This book is delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the road with Lansing Meadows and Evan Cornfield as they made their way across Canada en route to Winnipeg, Manitoba where Lansing is to receive a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Canadian folk music.
(The title of Fallsy Downsies comes from the conditions of employment Canadian singer Stompin’ Tom Connors used to give to the newbies who toured with him, “You can hold your liquor can’t you? Cuz we don’t want no fallsy downsies in the band.”)
There was one thing Lansing Meadows knew he’d miss. When all was said and done, when all the bullshit was behind him, when all the nosy newspaper articles had been written – hell, when they wrote the book on him – when all the bridges were burned and hearts were broken, there was one thing Lansing Meadows would always yearn for. The spotlight. The warm glow of it on his grizzled hide.
In front of an audience, Lansing can be charming and warm, but he can also be a mean old fart. And, poor Evan finds himself the new tour manager for Lansing, which means he’s the driver, the organizer, and the receptacle of Lansing’s insults and bad moods. But, Evan is a good sport, mainly because he is a huge fan and knows there is more to this man than his sharp tongue. And, he has dreams of his own; ones that touring with the godfather of Canadian folk music might help with.
He was nothing but longing. And it seemed very possible that was all he’d ever be. Longing for who and what he didn’t have, who and what he had no idea how to be.
This will be Lansing’s last tour. He’s hoping to go out with a bang, rather than a fizzle. And, he has some personal stuff to sort out along the way. He picks Evan up in Petite Riviere, Nova Scotia and together they travel on to Antigonish, and Sackville, New Brunswick (eating at Mel’s Tea Room). In Grand Falls, they run into Dacey Brown who is in a rut and has an urge to get out of town. They meet up with her again in Quebec City, and from there they have an on/off third passenger on tour.
The three of the them pass through Montreal, dip down to the States to visit a couple of old friends, then back up to Cornwall, Kingston, Toronto, St. Catherine’s, Parry Sound, Wawa, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg, where more often then not, things don’t go exactly as planned. The car may smell like curry, Lansing may be getting mired in the past, Evan may have lost the tour Bible and twisted his ankle, and Dacey may be accused of theft, but against all odds, together they are able to make their way.
“Of course I’m tired, boy. Don’t be ridiculous. But this is what I do, son, don’t you see that? This is who I am. I didn’t do this, what would I do? Rot away somewhere reminiscing about my glory days? As long as I’ve got words I’ll write them and as long as I’ve got breath I’ll sing them, boy. As long as I’ve got sense, I’ll get up on stage more nights than not, and I will leave not a dry pair of panties in the house.”
Stephanie Domet is a CBC radio host on Mainstreet. But, first and foremost, she considers herself a writer. Fallsy Downsies won the 2014 Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. I liked this book so much that I immediately went to the library to get her first book, Homing, which I am hoping to read this month.
I’ll spare you the pictures of me and my friend dressed up like Stompin’ Tom.