While you may not know who Grant Lawrence is, if you are a CBC Radio listener, chances are you’ve heard his voice.
Lawrence is a CBC Radio personality, and host of the most-downloaded podcast in Canada, the CBC Radio 3 Podcast showcasing Canadian independent music.
He is also regularly featured on Radio One programs DNTO, All Points West and others. He also hosted The Wild side on Radio One in the summer of 2012.
His work with CBC Radio dates back to when Lawrence was the lead singer of the internationally acclaimed indie band The Smugglers, when he would give dispatches from the road as the band toured the world.
At the moment, however, Lawrence is taking a break from radio to stay home with his new son as wells promote his latest book The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, which debuted at number three on the Canadian Bestseller list and was number one in B.C..
The book is Lawrence’s second book, the first one being a memoir of growing up spending time in the remote coastal community of Desolation Sound.
This most recent book tour began in Prince George and took Lawrence (a Vancouver native) on snowy roads from Fraser Lake to Fort St. James, then to McBride and Vanderhoof in a rental car. Luckily, he arrived at all stops in one piece.
The stop in Fort St. James Library took place on Nov. 15, where a small crowd of around a dozen locals had a chance to see and hear Lawrence live and in the flesh.
In person Lawrence is handsome and charming, not surprising, considering he is married to the beautiful and talented singer/songwriter Jill Barber.
The event consisted of Lawrence reading a couple of passages from his new book, and showing a short film and answering questions.The book is a tale of his love/hate relationship with hockey through his life, from being bullied as a youngster by hockey jocks, to becoming a goalie on a team of musicians called the Vancouver Flying Vees.
“I have always had a conflicted relationship with hockey,” said Lawrence. He said during his somewhat awkward formative years, he did not feel welcomed into the sport, and while his parents were determined to get him to skate, learning when he was two, he was grateful they did not push him to play hockey.
Lawrence described some of his adolescence and shared some funny chlidhood photos, he even had unwieldy knee braces, and in high school he was a self-described “uber-nerd.”
“Even the nerds kicked me out of their group,” joked Lawrence.
But later in high school, Lawrence found music, and founded the group which would allow him to tour the world as one of the cool kids, The Smugglers.
The band toured with the Hanson Brothers, who performed on stage in hockey jerseys and Lawrence had a conversation with one of the group which had him reconsidering his relationship with hockey.
This eventually led to a complete turnabout in his attitude and he helped start the Vancouver Flying Vees with fellow musicians.
“We’ve taken back the game on our own terms,” said Lawrence. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
In profiles, Lawrence has been called a “leading voice” and “gregarious and encyclopedic” and the Times-Colonist even said “Grant Lawrence is a razor-sharp humourist” but Lawrence himself said he didn’t set out to write humour.
Lawrence said he just wanted to write the truth about his experiences.
What makes it funny is perhaps Lawrence’s ability to laugh at himself, which perhaps the awkward teenager in all of us finds reassuring.
After all, as adults, isn’t it nice to know you can look back and laugh?