The Skydiggers’ Christmas Road Trip

On Saturday, Dec. 10th The Skydiggers are coming to play at Meaford Hall.  This Toronto based band has been woven into the tapestry of Canadian music since the 1980’s.  Early in their career they established a tradition of putting together a special Christmas show.  This year they have taken it on the road.  For their Meaford show, they promise to provide a blend of Christmas tunes and their signature songs from their catalogue.

The Spadina Hotel where The Skydiggers were born

The Spadina Hotel where The Skydiggers were born

Back in the 1980’s the Cabana Room was at the top of a steep staircase in the old Spadina Hotel in Toronto.  While the hotel at that time was well past its prime, the Cabana Room was a vibrant gathering place for the new generation of Toronto bands that was developing a kind of folk rock amalgam with socially relevant original songs.  The new phenomenon of music video produced as a promotional tool was in its infancy and Toronto’s CITY-TV was ahead of the trend with a late night show hosted by Christopher Wren that featured music videos, with occasional visits from Mike Myers playing the part of a Scarborough kid (later famous as Wayne of Wayne’s World), and videos from local bands mixed in with those from international artists.  Hal Harbour on CFNY radio gave local bands airplay and interviews.  Local music writers like Karen Gordon and Howard Druckman followed the local scene, spotlighting up and coming new talents.  It was a scene that gave birth to Blue Rodeo, The Cowboy Junkies,The Rheostatics and others.  Into that scene Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson came to create The Skydiggers

“It all started in the beverage room of the Spadina Hotel. That is essentially when the band came together.” says Josh in an interview published on Maple, “Andy and I performed there as a duo as part of Andrew Cash’s Monday night series called Acoustic Meltdown. When Andrew released his debut album and could no longer host the night, we took it over. We put an ad in Now Magazine answered by Ron Macey, and together with Wayne Stokes and Andrew’s brother Peter Cash, who was quietly writing some amazing songs, Skydiggers were born.”

“We cut our teeth there” adds Andy. “It forced us to come up with new songs every week and it prepared us for what was to come. What you hear on Spadina Hotel is a young band finding its voice and recorded from the audience with a single microphone. We have always been conscious of documenting where we were at as a band, which is why we still have so much unheard material. So a dozen years after those Monday nights at The Spadina Hotel, and after many miles on the band odometer, we revisited the idea of a live album. We recorded a number of sets at The Sidetrack Cafe in Edmonton for There & Back, but it wasn’t until we recorded our annual Christmas concerts at The Horseshoe Tavern that we felt we captured the energy that had kept us going for so long.”

Now they are bringing that energy to a Meaford audience, seasoned by years on the road, and with a few lineup changes.

Jessy Bell Smith joins Andy Maize and Josh Findlayson as today's Skydiggers

Jessy Bell Smith joins Andy Maize and Josh Findlayson as today’s Skydiggers

One of the changes was the addition of vocal support from Jessy Bell Smith, an artist originally from Guelph who, in 2014 released her first album, “The Town”.  Reviewers called it “gorgeous”, likening her to iconic vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, Etta James and EmmyLou Harris.  You may have seen her at Heartwood Hall back in October when she shared a bill with Richard Laviolette and The Country Parade.

Whether you are a transplanted Torontonian who still holds a place in your heart for The Skydiggers or a fan of harmonies and meaningful lyrics, this show is something you won’t want to miss.  We can be grateful that The Skydiggers included us on their Christmas road trip.

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One Response to The Skydiggers’ Christmas Road Trip

  1. Gillian says:

    These blogs make me think, “Where was I in the 80s?” Oh, wait, I moved up here! 🙂

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