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By Max Mertens

Gavin Gardiner might want to think about hiring a personal assistant. The 26-year-old lead vocalist and guitarist of Toronto folk-rock band The Wooden Sky is not only a production technician for radio and television arts classes, but he is also preparing for a three month tour through Ontario and Quebec and recording the band’s second album in January.

This might sound like a full schedule, but Gardiner lists one of his highest priorities to be simply “figuring out how we’re going to pay rent.”

The Wooden Sky started with Gardiner’s previous band, Friday Morning’s Regret.

“The band formed about a year and a quarter ago, and some of us have really only known each other about that long,” said Gardiner in an email. “[Andrew] Wyatt and I were in Friday Morning’s Regret together for three or four years before that and decided once Simon and Kip joined that it really wasn’t FMR anymore. That, coupled with the fact that we really hated the name, made it an easy decision.”

The resulting quartet, which includes Simon Walker and Andrew Kekewich, has been creating heartfelt folk-rock songs since then. They’ve also toured all over the country with their album When Lost At Sea and appeared on MTV Canada.

When asked about his song-writing process, Gardiner said that he “doesn’t try to exercise a specific ghost but, listening back or reading what I’ve written down in my book, it becomes clear that a lot of what I write certainly stems from personal experience.”

Gardiner has lived in Toronto for the past eight years after moving from Morden, Manitoba but you can still hear the whispers of small town ghosts in songs such as “Darker Streets than Mine” and “North Dakota.” The latter, Gardiner explains, was “inspired by something I read in a Readers Digest magazine at my grandmother’s house about nuns smuggling drugs across the Manitoba/North Dakota border.”

The band’s stock is on the rise. They’re signed to Black Box Recordings with artists such as Shad and Ten Second Epic and are opening alongside Brian Borcherdt for the Juno-Award winning Halifax-based band Wintersleep tonight at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

Yet for all the shows on their calendar, with bands Mother Mother and The Acorn, there is one notable show missing from the list. What happened to the cancelled Toronto show at Lee’s Palace on Oct. 17?

“The show is technically still happening,” said Gardiner. “Mother Mother, who we’re touring with for the next few weeks, is still doing it and that itself will make it a good show. As for us, there were circumstances that were out of our control that made us have to bow out.”

The tour kicks off tonight and the band leaves for Montreal tomorrow to play with The D’Ubervilles and David Martel. Throughout Quebec, they’ll join the Pascale Picard Band, and they won’t be back until Christmas.

And when they return, Gardiner hopes to take some time for himself and help his parents finish their new cottage in Alberta. But it won’t be all relaxation and winter holidayswonderland. Soon after, they will trek back to Montreal to record their next album at Hotel 2 Tango.

So for all of this, Gardiner attributes his endurance to all the people who are close to him.

“It’s both inspiring and inspirational to see our friends making things that we love and to have them tell us the same just fuels the flame,” he said.

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