Well, here we are in 2013. Happy New Year, all!
2012 was my busiest, most exciting and most exhausting year yet, so it’s taken me a while to wrap my head around summing it up. On a train in Germany a couple of weeks ago I calculated that I’ve been in 75 cities in 8 countries since Jan. 1st, 2012, and played somewhere in the realm of 120 shows. When I wasn’t on the road I split my time between Montreal, Toronto and New York. I’ve been travelling for long enough to have crushed all romantic notions about living out of a suitcase, but I wouldn’t trade the last year for anything.
Where to start, really? The first thing that comes to mind is being chased by a rogue goat named Floppy through farm fields in New Brunswick…but I’m getting ahead of myself. I spent January and February in Montreal freezing my ass off, playing music with a plethora of lovely people and planning the year ahead. In March I took off to Nashville to take in the southern air and learn some things about the songwriting universe. Then I hit SXSW in Austin, where I played drums with Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers and did some impromptu performances of my own. My stint in the southern US was a short one, but I fell for the open skies, colourfully lit yard parties, and porch music, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’m back down there.
The latter half of March saw a tour through Alberta with the amazing Anais Mitchell and her Canadian production of Hadestown, a folk opera. It was a real pleasure to sing Anais’ music and hang with such a great group of people. April and May exploded in a whirlwind tour through Canada and the US, from Calgary to Halifax to New York to Vermont. I got to share the stage with some wonderful acts, including The Weather Station, Rose Cousins, Chesley Walsh, The Wooden Sky and Lake Street Dive. In June I headed back to Ontario to play NXNE and the Skeleton Park Festival and spend some time at my family’s farm in the Northumberland Hills (lookout, Cornstock may be coming). Then in July my jazz group Takk rented a little car, packed it to the rafters and headed out to Halifax to play the jazz festival and some other dates in the maritimes. The aforementioned goat incident occurred just before our set at the Rock the Farm fest in Jacksonville. Takk tours are generally filled with musical explosions, yoga, and outbursts of hilarity, and this this was no exception.
One of the things I love about Montreal is people’s enthusiasm for collaboration, both serious and otherwise. Whenever I’m there for long enough I get swept into fun one-off performances and collective initiatives. There were a lot of great ones last summer: my friend Leif Vollebekk rallied a group of us to play some of our favourite tunes at Casa del Popolo, Zac DeCamp unearthed his There is still time…brother project, and my good friends at The Plant hosted the concert for the Montreal Song Project I put together. In September I headed down to New York to play some shows and spend the month working on new material. I had such a phenomonally great time that I decided to come back…more on that in a minute. The month flew by and before I knew it I was back in Ontario celebrating Thanksgiving with my fam. In mid-October I hit the OCFF conference in TO with my pal Ryan Granville-Martin, where we played some fun shows and hung with the folk folk.
At the end of October I flew across the pond to Berlin to meet up with my good friend Boris “The Keys” Paillard and begin our insane two-month 35-show tour of Europe. We traversed Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark, and I am still processing all of the experiences that ensued along the way. Playing in Europe opened my eyes up to a whole new world of sights, sounds, and people. We were welcomed with open arms almost everywhere we went, and it was such a treat to arrive in cities we’d never been and have kind hosts and great shows waiting for us. I don’t know how many trains I caught in those two months, but when I was shipped back home for the holidays I was ready to get off the dusty trail.
And so ended the last two years of touring in support of Two Horses. It’s time for me to take a break from the road and start working towards a new album. Many thanks to all who came to shows, bought albums and supported me in any way this past year. Without you there would be no….well you know the rest. I am back in New York now, playing the odd show but mostly writing, collaborating and being inspired. I wish you all the best for this coming year, and I can’t wait to share new things with you when they come.