Eight weeks worth of fun…and still going!
Doing something that is designed to inspire or teach has a funny way of returning the favour.
As we are getting closer to the summer, the number of performances we have left start to look smaller every day. Looking back to the start of the four months and hundreds of events that were scheduled, I remember feeling that this challenge was daunting. Never had we been on the road for so long as a band, without family and friends, without our own beds, and removed from the comforts we may take for granted everyday. We were ready to be doing something exciting as a band, and meeting students across Canada along the way, but it didn’t come without a few sacrifices. I am sure anyone who has had a mission and a goal for something larger in life can identify with the challenge of making sacrifices for something you believe in.
We started by becoming a team; meeting the team-leaders and students who we would be traveling with, learning our jobs on the team, figuring out what problems needed to be conquered while traveling across Canada. We played a few local performances while being based in Hamilton, helping us get our feet on the ground. Then it was time to hit the road full time. Using the USA as a short-cut, we traveled from Ontario to Manitoba straight, stopping only for food and gas. We had experienced sleeping on the bus over-night a number of times before, but that first night is always an adjustment. Our bus has a bunk that can fit two sleepers, a futon that sleeps one, a floor that can sleep one person on a pad, and a number of bus seats that are first-come-first-serve. Regardless of the sleepless night and irregular schedule, there was something exciting about being on the road again.
By the time we arrived at our first destination three full days later, we were excited to have some space. A non-moving, stationary, quiet couch became our sanctuary at our billets homes and we enjoyed being able to call their place “home” for a week. We had performances everyday, sometimes two or more. We knew we had signed up for a lot of hard-work, setting up and tearing down, but those days we’re challenging. Our Billets we’re the biggest reason that we were able to feel ready to take on the next day.
After nine days in Calgary, we spent another week each in Edmonton, Northern Alberta, Vancouver Island, and finally Surrey, BC. Along the way we performed almost once a school day, and heaved our gear past many miles and through many school hallways. Our reward for the hard work came from a number of places. Trust me, it certainly was not any money. We gained so much from meeting students, traveling to awesome places on our days off, and making friends outside of our performances. Our favourite places that we visited were Whistler, Banff, West Edmonton Mall, Downtown Vancouver, and random bowling alleys along the way.
The next two weeks were spent touring in Saskatchewan. Before we arrived, some of the team members “beaked” Saskatchewan for being flat, boring, and dumb. It was equally praised and stood-up for by one of our team members, Kelsey. When we arrived at her house where we were staying for the first weekend, people’s opinions suddenly changed. It’s still flat and boring, but the amount of caring and heart that Kelsey’s family, community, and province shared with us while we were there made even the skeptics fall in love with the “Skatch.”
We have returned home from the west now and are still performing across Ontario for the next couple of weeks. The schedule is still heavy and we spend a few nights away from the things we love, but being home on weekends and enjoying our comforts make this part a little less challenging.
Looking back to that moment that felt so daunting, there was one thing I knew from the start would make it worthwhile, and something I learned along the way. Knowing that when we were finished, we would have traveled to the farthest end of Canada completed a national tour for us. I knew we would feel the satisfaction of persevering through a challenging time, and we would have the opportunity to meet so many students along the way. As a band, you want people to hear your music and to feel a connection with your audience. Doing it in a way that allowed us to support inspiring people added that extra little something to the experience.
What I learned along that way is how important the people were that we met! We had many highlights along the tour; good shows, beautiful scenery, and great meals. The biggest highlight of them all was the level of kindness and care our billets and schools showed us along the way. Opening your houses to us made us feel like we were at home, and that is the only way we made it through eight weeks of touring in one piece.
Tim, The Ocean Buried