A few weeks ago in Berlin I spent an afternoon with my friend Henry’s piano. I meant to be practising, but instead I wrote this little ditty for the afternoon.

Oh magnolia call me spring
Call me anything
And if you know the names of things
speak them now before the bell rings

Paper always tastes the same
No matter what words grace the pages

Oh magnolia show your light
Keep it on and keep it bright
’cause it gets cold here still at night
Where pianos come in black and white

Where paper always tastes the same
No matter what words grace the pages

Oh magnolia call me spring
Call me anything

What can I tell you? It would be in a way repetitive to regale the shows that were GREAT. The ones where we all felt less lonely.

You were there. You KNOW.

But I will add these things about each city/town I played in on the autumn tour, about these Canadian, Dutch, German, and English travels, where we met, where we touched and circled each other, where we wondered, where we danced, where we asked “why?” and “why not?” not of the gigs necessarily, but of that day, that time, of the fact that what we do together is so much more than my songs and you being there.

These are the places I played, and a few of the things I’ll remember:

In Port Alberni, I was told “you’ve lived a tragic life” and disagreed.

On Gabriola Island I fell asleep to the sounds of owls talking.

In Victoria a secret got out. I let it. I’d been holding on to it for awhile.

On Salt Spring Island I was transfixed by autumn leaves on a skylight.

I remember most from Denman Island that “people say all kinds of things, but they act on their feelings,” over comfort food.

In Armstrong four distinct chapters in my life met on one page.

During the show, Carla and I counted that I’ve played in Ymir eight times – the most I’ve played in any town, outside of my hometown.

In Calgary I tiptoed towards possibility, then ran away giggling.

Edmonton gave me three days of tears.

In Sherwood Park a man described the day his life changed while watching a turtle give birth, to assure me that life is long and full of unexpected wonder.

Regina kissed me with prairie autumn.

In Winnipeg I believed him – “you know what to do” – before sunrise on Osborne street.

Montreal sang every Disney song she could think of and I was glad I never finished any post-secondary schooling.

Ottawa let me rest my head on her lap and we planned our next bold move.

Toronto, as always, both soothed and excited and challenged and scared me. Our love story is being told so very slowly.

In Utrecht I was reminded of how I love short term routines in new cities.

Dusseldorf played music from home, connecting dots from far away places.

Offenbach kissed me too, but with wine and whiskey and Louis Armstrong.

In Berlin I turned 35.

Amersfoort reminded me how lucky I am to have mostly great gigs for open ears and hearts, and that noisy bars are few and far between. But noisy bars still happen.

In Hengelo I remembered how much I love the rain on my skin.

I felt lucky in Verden.

In Bremen I was overwhelmed by voices, sound, and the curve of a back that underlined “I love you.”

London flirted and skirted and darted and danced noisily, sweetly, and late into the night.

Beverley poured sunshine on the comfiest bed. It found familiar weight in broken hearts. It was full of kindness.

In Leeds we picked up where we left off, drinking wine while I went on too long and she smoked out the window, laughing and remembering.

In Alcester I was moved by family and friendship, by illness and endurance.

In Kelvedon a drummer did a decent Grant Lawrence impression and cited a long list of Canadian bands worth loving, known to him by the R3 podcast, and I missed Canada.

Onanole has come to be a much needed halfway point and always tells me “you’re tired, you’re safe here, sleep well.”

…and from there I drove home. 12,000+ Canadian kms later, planes and trains and rental cars through Germany, The Netherlands and England, wrong turns, right steps, hours, days, songs, duets, solos, parking tickets, speeding tickets, missed connections, connection, love, sex, touch, tears, remembering, forgetting, presence, absence, having, missing, something smaller and mightier than bridges over land and time, courage, fear, songs, stories, and nine weeks later –

I’m still yours.

and that was THAT tour.

and I’m going to rest now. Until the new year,
xoc

I love you this much (I assure you it’s A Lot):

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I’m cozy in Regina, Saskatachewan, as I write this, with most of the current Canadian tour dates – though not most of the kilometres – behind me and it’s hard to believe in two weeks I’ll be flying across the Atlantic for the second time this year.

Here are the European tour dates for Autumn 2013. For the NL and DE dates Diederik van Dijk will be joining me to play cello, guitar, and a few of his own very fine tunes. Which is awesome.

See you soon!

October 18 – Kargadoor @ Utrecht, NL
October 19 – Schwan w/Stadtklang @ Dusseldorf, DE
October 20 – Hafen 2 @ Offenbach, DE
October 22 – Playing With Eels @ Berlin, DE
October 23 – Miles Cafe @ Amersfoort, NL
October 25 – Lambooijhuis @ Hengelo, NL
October 26 – Liekedeeler @ Verden, DE
October 27 – House Concert @ Bremen, DE
October 30 – The Bedford @ London, UK
November 1 – The Birdcage @ Bristol, UK
November 2 – Beverley Folk & Blues Club @ Beverley, UK
November 3 – Verve @ Leeds, UK
November 6 – The Lord Nelson @ Alcester, UK
November 8 – Live at The Institute @ Kelvedon, UK

EU-Fall-2013-Web

Here’s another video from the German tour – an unplugged performance of me singing BGs with Robert Carl Blank on his song “10 or 12” – filmed at our last Songs & Whispers show together in Bremen.

Some days before there had be an afternoon at a house concert where I hummed along to this song from the audience while Robert ended his set with it. The next night I fumbled my way through it on stage, and from there it became the closing number of our night together. That last night in Bremen was the first time dance moves were introduced however…

Ever since Spring arrived in Bremen – and she was very late – in the mornings when I wake up in the Bremen flat (and the Bremen flat has been the centre point of most of the last three week’s shows), I wander into the kitchen, put the kettle on for coffee, and swing the window open wide. There’s a small park below and, in my weeks here, an already familiar cast of local characters. I love to look out that window, and most recently, to sit on the sill, my back to the green below, the sun above, and the breeze around, and write in my notebook.

My walking route to the nearest main street has changed from the easiest (right and then right) to the prettiest (left, left, right, left-ish) and I like noticing the small routines that form in short periods of time.

The better route includes walking past these knits.

It’s hard to believe it’s down to one remaining performance here in Germany. I’ve had 28 gigs in the last 24 days, which has made for a kind of busy blur with scattered moments of clarity and warmth. So many of the shows have been so lovely, and beyond my expectations – though I had few for my first time here – and just when I think the sweetest, warmest moment has taken place, another one finds me.

I otherwise feel rather out of touch with the world and I have no idea of what’s happening with anyone other than me. It’s is an odd sensation, and boring in ways, but the focus of each day of getting to the venue and doing my job, all the while navigating through foreign landscapes and language, has gobbled me up.

The immersion, despite the blurred edges, has been interesting, and I’m grateful to report that since I last wrote there have been fewer hurdles and greater joys.

There is rather a lot of talking to be done while on tour, but almost entirely is that talking always with someone new. Every day there are so many new connections and small conversations.  I really noticed this on the last two long tours I’ve done, that I have a lot of conversations with new people, which I enjoy, but that I don’t get nearly enough talking in with my “old”, with my nearest and dearest, my closest knits – time zones and timing being the biggest challenge to making that happen. I start to feel it, a kind of backlog of thoughts and feelings, a collection of the little daily stories piling up and getting tangled, a lack of feeling known.

Many people here speak at least a little English. I’ve collected a handful of German phrases but have basically been a fixed post as far as communicating here goes – people have been so generous in moving towards me, when I can’t even meet them halfway. It has impacted telling stories, and really made me think about my stories too. As anyone who’s seen me perform knows, I like to talk about these songs of mine, but here that talking has changed. I speak slower, I tell fewer stories, try to be more succinct, to boil it down. I’ve started to hear my songs more as sounds than words – an entirely new experience since the words have always been the entry point for me – which just makes me think of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZXcRqFmFa8. What am I like, if you can’t understand what I’m saying? I’ve liked considering this shift. I like being sounds, smiles and gestures.

And I’ve loved getting to hear Robert Carl Blank on so many nights – he’s a fantastic player and is still, after so many shows together, pulling out songs I haven’t heard yet. Amazing. This past week’s joyful moments have been largely impacted by my friend Diederik van Dijk joining Robert and I here in Bremen.

Diederik and Robert at Kito.

After playing solo so much these past few months, it was SO wonderful to have Diederik on cello for a few songs, goodness me, and also to hear his songs again. It’s been 8 years since we last played together and he is one of the “old” – I’m glad for a few days of finding ground in conversation with someone who knows me. I needed it.

And need it still. But I fly home on Monday, just two sleeps and one gig away, and so very soon I will fall back into the warmth and comfort of familiar. I love the newness of touring, I’ve definitely loved this tour in particular, for all its ups and downs, but just thinking of my own bed now is going to bring me sweet dreams here tonight.

And tomorrow morning, one more perch on the kitchen window sill, one more chorus of Bremen birds to write by.