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!