I’m Just Pulling On A Line…

Great Lake Swimmers…

As I travel and perform from town to town, rolling through endless mesmerizing scenery, I feel in many ways like I am following in a long tradition of musicians that have tread this vast land of ours. It seems so endless, so grandiose, and still I’m only traveling one highway, only cutting through one dimension, only seeing a few miles in each direction. It’s amazing to imagine that beyond what can be seen on each side of the bus lies hundreds and thousands of kilometers of more nature, boundless, flowing, gorgeous nature, in abundance and in its full radiance of peace and tranquility. Yet these imaginings are always accompanied by a tinge of sadness that all these natural wonders are always under threat of destruction by men’s greed and shortsightedness of gain and opportunity. I guess I’ve always seen things on the long term. In either case, as an artist I am in the awkward position of finding meaning in the mundane, or what others may perceive as the mundane, however, once you exercise that muscle it just keeps growing and growing until it reaches the heart, and becomes the heart.

Having spent almost two weeks around the great lake area, I feel like I am also fishing for meaning in this world. I’m constantly looking for signs, constantly looking to improve my craft and myself by default. I remember at my friend Reisa’s wedding, myself and a friend Sebastian went to a nearby lake for the afternoon and he brought his fishing line, and taught me to fish. I wasn’t interested so much in catching fish as in the act of tossing the line into the great wide body of water and seeing what happens. This is pretty much a ritual of life. We toss our line into the great body of this world, hope our bait is good enough and see what the world gives back.  In this great Canadian landscape, the best in the world, I’m just pulling on my own line as the great lake swimmers song goes, and hoping that what will come out will be fruitful, humble and good, perhaps even a warm welcome into this great Canadian songbook of ours!

Well into week two of the tour, well into eight shows, now come and gone, I make my way northwards out of Ontario town, a huge province with countless cities and towns. In and out of London for connections into Windsor, Toronto, then from Toronto into Barrie Ontario. Barrie was an interesting town, It’s right by the water (Lac Simcoe) and has a beautify view. The residents here say it’s pretty much a place where Torontonians come to sleep when they work into town, it being only about 1.5 hours away. But that to me, seems like an insane commute. Same with Hamilton, I arrived there in the afternoon as I had a matinée show at a venue called This Ain’t Hollywood. It’s a strange name but I found out it was a quote by a group called the forgotten rebels, a punk rock band from hamilton in the eighties. He said before getting ready to rock the crowd at a live show “This Ain’t Hollywood people, this is Rock n Roll!!” Mikey De Sadist is now sue-ing the bar over the name but the bar has won rights to the claim!

This Ain’t Hollywood is run by Gary St-Laurent, a former Montreal ex-pat who now lives in the hammer. He booked me into this show for his yearly Hamilton infringement festival and I was joined by 2 Americans (Pam’s Warts and Josh). They were a great ol country hillbilly duo together.  My couch surfing host Hayley came to the show as well. She had kept threatening me that one of her two cats was dangerous and hated strangers but in the end this cat (Liam) only purred and snuggled up besides me, I must have a way with cats!

The show was good and it was fun to play a daytime gig but by the evening I was dead tired. We headed back to Hayley’s where she made the most amazing veggie shepherd’s pie I have ever tasted. She used ingredients like bay leaves, lentils, thyme, hp sauce etc etc etc, all things that are quite beyond me. It was nice to eat a home cooked meal for a change as I have been mostly dinning in restaurants.

The next morning, we all went out to breakfast at a greasy spoon in downtown Hamilton.  I met hayley’s roomate Phil who had these amazing and crazy stories of working on a trainyard, biking across Canada and mounting a rock climbing wall, he was very interesting. Especially his stories of biking across Canada in 2 months without any prior experience. People amaze me sometimes!

Hamilton is one of those fast growing towns that are getting an influx of people who see it as a viable option to the insane rent in Toronto, and still being close to the city. It has many artists and creative types slaving there as well as being a college town. Since school is back in town I saw lots of pub-crawls, and drunken students come and go throughout Ontario. I find it to be such a strange scene, these drunken students, yelling, drinking like fish partying like crazy, wearing bibs so that if they puke during the pub-crawl, they can just get up and keep going! On our way home in London, we saw two guys hocking a newspaper stand, no doubt to bring it back to their pad and decorate it with empty alcohol bottles. Is this the future of Canadian workforce? eeeeesshh!

Leaving the hammer I headed back to Toronto excited and giddy at the prospect of meeting Lisa who was coming in for a visit from Montreal. She had never seen Toronto before or traveled outside of Montreal. The show that night was at C’est What! A kind of nice underground pub with a very nice sounding stage. It was actually a lovely night and Adam the sound guy and booker was very friendly. We had a great sound check but when the show started it all fell apart again so I switched everything to mono for the old tried tested and true method, and all was ok. I have to figure this out or else I will die trying! The show was ok. The next day Lisa and I had a day off so we went to explore the gorgeous Toronto Island, which I recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet been. It’s a gorgeous place on Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is humongous, just a mammoth lake, it looks like an ocean, you cannot even see the other side of it. On the Island, there are walking paths, very cute country homes, woods, wildlife ( we even saw a ferret like creature on our walk) an airport and beaches  (even nude beaches!) Lisa and I both walked the whole stretch of the island. It was the most gorgeous day, and it was getting hot! I ended up swimming in lake Ontario and the water was so fresh and so clean it really surprised me that I was swimming in a lake and looking at the CN tower at the same time. It was a magical day and we were both so content to be there. For me it is so nice to get into a little nature during these tours and they are usually very city-centric. And it was really great to show my girlfriend this side of Toronto, the non-hustle bustle side. We walked all the way to the last port to catch the fairies back but the sign said it stopped coming to this port a few hours ago, and that the next fairies would be arriving in the center port in less than 30 minutes. We did not want to miss it so we began jogging back to the center island. We jogged 4 km non-stop, and it was amazing! I really enjoyed our run because the air was so fresh and we were running mostly on grass. We made it to the fairies stop in the nick of time and were rewarded by an unspeakably insanely gorgeous sunset over Toronto as seen from the water.

Lisa and I had decided to make our day off completely camera free so we could engrain it to memory so Ill have no pictures to show for it but you’ll just have to believe me and use your imagination, and imagine 6 or 7 gorgeous colors silhouetting a mammoth skyline over glistening waters.  God’s own music at play.

Now on my way to Sudbury after a really fun night in Windsor Ontario. I played to a small but enthusiastic crowd. I was offered a gig in next years music festival in Windsor as well as to perform in next years Windsor film festival called Media City Film Fest by the program director who just happened to be there to get drunk but caught my set and wanted me on board. It will be their 12th year doing this. The road is starting to get into my bones now, and the hours are going by like the wind. I’m looking forward to hitting the prairies soon, especially to Winnipeg and to the harvest moon festival in Clearwater. The sun is shinning, the wheels are turning and the rock is rollin!

have a great week!

J

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