August 19, 2018
It's a Tour. Way over fifty dates now now. Nine provinces. Two coasts. One big ride on the Blues Highway. It'll be hot when we set out in September. The blacktop shimmering in the heat. Waves of baked air rolling up like a strange surf from the horizon. Fast roads without much traffic. School in, and the tourists changing like the leaves on the trees. Slowly, slowly. The changing of the colours, the changing of the guard. And then. Suddenly they'll be gone. The Tourists. The travellers. Like the hummingbirds, fleeing south at the hint of cool. Then these roads will belong to the Tour. The Lincoln sucking back the miles, the kilometres, the gasoline, as it was born to do. Me, and Albert Frost: we'll suck back big black coffees. Red wine, reefer. Fred McDowell and Big Joe Williams crackling in the back seat. We'll share this Blues Highway with the big trucks. "Breaker 1-9 for information, breaker 1-9."
Before I owned a car, or was old enough to drive one, I thumbed these places. Some of them. The TransCanada. Like a snake twisting and turning it's little stripes. It could swallow you up. There were places on the TransCanada where you could get stuck for days. Wawa, Ontario. I bet there's other people out there who remember that sorry stretch of road. I used to play harmonica for coffees. Now I bring the Blues to the mill towns, and pour the money into The Lincoln: a ton of chrome and glass that rides the old snake. There's old stories out here, too- and stories that haven't been told yet. The harvest of adventure. The dreams of a toad. Blue lights moving in the forest at night. Places where the land is burning, burning, burning outside the Legion Hall. Places. Places where somebody knows my name. Places I might- or might not- ever visit again. Places with a poster in the gas station window. A poster like this one.
The National Steel "CanAfrica" Blues Tour launches on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at Hugh's Room Live, in Toronto, Canada. Reserve now!
Thursday, September 6- the Moonshine Cafe, Oakville, ON
Friday, September 7- Take Note! Music House, Barrie, ON
Saturday, September 8- Legion Hall, Morin Heights, Quebec. Tics at venue.
Sunday, September 9- Smoke Meat Pete's, Isle Perrot, Montreal, Quebec. Rush seats only.
As the Tour rolls out, this Blog page does more to tell the story, than to advance it... For ongoing, detailed listings I suggest you visit, Like and Follow my Facebook artist page:
July 11, 2018
Counting down now now. Only a few more weeks before the National Steel "CanAfrica" Blues Tour launches at Toronto, Canada. Albert Frost and I will be rolling across nine of ten provinces, coast to coast and in between. At this point dates are over 90 percent sold- just a few spaces left here and there on the Canadian tour map. Can you help to fill one of these blanks?
Rolling out CanAfrica has been a learning experience. People and paperwork. Building bridges between two countries. There's always new stuff surfacing. Visas. Taxes. Airports. Gear. You see the best and the worst of cultural infrastructure. Trends that are helpful, and trends that are troubling. Things are changing on the ground- as they always do. For a lot of reasons, this has been the toughest tour to assemble of the last thirteen years. This tour doesn't run on grants and record company advances. It doesn't run on the silver spoons of festivals, either. Not that we wouldn't like that, and quickly adjust to such a life. But because it is what it is. It runs on guts and determination. Hope and dedication. No venue too large, too small, too grand, or too humble. We travel a thin strip of blacktop and gravel in all weather- and bring the Blues to Your Town.
I'm very excited about having Albert Frost partner on this tour. Firstly, because we always have a great time hanging out and playing music, but also because he is the first arrival of the many independent South African artists I've encouraged and invited to tour Canada. Those who get to hear him are going to love him! I can hardly wait to introduce him to the friends and places that make up the great, Canadian portion of the National Steel Tour. I haven't had as much fun since Colin Linden used to sit next to me. Meanwhile, Albert and I are honoured to have been invited by the government of South Africa to participate in the gala, Mandela celebration concert at Ottawa in September. See the updated schedule in the sidebar!
April 10, 2018
How many stories? How many cold rooms, broken hearts, nights spent sleeping in cars behind some prairie juke joint? How many wrecks? Windows smashed out by rocks? Narrow escapes with death on this blues highway? Hunter Thompson might of said that the music business also has it's down side. But not being in the music business, I can't say. I tell songs and sing stories, and play the blues. So let me pour another glass of red, and tune up my trusty National. This won't last forever, you know. But the Blues Highway has still got it's arms open wide. And I can still drive.
This year's "CanAfrica Blues" theme features my good friend Albert Frost. How cool is that? I met this West Cape, South Africa based artist during my Zulu Skies Tour in 2016. Since then, we've had a ball performing at some of Africa's best theatres and festivals. This is a guy who counts Lonnie Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, and Ali Farka Toure (who he actually played with) among his top musical influences. He does rock, folk, jazz, traditional west African, and blues. He's a real blues guy. But he's not terribly concerned about genre. Or confined by it. Music is a language that comes of stories, and in Frost's Africa there is no shortage of stories. South Africa has long been a unique musical cauldron, and Albert's art reflects this. This year, he's my guest on my Blues Highway across North America. CanAfrica Blues. I'm thrilled to have him along.
I've had a lot of truly great guitar players work with me over the years, but I can't say I've enjoyed a player as much as Albert since... maybe since Colin Linden. While Albert Frost enhances what I do tremendously, I'm more looking forward to introducing him and his music to North American audiences. His singing, songwriting and performance guarantee that he'll be back- on his own. Or with a band. In bigger venues. Maybe I'll get to open for him! Anyway, we're going to have fun!
Canadians don't know how lucky they are to be able to witness Albert Frost in some of the small venues we're booking on this coast to coast Tour. Elsewhere in the world the venues are often bigger- much bigger. The National Steel "CanAfrica" Blues Tour is now over half sold. But I'd definitely like to increase our weaning weights as soon as possible. Maybe if I sugar coat the pitch we'll have the remaining dates filled in no time! Hey, venue folks- book now if you haven't already. The suspense is killing me, and the motor is running. Who's full of pep now?
January 25, 2018
This website– to be fully functional by mid-March– will serve as Official Schedule, Blog, and Media resource hub to the Tour.