Thursday, March 29, 2007

Postdated Dawson

Just arrived in surreal warm and sunny and green Vancouver. I feel like I'm in Mexico City... the culture shock is all a bit much...

so, on last posting of Dawson material before the northern landscapes all start to fade. The Pit Bar at the Westminster Hotel haven't changed their interior decor for 20 years, since the last owner sold it, and for who knows how long before that. And the last owner filled the bar with portraits of the community from years earlier. I think they're amazing. Talk about Canadian Folk Art: this bar should just be airlifted straight into an art gallery: nicotine stains and all. Here are a few of them. The last 'romance' painting is actually a painting of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II being felt up by the painter... who apparently had a crush on her...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Carpet of the North

Well, we seem to be leaving the harsh realities of the frozen north. Whitehorse is a good half way point... lots of snow and ice but things are slightly 'softer'. Voila - a picture of my feet on the carpeting (!) of one of the local bars. We eventually were driven out of this bar by the incessant always-on wide screen TV's that surrounded us with the intimate details of Anna Nicole Smith's love life: god it's been nice to be away from that stuff for three months.

Had a great response to Whiskey Bars on Saturday night. A fabulous little black box theatre that was incredibly intimate and also incredibly live, so I could play with the songs as much as I wanted and I was really close to the audience. It's my favorite way to do the show. It went fabulously. I had thought that it would be a free show, but the organizers decided to use it as a fundraiser for their theatre space and so we had a really enthusiastic full house of every theatre person in Whitehorse... which means they got all the theatre jokes, which always livens up the evening and the whole thing raised a bunch of money for theatre in Whitehorse.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Comings and Goings

Well, I'm off. The Air North plane leaves for Whitehorse at 3:15 (though with the blowing sideways snow who knows what time it will get to Dawson from the Inuvik/Old Crow/Fairbanks run). The light is now about 50/50 and the thaw has started with huge slides of snow pounding into the ground from various tin roofs around the Town. The City has moved snowplows and dump trucks and they are scraping the top foot of snow and ice off the streets (I guess it's easier to do now then when it turns to slush). We've had one last drink at the best bar in town (perhaps in the north) and admired their canoes and their gallery of paintings. It seems like a good time to get moving. I'll be in Whitehorse for a few days, then I meet up with Lisa there and then we head to Vancouver and Toronto and then home to Paris. I'll miss our temporary home in the north... we have to come back sometime in summer...

I'll put up one more 'Song of The Day' on myspace and then that will be done for a week or so while I try and edit the ones I have into some sort of functional mix....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Wandered across the river with Barclay to see the ice hut that I've been watching grow over the course of the last three months. I found it to be a nice little ice fishing hut that someone has lavished attention on. Huge ice-glass windows and a radio stuck in the walls with a deep hole in the river ice.

Then I wandered up the trail that led from it to the cliff face. Thought I'd find just some gear stashed, or a place to shelter from the wind. Instead I found someone's house! Dawson has some people seriously committed to roughing it. The dogs inside started barking and a gruff voice asked me what I wanted... I beat a hasty retreat and continued my wander down the river and pondered the many possibilities of what is a home...

and the song for the day will be Sweethearts on Parade... another old jazz era tune by a Canadian... up tomorrow at

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sun Dogs in Tombstone

My old friend Joe came up from Whitehorse with his four wheel drive truck and we took an amazing trip up the Dempster Highway to Tombstone: a provincial park on the road to the Arctic Ocean. It was spectacular spectacular. -28 with a brutal windchill, so we didn't spend a lot of time out of the truck, but we managed to get over the Continental Divide, so when we crossed over the Klondike watershed into the Blackstone watershed then all the water was flowing North to the Arctic.

The Viewpoint from Tombstone... major windchill but too beautiful not too appreciate..

The ice crystals gave us some amazing sun dogs on the road ahead and in a huge circle around the Sun ...

The glare from the snow was pretty out of control... Joe resorted to extreme measures to combat it for driving

It was about 4 hours from Dawson, so we had time to get up there and get back in time for Martinis at Bombay Peggy's and a quick game (sadly short...) of Roulette at Diamond Tooth Gerties... all in all a satisfying day! The song of the day will be an old Velvet Underground song jazzed up a little... I'll put it up this evening at

Bottles in Rythm

Spend a late night at the pit on friday and had the pleasure of the seeing some fine fiddling again from Willie Gordon. We also spent part of the night talking with an old trapper who spun us tales of trapping around Inuvik in the 70's and spending time with his family... he said it was the most amazing experience to be in a traditional Inuit family where everybody played an instrument straight out of the old-time celtic tradition - accordions, violon, piano, drums... I hope they were also dancing as enthusiastically as we were... though it's a little tough to shake your booty in these snow boots...

By the end of the evening there was a distinct Canadian glass percussion instrument joining the ensemble...

The song for the day will be Love me or Leave Me... I'll put that up on myspace later today... it's an odd one: I found an old piano roll of Fats Waller playing the tune and threw that in the back of the track... t'was a pleasure to think I was singing with Fats...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Secret Fests

Well, it's Thaw di Gras Weekend! (Mardi Gras Dawson Style) I wonder how I'm going to explain the Frozen Chicken Bowling and the Toilet Seat Toss to my friends in Paris.... probably better if I don't try. We'll definately try to catch those two events, along with the Pancake Breakfast, the Chili Cookoff, the Egg Toss, the Nail Driving Contest and the famous Lip Sync contest tonight at Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino (apparently the high point of the social calender here..) We watched the 'launch' of the Percy de Wolfe dog sled race downtown yesterday. From blocks away there was a great yowl of enthusiastic dogs desperate to take off running. They have ATV's that hook on the back of the sleds just to hold them back and they spring forward the moment they let go. One of the organizers told us they used to try to make do with with four guys holding the sled but they'd regularly get dragged off their feet by the enthusiasm of the dogs.

It's a sunny mild day (-23) so I'm off in the afternoon to walk down the river to one of the beached old sternwheelers. The whole song a day project is making my head hurt as I have to throw stuff on the page so quickly but today my Song for the Day will be 'Secret Heart' by another Canadian - Ron Sexsmith. I'll put it up this evening at ...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Song a Day

While staring out at the cold northern landscapes and watching the icicles get longer on the eaves and cheering on the Dog Mushers I've been working on a whole set of standards that I'll be rehearsing in April and performing in May and recording in June in Paris.

The quartet that I've been working with should be the same, (though the amazing bassist Tomasso Montagnagni might be continuing his studies in Brazil in June, so his sounds might sadly be missing from the concerts that month). And in preparation for that I've set myself the challenge of a new arrangement everyday for the next few weeks... so I'll be arranging the track, recording the vocals and mixing them down by the end of each day. I'll be posting them daily at The first one is up now- a little number called Some of These Days (written by a Canadian- Shelton Brooks)

They'll all be pretty rough and ready but it's a way of trying out some new ideas and new vocals. If you have any comments don't hesitate to drop me a message here or at myspace or at


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


So our arrival back in Paris is looming ever closer, and I’m trying not to think about how the culture shock between Dawson and Montmartre is going to make my head hurt, so I google 'Dawson Paris', to find some links between the two cities (since Dawson was called the Paris of the North in its heyday) and I find, put there, it seems, purely in order to make my head spin even more, a link to a company called Dawson, which is holding an event called Dawson Days, at the CafĂ© Carmen in Paris (apparently the ex-home of George Bizet) and this company, which is even weirder, considering Lisa is up here on a writing scholarship, is holding an event that is considering ‘Total Book Management’ where guests at the event could witness “Pat Eades and Ms Kristina Bone, looking regal in front of the magnificent 2005 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the Court Dining Room demonstrating the techniques used by the Dawson team” and they claim to be all about “producing a first class shelf-ready book the Dawson way”… which is more or less what Lisa’s time up here has been devoted to…

Google is just too odd sometimes…

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thighbones and Graveyards

Had an amazing walk up the ridge of the hill behind our house. Had a momentary scare when our dog tried to plunge over the edge of the hill into a bit of trampled bush. We couldn't see the attraction until Lisa spotted a massive thigh bone sticking out of the snow. A caribou or deer must have been hit and then died down there. It was picked pretty clean (the Ravens were still circling overhead) but seemed to hold a lot (that is to say: a lot!!!) of fascination for the dog....

We made it up to an amazing view of the river and to Hillside cemetery, which has been in use since Dawson was a gold rush town. The graves go back to the end of the 1800's and there are a whole selection of lives and religions in little separated neighbourhoods: the Catholic cemetery, the Jewish (with five graves in it...the most notable being Solomon Packer - great name- who owned a hardware store during the gold rush), the Masonic cemetery, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Yukon Order of Pioneers, the Protestant cemetery, and the Arctic Brotherhood (who were restricted to men who had come over the Chilkoot Pass and who had the motto 'No Borders Here'...can't go wrong with a motto like that).

I like the story of the American Joe Vogler who led a movement called free Alaska that wanted to join Alaska up with the Yukon and part of BC and separate to be its own country: he swore that he wouldn't be buried in Alaska until it was 'free', so he's buried up here until that time comes. There are quite a selection of Americans that ended up here: there's even one Civil War veteran...

The RCMP/NWMP plot was striking with dates of 1899 and older on the headstones... the RCNWMP kept things in order during the gold rush and endured the most incredible hardships for a pretty modest police paycheque .. it must have been tough when the gold was flowing all around them..

On the way down the hill Barclay decided to cheer our rather somber moods by finding a huge drift of snow and plunging in like it was some kind of swimming pool. At one point she disappeared completely.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Its too damned hot

Warming trend up here in the North: -20 these days...which is a great relief from the -53 that it hit about ten days ago. They had to cancel one of the dog treks that were going on because their kerosene began to freeze so they couldn't cook. It feels positively balmy... I was wandering around with my jacket open and Lisa was complaining about how hot she was in her winter coat. I did a free show of my Kurt Weill revue - Whiskey Bars - at the local arts centre so I'm glad it was warm enough to let the audience make it out of their houses. The show went over wonderfully.... great response from the audience.

I have to admit that when it hit the deep minus temperatures I didn't go out to much, but the cabin fever let me get lots of work done - I recorded and mixed a new version of the absolutely beautiful song Whisper Not and got that up on my space ( ) and continued work on the theatre piece that I've been puzzling over for about a year now.

Now that it's 'warm' this weekend we're going to head off down the frozen river and visit the ruins of a paddle steamer that lie a mile or so past the town, and next weekend my old friend drives up from Whitehorse and we might take the chance to drive up the Dempster Highway towards the Arctic Circle...