10 years ago, I was on a train going from Vancouver to Toronto with 11-ish rock ‘n’ roll bands, CBC Radio 3, mixed media documentary film crew and other free radicals + I was on board as Svengali-like guru ;) / advisor. It was our own 90 person indie rock Festival Express co-mingled with the usual passengers and doing ridiculous / ill-fated whistle stop shows along the way and ended up at NxNE festival for showcase and I presented a keynote talk about social media disasters… And finally, the documentary is coming out in chapter/band parts starting June 8th iirc. Consider yourself warned, amused and excited.
Put 10 indie Canadian music artists, a few dozen die-hard music enthusiasts, CBC Radio 3, a documentary film crew on the classic VIA Rail “Canadian” heading from Vancouver across the Rockies, Prairies and Shield towards Toronto with whistle-stop shows, dome car jams, and nightly extravaganzas on board and you make a bit of magic called Tracks on Tracks.
Like an accidental re-imagining of the 1970 classic Festival Express, the footage fermented for a decade and now emerges in a series of 10 videos, each featuring 1 of the eclectic assortment of bands, both in performance, in spontaneous jams, and sitting as the grnd Canadian scenery whisks by talking about their musical journey, creative process, and the opportunity of a lifetime to be on board this unique train journey.
Along the way, “whistle stops” shows in the pouring rain in Jasper, from a boxcar with the mayor and half the town in lawnchairs in Melville, Saskatchewan, sunrise on siding in wheat field “somewhere”, a bandstand in Winnipeg with an eager audience who’d been following the trip with dispatches on CBC Radio, a middle of the night watering stop in northern Ontario, and letting loose in Hornepayne, all before an assortment of welcome parties in Toronto culminating with a blow out showcase bonanza at Gladstone which felt like a talent show at the end of the shortest/best summer camp ever.
Produced by Green Couch Films in collaboration with via rails music on the train program, each segment features fast-paced editing with unique camera angles taking you into crowded train cars contrasted with the ever-changing landscapes. Led by Jonathan Krauth and Michelle Allan, the footage was captured by a team of audio and video techs who become a part of the show as they demonstrate homegrown creative talent in all its forms pushing emerging tech.
Further, the enthusiastic and “accommodating” VIA Rail staff and somewhat surprised “usual passengers” made for a great mixing of cultures, experiences and vibes. Other notables onboard were CBC host (and now author) Grant Lawrence; (at the time) Hootsuite VP Dave Olson doing social marketing workshops, podcasts and community wrangling; and, various freelance photographers including Christine McAvoy and Chirs Edmondstone.
As you night expect, 10 years later, some of the bands have broken up or reformed under different monikers, others toured Europe and Australia, others licensed songs to Hollywood TV shows, many have kids and/or careers, as well as new albums – regardless, a spirit of community, collaboration, camaraderie fostered in the 5 days and especially the wild nights, remains.
Finally, the public in Canada and the world can hop on board to see what really happened and join in the celebratory chant “Every Night Every Night!”
Starting June 8, 2022 at Green Couch Films Youtube channel, no fees, registrations or ads, just the goodness: https://www.youtube.com/greencouchfilms
- Canadian travel, music and cultural collaboration
- Snapshot of Western Canada “pop explosion” of 2010s
- Canadian creative “millennial” talent working outside of the studio system
- DIY spirit using social media, crowdfunding and even postcards as promotion
- Experiments in building economies across the country through grassroots entertainment
Green Couch Films YT: https://www.youtube.com/greencouchfilms
Green Couch Films Ig: https://www.instagram.com/greencouch/
Green Couch Films FB: https://www.facebook.com/GreenCouch/
VIA Rail: Music on the Train FB: https://www.facebook.com/ViaRailMusicOnTheTrain
DaveO’s Roll east, young artists: #TracksonTracks creating a cultural journey (as seen in Vancouver Observer) https://daveostory.com/writing-fiction-essays/vancouver-dossier/tracksontracks/
Business in Vancouver / Bob Mackin article “VIA Rail targets youth with four-day festival on tracks” (archived): https://biv.com/article/2012/06/via-rail-targets-youth-with-four-day-festival-on-t