Routes rendezvous Home-concert organizer celebrating 15 years of creating community with online series

Like the Mary Ellen Carter, Home Routes will rise again — but first, the cross-country home concert series is hosting a virtual celebration of its roots.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/03/2022 (325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Like the Mary Ellen Carter, Home Routes will rise again — but first, the cross-country home concert series is hosting a virtual celebration of its roots.

Series preview

The Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show
presented by Home Routes

Concerts will be livestreamed from venues across Canada every Friday in April. Streams will be available for 48 hours from the posted start time. Tickets are available for purchase online, with early bird pricing available until April 1.

The Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show
presented by Home Routes

Concerts will be livestreamed from venues across Canada every Friday in April. Streams will be available for 48 hours from the posted start time. Tickets are available for purchase online, with early bird pricing available until April 1.

April 1, 7 p.m.:
West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg
The Small Glories, Burnstick, Sala

April 8, 7 p.m.:
Blue Frog Studios, Vancouver
BC World Music Collective

April 15, 7 p.m.:
National Music Centre, Calgary
The McDades, Jeffery Straker, Jenny Allen

April 22, 7 p.m.:
Tranzac Club, Toronto
Julian Taylor (solo), Good Lovelies, Coco Love Alcorn

April 29, 7 p.m.:
West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg
Del Barber, Double the Trouble, Bobby Dove

Home Routes / Chemin Chez Nous was created 15 years ago by Winnipeg Folk Festival founders Mitch Podolak and Ava Kobrinsky as a way to connect musicians with communities.

The organization’s framework was inspired by a tour the pair mounted in 1980 called the Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show, which saw artists such as Stan Rogers, Sylvia Tyson and Connie Kaldor hit the road in a school bus to play one-day mini-festivals in towns across Canada.

In a pandemic-era homage to its beginnings, Home Routes is presenting a virtual concert series of the same name next month.

“None of the lineup are from the tour that we’re harkening back to,” executive director Leonard Podolak says. “It was about putting together artists who can make it a good time and a lot of them have been on Home Routes tours and they know exactly what we’re about.”

Every Friday night in April, a Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show concert will be broadcast from venues in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg. Local acts include the Small Glories, Burnstick, Sala, Del Barber, Double the Trouble and Bobby Dove.

Supplied Sala is among the local acts helping Home Routes celebrate 15 years of taking artists across the country for intimate shows.

The anniversary celebration is, hopefully, the tail end of online concerts for Home Routes, which is planning a return to in-person touring this fall. Although, for a concept built around small, intimate home concerts, Zoom has been a surprisingly good stand-in.

“Having artists perform live from their living rooms (and it) being broadcast into other people’s living rooms, it still has that kind of feeling,” Podolak says.

Like every arts organization, Home Routes has been forced into the online performance space over the last two years. It’s a learning curve Podolak plans to leverage well into the future.

“We’re champing at the bit to get the tours going again,” he says, “and to see how this online audience that we’ve earned and put together since the pandemic is going to work and feed into the routes.”

Supplied Del Barber will perform at the Home Routes’ Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show on April 29.

Over the last 15 years, the concert network has grown from four to 11 full-time routes from coast to coast with a dozen stops on each.

Pre-pandemic, Home Routes was presenting nearly 800 shows a year. Getting back to that level will take time and a slight departure from the model.

Traditionally, the organization has relied on volunteers willing to turn their living rooms, basements and garages into concert venues while providing room and board to travelling musicians.

In order to keep things safe, Home Routes is working with hosts to ensure COVID precautions are followed and suggesting shows be held in public spaces.

“We would be nothing without the hosts,” Podolak says. “We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say you can’t do it in your house. But if we do it in your house, there’s some certain things that have to go down.”

Podolak — a banjo player and former member of the Duhks and Dry Bones — became the organization’s executive director in 2020 following the death of his father, Mitch, in 2019. He’s focused on expanding Home Route’s scope nationally; it has grown to include community workshops, a podcast and the Winnipeg Crankie Festival.

Supplied Local duo Burnstick will be performing with Home Routes’ Travelling Goodtime Medicine Show 15th anniversary celebration in April.

The head office remains in Wolseley and there are now staff stationed in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Mission, B.C.

“We’re truly a national organization, between the staff members and the people we work with… the brain trust has expanded greatly,” he says, adding that the core tenets of Home Routes haven’t changed. “It brings people back to the place where they started playing music in the first place and it brings you into new communities… it ends up being a really great way to try out new material and work your show because there’s barely a fourth wall between the audience and the artist.”

Visit homeroutes.ca for more information.

eva.wasney@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @evawasney

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Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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