Nirvana, Nardwuar, cub, and the Canucks: my 25 years of art, inspiration, and employment on Hamilton Street

// April 1st, 2014 // 8 Comments » // Filed under Blog

What is the longest you’ve ever worked in one location?

In January, I received a CBC management email letting me know that I’ve been working at CBC for fifteen… years… straight. Contemplating that amount of time while riding my bike home along Hamilton Street, just outside the CBC, I realized that I had actually been working at various locations on that very street – and only that street – in Vancouver for even longer… for the past quarter-century, to be exact.

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation at Pecha Kucha Vancouver (20 slides in 6 minutes with commentary), and since my long connection with Hamilton Street was still kicking around in my head, that’s what my presentation became, which you can watch here, and I’ll share some of it with you now in print and photos.

Vancouver's first street corner: Hamilton and West Hastings.

First, the backstory: if you know me even a little bit, you’ll know that I have a great appreciation for the history of the City of Vancouver, so it delighted the dork in me to realize that this street that I have been employed on for so long is actually the first-ever Vancouver city street. It was in 1885, in the midst of a towering and dark rain forest, when the first stake was driven into the soft earth to map out the City of Vancouver by a surveyor named Hamilton… at exactly what is now the corner of Hamilton and West Hastings. When you visit I’ll show you the plaque.

The first place I ever worked on Hamilton Street was at Teamworks Productions, an office in a ramshackle, yet to be restored heritage house. I was fresh out of high school in 1989 and desperate to dive head first into the music business.

Frank Weipert gave me that chance, at a one-stop-shop of artist management (Bob’s Your Uncle, Hard Rock Miners, Roots Roundup), booking agency, and concert promotions. I eagerly dabbled in all of them, especially concert promotion. Frank dealt mainly with roots and art rock, but I begged him to allow me to put on concerts by some of the bands of the burgeoning grunge and punk scene of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s south of the border.

MUDHONEY!

Frank agreed, and that led to me to stage on a string of concerts for Mudhoney (a show Nardwuar and I put on… 1,000 kids showed up, each paying $6), Tad, Bad Religion, Poison Idea, NOFX, Fugazi, the Young Fresh Fellows, the Fastbacks, and, most famously, Nirvana at the Commodore Ballroom just as Nevermind was catching fire.

But the concert promotions business was a harsh mistress for an amateur teenager, and even though many of the gigs were wildly successful, I found out the hard way that, as a promoter, you’re only as great as your last gig, and that not all Seattle grunge bands were created equally. I was coerced by some slick-nick American agent to put on a gig for Love Battery, the ugly duckling of the grunge scene. I guaranteed the band a king’s ransom. The ONLY people to show up for that gig were me and Nardwuar… and I was the promoter and Nardwuar was on the guest list! The show cost Teamworks a fortune, cost me my job, and that was pretty much it for me in the concert business.

The Smugglers circa 1995... not quite as cool as the bands above. Photo by Paul Clarke.

I figured my time would be better spent building up the career of my own band The Smugglers, who rehearsed and wrote many of our best songs at a dangerous dump of a practice space right on Hamilton Street.

By the early 1990′s I began working for Mint Records, located in the iconic Dominion Building at the foot of Hamilton Street. The dusty old dame of a structure was by then a bohemia of arts and culture. Various record labels, publishing companies, magazines, TV productions, and music festival head offices were housed in the circa-1910 building. My primary job was promotions and A&R, but again I dabbled in everything. It was in those offices that we shipped thousands upon thousands of CDs by cub, gob, Pluto, the Smugglers, Neko Case, the New Pornographers, and many other artists. It was a short window in the music industry when almost anything felt possible. There were some glorious times.

Four albums of the many albums we released while I worked at Mint Records

But (and there’s almost always a but) by the end of the 1990s, the bottom fell out of many major labels, having signed way too many bands for far too much money while trying to find the next Green Day and Nirvana. The economic collapse trickled down throughout the music business to the indies, and once again I found myself looking for a new job. (Mint Records is still going to this day, though!)

What CBC Vancouver looked like when I started there in the late 1990s.

I managed to find one just a few blocks up Hamilton, at, lo and behold, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, thanks to hosts Leora Kornfeld and David Wisdom, who had interviewed me countless times for the Smugglers. I landed a gig as an entry-level researcher for a new alternative music show called RadioSonic. By 2000, we started CBC Radio 3. By 2001, both Leora and David had moved on and I was hosting RadioSonic.

I spent a lot of time in the summer of 2005 walking up and down Hamilton Street wearing this sign.

In 2005, the employees of the CBC got locked out in a nasty and prolonged labour dispute. Suddenly, I was pounding the pavement up and down Hamilton Street instead of crossing it to go to work. That lockout led to a lot of time off. The Smugglers had wound down, so I ended up spending a lot of the sudden free time in the wilds of Desolation Sound, BC, at my family cabin. I wasn’t broadcasting, I wasn’t rocking out with the Smugglers, and felt the urge for an artistic outlet, so I began writing what would become my first book, Adventures in Solitude.

My first-ever book reading was... where else? Hamilton Street.

My first-ever public reading of the book? Why, on Hamilton Street of course, at the annual Word On The Street Festival. Hamilton Street would also play a fateful role in my second book, The Lonely End of the Rink, as it was the fiery and violent epicentre of the Stanley Cup Riot of 2011 when the Vancouver Canucks failed to win game seven against the Boston Bruins.

What is that guy doing to the CBC banner?!?

These days, I still walk and cycle up and down Hamilton Street to and from work at the CBC every weekday where I am a host at CBC Radio 3 and CBC Music. Now, if I’m lucky, my wife Jill and baby son Joshua will be waiting outside on Hamilton Street to greet me. And so those are my 25 years (and counting) of art, inspiration, and employment on Hamilton Street… and yes, Nardwuar still loves to remind me of that Love Battery gig. Ugh.

Upcoming Events:

Fri Apr 11, North Shore Writers Festival, North Vancouver City Library, North Vancouver BC 7pm (stories from both books… free!)

Fri Apr 18 – Sun Apr 20, Hockey Summit of the Arts, Toronto ON (Grant plays goal for Sloan’s team)

Sat May 3, BC Book Prizes, Renaissance Harbourside Hotel, Vancouver BC

Sat Jun 14, CBC Music Festival, Deer Lake Park, Burnaby BC

Wed – Sun July 9 – 13, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg MB

Sat Aug 2, Hornby Island Arts Festival, Hornby Island BC

Thu Aug 14 – Sun Aug 17, Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Sechelt BC

Related:

The saga of the CBC sweater

Canadian Screen Award win!

The White Stripes slept here: an ode to my old abode

Grant Lawrence wins Canadian Screen Award

// March 5th, 2014 // No Comments » // Filed under Blog

After 15 years of working on radio at the CBC, I never imagined that I would win something called a Canadian Screen Award. That’s right, Screen Award. It’s a golden statue, about a foot or so high, and surprisingly heavy. My team won in the category of Best Original Program or Series produced for Digital Media.

Here’s how in the hell it ever happened: Last year, I embarked on an outrageous opus that became known as CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, starring a plucky little Volkswagen Fender Edition that affectionately became known as the #CBCBeetle.

The goal of the trip was to film excellent Canadian musicians performing on their own home turf. It would be the reversal of the standard rock ‘n’ roll tour: instead of them coming to us, we’d go to them.

The results were a video series showcased on CBC Music and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, filmed in spectacular pockets of the country from Vancouver to Toronto. Some of the highlights included getting “banjo’d” into the Elk River in Fernie BC [WATCH] by stoke-folk band Shred Kelly stuffing a live goat into the Beetle [WATCH] courtesy of the Good Ol’ Goats in Cranbrook… jumping into Lake Louise [WATCH] naked… getting treated to a Saskatoon rooftop BBQ [WATCH] from Ewan Currie of the Sheepdogs… and smashing [WATCH] Sam Roberts’ guitar,  among many other good times.

Grant BBQing it up with Ewan from the Sheepdogs

The CBC Beetle Roadtrip was definitely one of the most rewarding and wild of my CBC experiences, made special by the team that made it possible – Bryan Ward, Kai Black, Brent Hodge, Talia Schlanger, Nicole Goodman, Jonas Woost, and Brian Cauley – and the incredible list of Canadian musicians who took part: Yukon Blonde, the Matinee, Shred Kelly, the Good Ol’ Goats, the Sheepdogs, Library Voices, Imaginary Cities, Hawksley Workman, PS I Love You, the Tragically Hip, the Arkells, Hollerado, Metric and the Darcys.

Oh, and what ARE the Canadian Screen Awards? Last year, in an effort to simplify years of confusion honouring the best in Canadian film and TV, the Genies (film) and the Geminis (TV) joined forces to create the Canadian Screen Awards to honour Canadian excellence on movie screens, TV screens, and computer screens. They are considered the Golden Globes/Academy Awards of Canada!!

Hearing our names announced as winners at the gala Tuesday night was a completely surprising, surreal, and exciting experience. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. This 15 year radio vet is definitely stunned and happy… and don’t worry, it hasn’t gone to my head, though I will be bringing that trophy with me to every single meeting at the CBC from now on: “talk to the statue!”

Grant and Shred Kelly on the Elk River in Fernie BC.

Upcoming events:

Fri Apr 11, North Shore Writers Festival, North Vancouver City Library, North Vancouver BC 7pm

Wed – Sun July 9 – 13, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg MB

Sat Aug 2, Hornby Island Arts Festival, Hornby Island BC

Thu Aug 14 – Sun Aug 17, Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Sechelt BC

Back to the CBC…Canadian Screen Awards…Book Festivals

// February 10th, 2014 // No Comments » // Filed under Blog

Happy 2014!

Hope this finds you and yours healthy and happy and ready for spring!! Here’s my latest happenings that I’d like to share with you.

CBC:

I am in the final, final, final days of my six month paternity leave. It’s been a wonderful and gratifying six months of monumental moments, and I am energized to get back behind the mic at the national broadcaster this week.

- I will return to my hosting role at CBC Radio 3 as of Wednesday February 12. I’ll be back in my regular four hour time slot, hosting Monday – Friday, starting at noon ET / 9am PT, playing the best in new and emerging Canadian music. I am live on SiriusXM 162 across North America and on cbcmusic.ca/radio3 around the world. Get the CBC Music app and listen anywhere!

- You’ll also be able to hear me on my regular spots on CBC Radio 1 afternoon shows across the country and sharing the occasional story on DNTO. I’m also working on some exciting new opportunities with CBC Radio 2, and will be creating some very special podcasts.

- Back in May of 2013, I drove a Volkswagen Beetle “Fender Edition” across the country meeting up with various Canadian musicians, filming it all (I also jumped into Lake Louise naked) for the CBC Beetle Roadtrip Sessions. I’m proud to say the video series has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Program or Series produced for Digital Media.

- I’ll also be hosting a couple of “Toque Sessions” here in Vancouver… free evening concerts at the CBC, with Said the Whale on Thu Feb 20, and Hannah Georgas and Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother) on Fri Feb 28.

- Oh, and I got my cherished CBC Sweater back after losing it for 35 days!

Books:

- Thanks again for your incredible support of my second book The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie. I completed an invigorating and sometimes totally FREEZING thirty date Canadian book tour from October to December and enjoyed meeting many of you face to face. Thanks to the many, many musicians who performed at my readings. Check out my top ten highlights.

- It’s been surreal for a nerd like me to release a “sports” book and see it reviewed in everything from indie music ‘zines to “The Hockey News”.

- In 2014, I’ll be visiting many literary, book and music festivals, including the excellent Galiano Literary Festival later this month (you should come), and the North Shore Writers Festival in April (complete dates listed below). End-of-the-road movers and shakers and I are working to try and bring a readers and writers’ festival to Lund BC (near Desolation Sound) in the future. More info on that as it happens (as we say on the CBC).

- Personally signed copies of The Lonely End of the Rink and Adventures in Solitude are available to be mailed directly to you anywhere through my website. If it’s a gift, please say for whom it should be signed on the order form.

Family:

- Ever since our son Joshua Matthew Lawrence was born in August, life has been a whirlwind of pure joy. Josh continues to grow in leaps and bounds, loves to smile at all the new people he meets and, true to his parents’ highly questionable lifestyle, at six months, Josh has been on 17 flights and counting.

- My wife Jill Barber won a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Francophone Album of the year for “Chansons”. It was inspiring to watch Jill decide to make a French album, re-learn the language over a two year period, select, learn and record the songs, and win the award.

- Jill will also be receiving an honourary SOCAN Songwriting Award at the society’s 25th annual awards show in Toronto this June, and is currently in studio working on her latest original album, due out this summer in time for festival circuit.

Hockey:


- Hopefully my team the Flying Vees will win another hockey game this year?! For whatever bizarre reason, since the release of “The Lonely End of the Rink”, the Flying Vees have been on an outrageous, near unprecedented plunging losing streak: Before the book: 6 wins, 2 losses. After the book: 1 win, 8 losses, including seven straight, just like the Canucks! If you can explain this, please let me know.

Upcoming events:

Fri Feb 21 – 23, Galiano Island Literary Festival, Galiano Island BC

Sun Mar 9, Canadian Screen Awards, Toronto ON

Fri Apr 11, North Shore Writers Festival, North Vancouver BC

Sat Aug 2, Hornby Island Arts Festival, Hornby Island BC

Thu Aug 14 – Sun Aug 17, Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Sechelt BC

Questions? Concerns? Ideas? Feedback? Let me know, thanks!

GO CANADA!

Unravelled: the saga of Grant Lawrence’s CBC Sweater

// January 15th, 2014 // 4 Comments » // Filed under Blog

Even though it was five years ago, I remember the question within the email like it was yesterday: “What are your measurements?”

The kind person who wrote the email wanted to knit me a sweater. Sadly, it took me forever to email back my torso measurements, but I sure was glad I eventually did, because a few months later my customized measurements turned into the famed CBC Sweater courtesy of Granted Clothing (no relation).

Kids CBC TV with Mamma Yamma

I was overcome by the sheer majesty of the custom-knit CBC sweater… the workwomanship that went into it… the quality of the wool… the little details like the wooden zipper clip… and the glove-perfect fit. I felt so bad that I had been nonchalant and downright dismissive about sending in my measurements that I promised the kind family that runs Granted Clothing that I would wear the sweater EVERYWHERE.

Desolation Sound, BC.

I’ve made good on my promise. In the past five years I’ve worn the CBC sweater in nine provinces, two territories and four countries. I’ve worn the CBC sweater on stage at folk festivals in Dawson City, Vancouver, Winnipeg, AntigonishYellowknife and others.

The CBC Beetle Roadtrip

I’ve worn it in rock clubs in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Austin, Texas. I wore it every day of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It’s been my uniform on the Tracks on Tracks train adventure across the country and the CBC Beetle Roadtrip.

Everyone wants a piece of the CBC Sweater, even in Drumheller, Alberta.

This fall, CBC Radio 3 listener “McS” knitted a matching version of the CBC Sweater for my baby boy Joshua. Suffice to say, I LOVE THAT CBC SWEATER (and my baby).

Baby Joshua in his matching CBC Sweater knit by "McS"

So you can imagine my shock and horror, when, on my recent book tour for The Lonely End of the Rink, I made my first mistake. I forgot the CBC Sweater in an overhead bin on a tiny Air Canada plane I hopped between Calgary and Edmonton on December 9.

The realization that I didn’t have the CBC Sweater slammed me in the chest like a rodeo bull as I shivered in a taxi in the middle of a blizzard on the way to CBC Calgary for an interview with the afternoon radio show. It was too late to turn back.

CBC afternoon show host Doug Dirks had seen my panicked freak-out missing-sweater tweets and brought it up in the interview. That caught the ear of Jennifer Stewart, who works for Air Canada in Calgary. She tweeted me and vowed to find the CBC Sweater and return it to me. That was over a month ago. IT WAS GONE.

The CBC Sweater on DNTO in Winnipeg.

During that time, Jennifer let me know that the sweater had actually been located in – of all places – Grand Prairie, Alberta. After that, the sweater made its way to Edmonton, and then down to Calgary, where, briefly in late December, just before Christmas, the CBC Sweater was actually physically in Jennifer’s hands. It was found safe and sound. Or so I thought.

That’s when I made my second mistake. Should I have the sweater mailed home, or take up Jennifer on her kindly offer to send the sweater on an Air Canada flight to Vancouver so that I could pick up it up at the airport when I returned from an Ontario holiday after Christmas?

I should have had it mailed home, because that’s when I made my third mistake. We extended our Ontario holiday. I missed the pick up date in Vancouver. By the time I got to the baggage counter in Vancouver after Christmas, the CBC Sweater was gone, apparently banished to the giant, bottomless Air Canada lost and found vat, located in Montreal.

There are so many lost items in this container that it apparently resembles the trash compactor from Star Wars. It is so massive, and so unwieldy as more and more lost items are tossed in, that there is NO PHONE NUMBER for Air Canada’s main lost and found. Not even Air Canada employees can call.

Folk on the Rocks, Yellowknife NWT

Jennifer was very worried. I had pretty much given up all hope. Another Air Canada employee who wished to remain nameless described the lost and found as a “black hole” swirling with more lost loot than Saddam Hussein’s bunker. IT WAS GONE.

That’s when my lifelong friend Megan Barnes stepped into the fray early in the New Year, letting me know that her ball-bustin’ linebacker-sized cousin Chris Bennett works at the baggage department of Air Canada. I still didn’t get my hopes up.

Two days ago, my phone rang at 6:15am.

“WTF?” I thought groggily, glancing at the number. Didn’t recognize it, didn’t answer it. The phone rang again. And again. I finally answered.

A gruff voice on the other end asked ”Is this Moore?”

“Uh, no, you have the wrong number”. I was about to hang up.

“Are you missing a CBC Sweater?”

I bolted straight upright in bed, suddenly wide awake, whipping my cucumber sleeping mask from my eyes. “YES, YES!”

“So, your name is Moore”.

“NO! It’s Lawrence! And I’m missing a CBC Sweater!”

“We may have located the CBC Sweater. Come and pick it up today at the Air Canada baggage counter in Vancouver. Ask for Marco”.

Phog Phest in Windsor ON.

I leapt out of bed, pulled on a t-shirt and ran out the door. Realizing I was shirtcocking, I ran back inside and put on shoes and socks and stumbled to the car.

Marco and Dora were waiting for me at the Air Canada baggage counter with wide smiles. They pulled out a crumpled white plastic bag, that sure enough, inexplicably labelled “MOORE”. From out of the bag unfurled the CBC Sweater, missing for 34 days. My friend Megan’s cousin Chris had beaten the bushes and eventually it turned up.

Dora and Marco return the CBC Sweater at the Vancouver baggage counter!

THANK YOU to Jennifer, Chris, Marco, Dora, and everyone at Air Canada who tracked it down. Thanks to Doug Dirks at CBC Calgary, Megan Barnes, Granted Clothing, Allison Outhit (for the title of this post), and YOU for caring. You’ll see the rescued CBC Sweater on the folk fest stages this summer!

Related:

Top ten highlights of The Lonely End of the Rink book tour

Orca whales help celebrate 30 years in Desolation Sound

Upcoming events

Top ten highlights of “The Lonely End of the Rink” book tour

// December 20th, 2013 // 4 Comments » // Filed under Blog

5,812 kilometres. 30 events. 25 musicians. 12 libraries. 10 flights. 8 bars. 5 arts centres. 4 theatres. 3 bookstores. 2 rental cars. 1 lost CBC Sweater.

Yes, “The Lonely End of the Rink” book tour is complete. And I survived it! Here are my top ten memories of the last three months on the book touring circuit of Canada…

10. BC Sports Hall of Fame. If someone were to ever tell me, Canada’s #1 non-jock for the vast majority of my life, that I would one day launch a book at an actual sports hall of fame, surrounded by trophies and Olympic medals and jerseys, I would tell them they were crazy. Life is strange and wild if you go with the flow.

9. The bars. It was a thrill and a throwback to hold events in beer-soaked parlours like the award-winning Phog Lounge in Windsor, the kitschy Copper Owl in Victoria, the Gladstone in Toronto (thanks to Kevin Sylvester for the awesome onstage interview), the possibly perfect Pressed in Ottawa, and the legendary, amazing, 25-years-and-counting Amigos Cantina in Saskatoon.

8. The Ottawa Songbird Millionaires. If there was ever a perfect hockey team in the world, it was the vintage Songbird Millionaires of the 2000′s-era Exclaim Cup Hockey Summit. They were a huge inspiration for the Flying Vees because they had so much fun on and off the ice. It was awesome to see so many of them (amazingly) alive and well at the Ottawa launch.

7. Winter. My band the Smugglers had a rule never to tour Canada in December or January. I flew wildly in the face of such wisdom over the past three months, criss-crossing Canada in sub-zero temperatures, the very coldest being -47 in the howling prairie winds of Bruno, Saskatchewan (the frostiest temps I’ve ever experienced in my life). There were snowstorms in London, Calgary, and freezing first-time adventures in Kimberley, McBride, Valemount, and Fort St. James, but I made it through and truly appreciated the beauty and brutality of it all.

6. Fernie, BC. There’s something magical about this little town. I couldn’t think of a better place to end the road portion of the tour than in this snowy Rocky Mountain oasis for authors and readers alike. Thanks to all who filled Canada’s most beautiful library once again.

Johnny Hanson at the Powell River launch party. Photo by Bad Karen.

5. The catalysts. The stories contained within the new book wouldn’t have happened without a few key people: Rob Fleming, now a BC MLA in Victoria, was the kid who showed me the VHS tape of David Letterman reading out my letter on TV, a turning point in my teenage life; Johnny Hanson, now living in Lund BC, the lead singer of the Hanson Brothers, was the guy who showed me that music and hockey can co-exist; and Tom Goodwin, the founder of the arts-based Exclaim Hockey Summit, who urged me to form a hockey team of my own in Vancouver to “take back the game”. It was great to see Rob in Victoria, Johnny in Powell River, and Tom in Toronto.

4. The hockey cards. For whatever extremely generous reason, my CBC colleague Jo-Ann Roberts gave me her personally signed Bobby Orr rookie card at the book launch in Victoria. In Kingston, I was given a signed rookie card by Edmonton Oilers star Taylor Hall by none other than his mom! Thanks, ladies!

Taylor Hall's mom!

3. The musicians. Almost every event was made special by a vast array of independent Canadian musicians who so incredibly and kindly performed a song or two or three. I owe you each a deep debt of gratitude for sharing your music and your talent at these events: Bodhi Jones (Vancouver), Matt Lockhart, Rae Spoon (Victoria), Slim Milkie (Powell River), JF Robitaille (Montreal), Matthew Barber (Kingston + Toronto), The Matinee (Toronto) Crissi Cochrane (Windsor), Marty Kolls (London), Chris Page, Andrew Vincent (Ottawa), Maybe Smith (Saskatoon), Kristen Berkel (Bruno), Mike McDonald (Edmonton), KJ Jansen, Matt Masters (Calgary), The Good Ol’ Goats (Cranbrook), Red Girl (Fernie), and my wife, Jill Barber, in West Vancouver. THANK YOU!

Matt Lockhart performing at Victoria launch

2. The Gruesomes. It would be hard to impress upon you just how massively influential the Montreal band the Gruesomes were to me when I was a teenager. They meant EVERYTHING to me, inspiring me to form my own clone-band that went on to last for 17 years. Suffice to say, it was hugely exciting for me to reunite with three of four Gruesomes (Bobby Beaton and John Davis in Montreal; Gerry Alvarez in Toronto) on the book tour.

John Davis and Bobby Beaton.

1. CBC Radio 3 Fans. Wind, rain, sleet or snow. It all poured down across the country over the past few months, but that didn’t stop you. You were always there. In toques, scarves, and t-shirts. Offering cookies, cupcakes, beer, caramel corn, and baby gifts for Joshua. My deepest thanks to the legions of CBC Radio 3 fans, who, no matter what, made it out to these book events and were often in the front row. Your ongoing support and unflagging enthusiasm for music, arts, friendship and community is hugely inspiring. I can’t do this shit without you!

Thanks to everyone who came out to one or more of these 30 events, to anyone who bought a book, to the librarians, bookstores, media, promoters, Douglas and McIntyre, Killbeat, and the bar owners… thanks to all for what you do for Canadian culture.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and happy holidays to all -

Grant Lawrence

PS. Yes, I lost the CBC Sweater. It was my own fault. I left it in the overhead bin of my flight from Edmonton to Calgary. Jennifer at Air Canada has been great tracking the sweater as it made stops in Grand Prairie, back to Edmonton, threatened to go to the giant Air Canada Lost and Found bin in Montreal (which apparently resembles the trash compactor from Star Wars), but the sweater is finally apparently en route back to Vancouver. I should be able to pick it up sometime after the holidays!

The Lonely End of the Rink tour: the last chapter!

// December 10th, 2013 // 3 Comments » // Filed under Blog

After braving extreme winter temperatures and warm audiences in the Canadian prairies, it’s finally time for the last chapter of book tour dates… I’m into the home stretch and happy to be back in BC in the beautiful East Kootenays. Hope to see you there, and thanks to all who braved temperatures as low as -47 in Saskatchewan and Alberta on the weekend.

Musicians at the following dates include:

Tue Dec 10 – the Good Ol’ Goats

Thu Dec 12 – Red Girl

Sun Dec 15 – Jill Barber

(no music act in Kimberley)

Praise for The Lonely End of the Rink:

“I hate hockey but I love this book” – Cory Ashworth, The Peak FM

“Grant Lawrence is a razor-sharp humourist” – Times Colonist, Victoria

“One of Canada’s leading storytellers” – Vancouver Sun

“Soul-searching, candid and clever” – Ron MacLean, Hockey Night In Canada

“Like David Sedaris in a Canadian tuxedo” – Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings

“Heartbreaking and hilarious” – Angie Abdou, author, The Bone Cage

“It’s not always pretty, but this is a funny, poignant, and very Canadian story”. – Kevin Sylvester, CBC broadcaster

The Lonely End of the Rink tour unfolds in Canadian Prairies

// December 4th, 2013 // No Comments » // Filed under Blog

After an amazing swing through Quebec and Ontario that included reuniting with three out of four members of the Gruesomes (the band that sparked me to form the Smugglers) as well as many other great friends from past and present, the book tour now unfolds into the vast and frozen Canadian prairies!

This weekend will feature some amazing musical performances at all the book events:

Saskatoon: Maybe Smith
Bruno: Kay and the Cadillacs
St. Albert: Mike MacDonald (Jr. Gone Wild)
Calgary: KJ Jansen (Chixdiggit), Matt Masters

Please note that the times noted above are the actual start times for each event. Please arrive before the posted times! Hope to see you soon.

Also, we’re getting very close to that time of the cut off for signed books before Christmas! Cut off to receive your order is THIS FRIDAY DECEMBER 6.

Here are the complete tour dates:

Fri Dec 6, Amigo’s, Saskatoon SK, 8:30pm, w/ musical performance by Maybe SmithRSVP at the Facebook event page.

Sat Dec 7, Bruno Artsbank, Bruno SK, 7pm, w/ musical performance by Kay and the Cadillacs.

Sun Dec 8, Public Library, St. Albert AB, 2pm, w/ musical performance by Mike McDonald (Junior Gone Wild).

Mon Dec 9, National Music Centre, Calgary AB, 7pm, w/ musical performance by KJ Jansen (Chixdiggit)Matt Masters.

Tue Dec 10, Public Library, Cranbrook BC, 7pm

Wed Dec 11, Public Library, Kimberley BC, 7pm

Thu Dec 12, Public Library, Fernie BC, 7pm

Sun Dec 15, Memorial Library, West Vancouver BC, 2:30pm, w/ musical performance from Jill Barber

Early praise for The Lonely End of the Rink:

“I hate hockey but I love this book” – Cory Ashworth, The Peak FM

“Grant Lawrence is a razor-sharp humourist” – Times Colonist, Victoria

“One of Canada’s leading storytellers” – Vancouver Sun

“Soul-searching, candid and clever” – Ron MacLean, Hockey Night In Canada

“Like David Sedaris in a Canadian tuxedo” – Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings

“Heartbreaking and hilarious” – Angie Abdou, author, The Bone Cage

“It’s not always pretty, but this is a funny, poignant, and very Canadian story”. – Kevin Sylvester, CBC broadcaster

The Lonely End of the Rink tour hits Quebec / Ontario

// November 22nd, 2013 // No Comments » // Filed under Blog

After surviving the snowy wilds of Northern BC and visiting some beautiful and tiny hamlets, I’ll now attempt to tackle some of the biggest cities in Canada for the next week or so.

The next week will feature some amazing musical performances at all the book events:

Montreal: JF Robitaille
Kingston: Matthew Barber
Windsor: Crissi Cochrane
London: Marty Kolls
Toronto: Matthew Barber
Ottawa: Chris Page, Andrew Vincent

Please note that the times noted above are the actual start times for each event. Get there early before the posted times! Hope to see you soon.

Here are the complete dates:

Sat Nov 23, Drawn and Quarterly, Montreal QC, 7pm. RSVP at the Facebook event page, w/ musical performance by JF Robitaille

Sun Nov 24, Kingston Brew Pub, Kingston ON, 2pm w/ musical performance by Matthew BarberRSVP at the Facebook event page.

Mon Nov 25, Phog Lounge, Windsor ON, 7pm w/ musical performance by Crissi Cochrane.

Tue Nov 26, Landon Library (not a misprint), London ON, 7pm, w/ musical performance by Marty Kolls.

Wed Nov 27, Toronto Launch Party, Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, Toronto ON, 8pm-10pm, w/ musical appearance by Matthew Barber, interview by Kevin Sylvester. Presented by This Is Not A Reading Series and Douglas and McIntyre. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Fri Nov 29, Pressed, Ottawa ON, 7pm, w/musical performance by Chris Page, Andrew VincentRSVP at the Facebook event page.

Fri Dec 6, Amigo’s, Saskatoon SK, 8:30pm, w/ musical performance by Maybe SmithRSVP at the Facebook event page.

Sat Dec 7, Bruno Artsbank, Bruno SK, 7pm, w/ musical performance by Kay and the Cadillacs.

Sun Dec 8, Public Library, St. Albert AB, 2pm, w/ musical performance by Mike McDonald (Junior Gone Wild).

Mon Dec 9, National Music Centre, Calgary AB, 7pm, w/ musical performance by KJ Jansen (Chixdiggit), Matt Masters.

Tue Dec 10, Public Library, Cranbrook BC, 7pm

Wed Dec 11, Public Library, Kimberley BC, 7pm

Thu Dec 12, Public Library, Fernie BC, 7pm

Sun Dec 15, Memorial Library, West Vancouver BC, 2:30pm

Early praise for The Lonely End of the Rink:

“I hate hockey but I love this book” – Cory Ashworth, The Peak FM

“Grant Lawrence is a razor-sharp humourist” – Times Colonist, Victoria

“One of Canada’s leading storytellers” – Vancouver Sun

“Soul-searching, candid and clever” – Ron MacLean, Hockey Night In Canada

“Like David Sedaris in a Canadian tuxedo” – Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings

“Heartbreaking and hilarious” – Angie Abdou, author, The Bone Cage

“It’s not always pretty, but this is a funny, poignant, and very Canadian story”. – Kevin Sylvester, CBC broadcaster

The Lonely End of the Rink debuts at #3 on Canadian Bestsellers List, #1 in BC

// November 5th, 2013 // No Comments » // Filed under Blog

THANK YOU! Thanks to your early support of The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, (released on Oct 24th, 2013) the book has debuted at #3 on the Canadian Bestsellers List for Paperback Nonfiction and is currently #1 on the BC Bestsellers List.

Here’s the national paperback nonfiction top 5 for the week of Nov 4:

1. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
2. Blood by Lawrence Hill
3. The Lonely End of the Rink by Grant Lawrence
4. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman
5. The War on Science by Chris Turner

Thanks to all who came out to launch events in Vancouver, Victoria, and throughout Vancouver Island! The Lonely End of the Rink book tour continues this weekend with events in Vancouver, Sechelt, and Powell River. Complete dates below. Oh… and the Vancouver Flying Vees are 6-2 on the season so far…

Wed Nov 6, The Flame Holiday Edition, Shadbolt Centre, Burnaby BC. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Thu Nov 7, Arts Centre, Sechelt BC, 7pm.

Fri Nov 8, Rainbow Room, Rodmay Hotel, Powell River BC, 7pm, w/ musical performance from Slim Milkie, presented by Breakwater Books. RSVP on the Facebook event page.

Wed Nov 13, Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon, Playhouse Theatre, Vancouver BC

Thu Nov 14, Public Library, Prince George BC, 6pm

Fri Nov 15 Public Library, Fraser Lake BC, 1pm

Fri Nov 15, Public Library, Fort St. James BC, 7pm

Sat Nov 16, Public Library, McBride BC, 2pm

Sat Nov 16, Public Library, Valemount BC, 7pm

Sat Nov 23, Drawn and Quarterly, Montreal QC, 7pm. RSVP at the Facebook event page, w/ musical performance by JF Robitaille

Sun Nov 24, Kingston Brew Pub, Kingston ON, 2pm w/ musical performance by Matthew Barber. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Mon Nov 25, Phog Lounge, Windsor ON, 7pm w/ musical performance by Crissi Cochrane.

Tue Nov 26, Landon Library (not a misprint), London ON, 7pm, w/ musical performance by Marty Kolls.

Wed Nov 27, Toronto Launch Party, Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, Toronto ON, 8pm-10pm, w/ musical appearance by Matthew Barber, interview by Kevin Sylvester. Presented by This Is Not A Reading Series and Douglas and McIntyre. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Fri Nov 29, Pressed, Ottawa ON, 7pm. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Fri Dec 6, Amigo’s, Saskatoon SK, w/ musical performance by Maybe Smith. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Sat Dec 7, Bruno Artsbank, Bruno SK, w/ musical performance by Kay and the Cadillacs.

Sun Dec 8, Public Library, St. Albert AB, 2pm, w/ musical performance by Mike McDonald (Junior Gone Wild).

Mon Dec 9, National Music Centre, Calgary AB, w/ musical performance by KJ Jansen (Chixdiggit), Matt Masters.

Tue Dec 10, Public Library, Cranbrook BC

Wed Dec 11, Public Library, Kimberley BC

Thu Dec 12, Public Library, Fernie BC

Sun Dec 15, Memorial Library, West Vancouver BC

Early praise for The Lonely End of the Rink:

“Grant Lawrence is a razor-sharp humourist” – Times Colonist, Victoria

“One of Canada’s leading storytellers” – Vancouver Sun

“Soul-searching, candid and clever” – Ron MacLean, Hockey Night In Canada

“Like David Sedaris in a Canadian tuxedo” – Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings

“Heartbreaking and hilarious” – Angie Abdou, author, The Bone Cage

“It’s not always pretty, but this is a funny, poignant, and very Canadian story”. – Kevin Sylvester, CBC broadcaster

The Lonely End of the Rink book tour dates announced

// September 30th, 2013 // 3 Comments » // Filed under Blog

POKE CHECK! (photo by C.McAvoy)

On October 24, 2013, CBC personality and award-winning author Grant Lawrence releases his second book, The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, on Douglas and McIntyre. In celebration of the new memoir chronicling Lawrence’s love/hate relationship with Canada’s national winter sport, book launch events have been announced in cities across the country with more to follow.

“Whether I’m on radio, TV, or at a book reading, I truly love interacting with audiences”, says Lawrence. “For years I was a touring musician with my band the Smugglers, so being on the road is in my blood. I can’t wait to get back out there and share stories from the new book”.

All events will include Grant reading or telling stories from the new book, as well as a slide presentation, a short film, Q+A, book signing, and live musical performances from special guests in select cities.

Thu Oct 24, Vancouver Launch Party, BC Sports Hall of Fame, Vancouver BC, 7pm-9pm, w/ musical appearance by Bodhi Jones. Presented by BCSHF, Douglas and McIntyre, and Phillips Brewing. RSVP at Facebook event page.

Fri Oct 25, Victoria Launch Party, Copper Owl, Victoria BC, 7pm, musical performance by Matt Lockhart. Presented by Bolen Books. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Sat Oct 26, Community Theatre, Tofino BC, 7pm

Sun Oct 27, Laughing Oyster Books, Courtenay BC, 3pm

Mon Oct 28, Java Shack, Campbell River BC, 7pm

Tue Oct 29, Nanaimo Public Library, Nanaimo BC, 6pm

Wed Oct 30, Lefty’s Restaurant, Parksville BC, 6pm

Thu Nov 7, Arts Centre, Sechelt BC, 7pm

Fri Nov 8, Rainbow Room, Rodmay Hotel, Powell River BC, 7pm, w/ musical performance from Slim Milkie, presented by Breakwater Books.

Thu Nov 14, Public Library, Prince George BC, 6pm

Fri Nov 15 Public Library, Fraser Lake BC, 1pm

Fri Nov 15, Public Library, Fort St. James BC, 7pm

Sat Nov 16, Public Library, McBride BC, 2pm

Sat Nov 16, Public Library, Valemount BC, 7pm

Sat Nov 23, Drawn and Quarterly, Montreal QC, 7pm

Sun Nov 24, Kingston Brew Pub, Kingston ON, 2pm w/ musical performance by Matthew Barber

Mon Nov 25, Phog Lounge, Windsor ON, 7pm w/ musical performance by Crissi Cochrane

Tue Nov 26, Landon Library (not a misprint), London ON, 7pm, w/ musical performance by Marty Kolls.

Wed Nov 27, Toronto Launch Party, Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, Toronto ON, 8pm-10pm, w/ musical appearance by Matthew Barber, interview by Kevin Sylvester. Presented by This Is Not A Reading Series and Douglas and McIntyre. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Thu Nov 28, tba, Hamilton ON

Fri Nov 29, Pressed, Ottawa ON, 7pm. RSVP at the Facebook event page.

Fri Dec 6, Amigo’s, Saskatoon SK, w/ musical performance by Maybe Smith.

Sat Dec 7, Bruno Artsbank, Bruno SK, w/ musical performance by Maybe Smith.

Sun Dec 8, Public Library, St. Albert AB

Mon Dec 9, National Music Centre, Calgary AB, w/ musical performance by KJ Jansen (Chixdiggit)

Tue Dec 10, Public Library, Cranbrook BC

Wed Dec 11, Public Library, Kimberley BC

Thu Dec 12, Public Library, Fernie BC

Advanced praise for The Lonely End of the Rink:

“Soul-searching, candid and clever” – Ron MacLean, Hockey Night In Canada

“Like David Sedaris in a Canadian tuxedo” – Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings

“Heartbreaking and hilarious” – Angie Abdou, author, The Bone Cage

“It’s not always pretty, but this is a funny, poignant, and very Canadian story”. – Kevin Sylvester, CBC broadcaster