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How Canada stands out from other places to tour, according to Lloyd Spiegel

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Guitar in Woods

So what would happen if three blues artists from different parts of the world got together in a kitchen to play some music, tell stories and generally fool around? Earlier this year, audiences from Whitehorse to St. John’s found out when Charlie A’Court, Lloyd Spiegel and Suzie Vinnick toured their International Roots & Blues Kitchen Party, in support of their album A’Court, Spiegel & Vinnick. The tour was partly to introduce the trio’s individual audiences to the other performers’ talents. It was also the opportunity to get back on the road for a lengthy tour after the pandemic lockdowns without having to do it by themselves.

“Our mutual agent, Sarah Porter, had the great idea of touring together simply for our mental health,” said Australian blues artist Lloyd Spiegel at this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival.

To Lloyd’s way of thinking, it would have been somewhat dangerous to be on the road alone for six weeks, away from family, after not being able to tour for two to three years.

“Being on tour with people I can laugh with, that I call family, was really amazing!” he said. “Bouncing off each other, laughing and telling stories about each other — it really did feel like we invited people into the kitchen.”

Lloyd was friends with Charlie, having written a song together and toured through Australian a few years ago. Lloyd and Suzie hit it off over breakfast at an event a few years ago, while Suzie kind of knew Charlie but not well. So recording an album together took trust and faith in each other, especially since Charlie was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Suzie was in Ontario’s Niagara Region and Lloyd was in Melbourne Australia.

All three wrote songs for the project, recorded their own voice and guitar, and then sent out the audio files so the other two could add their parts. It was Charlie’s job to put all the pieces together so it sounded like it was recorded with all three of them in the same room.

“The result was something you never would have thought possible,” Lloyd said.

The International Roots & Blues Kitchen Party tour ran from March 30 until May 7 and gave the artists the opportunity to learn the songs on their new album.

“It was kind of backwards, but it was a really great experience,” Lloyd said.

The tour with Charlie and Suzie was not Lloyd’s first foray into Canada. He’s toured here a number of times before, and it’s become one of his favourite places to play.

“What I’ve always loved about Canada is each province feels like a different country,” he said. “It’s got its own culture, its own accent, its own traditions.”

One of the similarities he saw between Canada and his homeland is the number of “big” things across the country. While on tour, he’s seen towns with a big Easter egg, a big sausage, a big tomahawk, a big teepee and of course the big nickel in Sudbury.

“In Australia there are over 400 big things, so I felt quite at home studying where the next big thing would be,” he said.

The main thing touring across Canada with Charlie and Suzie reinforced for Lloyd was the essence of what Canada is, he added.

It’s the high priority Canadians put on the arts. The love of music is unique when compared to other parts of the world, a point that was made at the recent Montreal Jazz Festival where he played before an audience of about 6,000 people.

“To walk out there as a total stranger with an acoustic guitar at 9:30 at night, and that many people give me a chance, that is really unique to Canada.”

Going forward Lloyd would like to get Charlie back to Australia and for Suzie to tour there for the first time.

“I keep threatening to bring Suzie to Australia, but she doesn’t like the idea of the flight,” he said.

For more on the album A’Court, Spiegel & Vinnick, go to portermusic.ca/asvmusic.

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