It’s what serious musicians do: sell all your stuff, get an old beater van and start touring.
At least, that’s what Tiger Moon (Dan Tait and Kacey Graff) did in the fall of 2013. They call it paying your dues.
The van is now long gone but Tiger Moon will roll into town to perform live for the Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society June 9 at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre.
Back in 2012, Tait moved from the Ottawa region of Ontario to Kelowna. That’s how he met Graff.
“We met on the street in Kelowna,” Tait recalls. “I’ve always been a street performer. Kacey came by one day. I’d only been in Kelowna for about a year. She asked me to play a song and then invited me out to a jam night. We started performing together at that very jam night by doing a version of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. We formed Tiger Moon very shortly thereafter.”
It wasn’t long before Tiger Moon started wowing folks on the Kelowna coffeehouse and bar scene.
In September 2013, they hit the road in a 1981 Westphalia Volkswagon van. It turned out to be a gruelling, challenging seven-month tour covering 24,000 kilometres. Along the way, they had major breakdowns south of Winnipeg, in Ottawa, in Nashville, Tennesee and finally a transmission breakdown in Santa Clara, California.
“I’m not sure if the idea to tour was bold or stupid,” Tait says with a chuckle. “It was amazing though. There were so many important life lessons we learned on the tour. Because of all the breakdowns, we learned about the value of staying power and really sticking to something we started through all kinds of adversity. At the time, we were in the mid-20’s and still learning lessons the hard way. So we also learned how to get along and make things work as business partners and best friends when we were stuck 4,000 kilometres from home. We learned how to compromise and make things work through obstacles which seemed incredibly daunting.”
The tour also changed them as musicians.
“We learned so much,” Tait explains. “We got to truly hone our trade as musicians. We discovered the necessity of rehearsing much more diligently.”
He vividly remembers learning this valuable lesson in New Orleans.
“We were going to street perform there so we decided to walk down to the French Quarter. As soon as we showed up, the level of talent and skill of the street performers blew us away,” Tait recalls, “It was unbelievable. The very first one we saw was a guy sitting on a soapbox, playing a kick with his foot-kicking it for the backbeat while playing the banjo. The girl he was playing with was singing, playing mandolin and dancing on top of a soapbox. It gave us a good idea of what we’ve had to do if we wanted to continue being professional artists for a living.”
Five years later, Tiger Moon continues to tour and grow as musicians. For your years, they performed on a train as part of the “Artists On Board” program on Via Rail from Vancouver to Halifax.
“We’d do three shows a day for passengers on the train — mostly tourists from out of the country who are learning about Canada and the vastness of our countryside. It’s a really neat gig. It’s always been a dream of mine to travel across the country by rail. What’s also cool is that Via Rail rarely tells people there’ll be live entertainment on board so it’s a really nice surprise for passengers onboard.”
They did close to 300 shows in 2016 and 2017. They have a new album coming out in 2019. They also have Taylor Gross (bass guitar and kick drum) on tour with them. Through it all, performing live is still very special.
“I really can’t imagine doing anything else,” Tait states. “Kasey and I both grew up with storytellers in our families. We’re through and through storytellers: it’s what we live to do. We love bringing communities together through meaningful performances.”
“Folks can expect some great stories, lots of laughs and our good old-fashioned, down-home, foot-stomping West-Canadian folk music. It’s our unique blend- it’s got a little bit of country, a little bit of bluegrass, three-part harmonies and It’s going to be just a whole heck of a lot of fun.”
The Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society presents Tiger Moon at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre June 9. Tickets are $25 and are available through www.ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469, The Bean Scene Coffee House or at the door, if available. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 6.30 p.m. Wine, beer and food available at the show.
A 20 per cent discount on food purchased at Don Cherry’s and at the Lodge Kitchen and Bar is being offered on the night of the show with proof of purchase. For more information, go to vernonfolkroots.com, Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.