It was drawing close to 1 am in Toronto when I stopped my car at a Tim Horton’s 24-hour café. I had just played a show at Hughs Room, a popular venue in this great city and fancied a cup of tea, not very rock n roll I know. A guy in the doorway asked if I had a coat hanger, which took me by surprise. He had locked himself out of his car with the engine running and was looking to use some wire to open it up. Sadly I couldn’t help him but we had a good chat. As I left he was talking to a truck driver who was going through his toolbox.
He waived across with a smile on his face. Twenty minutes later, and with a little help from Tom Tom I was unloading my rental car at the hotel. I needed the trolley to get the guitars, gear and CD boxes in and the guy at the desk looked a little bemused by it all. The temperature clock on the wall declared minus 18 though Kevin (he had his name on a badge) told me with the wind chill it was more like minus 25. I was 6 days into the Canadian tour at this stage.
I had flown into Calgary on the previous Tuesday. Did some press the next day including two bizarre live radio interviews when, thanks to someone messing with Wikepedia, I was asked about my great love of horses and how I got my black belt in Karate! Played a warm up show the next night then a bigger sold out show the next. Caught the coach to Edmonton the next day and played a sold out show there. It’s amazing to come so far and have such good crowds. Next day I took two planes to wonderful Prince George and played there Frostbite festival with a blizzard raging outside. Next day I flew down to Vancouver to play there then slept then got up and flew to Toronto where we stared above. Had good meetings in the day there as well with World Vision who I work with in Canada and the Stephen Lewis foundation whom I may work in the future. Onto Ottawa where is unbelievably got even colder. Yet it feels so healthy, so good.
Down into the USA for two shows in Connecticut and that felt good too. As I crossed the border, albeit still on Canadian land as you clear customs before flying, I found myself welling up with the thought that this was a new USA I was entering. The difference was tangible and for a moment the new hope brought a lump to my throat. It means that much. Yes you could and yes you did and now you can. What a mess there is to clear up though.
I pick up boxes of CD’s strategically sent over to various points of my journey. My main guitar goes in the hold and I smile sweetly and charm my way to taking the tenor guitar onboard in a soft case. Whatever it takes. I get there somehow and it all works. I’m a little tired.
Tomorrow I fly from New York to Nova Scotia for three more shows before coming home. These will be my first solo shows on the east coast of Canada having played the Stan Rogers folk fest there last summer. The distances travelled don’t really sink in as catching a plane is the same these days as grabbing a cab. It’s a huge country and beautiful country and I so love coming here. I hope the guy at Tim Horton’s got home ok. He told me his girlfriend had a spare key but they had had a disagreement and he couldn’t call her. As his car engine gently ran on in front of us we both laughed at how absurd it all gets.