April 22, 2024

Grant Lawrence spring news: New kids book! Completed audio book! Kid rock band! Joel Plaskett recap! And shows, shows, shows!

Hello world of friends!

Happy spring! Hope this finds you nestled under a pink bouquet of “cherry blossoms that are as graceful as a Japanese poem” (a direct spring-time quote from my beloved Desolation Sound neighbour Angela). 

Joel Plaskett wows at Stories and Songs Shows

The highlight of 2024 so far has been the series of my touring “Stories and Songs” shows that featured my ol’ pal Joel Plaskett from Halifax, who I have known since his days in his 1990s rock band Thrush Hermit. In a word he was fantastic, and the audiences loved him.

Joel and I have had many adventures stretching over decades (above is a shot of Thrush Hermit playing with the Smugglers in Halifax in 1999).

One time, years later in Halifax, I asked Joel to show me the REAL Ashtray Rock, which was the title of his successful, award-winning concept album of 2007 about young love and drunk teenagers. He agreed, and together we made our way through the woods behind the Clayton Park neighbourhood of Halifax until we found it… 

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but out here in BC, when you say “rock” – and you mean the mineral variety – it’s usually something BIG… like Siwash Rock off of Stanley Park, or Bromley Rock outside of Princeton, or Ripple Rock off of Campbell River, that was so big and hazardous to boats, that they had to blow it up. 

Ashtray Rock wasn’t that big at all… maybe about the size of your average lumpy loveseat… nor to my eye did it really resemble an ashtray, but there were some empty beer cans strewn about, which meant a new generation was still sneaking off to party there, which warmed my heart. And I love a good rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage no matter what the size of the prize.

A few years after that, Joel and I crossed paths again, this time way up north at a cultural festival in Iqaluit, Nunavut, a first for both of us, where we were able to get out onto the open, windswept, treeless tundra. Now THAT was epic.

And so this year, Joel and I were able to complete our twenty-five-year trifecta of adventures from coast to coast to coast with fantastic shows in Sidney, Galiano Island, and Maple Ridge. Thank you very much if you were in attendance at these special shows, and thank you to Joel for making it happen, and to all the other excellent performers: Lindsay Bryan, Rob Nesbitt and Andrew Molloy, Ashleigh Ball, Imogen Moon, and my lovely wife Jill Barber, who pulled off a drop-dead stunning duet with Joel on his old favourite “Happen Now” in Maple Ridge.

New shows for 2024 are listed below… including three coming up this weekend with the incredible Lindi Ortega, Jay Malinowski, and Stephanie Cadman in Oliver, Lake Country, and Kamloops!

Release date for new book: Adventures in Desolation Sound (for kids!)

Well, it’s official… ace illustrator Ginger Ngo and I have been working hard while putting the finishing touches on the illustrated children’s version of my first book Adventures in Solitude

It’s called Adventures in Desolation Sound and takes place when my sister and I were little kids, experiencing Desolation Sound for the first time, and meeting real-life legends like “Cougar” Nancy Crowther and Russell the Hermit

The book features plenty of beautiful illustrations of many of the flora and fauna of the Sound, both above and below the surface, as well as lots of hilarious interpretations of my sister and me navigating those early years in the wilderness.

I’m very proud of the “kid treatment” we’ve given the book, which will be released by my long-time publisher Harbour Publishing (celebrating 50 years this year!) on Saturday September 7, 2024. I’ll have information on signed pre-orders soon. 

Jill Barber

My lovely wife Jill has already had a busy year, logging many touring miles. She performed all over the East Coast USA in January, as well as trips to the Juno Awards in Halifax, and the Folk Music Awards in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she won the trophy for Producer of the Year for her acclaimed album Homemaker

This one is special because Homemaker was both a return to Jill’s original folk roots sound, and a record that she grappled with, eventually taking on the producer’s role, so that the sound in her head was the sound she was hearing on the record. And, well… here you go:

Jill shares this award with her friend, bassist, and engineer-turned-co-producer Erik Nielsen

Jill will be performing at several music festivals this summer – and we’ll collaborate on a couple of shows as well. Please check out the dates below.

Blue Jay Valley debut 7” EP out now!

Yes, that’s right, our 10-year-old son Josh Lawrence and his kid rock band Blue Jay Valley have their very own 7” vinyl record out, a four song EP of all-original rock songs written by the members, who are 9 and 10 years old. Their record release party was a sold-out smash in East Vancouver, and they have another all ages outdoor show planned for June. If you’re around East Van you should come! And bring the kids! In the meantime, you can check out the Blue Jay Valley bandcamp page if you’d like to listen to or order the record on sky blue vinyl. They ROCK.

Shows! Shows! Shows!

Grant Lawrence and Friends: an evening of stories and songs


Mon July 22, Laughing Oyster, Okeover BC, w/ Sarah Jane Scouten, Jill Barber, and Ashleigh Ball

Wed July 24, Hacienda Pascalito, Savary Island BC, w/ Sarah Jane Scouten, Jill Barber, and Ashleigh Ball

Thu July 25, Refuge Cove Dockside Gallery, Refuge Cove BC, w/ Sarah Jane Scouten, Jill Barber, and Ashleigh Ball

Sun Aug 18, Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Sechelt BC (Harbour Publishing 50th anniversary celebration)

Sat Aug 24, Opera House, Gravenhurst, Ontario w/ Jill and Matthew Barber, Clerel, Hannah Georgas, Miranda Mulholland

Sat Aug 31, Barbers at the Base, Sergeants’ Mess Hall, Picton, Ontario (Jill Barber, Matthew Barber, Grant Lawrence)

(More shows to be announced coming up in Langley, Sechelt, Powell River, and West Vancouver in the fall of 2024 and spring of 2025).

Jill Barber

Sun June 16, Francos de Montreal

Sun, Mon June 23, 24, Toronto International Jazz Festival

Fri Aug 2, Kaslo Jazz Festival, Kaslo BC

Sun Aug 18, Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, Sechelt BC

Sat Aug 24, Opera House, Gravenhurst, Ontario (w/ Grant Lawrence)

Sat Aug 31, Barbers at the Base, Sergeants’ Mess Hall, Picton, Ontario (Jill Barber, Matthew Barber, Grant Lawrence)

Tickets to all shows.

Dirty Windshields Audiobook

And one more thing… If you need something to listen to while doing the dishes or driving to work, at long last, I have FINALLY finished my audiobook-podcast for my rock ‘n’ roll memoir Dirty Windshields – the best and the worst of the Smugglers tour diaries. This turned out to be a rather epic and time-consuming project that took, uh… years, because… it’s not just an audiobook. I took it upon myself to mix in much of the Smugglers catalogue throughout the stories, in chronological order, plus music from friends’ bands, which makes this a deeper and more contextualised listen that takes you through the indie rock glory years of the 80s, 90s and 2000s, as if you were actually there. Or maybe you were. The project turned out to be an amazing way to reconnect with Smugglers fans and friends from around the world… all three of them … (just kidding) … and I hope you get a chance to listen to it as well. (Above is a picture of the Smugglers being interviewed in a fountain in Auckland, New Zealand.)

More listening:

A couple of respected pals recently interviewed me on their respective podcasts, where I talk about anything and everything.

Terry David Mulligan’s Mulligan Stew (the legendary media personality and I talk about me going over to his house to pick up free promo records when I was a teenager… the Stories and Songs show… Desolation Sound… books and more.)

Salad Days with Dave Ullrich (great to connect with the former Inbreds drummer about our meeting in the heady 1990s Canadian music scene and all that followed… including some never-told early Smugglers stories).

So… what are you up to these days? Will our paths cross somewhere?

Happy spring, happy life, and I hope to see you soon.

All the best from the west,

Grant Lawrence




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