Friday June 12, 2015

Musician Peirson Ross tours latest album by canoe

(Photo courtesy of Peirson Ross)

Listen 7:50

For aspiring rock gods, going wild on tour can go a long way to increase your status as a legendary badass: think The Who's Keith Moon, The Doors' Jim Morrison, The Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, all of Led Zeppelin, Oasis -- the list goes on.

Or think singer-songwriter Peirson Ross. He's doing everything he can to live up the image inspired by the title for his new album, Wild Ones.
    
Not that he has any wild tales from the road -- where he's going, he doesn't need roads. That's because Ross has embarked on a tour through Ontario and Quebec of more than nine-hundred kilometres -- by canoe. He and his friend, documentary filmmaker Frank Wolf are retracing the traditional routes navigated by First Nations, and later fur-trading Voyageurs as they moved up and down Canada's waterways. They are hoping to raise awareness of water conservation and the environment in the areas they visit.

Ross and Wolf on the river

Ross and Wolf on the river (Photos courtesy of Peirson Ross)

Ross began the journey on Sunday, putting in at Kilbear Park on Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. He's set to play a number of gigs before arriving in Ottawa for a Canada Day performance. And it's on to Montreal from there.
  
Touring by canoe requires a minimalist approach when it comes to gear. 

"I have a baritone ukelele and an acoustic guitar and a pedal. I think that's enough gear to carry at this point," he tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off.

Ross portaging

Ross portaging

Ross does however have a backup band, whose members are travelling more conventionally by van. They'll be meeting up with him at several shows along the route.

Wolf is filming the trip, while serving as a kind of road manager and logistics expert.

"From my experience of long-distance tripping and looking at the terrain -- especially going upstream, you have to give yourself a little bit of a buffer in order to get to the venues on time, and if you're a bit behind sometimes you need to push on through the dusk hours."

Wolf navigates rapids

Wolf navigates rapids

But no matter how hard the paddling, Wolf is confident it won't compromise Ross's playing.

"Peirson's an athlete as well as being a fantastic artist. Of the few people out there that can put on a great performance as well as put in a full day of canoe tripping, he's one of the guys who can do it."

At the end of the day

At the end of the day

You can track Ross's and Wolf's progress and their position along the route here. And you can listen to the new album, Wild Ones, here.