With Wreckhouse, Sherry Ryan sings tunes about trains
Have a First Listen to Stop the Trains and learn about N.L. legend Lauchie MacDougall
Sherry Ryan says inspiration for her new album, Wreckhouse, comes from a favourite family story from her childhood.
Ryan's father worked on the CN Railway on the west coast of Newfoundland.
"It was the late '50s, and of course, Dad being from Middle Cove, didn't know anything about the Wreckhouse winds," recalled Ryan.
"So of course this was a very exciting story for us growing up."
The legend of Lauchie MacDougall
Ryan wrote a song called Stop the Trains, based on the story of Lauchie MacDougall, a man who lived in Wreckhouse — a part of Newfoundland's west coast near Port aux Basques known for its devastating, train-toppling winds — who said he had the ability to "smell the wind."
When Ryan was a little girl, she said her father used to tell her about how the railway workers relied on MacDougall to send them warnings about when the winds in Wreckhouse were too high to run the trains.
Then, while Ryan was writing Stop the Trains, she was stuck on a line for the chorus, and she asked her father for advice.
"It just came out of his mouth right away, the last line, 'Hold the trains in Riverview and Port aux Basques.'"
Railway pensioners get involved
Ryan and her bluegrass band, Flower Hill, made a video of the song at the Railway Coastal Museum in St. John's, with her father and other members of the CN Railway Pensioners Association as part of the onscreen audience.
Ryan is hoping to take her material from Wreckhouse on the road this summer, across Newfoundland and Labrador and into Ontario and Quebec.
Ryan has performed on Via Rail trains through a program that gives free train rides in exchange for playing for passengers.
"This time, I'm just going to fly straight to Toronto."
Have a First Listen to Sherry Ryan's conversation with Weekend AM's Heather Barrett.
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