Life Is A Highway…

25 Sep

Cochrane on Cochrane…

Bound for Winnipeg on a daylong journey, which nearly drove me insane. I spent a large part of it working on mixes, and listening to the blithering idle chatter of some late teens behind me whom at first I found entertaining but once again after hearing them talk for hours on end, began to wear me down. I’m not usually confrontational but I though it would be not so worthwhile to ask them to consider that there was a world outside of their own.

I asked the bus driver to let me off downtown Manitoba when we arrived, but he would not. Winnipeg used to have its greyhound bus station downtown, but for some reason they moved it outside on the outskirts of the city at the airport. So as the bus drove right past the venue I could not get out until we got to the bus depot miles away close to the airport. It was an extra annoyance to add to and already very annoyng day. 1 .5 hours later I was back at the venue called Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, after a bus ride. Seeing how the venue was still closed, I got in touch with my old buddy Tim Jones (best name ever) of the label Pipe and Hat in Winnipeg who are doing great things all around, and of the most awesome band The Noble Thiefs who are going on a west coast tour in a few weeks, check their dates and please please please do not miss their show, it’s an explosion of deluxe rock n roll. Think Rolling Stones with a singer (Myron) that sounds like Sam Cook and Otis Redding. Can you beat that? They always get the crowd dancing and I had the pleasure of opening for them the last time I came through at the Cavern Club in the Peg.

Tonight, I was opening for Romi Mayes, another awesome Winni-Rock n’ Roll act; Romi is a sweetheart, a rock goddess and an kickass performer. She was gracious enough to have me open for her after my show at the Lo Pub fell through due to the closure of the venue only weeks ago due to a change of ownership they had to shut down.

Tim picked me up and took me to his and his girlfriends place in Osbourne Village. It’s a sort of trendy neighbourhood of Winnipeg. It’s a cozy and beautiful apartment they just moved into. We had a beautiful dinner which Tim and his friend Robbie made. Another home cooked meal with fish, sweet potatoes, wine, and tartar.

Then we headed to the venue. Times Change(d) is a real rock n roll /rockabilly, blues/roots bar, decorated in all kinds of rock paraphernalia and country music garb. There are nightgowns and bathrobes all along the wall, which the artists are welcome to wear for their performance! I did not know until Tim told me after my set wpuldve been nice to put on a housecoat to play! I liked my set lots and the crowd seemed to enjoy it too. I played about 4 songs and really got into the lst one.

Then Romi went on and also got the roadhouse vibes rolling! It was such a good vibe in that place, booze flowing people laughing and dancing, then pirates walked into the bar…. Pirates!! Random pirates came in and started the dance floor! I love when shit like that happens!

The next morning Tim made us French toast with maple syrup. That shit goes right to my heart! Pure goodness! Then myself Robbie and another friend named Tyler were headed to the prairies to a town called Clearwater where I was to perform at The Harvest Moon Festival. Clearwater is a tiny little prairie town about two hours south west of Winnipeg. It has a population of about 80 people until the festival, which inflates it to about 2000 people over the curse of a week. It has grain elevators, little shops and restaurants in old run down houses; it is the stuff of prairie dreams!

Our drive there was beautiful. Robbie is an veteran of the Canadian music industry scene was telling me about all these ideas about making a documentary on the crazy amazing people and stories behind the tours and we hatched a plan to make a movie about it which wed call “Between the Stages“. I hope we materialize it sometime somewhere down the road! Anyway, Robbie and Taylor *(also an amazing musician) know a lot about farming practices and they enlightened me on how to recognize crops what the different cycles of harvest are and the different processes and landscapes that go into bringing food from its most basic form to your plate. We often do not think about the process by which we get food on our plate. It’s an amazing process that involves so much love, care, effort and the insane collaboration of so men people, so many hours of labor. It gets a bad rap because of factory farming, but regular farming practices and local produce is also a major part of the food industry in Canada. That’s why Potash was not sold to the Australians a few years ago at insanely low prices.

It’s an amazing process. My old meditation teacher, Darryl Lynn Ross used to ask us to look at or dinner before eating it, to look at tall the different foods on our plate and to thing about all that different stages that went onto bringing this food to your mouth, all the love and care. All the ingenuity, from how to grow the crops, to how to harvest it sand care for it, to making sure all the right conditions are there, to transport an processing of it, to the synchronicity and collaboration of all the people and all the knowledge working together to bring it cover to us big city folks. It’s one of the most fascinating and ultimately one of the most important rituals we can think about and honestly one of the most important forms of work this world has if no THE Most important, without food, we are simply put…dead meat!

I developed a new appreciation for famers and farming on this little day trip. The show by the way was amazing, people loved it, I had a kid come up on stage and take up the microphone as well which was too cute, he was so happy I think I may his LIFE That day.  After the show, I had lineups of people who wanted me to sign a copy of my cd for them. I got gifts, a bolster by a tripped out lady named Kelley, a cup that had one of my lyrics written on it, a cd by a local band, and great conversation in Manitoban French (yes mostly everyone speak French in this region). Did you know there are thousands of pockets of French all over Canada? French is not solely something relegated to Quebec but can be found in every province including Manitoba where everything is bilingual and New Brunswick where 60% of people speak only French, as well as pockets in Alberta, Saskatchewan British

Columbia and Ontario.  The Manitoban French accent for those who don’t know is even harder to decipher then the Quebecois French accent. ITs quite beautiful in its own way, I could not even begin to describe it, its not like the maritime French in Nova Scotia, you know the Acadian French, not like that, its a lot more how should I say… bendy and sing song“.

On our way back we stopped for gaze in this tiny town called Bull Mound. There were so many tiny little five block prairie towns, all around these provinces, surrounded by farms, with a grain elevator, a restaurant, one doctor, one dentist, one newspaper one church, one general store, so very cute and very tiny! Oh and we got to one automated gaz station and sent over 30 minutes trying to figure out how to use the automated machine which kept feeding us receipts that didn’t mean anything!! We gave up after a while.

In the prairies they have two kinds of gasoline, regular unleaded and colored or purple gasoline. The purple gaze I am told is for farm equipment like harvesting tricks and tractors. It’s purple because it is made for these trucks only, not for regular cars, the purple dye will eventually stain any regular car but for the tractors its perfect. It is also way cheaper than regular gaze to make it affordable for the farmers and to detract regular people from coming out here for the cheaper gaz. A tractor can pay up to 600$ to fill up his truck and at 26 cents cheaper per gallon. He can save almost two hundred dollars. Another way farmers are helped and subsidized in this country. It’s some of the hardest riskiest, un-glorified and bone breaking jobs on the planet, (just like being a musician! ;)

We puttied around amidst one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. Apparently in this big endless flatland of the prairies, yes the prairies are extremely flat, so flat actually that you can see endlessly for miles on end in any and all direction. It also means the sky is so huge and so massive that its always a show to experience, you can even see the curve of the earth. Anyone who has not driven through the prairies must experience this at least once in their lives and anyone who has can attest to my renditions. My pics will give you a glimpse but can never do justice to the real thing. The stars at night also give you a show no world class planetarium can ever hope to reproduce or match. It’s the stuff of dreams, which make you feel so insignificant, yet so loved by the universe at the same time.

We made it back to Tim’s afterwards and had a lovely dinner of Cantonese food and just some laughs over watching cheap TV like Mike Holmes show and a home deco show where they take homeowners and put them in other homeowners houses and see how they rate the best home. Garbage TV but sometimes verging out on the TV is the best thing in the world after a nice meal and just wrapped in a blanket on a comfy couch, can you attest to this? I eventually closed my eyes and went to sleep to ready for my journey further west towards Saskatoon, then Edmonton and finally into British Columbia.

I arrived in Edmonton Via Saskatoon the 18th of September on a Greyhound. It was 10 am, and I was so worn out from being on a bus that I was glad to be on my feet at the station. I called Gregg Silver, an old friend from Montreal now living in Alberta and we met at the Clairview station that morning, He was fresh back from a european and swiss bike tour where he chance met this other guitarist who plays all these amazing resorts and restaurant. The guy took Gregg on tour with him as his sideman. You see Gregg, is an amazing and talented guy, he can play any instrument he picks up. Its quite awesome, and he is an amazing Sax player, he has even jammed with the likes of Joni Mitchell and played with some serious rastas in Jamaica too. All he did was ask to join them! So he was just getting bck into his life in Edmonton and met up with me. We went back to his place and just hung out there all afternoon doing not much at all but wacthing ou tube videos and listenning to music, oh and playing music too. Gregg has this amazing Kalimba and millions of instruments about the house, which he pickes up and just plays! It’s so cool, I made a video of some stuff he did below.

The show that night was not the best on tour. I was playing the Wunderbar and was kind of not in a great mood. All the travelling had finally caught up to me and all I really wanted was to curl up in front of a good movie at night instead of playing a show. Still I played the show. And was glad to head back afterwards to sleep! But one amazing thing that happened that night was that Gregg actually came up on stage and joined me for two songs. It was amazing and really nice to play music with someone else just for once, for a change. I left very very early the next morning. On the bus down to the station I met an edmontonian who was working on a mining company and he told me he was working a contract that was 7 days a week. Seven days a week!!! That’s insane! Like slavery! Now On route to the west coast! I will have more news for you of the exciting happenigns of the wild west!

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