Notes from the Road is Music Canada’s artist tour diary. Canadian artists on tour around the world will share their stories of fans, gigs and the “good, bad and the ugly” of touring!
That was then, this is me now
Welcome to my summer tour blog
Last year around this time, Ladies of the Canyon were invited to play as part of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, one of the best of its kind in my opinion. We were paired with gospel and world music acts for interactive workshops, sunned ourselves amongst the booths selling feathers, leather goods and tie-dye, and played an outdoor concert to a few thousand crossed legged peaceful crowd. We loved it. I took home a pair of 2ft long colorful feather earrings, I got to meet and sing with like-minded groups like The Wailin Jennys and The Good Lovelies, I explored my inner hippie.
This year we headed just northwest of the Peg and were confronted with an entirely different situation: The Dauphin Countryfest. No two festivals could be more diametrically opposed, and it is a testament to the strange way in which my band seems to straddle two sides of the Canadian Music Industry: the mainstream, and what I like to call "the people's music"- the folk, roots and pop music enjoyed by a widespread but not mainstream audience.
Because our bands' music is at once Country and Folk derivative, we find ourselves, like a few others, in this position. We meet fans from both worlds, and rarely do I see any overlap between them.
Dauphin was big stages with big screens showing the likes of Toby Keith and Joe Nichols, a grandstand filled with screaming die-hard country fans, lots of beers and trailers as far as the eye could see, and a very, um, party style vibe. All ages sang along to every lyric, and displayed an enthusiasm hard to rival. They are their own collective, with a strong identity and a passion for having a helluva good time, all together.
Though I had a great time, I will say that I longed for the calm and accepting vibe of the folkies of last summer. I have to ask myself, if I am so capable if existing in both worlds so effortlessly, why are these audiences so segregated? It seems folk acts get chastised if they strive for mainstream success, and new country fans have no room in their consciousness for anything outside of the Nashville format. On the mainstream side I believe this to be almost entirely the responsibility of the media (or lack thereof), and on the other, well just a snobbish rejection to said media.
My record collection is not segregated, my iPod holds Midlake next to Miranda Lambert, and I'm cool with that, I believe the music I write is richer because of it. I'm not saying Toby Keith should play the Winnipeg Folk Festival next year, but maybe if both the entertainment media and our collective musical consciousness contained a little more room for leeway, the ongoing evolution of modern music would be, well, richer.
Maia Davies is a member of Ladies of the Canyon, four friends who got together in their living rooms to write and sing songs influenced by their favourite bands – The Eagles, the Band and Fleetwood Mac. They are currently on tour with dates coming up throughout Ontario and Quebec. Watch for Maia's next Notes from the Road!