Help­ing peo­ple con­nect

Trav­eller from Van­cou­ver uses mu­sic for self-dis­cov­ery

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER mau­reen.coul­ter@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mau­reenEl­izaC

Michael Aver­ill of Van­cou­ver has been on a jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery and in some ways ful­fill­ing a bit of his fa­ther’s dreams of trav­el­ing across the coun­try on a mu­sic tour.

Since Aver­ill was a child he wanted to make his way to the east coast and was able to make this come true through a pro­gram of­fered by VIA Rail Canada.

The song­writer/sto­ry­teller re­ceives free fare and food in ex­change for en­ter­tain­ing the pas­sen­gers with his roots, folks and blues.

Aver­ill has en­joyed these long train rides and finds them very so­cial.

“At any given time when I’m play­ing in one of the ac­tiv­ity cars, there are peo­ple from four to five dif­fer­ent coun­tries in the room at the same time,” said Aver­ill. “Mu­sic is a good fa­cil­i­ta­tor to bond.”

This is the third year in a row that the Van­cou­ver na­tive has made his way to the east coast and landed on P.E.I. soil re­cently.

Aver­ill re­mem­bers com­ing here for the first time was re­ally pow­er­ful.

“See­ing the pota­toes and the red soil and the rows of the green so vi­brant with the bright blue ocean and the al­most white sand... It kind of feels like you are walk­ing through a paint pal­let.”

Aver­ill wasn’t al­ways out on the road. He was a cer­ti­fied ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist for 10 years and was also com­pet­i­tive hur­dler for 12 years.

He started do­ing mu­sic full time about four-years-ago shortly af­ter his fa­ther died.

He was also a singer and song­writer.

Part of this tour is to help en­cour­age peo­ple to con­nect more with them­selves and their fam­ily. Aver­ill shares his own per­sonal story of how he came upon a col­lec­tion of his fa­ther’s work.

Dur­ing his tour in western Canada, Aver­ill­met a man in Ed­mon­ton who ended up be­ing the son of the per­son who booked his fa­ther for a Yukon fes­ti­val back in 1976.

This man ended up know­ing oth­ers who had recorded with his fa­ther and they sent Aver­ill 23 dig­i­tized songs, two thirds of them Aver­ill had never heard be­fore. So while he shares his story, he en­cour­ages a di­a­logue with au­di­ence and cre­ates a com­fort­able space to talk about loss of a loved one.

“Some sto­ries that peo­ple have shared with me, their sto­ries of loss or dis­cov­ery or just be­ing re­minded that maybe they should talk to their par­ents or call their par­ents again or stop putting it off.”

Aver­ill has wrapped up his P.E.I. tour and is slowly mak­ing his way back west with shows along the way.

For more in­for­ma­tion of Aver­ill’s jour­ney and Cana­dian tour visit michaelaver­ill.com

MAU­REEN COUL­TER

Michael Aver­ill of Van­cou­ver plays a spe­cial song he wrote about Prince Ed­ward Is­land dur­ing his re­cent tour to the East Coast.

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