The List: Ten things Blue Rodeo frontman and Canadian rock icon Jim Cuddy can’t live without
1| My skates
I play a lot of hockey. It’s amazing that at my age I still get thrilled about skates, but I do. These ones are by Graf, and they’re customized to my feet.
2| My Gretsch
It’s a 1948 acoustic on long-term—maybe permanent—loan from Colin Cripps, who’s in my band. I got it from him 14 years ago and used it to write my first solo record. Since then it’s become my go-to guitar for writing.
3| My talisman
I bought these Tibetan prayer beads when my wife and I were in China for the 2008 Olympics. We got all wrapped up in the commercialism of the Games, and then we went to this rural place near the Great Wall that was beautiful and calm and run by Tibetans. The beads remind me of that tranquility.
4| My wedding ring
I never take it off—even to play hockey. My wife and I got married in ’84 when we were living in New York. We bought rings from a gold dealer near Times Square. They probably weren’t shockingly expensive, but they seemed it to us because we were totally broke.
5| My Dopp kit
In the late ’80s Blue Rodeo played a protest benefit for the Stein Valley in British Columbia, which was in danger of being logged. Someone there was selling this smoked deerskin bag—the smoky smell only faded in the last year or two. I keep my shaving things in it.
6| My go-to poets
Every time I start writing songs I read poetry. I like the beauty of Leonard Cohen, the ruralness of Alden Nowlan and the plain language of Al Purdy. I’ve read these books a hundred times each. It’s like reconnecting with old friends.
7| My neighbourhood hangout
The Detroit Eatery on the Danforth is a great family-run diner. You always see people you know there, and you can get all the gossip from the neighbourhood. The food is reliably good. My favourite day is Thursday, which is vegetable soup day.
8| My boom box
I’ve had this one for six or seven years. It’s busted on one side, so only one speaker works, but it’s great for recording demos. Digital recording is too clear—it makes things sound like a lonely guitar in a big empty room. Boom boxes and cassettes crush the sound and help me imagine what it’ll be like with a band.
9| My gig boots
They were made by a shoemaker in the neighbourhood: Nasser Vies. He replicated a pair I bought 15 years ago. I’ve never been able to indulge in a lot of rock star stuff—I mean, we’re not that big—but having custom boots is amazing.
10| My wine collection
For our first 10 years as a band, we were awash in beer. Eventually I thought: I never want to have another frickin’ beer again. So the road manager and I decided to try wine. We bought a bottle and a wine magazine and sat in the back of the bus with our plastic cups trying to taste the flavours. I now have a good-sized collection. My favourite is a 1996 Barolo.