Iconic radio personality Grant Lawrence’s first experience of hockey wasn’t a positive one.
“Basically at a young age I was a puny kid with glasses and knee braces and I was sort of pushed out of the game. I loved it, but I just wasn’t physically able to keep up,” said the author, who is coming to the Nelson Public Library at 7 p.m. on October 21 to read from his new book The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie.
“I ended up discovering a league in Toronto which was essentially for people like me, guys who felt pushed out of Canada’s national winter pastime and are now getting back into it,” he said, noting that he shared the ice with fellow musicians Blue Rodeo and the Barenaked Ladies.
“That was a portal for me to get back into hockey. It opened up this whole world.”
Lawrence said he was touring with his band The Smugglers when indie punk bands starting writing songs about hockey, which made him reconsider his relationship to the sport.
“I really didn’t think music and hockey would intertwine and then I heard these artists writing about hockey and I thought why are they writing about this sport full of bullies?” he said.
“The Rheostatics, The Hanson Brothers, these bands basically sung about the folklore of the game, be it pugilistic, hockey heroes, whatever. Up until that time the only piece of hockey music I knew was Stomping Tom,” said Lawrence.
“These are guys who are wimps like me but they’ve figured out how to appreciate the game.”
Lawrence now plays hockey for the Vancouver Flying Vees, another experience covered in his book.
“I love that I can play this game and not get the shit kicked out of me,” said Lawrence. “The moral would be that I’m playing our national pastime on my own terms.”
The Lonely End of the Rink comes after Lawrence’s memoir Adventures in Solitude won Book of the Year at the BC Book Prizes, made its way on to its bestseller list and increased the profile of the already popular radio host.
His reading at the Nelson Public Library will also include a slide show, question and answer period and a musical performance from his wife Jill Barber. She will also be sharing her newly published children’s book Music is for Everyone. She recently released her sixth studio album Fool’s Gold.
Barber, though she’s known primarily as a jazz musician, also experiments with traditional country, Motown, and rarely ties itself to a particular genre. She wrote Fool’s Gold while living in Vancouver with Lawrence and their newborn son Joshua.
“Both my wife Jill and I love reconnected with Nelson and we’re really looking forward to sharing our stories and our songs,” he said.