103 shows and too many miles to count. Not even sure where to begin with all that has gone on this year. The past twelve months have been an adult dose of life. It has been a total juggling act and I feel like I’ve been through the wringer emotionally. I’ve had days and moments where I’ve felt so thankful and joyful for the situations that I’ve found myself in - I’ve also had days where I feel like I’m kicking a dead horse (for a lack of better metaphor). I’ve had days where I’ve felt the full range of emotions in just a few hours. What remains after all of the dust has settled is a heavy feeling of peacefulness and thankfulness - for the songs that keep coming - for the miles I’ve put behind me - for the friends that I’ve made along the way - for all of you friends and fans out there who keeping listening to these songs, buying the records and coming to the shows. When I quit my job slinging coffee in 2010, I’m not sure that I had any idea what life had in store for me - that eight years later, I would still be chasing this dream and working to make a life in music. I think that is how I want to start this. Thank - you everyone, for the part you played in making this year what it was.
I think the thing that stands out most for me this year is all of the amazing opportunities that we encountered along the way. My band and I were able to perform 103 shows across Canada this year - which in the grand scheme of things, might not seem like that many, and it certainly isn’t as many as I use to do back in the old days - but things change - I value my time on the road - but I also value my time at home with my family. This year has been a test of sorts, to see how much I had to be on the road, to be self-sufficient and able to pay my band and my bills without relying on government funding (or very little funding). It meant that we had a lot of late nights and long drives and days where I felt like I was being stretched pretty thin - but we made it work. We got the chance to perform on some incredible stages - at The Dawson City Music Festival up in the Yukon, the North Country Fair in Alberta, the Live From The Rock Folk Festival in Northern Ontario, Cultivate Festival in Port Hope, ON. We also got the chance to play at some pretty huge country music festivals like the Dauphin Country Music Festival and the Havelock Country Jamboree - which honestly, made us feel a little out of place - but I think what that feeling really boils down to is being aware that you’re doing something original and unique. I’ve gotten that a lot this year - people saying that we’re doing something that really stands out - and singing songs that have their own vibe. I don’t think that we’re reinventing the wheel, but I do feel ultra proud of the songs we’ve been singing this year - I always find myself coming back to the Bowie quote where he talks about “not playing to the gallery” - I like to think that we’ve done a decent job of staying true to the course that we’re on - and making music that has its own voice. What stands out most this year, was getting a nomination for best Solo artist of the year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards - right from the start, I was fairly certain that I was going to win the award - winning it wasn’t the victory. Simply the nomination was huge - up to this point in my career, I had never been nominated for an award - it felt good to know that someone in the folk and roots realm in Canada took note of the record we made back in 2016.
That brings me to my amazing band… Mitch Thomson (upright bass) and Kevin Neal (guitars). These two guys have been the cornerstones of my live shows throughout this year. I haven’t been able to bring them on every single tour that I did this year - but we covered a lot of ground together. We learned how to play together and really, how to put on a show together. A huge thanks to both of these guys for being a part of my year and for lending their talents and time to this band - for putting hours and work into these songs and for creating the vibe at all of the shows we did together. Honourable mention to Will Fisher for the handful of shows that we got to do together this year - and to my old pal Ian Cameron for the run of western Canadian shows we got to do together this year, it was a blast from the past and definitely a good time.
This has been an interesting year of touring Everywhere A Man Can Be. By this point, those songs and that record are two and a half, maybe even three or four years old. It is always interesting to see how songs stand up over time. There are songs on that record that I didn’t really start singing until six months ago - others that I loved at the start but don’t sing that often now - but it is safe to say that all of those songs have grown in their own way. I think so often how funny it is that we write these songs, record them, and then tour them - and eventually two years into touring these songs you really begin to figure out what they are about. You write the songs, but eventually the songs write you and tell you what you really need to hear.
I’ve spent my year on and off the road thinking a lot and feeling a whole range of feelings. I’ve had different narratives and stories bouncing around in my head for close to six months now and I am excited to finally have a few months around my home in Orillia to find time to sit down in front the microphone and start working on these songs. I already have six or seven songs that are done and a whole pocket full that are in the works. I see a lot of myself in this batch of songs - almost in an autobiographical sense. This might very well end up being a self-titled record. Ultimately, I am hoping to have a new record out in early 2019. These things take time though, and I want to make sure that I go about things the right way. I’ve spent this year growing a lot - and feeling all of the pains that come with growing. I think the next couple years are going to be no different. I’m ready for it though.
After spending the winter months woodshedding, I’ll be shedding my winter skin by breaking some new ground with my first central European tour which will have us performing throughout Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and all around those parts. I think we’re going to be doing about fourteen or fifteen shows. For years I have wanted to tour my songs throughout these parts of the world, and I’m excited that we’ll finally be getting to chance to do so. I’ll be doing all of these Euro shows as a duo, with my good friend Duncan Symonds playing Dobro and Mandolin. Throughout the winter months I’ll be playing a few shows around central Ontario, including a monthly residency at the Sawdust City Brewery in Gravenhurst. If you’re around, I hope we’ll get to cross paths, and if not, I hope that you’re staying well and warm wherever these ramblings find you.
Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com, I’d love to hear from you folks.
Till then - thank you for being a part of this! I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.