I Mother Earth at Crocks

I Mother Earth returns to Thunder Bay to play at Crocks on April 21. Also performing will be Finger Eleven.

IT’S BEEN a minute since Edwin has visited Thunder Bay, yet he can still recall fond Northern memories spanning decades in his career as both a band frontman and solo artist.

No doubt that tonight’s exciting double header show at Crocks, featuring I Mother Earth and Finger Eleven will be a homecoming in so many ways for these Canadian legend as well as the devoted fans.

Rest assured, faces will be melted by the likes of Jag Tanna, Christian Tanna, Chuck Dailey and Daniel Mansilla.

Thunder Bay is pleased to welcome original vocalist Edwin, back to the band, back to the stage and back on the road.

“I’ve played many memorable shows in Thunder Bay and fans have been so supportive and so energetic, I’ve had so many good times there. Smaller towns seem to let loose. I love the geography of the place, and the Sleeping Giant. I remember playing the university pub, I remember great times there when it was full with people singing along. It gave you goosebumps.”

But aside from winning over Thunder Bay crowds, one of Edwin’s favourite local memories isn’t music related at all.

He recalls quite fondly, being invited to join the Thunder Bay Auto Club ice racing league, the most fun he’s ever had in the front seat.

“It was a rubber to ice studded race in a car on the lake that was melting. We came in 2nd place. Nobody expected the music dude to end up with a trophy. It was so much fun and rings recent in my heart.”

Without hesitation, fans of both meaningful Canadian alternative rock band have been coming out in droves to support the cause, taste the nostalgia and take part in one of the most exciting double bills the country has ever seen. Even the recent Toronto ice storm couldn’t keep hard core fans away.

When referring to “the good old days” Edwin is quick to reply, “The good old days had bad days too,” which leads us to this present day cross Canadian tour.

“All these guys love playing and touring but it’s a sad thing when great musicians are sitting at home. I’m not aware of a lot of up and coming rock bands in Canada, it’s not like it used to be with Much Music. We don’t have the same mainstream outlets for live music.”

That being said, 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of multi-platinum acclaimed album, Scenery and Fish, a record that put The Mothers on the mainstream map and solidified them as the heavy melody makers that they are today. A lesson that good music stands the test of time.

As the music industry continues to change and evolve, I wonder how it feels to be back in the saddle, trekking across the country once again, this time with fellow Burlington, Ont., brothers Finger Eleven.

Edwin laughs, exhales and then pauses.

“We’ve known each other since the ‘90s and played festivals like Edgefest together, but we never really hung out, we just knew of each other, there was no camaraderie. Lately we’ve been jamming together, covering songs together and performing on the same stage at the same time and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re getting along famously, and it’s put a little spark into each band to give that little extra, to perform better and enjoy it more. The down side is I wish we were promoting a new record or single.”

The concert format of acoustic/question and answer and electric continues to be well received, as concert goers soak up every ounce of nostalgia and can really dig into the vibe of each band and their combined, collective energy. Edwin says that the attendance turn-out and response for this up-graded VIP package has been much better than expected.

“We’re playing to hundreds of people for this acoustic set. The room is half full before the show. Our voices are blending, our smiles are genuine, they’re not painted on. You can tell they’re from the heart.”

As a live music fan growing up in Thunder Bay like many, I was raised on a steady diet of Canadian rock. It’s what mainly saturated radio and video waves, and what toured through our isolated city.

While Edwin chuckles at the use of my word “nostalgia” the reality is that fans are dialed in to re-live the sights and sounds that I Mother Earth first brought us in the ‘90s. I think I speak for many when I say that it’s good to have the original frontman back leading the pack.

“The IME guys and myself hadn’t been in contact for a couple of decades and all that time I had many, many, many fans come up to me and ask me is there was ever a chance I’d play with them again,” he said.

“I didn’t think I would have been into it, but a series of events happened in my personal life and the timing was perfect. It was exactly what I needed, it seemed natural, and I love it. I love what music does for people. It brings out the joy, the youthfulness, the escape from problems, and the therapy. I’m very appreciative, more than I can put into words, that I get to be a part of it with I Mother Earth.”

Angie Valente is a Thunder Bay-based freelance writer.