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!