The sea to sky tour was a 27 day round trip from Regina SK to Victoria BC. While I played a few shows on my own during the drive out to coastal BC, the bulk of the tour’s performances were booked, promoted, and shared with singer-songwriter Kellen Saip. It was because of him I was able to see as much of that part of the world as I did (thanks dude!).
While the tour featured a wide variety of shows – from big loud barroom audiences to quiet and attentive house-concert vibes – one gig above all, stood out for me.
It was a rainy Monday, and Kellen and I had just arrived on Vancouver Island. We were to play a small Venue in Duncan BC that night, but were unsure about it; of the all the shows on the tour, this was the only venue to not respond to my booking confirmation emails/contracts. Because we were not sure the event was even going to happen, we didn’t really put forth any effort in promoting the event.
We showed up in Duncan tentatively. We soon found that not only was the show a go, but in one of the most intriguing small venues I’d ever seen. The venue featured a small theatre like setting, with room for maybe 30 (?) people, nestled in a room with cozy chairs and couches surrounded by a lifetime’s supply of old magazines, guitars, boardgames and other curious trinkets. Marijuana smoke lingered heavily in the air.
While the room and its operators surely made an impression on me, it wasn’t these factors that made the show memorable. What made it memorable, was it was the poorest attended show of the tour. Not counting us or the staff, there were only 2 people in the audience. I was sitting back stage before the show, struggling to comprehend how being in Duncan on a Monday night to two people in the audience was a good spend of my time, when I asked myself: “Hey, Del Suelo, why are you here man?”
I have been gigging for 15+ years. The buttefly-in-the-stomache feelings have long since disappeared before a show. With so much time as an artist spent on grant writing, novel edits, social media posts, tour booking, blah blah blah…it is easy to get distant from the reasons we start doing what we do in the first place. On this night, the universe offered me a blank night to see if I still loved what I thought I loved to do free from the energy exchange of external validation.
On the top of my setlist for the night, I wrote “DO THIS ONE FOR YOU” in large, capital letters. I walked on stage and put the set list on the blue-hued stage. The big capital letters stared back at me every time I looked down at my feet.
And, well? I haven’t enjoyed a performance like that in years. It turns out, that yeah, I really enjoy playing songs, and at points over the past year since releasing I Am Free, I have distanced myself from the original intention about why I do all of this work. It was re-affirmed for me that the purpose of Del Suelo isn’t fame or money; it’s catharsis.
After the show, Kellen and the others in the audience assured me that it was one of my best performances to date, confirming my long-believed hypothesis that, if you make art for you, then you’ll probably do it way better. Everyone wins.
This interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is the subject for my current novel+album work-in-progess “The Musician’s Compass”. I will hopefully have more details on that later in the year.
All in all, the Sea 2 Sky tour was pretty rad, man. I was lucky to see so many old friends, and to meet so many cool people. The days off I spend wandering around the forests and mountains were real soul-food after a long prairie winter.
I’d like to extend a tremendous thank-you to Kellen, Amy, and Esmae Saip for the gracious hospitality and fun times in Chilliwack BC. Additional thanks to Jared, Camilla and co in Squamish; The Marshall clan in Vic; Aidan in Vic; Kenton and Laura in Nanaimo; The Lion Bear Fox; Newton, Jon and Seawest in Mission; Kyle, Kevin, Amy, Tabby+Steve in Van; Leah Barley; Nathan and Caitlin in Cranbrook; Tiera and Steve in Kimbo; Peter and all the stable 8 crew in Settler. Surely I’ve missed some folks but know that I’ve so much deep appreciation for the time we were able to spend together! See you again soon!
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