VIA Rail Artist On Board

Categories: Performance,The Big Idea

Travelling by train as the VIA Artist Onboard. What a sweet gig.  I did the Montreal to Halifax/Halifax to Montreal trip.  Boarded the train in Montreal.  Pulled out of the station at 7 pm. Arrived in Halifax the next evening.  Just under 24 hours.  My job?  Three, forty-five minutes sets as the train headed East.  More about that later …

Train travel is exquisite.  Time: the element in our lives there never seems to be enough of begins to stretch out and slow itself as soon as the train begins to move.  There’s time to think (or not think). Time to write. Read. Listen. Time for talk with ‘strangers.’  Idle talk.  Meaningful talk.  Exchanges that leave one feeling better for having reached out. Something given.  Something received. Gifts exchanged.

I came with a number of songs at various stages of completion with the grand idea I would finish them and perhaps test drive one or two during my train sets.  I also started some new ones including a song—surprise—about riding the train …

I’m taking the train—cuz my car uses too much gas

I’m taking the train—cuz the plane just goes too darn fast

I’m taking the train—steady humming on silver wheels

I’m taking the train—cuz I love how this country feels

Love how this country feels …

The train stirs something quite deep in me.  I feel like I’m going somewhere.  (I know, I know—I am going somewhere.)  But when I board a train, it’s like an invitation.  A special ritual or ceremony that invokes mystery.  Anything seems possible …

Gonna set our sails

Gonna ride the silver rails

Gonna set our sails

Gonna ride the silver rails

Gonna ride the silver rails

 You take your ticket and go—east or west let your heart decide

Sometimes you don’t know—you’re just in for a good long ride

I’m taking the train—it’s like a village that moves on wheels

I’m taking the train—cuz I love how this country feels

The performances were very low key.  Played to a handful of people in the lounge car.  (My return from Halifax took place on Easter weekend so things were busy and there were lots of families.  Lots of fun.)

Retiring to my sleeper was cool.  A magical little hide-away and my very own view of the country scrolling by.  Loved talking with VIA staff.  Learned a lot.  Heard disturbing news of the steady dismantling of VIA by a government determined to mainline fossil fuels, so to speak.  Keep us in our cars. Create jobs. Blah blah blah. Heard of the 44 Mile Stretch of rail the government wants to shut down which will effectively isolate a great portion of New Brunswick and make our historic sea-to-sea railway history.

Looking out the window scene after scene

Passing through towns that call out to me

Field after field tree after tree

Feeling like part of history

 I hope you don’t mind. I’ll say it again

I’m taking my time.  I’m taking the train

 Gonna set our sails

Gonna ride the silver rails

Gonna start with me and you

Then we’ll make a friend or two

There’s a country here to see

And the train’s the place to be

There’s a country here to see

And the train’s the place to

 I’m taking the train …


callum plays my guitar



2 Responses to "VIA Rail Artist On Board"

  1. Aimee Martel Posted on January 28, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Hi Gary
    Im thinking of going out west and playing my celtic harp thats about 4 feet high. Would it be too large of an instrument?

    • Gary Rasberry Posted on October 3, 2019 at 11:20 am

      Hi Aimee
      No, I don’t think your harp is too large for the train. You know better than anyone else how to move around with it. It would be a lovely (musical) addition to the train

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