Looking Back on 100 Shows (part 3)
Here is my final instalment of "100 Things for 100 shows." I hope to share a little more in-depth stories about my life on the road this year, and hopes for next year. There are so many memories that I made, that couldn't possibly all fit into 100 little photographs and sentences, but I hope that in a small way I've been able to share the incredible impact that this year has had on my life and my career. I have been booking, writing, managing and creating as a DIY artist for a long time- and I thank my small team of friends and collaborators who have worked with me to make this year possible. I'd love to highlight a few of those people in this post as well.
100 Things for 100 Shows 2017 - part 3
This is Rob. He plays drums.
We took this photo in a hotel parking lot in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The now famous "Health Milk" hat was bought in a value village somewhere along the highway.
This is Collin. He shreds on guitar, has a beautiful singing voice, and apparently farms in his spare time. Believe it or not, this photo was taken on my first day of tour with the Vesta boys. See how clean the van is?
This is Peter. He is a songwriter, band dad and he and I booked over 50 tour dates together for the Brooklyn Doran / Midnight Vesta double header tour.
He is also a FROLF champion. (See my previous blog post to hear my feelings on FROLF)
This is Nick. It took me a while to find a photo of him from tour, because he was the one taking all of these amazing shots! Not only have we collaborated on songs and toured together for a few years now, he also pulls double duty playing bass in Midnight Vesta.
Here he is pictured with a baby lamb for maximum cuteness.
This is Gillian. She is my homegirl forever and ever.
She is a magnificent singer-songwriter and over this year of touring she's become one of my best friends in the world. Honestly, go to GillianNicola.com and download her music NOW.
Did I mention fucking Cassandra Rudolph and her incredible photography? This photo, along with my upcoming music video and most of my promo images are dreamed up and shot by her.
This photo in particular is being sold as a print on her website:
This is Rory. Rory Taillon is a singer and songwriter and if I still had a Myspace he'd be in my Top 8. I took this photo of him at our show at The Moustache Club in Oshawa, Ontario.
He has a new record out- and it's pretty boss:
This is Sharon, but when she's in a band, she'd Caren.
Caren and I teamed up for a mini-tour when her album was released in the fall. This is a photo I snapped of our show at Live on Elgin in Ottawa, Ontario. Girl can SING!
This is my partner Mitch. He is hands down the most supportive dude and I love him a TON! Here he is pictured in my hometown, next to Husky The Muskie, when we drove down to get our tour van and play a gig or two.
Tour life was pretty fun. In general my year was spaced out by months. One month on the road, one month off. During my "off" months I would try to perform once a week-ish. During my tour heavy times, I would perform pretty much once a day, sometimes twice. Here's a photo of an afternoon performance we did at the OFF Festival in Quebec.
Tour life is sometimes quite glamorous, and sometimes ... less so.
This photo was taken in a Walmart Parking lot in Woodstock, NB. We slept there that night.
This photo was taken that same night.
My dad gave us a "Cash Cab" light for the van and a hula girl for the dash. We leeched WiFi all night to watch hockey games & coach's corner spoofs and drank beer. It was my birthday that day so the boys bought me a pink doughnut with sprinkles.
On days when we were able to eat a home cooked meal, we were so happy and grateful. Here we are about to eat a DOZEN lobsters!
As a gift, one of the families we were staying with offered us a crazy lobster feast. We got to cook them ourselves. Here is Collin, in his element as a chef.
When we drove through towns that didn't have cute families to host us, we ended up subsisting on gas station food.
The boys became meat stick connoisseurs.
I stuck to peanut butter cups and coffee.
Subsequently, due to meat stick consumption, we employed the "Fart Chart" on the west coast leg of the tour. Using the honour system, whoever dealt it the most during the day, had to sleep in the worst sleeping spot at night.
It is important to air out the tour van often if travelling with 4 stinky boys.
This year I learned what a "long drive" means. 3-5 hours now feels short and 10-15 now feels a little more standard.
Things that helped on long drives:
Spotify Premium (download those playlists so you don't waste data!)
Podcasts (I lived for Song Exploder)
Audio books (I listened to almost every Harry Potter book on audible)
Sometimes the most magical nights appear when you least expect it. This photo was taken in PEI in a park after one of our gigs. We met our friends Jake and Becky who offered their home to us, even though they hadn't ever met us. Much love to Eddie who made the connection!
I drove more than 7,000 kms this year- that's over 60 hours of road time!
I'm not going to even begin to think about how much time I spent at gas stations this year. Fun fact: this van takes only about $100 to fill, and a tank lasted about 5/6 hours on the highway.
Of all the nights I spent on the road this year, I only stayed in a hotel 3 times while on tour (otherwise we camped, crashed in the van or stayed with friends).
We stayed at the fancy "Hotel Pur" in Quebec City, a motel in Sydney, Nova Scotia and a night at a hotel that Collin's family gifted us in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on one of my last nights on the west coast leg of tour year.
Surprisingly, I became a pool shark on tour.
I played pool at a pizza joint in Lethbridge, AB.
I played pool at a sports bar in Charlottetown, PEI.
I played pool in a boathouse in Kenora, ON.
I played pool in Jasper, AB after playing at the legion.
I even played pool in Lake Louise after consuming the best plate of fries in the history of the universe.
I also played ping pong in Calgary, but that's a different sport.
Here's what Peter looked like after our night in Calgary.
He's napping because he stayed up all night "trying to win ping pong."
Some of my favourite gigs were all ages shows. Young people are some of the best audiences to play for.
This little dude was in awe of Collin.
I'd like to say that I had the same effect on this little girl...
This was show number 42.
The bartender was the coolest. His real name was Canary and he introduced me to the world of putting donair sauce on pizza.
Before show #37 at Baba's Lounge in Charlottetown- Collin and I went for a stroll around downtown Charlottetown to drum up audience for the show. However, people just came up to us to ask if we could sell them weed. Maybe it was our hippy attire, maybe it was because we hadn't bathed in a while. Either way, those people ended up coming to our show.
Here is another photo from that show. This is Rob playing drums and wearing a sporting shirt.
My grade 7 teacher showed up to that gig, which was such a lovely surprise. At another gig, Rob's grade 7 teacher showed up. Small world!
Some of my favourite times were between load-in and show.
Those few hours of waiting always made for the best conversations, meals and songwriting moments.
This year, Canada Parks issued free passes to explore any national park.
We camped in one national park near Jasper, and explored another in Nova Scotia. Here I am, exploring a giant cave while impractically dressed in a festival outfit.
For my birthday, Nick bought me a disposable camera to take tour pics.
Here is a photo we took at Collin's dad's house the morning after show #48 in Renfrew, ON.
Here is a photo of Peter, the morning after show #38 in Charlottetown.
This year I was able to sample so many amazing craft beers from local breweries when I travelled. One of my favourites was the "Tom Waits for No One Stout" by Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax, NS.
I am playing there again in 2018 for the "In The Dead Of Winter Music Festival" in January.
Here is a list of all the breweries I played this year:
The Second Wedge Brewing Company (Uxbridge, ON)
Block Three Brewing Company (St Jacobs, ON)
Silversmith Brewing Company (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON)
Grimross Brewing Company (Fredericton, NB)
Good Robot Brewing Company (Halifax, NS)
Manantler Craft Brewing Company (Bowmanville, ON)
The Abbey (Fredericton, NB)
Lion D'Or (Lennoxville, QC)
Lake of the Woods Brewing Company (Kenora, ON)
ABE ERB (Kitchener, ON)
Burdock (Toronto, ON)
We also took an INTENSE ride in a vintage Cadillac.
Here is the Cadillac at a different angle.
It was super fun, but the roads were pretty windy and the air was pretty windy and we also were pretty nervous about crashing it into a tree (or a cow since we were in farm country)
Here is a photo from my second gig in 2017.
Fun fact - I came down with a HORRIBLE flu in the middle of my set, and as soon as I was done singing went backstage and barfed. Nobody ever knew, but I spent the next two days camped out on my bathroom floor.
Here is a photo from tour date #20. This was part of my Wings Unwired tour with Gillian Nicola from March 2017. Little did we know, that night my laptop would be stolen from my car in Ottawa while we were loading into the venue.
We were driving to Montreal the next day and I was super sad to have lost my brand new laptop- so we got consolation sandwiches at Schwartz's (Celine Dion's famous smoked meat restaurant).
Later my credit card company reimbursed me for a new laptop so not all was lost.
In 2017 - Band on a Couch released a session video I filmed with Rory Taillon. We sang one of our favourite Damien Rice tunes together "Delicate"
I also went on tv and did a TON of press in 2017, which was pretty cool.
Although we did have to wake up at like 5AM to get there on time.
(shout out to morning show employees who wake up super early all the time!)
Much love to all of the online publications who featured my music and words this year including (but not limited to):
Live in Limbo
The Women's International Music Network
Toronto Blues Society
Music Musings & Such
The Jasper News
The Sarnia Journal
Ears to the Ground
When I made this goal for myself in January 2017 - I really just wanted to give myself a goal that seemed a bit out of reach so that I could push myself and my career forward. I think this year was amazing in that regard. I met so many amazing people, made so many great friends and collected so many amazing memories that I will cherish forever. I don't know what 2018 will hold, but I do know that 2017 did give me a lot of songwriting material.
Thank you so much to everyone who shared my music, came to a show, bought merch, let me sleep at your house, or showed my songs to a friend. I don't want to be too cheeseball, but you are what makes this music life attainable and worthwhile. I have so many more stories to share, and I can't wait for all of the opportunities to share my travels with you in 2018, to sing new songs, and to be in good company.
All my love to you forever.