I trust you're keeping well. I'm back down under, and the Aussies have been treating me sweetly so far. I just returned to Melbourne from a weekend in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, where I played the third festival of the trip so far, Mullum Music Fest. I was joined by Anni De Groot (a Tasmanian gal I met at the North Country Fair a couple years back) on viola, and we had a couple magical sets for small audiences, in a local cafe's garden and a small hall. There were lots of good friends in town, including plenty of fellow Canadians, but I kept an uncharacteristically low profile over the weekend on account of pain from my pancreatitis. It's turning out to be a rockier ride to recovery than I'd envisioned. I actually had to cancel three shows of my Ontario tour, and was even wondering if I should come down here at all, feeling a bit caught in the grip of all the plans I'd made. But I've been doing a lot more research and paying a lot more attention to what I eat (my doctors told me shockingly little), and have been making progress, albeit slowly. Snow falling every day of the week before I left Edmonton also helped make these look like not such bad plans to be caught in the grip of.
The day after I arrived, I took a train and bus up to Beechworth to reunite with my dear Taiwan friends Aron and Sabrina, their kids, and Skippy, my four-wheeled home. I didn't have time to take him to the shop just yet, but I fed him a litre of oil and we were back on the road in style! We rode out to Bendigo for their Blues and Roots fest the next day, had a sweet reunion with fellow van-dweller Candice McLeod and other pals from far and wide, and then headed to Healesville, where I sang songs alongside Michael Waugh at my friend Fred's 70th birthday party, and then hung around for the weekend at the wonderful Healesville Music Festival. It feels great to be back down here, singing songs for open-hearted folks who want to hear them.
After the fest I met up with fellow Canadians Twin Peaks, two hilarious northern BC gals on their first tour of Australia, and we spent a couple idyllic days on the Bellarine coast with our friend Jess of Jungal. On the day I left, the results from Australia's long-overdue marriage equality vote came in, and love won. I'm proud of you, Australia.
I'm on a couple days' downtime now, and on Thursday I'm starting a tour with double bassist and vocalist Liz Frencham, who is truly one of the most amazing musicians I've ever had the pleasure of playing with. Come say hi if you can, and if you've got friends in the area, please send 'em our way! They'll thank you.
Our dates are as follows:
Thu Nov 23 - Kyneton, VIC - Pizza and Wine Club
Fri Nov 24 - Wangaratta, VIC - Stage Door Studio
Sat Nov 25 - Harcourt North, VIC - house concert at Jindarra Springs Winery
Sun Nov 26 - Mia Mia, VIC - afternoon concert at Burke and Wills Winery with Kristina Olsen and Dingo's Breakfast
Mon Nov 27 - Melbourne, VIC - The Old Bar with Kerryn Fields and Georgia Delves (Georgia State Line)
Tue Nov 28 - Melbourne, VIC - house concert
Wed Nov 29 - Mitta Mitta, VIC - house concert at The Witches' Garden
Thu Nov 30 - Cadgee, NSW - house concert (SOLD OUT)
Fri Dec 1 - Canberra, ACT - Smith's Alternative
Sat Dec 2 - Bomaderry, NSW - private event
Sun Dec 3 - Tomerong, NSW - afternoon concert at Tomerong Hall
Wed Dec 6 - Wingham, NSW - house concert
Thu Dec 7 - Newcastle, NSW - Sunset Studio
Fri Dec 8 - Sydney, NSW - Acoustic Picnic
Sat Dec 9 - Albury, NSW - By The Banks Music Festival! With The Northern Folk, Sal Kimber and The Rollin' Wheel, This Way North, Adam McGrath of The Eastern, Candice McLeod, Yirrmal and many more!
Sun Dec 10 - Yackandandah, VIC - house concert with Candice McLeod
After that, I'm off to South Australia to play a couple dates and hang with my longtime bandmates and hometown hearties Jesse Dee and Jacquie B. We'll even be playing a show together, Sunday Dec 17th at Barossa Weintal in Tanunda! I'll also be singing a few songs as part of a SCALA event at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide on Thursday Dec 21st. And if anyone's interested in hosting a house concert in S.A. sometime before Christmas, just let me know!
After Christmas I'll be heading eastward, stopping in at Nariel Creek Folk Festival (which is more of an informal hang with folks playing trad tunes than a proper festival), and then spending some downtime in the woods before I pick up Bramwell in Sydney for another run around. We'll be at Cygnet Folk Festival in Tasmania, Illawarra Folk Fest in New South Wales, and the wonderful Newstead Live! fest in Victoria, with some house concerts in between. We're headed to Taiwan after that, for three weeks around the island on motorbikes, and a whole lotta long-overdue hugs and hangs with old friends.
I'll spend a couple more weeks there before I fly back to Oz for a two-month tour with my favourite Canadian songwriter, a living legend and a great mentor and friend, Corin Raymond. I'm beyond stoked to introduce him to my friends down here, and I'm pleased to report that folks are already getting excited! All the dates, as they're confirmed, are on my news page.
Lastly, my sincerest thanks go out to all the friends who wrote in response to my last Travelogue: those who've chosen sobriety themselves, those who are struggling with their own drinking, and those who just wrote to tell me they've got my back. I don't know yet whether pancreatitis is something I'm going to get over, or something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life. That last thought's scary, I must admit. And not being able to eat almost everything I lay eyes on has been a bit of a drag. But I've been enjoying the clarity of purpose that's come with sobriety, and I'm still feeling grateful every day--to be alive, to be able to do what I love, and to feel that what I'm doing is of some service to this sad, beautiful world. I sincerely hope you can feel the same. Love from here,