2017 FEATURED AUTHOR: Grant Lawrence, Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries

(This is second of Galiano Island Books features on authors and artists attending the 2017 Galiano Literary Festival February 17-19th on Galiano Island. Tix for festival and writing workshops still available (250) 539-3340 or leetrentadue@gmail.com.)


Not long after I moved to Galiano Island a friend visited my cabin from Vancouver and left behind a copy of Grant Lawrence‘s first book, Adventures in Solitude. It captivated my curiosity w/ stories of the West Coast back-to-the-land movement and the myriad strange characters that have come to find Desolation Sound (and the Southern Gulf Islands for that matter) home from “the gun-toting cougar lady, left-over hippies, outlaw bikers and an assortment of other characters.”

Grant visited the Galiano Island for the Galiano Literary Festival several years ago and we here at the bookstore at couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back this year for more goodtimes!

Young Grant’s father bought a piece of land next to the park in the 1970s, just in time to encounter the gun-toting cougar lady, left-over hippies, outlaw bikers and an assortment of other characters. In those years Desolation Sound was a place where going to the neighbours’ potluck meant being met with hugs from portly naked hippies and where Russell the Hermit’s school of life (boating, fishing, and rock ‘n’ roll) was Grant’s personal Enlightenment–an influence that would take him away from the coast to a life of music and journalism and eventually back again.

With rock band buddies and a few cases of beer in tow, an older, cooler Grant returns to regale us with tales of “going bush,” the tempting dilemma of finding an unguarded grow-op, and his awkward struggle to convince a couple of visiting kayakers that he’s a legit CBC radio host while sporting a wild beard and body wounds and gesticulating with a machete. With plenty of laugh-out-loud humour and inspired reverence, Adventures in Solitude delights us with the unique history of a place and the growth of a young man amidst the magic of Desolation Sound

In addition to Grant’s writing and various broadcast media gig’s with the CBC over the years he’s a bonafide independent new media mogul who is prolific on Instagram, hilarious and insightful on Twitter and a long-running blog worth delving deeply into for insider stories of the music industry, amateur hockey & Canada’s arts and culture scene.


This winter he gained notoriety across Canada sharing photos and stories of the small ice hockey rink he built in his Vancouver backyard for his young son. He also had a great podcast for more than 5 years on CBC Radio 3 that was the first music podcast from CBC, and one of the first podcasts in the world to play music legally.

Here’s a little taste of the flavor we can expect from Grant at this years Literary Festival from a TED Talk he gave at TEDxPowellRiver that has more than 5Million views on YouTube…

And here’s another short video super down-to-earth video of Grant making a guest appearance on the Monica Skorupski’s awesome (now defunct) YouTube channel ‘Indie Craft Attack’.

Grant recently took the time to answer a couple questions for me about the upcoming #LitFest and his recent projects including the new book and his DIY homemade outdoor ice hockey rink.

KK – I know it’s your 2nd time back. Are you excited to come back?

GL – I think this is my third time back to the festival, actually! I love it. It’s one of the best and certainly most comfortable literary festivals in Canada with a strong connection to one of the best bookstores around, too.

I can’t wait to spend time with author friends like Charlie Demers and Aaron Chapman and all those in attendance. Galiano has always had a special place in my heart ever since the Smugglers played a memorable gig on the island hall back in the summer of 1996!

It’s neat to come back 20 years later to reminisce about those times sharing from my new book “Dirty Windshields – the best and the worst of the Smugglers tour diaries” – so new it won’t even be out in time for this year’s fest! Oh well. A sneak preview, let’s call it.

KK – Rad hockey rink. Can you tell me a little bit about building it and what you’ve been up to since you guys built it? Lots of fun media coverage, eh?

My wife and I couldn’t believe the attention the “backyard rink” received (that’s what my son calls it). And that it lasted a month-plus!!

My three-year-old son Josh is very hockey and skating obsessed and has for about a year asked me to build him a backyard rink. I never thought it would be possible in Vancouver, but lo and behold we’ve had the coldest winter in twenty years and it was more than possible! He loves it. A Vancouver winter dream come true.


KK – Excited about the new book coming out. Sounds like it was quite a journey. Tell us a little bit about what it took to write it?

GL – The new book, which I mentioned above, has been 12 years in the making. It’s been my hardest book to write, all about my many years touring in the Smugglers. You’d think since all of the tour diaries already existed that it would have been easy, but not so.

I think I needed the distance of time to finish it because I had a lot of mixed feelings about our final days as a band, and lingering PTSD about touring and crappy rock clubs. We just played our first gig in 12 years down in Berkeley, California, and so many happy memories have rushed back. It’s providing a special last-minute ending to the book.

I can’t wait to share some of that sordid journey with folks at the #LitFest.

KK – Anything else on your mind? 

GL – I’m very excited for Cea Person‘s new book Nearly Normal. I loved her first one, North of Normal, and I’m very happy to see she’s part of the festival. Thanks Kris!

Thank you Grant Lawrence and see ya soon! Tix still available (250) 539-3340 or leetrentadue@gmail.com.

(Photos & videos are the copyright of their creators and sourced via Google Images & YouTube.)

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