Songwriter Jerry Vandiver Blends Music and Canoeing

Paddlesongs: How one country songwriter married his love of music and canoeing

by Alissa Johnson via Quetico Superior Wilderness News

In 1994, Nashville singer-songwriter Jerry Vandiver, whose song “It Doesn’t Get Any Countrier Than This” had just been recorded by Tim McGraw, portaged a behemoth of an aluminum canoe across a rocky and root-filled portage. He was no stranger to paddling; he’d moved that canoe from his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to Nashville when he set out to see if he could make it in the country music business. But this was his first trip to Quetico Provincial Park, and lugging that canoe over such a challenging portage inspired him.

LISTEN: “Rocks and Roots” by Jerry Vandiver


“I remember sitting on a campsite cliff overlooking Curtain Falls in Quetico, and we had been in eight or nine days at that point, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t care that Reba is cutting a record next week. I’m here and I’m going to enjoy this every bit that I can,” Jerry said. He has been back to Quetico or the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness every year since. He and his wife even married and honeymooned in the Boundary Waters, holding their reception at the Chainsaw Sisters Saloon off the Echo Trail. In canoe country he found what so many paddlers have: the ability to live in the present moment, a sense of accomplishment, and camaraderie with paddlemates.

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