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Beth Portman and the "Good Find" perform in the High Level Bridge streetcar - Date unknown Peter Seal.
11 April 2018
Edmonton Musician Hitting the Tracks for Cross Country Train Concert

Edmonton Alberta - Beth Portman is ready to take the midnight train to Toronto.
 
On Wednesday night, the Edmonton singer and songwriter, along with her guitarist Kevin Smith, will depart from the Edmonton train station, a spur off the Canadian National Railway mainline, and head for the big city.
 
This is no ordinary trip.
 
Portman and Smith will perform for fellow travellers throughout the two-and-a-half day journey as part of VIA's "Artist On Board" series, which offers reduced fares to professional musicians in exchange for live performances.
 
"We're going to ride the train to Toronto, play music, share train memories, and connect with people," Portman said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
 
"That's the best."
 
It's not Portman's first time performing on the tracks.
 
Portman and her band, the "Good Find", play regularly on the Edmonton streetcar during the summer concert series, and on the boxcars of the Battle River Railway in Forestburg, Alberta.
 
She also created a themed show "Take a Trip: A Musical Journey" for the Capitol Theatre at Fort Edmonton Park in 2016.
 
Portman has a passion for trains and even incorporates sound effects she captures from passing rigs into her songs.
 
"My music has a lot of references to travel, or journeys, whether it's physical or emotional," Portman said.
 
"It's well-suited for places like streetcars, trains, airports, anywhere really.
 
"We've played in a lot of non-traditional venues because the music is so portable."
 
Part of what makes Portman's music so travel friendly is her affinity for homemade instruments.
 
In addition to strumming her ukulele, she incorporates percussion into her recordings using suitcases, beaded purses, wicker baskets, or even her high-heeled shoes.
 
It all started one night while she was practicing a classic Patsy Cline song, "Walkin' After Midnight", at her home studio and decided to add her stilettos into the mix.
 
"I thought it would be neat to have some percussion on this, and I thought, what if I used my shoes and tapped them together to to make a beat? And then I thought, what if I tap them on the suitcase? And that's how it started, with a suitcase and a pair of red shoes."
 
Porter said her use of improvised instruments follows the tradition of skiffle music, a mix of jazz and blues made popular in the 1950s.
 
"Their whole idea was that you take and make instruments because you didn't have money, so you had to get creative."
 
Porter can't wait for another journey on the tracks.
 
"I love the movement of the train. It rocks you," she said.
 
"I think with music, it rocks you too, and there is something romantic about that whole feeling. That's why people say, the romance of the rails."
 
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