Canada Day in Alberta

July 1st, 2005    Grande Prairie, AB    Spilchen Country Fever Music Festival   420km

The small plane was totally full of our stage gear. Shuttle to hotel, nap, Scott had terrible nachos, the other guys had cream soups and fish and chips in a really boring restaurant. I always thought it funny to go to the prairies to have fish and chips (especially when you just left Halifax!). I remember being in the middle of  nowhere in particular and asking about getting to the festival, which was considerably far away, and it looking like I was not going to see (or hear) THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND.  The afternoon got a bit boring, everyone doing their own thing. I jogged the sunny highway. Cowboy hats are everywhere. My fancy cowboy shirt and hat are not so unusual anymore. Big muddy trucks everywhere. The landscape has changes over that last day.

Finally, we get a shuttle to the gig, a big empty arena. I met a nice guy who was driving a stretch golf cart and chatted about Bathtub weekend (he knew his stuff) as I got a personal tour of the site ending up at the outdoor stage where I climbed the side of the stage to be with the others grooving to THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND! Talk about perfect timing, and what a cooooool group. Violin! YAAAA! I met a couple of the guys afterwards and they were gracious. Great band, great sound.

One local suggested to me that we should expect about half of the crowd that I saw for the Dirt Band (about 1200). I had a nice little laugh to myself about that. I knew that people would fall from the sky. One other guy said “you look like John Denver.” Exactly the kinda thing that actually really bugs me, but for some reason didn’t this time. I am trying to be a little bit more like my hero Frank Ney, our ex-mayor, who was UNFLAPPABLE. Who cares if someone thinks I look like John Denver?

So I chatted up THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND banjo player, super friendly grey bearded guy. Anyone who walks around with a grey beard playing banjo is alright by me. Took the big neat-o golf cart back to our arena venue, had some horrible sandwiches a cement room with 5 metal chairs. Horrible sandwiches. There was a door to the outside where nobody was, so you could take a pee there in private, I guess. It was a woodsy area, like a race track outside of a town.

The crowd arrived and the arena overflowed with people, and LIFE. The best crowd that you could ever want, except for the big buffoon who almost broke my fingers with a handshake. So I go onstage for the encore thinking, man, I have a whole tour to play and this guy almost puts me out of work. That is why I hand slap people so much. I don’t care if this sounds wimpy. This is my GIG, and my LIFE.

The sun never did go down, being quite North as we were, and everyone sang THE GIRL FROM EMPANITA or whatever the hell it is called. Frankie says that he always plays that at home in the kitchen when he is cooking. Back to the hotel, bit of a drive, 1 1/2 hours sleep, and I had no serious nap that day cos I was too excited to jog around, look at dirty trucks and figure out what songs THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND plays.

So, 5am leave. My duffle bag is getting heavy, at least down all those stairs at that hour. Shuttle to airport, travel trip: bananas don’t last long in duffle bags in the summer. Good news from home; Tracy cut the lawn that we just planted 2 months ago on Protection Island. Didn’t know at this point that as soon as I get home we are going to have all the locals stomp it back to death. The section under the hammock doesn’t stand a chance. All the kids go CRAZY. Oh well…………..

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