Never underestimate the charity of Canadians, especially when it comes to creative uses for Canadian Tire money.
Singer/songwriter Corin Raymond has made headlines across the country in the past month as an independent Toronto musician trying to fund his next album through donations of the ubiquitous coupons.
He has a Kamloops cheering section at Erwin’s Bakery, where owners Shawn and Robyn Haley and their employees have been collecting the coupons on Raymond’s behalf. They hold “Canadian Tire Tuesdays,” accepting the coupons at par.
“I love the fact that Erwin’s Bakery is collecting Canadian Tire money, which I think is amazing,” Raymond said from Toronto. “There’s been an amazing response from across the country. This story’s changing every day.”
Haley and his family became fans of the folk musician when Raymond performed a couple of concerts at their Kamloops home last year. They participate in Home Routes, a non-profit organization that brings together performers and small audiences in house concerts.
Erwin’s support is not surprising considering Raymond’s penchant for penning poignant ballads that touch people’s hearts. Among his songs: There Will Always Be a Small Time, on which he sounds like a young John Prine; Blue Mermaid Dress, a bittersweet ballad of a summer long ago; and Three Thousand Miles, which is covered by Dustin Bentall among others.
Now the folks at Erwin’s are planning another house concert for his return as well as a public performance of his one-man Bookworm show set for Wednesday, March 21.
The Bookworm show?
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Haley said. “He’s got nothing but rave reviews on this thing. It’s about Corin’s love for books and his father reading to him. You just can’t miss this if you have a love of literature.”
Raymond’s father was a librarian, teacher and bookseller when he was growing up, a prime influence on Raymond as a reader, writer and storyteller. With dramaturgy provided by TJ Dawe (who’s brought his monologue show to Kamloops on several occasions), Raymond has performed the show on the fringe circuit and at libraries around the country.
The Canadian Tire idea came about indirectly through song. Raymond co-wrote a tune in which a man pleads for his wife to not spend their coupons so she can leave him: “We’ve saved it so long … What about the love we’ve squirreled away,” the song goes.
As he performed the song, audience members would toss Canadian Tire money on the stage. After learning that one studio owner accepts the coupons at par from some cash-starved musicians for services rendered, the wheels started turning.
Raymond’s goal is to raise enough money to record an album with his band, the Sundowners, of cover songs by Canadian songwriters who are not well known.
“They’re songs so good, I can’t not share them,” he said. “My favourite songwriter in the country is actually in B.C. — Raghu Lokanathan. He’s so good, I’ve actually been learning his songs for years.” (By coincidence, Lokanathan performs in Kamloops at The Art We Are on Friday, March 3.)
So far, Raymond’s amassed more than $2,500 in coupons, one-tenth of the way to covering his estimated costs. He keeps fans updated on the website www.don’tspendithoney.com. He doesn’t see it as begging but rather as a means of allowing fans of his music to become active participants in the project.
“There’s no begging about it. That is a very Scottish Presbyterian reaction. Sandy McTire, he’s the postcard of Canadian frugality. I’m asking for small-change paper. That’s a Don Quixote scheme in the first place … I have that Protestant work ethic, because I’ve never worked harder for paper nickels.”
Besides, no one has ever done this before. And the media interest continues. On Friday, he was setting up an interview with CBC’s Definitely Not the Opera.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he added. “A foreign currency correspondent with the Wall Street Journal is coming to my home.”
Details of the March 21 Bookworm show at Stage House Theatre, 422 Tranquille Rd., are still being worked out.