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March 8th, 9th & 10th – Guelph, Hamilton, Windsor

The first southern Ontario component of the tour started in Guelph with a really great house concert put together by the Community Music Collective. Playing in a sun-room off of the house, it got packed pretty fast, with probably close to 40-50 people throughout the whole house. PA speakers set up in the room and even in the hall outside so that the whole house could enjoy (there are 8 bedrooms – so you know the size of the house roughly). They even served a big pasta meal earlier on!

Hamilton was a blast the next day and oh so funny in a variety of ways. First off, my sister Megan joined me and I got to embarrass her later on – details soon. Secondly, I was joined by Wax Mannequin, who we recently determined that after playing 4 shows together over 5 years we can now call each other ‘old friends’. Wax’s set was done sans backing tracks, but the energy was tough to follow. There was literally a balloon fight during the show – at his request of course! As I mentioned, his charisma is a hard one to follow, but I made up for it with storytelling, sweating profusely, and of course, interactions with a buttertart. For those of you that aren’t aware, there are many blog entries chronicling me singing to tarts on stage at the Pearl Company, however, this time, I invited my sister on stage to eat a butter tart on stage, and anytime I sang the words “She’s Happy”, during the song of the same name, she had to start eating quickly, and with as much gusto as possible, hamming it up even.

March 10th was Windsor, where I made a stop at the Dugout. It’s great to arrive and see your name on the marquee! And in HD?! What is this world coming to! It was Derek (the owner’s) birthday that night, so we had a blast, and I even ended up visiting my friends in The Birthday Cakes at the Phog Lounge a little later on. Combine that with late night chats with Murad from Learning and crashing at the mansion with Pumpkin, it was a great end to the first few days of tour.

Good morning, Pumpkin - at the Mansion

Hamilton – running for tarts

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

I’m finding that this tour has a lot of expectations from the audience, but each audience is unique to it’s needs. For example; several tours ago, I performed an a cappella version of Idioteque by Radiohead, and certain cities like Ottawa have a huge love for it, so I always bust it out there. Hamilton has a different theme/tradition: I always enjoy the tarts at the Pearl Company Art Gallery, and find a way to incorporate them into the show.

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

On this particular occasion, I found a piano bench and one of my empty road cases to build a pedestal for a tart, which I then serenaded with my song, “Blue”. However, this was similar to the last time I was there, so I decided to up the ante. During my final song, “You”, i sometimes get the audience to clap/fingersnap/etc along with me to close the show, but this time I decided to switch it up a bit. I would eat a tart (they’re decently large) on stage, taking bites in sync with the clapping, and I let the audience take charge of the tempo of the clapping, speeding up as it went on. There is nothing more difficult than trying to scarf down a crumbly pastry at breakneck speed, while simultaneously sprinting around the room. What challenges will next time bring? Send suggestions to me[at]jeanpaulderoover[dot]com!

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

March 10th – Hamilton – Pearl Company

Hammertown.  The last time I was in Hamilton I played at the Pearl Company, and this time was no different.  What was different, however, was the turnout.  In October, I played solo to 5 people.  This time, City of Glass joined me, and we performed to over 20.  We literally quadrupled the audience, thanks to certain people like David Kidney, who wrote a show review in the Rylander last time, but has already written another one for the Green Man Review (it’ll be up soon).  He brought an entourage all by himself!

Michael Champion - City of Glass - photo by Shannon Lepere

City of Glass started off the show at the very nice venue of the Pearl Company, and sounded infinitely better than the night before in Toronto. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last for very long, as the gear that they had rented from Long and Macquade didn’t hold, and the set suffered from ghosts in the machine. However, they handled it really well, and Michael ended up doing a medley of Radiohead and Coldplay while gear was sorted out.

eating a tart - photo by Shannon Lepere

This transitioned well into my set as I also did a Radiohead cover. Earlier that night, I had been running out of time, so I didn’t get the opportunity to eat. Thankfully, Barbara and Gary at the Pearl Company had snacks and drinks available, so I ate several tarts which were absolutely delicious. During my set, I boasted about how great they were, and David from City of Glass even brought me one on stage! So I proceeded to play “I Need You”, which then became an ode to the tart I was eating while playing.

mini-tour wrap up with City of Glass - photo by Shannon Lepere

Although it was brief, the mini, 2-day tour was fun and it was great meeting City of Glass and sharing the stage with them. I’m sure that we’ll play together again, sooner than later!