Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence in Canada

I am a free man in Canada. The train tour has come to an end, after the border agents required that I cancel the Canadian leg (3 shows). And now I am on a Canadian vacation, after leaving my guitar in Buffalo, New York with a friend of a friend. The border agents let me into their country on my 4th attempt under the condition that I didn't bring my "tools of trade" into their country. We were each triumphant in our own eyes. They feel that they prevented me from working illegally in their country, and I successfully got across the border when it was seeming less and less likely. I didn't come all this way from Texas just to go home. It is all an absurd display of protocol, because a guitar is not hard to find in Canada.

I spent a couple of days in Toronto, reuniting with more of my South African cousins. I got to experience my first Canada Day (Canadian Independence Day on July 1st), and also each a grilled cheese sandwich with the great Canadian songwriter, Corin Raymond.
My 8 year old cousin Jessica Rabin's Jennifer Lopez imitation:

Kensington Market, the neighborhood I would live in if I lived in Toronto.

Corin Raymond at the Grilled Cheese in Kensington Market

Then, the Megabus took me to Montreal, a 6 hour comfortable bus ride with wifi on board. Just in time to see my good friend Emilie Clepper at the Montreal Jazz Fest where she hypnotized the audience with a perfect set. I didn't understand her banter in French in between songs, but I did hear her mention Texas and then my name and then realized that she was calling me to the stage to sing one of my songs. I didn't expect that at all, which was good because I didn't have time to get nervous in front of a large crowd in a concert setting, an atmosphere that is mostly foreign to me. Emilie's very skilled band chimed in with the perfect amount of accompaniment, especially for a song they have never heard. The audience seemed to like it and after the concert were asking me questions about my trouble getting into Canada. I assumed that Emilie had given a brief synopsis of my circumstance in French while introducing me.
Emilie Clepper at the Montreal Jazz Festival

I spent most of the last couple of days riding bicycles around Montreal with my hosts Joann and Jon, who work for the Cirque de Soleil and are positioned in Montreal for the next couple of months. They have graciously given me shelter in their extra room in downtown Montreal.

Jon And JoAnn outside of their "workplace" in Montreal.
Bixi bicycled are for rent for $5 a day in Montreal and Toronto. Available at almost every other street corner, a rider can pick up and return a bicycle from any location an unlimited number of times in a 24 hour period. This has been my transportation around Montreal. They even have built in flashing LED lights for safety. 
Last night, fireworks erupted all over downtown Montreal, as a finale for Montreal Jazz Festival. It just happened to be July 4th.

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