Sunday, 8 December 2013


I seem to have turned into a "junkie", constantly in need of a Camino  fix. Relentlessly, I look at maps and photos, plan routes, talk to other pilgrims and just generally fantasize about a new Camino experience. I know I am not alone with this type of behaviour, well, at least I have convinced myself of that.
Of course this affects my song writing, and more than just a little. Below is a list of the 12 tracks which will more than likely come together as Steeltown Pilgrim Vol. 2, probably early in the spring, 2014. I have added a brief note to point out the "Camino connection" of each song.

Camino Sunset
written for and to my dearest  fellow pilgrim, the one who introduced me to the Camino.

Hello, Spanish Love
written, as promised, for a new friend and pilgrim while at Tapia de Casariego on El Norte.

Storm In Muxia
Galician mythology, geology, justice, love and more--song written partially in Muxia, finished up in Steeltown.

If You Ever Feel The Way I Do
about my longing for a woman who was walking El Norte while I was home and very much alone.

Fly With Me Angelina
inspired by a conversation with a young lady on the Camino Portuguese.

Bring Me One More Bottle, Senorita
came up with the title on Camino Frances-song written entirely on El Norte a year later

Big Max, Indy And The Preacher from Wyoming
inspired by my two pilgrim friends and our bizarre encounter with the "Preacher from Wyoming" on El Norte.

Where Are You, Lost Love?
written for and to a fellow pilgrim, the one who introduced me to the Camino.

Carmen By The Sea
written entirely on El Norte  for Carmen.

Who We Are
the "we" is me and my dearest Camino friend--written in Steeltown.

Song For Angel
written about a woman I met on El Norte - written about four months after I came home.

Fall So Far
wrote this on a hiking trip is northern Ontario while my ailing Camino friend was resting indoors.

Well, there you have it. My addiction now calls--- think I'll go chat a bit on The Camino Santiago Forum ( Thanks for listening,
peace, love

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Camino Guitar

     I wanted to write a new song or two, so I decided I was going to bring a guitar on the Camino Frances in 2012. I didn't really have a travel guitar but I managed to find an inexpensive Yamaha which was small sized, sounded decent  and yet, was lightweight enough to haul around for 800k. It wouldn't fit on my backpack, at least comfortably, so I planned just to carry it in the regular manner. I contemplated giving it away once I arrived in Santiago.

     Things went smoothly at first, at least until I hit heavy rain just before Pamplona. After finding refuge in a small cafe, I opened  up the wet soft shell case to discover the guitar too was also getting wet. Not good! Miraculously, the woman who ran the cafe came to my rescue with a clear, heavy duty plastic bag from her back room. It was perfect--it could hold the entire guitar with case. All I had to do was tie up the end. Problem solved.
      Besides its intended purpose, and a few good singsongs, the guitar came in handy for the odd photo--like this "Abbey Road" shot  atop the Alto del Perdon :

     I had a bit of a misadventure at the red wine fountain about an hour out of Estella. Like any good pilgrim, I had a taste of this free wine. I chatted for a few minutes then left, feeling much invigorated and much lighter. It wasn't until I had walked 2-3k that I realized I was feeling so light because I had forgot my guitar! I panicked, raced back, and found it right where I had placed it--on top of a garbage can--good thing it wasn't garbage day.
     Carrying the guitar the entire distance never really bothered me at all, though it was often awkward, especially on high winds days. In a vicious storm during my descent to Triacastela, it was all I could do to hang on to it--there were some very desperate moments, but "we" survived.
     I would not necessarily recommend carrying a guitar, but overall for me, it was a success. In fact, I brought it again on El Norte in the spring, 2013. The names of all the villages and towns I slept in on both caminos now adorn the front of this guitar: El Norte in blue, Frances in black.

     And I will no doubt bring it again on my next camino--more  memories, more names.  So it should come as no surprise that I'm quite attached to it now. Soooo, about that idea of giving it away in Santiago?-- sorry, not happening.
     And besides carrying it, I do play the thing once in a while. This, a vino inspired  performance near Sarria:

Sunday, 24 November 2013


     As soon as my new music video, "Can't Stop These Tears", was uploaded, a pilgrim friend asked,"Was that a bottle of Estrella Galicia cerveza I saw?" Well indeed, it was. My intention had been to send a "hello" to all Camino Santiago pilgrims so it was wonderful that it had worked so quickly. This bottle, an empty one at that, was the only souvenir I brought home after spending a month in Spain walking El Norte in the spring of 2013. Here's why I couldn't leave it behind.

     I was on my way to Miraz, having just spent a lovely day in Baamonde relaxing with an utterly charming fellow pilgrim. It wasn't a great distance, maybe 15k, so I was anticipating a light stroll with, hopefully, a few stops for cafe con leche and/or cerveza.

    Just before Miraz, I was startled to hear very loud music seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Walking a little further, I found the source -- a somewhat solitary, sky-blue house, scarcely visible behind an ancient stone wall. I could not contain my curiosity so, a little brazenly I suppose, I opened the gate and just walked in.

    I was  expecting some kind of party, but there was nothing of the sort. It was a party of one, a single man diligently tapping away at a large, intricate, stone carving. His name, I learned, was Chacon, and he was an artist. We smiled and said hello. He was extremely congenial and apparently quite pleased that I had invited myself in. Though he spoke no English and my Spanish is rudimentary at best, we  managed to communicate well enough. He was working on a  magnificent carving, a near-completed commission for a client in Bilbao.



      Chacon was enjoying a bottle of  Estrella Galicia cerveza and, without too much difficulty, I managed to convey that I would like to join him. He smiled, disappeared into his house and  quickly returned with a nice cold one. I pulled out some euros but, try as I might, payment didn't appear to be an option.
      He then took me for a tour of his house, the front room of which was pretty much a gallery for a variety of his marvellous carvings. Back outside, he asked  if I wanted him to stamp my credencial and, of course, I agreed. But he didn't just use a stamp -- he melted some blood-red wax onto the appropriate square, then imprinted a cross thereon with a bronze signet tube. It was certainly a grand gesture, though not especially practical as, once cooled, the wax was far too brittle to survive the rigours of the Camino, at least mine, anyway. I was awestruck with Chacon's kindness and hospitality, but he was not done yet.
      On his workbench, I noticed a scallop shell, on which Chacon had hand-painted a green Templar cross. When I offered to buy it, he picked it up, smiled, then added a leather cord so that I might wear or attach it to my knapsack. Now surely, I thought, he would accept a few euros--no chance, he remained steadfast in his refusal.
      Back over by the  carving-in-progress, I showed him my guitar and he signed the back, not without some enjoyment I might add. Watching him, I suddenly realized that I too might have a gift for him. Thinking he might enjoy my Camino-influenced song, "Peregrina" from the Steeltown Pilgrim cd, I offered him one of the download cards I had in my guitar case. Anyway, I had nothing else to offer except a pile of dirty laundry. Now, to be sure, explaining exactly what this little plastic card was took some doing but, with the help of his charming wife, I managed.

      We said our goodbyes, but Chacon had one more act of kindness up his sleeve. I hadn't walked  10 metres when he called me back, gently sat me down and raised his finger as if to say "watch this". He then grabbed a chisel as well as my empty Estrella Galicia bottle, sat down in a chair and started grinding and scraping. Minutes later he proudly stood up and handed me the bottle which was now inscribed : "a Matthew--Chacon" I smiled, then we both started laughing.We hugged, then said goodbye.
     I carefully brought the empty cerveza bottle back to Canada. It was a great relief that I did not have to explain such action to Canada Customs in the presence of a legion of tired, grumpy onlookers.
     When shooting the video, I included my treasured Camino souvenir not only as a greeting to all my dear pilgrim friends but also as an expression of my deep respect and gratitude for pal Chacon.