Posts tagged “US border

Spook Handy’s Canadian Border Crossing

Here’s a fun story from New Jersey-based folk singer Spook Handy.  Spook had a house concert tour scheduled in Canada recently that had been set up by a non-profit group called Home Routes, and his story affords a first hand look at border crossing as an event between two people, rather than between two faceless countries.

We belong to several email discussion lists for musicians, music presenters and others sharing issues from working in new media to touring. A few weeks back, Spook asked for help on the Folk Alliance list, because he wanted to make sure he had is ducks in a row with right paperwork to take his CDs into the country. There are specific rules for taking product for sale into Canada – and most countries in fact.

We’ll, Spook got a lot of advice on the list – and a couple phone calls from friends who actually knew what they were talking about. The bottom line was, no matter how big or small your operation, you need to get the paperwork in order. And the next word of advice was to  just be honest. Don’t try to scam anything, its not worth it.

This was right up Spook’s alley – he’s a pretty straight shooter.

Spook’s  most recent release, Whatcha Gonna Do is all about encouraging individuals to make a difference in the world. Check out Spook’s Whatcha Gonna Do page and send him your suggestions… as he says,

People all over say they want to live in a better world. I believe it is up to us as individuals to make a difference and not depend on someone else to do it for us.

Back to the story. Spook obviously walks the walk. In this case, he walked it right into Canada. In a time when we see and experience fear all around us – especially at our borders – we just loved  Spook’s account of his Canadian border crossing, used here with his permission:

I successfully crossed the border but not without trepidation.  I told the guard I was here to work – to play house concerts and she sent me into immigration.  There, an unhappy fellow asked me the purpose of my visit.  I said to play house concerts.

“What’s a house concert?”

“People gather at someone’s home and sit around listening to and singing songs.”

“Are you doing this for money?”


“Do you make a living doing this?

I didn’t know how to answer that.

“What’s your definition of making a living?”

He was not amused.

“Where are you playing this concert?”

“In Mississauga”

“Where in Mississauga?”

“At a friend’s house.”

“What’s their names?”

“Umm, I don’t remember.”

“How do you know them?”

“Well, I don’t really.”

Just being totally honest.

“How come your playing music at their house?”

… and on the questioning went.  I told them about Home Routes and the folk music scene.  The fellow asked for my tour book and contract which he read thoroughly.  Then he asked,

“Why would people want to do this?

I paused for a moment.  Do I tell the honest truth?  “Well, we’re a subversive anti-government movement out to brainwash the public with left wing propaganda.”

I decided to tell a slightly different version of the truth:

“Beats me”  I said.

The fellow looked me up and down, handed me my papers and said, “Enjoy Canada.”

We’d love to hear how Canadian songwriters like John Wort Hannam have been treated coming into the US on similar ‘business.’