The last couple of days have been filled with taking in the sights… although anywhere you look is a sight to see. Roly and I headed into Tlell, where he landed first on the island, years ago. We checked out the ‘Balanced Rock’, Golden Spruce Trail, and toured the town of Tlell. Yesterday, we just sat by the water and he left me there for a while in solitude. We had a send-off meal with friends and family for Lucy, who has spent the last couple of months being part of this community – to continue her journey back home to Mexico. For her send off, Lucy cooked for us a signature meal, followed by a traditional flan made by Skye. Wow – delightful!
Hanging out with Roly reminds me of the importance of long time friends, ones who have a quiet understanding, even in silence. Amid laughs and tokes, Roly will randomly share stories, passages, and bits of life wisdom throughout our time together… his words come at just the right time, challenging or affirming what my heart is sorting out. His carefree nature is not without its life-lessons behind it… its good to listen to someone who has lived 30 years ahead of me, and is… perhaps, at peace.
Saturday morning began with a mission to track down an electric guitar and amp. Roly got the word out there the day before, and found out Carl has a Les Paul to lend me… darn! Turns out, its a 1971 Les Paul – along with a vintage Yamaha tube amp with a nice growl. I was looking forward to the evening to rock out! George and Donnette own a property on Hippy Hill, where they host concerts in their backyard. A potluck, stage and great friends was the recipe for an amazing night – so fun!
The Tlell Fall Fair was a community event where local goods are sold, vegetable/flower/cows/goats/chicken competitors, food trucks and… music! Cousin Harley was the headliner, and they played two solid sets. I joined in with the Hippie Hill Billies for the first set, and Roly for his solo set. I performed an original set of my tunes, mixed in with a couple sing-a-longs to lighten the mood. Great stage!
Roly and I spent the morning catching up on our laptops at the breakfast table, while Lucy worked her magic at the stove creating gourmet tortillas made of blueberries… we welcomed the challenge as food critics! Lucy is a contestant in the Fish Fry Showdown at the Fall Fair this Sunday, entering a blueberry tortilla taco… she is sure to win! Skye was off to her job working a shift at the Information Centre, meeting visitors and sharing helpful tips.
The weather was overcast for most of the day, as everyone crossed their fingers for some rain. Its dry here… even the berries on the trees are left uneaten for lack of juice. And eventually, a light rain came to greet us.
I spent the day anticipating the show that night… just so excited to share my music to an entirely new audience. The ‘OV’ Pub (Ocean View – should be called ‘Spectacular Ocean View Pub’) is quite a big room, nice stage. The open mic portion of the show brought out some of the locals singing John Prine and some bluegrass, then two young solo performers – Roly performed a set, as well.
I took the stage as the Feature Artist for the rest of the night. The crowd was really receptive to my music, and I had fun choosing the songs on the spot, observing the crowd. The patrons were up dancing and singing along – ah, what a satisfying feeling!
The general feeling you receive from the island is basically… happiness! The views are extraordinary, anywhere you go in town. Roly and I did some errands yesterday, picking up tiles for his carpentry business. After a few waves along the way to the locals, we arrived at the hardware store within minutes from home. Before we could get out of the truck, a friend and fellow musician was waiting to talk with Roly and catch up. People are upbeat, friendly, welcoming – everyone knows everyone.
He showed me around his shop:
Checked out the space where the Fall Festival will be on Sunday – great stage!:
We spent the day playing music, catching up on each other’s tunes, and watching the dogs do their little dance – running out to greet whatever slightest sound that peeked interest.
Roly and I have played gigs in the past as an acoustic duo – presenting our original music, playing on each others songs… even though we have quite different styles. I find it easy to find the harmonies, and I have a lot of fun playing the lead breaks on acoustic guitar. Roly’s writing is real, encouraging, genuine – I respect his music, and its a privilege to play it. He’s become a dear friend, and its great to see him in his natural habitat!
I have the Ocean View Pub gig tonight. Starting with the open mic at 7:30PM, then I end the night as the feature artist. Looking forward to performing in front of a completely new audience – exhilarating!
Even though this tour started off with a Celebration of Life for a close friend, collaborator and Musician/Songwriter – I can’t imagine anywhere I’d rather be to reflect, process and heal.
Ok – where does this story really start?… I’ve owned a Haida Gwaii guitar for almost 20 years – made by Rob Bustos and Greg Williams from a Spruce of the great Haida Gwaii forest. I had always wanted to visit the island, and see where this guitar originated. Years ago, when I was hosting the open mic at Café Koi in Calgary, Roly Thompson walked into my life – Songwriter, musician and artist – we became fast friends. Roly already had a propensity to Haida Gwaii, and lived there for a few years. He invited me out to explore, and hooked me up with a couple of performance opportunities – I’m in!
After three planes, sleeping in airports, hopping shuttles and automobiles – I have arrived!… and to be sure – what an arrival! Roly picked me up from the airport in Masset, then took me for lunch here: a bus converted into a restaurant/bakery.
With a two hour drive ahead of us, we hit the road on this major highway:
…where we ran into his brother Dave, grading the road – which was pretty likely since he’s the only grater on the island!
We drove up Tow Hill Rd, where we explored the beautiful forest of Tow Hill in Naikoon Park and the gorgeous sand beaches:
Stopped in to see the historic Hiellen Totem Pole:
After heading back into the town of Masset for supplies, we continued our journey down the Queen Charlotte highway. Next stop was Port Clements to drop into his brother’s place to pick up his mint 1978 GMC camper van – my hotel room for the week! (Van pic to come!).
Then, our final destination of Queen Charlotte where Roly and his partner Skye, along with their two dogs, Zeva and Lola reside in their beautiful home. We were welcomed with a tasty dinner made by a visiting friend Lucy, who is from Mexico. So much love! Finally, Roly and I headed out for a rehearsal with his band – The Hippy Hill Billies. With a stage built on a property, it was the perfect place to jam on some great tunes… and we attracted a pretty good crowd of people from the neighborhood!
Wow – what a day!