May, 2015 / Author:

Kristi Lane Sinclair and Cris Derksen.

Cris Derksen, aboriginal and queer cellist, missed the first phone call for her interview with Outwords because she was in the middle of recording a song for a play on the Manitou Islands in Ontario. And this is only a day before Red Ride Tour starts.

While Derksen isn’t joining the tour until the May 22 show in Winnipeg, she is one of the co-organizers and has been busy planning since November.

Derksen says she started the aboriginal tour five years ago with her best friend, Kristi Lane Sinclair. The pair hopped in a hatchback and toured alone from Vancouver to Winnipeg.

The second year, they decided to go a little bigger. “We started to invite a lot of our aboriginal friends to join us wherever they were in Canada,” says Derksen.

Across the country, the tour brings communities together. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people come out to their shows to enjoy music from across the country.

For Derksen, the tour is about showcasing aboriginal musicians, but it’s also about hanging out with her friends and supporting the community.

With four successful years behind them, the fifth year is bound to go smoother than ever. “After five years, we’ve got a template that works pretty well,” says Derksen.

This year, the tour is traveling from Vancouver, BC to Montreal, Que., then down to Brooklyn, NY and Seattle, WA in the United States. And they’ve traded the hatchback in for a tour van. In total, 12 artists are involved in the 2015 edition.

“We’ve slowly gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” says Derksen. “It still has room to grow.”

Cris Derksen.What might be the most surprising part of the Red Ride Tour is how Derksen manages to find time to encourage its growth between composing, performing and shooting music videos. On top of that, Derksen has a new album coming out this August.

“I’m totally excited about it,” says Derksen. “It’s pretty epic.”

At the album launch in August at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Orchestral Pow Wow will bring 22 people to stage: an 11-person powwow group, a 10-person symphony players and one solo guest singer.

“I went straight back to my roots,” says Derksen. Orchestral Pow Wow, as the title suggests, is a combination of her aboriginal and classical music background.

“A hope and a prayer, flying by the seat of your pants,” is how Derksen says she manages to stay on top of all her projects. Although, there’s no denying that talent plays a big role as well.

Red Ride Tour will be at The Pyramid Cabaret on May 22. Cover is $10 at the door.

Meg Crane is the online editor of Outwords and the driving force behind the feminist/environmentalist zine, Cockroach

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