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Friday, November 30, 2007 - Shaun
Hello out there,

I'm writing from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where I've spent the evening handing envelopes of money to myself which I'll deny ever seeing.

I just tied into a hotel toblerone which will probably cost me close to what Karlheinz just gave me in non-sequential bills... Oh well, it's something of an occasion, a breaking of the bottle on the bow if you will...

We embark on the '07 Holiday Train tomorrow, rolling westward for the next few weeks, through the pre-cambrian Canadian shield, around the great lakes, across the infinitous prairies and under mountains and past the continental divide to the pacific. We roll from Montreal to Vancouver and entertain people in cities, towns and hamlets, and then CP donates money to the local food bank of each place. Good humans, a good cause and unprecedented access to a very rarified mode of travel and the scenery it happens past have us very inspired and creative. I've crossed the entire country a dozen times, parts of it more times than I can count, and I've never experienced it the way it looks from this vantage point.

Last year I spent all our time offstage on the back of the last car, where the caboose would have been, in a parka taking pictures. I'll share them with you when I get home.

This year I want to capture more than just the visuals. I've decided to record an acoustic solo record as we travel across the country. The process of writing, recording and performing Catch My Death on the Daggerlip Sketches sent me back on a listening spree through Harry Smith's anthology of folk music, my 1920's blues collection, and on through Woody Guthrie's dust bowl ballads of the 30's and into the works of Al Purdy and accounts of Canadian history. Inspired by those sources and the clickety clacking sound of the cars on the track which gave birth to blues, country and rock, I've written a catalogue of songs about travel, canadian history, leaving home, my grandfather's life in the saskatchewan navy, (it exists), outsourcing, the Riel rebellion (of personal interest to me as I explore my metis heritage), and my life's westward evolution among other things which I'll write moments before I record them during the trip.

My plan is to capture the songs and the incidental sounds around them in the locomotive, the sleeper cars, the boxcar, the small pubs along the way, the engineer's cabins beside the tracks, the occasional hotel shower, and to make a musical document of my trip over a railway that is no longer a passenger line, and which prevented everything west of Toronto from becoming part of the states.

I'll be releasing that record early next year, I'll keep you posted.

In the early new year I'll be playing some shows with fellow skatch guitar slingers Curtis Scarrow and Jordan Cook in a scrappy, loud blues project we're calling Guitarmageddon... We will melt your faces.

Earl will release the new Mobadass record this year too.

And then, after the late January shows with Safwan back on the drums, we'll locate ourselves in the studio and continue work on the collection of Wide Mouth Mason songs we've been nurturing for the last little while.

After a long silence, there will be much to hear in the new year.

I hope you're well, thank you for checking in, my toblerone's all gone...


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