Here’s the story of how it all came to be; written by Lindsay Pereira

I responded to a tweet in January 2021, inviting writers to pitch their music stories to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). My perspective as an immigrant, on Canada’s lasting relationship with The Tragically Hip, somehow resonated with people. As a result, a little over a month after the piece was published, I found myself in a virtual meeting with Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, and Gord Sinclair. My task was to introduce their latest project called Saskadelphia and so, pinching myself, I put forth questions about recording sessions that had taken place three decades ago. Here’s what they told me.

The Story of Saskadelphia
It is 1990 in New Orleans, in an old mansion that looms over the neighbourhood called Vieux Carré or the French Quarter. It is a place of ghosts, mostly friendly, that suddenly find themselves sharing space with a Canadian rock band trying to exorcise demons of its own.
The Kingsway Studio, at the heart of this mansion where recording sessions are being held, comes with ceilings that are 14 feet high and the troubled spirit of an alcoholic woman who died in the 1800s. It is said that she fell and hit her head but continues to party on the premises. If the young men from Kingston, Ontario, making music in what was once her home — singer Gord Downie, guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay — are troubled by this, they betray nothing. Guided by producer Don Smith and engineer Bruce Barris, the sessions yield an avalanche of gritty rock ‘n’ roll with a relentless quality to it, like a stream of blues that struggles to be contained.

The musicians are all in their late twenties, flush with the success of a debut album that has gone Platinum and earned them a JUNO Award for Most Promising Group of The Year. They have the jinx of a second album to disprove, and now have the resources to accomplish this. “We were excited,” says Rob Baker. “It seemed like an incredible follow-up to Memphis and the first record. We felt as if our career was taking off and we were firing on all cylinders creatively. We went in guns ablaze. It was also an interesting time in music because a lot of diverse things were happening. We had written a lot of songs and done a lot of touring over the preceding five years.”

As the songs come, they are tinkered with and then evaluated for their worth, their positions sometimes ceded to other tracks that slowly bring an album called Road Apples (1991) to life. With no shortage of material, a trickier problem emerges: what do they leave behind on the studio floor?

Then there is the question of a title. Johnny Fay comes up with a suggestion that, he believes, best defines the band’s place at the time. “I remember seeing this Church of the Christadelphians and thought about how part of it could be crafted onto any other word,” he recalls. “We were touring a lot, going from New York and Boston to Philadelphia and Saskatoon. It seemed like the clubs were the same size, and you could be anywhere. So, we crafted one part of a Canadian city onto an American one.” What rose to the top of the ballot from a bunch of possible titles was Saskadelphia. Baker remembers how their American record label reacted. “They thought it sounded too Canadian,” he laughs, “So we suggested Road Apples instead, which they loved because they didn’t understand the reference. We couldn’t get more Canadian than that and got laughs about it for years.”

And so, one album heads out into the world, a rung on The Tragically Hip’s climb into legend, while the tracks that don’t quite make it are tucked into boxes and moved out of sight. They stay that way for three decades until June 2019, when an article in The New York Times incorrectly listed the band among those who had lost tapes in a 2008 fire in the backlot of Universal Studios that triggered the memories of their existence.

“We felt we must have lost something too,” says Fay, “so, we began asking questions and eventually found our boxes of two-inch tapes with no labels. It became like a forensic process, looking for the handwriting of engineers we had worked with, like Bruce Barris or Mark Vreeken.” As it turned out, all of The Tragically Hip’s materials had been relocated to Canada in 2001, and so in summer 2020, these abandoned souvenirs from the past were opened, revealing tapes. “We knew we had a lot to look for because we recorded a lot back then. We didn’t know what was there,” he adds, “so this meant baking them and listening to them as they were being transferred, hearing them for the first time in 30 years. It was crazy.”
It must have been interesting to consider why these songs, all perfectly formed, didn’t make the first cut. “It isn’t always a unanimous decision,” Baker explains. “We thought about these things because they came up during a time of vinyl records and albums. You would put on Side One and, if that was good, move to Side Two. You wouldn’t listen to one song and skip ahead. Gord Sinclair was a master at sequencing, and I started to get a bit of a complex because songs I loved would be left off. I remember loving “Ouch,” for example, which just faded away into the mist. I didn’t think about it again for 30 years, so it’s awesome to hear it now. They have a life after, I guess.”

Sinclair says they had waited their whole lives to make the first record, as most bands do. “We had so many opportunities to play together, like during sound checks, and we would put new ideas into the middle of a song like “Highway Girl” to jam things out. Gord Downie was moving leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of us as a lyricist. He was a prolific writer, so we had a lot of tunes. Our producer was all about recording the band playing at the same time instead of building up tracks. I was set up in one room, the guitar amps in another, and Gord singing in a third. We just kept playing until we got one solid take for each song. It was just a great, creative time. We were worried about having enough material, but it turned out we had an overabundance.”

Fay remembers the sessions because they marked a period where the band was obsessed with writing and recording. “We were asking people if we could borrow their cottages to record in,” he says. “We were crazy about the process of writing, which is why there’s all this material, more for this session than any other. We were in one of the sexiest cities to record, in a haunted mansion. We would have listening parties every night because we wanted to get better. We wanted Don Smith to be proud of us. We would work the tunes and try something new the next day. What’s incredible is being able to get these songs out from that era, from this unique house that has its own little voice in our band.”

Those ghostly presences, along with undeniable confidence, are obvious from the first crack of percussion that opens “Ouch,” its bed of guitars weaving in and under Downie’s impassioned vocal. “Ow! How it hurts!” he roars, lips close to the microphone. “Please gimme more.” The track “Not Necessary” sounds as fierce but belies a tenderness in the lyrics about weariness and emotional baggage.

“Crack My Spine Like A Whip” barrels down like a train shooting out of a tunnel, the kind of good old-fashioned rock song that compels crowded arenas to rise to their feet. The handwritten lyrics sheet refers to it as ‘Paul’s song’ which, Langlois explains, is how Downie would remember things. “We were all contributing,” he says, “and gathering confidence because we had been playing live successfully for a good six years by then. For a young band, it’s amazing how often people will try and change you, whether it’s record companies or the industry. Don Smith was someone we looked up to and he saw that we were at our best when we played together. That instilled a whole level of confidence. Maybe that’s why we weren’t on the cover of Road Apples because the first couple of albums is about trying to get known. We believed we had a great record and didn’t feel that we had to be on the front anymore.”
“Just As Well” is another cut that could easily fit into Road Apples, while “Reformed Baptist Blues” is an unapologetic jam, its lead guitar writhing like a preacher at mass. And then there’s “Montreal,” recorded live at the Bell Centre on the eleventh anniversary of the horrific École Polytechnique massacre of 1989. “We wrote it just after the incident and played it a bunch of times,” says Baker, “but haven’t located the tapes for this track. We got a great version from the live show.”

He has an interesting memory of the performance. “That night, it was suggested we could play ‘Montreal’ and I was in the dressing room. I ran through it to make sure I knew it, but there were questions about whether we would pull it off. Gord Downie wasn’t sure about the lyrics, so a road manager pulled them up on the Internet. He did a quick once over and said, ‘Okay, we got this.’ Then, we went out and played like we had been playing it forever.” He describes it as one of those songs that just came out of the ether. “It’s like some of our better tunes, and every record had a song like that where you didn’t feel you were writing it; like the song existed and you tapped into it somehow. It was one of those tunes you just fell back into. We didn’t have to relearn the song; there’s nothing fancy or complicated about it. It was just getting the vibe right, which wasn’t hard to do on that anniversary, in that venue, with a great crowd.”
Downie introduces “Montreal” as “a song about the identification process,” which, Fay believes, refers to the identification of a body. “We were young when we first did it,” adds Sinclair. “By the time we played it at The Molson Centre in 2000, we had all become parents and it was even more profound. It’s a tribute to the way Gord was able to put himself into that situation and capture an emotion. It had real resonance for us.”

It is special for Langlois too. “I think it’s a song that uses a sad, tragic image of a mother having to do that sort of thing and being told not to worry,” he says. “There’s an attempt to be comforting and I think that’s one of the reasons it’s a natural song for us. We always retained a soft spot for it. The incident was such a tragedy, and it’s nice to be part of something that was meant as some sort of comfort.”

This is a bittersweet record. As Sinclair puts it, “We are, sadly, never going to have the chance to put out new stuff. For us, in our minds, this is new.” Langlois calls it nerve-wracking but hopes fans old and new appreciate “the sound of a band on fire.” Baker is curious about the reaction, while Fay recalls how things used to be. “When we made a record,” he says, “we would be able to sit with it for a while after it was mixed and mastered. It was this golden time of two months or so, where we could play it for friends, but had no idea how it would do. We were just happy because it was a time capsule of that period of our lives, though we had probably moved on and played other gigs. It’s one of those things that, when you’re a band, you want as many people to hear your music as possible. You never really know, but it’s nice to be able to get it out at the end of the day. It’s part of our DNA.”

This, then, is Saskadelphia: The record that stayed in the wings as Road Apples hit the stage. It still sounds as fresh as only music that must have been made in a haunted mansion can be. Proof that some ghosts refuse to lie quietly.

“I went ‘WOW’ when I heard ‘Ouch’ after all this time,” says Rob Baker. “We were a pretty good little band.”

An Important Message From The Band

Hello friends.

We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn’t so.

A few months ago, in December, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Since then, obviously, he’s endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we’ve been standing by him.

So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…

We’ve decided to do another one.

This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.

What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with music and it’s magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans.

So, we’re going to dig deep, and try to make this our best tour yet.

We hope you can come out and join us this summer – details and dates will be coming this week.

And we sincerely thank all of you, for your continued love and support,

Paul, GordD, Johnny, Rob, GordS

– See more at:

CANOE.CA: The Sadies team with Gord Downie

My how times flies….

The Sadies team with Gord Downie


Given the Sadies secret status as one of the worlds wickedest bands – country, rock or otherwise – it was vaguely surprising to find them unscheduled on the mainstage at Folk Fest double-oh-eight.

But shucks – its just as easy not to complain right?, given their time among us has been subsequently partitioned throughout the weekend – including a gratifying whopper Canadiana session tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Stage 1, the eastern border of New Folkland.

The brothers Travis and Dallas Good call from between Canmore and Calgary, intending fully to have pulled up into town last night to sample our party culture once again. Their persistent friendliness has them in some spectacular collaborations coming up, but just read on …

SUN MEDIA: “New Seasons was one of my favourites last year. Can you tell me a little about what Gary Jayhawks Louris brought into the studio? Dudes a pro playa, obviously.”

TRAVIS GOOD: “He helped from the ground up. He helped with the writing, the arranging. Vocally, he really pushed us. He thinks of things Ive never really thought of when I sing. And he was there, looking over our shoulder, reading what we were writing.”

SUN MEDIA: “What would he suggest with your singing?”

TRAVIS: “Oh, to do another take. Laughs hard. In the earlier records, we would do a couple takes and Id say, Well, thats what I sound like. If its squawky, thats my voice. But hed get us to do it 10 times, a bit of a slave-driver, that man. For me the vocals are the hardest thing, so its the first thing I want to abandon … get right to the guitar as quick as I can.”

SUN MEDIA: “Eat your vegetables so you can have dessert.”

TRAVIS: “Yeah, exactly.”

SUN MEDIA: “You guys are obsessive collaborators – is there anything you can let out of the bag coming up youre working on?”

TRAVIS: “Oh, for sure We just did a thing with Garth Hudson and Mary Margaret OHara, a Band tribute record Garths throwing together. All Canadians, hes producing and playing on it. We just finished a country record with John Doe. And weve been chipping away recording with Gord Downie. Like with Gary Louris, weve been talking about how, Wouldnt it be nice if we did something one day? Weve been in the studio and done some work since. We did a couple songs thatll be on a compilation for the Waterkeeper Foundation.”

SUN MEDIA: “Part of making music together is friendship – you looking forward to hanging out with some musicians at the Folk Fest, onstage, backstage?”

TRAVIS: “Sexsmith should be pretty easy. Weve talked about doing stuff with him, too. So you never know. Laughs. We met Robyn Hitchcock at one of those and it went really good, we ended up recording with him. Same with Jim White. It can go either way, really good or really bad.”

SUN MEDIA: “As long as everyones joining in, its great.”

TRAVIS: “Yeah, I dont like the circle, going around, staring at the sun while a persons doing a solo thing. Not my bag. Hey, you want to talk to Dallas a bit?

SUN MEDIA: “If I have to. Just kidding – yeah. Extended phone rumbling. Dallas, whats the new album looking like?”

DALLAS: “Weve got a bunch of songs weve been working on with Gary, but I dont think well get a chance to revisit them until December. But considering the album that were working on with Gord is going to be original and with an equal amount of input, we dont want to sell anything short there.

“Even though we have three records on the go right now, not including our own or the stuff we did with Neko Case on her upcoming album, I still like to think of everything one project at a time. Last month in particular I was working on four separate projects simultaneously. Ive felt a little overwhelmed lately, because I do all the mixing, too. But Im a bully with that. But whatever. Dont cry for me, Im already dead. I dug my own grave and someday Ill gladly get to lie in it.”

The Sadies play tonight; tomorrow 1 p.m. on Stage 1 and 5 p.m. on Stage 2; finally, 11 a.m. Sunday on Stage 6.

Hip Tracker Upload: 2009-04-24 – Toronto, ON DVD Disc 2

A new torrent has been uploaded.

Name: TTH: 2009-04-24 – Toronto, ON
Size: 3.86 GB
Category: DVD: Concerts
Uploaded by: chrisk

The Tragically Hip
The Music Hall
Toronto, ON

A) Sony HDR-HC1 (HD 1080i)
Recorded by Mark Sloggett

B) Sony DCR-SR100
Recorded by Chris Kirkpatrick

C) Sony DCR-SR40
Recorded by Dana Berent

Recorded with Church Audio CA-11 Cardioids > Church Audio CA-9100 Preamp > Tascam DR-1
Recorded by Chris Kirkpatrick
Mics one row in front of soundboard at 6′

Lineage: DR-1 > iMac > Amadeus (amplify and resample)

Edited with Final Cut Express

First Set
01: The Depression Suite
02: In View
03: Fireworks
04: Coffee Girl
05: Eldorado
06: New Orleans Is Sinking
07: Honey, Please
08: Stay
09: The Lonely End Of The Rink
10: Grace, Too
11: Country Day

Second Set
12: The Bear (Acoustic)
13: Titanic Terrarium (Acoustic)
14: Ahead By A Century (Acoustic)
15: Morning Moon
16: Poets
17: Pigeon Camera
18: It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night
19: The Exact Feeling
20: Fully Completely
21: Last Recluse
22: Family Band
23: My Music At Work

24: Escape Is At Hand…
25: Tiger The Lion

Tell your friends about The Hip!

For all things Hip, check out


You can use the URL below to download the torrent (you may have to login).

The Hip Tracker

Hip Tracker Upload: 2006-10-25 – Toronto, ON DVD

A new torrent has been uploaded.

Name: TTH: 2006-10-25 – Toronto, ON
Size: 4.12 GB
Category: DVD: Concerts
Uploaded by: chrisk

The Tragically Hip
October 25, 2006
Toronto, ON
Phoenix Concert Theatre

Scott Becker: Sony DCR-TRV350 (Balcony)
Chris Kirkpatrick: Sony DCR-SR100 (Soundboard – fixed) 
Mark Sloggett: Sony HCR-HC1 (Soundboard) > MiniDV HDV > CapDVHS > mpeg2 transport stream

Notes: MPG & HD converted using VisualHub 

Recording: Neumann KM184s > Lunatec V3 > Digital Coax > Edirol R-4 
Transfer: Direct to hard disk recording 
Recorded by: markslog
Notes: Right side of soundboard; ROC, 8′, DIN 

Edited: Final Cut Express 
DVD & Assembly: iDVD 

Menu pictures by Trevor Connell (

01: Yer Not The Ocean 
02: Twist My Arm 
03: In View 
04: So Hard Done By 
05: Fly 
06: Fireworks 
07: Springtime In Vienna 
08: World Container 
09: It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night 
10: Luv (Sic)
11: The Drop-Off 
12: Gift Shop 
13: Fully, Completely 
14: Yawning Or Snarling 
15: The Kids Don’t Get It 
16: Long Time Running 
17: The Lonely End Of The Rink 
18: Little Bones 
19: Family Band 

20: Tiger The Lion 
21: Pretend 
22: Save The Planet 

Be sure to visit 


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The Hip Tracker

CHARTattack: Hip Have New Website, Album Coming

The Tragically Hip are putting the finishing touches to the studio album they’ve been working on with producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Our Lady Peace).

That’s about it as far as details about new material is concerned, but the band have introduced their “Live From The Vault” series of concert recordings on their newly revamped website.

The Hip have recorded their shows since 1995, and the tapes, DATs and CDs have apparently been stored in the vault of a converted bank in downtown Kingston, Ont. The archiving and preservation process has been ongoing over the past several years, leading to the launch of the new series of sound board recordings.

“There are no overdubs or tinkering,” says a message on the site. “No Frampton Comes Alive sheen. Just good old two track recordings capturing the band in a moment.”

Three concerts can be purchased and downloaded from the Hip’s online Gift Shop: Feb. 2, 1995 at Halifax’s Metro Centre; Oct. 26, 2002 at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, Texas; and Feb. 6, 2007 at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum. All come with downloadable Wil Ruocco-designed artwork. Recordings will continue to be added, and The Gift Shop has also introduced a wider range of Hip merchandise.

The site has added new music and video players. A new Flickr application enables fans to upload photos of the band to the site, which also features extensive archives of concert information and song lyrics. The “Hip Story Project” allows fans to tell their own stories about the group and what they mean to them.

Imagine the fun in that feature. “It was Nu Yeer’s Eve and we were already hamered…”