LETHBRIDGE – Life as a troubadour isn’t always easy. Just ask Fort Macleod folk musician John Wort Hannam. Halfway through his latest Alberta tour, he lost one of a travelling musician’s most valuable tools.
“As soon as we started to go, the van started to do this weird shimmy thing,” said Hannam. “I’m not a mechanic, but I knew it wasn’t good.”
“Vincent Van Go,” Hannam’s 12-year-old Pontiac van, had a broken cylinder. The vehicle had to be scrapped and replaced. It was a heavy financial burden for the songwriter, but to Hannam’s surprise, a cheque for $330 soon arrived in the mail.
“It wasn’t a lot of money,” said Hannam. “But, it was a lot of money to me.”
It was from CKUA, the historic, publicly-funded radio network. Hannam says CKUA was the first station to ever play his music and support his career. He donates $20 to the station every month, and recently sent a cheque for an additional $330 for advertising. The radio station, hearing of his transportation dilemma, decided to give back.
On a post on his Facebook page, Hannam writes: “[CKUA] just gave me my last 16 and half months of sponsorship back to help me pay for my new tour van. All while continuing to play my songs, ask me to participate in events, and promote the hell out of my tour dates. This is just so above and beyond.”
“Inside was a beautiful note that said, ‘we heard about your van blowing up, please consider this return cheque our contribution so you can continue to play’,” said Hannam.
CKUA’s chief operating officer, Katrina Ingram, said the station was empathetic to Hannam’s plight.
“People don’t go into being a travelling musician for the money; they do it for the love and the passion,” said Ingram. “It’s really important we have those folks out there continuing to do that work and that’s why we try to support them the best we can.”
As for Hannam – he’s road-ready once again, armed with a new van and new attitude.
“It gives me hope in humanity and it just shows that when there’s a community and people are helping out each other and lending a hand, that anything is possible.”
Hannam’s next Alberta performance is Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Edmonton.