CALGARY — It wasn’t the concert trumpet solo that Jens Lindemann was scheduled to play, but an impromptu performance on the snow-choked Trans-Canada Highway was heartily applauded by an audience of stranded motorists.
Lindemann played at a private event in Banff on Monday night and was to perform in Vancouver the following evening. But a massive snowstorm swept through southern Alberta, dumping 40 centimetres within a day.
The musician left Banff at around 11 a.m. and just east of Canmore, traffic came to a standstill.
“It just didn’t move. More and more cars ended up showing up behind us and we ended up being literally stuck there for 10 and a half hours. We had not moved an inch,” he said Wednesday.
At one point Lindemann’s car got stuck in the snow and some other motorists helped him get it out.
After hours in traffic gridlock he found a way to show his gratitude.
“I spontaneously grabbed my trumpet and started playing some Dixieland tunes and they loved it,” he said. “It became kind of a mini jam session out there.”
Later, he played O Canada.
“The semi trucks were honking their horns and people were cheering and leaning out the window. It was a moment to just sort of be a proud Canadian.”
But around 7 p.m. the mood shifted. It was getting dark and cold. People were getting anxious.
“The fun of hanging out in the afternoon and playing trumpet at the side of the road had gone away. And now people were in danger of running out of gas,” he said.
“There had to be 1,000 cars that were backed up. That’s not an underestimation.”
At around 10:30 p.m., Lindemann managed to get into the westbound lane and made his way back to Banff and checked into a hotel. He missed that night’s concert in Vancouver.
He got three hours of sleep, and then hit the road early the next morning, inching through still-clogged roads, just in time to barely make an early-morning Vancouver flight.
Lindemann has played major concert venues around the world, performed for the Queen and received Grammy and Juno nominations. He grew up in Edmonton, but has lived in Los Angeles for the past 18 years.
He said his Alberta upbringing came in handy.
“I understand you never hit the mountains without a full tank of gas, because if something happens and you’re stopped, at least you can keep your car running. And if your car’s running, you’ll have heat.”
He said the optimistic can-do western Canadian spirit was on full display.
“I was really, really proud to be an Albertan yesterday, I must say.”