‘Tour de Fort’ passports selling fast

Duane Hicks

With the 2017-18 “Tour de Fort” season set to start in less than a month, there’s still time to get a passport.
“Passports are selling very well,” said John Payne, “Tour de Fort” programming and hospitality director, who shares in the programming duties with his wife and “Tour de Fort” secretary, Sheri.
“Of the 430 seats in the theatre, there are only 169 seats still available,” he noted.
“The only way to guarantee a seat to these shows is to purchase a passport, as individual show tickets may not be available,” Payne warned.
“If we manage to sell out our passports, as we did last season, there will be no individual show tickets available.”
Passports for the 2017-18 series are on sale online at www.tourdefort.com/tickets.php and also available at From the Grind Up here.
“Tour de Fort” will keep the passport pricing at the “early bird” cost of $100 until Sept. 1, after which time they will be $125.
“The ability to purchase all six shows for only $100–less than $17 per show–is an incredible value,” said Payne.
This season’s lineup includes “The Way We Feel,” a concert celebration of the songs of Gordon Lightfoot (Sept. 25); Glass Tiger with opening act Jonathan Roy (Oct. 19); Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar (Nov. 3); The Fugitives (Jan. 18); “Prisoner of Tehran” (Feb. 13); and The Dirty Dishes (April 11).
“The lineup this year is very diverse,” noted Payne.
“‘The Way We Feel’ tribute to Gordon Lightfoot kicks off the season and draws on Lightfoot’s large catalogue of instantly-recognizable songs,” he added.
The show has been running at Hugh’s Room in Toronto since 2003, and draws on multiple artists to deliver their take on Lightfoot’s songs, Payne explained.
Touring with the founder, Jory Nash, is Oh Susanna, Lori Cullen, Peter Katz, and Kevin Fox, along with a house band comprised of Jason Fowler, David Matheson, and David Woodhead.
Then on Oct. 19, Glass Tiger takes the stage with “Wae Your Family: An Acoustic Evening of Songs and Storytelling.”
Glass Tiger has become a Canadian icon, garnering accolades including five Juno Awards and a Grammy nomination, as well as one gold record and 14 hit singles, while selling more than five million albums.
Jonathan Roy, son of Montreal Canadiens’ legendary goalie Patrick Roy, will be opening for Glass Tiger.
He has worked extensively with another Canadian music icon, Corey Hart, who helped him transition from the hockey world to music, working with him to develop his sound, noted Payne.
Hit songs like “You’re My Ace,” “Daniella Denmark,” and Roy’s latest, “Good Things,” have made a mark on the Canadian charts and show a bright future, Payne added.
Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar were nominated for four Maple Blues Awards in 2016, and she will be bringing her powerful vocals to the Townshend Theatre stage Nov. 3.
“Drawing comparisons to other strong female voices such as Tina Turner, Etta James, Lucinda Williams, and Bonnie Bramlett, Samantha is sure to provide a fantastic, high-energy show to the ‘Tour de Fort’ audience,” said Payne.
The Fugitives are a Vancouver-based band playing diverse styles, ranging from bluegrass to jazz.
Current front men and songwriters, Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn, are active in other artistic pursuits.
McLeod, for instance, is an award-winning novelist and former Canadian SLAM poetry champion while Glynn is a working actor who received rave reviews for his role in “Chelsea Hotel,” a play based on the songs and poems of Leonard Cohen.
“‘Tour de Fort’ has stepped out of our normal comfort zone and will be presenting a unique collaboration between Marina Nemat and MOTUS O Dance Theatre,” added Payne.
“A synthesis of dance, theatre, and story-telling that deals with social justice on the theme of oppression and freedom,” he noted.
“The show is a multi-disciplinary performance, with Marina telling her story in her own words, based on her best-selling book, ‘Prisoner of Tehran.’
“This is a powerful story that Sheri and I have had the pleasure of seeing at Ontario Contact last November,” said Payne.
“Through a partnership with the Rainy River District School Board, ‘Kids & Company,’ and Canadian Heritage, we will be presenting this show to high school students in the district, as well as the ‘Tour de Fort’ audience in February,” he added.
The season comes to a close in April with the Dirty Dishes–a harmony-driven roots trio.
“Their show consists of delicious harmonies, washboard, fiddle, guitar, and uke, sassy song-writing, and killer charm,” said Payne.
“This is an act that we have been actively pursuing for the past few years, but have not been able to make it work until this season,” he noted.
“The energy and fun that they bring to the stage is amazing.”
Payne said that with passports sales so far, Glass Tiger and Jonathan Roy is, by far, the most talked about show due to their recognizable names.
“But I feel this is one of the strongest seasons that we have been able to present, start to finish,” he enthused.
“Marina Nemat’s story of being a political prisoner, tortured, and sentenced to death in Iran at age 16 for speaking out against the government is amazing,” he remarked.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to present it, both to our audience and the high school students.”
The Paynes are in their second year as “Tour de Fort” programmers. And while the job is a lot of work, it is something they both enjoy doing.
“We have a fantastic board of directors and, coupled with the positive feedback from the community, makes all of the hard work worthwhile,” Payne said.
He added “Tour de Fort” is an entirely volunteer-run organization.
“Without our amazing board of directors, numerous sponsors, funding from Heritage Canada, and community support, this series would not be possible,” he stressed.