After traversing the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and the Canadian Shield, pulling into Union Station in the concrete downtown core of Toronto was overwhelming.
Many of us felt like country bumpkins, struggling to get our gear off the train, quickly being swallowed by the mass of humanity swirling in Union Station. We were a long way from Hornepayne.
It was an incredible journey of music, laughter, singing, collaboration, and booze, backdropped by jaw-dropping scenery. That said, here are
The Best of the Best of Tracks on Tracks.
Best Engineer – Gary Holmes. Before the train even left the station in Vancouver, Gary, the friendly engineer (also a musician), invited several of us up the ladder to see his locomotive and show us the view from The Canadian that only he gets.
Best Harmonies – Adrian Glynn. Adaline was performing a show on acoustic guitar at the back of the Park Car, the very last car of the train. Spectacular vistas of the Rocky Mountains surrounded her. Half way through a song, singer-songwriter Adrian Glynn chimed in from the back of the car, creating a beautiful stereo effect and an amazing musical moment.
Best Encore - Shred Kelly. When Shred Kelly performed from the baggage car in Melville Saskatchewan, the Mayor showed up a few minutes late. He missed the performance, but quickly demanded one more song, and his citizens of Melville loudly backed him up. Shred Kelly obliged for another great moment.
Best Partier – Adaline. She may have the voice of an angel but she parties like a demon. At any given time, Adaline could be seen with bottles of Jack Daniels, champagne, or vodka.
Best Chest Hair – Maurice. For whatever reason, there was a plethora of overflowing chest hair on this train. It was like a rolling Boogie Nights. All dudes tried it, but no one beat the Black Forest protruding from JP Maurice’s tank top.
Best Late Night Jam Leaders – Portage and Main. We should have known, based on look alone, that these stylish roots rockers would easily have every song by Neil Young and The Band memorized.
Best Surprise: The Matinee. These friendly guys blew my mind when they cranked out an acoustic version of my band’s crusty old song “Rosie”. And yes, I forgot the lyrics. But I remember them now.
Best Partier Who Wasn’t With Tracks on Tracks: “Shooey”. We were all partying pretty hard, but nobody, not even Adaline, could keep up with Shooey, a French Canadian cyclone of jokes, costumes, and mad drumming skillz.
Best Dressed: Top Less Gay Love Teckno Party. This over the top Vancouver party band wore matching sets of designer one piece long underwear, which went over great with most of us. Not so much in the always-formal dining car.
Best Fan: Lee Hower. At 60 years young, this Californian was everywhere, and loving every second of the trip. And since trains are his second favourite thing right after Canadian music, his knowledge of the train and the route proved invaluable.
Best Collaboration: The Belle Game and Sidney York. The Belle Game played their greatest show ever as the train rocked across the darkness of Western Ontario, joined by the bassoonist and oboist of Sidney York to create musical blist.
Best Traveler: Rebecca Gladney. “Rebbey” won tickets on the train and traveled all the way from St. John’s, NF to be there for the departure. Complete with her three cases of Screech (aka a “Newfoundland Carry-On”).
Best Injury - Kiana Brasset. The violinist from the Chris Ho band badly burnt her arm in a bizarre sparkler-related accident in a late night dance party in Northern Ontario.
Best Beer Selection Not From VIA Rail: Dave Olsen (Hootsuite). Dave’s cabin not only had the best beer selection (“Nectar of the Gods”) but it was also ALWAYS on ice.
Best VIA Rail Employee: Josephine Wasch. She stood by us through thick and thin, even when some of the regular (older) passengers wondered what the hell was going on. Thanks, Josephine!
Best Workers: The Green Couch Production Crew. Tireless. This is going to be a hell of a documentary.
Tracks on Tracks Day 4 - The Canadian Shield
Tracks on Tracks Day 3 - The Prairies
Tracks on Tracks Day 2 - The Rocky Mountains
Tracks on Tracks Day 1 - The Departure
Check out the photos
on Jun 13, 2012