After a productive first day writing Catherine and I were raring get stuck in on day two, but not before a morning of interviews including a stint on the radio; CBC 1, the ‘Mainstreet PEI’ show with Karen Mair.
We chat about Music PEI and the exchange project, and I even get to spin some tunes on ‘SpinTime’ (sort of like Desert Island Discs). On the way back from the radio interview Catherine plays me a snippet of a song she started working after our writing session the day before – she’s been inspired by listening to interviews with some of PEI’s older residents. By the end of our writing day we’ve concocted a song called ‘From Emerald To Charlottetown’ which documents some of the changes in local industry that were highlighted in the interviews Catherine listened to. The title refers to the railroad that used to run through the centre of the island until the 80s.
Feeling pretty pleased with ourselves at coming up with a song in a day, we head over to have dinner with Chris Gauthier, Catherine’s guitarist. The evening consists of a few drinks, some very fresh and tasty oysters, some jamming and a lot of guitar and music talk. Chris’ house also boasts probably the best view I’ve ever seen from a front door – so good I forgot to take a photo!
On Friday we have our first clear day to work on the writing. Feeling confident having managed to get one song in the bag, we decide to jump in without much of a plan and see where we end up. Before long we’re working on a song about a guy who comes back for his lover after leaving PEI to find work during tough times. Again, lots of allusions to local industry and goings-on, down to the title ‘Silver Thaw’, a covering of ice caused by freezing rain (not my photo).
On the Friday evening we drive over to The Dunk where I’m staying for one of Hal Mills’ weekly house concerts. Playing tonight is local songwriter John Connolly, accompanied by Chris Gautier, and some guy called Sam Carter throwing in a few tunes for good measure.
Seems like my first gig in Canada went down ok, lots of folks tell me they’re planning to come down to Harmony House for the showcase gig on Sunday Night. I had a wonderful night, such a warm friendly bunch of people and a great atmosphere. The evening ends up with Catherine and I showcasing our new songs for a select few sets of ears – lots of encouraging noises made here, though I guess the Sunday is the acid test.
Earlier today (Saturday) Catherine and I made some final tweaks to our songs and tried our best to internalise all the lyrics. After a bite to eat it’s time for me to say goodbye to The Dunk and to move into a hotel in Charlottetown ready for the showcase events over the next few days. Special mention should go to Hal Mills, owner of The Dunk and member of the Board of Directors for Music PEI, who has put me up in his wonderful cabin. He’s been a great host over the past few days. Thanks Hal!