VIA Rail passenger Allison Crowe makes a triangle pit stop in Halifax this week. The menage a trois spreads from Thursday to Saturday, as she appears June 1 at Fairview Heights Elementary School, June 2 at The Music Room and June 3 at Pilot House Cafe and Cottages in Boutilier’s Point.
“I’ve been touring by train for couple of weeks now,” says Crowe, calling from Montreal. “My manager Adrian and I had been toying with the idea for awhile. We proposed the idea to VIA Rail and got quite lucky as they’ve given us their full support, which really helped us in terms of finance.”
Crowe is currently travelling from coast to coast with her railroad tour dubbed Rock ’n’ Rail Revue. The trek began with a Mother’s Day celebration on Track 29 at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver and is scheduled to come to an end at the St. John’s fine dining/jazz establishment Bianca’s on Water Street.
“Being on the train has been quite the experience,” she says. “It’s such a great way to see the country. The highlights for me really have been performing and being on the train.”
Opposing sides of the country seem to be a theme in Crowe’s life, as the Nanaimo, British Columbia, native has recently moved to Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
“I now call Newfoundland home,” she says. “My boyfriend is from there. When I’m not touring, I’m recording, and my gear is portable so it made sense for me to move. There is such a similarity in people of coastal communities, as the scenery is beautiful and the people are friendly. Aside from winter, it’s not a huge difference from Vancouver Island.”
Weather conditions and Screech-ins aside, this honourary Newfoundlander has the voice of a heavenly creature with quite a knack for the porcelain keys.
“I’ve been performing since I was 16. It’s hard to believe that it will soon be 10 years, I feel so old,” she says. “I’m classically trained and still take vocal lessons and have taught myself some jazz piano.”
At 24 years old, Crowe has a burgeoning career and boasts a handful of albums, including the self-released Live at Wood Hall and Christmas-themed collection Tidings, Secrets and Lisa’s Song + 6 songs on her label Rubenesque Records. Her most recent effort, This Little Bird, is due later this year.
“Basically the album is named after the title track ‘This Little Bird,’” says Crowe. “Usually I tend to be more metaphorical with my lyrics but this one is pretty bare-boned. It’s about me and moving to Newfoundland. There is a lot more instrumentation on this album, as it’s my first release with a full band.”
Crowe’s railroad tour has her stopping in a variety of nooks and crannies in Canadian cities and exploring various forms of music, from originals to cover songs. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Counting Crows, The Beatles and Pearl Jam are the map-makers of this nightingale’s journey of song.
“I’ve been performing a lot of my own songs,” she says. “I’ve recently been playing a few songs on guitar. I’m really into Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ Aretha Franklin’s’ Darling Be Home Soon’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You.’”
Each Halifax show will feature a different highlight: Crowe’s performance on June 1 at Fairview Heights is part of the school’s Pizza and Piano program, her show at The Music Room on June 2 will feature Fairview Heights’ 30-piece choir and the weekend will close with an intimate seaside show at Pilot House.
“A lot of the shows on this tour have been really intimate, with a more cabaret feeling,” she says. “Each night has been very different, with intervals of travelling by train throughout the day.”
Once the train conductor blows the final whistle, Crowe will return home to her sweetheart in Corner Brook. She hopes to continue chugging along the familiar tracks of writing, recording and performing music.
“I drawn inspiration from my life and what’s going on around me,” she says. “My songwriting is really much like a journal. It’s who I am.”
Allison Crowe, June 2 at The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond, 8pm, $15, 423-6441, and June 3 at Pilot House Cafe and Cottages, 7532 St.Margaret’s Bay, 6:30pm, 425-4662