Most of us woke up on Day 3 when the train pulled into Saskatoon at 8am in the pouring rain.
The dark prairie morning was brightened by a few hardy Radio 3 fans that came out to meet us -including Kathy Gallant, the 2010 winner of the custom-knit CBC sweater (and yes she was rockin’ it in the rain).
The sun eventually emerged as we rolled into our next stop later that afternoon: tiny Melville, Saskatchewan. At each stop, people have been waiting to greet us, but none of us expected anything like Melville. As we pulled up to the old prairie station, a cheering crowd greeted us, including several. It seemed like the whole town showed up.
The VIA Rail personnel slid open a box car door and from it Fernie band Shred Kelly emerged, shouting out their banjo fuelled “stoke folk” to the adoring crowd under the warm sun. People had traveled from Regina, Yorkton and other surrounding towns, bringing us beer, food and other gifts.
As Shred Kelly wrapped up their set, I hopped up onto the box car stage and thanked the crowd for coming out – and that’s when the Mayor of Melville showed up, thanking us for stopping and demanding one more song out of Shred Kelly, which they happily provided.
Hopping back on the train, we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon acoustic set by the Matinee in the picturesque Park Car as we wound through the Qu’Appelle Valley crossing into Manitoba.
We rolled into Winnipeg about an hour or so late, and hurried down to the Forks, where a PA, a stage, and a large crowd was waiting for us. Unfortunately, the train was so late we were told the musicians only had a few minutes to perform, so Chris Ho and Portage and Main hopped up and did two songs each, then all of us had to rush back to the train leaving the crowd at the Forks wanting more.
When we arrived at the station expecting to board, sure enough the train was delayed. That’s when we found out the bad news: the bassist from Sidney York had fallen mysteriously ill. He was sick enough that our VIA supervisor thought it best that he go to a Winnipeg hospital and we’re still waiting for word on his condition.
As the train pulled out of Winnipeg we were short two members of Sidney York, as lead singer Brandi stayed behind with their bassist.
The rest of the bands once again took over the Tracks on Tracks Activity car, with wildly rocking sets from Shred Kelly, Portage and Main, and The Matinee. The night never really ended, as a DJ set kicked up, followed by dancing and sing-a-longs (including Celine Dion) with a VIA Rail porter wailing along on drums.
At 7am we pulled into Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Most of the bands were awake to see it.
Tomorrow: The Canadian Shield
Tracks on Tracks Day 1 - The Departure
Tracks on Tracks Day 2 - The Rocky Mountains
Check out the photos (#tracksontracks)
Photo by Christine McAvoy.
on Jun 11, 2012