november 6/18

an existential chinwag over eggs benny
you know
a man with a beard is just another man without a beard with a beard
corn nuts are corn nuts
humans are cells
sell phones
scrabble eggs
that's a four letter word
ee gee gee es
dad killed a rooster with a pitch pork
where did he go
to rooster heaven
he's right hear in my breast pocket
chicken breast pocket
who am i
and what have i don't with my teeth
at least there is 
connor mcdavid
at last a sense of peace




november 3/18

stomach feels like 
a safeway bag
hanging from the corner
of a glove compartment
there to swallow up unwanted bits
of corn nuts apple seed
hummus carrot finger nail
coffee cup sea snack bingo beans
there to tackle almost indigestible bouts
of insecurity
aero bar wrappers
cheezie dust
song ideas
here's one:

'who do you think you are to tell me who you think i am not'

there is mold beneath the water bottle cap
and we are at the ironwood
doing a short set before oysterband
and i brought my teeth just in case there is a picture




november 2/18




october 26/18

driving west through the prairies
fast approaching the mantioba border
maybe a bit too fast
we've got a lucinda williams soundtrack
car wheels on a gravel road
car wheels on a gravel road
my new favourite song is
i lost it

i think i lost it 
let me know if you come across it
let me know if i let it fall along a back road somewhere

we pasS the police
well, not the police
but one of them, anyways
turns out we were going too fast
lights go on
siren goes on
heart goes thump thump thump

money won't replace it 
no memory will erase it
and i know i'm never going to find another one to compare

police fella goes
'do you know why i pulled you over?'

i go
'i just want to live the life i please, don't want no enemies'
'sir, do you know why i pulled you over?'

'i don't want nothing if i have to fake it'

'sir, do you know why i pulled you over'

'don't take nothing that belongs to me, everything's paid for nothings free'

'sir, here is one hundred and seventy dollar ticket for speeding'

'if i give you my heart, do you promise not to break it'

'sir, have a nice day'

i guess the police fella isn't a lucinda williams fan

i thought i was in heaven, but i was only dreaming

october 23/18



october 21/18

why is there a picture of braden holding a picture of braden
it's awful, really
but here it is on the internet
every once and while, particularly in the fall
we attend events at hotels or theatres
in fort saskatchewan or portage la prairie or whereeverelseville
and we play 15 minutes of music
(just enough time to tell a story, really)
for presenters of music
and they say

'i don't like his toque'
'he was weird but funny'
'we'd like to book him him for our folk club'
'come to whitecourt'

etc etc etc

and then we frolic to a big room with booths
and stand behind the booths
and say 

'here's my bizness card'
'i'll have my agent call you'
'are the ufa bisons hockey team from stettler?'

etc etc etc

and we do what we can to make our booths 
like a picture of braden
and when the booth shuts down
you get braden holding a picture of braden
and then you take a picture of braden holding a picture of braden

etc etc etc


october 6/18

written by conway jankowski


i met braden a couple days ago in a house in sarnia ontario
he was there to play a show with ken yates, a great singer/songwriter from toronto
he looked like he hadn't had a piece of fruit for a couple of weeks and he sounded like it too
he was quietly friendly, tenderly alive, and when i told him about my part time position as a columnist at the local paper
he asked if i could put something together for his website and pages based on what i thought of his performance
it felt like something i could do, and it was nice to have something to do
other than just to sit there and listen to him mumble through some jokes and sing a few songs
it gave me something to think about, a wordy purpose
a night without meaning often ends in heartache, so I've learned


braden's voice cracked as he slipped into his opening number
a song about making a mess of things and feeling like your only option is to skip town:


'think i'll sell a few of my things and make an extra buck
give my two weeks to the boys in the kitchen and wish 'em best of luck
if it seems a decision made in haste i assure that's it's not
for many a midnight hour now i've tossed and turned in thought
considering the reasons for me to stick around
it's time that i go someplace where i'll be new in town'


after a few songs, braden picked up a fiddle and it seemed to me like it was the first time he had ever played it
scratching away like fingers on a chalk board
and after finding his way through a few scales and cliche school yard melodies he said, almost scripted:


'sometimes i write a song when i'm angry and when the anger passes it's hard to relate to the song
sometimes i write a song about love and when i fuck it up its hard to relate to the song
but this next song i can relate to every time i play it and it means more and more to me as i roll along
it is called much rather be sleeping'


a few people chuckled but not many
and he dug into the fiddle like hartford on mark twang
at times he was greasy and out of tune and at others he rang in perfect harmony
much like his overall aesthetic
at times he'd hit notes that were unexpected to me and at others i wasn't sure he'd reach the ones i thought he would hit
but i could tell he was trying
we all could
and that is what all of us needed
to see someone trying
a reminder of our fragility
of the beauty of imperfection
an 'it's ok to not be ok'
a 'there is solace in the break'
a 'the light is let in through the cracks'

that is what i got from braden in sarnia
and i hope that he got that too



september 7/18

we have put out a new album into the world
'pictures of us'
some songs written as much as four years back
some a little younger than that
it was a learning experience
and i'm looking forward to further endeavors
until then
you can find this one on all streaming platforms
you can grab one from me
wherever i is
although that me tricky
because i don't even know sometimes

august 23/18

mikey's juke joint wednesday night
sliding on a harmony
thank you thank you thank you to
brook wylie and company


august 20/18

bear creek folk festival was soft serve
musical and delicious
funky and shoe tapping
smoke smoke smoke
campfire sing along
once there were three fishermen
grateful to be a part of
trying to sing along
sam baker scott cook guy davis
gretchen peters april verch
thank you grand prairie
until we meet again



august 9/18

i met liam valentine on the streets of banff
outside of tommy's after an open mic
he was hitchhiking his way across north america
we got chin-wagging about his travels
and i nodded my head up and down and up and down
to indicate that i was listening

he said, 'between what i say and what i see
between what i see and what i keep silent
between what i keep silent and what i dream
between what i dream and what i forget
in between all of that, is poetry'

and i asked, 'do you have any cigarettes?'

and he said, 'no but i have a haiku, wanna hear it?'


'i know tomorrow
is another chance to try
that is why we live'

'is that a haiku?'

'i think so, at least a verse of one'

another exciting conversation
sometimes you find a cigarette
sometimes you find a poem
sometimes you make a friend
sometimes you find hope in the aftermath 
of a boozy open mic with amazing covers of wonderwall


august 4/18

the musicianship at
the blueberry bluegrass festival
is impeccable
banjo pickin' full speed ahead
three part vocal harmonies
and jesus takes the fourth
heard the slocan ramblers play a song called
i'm stealin' pretty mama don't you tell on me 
im stealin' back my good old used-to-be

heard josh from the po' ramblin boys 
sing a song he wrote about being invited to
the wedding of the woman he loves
and not as the groom
kayla hotte and her rodeo pals
setting the dance floor on fire

then there is me and elliot
playing music like we're trying to steal beans
from a bean jar after being told to
not take any beans from the bean jar

BeAn SnEaKeRs

just a little outta tune and happy to be here



august 1/18

i'm back in edmonton
feel like i'm just passing through
feel like a traveler in my home town
on the outside looking in
sleeping for years
learning to dance
made up a couple songs
one called nectarines
one called indecision

i miss you from time to time
trying to find something of my own
second guessing then guessing again
indecision on my mind

i take baths just for something to do
rehearsing with elliot
but not at the same time
we're at the  blueberry bluegrass festival this weekend
august 3-5
going to play

such a sound that love makes
pictures of us
mexican wrestler
much rather be sleeping
my sister fell in love
perfect shade of blue
shape i'm in
gator's gym girl


some more too
but i can't decide

photo by michelle in banff



july 26/18
entry by liam valentine

braden reached out to me today
he said he needed someone to put a few words together
something that could describe how he felt
and so i asked him

'how do you feel?

and he said

'i don't know'

'well, how am i supposed to put 'i don't know' into a few words?'

'i don't know'

'why don't you try to put a few words together yourself?'

'because it's too hard and i'm busy playing baseball with a bunch of foreigners in banff'

'i didn't know you played sports'

'i don't really'

'don't you have a show to do in edmonton?'

'not for a week'

and it was then that i caught a glimpse of how braden may have felt
with time on his side
doing something that he doesn't really do
with people he doesn't really know
comfortable in the anonymity
no one aware of where he has come from
or to where he is going
and no one particularly impressed with his athletic ability
no expectations
a swing and a miss
a second chance
a swing and a miss
one more chance
a swing and a miss
a strike three and you're out of here

and then i said

'how do you like baseball?'

to which he replied

'i keep telling myself to take it easy on the swing and then as the ball
comes into the plate i fucking swing like a maniac and hurt my shoulder'

'how quickly we forget'


'i mean it's easy to forget the things that we tell ourselves not to do'

'i'm just swinging too hard'

'don't swing too hard'

'it's not that easy, liam'

'make it easy'


'make it easier on yourself to not swing so hard'


'by not swinging so hard'

'jesus liam, just put some words together and i'll talk to you after the game'

and that was that
 i could tell he was just about tired of losing
but not quite ready to win
and that's a funky place to be
somewhere in between
just swinging too hard

and in a lot of shoulder pain

july 24/18

long john shaved half of his beard
he's still talking willie p bennet like the man is god
tim's still twisting knobs and breathing for music
recording audio and video for thousands of shows
when i'm in duncan i feel like i could spend a lifetime
trying to explain the scene to someone who has never been
shows all year round and live music all day every day for 39 days straight in the summer
the twists and turns of two hippies running a live music venue
in a small time island town
now i tell people
'you just gotta go and check it out'

after closing down the outside stage in the park
we walked over to the showroom for a late night show
you can watch it down below

set list

if i needed you - tvz
chicago bob story
pictures of us
lay my burden down
killing the blues - rowland salley
e-r-i-n story
broken promises
new in town
cry, cry darlin'
my sister fell in love
tender time
intro to blackbird - the beatles
these days - jackson browne
dishing for the lord

july 23/18

highlights of the mission folk festival:

watching matt gordon dance
listening to matt gordon play the fiddle
singing with twin bandit
eating cheese
hanging with forest 

listening to nathan rogers perform
watching nathan rogers twirl a stick around like it was a sword
running into bill werthman
listening to leonard podolak play banjo
women in a song workshop with pharis romero, celeigh cardinal, cara luft, babe gurr, and laura koch
watching a choir sing david francey songs
watching boris play congas (wish i had a picture)
waiting for dishwasher dave (still waiting)
dry bones reunion
a vegan burrito
hanging with the celeigh cardinal trio (gawd bless)



july 21/18

every moment is beautiful
but sometimes i still want to make a quick escape
i can feel it in my gut
that's when i know it's time to go to bed
a few days ago i heard someone string the words 'strained in faith' together 
i think they could describe that belly feeling
some things are easier to believe in than others
my friend forest is easy to believe in
he's here with me in mission for the festival
music is easy to believe in
slide guitar fiddle licks vocal squeaks
accordion foot rhythm song and dance
camp fire open mic bar singers and street pickers
i believe in thrifting
i stop in a second hand store everywhere i go
in the window of the cottage thrift store on first
they have a sign that reads
'we are still accepting donations'
accepting donations accepting donations
i think i have a new opening line
'my name is braden gates and i'm accepting donations'
could be good for a laugh
and a couple of bucks

i believe in that


july 20/18

dave is my hero
i met him in a dishpit in edmonton, alberta
he was scrubbing his bag off
and singing sweet songs he made up just for fun
like, 'employee of the month'
and 'lipstick on a coffee cup'
he just makes up songs to make up songs
he left edmonton a few months ago and headed west
i told him he could meet me at the mission folk festival
and maybe we could singa duet about the dish bin buffet
he's a hard man to get a hold of
but i'm hoping he'll show up
guess we all need something to look forward to


july 17/18

i'm getting pretty good at walking around
looking like i have somewhere to go
without really having anywhere to be
it's all in the hips
left right left right left right left right left
last week i was shaking my hips up the stairs of the rose and crown
feeling kinda bent
like when you wake up from crazy dream only to forget what it was
as i reached the top i heard someone ask
are you braden gates?'


'are you braden gates?'

'oh yea'

'i saw you play in calgary one time'

'wanna play pool?'

and then we were a doubles team
we won a few games and lost a few games
my partner's name was nick
he told me about an open mic happening
every wednesday at a bar called tommy's
and of course i went to that open mic at tommy's 
the very next wednesday
an open mic is my favourite kind of mic

and let me tell you about it

it was loud and boozy and there was sweet caroline 
and free bird and free fallin
and some other songs that everybody sang
and some sweet voices and some not so
and an abnormal amount of tambourines
aggressive tambourines
those are the worst kind of tambourines
they were handed out like candy on halloween

i played at the open mic happening every wednesday at tommy's
i played tom petty
i played fishing in the dark
fucked it up pretty bad
but everybody sang along
and the whole time i played at the open mic 
happening every wednesday at tommy's
there was a chick who stood facing me about 3 feet away 
while she beat the shit out of a tambourine
and she would not stop

and i said

'can you play that thing in the key of g?'

and she said

'i don't speak english'

'can you hit the tambourine roughly every 3 minutes?'

'i don't speak english'

'how long have you been playing the tambourine?'

'i don't speak english'

and she hammered and whacked and shook and tapped
kinda like she had somewhere to go
but nowhere to be
and we played the blues and we played the not blues
and she did not stop
still hasn't

this is how bands are started

july 6/18

i made it back to banff
still feeling a little funky
the feeling you get when you know 
that you have something to do
but you can't quite remember what it is
i felt this way the other day
while i was shooting pool with keith at the time out pub off argyll
he walked in wearing a blue rodeo shirt
and i said, 'shit, i'm opening for blue rodeo on friday in banff'
and while racking the balls, keith said, 'you're blue rodeo on friday for an opening in banff?'
and as i broke i said, 'i'm banff on opening blue rodeo friday'
and as keith pocketed a nice run of balls, he said, 'you're friday's opening of banff blue rodeo?'
and as i missed a shot i said, 'i'm opening for blue rodeo on friday in banff'
and as keith sunk the eight on his way to victory he said,

'you still need a lot of fucking practice'


may 30/18

i'm in calgary, alberta,
it's nearing the end of may 
two thousand and eighteen
and i'm feeling kinda funky
like the feeling you get when you 
meet some friends in banff who are
building a secret log cabin in the woods
and they ask, 'do you wanna see our secret log cabin in the woods?'
and you say, 'i would like to see your secret log cabin in the woods'
and they bring you to their secret log cabin in the woods
and you walk through some trees to the secret log cabin in the woods
and then you watch them chip away at the logs
with a dull hatchet and a pocket knife
and then one of them asks you, 'what kind of life do you wanna have?'
and then you mumble through some sort of answer
while simultaneously wishing you were mumbling through a better answer
and then you say, 'i have to leave your secret cabin in the woods
to go visit a friend who is living in an astro van
behind the canmore save on foods'
and then they say, 'thanks for visiting our secret log cabin in the woods'
and you say, 'thanks for showing me your secret log cabin in the woods'
and then it's forty eight hours later
and you are sitting in a coffee shop a few blocks from
the ironwood stage and grill
where you are playing a show the next day
but instead of sitting in that coffee shop few blocks from
the ironwood stage and grill
where you are playing a show the next day
you long to be sitting in a secret log cabin in the woods
making your way through a better answer to
'what kind of life do you wanna have?'

that kinda funky



going to british columbia 

kelowna on a friday night
will probably play jesus on the mainline
as well as some other gospel songs
that's what i'm into right now

kamloops on a saturday night
will probably play some warren zevon
as well as some songs about killing the blues

sometime in 2018

grandpa pissed his pants again
that's what zevon said
in his song play it all night long

will play at least part of the night 
during some festivals this summer 

first in mission british columbia

and then in stony plain, alberta

and then in grand prairie, alberta

and remember
when the cattle all have brucellosis
we'll get through somehow


sometime in 2017

braden has been nominated for two canadian folk music awards for his latest album, 'much rather be sleeping'!
he will also be playing the awards gala in ottawa, november 18-19
see fancy nominee announcement pictures below


this is braden gates

this is braden gates

bridget sold jewellery on a blanket on the sidewalk along whyte avenue
she was always looking to make some money and every time i saw her she had a different reason to
and although her jewellery was not the best, she liked to work with a particular shade of blue
that reminded me of a woman I knew, well, i still do,  but i  used to, too

dale was always hanging around and although he did not make jewellery, he could make you cry
often with as little words as 'spare some change for a bottle of rye'
dale and i, we got to know each other over some time, and he started asking about my music
i'd say, 'it's not saving anybody's life, but i guess it's alright'

one night i ran into dale and i just had to ask him how he could make it so long out on the street
and despite being a bottle or so deep, without missing a beat he got right into the middle of the lord's prayer pslam 23
'although i walk in the valley of the shadow of death, i fear no evil, for the lord is my shepherd, he comforts me'

if you are anything like dale, you may find comfort in the lord's prayer, or maybe just the booze
if you are anything like bridget, you may find solace in selling craft along a busy avenue
and if you are anything like me, you may find hope in writing songs
some of the songs i've written are recorded and some of them may never be
some of the songs you may hear me play at a festival, or a house concert, or at an open mic
some of the songs are on my new album called 'much rather be sleeping'
and although that's an appropriate title to describe many moments of my life
it is not accurate when i have the chance to play music

so, with bridget in mind, and dale, and that woman i knew, well, still do, but used to, too
i move on in search of that perfect shade of blue
writing songs along the way

braden gates at alberts family restaurant

braden gates at alberts family restaurant