Happy New Year! I know we have come down from the Christmas cheer and are facing winter straight in its big white face, so I really am hoping all of you engaged in this blog are having a good start to 2017. I’m currently sitting at a new coffee shop (well, new to me that is) in Toronto. They are out of coffee (what?), vegetarian ‘meat’ pies, internet, and the speakers are screaming punk music. It might be my first and last time here..
I thought I would write a note of gratitude to all of you that I have crossed paths with in the last year and in the years before the last. 2016 proved to be an outstanding one! Sometimes it feels like nothing ‘eventful’ occurs within a day, but after reflecting over the year, I realized that can’t be further from the truth because it was a fruitful year on many levels.
It started with an uplifting trip to Toronto in January. I was nominated for a Maple Blues Award for Best New Artist of the Year and was asked to present the award for Keyboardist of the Year! The trophy taker for Keyboardist of the Year was David Vest who had become a bit of mentor to me, so passing the award to him was quite meaningful. Also, I played to a packed room, at The Dakota Tavern, one of my favourite venues in the city, and also toured to other character towns in and around the Big Smoke.
February consisted of some awesome dates in Alberta including The Vermillion Folk Club, The Barrhead Folk Club, and Blues on Whyte – which I have infinite love for. In March, I did a series of shows collaborating with two great female singer-songwriters – Alex Vissia, and Colleen Brown – which took us from a sold out hometown show at The Blue Chair down to a several hundred seater in Calgary at the Bow Valley Folk Club. April was great; one night I was part of a Tom Waits appreciation night where I collaborated with several poets and scored music behind their poems which they wrote inspired by the Tom Waits tunes I covered. I was also featured at the annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at City Hall which was a total honour! Don Iveson is an incredibly positive force in Edmonton, so to perform the night our city was paying homage to the arts was special.
May was the month I ran a marathon!!! I had been training in the river valley since January…. and on May 22nd, at zero degrees, in POURING rain, I spent four plus hours running 42.2km in Red Deer…. feeling my muscles seizing more and more each step. Sound awesome??? It was! :)
June and July consisted of some sweet shows in Banff, Calgary, and some outdoor stages throughout Alberta. My favourite memory is The Blues on Whyte Block Party; they shut down Whyte Ave and had three stages going all day. My band and I played inside to a much over-capacity/over-heated crowd and the place was ROCKING!! The bar was filled with so much positive energy; one gentleman even gave me homemade moonshine after we finished!
In August, I toured out to Northern Ontario and back with the highlight being The Trout Forest Music Festival. I ended up sharing a stage with Jane Siberry who is now a friend of mine! At the end of the month, I played a big hometown show at Edmonton’s newest/awesome venue: The Needle Vinyl Tavern. The special part of the show was having two of my siblings back me up on guitar and harmonies and feeling overwhelmed by all the love and support from all the people that came to the show.
September was crazy busy. Highlights here would include playing a gig with my Dad, playing at The Shell Theatre in Fort Saskatchwan with my brother for a brand new festival (Right From The Roots), and winning the Edmonton Memphis Bound Competition!!! ----- Which means I will be representing Northern Alberta in the International Blues Challenge down in Memphis ----- taking place in two weeks!! I’m SUPER excited to go down again; the last time I went may have been the best week of my life!
October, although musically wasn’t very eventful, was the most dramatic month I’ve had in years. I moved from Edmonton to Toronto. The adjustment has been interesting. Being a resident of such a huge city has created a shift in my head space, but I feel extremely welcomed by the community and each day I’m growing to love it here more.
In November I flew back out west with my friend and great guitar player Bryn Besse. We did a tour of Northern Alberta and BC. Strangely enough, I’ve never toured Vancouver Island before and was blown away by its beauty and greenery! We enjoyed exploring and playing some very enthusiastic house concerts/venues including Demmit Hall (a gorgeous theatre in The Peace Country that is made of hay bales and has solar powered sound!). I arrived back, late, in Toronto on November 30th, and the very next morning jumped in a van with songwriter Jay Aymar and his crew of musicians to play some supporting dates with him in Ontario. The gigs didn’t stop until the calendar rolled from 2016 to 2017. I played all over Toronto and then back home in Edmonton doing something like 22 gigs in 28 days which broke my gig record being over 170 dates in one year!
Needless to say, none of this excitement and adventure would have been possible without the enthusiasm and support of all of YOU! I appreciate, beyond words, all the house concerts, couches, friendly emails, ticket buying, words of encouragement, interesting conversation, and investment! It would be a LOT more difficult than it is to play music if you weren’t so generous and kind. Thank you SO much. Keep attending shows of artists you enjoy and be kind to one another!!
p.s. The Edmonton Journal just published a cool article on my brother and I: View Article