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Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation

The eKubator Project

Wayne Chaulk - An Online Interview
August 24, 2001
{Author: Reg Wright}


  There is perhaps nothing so emblematic of a people and a culture as Saltwater Joys, penned and performed by Wayne Chaulk of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. Many have intoned that the ballad to Newfoundland resilience and rural living is an unofficial anthem - it stirs pride in Newfoundlanders at home and strikes a sad chord with those who live abroad. It may well be the most requested song received by amateur guitarists who entertain at kitchen parties around Newfoundland and Labrador. The talented wordsmith-singer-musican from Charlottetown, Bonavista Bay has undoubtedly captured the essence of rural Newfoundland, and left an indelible mark on a people.

He took some time to answer questions from eBerg last week.

Perhaps you could set the stage for us on the creation of Saltwater Joys. From where did you draw the inspiration for the song?

In the late 80's the trio really took off. The phones were ringing, Ontario was calling, agents were beckoning and we found ourselves spending more and more
time in other regions of the country.

At one point I asked myself how far I would allow myself to go on this venture. Would I, for instance, move to a more central, urban location where business could be carried on with greater ease? I pondered for a moment and concluded that I could not forsake the joys, pleasures and benefits of living in peaceful outport Newfoundland; I could not lose my quality of life. I would leave temporarily and tour but I would not move.

"Saltwater Joys" was a statement to myself confirming who I am and where I belong.

The song was written after returning from a grueling, hot August tour of Southern Ontario where every night we played to large numbers of homesick fellow islanders. Upon arriving home I rowed to the "beal of the point" and as I sat on a rock with a cool ocean breath on my back, the song "Saltwater Joys" started to flow. I couldn't start to describe my emotional state at this time but I can say that I almost broke an oar trying to get back to write it down before memory failed.

Why, do you think, is Saltwater Joys so popular?

I'm not sure why the song appeals to so many people but I suspect that during these difficult times in rural Newfoundland it sings the praises of a lifestyle and culture that must not be lost. People who stay relate and identify with the sentiments expressed in the song and those who have left probably feel a sense of loss and maybe a bit of longing to return to their roots. And for those who have never experienced a quiet, simple bay lifestyle, maybe there's a slight thirst, yearning or curiosity.

I don't know. Maybe someone can tell me. One older gentleman when commenting on the song said, "Tis all there, my son. Nothing else needs to be said." Thanks Uncle John.

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers have a calendar year crowded with touring, and are a major draw for expatriates living abroad. Given that the typical Buddy Wasisname show melds humour with musicianship, what kind of reaction does the song draw from audiences abroad?

In the context of a show that is predominantly comedic the song does have a nostalgically sobering effect on the expatriate audience. While performing it I sometimes find it tough to look into the eyes of those who painfully miss the place. I've seen hands touching hands, leaking eyes, gentle sobs - the whole works!

One young man came back stage crying, looked at me and said "I only left for the god-dammed money." Yeah, the song does strike home strong on occasion.

Saltwater Joys really celebrates the simple pleasures of rural life. You're from Charlottetown, so we wonder how you enjoy visits to urban centres? Would you ever consider living in a city?

Would I ever consider living in a city? Well, I couldn't say 'no' definitely because I'm old enough to know that life can throw some quirky kinks in your path. I can say that I'm living in relative harmony overlooking Bonavista Bay and I haven't yet found a more fitting environment to spend my off-road months.

No, a few days a year in 20 or 30 cities satisfies my urge for human contrivances and urban culture. I'm closer to nature here. This'll do fine for me.

One of the most striking lines from the song has to be: "So I'll complement her beauty/hold on to my goodbyes/and I'll stay and take my chances on these Saltwater Joys." As Newfoundlanders, we all mourn the outmigration of our people, especially our young people, from rural communities. The urbanization of our population isn't felt only in Newfoundland - it's really a global phenomenon. What do you think about the future of our rural communities?

There is still enough independent spirit, determination, will, resourcefulness, imagination, and contrariness to allow rural communities to survive. God willing, we'll hold out, make appropriate changes but never let go of the strings that tie us to the land and sea. shudder to think of the day when we're all herded together and commercially and governmentally controlled. Brrrr.

Are you approached by a lot of fans who want to talk about the song?

Yes, I'm blessed and honoured by the large number of people who contact me and want to talk about the song. It was a gift to me and with Kevin and Ray's support I'm glad to have shared it with so many. I welcome all comments and thoughts on the song.

* * * *


Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers are scheduled to begin touring again this October with six shows in Ontario before stints in Fort McMurray and Yellowknife . To learn more about Newfoundland's greatest ambassadors and the man behind the song, visit www.buddywasisname.com