Most of my Calgarian counterparts would sooner throw our neighbourhood to the North under the provincial bus than sing its praises. Whether you think it's impossible to navigate (it is), impossibly cold in the winter (also, is), or just not fancy enough for you (seriously? where are YOU even from?); fact is that Edmonton is a dynamic, artistic and vibrant city.

Context: of course my new infatuation with the capital city stems primarily from having fallen for a gal who had been living here for seven years. And as a side note, there are literally ONLY beautiful women in Edmonton. It's not a joke.


I played competitive hockey for close to 14 years, and between the terrible haircuts and tournaments, I was up and down the province a decent amount. I've been to Ponoka, Leduc, Sherwood Park and Lacombe, mainly. We once drove to Cranbrook two weekends in a row for a three game tournament. My dad loved to take us on the road. He was my coach for almost the whole time I played. 

We had a tough time. I didn't deal well with constructive criticism, he didn't deal well with me calling him a 'fuck' at practice. I have a rough mouth. I think that comes from feeling really fired up and not knowing how to deal with it like a normal human. 

Anyway, I basically remember Edmonton as this freezing cold, barren wind-scape of really tough hockey girls. Basically every time we went, we lost. Maybe I was just shitty? I don't know. I loved the trips, I loved driving with dad. He was always speeding but you felt invincible. I think that's a common feeling when dads, *or paternal figures of some kind, drive you around.

In Calgary, we played out of a few communities. I started playing boys when I was about six or seven. I played until I was ten. I had to practice with body contact, and it was awful. I was a really sensitive kid though, so it probably took nothing to make me cry and say "fuck it".

We started in Glenlake, close to North Glenmore Park; where I work now. Then I think I did two years in Trails West, an old Southeast community. Then Midnapore. There was a year I can't remember what neighbourhood we played out of, but we had the best Swedish jerseys, bright yellow and blue. We were called the Cougars. We kicked ass. 

Actually, if you ever go to play a gig at the Nanton Auditorium, (or stop for afternoon beers, it's common), you'll see a photo of a girls hockey team on the wall in their bar. The photo is of my hockey team after we won the Nanton tournament. 

While you are observing this nice, genuine photo of some girls with pseudo-gold medals and hockey gear on, you may notice that in front of them there is a giant, dead, stuffed, *posed*, cougar. You will also notice that a guy who is so obviously my dad is just so excited about the whole situation.

Lastly, you will probably look behind you to make a quick exit because you've realized you might get flack for not finding this completely normal, you will look up. Inside, on the slanted roof hanging over the bar, is the same cougar. He seems cool. You let it go, order your Pilsner, and think nothing of it.

You will also see hundreds of photos of musicians who have played their stage. They are incredible.

But I digress. Hockey memories aside, Edmonton was always a sort of mystical Northern land that always held disappointment and shame.

As I grew older and started playing music, lots of my Calgarian colleagues despised the city. Claiming "there's no money", "no venues" and "no gigs"; it's easy to see how I would be pre-emptively deterred from learning more about the city itself. Not to mention, intimidated by the vast roster of talented musicians and songwriters. But this post isn't to pump their tires, they know what's up.

My first positive Edmonton experience came from staying with Pete and Denise of 100 Mile House in Bonny Dunne, with my brother, Tim. We played a festival dowtown called "The Works". Awful turnout. Weird weather. Bums everywhere. But it wasn't the gig itself that made the trip. 

The Last Call Garage, probably a venue some a familiar with, is 100 Mile House's garage and doubles as a music venue. Pete invited us in after what seemed like hours of drinking at the Empress, my other favourite local hang. The room itself is modest. A bar, some stools, chairs and what could be made into a stage. But it wasn't the room that got me, either.


Everyone I've met in the Edmonton music community has this weird sense of... well, just that, COMMUNITY. Support is limitless. Musicians, sound techs, writers and performers are all one and the same. Everyone has each other's back and has made venues out of basements, back yards, anything, to get their friends playing and in front of people as much as possible.

I feel like a raving lunatic comparing apples to oranges. Alberta has some of the best songwriters in Canada. And as much as I'll never want to live on Whyte Ave, or spend my days apartment hunting in the capital - every time I drive the QE2, I feel like I'm going home. 

Not to where my parents are, or my old dog. It isn't a place where someone welcomes you in  with a hot cooked meal. It's open arms, smiles, and support. It's an artistic community somewhat void of judgment and bullshit. There's just really good people wanting to help you have the best time you can while you're visiting. 



My days of being a road warrior are few and far between. I am an unabashed homebody. I love to cook in my own kitchen, sleep in my own bed and see the familiar faces that bring me comfort. I say this well knowing that my banner image is a beautiful mid 70's Chevy pickup with an almost serendipitous Alberta plate on the front. 

Taken on October 12th, 2014 - Killarney, Calgary, AB

Taken on October 12th, 2014 - Killarney, Calgary, AB

The whole concept of a home-loving roots musician, especially one who sings about travel and living off the road as much as I do, seems blasphemous to an extent. To many, the dues to be paid exist only on the dash of the beater we push from town to town, gig to gig, empty room to empty room. All this being said, of course, the heart yearns to wander. I find myself seeking escape cyclically throughout the year - winter's beginning, spring's fresh smells; mostly seasonal triggers, will often light a fire that revs my engine for a steady week of travel. I also say 'travel' knowing full well that a trip to the province next door is not exactly considered worldly.

I've been very fortunate as of late. The wandering spirit residing in my head has been peacefully at ease. I've fallen madly in love, and so I feel at rest. For some, love comes as secondary to success, or isn't a priority at all. Laissez-faire, it will happen when it happens. For me, this has never been the case.

This made my recent jaunt to sunny Saskatchewan a very different kind of journey. I didn't hit the road staring down the pavement with the same kind of fire burning within me. I wasn't running towards or from anything. I had love by my side, I could have driven forever.

I'm not as high as I look. We had a sleepover at Danny Oliver's house and hung out with Colter Wall. There may have been some morning bourbon consumed...

I'm not as high as I look. We had a sleepover at Danny Oliver's house and hung out with Colter Wall. There may have been some morning bourbon consumed...


I met Megan Nash sometime last year for a songwriter's circle at the Wine-Ohs Cellar. She had just begun a cross-country tour with Dana Beeler, an East Coast singer-songwriter. 

Megan and I became instant friends. We share the same low maintenance sense of humour and interaction. Have a beer, let's shoot the shit.  Nobody was looking for compliments or flattery, we played our tunes and nodded thoughtfully upon completion. The chemistry was organic and made for a great bill. 

About a month ago, Megan suggested a small tour around Saskatchewan, her home province. For those of you unfamiliar, Nash is something of a local icon. Every venue and gig we played was littered with fans from all walks. Her down to earth spirit catches the hearts and ears of anyone smart enough to listen, I was honoured to share the stage with her.

The tour began in Saskatoon. I won't lie, as a city, it was my least favourite. Large and ostentatious, I felt lost in the lights. That being said, it called for pause as I remembered where I had grown up. Is Calgary a similar vibe? Do people feel lost and alienated entering the place I call home? I had to wonder. This all being said, our hosts were incredible. Homemade vegetarian pasta and a warm bed for the night, great friends and conversation. I would like to have cooked for them and returned the favour.

Moose Jaw was a beautiful, boutique town. I enjoyed some of the best Thai food I have had, to date; and I say this after having spent a month in Thailand sampling just about every kind of food imaginable. I am an unashamed foodie. I spent ten years as a Chef in Calgary, finished my Red Seal at SAIT and eventually went the way of so many others - into a separate line of work. Another entry can cover my disenchantment with 6 day work weeks and cocaine mountains at 8am when the rest of the world are conquering Sundays.

Not pictured: Gentleman hula-hooping in the back of the cafe to Megan's song "Matchbox". Easily the most enjoyable part of the night.

Not pictured: Gentleman hula-hooping in the back of the cafe to Megan's song "Matchbox". Easily the most enjoyable part of the night.

Regina was surprising. Much smaller than I had anticipated, I felt an instant parallel between my home province's capital and the "city that rhymes with fun." (Hate the expression all you'd like, I stick by its message.) The venue was reverb-city. That being said, the stage must have been close to six feet high. This gave me an odd sense of confidence. Fresh strings changed immediately before, in the bar, were an added boost. Old friends put us up for the night, and taught us the hard ropes of shotgunning PIlsner in Vic Park. We got the real lay of the land. 

The tour's highlight was our last show in Gravelbourg, SK. Predominantly French in its demographic, I was unsure what to expect. 1200 residents is undoubtedly the smallest town I have ever even set foot in, aside from my hockey playing youth. I don't count that experience the same. It was literally into town boundaries, straight to the rink. My gal likes to call the rink a 'barn'; I always think that sounds way cooler. 

Gravelbourg was out in full force. The bar was full of eager hockey watchers. Not as many listeners. I played the country staples, and my optimistic 'full bar of drinkers' set list. Every room is different. It's always important to me to play the room.

I had a strange moment while playing 'Working Man' [track 4 - Motorhome]. The song itself was a mash of personal experiences written about friends, an old drunk in a bar, and the way the Canadian landscape was changing around oil production and environmentally sustainable futures. Generally in Calgary, the song garners a great deal of head nods and sincere applause. It is a favourite of mine. It is very dark, but was meant to be written as a request to the white collars to look down at the calloused hands passing up the bread to feed their wives. 

As I looked around the crowded, admittedly small town bar, I sang the song much the same as I always have. I put a great deal of hurt into the vocals. The song hurts me to sing. But as I watched the honest ball caps of farmers and industry workers bobbing up and down with laughter, and to sip from pint glasses; I realized how blatantly ignorant my song choice must have been. 

The song must seem a valiant message from the person who wrote it. I felt ashamed of my arrogance. How could I sing this song pretending to be a hero? I had not worked hard like this, not like them, not for a day in my life. I have never farmed. My hardest dues were paid among 15 hour days in a kitchen, burns and scars all over, yelling and sexism as common as the very smokey air to breathe. This is a different hard work. I was still working for the white suited, oily haired gentlemen sharing cocktails at noon on a Friday. I was still being taken advantage of, and working too hard to enjoy my own life at all. But it is not the same as working a farm to feed a family. It is not life and death. 

After the performance I realized what a real songwriter's understanding must come from. Perspectives are a lovely box of tinted lenses. We are fortunate to sort through the many colours, and hold one up to the light. But shining the light, alone, is not enough. We have to find the right room to shine it in, and the right faces to feel its glow. Although a dismantled metaphor at best, the idea stuck with me. 

I have profound respect for this country and the people I see living and working within it. I will remember this tour for teaching me that lesson.