We pull in (and out) of Saskatoon as day three began with more bustle in the morning, until the next stop in the small town of Melville, Saskatchewan where there was to be a platform show. The train was running late, however, so there wasn’t chance of a full show, but they opened one of the doors on a baggage car for newly acquired Shred Kelly to play a whirlwind set for nearly the whole town, including The Mayor!
The afternoon saw more cabin shows with Portage & Main and The Matinee, both stripped down. Portage took advantage of the setting and played some of their slower songs, like “Rocky Mountain Wanderer” (despite being in the middle of the prairies) and The Matinee crammed into the back of the Park Car, at the very end of the train. They had some assistance from Kiana Brasset on violin (and Grant Lawrence on woos) as they serenaded the car in front of the vast prairie landscape disappearing behind them.
The scheduled show at the Forks in Winnipeg didn’t quite go as planed. The train rolled in late making a much more rushed than anticipated; instead of the two-hour show, we were only in town for less than half an hour.
Chris Ho played a few songs, followed by an obligatory set from the appropriately named Portage & Main, including their rocking (and train themed) newer song “Sweet Darlin”
It was then a game of hurry up and wait as we rushed back to the station but the train still wasn’t quite ready, so there were a few impromptu songs in the station; first Zach & Adrian, then Maurice and finally Lindsey Bryan.
We pulled out of The Peg and it was right back to the music with Shred Kelly rocking their self proclaimed “stoke folk”. Their great energy and enthusiasm was bolstered by co-vocals from the lovely Sage McBride and the blurry fingers of Tim Newton’s banjo picking, breaking a string in the middle of the set – which was immediately re-strung as the drummer and bassist filled the potential awkward pause. The wrapped up their set with “Tornado Alley”, which built to a huge, amazing ending.
Portage and Main was up next for another full out rock set, backed by Pete and Mike from The Matinee on drums and bass respectively. The banter between John and Harold was their usual self-deprecating joking; playing off each other well and the aforementioned train-themed “Sweet Darling” nearly blew the roof off the train car. They ended with a massive sing along to “Oh Caorlina” with the entire car belting out the chorus.
And The Matinee closed out the night in a way only they could, with another all out rocking set. They shook the train car as everyone stomped along to “L’Absinthe” and “The Road”, using the walls of the train and random instruments for the usual drum breakdown, but they were urged back for one more, a cover (their third of the night) of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream”
There were a few more scheduling glitches and some miscommunication the third day, and an illness that may have sidelined Sidney York from the rest of the train, but beyond that, it's still been one heck of a trip!