The CP Holiday Train just kicked off a 21-day trek last Friday, collecting donations for food banks as it chugs across Canada.
Locally, it will pass through North Bend on December 16 at 6:30 p.m. and Agassiz on Saturday, December 17 at 2 p.m.
And on board is one of Canada’s leading folk singers, Valdy, who called The Observer this week to chat about the cross-country tour.
“We just finished in Mactier,” he said as the train got moving in northern Ontario on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s wonderful. The sun has been shining and we’ve had the first snow of the trip.”
The trip includes an average six short shows a day. The train pulls into a town, drops the side of one railcar, which quickly converts to stage, and the show begins. Dignitaries jump on board for a presentation to the local food bank, and then the concert can begin. Once it’s over, they roll up the show and head out to the next town. Some days, it means as many as eight stops.
Last year, audiences across Canada were treated to a concert by The Odds.
This year, they’ll get to hear Valdy play one of his most popular tunes, Play Me a Rock n Roll Song.
And once that’s out of the way, he’ll move into some holiday themed music. It’s a type of show he’s enjoyed so far.
“Today, for the first time, I did Frosty the Snowman,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to use the holiday repertoire because it only comes up once in a while,” he said.
Of course, performing outdoors in the winter comes with its own set of challenges.
“It’s certainly a unique thing,” he said, and long johns and turtle necks are necessities. It’s not the cold so much that affects the show, and he has some experience from playing the ’88 Calgary Winter Games. But the rain can cause concerns, he said.
When they were performing in Vaughan, Ontario on Tuesday, they met up with some serious moisture.
That “restricts the show and is a little dangeerous to be working with the mics outside,” he said. “But we’ll carry on and keep going, and the people will come.”
People are coming out in droves to see the CP Holiday Train, he said, as they do each year.
Mactier residents raised $3,000 for the food bank, Valdy said, and they will make 66 stops just in Canada. A second train is doing a similar trip throughout the United States.
Traveling across country by rail is on many Canadians’ to-do lists, and Valdy is no different.
Halfway through the interview, Valdy stops for a moment to take in the view as the train speeds up.
“Oh, this is cool,” he said. “We’re passing a big double-decker train. We’re right beside it. This is incredible.”
This is the first time the Salt Spring Island resident has had a full bedroom while traveling by train though. And it’s a good thing he’s got some space.
“I have a new CD (Read Between the Lines) finished and I have to go through the paperwork by the new year,” he said. “So I have a host of paperwork to do.”
There are plenty of legal matters to deal with between the finishing of a CD, and its release. But it’s a necessity. And while some may say that copyright issues are more important since the internet was created, Valdy isn’t so sure.
“I was losing some (money) to piracy even in the days of records and cassettes,” he said. “So it’s nothing new. But, most people are upright about it, and will pay.”
To find out more about the CP Holiday Train, visit www.cpr.ca.