Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love, Lumber and Lessons Learned

Hey friendly, empty, scary interweb world. I haven't had a moment to sit and type since returning from the tour, and frankly, I've been avoiding it. But tonight, I'm forcing the words out like a rusty knife against an old tin can of soup. Upon my flight home, leaving the glorious, mountainous, summery beauty of Victoria BC, I've been hittin' it hard. As per usual. Go go go. My story. I got home on a Thursday, and played two festival gigs within 48 hours of landing (on the Saturday and Sunday). On Tuesday, I started full-time at the lumber yard to help them replace an injured driver and co-worker. Since then, I've seen Plaskett in Montreal with my awesome friend Paul, ate some unearthly Thai food, and played a show in Kingston and another two in Ottawa and Perth with Ali. What a glorious moment it was for me to see Plaskett and the lads rip Montreal a new rock-folk asshole. Damnit. It was emotional.  When I played live in Calgary with Ali, one of my best friends and fave people ever Amanda was watching him live in Victoria and kept leaving voicemails and sending texts from the show - so my phone kept buzzing in my pocket while I was on stage. But I knew what was going on. And it made me happy. And she sent me a pic of them meeting. A fabulous songwriter beside another fabulous songwriter. And - to just be a fan and friend of the guy, and to be mentioned in the album credits of the record, and to have listened to it a few times across the country, and then to see the songs live for the first time. Wow. I had to choke back the head water.

What a strange mental trip it was to take so long, and wind my way across this beautiful, mystical, far-reaching country with my musical cohort Ali McCormick in a car for nearly three weeks of travel - and to then jump in a metal tube and magically appear in Toronto in 4 and a bit hours. In a way, I never really got to decompress the vacuum-package of the whole tour experience. Fuck. There's so much that went down. Laughter. Love. Tears. Hugs. Fear. Reconnection. Anxiety. New friends. Zombie-esque road vision. Stasis while waiting to play. Roadside pisses. Beautiful but dragging, triple-threat 8 hour drives in Northern Ontario. Cabbage rolls at the Apollo in T-bay. Dancing dudes in Brandon, Manitoba. Getting my first openly hit-on-by-a-man experience (forgot about that one!) and a violinist's studio apartment. Cruising to Tofino with my lovely friend Mand who I've sorely missed, and then the two of us eating, laughing, playing banjo and guitar and writing tunes on a massive rock on a deserted beach. Strange ladies and demanding soundchecks for empty rooms. Strange arm sensations. Weird trays of dry popcorn. Duncan warmth. Deep sleeps in a dark basement. Inside jokes galore. Guitar. Lugging my fuck-heavy amp around like a brick of a stubborn child. Loplops pizza. Beer with Trevor in Winnipeg. Twin Butte glory. Amazing microbrews, food, beds and Godsent blessed friendship and reception with Mac and Lin and young Nolan in Saskatoon. Jody and Rob and Lucas always making me feel like a welcome friend in their wild Calgary homestead. 

And now - back in my familiar bedroom, I don't know what I've learned, to be honest. I think a trek of that magnitude takes some time to dissect. Some nights I still wake up confused, and think I'm in someone's strange bedroom somewhere in Alberta.

To be totally truthful, I wasn't even sure I wanted to do it in the beginning. I thought about all the reasons why I shouldn't. I have an active mind, and I tend to explore all the things that could go Wrong before I think of all of the Right that absolutely always rears its leafy head through the sidewalks of life. But I told Ali one night, in a bit of a stupor, that I didn't want her to let me back out. And if I tried to, to not let me do that. I thank God she didn't. 

But I suppose that's a bit of a Robert Frost-y moment for me, in that I have always tried to take the road less traveled. Even when it scares the shit out of me. Even when I feel like I should maybe be trying to start a family. Or getting a real job. 

No one will ever take the risk for you. You have to step through the darkened doorway all by yourself. 

I've been listening to a lot of Steve Poltz. He's been a bit of a guiding light for me - especially his albums Traveling and Unraveling. What a master songsmith. I love the fact that I'm fairly active in music and in my late thirties, I can still be so inspired by others. Mo Kenney has been in there too, and the new Brandon Flowers. What a boring crag of a life it would be to always feel like you know it all. 

And yeah - we have to do the things we need to do. The cake and ice cream can't go on forever. But the memories of them do. I'm so in love with all of it. May it stretch out for you and I like every open, rugged, ethereal prairie mile in the middle of this country.

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