Next week Delta Moon will cross the border to Canada to play the Kitchener Blues Festival in Kitchener, Ontario, one of our all-time favorite gigs. In all we’ll play four shows in Kitchener — one on the big stage, one in which I’ll play in a duo with the trance blues master Otis Taylor, and two club dates as part of what the festival organizers call the 12 Bar Blues. And that’s it. We’ll turn around and head back to the US.
In years past we’ve enjoyed playing clubs as well as festivals in Canada. If you’re going that far it’s worth staying a while. We’ve worked from Halifax to Banff, driven the Canadian Shield and the Icefields Parkway, seen wolves and porcupines (but no moose) and met a lot of wonderful people. We thought those tours had ended last year when Canada passed what came to be known as the “tour tax”, an extra fee on top of the work permit that made playing Canada out of the question for international bands working at the nightclub level. Music festivals remained exempt, thank goodness.
Now several Canadian friends have written to tell us the law is history. According to the Hampton Spectator, “The removal of a work permit requirement for foreign musical acts, part of the government’s overhaul of the controversial temporary foreign worker program, went largely unnoticed amid a spate of other measures announced last week.” Not unnoticed by us!
I immediately wrote to our Canadian booking agent, Kap Palmer, who replied, “Yes, the rules are changing, however like most government things it takes a while for the bulletins to be read by the people who have to follow them. On Wednesday I phoned three departments involved in this and not one of the people I talked to knew about the change. At least three do now.”
Kap directed them (and me) to an operational bulletin from the Canadian government spelling out that musicians and their crews working nightclubs for time-limited engagements “will be eligible for a work permit exemption.”
All I can say is hurray.