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September 2014

This update is a long time coming and so many wonderful things have happened. For starters, at long last I am no longer obliged to be out of the house before dawn, head to toe in a blue uniform. Yes, I have hung up my mailbag for the last time and now I am looking forward to playing music, much more music!!



"I've been working on the railroad" ....My time is now my own and I have been lucky enough to use this time to travel with VIA as their ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT. Would a cruise ship be interested in a redheaded troubadour? The shows are acoustic and I have a bashed-up guitar case to prove that moving through the speeding train's Pullman cars is tricky. I have been across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and back several times now and it is not getting old. Every Canadian should take this trip if possible. In July the mustard and canola fields were blooming yellow. Huge fields of yellow. Between them were blue fields of blooming flax. Small ponds carved out by meteorites reflected the lazy clouds next to expanses of green, blue and yellow. People warned me that the prairies would be boring. That is not what I found to be true at all. Perhaps driving would be different. When I took the train in August everything that was flowering in July was being rolled up and there were massive fields of sunflowers in full bloom just west of Winnipeg and following the sun, as they do, they were all looking at me. It takes two days to get to Winnipeg from Toronto. Ontario is huge! In Oct/Nov on the way west the weather was chilly but bright and so sunny. I even got to see the top of the elusive Mount Robson, usually only completely visible twice a year -- so I'm told. On the return trip it rained but the Aussies that were praying for snow got their wish and Jasper wore it's new white coat beautifully. With early sunsets and rainy views the train took on a party atmosphere and you wouldn't believe the food. ....Ya gotta go ! ! ....Ya just gotta go ! !


For the last six months with the post I thought I would try to see what it was like to have just one job. So ! I stayed away from the studio (even though new tunes seemed to be percolating in my head.) I did not hustle any new gigs nor did I play any. I still did my practicing/playing/goofing around when I was not too exhausted. I would dive into a fake book; I have several on a shelf that is buckling under their weight. Oh yeah, and I taught myself some tunes on the ukelele. The last months, the countdown, and then the party went by in a snowy blur.


More music is being pursued in a quieter and more sensitive way as well. I have been very fortunate to be accepted into the first course offered in Canada for ‘Music for Healing and Transition Program’ (MHTP). They keep calling us the pioneers. It is a program from the States that is accredited by the ‘National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians’. Playing music for comfort just makes sense. When I finish the practicum I hope to be a Certified Music Practitioner (C.M.P.) offering comfort through prescribed music to patients with, for example -- Alzheimer's, chronic pain, palliative care, people on dialysis, chemo or those with a wide range of ages and disabilities and other medical treatments where music may be beneficial. Now that makes all this practicing seem worthwhile.


I look forward to playing more solo gigs. As always, I include some originals as well as ballads and swinging standards of the 20's, 30's and 40's. So many of these tunes remind me of my friend, the late, great Jackie Washington and I sing these to him all the time. Some of the new tunes I've been working on include an Amy Winehouse cover, some ABBA (for my buddy Jimmy) and some new tunes on the ukelele. An interesting mix I think. The uke is so silly and so much fun. One of my new original tunes was inspired by the VIA trips and is about the “Smokers on the Train”. A video is in the works, too, which will include some footage taken from the dome car by my own PHD (Press Here Dummy) camera and some volunteer smokers from my favourite Kingston pubs... it takes a village ….


I have a dozen songs ready for a new CD, I hope to hustle up some gigs, teach a few guitar lessons, play some gigs, finish my MHTP course and practicum, learn some new tunes, chart them, rehearse them .... and ... I've been working on the railroad ! ! ! Retirement rocks ! ! !




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