Canada report

Dear all,


Well an international trip does of course mean a blog. Like many musicians, I’m sat in a cafe using wifi and not paying for very many drinks at all relative to the amount of time I’m spending here. I have of course done a couple of blogs about my time in Canada but I’d like to do an overview if I may.


First up was the ludicrous plane ride from Halifax to Charlottetown on the 15 seater plane or whatever it was. Quite surreal. Then came a nice welcome from the organiser of the exchange Rob Oakie, one of the best people you can ever meet. We went for some food where I was greeted with quite the most enormous portion of chips have ever seen in my life and most unusually I was unable to finish my food. I also sampled the bizarre Clemato, a mix of clam broth, tomato juice, vodka and spices. A couple of glugs were a rather nice sensation though a whole glass was rather too much…


Then came a couple of days writing and arranging with my musical ‘blind date’ Meaghan Blanchard about whom I enthused greatly at the end of my last blog. It was certainly a great songwriting pairing as ideas flowed and unfinished songs became finished. Her other half Thomas is also an old chum of mine and it was great to hang out with them both and have much fun over a surprisingly cheap bottle of very nice Scottish whisky…


Don’t know why I’m doing dot dot dot at the end of every paragraph but not to worry. Then came the little matter of eight shows in nine nights starting at the Mackenzie Theatre in Charlottetown, PEI. Charlottetown by the way is the main city on PEI though even it has only 35,000 people. It’s a cracking place with lots of music and a great atmosphere and wonderful hospitality. The gig was the official launch of Meaghan’s album which I opened and then joined Meaghan on stage for ‘Gamble or Save’ from that record. I got a standing ovation on my opening gig which was very nice indeed while Meaghan played a blinder with the crowd in raptures.


We headed to Alberton next, the experience of which was rather dominated by an exquisite fresh lobster I ate before the gig which is hard to ever forget! The gig at the Albert and Crown was also a cracker. We then headed back towards Charlottetown for a gig in Hunter River at a lovely wee theatre called Harmony House. The gig was an absolute belter, for me my best performance of the tour which was rather handy given some of the people there. The event was for Showcase PEI which featured some prestigious delegates.


Then it was farewell to PEI and over to Nova Scotia which began with a TV appearance on CTV Halifax – you can still find the two performances here for a short time only: This preceded three gigs starting with a lovely sold out show at the deCoste centre in Pictou which had some of the most stunning views I think any venue could have. The drives in Nova Scotia almost reminded me of the north of Scotland, with lots of beautiful water views and so many trees! Then followed a rather less full but no less enjoyable show in Truro at the Marigold Centre and then at the Carleton in Halifax.


Finally, New Brunswick saw two gigs from us firstly at the quite wonderful Cedar Tree Cafe in Fredericton. Cafe gigs are rather less common here but this was one of the very best and was packed which of course is always good. Finally, we played the Empress Theatre in Moncton where the audience gave us a great reception. And then came the flights home which were of course late because it’s me, but fortunately I wasn’t in a hurry today. I’m glad to be reuinted with my lady and to see Blighty again but I most certainly hope that was the first of many visits to Canada. The people on PEI particularly were extraordinary, so welcoming and hospitable but not in an overblown, insincere kind of way. They were just good, honest people and a special atmosphere fills the place. It reminded me of Ireland, I guess not surprisingly given that’s where half of them are from in one form or another!


Anyway, busy time coming up. This week I do two gigs with the mighty Alistair Anderson as well as a solo show supporting the Unthanks up in the Northeast featuring a ridiculous route even by my own high standards. Then November sees my tour with extraordinary Indian musician Suhail Yusuf Khan which I am very excited about indeed. Please do get your tickets for these gigs, I’d love to see you there.


All the best from me,