Pottery and Good Crowds: Singing in the Qu'Appelle Valley
The first time I played in Fort Qu'Appelle was also the first stop on my first week long tour (Spring 2015). I wasn't sure what to expect. Honestly, it could have been a pretty rocky start to my tour, but it ended being one of my favourite stops. The community at the Qu'Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts is so welcoming and attentive. Their dedicated board puts on events (their poster wall is impressive) in a 100 year old, restored school-house that also serves as an art gallery, art studio and dance studio. Super cool. Obviously I wanted to go back, so I was glad it worked to play there again.
Sarah and I left for the Fort early Saturday afternoon (after doing yet another gear tetris in the trunk of her SUV). Unlike last year (it was freezing rain when I left), we left Saskatoon in pretty decent weather, which made for a chill drive down the 11 and into the Qu'Appelle Valley.
Now, I love being on the road for shows. This might change, but right now it combines a lot of my favourite things: snacks, music, car chats, and coffee. It's also a little more enjoyable than driving to a vacation destination because you (I) have just the right amount of nerves to almost not want to get there. Maybe it's just me? Either way, it's a good segue to another thing about travelling to gigs: there is never enough time.
Whatever you think you have time for on tour, you probably don't. Even though I thought we had left in plenty of time, our last leg felt rushed. Enter me STILL feeling like we definitely had enough time to stop in at my friend Amy's Mom and Step-Dad's Pottery studio in FQ. After a quick visit and purchase, we were on our way to the venue. Luckily, it was only about 3 minutes away (yay, small towns). We were only a few minutes behind schedule.
Sarah and I set up pretty efficiently, had a quick soundcheck, then headed to Penny's (our booking contact) for a nice meal, prepared by her Husband, Hal. As nice as it was to sit down for awhile, we were running pretty short on time *again* and rushed to get changed and head back to the Arts Centre for the show. Once we were back at the venue, I gave Sarah a quick tour of the rest of the Centre and watched some familiar faces trickle in and take their seats.
Despite our busy day and previous evening, Sarah and I were both ON that night, musically speaking. Sarah was up first and played a really strong set, complete with charming stage banter. When it was my turn, I felt like I had a couple magical moments in my set where I felt raw emotion that didn't destroy my focus. Generally those moments derail my songs live, but it helped that this was our second consecutive show. The space and crowd didn't hurt either. The lighting there is ambient, but not too dark. The general atmosphere is casual, but intimate enough to feel like you're connecting with people. All in all it was a really nice show. And like any good small town event (or any event really) there was coffee and dainties to be had during the break. Do I want to eat a brownie after my set? Yes, yes I do.
After some post-show visits it was time to load up and head to Regina for the night. Time flies. Special shout out to Dylan Evans' (of Fancy Diamonds fame) 93 year old Grandmother, Doreen, who is a proud G-ma AND supporter of the arts. If I'm still going to shows at 93 I'll know I did something right.
Thanks, Fort Qu'Appelle! Joan, Penny, Lorna et. al.
Next blog: Regina, ticks, not having enough time for stuff, making it work, gear set up superstars.