Archive for November, 1998

The Tambourine Tour

Saturday, November 28th, 1998

ONTARIO FOR A WHILE

We took a few days off and met again at the airport. A few hours later we were a few hours earlier. The Essex Park hotel in Toronto was ready for us, so I took the old elevator to the 10th floor and called it a day. I was too tired to join Ra and Chuck as guests at the Fastball concert.

The elevator was getting weird to the point where it wasn’t working very well at all. I chose to take the stairs. Scott and Ra did the same and almost wiped each other out.

We played a show where a guitar company had 2 reps backstage offering Scott and Brian endorsements. Brian is to receive 2 guitars, a 6 and a 12 string, Ra gets a 12, and Scott gets a bass. I got lots of rest.

The next town had a bizarre elevator as well. We all got on, and off together, on the wrong floor.

We had some time off in Toronto. I spent much time listening to sample disks at a shop called Saved by Technology. This is the 4th largest city in North America now, and it is showing some signs of holding such a title. There are a lot of street people, and they have nowhere to go to the bathroom. Being in this town is like being in a big Canadian movie, if that makes any sense.

Smitty looked out the window of his hotel room, right towards the next building, where two men were naked, one already in bed, and the other one checking him out. Smitty closed his curtain. There were also about 5 tour busses and more semis in the neighbourhood as Metallica, Dave Mathews Band, Earth Wind and Fire and whoever else maneuvered for space. Plenty of bands stay in this hotel, “one too many,” as Lance had said after been kept up by a parting group next door.

There have been a considerable amount of hotel saunas to consider over the years. Considering that it takes awhile to stoke some of these units up, I gave our Toronto steam room to percolate. I will tell the world right now that this sauna was very hot. The metal door could burn your hand. If you passed out there, you would be cooked alive. Unbelievable. We have stayed at this hotel a dozen times and I did not even know this killer sauna was there. That’s probably why I’m still here. Yes, this is the absolute BEST sauna in Canada, so far.

Some audience members are telling me that my road reports are out-of-date. Its true; it has been a busy year, and a very good one. We played Lulus in Kitchener one more time, this time to about 3500 people, which is very good. Lance and Scott are marathon joggers now; I could never try to keep up to them any more.

Lance’s Mom shows up in more towns than any Mom I have ever heard of. She travels frequently with her work so we get to chat- her-up a lot. She is very nice, and Lance’s brother is very (and nice too). Ra treated the band to take-out Wok-In restaurant curried Vietnamese rice dishes as we split Kingston. Once again, we experienced a beautiful town of splendid stone mansions and great chow.

THE WALTONS

The only time I ever watch TV is on these road trips. I convinced Scott to become a Waltons fan on the last trip. This position comes naturally to me. My family saw every early first-run episode together in the 70. As a kid, I was amazed at the parallels the 2 families shared. We also had lots of kids, all close in age. We had a huge table to eat at, church junk, old truck, and although we were certainly not rich, we owned a mountain named after us.

The entire series was aired in the mid 80s again, this time at 3am, as a bottom of the barrel broadcast. My band would watch it every night after our gigs. Wild boys we were not. Now Scott and I laugh and make rude comments as we totally enjoy the afternoon reruns.

I did not see any episodes between our last tour and this Ontario jaunt. Jim Bob has a jukebox, and he fell in love, Grandma had a stroke, Ike has a pool and tearoom and Grandpa is gone. The whole thing is a mess at this point. Daddy was offered an executive job and turned it down because he would have to leave the mountain. Man, if someone would have filmed the Gogos in the 1970s, we could have provided some REAL entertainment.

WINE DISASTER AND SIGN OFF

I tried to rescue a wayward bottle of wine from a show, and it got buried in my suitcase. Scott was nice enough to unload my bags from the van one-day. He has tended bar and he knows the sound of a bottle breaking. I have a waterproof duffle bag, so liquids can not enter, nor can they escape.

Scott was also nice enough to help rescue all my junk and wash out my bag. As it turned out, the whole thing was a breeze. I have a couple groovy tie-dyed shirts now. My flashy new shiny stage shirts and jackets that I just picked up on Queen Street were spared, as was the Victorian Golly doll (it’s a Christmas present). I needed to do some laundry one of these times anyway.

We have a day off in Toronto before our last show and flight home. I woke up to bad news about a leaky roof back home and cheered up at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I can loose my mind at this one; every exhibit was remarkable. A special showing of Van Gogh and his contemporaries included Piet Mondrian, my favorite Dutch landscape artist turned neo-placisist. I bought a couple books on the subject and will get to them as soon as I finish the Alice Cooper Billion Dollar Babies hard cover I scored for $3. I have always been a huge fan of the early Cooper band. It is both exciting and sad to read a reporters report of their road life. They had much more booze and boredom then we presently do.

Mike, Chuck and Smitty were the only ones to miss out on the last pilgrimage to Mr. Jerk. The “small” curried beans and rice, at $1.50 blows the doors off of anything I can find commercially at home. Bigger towns can have advantages I guess.

Our last show of the tour was in a sold out town hall. Many people from Mount Forest came out to participate in a benefit show for a family whose 2 children have cerebral palsy. The parents were visibly moved by the experience of receiving so much love and support. We had our own private hotel party on this night, the last one of our tour. Stray partiers kept me awake until I stopped answering the door and Scott unplugged the phone.

Our motel rooms took awhile to warm up. It is getting a wee-bit cool out lately. There is a large grass courtyard to avoid in this complex. The same dog that barks our arrival, and wakes up all the guests with the same sound, managed to poop-out the entire lawn. Perhaps the proprietors forget that the rest of the world is not like that.

Well, if that’s all I have to worry about after another year on the road, I must say that things are OK. We are about to hop in the big red van and drive back to the Toronto international airport. This van had 32 kms on it when we picked it up. I thought it smelled like burnt tires, but I guess it was just new. Thank you once again to everyone who made this tour much fun. The vibes are good. The marimba, excellent.

All I can tell you, is that if Trooper had played Altamont, no one would have died.

West Coast Music Awards

Saturday, November 28th, 1998

They tell me that we have had awards shows out west for a few years now. This is the first time that the deal gets televised. There is a 2 weeks delay scheduled between the performance and the airing of the show, and next year it will be broadcast live off-of the floor. We are pioneering an annual event here, kinda exciting, I must say.

Trooper has been invited to open the show, with the opening announcements being broadcast over our opening chord segment. The Enterprise Building (the former BC pavilion at Expo 86) was the destination, and we arrived a day early for the scheduled run-throughs. The band gathered at this downtown Vancouver waterfront building and staged Raise a Little Hell for the cameras. We met with the producers and other fine people, some of whom were to approve our stage outfits. My silver shiny shirt was not approved. I agreed that it would be lousy to freak-out the cameras and perhaps blow up every TV in our great nation with my highly reflective $4 shirt.

We had a nice low-pressure afternoon. It was a west-coast bagel and fruit kind-of day. Tracy and I ended up going into town where we bought 17 meters of velvet. We are going to make curtains for the studio. We also went to a skid-row pawnshop to look at a fancy microphone. I was equally shocked, amazed and upset to see an extremely rare 1967 Baldwin electric harpsichord on consignment. It is in near mint condition, with its original plexiglass top still wearing its protective plastic wrap.

This is the 3rd Baldwin electric harpsichord I have seen in my lifetime. I had gone through considerable expense and logistics to acquire the semi run-down one that I play at home. It was much easier to buy this one. Now I have two. Man, am I decadent!

We stayed with Paul and Carla again. This time we had an amazing diner and partied late with the Lance gang. We drove into town the next day and parked by all of the CBC trucks. We met with our 12-noon make-up and hair call and watched as the local Celebs showed up. We chatted with new and old friends until 3pm when the stage was ready for more fun-throughs. Just for fun here, I will remember some names of people that we spent the day with: Bill Henderson (Chilliwack), Jim Valance (big-time songwriter), some Rent people (Broadway singers/actors), Red Robinson (hall of fame DJ), Age of Electric singer, Mathew Good (singer), Shari Ulrich (musician), Larry and Willy (popular radio hosts), Bruce Allen (rock-star manager), Lee Aaron (singer), Jazz guys (jazz guys), Colin James (musician), Brazilian dancers, Yuki Yamamoto (wasn’t really there, but what a neat name hay?)

Tracy and I had a riot hanging out with Tommy Chong. He is 60 now, plays in a band with his 2 sons and does some stand-up comedy. His Cheech and Chong albums and movies still sell all over the world, so I think he is doing just fine. He told us stories of showbiz fun going back to 1958. He is such a gas. We will keep in contact with him.

We also had great laughing sessions with Bill Henderson all day. The entire evening ended with Bill, Tracy and myself telling stories and laughing until Bill had decided that he had kept his sister waiting for him long enough. He said, “I look forward to next time!” Bill is one of my musical heroes and I feel fortunate to share these rare moments with him.

It was a great gig. All we had to do all night was play one song, and all I could see from the stage was the huge Bruce Allen gang smiling at us. We had a great cheer from a very reserved crowd. When we took our places in the cheap-seats to see the rest of the show, the reserved people occasionally looked over as Tracy and I laughed and hollered all night.

So, there was nothing left for us but an after party on a huge yacht. A 400 capacity (half full) white monster was tied-up and running, full of food and drink. It was all free for us, and the boat-crew thought it was an unusual charter, not leaving the shore and all.

A Real Scary Halloween Show

Saturday, November 28th, 1998

The Spice Boys did a terrific Octoberfest gig at the airforce base in Comox BC. The week would be considered a success as long as we successfully transfer our carcasses over to the mainland the next day in time for the Trooper Halloween show. What could possibly go wrong?

Scott got a late start out of his town, Campbell River, (lazy?) and subsequently missed the 3pm ferry. By the time his van was ready to break down in the rain, it was dark enough to miss both the 5 and the 7pm sailings as well. I had planned to meet up with Scott in Nanaimo and we were to commute together. I was getting quite concerned about the amount of ferries we were missing.

I took Ra’s advice and drove onto the next boat, the 8:15. This one lands at a different terminal, in a different town, but it was my last chance to get to the gig on time. I arrived at tswassin (you try spelling that one!) at 10:20 and sped through the dark, wet Halloween streets towards our venue at Port Moody.

Tracy and I (and some of my stage gear) arrived at 11:15, the exact time we were to go onstage. There was no parking, of course, so I went around the back of the building and hauled my stuff up a huge flight of stairs. I found myself on a landing with a locked glass door between my panicked self and a few hundred masqueraded partiers. Nobody was going to let me in. Eventually our road manager rescued me. It was ironic that the crowd cheered my arrival when nobody by the door cared to open it. I was in a bad mood.

This is the exact moment when you run into old friends who are happy to see you. I dragged stage bag, and keyboard rack through the sardine-packed room towards the stage, where Steve took over and set up my rig. As soon as I found the backstage room, (and that wasn’t easy either) I was faced with the decision of which beautiful jacket to accept as a Christmas present. Ra and Brian had invited their haberdasher to display a rack of modern custom fitted coats for each of us to choose from.

I hurriedly got into my Medieval Giant costume (I borrowed it from my Dad) and discussed the possibility that Scott may not show up at all. The question arose, could I perform the show with a left-hand synth bass sound? Well, lets go on and find out! We were already late, so we hit the stage and I carried a big bulk of the show. Everyone in the band compensated as mush as they could, singing Scott’s vocal part and overplaying in spots to fill in the sound.

The completely sold-out crowd was massively supportive and hyped-out and we all had a lot of fun. I drank much water. I will tell you, there was a mass amount of food backstage and I was in no frame of mind to take care of it all. I did manage to rescue a cornucopia of fruit.

Paul Cloutier attended this show as a guest, and being that our girlfriends have become very friendly, much like long lost sisters actually, we all stayed at their place. Paul and Carla have a great home about 5 minutes away from this gig. We had plenty of laughs and good cheer. Steve always stays with these awesome hosts. We also received Scott’s call the next day explaining his scene. We were happy to know that he is OK. He ended up soaked and slept in his van on the Island. Nobody would pick him up hitch hiking and he had no phone with him. I didn’t tell him, yet, that I had accepted his paycheque.