Greetings from the melting Canadian North.
I am in Whitehorse right now after spending the first month and a half of 2016 in Alberta and BC. I headed west on the train from Toronto to Jasper at the beginning of January. I played my way across the country and as always, reveled in the experience of soaking up the Canadian landscape from the comfort of the train. I am reading 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' (Robert M Prisig) right now and one of the lines that stuck with me as I neared my destination was: "Sometimes it is a little better to travel than to arrive." It is my sense of adventure that drives my life, however, sometimes I find myself nervous of life's vicissitudes. I wonder what the next chapter will bring, what will happen next. A friend had told me that the Ice Field Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise was one of his favourite drives in the world. I planned my trip accordingly. I spent a night in Japser and in the cold and dark of the following morning, boarded the bus that would take me down this road.
It was a beautiful drive and it led to this...
I was accepted for a Winter Musician's Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts for three weeks in January. I was assigned a music hut, where I had a desk and a piano and 24hr. access to my creative space in the trees. My goal for the residency was to explore my writing and playing and dive deeply into my artistic practice. Success. The Banff Centre vibrates with creative energy. It was amazing to spend time in a place where the arts are so highly valued. I was surrounded by musicians from all over the world, all playing and practicing at a professional level and working independently on projects of their choice. I had the opportunity to work one on one with mentors including: Martin Bresnick: a composer from NYC and Stephen Fearing: one of my favourite singer-songwriters. There were multiple student performances each week as well as workshops and song circles. I collaborated with some of the artists in residence and found some time to go skiing....
Every Tuesday evening we participated in the Bentley Circle. This was an opportunity for musicians to present for each other and receive feedback. It was such an eclectic mix of styles and instrumentation. The Bentley Circle gave us a chance to hear each other and find out more about each other. It was interesting and a bit humbling to play for an audience made up entirely of top-notch musicians.
Friday night concerts were held in two locations. I performed at a venue called The Club alongside Barbara Byers (oud), Russel Sholberg (upright bass) and Paul Jones (sax). It such a fun evening and very exciting.
My 3 weeks in Banff flew by and I was bound for Vancouver Island. I took the bus to Vancouver and on the descent began to realize how high up Banff is. We drove down hill for about 10hrs. I met up with my fiddling friend Keitha Clark in Vancouver and headed to the island for a 2 week Home Routes house concert tour. We played on the island, the Sunshine Coast and the Interior. I love meeting folks at house concerts and performing in that intimate kind of setting. We lucked out with weather for the most part and I managed to ski a few times along the way too.
.... and then we flew back north!
I've been in Whitehorse for the past few weeks and have loved being able to buy groceries, cook and sleep in the same bed for multiple nights. Keitha and I have been rehearsing with Boyd Benjamin because our new album with the band Home Sweet Home is about to be released. The album is called 'Fire on the Ice' and we are touring with it in Saskatchewan in March.
Okay, off to the races!