Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
September and October are my favourite months. I think. Although I will miss the heat of this past summer and lying on the beach, I am happy to make soup and put on sweaters. I’m also happy to get busy with work again. It’s been a perfect summer of weekend festivals and random shows, but I am in need of a good, old fashioned tour.
So off we go again. Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to start. Then off to merry olde England and Scotland again in November with my dearest friend, Miss Tanya Davis.
Tanya and I have been friends since grade 6, and have been through all of our ups and downs together over the years. We used to sit at her mother’s piano and write sappy lovesick songs and sing The Rose. We were pretty dramatic kids and occasionally were ostracized from the rest of the crowd in school for our idiosyncratic ways. This meant we spent a lot of time making up our own language, playing our own games and hiding in the gym change room. We never thought we’d be both writing songs and performing them all over the world as adults.
I feel so lucky to be able to head over across the sea with Tanya. I guess I feel pretty lucky in general that my job is to write songs and perform them, though, honestly, I’m not very good at much else! (Except perhaps crib and petting cats.)
Some of the highlights of my summer were the festivals I played. Indian River was amazing as always and I got to play at Nova Scotia’s version of Funk the Dunk at the Beckwith Bash, put on by Eric Fresia and family.
The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival was everything I hoped it would be. Beautiful weather, lovely little town, music everywhere and a cast of new friends were made. Chris and I arrived Thursday afternoon, late for our soundcheck on the mainstage. No problem, really, we just snuck in before PEI’s own Colette Cheverie.
Later that night, after our mainstage show and hanging out with the gang there, we headed back to our digs for the weekend just outside of the town on Heckman’s Island with our new friend Nancy. She treated us to amazing hospitality which included pie for breakfast every morning! It was like she knew me.
Nancy lives on this amazing property with a house that she built twenty or thirty years ago, but is a perfect recreation of a hundred year old Nova Scotia farm house. Sitting right on a bay, her boathouse was the best spot to relax after a “hard” day of socializing, playing and drinking.
On the Saturday night of the festival, Dave Gunning hosted a tribute to Ron Hynes, who was supposed to be playing the festival but was just starting his battle with cancer in Newfoundland instead. The festival organizers couldn’t imagine filling his mainstage show with a different performer, so they organized this in honour of him and a bunch of us played his songs. Besides Dave and myself, Kim Stockwood, Kevin Fox and Garnet Rogers all participated. It was a moving salute to a sometimes undervalued Canadian icon.
Perhaps the best part of that concert for me was the actual process of learning Ron’s songs. Chris and I chose Where Does Love Go Wrong and 1962 as our songs. Although I’ve known Ron’s music for most of my life, have toured with him and feel like he’s part of my musical family, it wasn’t until I sat down to learn these songs that I realized what a truly great poet he is. I was floored by the intricate details that mostly go unnoticed until you really pay attention.
This was perhaps the lesson of the summer for me: Dig in, pay attention and never forget the importance of pie for breakfast.