A big family in a ‘tiny’ country

Pat LePoidevin's journey from Sackville, New Brunswick, to Dawson City doesn't seem that far compared to a band that travelled to the music festival from Israel.

Pat LePoidevin’s journey from Sackville, New Brunswick, to Dawson City doesn’t seem that far compared to a band that travelled to the music festival from Israel.

But it took the independent folk artist two months to make it up north, playing 31 gigs along the way.

After spending such a long time on the road, it’s surprising to hear him say it’s such a small country.

His stories of new friends along the way prove him right.

“Every town you go to in this country, you can meet people who know all of your friends or know one of your friends or know family of yours. This country is tiny when it comes to our scene … the independent music scene. Everyone sort of knows everyone.”

At a show in Montreal, a man was standing at the back against the door. He hadn’t even intended on coming to the concert but stopped in when he heard the tunes from the street. LePoidevin struck up a conversation and discovered the man was a roommate of the musician’s friend from Sackville.

“Just a totally weird connection,” said LePoidevin. “That kind of thing happens all the time. It doesn’t even faze me when that stuff happens anymore. It feels like one big family.”

Throughout his Canadian adventure he’s been struck by the hospitality he’s received.

In Vancouver, one of his concerts was cancelled after the venue accidently booked two acts the same night. But that led to an impromptu backyard gig lit by 1,000 coloured bulbs and fueled by an 18-litre vat of Sangria, three kegs and a Jell-O shooter Christmas tree. Blasting his folk tunes over a PA system, LePoidevin lured a family to the performance from three streets away. Even better, he sold them an album.

“That was quite a party. It was pretty amusing and pretty wild,” said LePoidevin.

There were several keg stands and heavy dancing, but nothing dangerous, he said.

But it was so loud that two RCMP officers showed up with plans to tone it down. Instead they stuck around to watch because they enjoyed the music so much.

Thanks to Canada’s hospitality, the folk artist doesn’t catch the homesick bug too often.

“I don’t really consider many places my home right now other than my car and this country because I’m pretty much loving to be on the road these days. Being on the road in Canada and being in the independent music scene makes you feel like you’re at home all the time because promoters and venue owners and other bands are such friendly people and awesome that it’s just unreal.”

He’s particularly fond of his blue, two-door Toyota Tercel.

“I’d recommend that car to anybody because those things do not quit,” he said.

The car is currently in the shop for repairs.

“But that’s my fault.”

After hitting a rough stretch of Dawson road his car started spilling fluids from holes in the gas tank and oil pan.

LePoidevin has been in Dawson for two months now and will stay for the summer.

He spent six weeks working at the world’s most northern green golf course but quit after realizing he was turning into a golfer.

“When I was going out onto the course with my clubs strapped onto my back and actually playing a real game and actually keeping score and actually doing OK, that’s when I said, ‘This shouldn’t happen. What am I doing? I’m not actually a golfer. This is weird.’”

He took some time off to enjoy the Dawson City Music Festival, but plans on getting one more job before he leaves town in September.

“I don’t think I could live here for a long period of time, but it’s really neat for the summer.”

He hopes his job search will land him at the “legendary” Pit as a bartender.

His Dawson City-based friends encouraged him to move from the Maritimes where he attended university.

“If you’re young and you don’t really have much to do with yourself and you just want to have fun and if you’re a musician, it’s very easy to convince you to come up here. It’s a very beautiful place and not many people get the chance to … and I think it’s really neat.”

The musical connections between Dawson City and Sackville made the transition easy, he said.

Indie rock star Shotgun Jimmie lived in Dawson for a while before moving to Sackville.

New Brunswick native Julie Doiron and Sackville resident Fred Squire have performed in the town.

And banjo star Old Man Luedecke from the Maritimes visited Dawson for several summers.

These ties reconnect him with the East, but he said he feels more connected to his hometown.

“I actually feel more at home here because I’m from Princeton, British Columbia, originally so this feels more West Coast to me than East Coast.”

LePoidevin rocked out on his ukulele this past weekend at the Dawson City Music Festival, playing on stage with Fred Penner, experimental artist tUnE-yArDs and even fronted a cover of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger with various musicians.

Collaborating with the other artists was the best part of the festival, he said.

“When you get musicians together, the creativity just kind of flies.”

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at