. What an awesome radio station! It is so great to see people who are so supportive of independent music and want to go above and beyond to help. We certainly won’t forget our experience in Winnipeg and can’t wait to go back!
Back on the train, we are seated in the dining cart every meal with different people and so we have had some awesome conversations in addition to our shows: an author who traveled to 21 countries and wrote a book, a widow who was fulfilling the dream trip of her and her late husband, the editor of a gardening magazine who was touring Canada’s botanical centres, cute international students, and some adorable elderly treasures. Riding through Ontario’s lakes and forests for a few days, it was almost a shock to the system to arrive in the big city of Toronto.
Our first day there was a family day. We were picked up by our cousin and enjoyed ourselves getting to meet more family members. We were very well fed and spoiled, and laughed though a lot of funny conversations and memories. A lovely friend of mine lent us her downtown apartment and stayed with her boyfriend to give us some space while doing our shows there. How lucky we were to have this little solace in the city! The biggest pain on tour has been lugging around all our gear, cds, chords, etc – so to have it all in one place was great! Both our shows in Toronto were in beautifully cozy little venues full of family and friends (new and old). It felt so crazy to be so welcomed in a new city! There were friends of my parents whom I had never met, people who knew me as a baby, my first friend from kindergarten, old schoolmates and so many people I never expected to see. Looking back on these shows just makes me feel so very lucky, and it has been so much fun to share my music with attentive audiences who listen to the words and allow me to share myself in that way. I also met some wonderful musicians in Toronto and hope to keep connected with them and return to do a bit more writing there soon!
The tour so far has been wonderful. On our way home, we keep saying how we can’t believe all that has actually happened. It’s funny because I have been booking and planning this for about 4 months. A calendar has been running in my head the whole time. There have been lots of days when we’ve been pretty exhausted, and also sometimes (oddly, since we are literally talking to people all day) a little bit lonely too, especially when thinking of home. Between our shows, we have been doing 3-4 train shows a day, and the set up/tear down of everything can get taxing. People don’t often talk about how tiring moving every few days and living out of a suitcase can be, but when I think about the fact that I’m getting to do something I really love, it usually helps me pull out of the sleepy daze. Every time we play, I feel re-energized (although I do hope one day we have “people” for the gear and logistics J)
Along the way we have had so much support from all over Canada. We made the top 30 on CKUA Radio and have gotten great support from CBC in Alberta, Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo, and college stations across the country. We will be working on connecting even more with radio once we are back home again.
THANK YOU again for all the support, the messages, and the encouragement along the way. For telling friends about our songs, sending people to shows, coming to shows, and sending us little kudos. You have no idea how much those things mean!