Yukon troubadour blazing the way

The sun is shining, the flag snaps proudly in the south- east wind as the “MV Queen of Prince Rupert” pulls out of Bella Bella this morning. It’s another stunningly beautiful day out on the northwest coast and Inland Passage.

We’re about halfway on our ferry ride from Prince Rupert — at the top of B.C.’s northwest coast— to Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We’ll be arriving a bit late — we made two mid-coast stops — so it’s straight to the gig in Port McNeill for us.

This ferry trip marks the one quarter mark in my 10-week, 47-gig tour of BC and AB. I find a kinship on the coast with the lifestyle we have up north. Folks are pretty laid back and no one seems in too much of a hurry. In some ways, the island folks here are even more isolated than us Yukoners. Islanders like to remind us (with a proud voice) that when the wind gets howling, they are cut off completely — no air or ferry service — until it blows over.

The gigs have also been going well. No “bad” ones. One sold out, one standing room only and a couple of ovations. The workshops have been fun, too. I enjoy the teaching aspect as much as the performance.

One of the things I’m trying to do is build up a circuit that enables musical folks, like me, to travel and actually make money or at least pay expenses. So, I’m trying to “open” new venues on the highways (like Fort St John and Fort Nelson) where there really isn’t anything for an “acoustic folk/roots” performer right now. I’d like to see more “acts” coming north (and vice versa) than what we see right now through formal institutions like the festivals, arts centre, etc.

I believe that if we can create a viable circuit up and down the highway, we’ll see more interesting and creative performers coming north. Plus we can offer our up-and-coming Yukon artists a road south to the more lucrative and densely populated markets.  They can go out, ply their trade, make some money and then come home.

It’s not all fun and games on the road. I enjoy the shows: performing for and interacting with the audience. However, there is an equal amount of time — if not more — that is spent on logistics, following up on emails and phone calls, practising both technique and repertoire, planning lessons for workshops, staying in touch with family and friends and all the other mundane and germane things that go into making a tour work. There’s even some rudimentary bookkeeping to do (it’s easier to catalogue receipts as you go, than try and remember everything afterwards).

But, in the end, it’s all worth it. For me, anyways. I am a performing artist. And, as I always say: “If you’re going to be a performing artist, you have to perform.” I’ll write you again in a few

weeks. Take care of each other.

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