It's going to be over a year and a half since I've been on the road with Aidan Knight and that makes me really sad. Ever since we started playing together back in the Versicolour/the O'Darling days 8 years ago, the band has been a huge part of my life. While I've recently started a new stream in my life with climbing, outdoor education and guiding, I still yearn for the grunge and excitement of the road.
I was so excited when I found out that Aidan was working on a new album last fall. I wasn't going to be a part of the writing process, but I was still really stoked that he had cranked up the old writing machine again. So you can imagine how I felt when he asked me to write a bunch of horn arrangements a few months ago. After a month of writing, I drove out to Victoria for a marathon of two 18 hour sessions recording at Wakal Manor Studios. I was able to get Scott MacInnes, Mike Oswald, and best of all my dad, to help out with some trombone, french horn and reed parts. It was a wildly intense couple of days, but the tracks are sounding really great and I can't wait for this new album to come out. Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to hit the road next year!
On my way out west headed back to the lodge, Emma, Kat, our good friend Brandon and I thought we should probably swing by the legendary Skaha climbing bluffs near Penticton for some early spring climbing. Located in one of Canada's few dry deserts, Shaka Provincial Park boasts some 50 crags with thousands of routes. After a short 40min hike, you end up in beautiful network of canyons and cliff faces peppered with bolts. The routes are technical, runout, and super fun!! It was a super strong way to start the season, and I even got up an unreal 5.11 :-D. Horne Lake here we come!!!!!
Back in October last year, I got the great opportunity to record some horn tracks for Layten Kramer. I met Layten a while ago and really hit it off with him after an amazing tequila party (he showed me Whitney's killer album Light Upon the Lake and I'm a sucker for hot jams with sweet 'n sour horn parts). Layten's a fantastic singer songwriter based out of Victoria and I can't tell you how stoked I was when he asked me to record some horns for him over a few evenings in his Fernwood house.
His album just came out in April and it sounds awesome! He's on tour right now with Peach Pyramid and I can't recommend him enough. Check out his album and go see his show!!!
May 10 - Victoria
May 17 - Vancouver
May 19 - Calgary
May 31 - Winnipeg
After an amazing winter in Nelson, I’m back at the Strathcona Park Lodge teaching the kids how to go outside (pro-tip: stop complaining). Winter highlights included:
- Turning 30 :-)
- Having my body fall apart because of said birthday :-(.
- Living with some amazing peeps.
- Dealing with a nighmarish psychotic crazy landlord. Thank god for lawyers….
- Discovering that driving in the mountains during winter is the best way to stress the shit out of yah...
I’ve been really letting this blog gather dust but I want to revive it! I’ve got some really cool adventures lined up for the year and I want to start writing about it all. Shall we see if I can post more than twice annually? Let us begin.
Life in Nelson
Last November, after a wild season trail building, I headed off in Janet, my trusty Rav4, to live with my girlfriend in Nelson. We moved into a beautiful little house with our best friend K-Dawg at the top of a pretty insane hill (Nelson is basically one giant, steep ass hill, and we were way up there). It was my first time living in a place with a 'real' winter (i.e. lots of snow, ice and people obsessed with skiing) and I wanted to dive right in. I bought skis, a season's pass at the local ski resort and mustered up all the stoke I had. Unfortunately, my stoke was too high, and 12 days of skiing later I had completely messed up the nerves in my right leg. After being carried off the mountain by two ski patrollers, my career as a skier came to a crashing halt.
While the town is oversaturated with bullshit banter about how great the 'pow' was, there was more than enough other stuff to keep me busy through my mid-December post-ski season. I got involved with the fantastic local jazz community and had a once in a lifetime opportunity to play with the legendary Donny Clarke during his 80th birthday party. It was really cool to see how a little rural town could foster such awesome musical talent.
Part 4- The Walbran
After 6 months of buzzing around the island working and exploring, it was massive relief to finally come back to the Walbran Valley to get back to what I love most, trailbuilding. The fall ended up being really exciting; the core trailbuilding crew, Alex, Maia, Will and myself ended up laying down the most amount of boardwalk yet. After 2 years of figuring things out and improving our woodworking and saw skills, everything clicked together and projects were getting done faster than ever before.
With winter closing in fast, we finished the season in mid November with some big work days labouring well into the night under skis of heavy, unrelenting rain.
The Bugaboo Giant
On the way out from one of our last trips, we came across a tragic sight. After 3 days of torrential rain, a huge, fully grown, healthy cedar had fallen across the road on the the Bugaboo main. This 1000+ year old tree had zero rot, perfect grain and beautiful foliage, but with the ground saturated with water and zero wind protection (the surrounding forest had all been clear cut), the Bugaboo Giant toppled over in the storm.
It took us 3 hours with two chainsaws to cut a gap wide enough for my car (ripping the muffler off in the process). A wild adventure, but an emotional one as well. Although it was an exciting mission to get my car through the tree, it left us feeling sad, confused and shitty. When Christopher Columbus stumbled onto Cuba, this tree was already over 500 years old. It's now just a bunch of dead wood on the side of the road...
Part 3 - Climbing
2017 was a big year for climbing. It was the year I left the gym and seriously started climbing outdoors. My home base was perfectly located; 40mins from Crest Creek Crags, a super varied basalt crag, and 90mins from Horn Lake, the ultimate in overhung limestone craziness. To top it all off, I lived in the heart of Vancouver Island’s Elk River Mountains and I could be on route for the alpine within an hour of leaving my cabin. I got to sport climb all over the island, have some great alpine ascents in Strathcona Park, and tried trad climbing in Squamish for the first time.
Part 2 - a Frosty Spring
Last spring started with a few frustrating attempts to get to the Walbran Valley. The valley and roads got so much snow over the winter that access was completely shut off for almost 6 months. On my last attempt, I hit ice on the road into Port Renfrew and 180º’d into a tree. A pretty sad day for my car Janet, but by no means the end of her reign.
In early April, after a show in Whistler with Walk Off the Earth (my trumpet froze during the outdoor concert and almost didn’t make it through the set), I headed up to the Strathcona Park Lodge for my new job as an outdoor instructor. I moved into a small cabin on top of a hill and started a whirlwind six months introducing kids to the outdoors. In rain or shine, I guided eleven to sixteen year olds down lakes via canoe, up mountains with boots and sweat, and through difficult hikes with lots of complaining. More than anything, the job reasserted my commitment to the outdoors, and showed me that I still have a lot of learning to do.
2017 has a been a year of change; I spent 6 months working as an outdoor educator and guide in Strathcona Park, started rock climbing seriously, had some sweet new adventures, and moved to Nelson BC. After 8 years of putting music first, I wanted to take a step back to self reflect and try new things.
In the next few posts, I would like to present a retrospective of my year through pictures.
Part 1 - Winter Mountains
I started the year with a 4 day solo snowshoe trip in the Forbidden Plateau (Strathcona Provincial Park). Although not a very long trip, it was the most intense feeling of solitude I had ever experienced. No footprints, no trail, no noise, and very dense fog.
After getting a glimpse of Mt Albert Edward for just of a few minutes, completely encased in snow, I became obsessed with the idea of climbing it. I returned a few weeks later with my friend Dan for a fantastic blue bird day ascent.
I’m going to be playing a show with my Dad Thursday, March 30th at Hermann’s Jazz Club. We’re putting on a tribute to Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker and it’s going to be suweeet!
Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, for those of you that didn’t go to bebop school, fronted an incredible jazz quartet in Los Angeles during the 1950’s and were the originators of the west/east coast rivalry that continued until the death of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. They played cool jazz instead of the… ummm, other kinds of jazz. Suck it New York City.
Anyway, our band’s awesome. It’s got Damian Graham on drums, Bruce Meikle on bass, and Rob Cheramy on guitar. Our band members are all alive and not strung out, so we’ve got the edge that Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker never had. Our show is full of real instruments, an all-ages bar, and reasonably priced tickets.
SEE YOU THERE :-) !
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