Date: Friday, Oct. 26/2007
Dateline: Amherst, NS
The last stop on this leg of the book tour brings me close to home and it actually feels like home in many ways. From Winnipeg I fly to Moncton, which is where I lived and worked for several years for the CBC; where I was married and saw my first son born. Although I moved to Fredericton almost 14 years ago, I’m in Moncton almost weekly as part of my job covering arts stories for the CBC News for New Brunswick. When I land, instead having to grab the shuttle or a cab, I’m greeted by family - my sister-in-law Wendy and mother-in-law Alice.
Remember the last posting, where I mentioned the odd coincidence of sharing a book store appearance in Winnipeg with a fellow New Brunswicker, a man I had met just two weeks previously while doing a story on his book? The story continued this morning. When I arrived at the Winnipeg airport, to my great delight I discovered that Arthur Motyer was not only on the same flight, he was seated right next to me on the plane! We swaped book tour stories until Hamilton, where he continued on to Halifax, and I changed planes for Moncton. I half-expect to see him today in a Tim Horton’s somewhere. Arthur, at 81 years old, looks and sounds much better than I do after our times on the road. He is a man of great vigor and a keen interest in knowledge.
The event in Amherst may be in the smallest centre on the tour but is the most special in many ways. Nestled on the provincial border with Sackville, NB, I’m quite fond of the area. I was invited to appear at the Four Fathers Memorial Library many weeks back, when the book was first announced to booksellers and libraries. It was an invitation readily accepted, since there can be no more appropriate or important spot to speak about books. As it turned out, there was no other audience as appreciative or excited about the evening. To my great delight, the library was decked out in celebration of Canadian music. A large sandwich board announced the event at the door. The colours red and black, from the design of the book, covered tables; a large stage with more signs had been set up for the talk and best of all, a huge display wall of original Canadian albums had been put together. Greeting the visitors were the original sleeves of The Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, and even non-book but equally important albums by Valdy, A Foot in Cold Water, and many more. Playing over the sound system were songs from the Top 100.
The MC for the evening was a long-time friend and Amherst native, actor and teacher Charlie Rhindress. Charlie and I first met in the early 90s when I began covering the Sackville theatre troupe he co-founded called Live Bait. Over the years, I’ve done several more stories on this professional theatre company, but more importantly, have seen more plays and kept in touch, enjoying his friendship. We share a similar sense of humour, and don’t take ourselves too seriously, so I knew it would be light-hearted and fun. Charlie asked many questions, all of them insightful, and we could have talked all night.
The audience was equally impressive. To a person, everyone was interested in music and in the process behind the book. We opened the floor to questions and got as good or better than most of the national media have thrown my way. People actually said they would have enjoyed a longer talk! But I always figure there’s only so much of me one audience can stand.
And what better way to end a great evening than wirh snacks. A deli tray, squares and carrot cake, I was really excited. But then I spent so much time signing books and talking to people, I missed the cake completely. As anyone who knows me will attest, this would prove to be the only disappointment of the night.
Cheers and thanks go to the wonderful people I met, and to the group who put the event together: Head Librarian Francis Newman who invited me and set up the evening; Assistant Librarian Beth Clinton made everyone feel at home with her charm; Lynn Jones did both design and catering; Sheila MacLeod and Steve Weatherbee provided the vinyl, with Steve acting as Official Tour Photographer; Myrna Smith made Goose Lane Editions happy by selling a whole lot of copies for the local Coles book store. A nod to Raissa Tetanish from the Amherst Daily News as well, working on a Friday night.
I thought this might mark the end of the book tour, aside from the Fredericton launch on November 8th, the hometown event. But it seems the publicity department of Goose Lane is doing its job in the usual highly-efficient manner: I’m now told to keep my suitcase ready, for events in Saint John and Moncton, NB, back to Toronto, and even Hamilton. Plus, the interviews continue non-stop, with requests from Quebec City, Montreal, even Buffalo, NY on the agenda for next week. I’ll keep blogging and now that I’m back home I’ll try to answer as many postings as possible.
Thanks again to Amherst!