Martyn Joseph is a performer like no other: Shades of Springsteen, John Mayer, Bruce Cockburn and Dave Matthews there may be - but he stands in his own right, built on a reputation for giving what thousands have described as the best live music experience of their lives delivering his "songs of lyrical intelligence" according to BBC Radio 2's Bob Harris.

August 3, 2000 2:34 pm

Prince George

I’m not sure where to begin with this last update for this summers Canadian tour. Due to circumstances beyond my control things went a bit haywire since I last wrote and some events since then are now a blur, however, I shall do my best

When the last epistle ended I was Phoenix bound for a few days golf with Mike MacWilliam and U.K. pal Simon Curle. I should say a big thank you to Simon at this point who brought out my clubs from the U.K. especially for this occasion and indeed sacrificing his own clothing attire in order to do so. He made up for this by gently beating me every day (at golf) in the severe Arizona heat and probably taking enough money off me to pay for his trip! When I fall into the company of such men as MacWilliam and Curle I seem to make a habit of doing daft things such as nearly putting my hand through a mirror, as I went to pick up a hat I thought was there in a store, but was in fact a reflection, and later commenting how light it felt on my head when in fact I wasn’t even wearing it

Other blunders occurred that shall remain a secret but personally I blame that desert heat. It was great to see Mike again who continues to seek his employment visa in the States now that his hockey days are behind him. It was good to be in a different environment for a few days and play some great golf courses, especially Troon North, rated in the top ten in America. Managed to drop just five shots off the back tees on our last day, which on a course over 7000 yards long was reasonably pleasing for a has been like me. Curle still beat me though..dammit

So, that took me through to July 14th, the eve of my fortieth birthday (you read it here first folks) and a night I will never forget for the wrong reasons. I was met at Vancouver airport by the good people form the Vancouver folk festival and I, along with American singer/songwriter Dar Williams and her band were driven to our accommodation at Vancouver University. On the way in I asked Dar how she thought I should spend my last remaining hour as a thirty something..little did I know. On checking into the accommodation I was taken to an office to pick up my passes for the festival etc, I picked these up, turned around and noticed instantly that my lap top case was gone from the trolley with my stuff on. In an instant I knew what had happened and ran back through the lobby and out into the street looking for some one running away with my black bag which contained all the money I had earned since the tour started (I get paid in cash as I don’t have an account here), my wallet, credit cards, driving license, tickets home and of course my lap top computer which had on it a lot of stuff that is irreplaceable, including at least a quarter of a book I have been writing (I had backed it up but the discs were inside the case

At first folk thought that I had left it in the transportation van or at the airport but as all these were checked my worst fears were realised, they had been stolen. My first few minutes as a forty something were spent on the phone to the Canadian police, then I phoned home. I have to say I went into a dark place for a few hours. Without going into detail there was a lot of stuff in that case and insurance won’t cover the vast majority of it. Having been away now for nearly 4 weeks and it being kind of a special day and all that, well, it was all too much for a moment..walls were punched. Sian, at home was great, cancelled all the cards and gave me a pep talk, I went to bed around 4am, forty, dazed and with my first appearance at the festival scheduled for ten in the morning. On reflection I would have given the person the money if I could have just got the hard drive of the computer back, guess he/she needed to do what they did, I felt no anger toward them which is weird but true

My healing began the next day as I began to play, it just painted perspective. Word had got around as to what had happened and so many people were so kind. As I sang, it just felt better. All sorts of kindness passed my way, including offer’s of computers to work on, accommodation, I was even prayed over by the Indian family that owned the land. This was very special as their chief elder, Vincent Stogan, had died a few weeks earlier and their had been a ceremony at the opening of the festival to mark his passing. I was given a piece of Indian jewellery that he wore and I found this very moving. I guess this would not have happened had the events of the night before not taken place and, whilst I still would have preferred not to have lost the stuff I did, I received a lot in its place. In the evening I sang on the mainstage to around 12,000 people, with snow capped mountains in the distance, the Pacific ocean to my right and the lights of downtown Vancouver sparkling in it’s glow..truly just about the most beautiful setting in which I have ever sung. The crowd sang me ‘Happy Birthday’ and I sang ‘People Crazy As Me’ to them. I’ll never forget my 40th birthday

For the next few days I stayed with a good friend in Vancouver and, despite hopping against hope, none of the stolen stuff was retrieved. I played gig’s at the Railway Club on Monday 17th, with amongst others Christine Collister, and the Rouge Folk club on the Tuesday night. They went well and, as a result of the success of the shows at the Vancouver festival, I secured distribution of product in Canada which is great news. I then caught the ferry back to Vancouver Island where on the weekend of the 21st July I played the Islands Festival at Duncan. This, like all the others, went well with numerous performances including a very intimate gig in a chapel at the site, which is done acoustically without a PA. Very nice and a good way to finish this busy time in Canada. My wife and children flew into Vancouver on the Monday and it was a great joy to be able to wrap my arms around them and begin to show them this beautiful land that has come to mean so much to me. We will holiday here now for three weeks before returning home together. Till next time, thanks for reading this and sharing in something of this journey

Martyn, for the Pipeline, 11.35pm, 3rd August 00, Martin and Gillian’s house on the side of the Nechako river, Prince George, B.C. Canada

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