Sometimes after a run of great gigs I find myself about to start the next one thinking “surely this one will screw up”. Maybe I do a rushed sound check and the panic and self-consciousness sets in, which feeds itself until it’s some sort of Jaba the Hut / Henry VIII fat king, laughing at me from behind its ugly dribbling face. The more self-conscious I feel, the less natural I act, and the less natural I act, the less natural everyone else acts too. “ooh I’m not sure about this guy… maybe he’s no good…” chatter chatter chatter… it spreads and suddenly everyone closes up like traders on the stock market. Or meercats or something.
The reverse is also true though, sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me feel confident and comfortable, a comment or tactful bit of space from someone, a last minute change to a setlist that was bothering me, the look on someone’s face in the crowd. When that feeds itself it becomes King Gandalf Liono Skywalker The Fat Demon Slayer. Suddenly the whole room feels great. ROCK!
Amazingly, I’ve had 6 of those totally epic gigs in a row here in Canada. I’ve been playing as well as I’ve ever played, to small packed rooms of people who have gone mad for it.
In between I’ve been able to see some of the country:
and made a few new friends along the way:
It’s put a lot of things into perspective too. After my last album I felt like I needed to shut everything down and start all over again with loads of new music. But playing old and new songs together has helped me realise that the next album can be quite different whilst still being a continuation. That makes me all the more excited to make it.
My memory isn’t so good. I like to think that’s on purpose, because memories can be quite heavy and holding onto them feels unhealthy. Or maybe I just have a rubbish memory and have invented a rationale for it afterwards? Either way I’ll just spin through the last few days for my own benefit, so if this bores you then just skip to the end…
Thursday started with a group of us going snowshoeing. Snowshoes are just giant feet which spread out your weight more so you can walk over deep snow. We walked in a snowy forest and then stopped in a clearing for hot chocolate, granola bars, apples and peanut M&Ms.
That night was my set at Coldsnap Festival, which went so well it set the tone for the rest of the week. People are fond of apologising for Prince George in Prince George, but they shouldn’t. It’s a beautiful town with lots of people looking out for each other. Also playing that night was a great songwriter called Matt Epp, a tall, grizzled hulk of a man with a fur coat and long, braided blonde hair that made him look like a Viking warrior. When asked if he was vegetarian, he replied “I eat vegetarians”. Hanging out with him, Linda McRea, Amanda and Sheila from Dala and all the volunteers at Coldsnap was a big highlight.
The next day Ben Beattie and I played to the international students at the College for New Calendonia. After we played, students overcame their nerves about speaking in English to give presentations about where in the world they come from. I learned that Chile loves tennis and they mainly speak Dutch in Suriname.
We then drove to the foothills of the Rocky mountains to McBride to play in their high school auditorium. Despite a town population of only 713, we got a big crowd of people out and had a great gig. Seth who did the sound also produces his own biofuel out of old cooking oil from local restaurants, and Rick the promoter has a man-cave with a fully-functional bar, a big soundsystem and a wall-sized TV screen.
Saying goodbye to that part of Canada, I flew down to the beautiful city of Victoria, going straight from the airport to a little theatre built into the house of a professional puppeteer, Tim Gosley. He’s such an interesting guy, having done work on Sesame Street and the Muppets he’s now planning a show about a flying penis. I mistakenly owe him $25. Sorry Tim I won’t forget. It was another special gig with a special crowd, opened by Liz Beattie who’s a beautiful soul.
House gigs can always be unpredictable, hence the uncertainty I was talking about at the start. People tend to relax more in someone’s house though, and the 40 friends Sarah and Peter had crammed into their place the following night were so up for this gig. We all had a shit hot time and walked away a little dazed from how good it felt.
Lastly was a trip by ferry into my last gig of the tour – Vancouver. After the most crappy day, thank the FSM for Tim who rescued me from despair, poured a beer down my throat and levelled me out. The Railway doesn’t seem like the kind of venue people are always silent in, but my set was the perfect end to the tour, with loads of new friends made and much-needed late night shenanigans.
So now I’m sitting in Vancouver airport (this is the view from my seat by the way – this place is beautiful)
feeling very grateful to everyone who came out to the gigs and to the promoters, agents, sound guys and my uk people who got me here.
Most of all I want to thank my hosts along the way, Jo, Greg, Ben, Liz and Simon (&Colleen), Tim and Marissa. They’ve shown me around, driven me to gigs, given me beds to sleep on and put food in my belly. In between we got to know each other and I’ve loved that every bit as much as the gigs.
This tour always felt like a bit of an indulgence, I’d play to a few people, get to explore a new country, and lose a ton of money in the process right? Standard. But the crowds just rocked it, the country is beautiful, the people are great and the numbers add up. Where next? Europe? The US? Australia? Let me know and we’ll see what we can do. In the meantime, Canada – yes. Let’s do this again soon. Now that’s what I’m talking aboot.