Talent and leg power are taking two local musicians on a cross-Canada tour.
Mike Shaver and Stephanie Webster of a Million Dollars in Pennies have set out on their (estimated) four-month tour from Victoria to Newfoundland.
Along the way, these troubadours on bikes plan to perform house concerts in return for a place to rest their pedal-weary legs.
They are hoping that the word-of-mouth system will trumpet the message across the country ahead of them, encouraging people to put their welcome mats out.
Touring is not new to Shaver and Webster, who have travelled far by van before, often driving nine hours at a time and wondering what town they’re in.
“This is not a race, it’s going to be over four months,” says Shaver. “We plan to get to Newfoundland in late October.”
The couple decided to combine their interest in bike-riding with their love of music, after hearing experiences from others, who have engaged in long bike rides.
“With music, people are willing to open their homes to you and to support you,” says Shaver. “That’s why we wanted to slow the pace down a bit, connecting with family and friends across the way, harnessing word of mouth to play a show in front of someone’s house.”
Shaver likes the closeness and genuine intimacy that often occurs between performer and audience in interactive house concerts, where questions can be asked and answered, discussion can take place about the music and maybe even impromptu jams after the concert, when anyone with an instrument can join in.
“You show up, tune your instrument, and play – longer if they’re happy,” laughs Shaver. “You share a common experience and make personal connections with audience.”
As well, the talented singer/songwriter says this kind of tour is far easier to maintain along the road, far less complicated than finding people who can organize concerts in bigger venues.
Shaver says the idea for the bike tour was born in February when he and Webster were mulling over new directions for a Million Dollars in Pennies.
“We’ve been singing together for a while and we were looking at new ideas,” he says, noting the couple have put together a new album of where they are now, with the bike tour providing new stories and song ideas. “We’re just opening ourselves up to new adventures – mind, body and soul.”
To Webster, the appeal is the adventure of travelling, connecting with music lovers across the country and living a life of simplicity.
“It distills life down to the fundamental – most distractions disappear and life is immediate,” she says.
Describing their music as harmony-driven story folk, Shaver says the new CD is called gone.
The couple recorded their album in March, with Vancouver Island’s Corwin Fox, considered by many as “a shining light in Canadian roots music.”
“We heard a couple of albums he had made and he came highly recommended,” says Shaver, noting recording was done in and around life in the Fox family – small children included. “It was, ‘can you just be quiet for one more take and then we’ll watch a movie?’”
Shaver says none of the songs were recorded more than four times, providing the main foundation that sounds like a live performance.
“We added a few things afterwords to make it a bit fuller,” Shaver says enthusiastically, noting Fox encouraged the couple to try playing instruments other than guitars for the first time.
“We didn’t really know him but he was so supportive of us, he told us these songs are getting stuck in my head, they’re good songs;” high praise the pair were delighted to hear.
The couple left Victoria last week and are biking their way to a concert and CD release party at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 8 at Sunnybrae Hall.
Tickets are $20 and are available at Acorn Music or Synergy studio.
Anyone who is interested in a house party can email
the couple at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates of their tour will be available at