North America House Show Tour – PT. III

Hey friends!

To pick up from the last update, we have finished week three of our tour. It’s FRIDAY and we're in New York City! As always I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me tell you about the capital city of my native land first. We rolled into Ottawa, Ontario ready to play some music and do some sightseeing. Sheldon and Josh had never been on the east end of Canada, so Cam and I played tour guide. Being on the road everyday, in a city for only 24 hours or less always brings out the fight or flight in us; sometimes we desperately want to sleep or hole up in a coffee shop, but usually we want to explore as much of the city as we can. This time we fought the sleepiness and pushed through. The mansion we played in was very elegant and classy. Cam even wore a dress shirt to spice it up a little. Not many people came, but it was one of those cozy, intimate sets where the audience interacted with us and asked questions and listened to our comedy bits. A spoken word artist shared some emotional, thought provoking pieces and I felt really blessed to have witnessed his performance. The night only got better! I walked over to my friends home, Andrew and Kayla Lee, because Ottawa is cute and tiny like that, and we had a great time catching up and encouraging each other. These people have inspired me a lot, and it was lovely to spend an evening with them. The next day, we had brunch at Nate’s Deli, and enjoyed classic smoked meat sandwiches! I don’t know if it comes across in these letters, but food brings me a lot of happiness and so some of the best moments this trip have revolved around food. The guys always tease me about needing so much food, but they know it keeps me from being “hangry" so their’s really nothing else to say. Not hungry Hannah is a happy Hannah. 
      Anyways, after food we walked to the Parliament Hill and like a proper tourist Sheldon yelled “What’s that THING?” about the Peace Tower. Josh, like he’s lived there forever, joined the public pilates class happening on the lawn of the Parliament hill. Cam and I talked about politics of course, and discussed whether the pilates class was being paid for with our tax dollars. What a day. 

So this next part is really fun, because we arrived in Montreal a few hours later. Unlike our usual routine of arriving at a house, we went to La Cagibi, a venue/cafe combined. They compensated us with food and cider, but before I get carried away on food again, let me say that the musicians we shared the set with were amazing! Two artists opened for us, and they were delightfully wholesome, talented and humble, artists. I enjoyed every minute of that night. Sheldon, Josh and Cam played their hearts out, knowing it was the last set with Cam, as he was flying out the next morning. I managed the merch table, had some great conversations with the audience (which was huge, the room was packed)  and took some footage. At the end of the night we went over to Ryan’s apartment (Sheldon’s cousin) who generously hosted us. We split up as a team and half of us stayed with one of his friends, which was different as we have literally been inseparable up until this point.The next day was a free day! Knowing what Montreal had to offer, I took my Texan friend Josh on a tour of downtown. If you’ve never eaten at Crudessance, or Brit ’n’ Chips, you must, and if you get a chance to wander down St. Catherine’s street or St. Denis you wont regret it. We ate really well that day. Oh boy, I’m talking about food again. I took full advantage of my free day, going on a zip-line ride over Old Port, Montreal and packing in as much fun as I could. I did get whiplash, because the guy who was supposed to catch me didn't really, but after some massages from the team and utilizing the home made, gas station resourced sock and rice hot pack, I was back to 💯 . Thanks Josh!

Things change a lot right about now because we all realized that this was our last day in Canada for over a month! We were going to be entering NY State to play a little county show in Warwick. We played an event at a community arts centre, created to raise money for a “school of rock” for kids in the vicinity. All of us enjoyed our time with our hosts, the coordinators of the event and really admire how they threw themselves into their community to promote peace and arts. Thanks for that, friends, keep it up! 

Now the scenery changes little as we head towards a couch surfing show. Sheldon said at LEAST three times that day “I don’t know anything about this show, I don’t know if we have a place to sleep, I just don’t know what to expect”. With these reassuring words in my head, we pull up, and knock on the door. An adorable dog named Maple greeted us, as well as our couch surfing host. The host promptly told us he had invited a lot of people but no one could come. Sheldon is one of those people that doesn’t take no for an answer (and for the most part I really admire this) so Josh and him started knocking door to door inviting people to come enjoy this backyard show. They were received pretty well, or so I’m told; I waited with Maple in the backyard catching the last minutes of golden sun. Sheldon and Josh played a really creative set for some of the neighbours, and they received some great words of encouragement and praise. We stayed the night with this host and in the morning he made us pancakes with skittles, and hash-browns!
          Okay, we’re on the road again! We arrived in Boston late that afternoon and by the time we parked and got our bearings we had unanimously decided that Josh would not drive or sit passenger when we enter the big cities, but rather be in the back with a blindfold on. Josh doesn’t cope very well, let’s just say that. To be fair though, I wasn’t coping super well in the heat that day, so we found a public gym right across from the Fenway Park and paid to use their showers. It is a very funny thing to realize you are comfortable unpacking your luggage to get fresh clothes in the middle of the sidewalk and even funnier when you stop realizing how weird it is. I’m there folks! The nomad life is not for the shy or comfortable, that’s for sure. Today was the the day we played two sets. With fresh, free food in our bellies, we made our way to the community garden in the middle of the city, with all our gear strapped on our backs. There were some painful moments using google maps, and we had to back track but we made it in one piece and as one group and what awaited us made up for any inconvenience. With the sun setting on our backs and vegetables, herbs, and flowers everywhere, we listened while two amazing artists opened the night for us. Curious onlookers joined us, and we had so many wonderful people from all over the world representing their nations that night. I didn’t want to leave this magical environment, but we had one more show that night at a venue called Middle East. Located four blocks from Harvard University, this venue is a key part of the city and boasts five stages in their establishment. Once again, we all had a really good time connecting with other musicians and the people of Boston. Gracie, one of the openers at the garden show hosted us in her tiny studio apartment and we couldn’t have been more grateful and delighted. It’s people like Gracie that have made our trip so memorable, cosy and heartwarming. Before heading to Rhode Island the next morning, we ate a vegan and gluten free breakfast at Veggie Galaxy and it was spectacular. They served chocolate coconut ice cream milkshakes, need I say more? While the guys worked online after breakfast, I took an epic nap in the van, feeling what some have called a food coma. Not eating much the day before and then eating like you’re about to hibernate makes for some sleepy situations, let me tell you.

 On our way to Rhode Island we took a very random stop when Sheldon saw this small storefront on the side of the road that looked intriguing. He said “should we check it out?” and as per usual I was down. There are bonuses to being very similar to your friends, whenever one of us is curious we explore! This stop ended up being one of the best things to happen on this tour! Max Formal Co. is run by Paul and his wife and at first glance we thought we’d made a mistake because we saw lot’s of sheets and pillow cases, but we saw some records and looked through the four boxes. Paul approached us and started a conversation that lasted over an hour, and we left more enlightened and encouraged than we’d walked in. Paul apparently knew we were artists just by looking at us, and told us about his own artistic endeavours. He designs costumes for Woody Allen, runs a linen shop, but most importantly (according to him) supports other artists in the community. He told us about a young man that goes by the name of Shepherd Fairey, who designed the storefront logo and business cards. He told us about how he supported Shepherd’s dream of becoming an artist financially and emotionally, and thought of him as another son. Sheldon and I couldn't believe our ears. Shepherd Faery is an iconic American artist who created the brand OBEY, made the campaign design for Barrack Obama’s election and much more, and this was the man behind the man speaking to us. Paul encouraged us to never give up on our dreams, always love and treat others with kindness and remember the little guys who do the behind the scenes work. That’s some solid advice. We admired some fonts Paul himself had made for costumes in famous movies and then we got ready to leave. Not before Paul asked us several times for our autographs in case we ever became famous someday. He told me he would be looking out for the documentary I’m filming, and follow Sheldon’s career closely. Sheldon and I were beyond excited, almost incredulous, that we had just seen the behind the scenes of two amazing artists. With many stories and kind words tumbling inside our heads we went to one of the best house shows to date. Rhode Island treated us really well, if you can’t tell.
            Our host was found through couch surfer and she is a one of a kind woman. She has started five businesses, is currently the editor of a prominent business magazine.  and is an exceptionally gifted hostess. We were welcomed in a very efficient manner, shown to our rooms, given the three house rules and in a flurry of chaos we all started setting up for the party in the heavy, humid rain. When she told us to expect one hundred people Sheldon and I got huge eyes and promptly put on some nice clothes. It was a night of champagne, twinkle lights, dessert, tents, music, laughter and pleasant scents. The rain even stopped! A more delightful summer party could not have been created and we had the pleasure of filming it, and entertaining the guests. Something that stood out to me about this place was how extraordinarily good these Province, Rhode Islanders were at being neighbours. The two houses on either side of the party were connected by lights and tarp and tents, and everyone mingling knew each other and cared about each other. When our host gave us dinner, she fed us some granola bars that a local refugee family made with the communities support. They also really cared about us, asking us about life in Vancouver and on the road. As if this place couldn’t become more special, I noticed a bee hive in the backyard. It was plain and simple wonderment that I felt, for this place, for the people and for the journey we’re on.
 

There’s not a lot that can top that day, unless you count the day after. On our drive to Connecticut, we all agreed that if we could find a beach along our drive we had to dip our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. Sheldon had never experienced it before and I just really wanted to swim! Josh, like the amazing navigator that he is, found the PERFECT spot where we neither paid for parking, or admittance onto the beach (yeah that’s a thing here) and we dipped our toes in! It was enough of an experience for the guys, but I still wanted to swim. Ask my parents, I more often then not left the security of their supervision to jump in the ocean, whether it be winter or summer. I found a place where I wouldn't break my neck on rock, and ran in. BEST feeling after being in a hot sweaty car for hours. The salt water did NOT help my tangled, nearlydreaded, hair situation but it was worth it. We got to Connecticut in good time, and set up for what would be our smallest audience, in the largest venue. The art director at the gallery profusely apologized for how last minute it was, and how badly they advertised, but Sheldon will play for one or one hundred, he just loves to play music and share friendship with everyone he meets. It was a chill set, I ran out and found some dairy free ice cream and took some footage of the graffiti covered streets. After the show, we all made our way at different times to the rooftop of the gallery. We all had different ideas on how we wanted to spend our evening, and we all sat twenty feet apart, either eating ice cream, talking to loved ones or enjoying a smoke. Coldplay’s Sky Full of Stars played out into the street from a pub below and made it’s way to our ears. Under a sky full of stars, and listening to these iconic lyrics and eating ice cream I stared out at the warm glow coming from other buildings or bridges and pondered for a while. If you had asked me eight months ago what I’d be doing now, it wouldn’t have been this. Yet, I can’t think of a better way to spend two months. As cliche as this is going to sound, I’ve been learning, loving, laughing, praying, dreaming and growing more than I ever have. If you’re enjoying this tour blog, get more details and pictures and videos, on Sheldoncole’s Instagram(_sheldoncole_) and Facebook where I will be posting shorter updates everyday. The gratitude and joy we all feel being welcomed into these homes and for all the support from all our friends and family is huge. Stay tuned for new music videos, photos, stories and updates next week! Much love!

With joy, 

Hannah

 

 

 

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North America House Show Tour – Pt. II

Hey again!

For those of you reading the tour blog, this is the end of our second week on the road. Leaving Canada behind and crossing the border to ‘Merica was a little intimidating for some of the team and very exciting for others. I for one, was pumped for the American parts of the tour, though we were leaving behind new friends and some very inspiring environments. Okotoks for example, south of Calgary claims “there’s a number of things to do in Okotoks” on their entrance to the city. I don’t know about you, but it seems like we could have stayed and found a number of things to do there. We’ve covered a lot of ground in two weeks, let me tell you! 

First stop across the U.S. border was Minneapolis. This was also our first couch surfer gig, our first time in Minneapolis, the first show with just Sheldon and Josh, and our first time playing in an apartment on this tour. My eye was still swollen shut from an allergic reaction to bug bites in Manitoba and I was barely getting by, but the guys were great, stopping for allergy meds, making sure I slept the whole ride and letting me take a break from filming. Even still, I was pumped for this leg of the tour and the amount of energy I felt being back in the city was great. Our couch surfer host was a University student, who has been doing couch surfer for five years but had never hosted a house show before. He was very excited about us being there and warmly welcomed us in, invited friends over to enjoy the set and even made us traditional Indian food. It was a really fun night, and ended with Josh singing his original “fishy song” (if you ever meet Josh, ask him about this. I’m plugging him now, because I believe he will one day host his own late night comedy show). It was then that I realized for the hundredth time how amazing this opportunity was, sharing food, conversations, laughter, music and love with others on this certainly unconventional but worthwhile tour of North America. 

For this next part I will refrain from using ALL CAPS, but I am very happy to tell you that the day after this show we stopped for a real breakfast at Denny’s (one day when I’m making enough money to spare, I’m going to make a Denny’s scholarship for poor starving students and musicians, because Denny’s has been there for me in a big way this year). All this said and done, we left for Kankakee, in the greater Chicago area for a house show. This show was such a treat, because this audience and home has received many traveling musicians in the past. Andrew A of Kept on Hold and Chris Bernstorf (a renowned spoken word poet) have passed through this house and it’s easy to understand why. Our hosts were so warm and generous, setting up the garage to be a performing space with lights, art, posters, couches, gear, and friendly faces. The son of the host performed a spoken word poem before the Sheldoncole set which opened up the night for us really well. For some that night, it was their first time at a house show, but even still many sang along to the songs! We were astonished at how well merchandise sold, almost selling out our “Love Over Hate” t-shirts. I think I can speak for all of the team when I say that we felt very grateful to be welcomed into this whimsical world of DIY decor, cosy couches, home-made dinners, and friendly community. We’d love to connect again, Kankakee! 

After spending the night there, we left to explore downtown Chicago! This place was electric with energy, full of history, sunshine, sparkling canals, culture, pizza, and spectacular sights. One of our first stops was “The Bean”, a bean shaped mirror that reflects all the chaos around it. We did the touristy thing and lay on the dirty ground, put our feet on the bean and took a video of the world upside down. We also sang a song in Spanish dedicated to Lei, Sheldon’s girlfriend. Besides singing this Spanish love song at this touristy hub, we also sang it on two other stages, one a huge empty stadium where we received a couple claps from onlookers, and also a kids festival. I’ve got all the footage to prove it, but if you know Sheldon at all, you’ll believe me. He’s always looking for a place to sing his feelings and share conversation and laughter with others. We finished the day by getting pizza, blood orange lemonade, and getting cussed out by a a very competitive street musician. With the words “you’re lucky you didn't get your legs cut off, this city is rough!!” ringing in our ears we drove to Detroit with all the anticipation of kids on Christmas morning. This may seem strange to some reading this, but the amount of hours Sheldon and I spent talking about Detroit made it seem like the missing piece to my travel experiences– and he wasn’t wrong! 

Something we all realized after about two days traveling together was that we’re all extremely type B which doesn’t help the flaky, disorganized musician/artist reputation at all. We are almost always staying up way too late to enjoy the dying hours of the day, haphazardly packing the van (though I must say Josh has a special touch when it comes to making things fit in our medium sized vehicle) and being almost always late for everything. I can say that it is very hard to predict traffic patterns on ten hour road-trips, so we usually get a lot of grace from our hosts. However, for the first Detroit show at Dessert Oasis it was no different than usual, almost missing our show because we forgot about the one hour time change. Sheldon still played a full show and we were able to connect with many of Sheldon’s friends there. 

Sheldon planned for us to be in Detroit for three days so we could really get a feel for the city and have a much needed break from the long drives and sleepless nights. We managed to visit the MOCAD for a brunch/ DJ set and wander the art gallery. We also enjoyed Jack White’s Third Man Records store, some delicious Mexican food, and of course the backyard show at one of Sheldon’s friend’s home. While in Detroit we also connected with Tim, a videographer who has captured Sheldon’s music before. We filmed Run & Hide in an alleyway, canopied by twinkle lights and covered in graffiti. We also did an interview on the Detroit River, that separates the U.S. and Canada. I could see Windsor’s streets, and my national flag from where I stood and it made my heart so glad. I feel very little change in my attitude or personality when I’m in the states, because I grew up going to Oregon monthly through my childhood. But being right in between made me feel some kind of wonder I've never experienced yet. Maybe you can relate, if you’ve lived in more than one country, or maybe you cant. But the best way I can describe it is probably relief, feeling no longer torn between two countries all the time. I could see the bridge that gave me that sense of freedom and I couldn’t believe that after all these years of not totally “fitting” in, a bridge was what solved that problem for me. Maybe there's a lesson there, I don’t know. On the boardwalk of this river the community would ride their bicycles, with boom boxes playing, strings of lights bedecking their bars, and posters sharing messages of hope or vindication. It was a stark contrast to the somber neighbourhoods in 8th mile that are either completely abandoned or going to ruin. We noticed as we left Detroit the next day that the highways were freshly paved once we crossed into Michigan, and the joy from the past few days were mingled with sorrow. I hope great things for Detroit, and that swift revival would be brought to this city. 

On the last day there we drove back into Canada for our Hamilton, ON show at Andrew Dejong’s home in the country. It was a great outdoor show, with a wonderful turnout, ending with a bon fire, hot tub, puppy snuggles from a dog named Lana Del Rey, and late night chats. My friend Patisha came all the way from Toronto and surprised me!! So grateful for her and others who have shown us so much support! For more details and pictures and videos, follow Sheldoncole on Instagram(_sheldoncole_) and Facebook where I will be posting shorter updates everyday. The gratitude and joy we all feel being welcomed into these homes and for all the support from all our friends and family is huge. Stay tuned for new music videos, photos, stories and updates next week! Much love!

With joy, 

Hannah

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North America House Show Tour – Pt. I

Hello Friends! 

We have completed our first week of the 52-day house show tour! It has been both memorable and a whirlwind all at once. To say it has been incredible would be an understatement, we have met so many lovely individuals and groups of people, and road tripped through some beautiful, scenic country. Two countries to be exact! That’s right, we have completed the first part of the Canadian tour and begun the first part of the U.S. leg. Currently, I am writing this on the couch of a home in the Chicago area (Kankakee), but I’m getting ahead of myself! Here are the highlights from the first show in Vancouver, B.C.  

Leaving Vancouver was bittersweet for me, as I had just returned from studying abroad. However, the fast preparation before our two-month tour was more than enough to create thick anticipation and excitement for new adventures. For all the bandmates going on tour, it was a week of saying goodbyes and packing and moving out. To celebrate the beginning of the long-awaited tour and see all our dear ones before we left, we had a farewell show at SOMA Underground in East Van. An incredible turnout of friends, and friends of friends filled the space and it was the best way to begin our tour. Thank you to all who came out and helped us begin right. 

We had the shortest drive of the tour between Vancouver and Langley, BC. We enjoyed a delicious meal with the host family, shared our music with them and began the slow and strategic process of packing the car. Sheldon’s parents came all the way from Portland and helped with this process. The Steenkamps lent their rooftop carrier to us, which majorly saved our bacon. We wouldn’t have been able to bring anything without it. Like a game of Tetris, we filled our car with what seemed like a lot of gear, food, clothes and sleeping bags, but considering it was for five people, in a five-seat SUV, it felt like a victory! 

Leaving Langley at 6 am, but not gone until after our first stop at A&W (of course!), we headed to Banff on Canada’s 150th anniversary. I’ve never been through the Rockies before and I wasn’t prepared for the beauty that was all around me. Playing tunes on the Merlin, singing songs, trying to stay hydrated in the blistering heat, taking gas/snack stops, and all with the backdrop of green rivers, craggy mountains, and blue skies. On one of those gas stops, Sheldon actually ran into someone he had met on another mountain at a different time for his show on the Chief! She came out for the show in Banff too! Banff did not disappoint, we were warmly welcomed by our friend Iris and her roommates who graciously fed us and hosted us. On arrival, the band set up as usual and I took videos of the town celebrating their country. When I got back to the house, Sheldon and Mila had set up on top of a dumpster and were playing for a crowd of people in the back alley. Everyone was curious and asked who Sheldon was, meanwhile taking Love over Hate stickers and telling their friends to come. After a few songs from each of them, the authorities came and asked us to leave, but the conflict was quickly diverted after we gave them some free Love over Hate stickers, obviously. 

    About this time Sheldon started to lose his voice and partway through the performance, it cut out completely through one of the songs. He bravely pushed through and many told us after they were inspired by what we are doing and encouraged us with kind words and gas money! After the show, we climbed onto the roof of the apartment and watched the fireworks against Banff’s dark silhouetted mountains. This was the same day we drove to Calgary and slept at Cam’s house for the night. 

Next day we went to Red Deer so Sheldon and Mila could film a music video of Live for Love. In the meantime, Cam, Josh and I found the nearest body of water to cool off and sing some river songs. After losing Sheldon’s guitar for the second time and then retrieving it, we continued to Edmonton for what ended up being an epic experience. The show was hosted by a very young, innovative individual and many of his friends and family were present including two massive dogs, four cats, and a ferret.  That’s right, a ferret! By the end of the day, we were all exhausted and slightly delirious, and there are some very funny moments captured that may or may not be in the documentary…stay tuned. This is where I usually transition to talk about where we drove next, but we actually had unfinished business in Red Deer.

    Sheldon and Mila had approached a tattoo parlour in the hope that they could film their music video there. It didn’t work out, however, they DID get free tattoos of the words Live for Love on their arms despite our best efforts to dissuade them. We got some footage and added it to the Sheldoncole vlog, so if you don’t believe me, just watch (sorry Bruno Mars, is that considered plagiarism?). 

The next couple days were a blur, but a very beautiful blur. We played a show at my dear friend Keara’s house in Calgary, and it was a night of singing, raffles, and jamming. Many people bought raffle tickets to win some good ‘ol Vancouver beer, and Cam’s dad bought 15 tickets! In the end, one woman won both prizes, but she left one of the packs for us and so we gave it to Cam's dad. After the show, we jammed with Keara and Colin, and they serenaded us with their amazing voices. We wanted them to drop everything and join us. This is where things get a little crazy. We drove through the night, heading for Saskatoon, so Sheldon could do a radio interview with Daryl Dozlaw bright and early. All of the bandmates had very different experiences of Saskatoon, but I had an amazing time exploring the city. While everyone set up, I took a break from holding the camera and embraced the charm of downtown Saskatoon. It was beautifully sunny, the river was sparkling and I had the best guide one could hope for. When I returned to the house, there was a food truck outside, and the band was treated to tacos! My favourite food! As if it couldn’t get better Daryl sang some inspiring lyrics with themes of reconciliation and social justice and it was followed by Sheldon’s lyrics of healing and love. I’m probably bias, but it was my favourite day so far. 

So far there is a theme of incredibly late nights and early mornings, and it was no different when we drove to Teulon, Manitoba. Besides Josh losing it, screaming “IT’S A TRAP, THIS IS GOING TO BE CHAINSAW MASSACRE” as we drove deeper and deeper into the woods, the drive was good. We were pleasantly surprised when we came up the property. Before us stretched 80 acres of fields, forest, lake, a handmade performing stage, twinkle lights and space pod tents. As the night progressed we realized what an incredible place we’d been invited to. Halfway through the night, someone in the audience yelled “do you want to set the piano on fire?!” to our amazement and with a resounding “yes!!” by all of us, we took a small intermission to set up what would make the most epic tour footage yet. The old, outdoor piano went up in flames behind Sheldon and the band as they sang Live for Love and the sun quickly descended making everything glow red. That was definitely the highlight of the night, and with the sunset came the mosquitos. Most of the gang are city slickers and I would be the first one to say I did not easily adjust to the camping lifestyle. Mostly cause I’m extra allergic to bug bites, but also because I just don’t ever do it. Apparently, our host caught on pretty fast to the fact that Cam and I weren’t super used to the “environment” and he almost persuaded Mila and Sheldon to convince us the TICKS we found in our sleeping bags and on our backs were dangerous. We barely slept because of the anxiety we felt, but I will say that seeing the glowing fireflies and lightning storm made up for it. 

For more details and pictures and videos, follow Sheldoncole on Instagram(_sheldoncole_) and Facebook where I will be posting shorter updates every day. The gratitude and joy we all feel being welcomed into these homes and for all the support from all our friends and family is huge. Stay tuned for new music videos, photos, stories and updates next week! Much love!

With joy, 
Hannah

 

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