The Magic of the Wooden Sky’s Travelling Adventure Show

By: Sheena Lyonnais August 20, 2013
The Wooden Sky’s Travelling Adventure Show was perhaps the most magical night I’ve had while living in this great city of Toronto. The tour, which took place on August 16, was part of the SummerWorks festival and featured the band performing at various lots, alleys, and venues in and around the Lower Ossington Theatre. The goal was to transform the streets into a stage, but what they accomplished surpassed that.
The tour started at the Lower Ossington Theatre, but not inside like we all expected. Rather, it was outside on the back patio. The band played a few songs while trumpets and drums marched in through the crowd. When the first set was completed, we followed the sounds of violin, our path lit by a few volunteers walking with paper lanterns down one of Toronto’s most beautiful graffiti alleys. If was there the band stopped to play a few more, though as we walked through, small amps and solo musicians carried the tunes so that the music was continuous and the show never ended. It was so clever how they wove the songs together and brilliant that they did this seamlessly, effortlessly, as if they always performed like this.
We followed them then through the street, then through the major intersection of Queen and Ossington. By now, our party had grown, picking up people along the way. The mass quantity of people tapping and singing along with a band while they continued to play was a sight not to be missed. People in cars, stopped in intersections and forced by the mass to remain as they were, took pictures on their phones, no doubt enamored by this band and its followers performing and parading down the street.
We ended up cross legged on the grass at CAMH for an intimate set where I experienced a beautiful moment with my love while watching the Wooden Sky perform under the moon and the stars, at least 100 people sitting around me. This was by far my favorite part. If there was to be a visual for the word ‘magic’ it was in this moment. The world never felt so beautiful. 
“I hope you’re not too comfortable, because the tour continues!” singer Gavin Gardiner said. We followed blindly, never knowing what was coming next, to a courtyard performance where volunteers passed around sparklers and the sky lit up in small cinders of light. We were walking through the properties and surrounding buildings at this point, the music never ceasing. 
It was here a few members climbed into the back of what I imagine was an old 1950’s Ford truck set in neutral. A few people pushed it while the Wooden Sky continued the adventure, a stripped down performance of mostly voice, guitar and violin. 
The tour continued through to a small stage set up at a docking station where the band led into a rendition of my favourite song, “North Dakota.” Usually at shows in Toronto, people are many drinks in at this point. As this was a travelling outdoor show (with perfect weather to boot) there was nowhere to grab drinks. To be honest, I didn’t even think about it. But the Wooden Sky does not let these details go unnoticed. 
“Because you’ve all been so good,” Gardiner said, “we’re going to pass around bottles of whiskey!” 
And mickeys of whiskey circulated the crowd as we took in the sounds of Toronto’s most stunning alt-country band. I have seen the Wooden Sky numerous times over the years, the last time at the Opera House, and just when I think they’ve outdone themselves they prove me wrong. 
I thought this would be the end of the tour, but in a way it was just getting started. We followed the band to the final location, the Black Box in the basement of the Great Hall, for a three-part performance and a full band show that featured a sprinkling of new songs. 
The whole adventure lasted roughly four hours and the entire thing was surreal, a true production of the coming together of theatre and music. The work and rehearsing that must have gone into this was evident for there was not a moment that wasn’t executed flawlessly. The Wooden Sky was quick to thank people throughout their performances, from sleepless volunteers to patient girlfriends, and I would like to thank them too. 
Never have I seen or experienced anything like this and I believe no other band but the Wooden Sky could have made the evening so special. I will never forget this night.
Sheena Lyonnais is Toronto Music Scene’s editor and co-founder. Follow her and Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @SheenaLyonnais & @TorontoMusic.

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