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This article was published 11/8/2010 (3356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There won’t be any snoring in the van on this low-budget band tour.
And if you're tagging along as a groupie, you'll need a life jacket.
In what's billed as a music-community first, the local trio TWIN and the Matlock-based duo Zoppa have embarked on a paddle-powered concert tour from Brandon to Winnipeg.
The excursion has been dubbed the first annual Assiniboine River Music Armada.
With all their instruments, camping gear and food in their canoes, the two acoustic alt-folk acts are giving five performances during the 12-day adventure.
They gave a launch concert with Martin Finnie in Brandon on Aug. 7 and were to play Spruce Woods Provincial Park on Aug. 10.
The next stop is a free show this Friday at the Long Plain First Nation's Spirit Lodge, at roughly 7:30 p.m.
The folk voyageurs are slated to play a free show at the Island Park Bandstand in Portage la Prairie at 6 p.m. this Saturday, where songstress Ingrid Gatin will join the performance and then paddle the final leg.
The tour wraps up with a show at Winnipeg's Lo Pub next Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (cover charge $10).
Anybody with a canoe who wants to join the armada is welcome at any point.
It's an idea that's been percolating for about four years in the mind of TWIN singer-songwriter Dave Fort, a lifelong canoeist who lives on the bank of the Assiniboine in the heart of Winnipeg.
Though he says there is an environmental message in using the natural river current and human muscle for the journey, Fort, 32, says the armada is more about a spiritual call to the river. He'd like to inspire people to go "back to the water."
"Once you spend time around (the water), it's nurturing you, so you want to nurture it," he says.
He says the bands will likely sing as they paddle, but also says paddling in silence can be conducive for songwriting. "Once you get your strokes in unison, it's a state of meditation."
Fort, who is also a member of the experimental ambient band the Absent Sound, originally planned the tour for just himself and TWIN mates David Enns (a veteran canoeist who has paddled from Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico) and violinist Lesley Brown. He intended to call it the TWIN Canoe Tour.
But Mitch Podolak, co-founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, now producing the Home Routes series of house concerts, convinced Fort to give the tour a more ambitious name and dream bigger.
"I think it's a brilliant idea," says Podolak. "I loved it right off the bat."
The tour-by-canoe concept is reminiscent of the old-time Chautauqua circuit of the early 20th century, or of paddlewheel showboats, says Podolak.
"If Dave can get this going and turn it into an annual event, more people will want to join him, and more people will come to see the shows...
"This would work on the Mississippi River. You could start (in Minnesota) and work your way to New Orleans. I bet this idea will pick up some steam. Then the armada becomes a fleet."
Fort calculates it will take roughly 90 to 120 hours of paddling to complete the trip on the very bendy Assiniboine. You'd think the musicians might be worried about their arms being too worn out for playing, but Fort thinks the voyage will be empowering.
"Being in a road band with Absent Sound, (I know) the exhaustion that comes from just sitting there staring out the window, and stopping at gas stations over and over.
"Based on my extensive experience canoeing, when we get to places I have a feeling we're going to have extra energy. I'm anticipating an energy beyond anything I've ever known."
Although the Assiniboine is running higher than normal, Fort says it's a "pretty standard canoe trip" with very little chance of capsizing. Though some of the players are using heavy-duty drybags — waterproof packs — to protect their instruments, Fort went more old-school.
"I've got the garbage-bag system for my guitar," he says. "I couldn't find a drybag big enough."