Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
After a nice, long break at home, I found myself back out on the road with my guitarist Chris Gauthier, heading down that long stretch of pavement from PEI to Ontario. As a child, my family would take this trip several times a year, going home every summer to the peace and quiet of our Island and my grandparents log home. I remember always being asleep when there was a moose spotting on the Renous highway, and also the unfortunate time Dad decided to see just how far we could go on a single tank of gas (we ended up stranded at 4am in Grand Falls, NB.)
This trip, though, was broken up nicely with a first stop in Fredericton, NB, for a fairly new winter festival called Shivering Songs. A great bunch of friends and an eclectic group of musicians made up the roster: David Myles, Mark Kozelek, Mike O’Neil, Acres and Acres, Paper Beat Scissors, Babette Hayward, Owen Steel and many more. It was hard to get back in the car, leaving all of these fine folks behind.
As we headed towards Montreal, it was hard to believe that it was really the middle of winter. It was looking more like an early spring day with the snow all gone and the birds chirping away. We landed in Montreal and decided to check out a restaurant that I had heard of for ages but had recently been recommended by a friend—Au Pied De Cochon. This is not your typical French cuisine and we realized this as soon as our appetizer of Beef Tartare arrived, wrapped in nori and with a raw quail egg on top. This may have been the best thing I have ever eaten, I’m still dreaming about it now. Anyway, I won’t go on about food because it’s just making me hungry. I think it’s enough just to say that it was a stupidly great meal.
There was no gig in Montreal this time, so we continued on the next day to Port Hope, just outside of Toronto, where we met up with Jadea Kelly who would accompany us on most of this trip. With the help of my friends who live in Cobourg/Port Hope, we organized my fourth annual Ontario version of my pie-off. We raised funds for the Greenwood Coalition, a really amazing group of people, and were amazed at how many pies were brought out. (Am I talking about food again?) Port Hope really brought the pie spirit to this event.
We left our little lakeside paradise and headed towards London, ON for a show at the always friendly and full London Music Club. Upon entering the club I was praised by a woman for my onstage energy with my musical partner, which was lovely, I thought, until I quickly realized Chris and I had once again been confused with Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet. She was kind enough to stay for the show anyway!
Next to Toronto for a show at Hugh’s Room and an exuberant room seemingly populated by mostly Maritimers, as is often the case wherever I go. Then off to Guelph for a beautiful show in a beautiful room full of beautiful guitars. Folkway Music, an independent guitar shop, is perhaps one of the more dangerous venues I’ve played. I’m not talking chicken wire around the stage here, I’m talking Martin and Gibson guitars from the 20s and 30s with price tags that couldn’t fit on my credit card (thank goodness).
We headed back to Toronto for a house concert with some of my extended Dixon Road family and this turned out to be my favourite show of the tour. I could have stayed there for days with these folks but we had to head on to the wonderful Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec for our last show of the tour. A short but sweet adventure, and hopefully my last time driving that ribbon of highway for at least a few months.