In it together: what I remember most from a wild summer tour
“You’re going to be performing in caves,” my husband said proudly and excitedly as he walked into my “office”. I say “office” in quotations because we’d managed to turn our small 1+1 apartment into a 1+2 offices. It was spring, and we were both hastily typing away at our computers sending emails, making checklists and putting together this 150 piece jigsaw puzzle, a.k.a. a tour schedule. That’s 150+ shows a year, and being in Canada 50 per cent of those are crammed into the summer.
Let me share with you some favorite moments.
Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, and the sound doubled as my guitarist, David Henman (Juno winner, co-founder of April Wine), joined me in pounding the large bandshell floor with our feet as we dug into the song “Back on Track” like never before. This was one of the moments you dream about, the big stage, the audience is digging it, your band giving it their all, and that sense of feeling unstoppable – united with everyone and everything. The song ended and I came back into my body.
The small but powerful moments
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon on the patio behind a small restaurant in Prince Edward County, and people were eating their lunches and casually glancing my way. I noticed a woman sitting in the far back corner enthralled with the music and singing along. The song ended, and my intuition guided me as to which song to play next. She was a retired school teacher, and her husband had passed away on that date one year ago. This had been one of their favorite places to go. Before I got to speak to her I sang Bob Dylan’s, “Forever Young.” She said she couldn’t believe it, that it was the song she sang to her students, and it was very special to her and her husband.
We got to the Bonnecherre Caves early and went on one of their informative tours.
A few minutes after heading 100 feet underground, my heart started beating fast, and I was getting dizzy. The host asked if anyone would like to leave at that point. I looked around for a place to sit, afraid I would faint, and whispered in my husband’s ear, “I forgot I’m claustrophobic!” I was booked to perform a concert in those same caves THAT NIGHT!! Tickets were sold out, and my husband and I had been super excited about this unique opportunity. I resorted to some of my Buddhist training, did deep breathing, chanted a little mantra in my head, and got through the tour. The concert went fantastic. The owner, Chris, turned off the lights and lit the candles, and there I stood, guitar in hand, pitch black caves behind me , a very cold damp air surrounding me, my breath misting like dry ice, waiting for the audience to walk in and feeling completely at peace. The sound was crystal clear, and the space was intimate. It felt like we were all transported somewhere otherworldly for two hours.
Just about anywhere lays an opportunity for a “music venue” if you keep an open mind. There’s Johnston’s Cranberries, one of Ontario’s first Cranberry farms (this is the first truck they used in the 1950s to gather cranberries).
There’s Music in the Park in Wellington, the town where my grandparents went to school, and the park where my father used to play as a boy.
There are large events that draw ten thousand, like the Niagara Lavender festival.
There are cute, small town gazebo concerts.
There are beautifully repurposed buildings like the Cardinal Cafe in Sharbot Lake.
There’s the Old Ormsby Schoolhouse.
And a special mention goes out to Presqu’ile Park Place, who made a unique concert venue amongst a butterfly-filled flower-bordered park and Airstream trailer.
Also, I felt like one of the flowers at Farmgate Gardens in Belleville, Ont.
It’s mid September as I write this article and sort through bits of memories digitally printed on phones and Instagram pages and pull out bits of strings from what seems like a ball of yarn in my mind. Travelling 50,000 kilometres of beautiful roads and traffic jams a year (We live in Toronto. Insert big “ugh” for Toronto traffic here), sleeping in many different beds, and meeting so many wonderful people, it’s almost like a wild dream.
One of my latest songs has a lyric that says, “in the end there are memories that’s all”. And touring full time – yep, FULL TIME, as in my husband and I have NO other job – gives many opportunities to make great memories and have adventures.
Of course there were bad times (there has to be dark in order for there to be light). In other words, there were outdoor shows where it was raining and freezing cold and where, bless their hearts, about four audience members stayed until the end. There were days where I felt I failed, and I hurried into our mini-van a.k.a. tour bus and cried my heart out as my husband drove us to our next destination. Without my husband, I’d be a ball of emotional mess curled up on the floor most of the time. He is like my rock and guardian angel.
How we spend 24/7 together and still love each other more than ever is likely a topic for another article. But certainly stops like this helped.
Also, lots of these.
You know what I remember most? The people who helped us so much, people we just met who offered their homes for us to sleep in, small vendors at farmers markets that gifted us with jars of honey, vegetables and homemade soaps, family that took care of our dogs, and fans who took the time and courage to cry and share their stories with me of how and why the music touched them.
We all have roots, and always, in some way, music is a part of those roots. And because we all have that in common, we are connected.
May you always feel that connection.