Archive for March, 2005

End of the Catch Up!

Monday, March 28th, 2005

LAST PART OF THE REPORT

It is now 7am, and we are driving back home; 1135kms from Rimbey Alberta to the coast. The idea is that we get to Smitty’s house by 7pm, enough time for Scott and I to make the 9pm sailing to the Island. Smitty is driving the first shift, Ra is reading, Scott is looking at a map and Frankie is having a rare quiet moment where he is not making us all laugh. I just had a morning shower and used some honey scented shampoo to try to get the smell of the tar shampoo off of my head. I think that I still smell like tar, oh well. I got the smoke from last night’s gig washed away, for sure. Not much I can do about my bedsores.

I think about Lance a lot. For those who just joined us, Lance was drummer before Frankie, who joined the same time that I did, way back in 1996 or whenever. We always update each other whenever one of us talks to him, emails or visits. Lance’s humour is as constant as Frankie’s, but a different brand. Lance is the King of understatement, like making a funny quiet vocal where a yell might be, which has great impact from such a big dude, and is totally as funny as anything. The understatement trait never enters into his music, however. His drum solos shook every stage. Thousands of people think of him quite often, I bet.

So I have Smitty’s wonderful Powerbook cramped onto my lap with the cable plugged into the main truck battery, so lots of time here. I drove the truck back from the gig last night. We did 2 nights in Rimbey, at the Grand Hotel. Frankie drove the 46kms back the first night to the resort community of Sylvan Lake, reaching 140kms, I got up to 130 and slowed down to my regular 90. Right away I just can not drive fast. I offered to do this long drive today, guaranteeing that we would get back in less than a week, in time to go out on tour again. We have about 7 days at home coming up. There are so many things that I want to do, and a few that I really ought to, like taxes, cos it has been a couple of years now, and the man is starting to bark at me.

I was surprised to see the Motel parking lot empty at 7am. When we got back from the gig a few hours ago, the parking lot was full of big-man trucks and I had to park between a couple of huge pick-ups. I felt very industrial and modern. People really get up that early hey? WILD.

I HAD A DREAM THAT MY DAD ORDERED 2 HUGE TRAINS  (I hate that stupid caps lock thing) full of concrete to fix the back alley and pathway. It was totally unnecessary and going to cost $10 000. I had no idea how to stop the trains and had no idea how to pay for it, cos he was unable to get out of bed. He just ordered horrible things over the phone by his bed. Totally out of control. Kinda sad that this is the kinda junk buried in my mind. I wish I could dream about stuff like one of the two times it was just my Dad and I walking around through the woods by the river.  He said “hey look, there is a bear in a cave!” I looked over and it was my Mom in an outhouse, smiling and waving. Uncle Eddy’s outhouse had no door.

Where did we leave off……………….oh ya, my shopping spree at the Mountain Equipment Co-op. We just looked through their catalogue again here in the truck. You wouldn’t believe how much luggage I have now, and I fit it all into the back of this truck. I don’t think that anyone else believed that it all would fit. Perhaps I am a jerk for hogging so much space again. Oh well. I now have one bag just full of different soups from around the world.

Ok, backtrack……March 25 2005, Good Friday, Holiest day of the year, next to Easter Sunday, in my opinion….we drove 580 kms from Airdrie Alberta to North Battleford Saskatchewan to play the Golden Eagle Casino. The hotel had huge waterslides, as many big Sask hotels do, but I spent the time with headphones on, working up the drum mix for Long-Haired Funky Friends of Jesus. The Hotel was totally full of Natives, which I dig, cos they are always so friendly.

The gig was a smoke-fest. We are not used to all the smoke these days. The place was packed. Looked to me like a huge bingo hall with people right to the back. Everyone went nuts, it was awesome.

Scott, Ra and I went for a walk across the street to the mall that day. It was Smitty’s birthday and we were looking for fun presents to have at a little party for him. Ra and Smitty are always quite generous with each other, which is so cool, and Scott is a master gift giver as well. At the first store, Scott found a DVD of the movie Open Plain. Smitty had tried to watch Ra’s copy of that movie on his computer and for whatever reason, it wouldn’t play past half way. Ra found movies and books, Frankie found Peter Seller’s The Party, and I found a stack of fine chocolates, or at least the best ones I could find, which I figured were quite fine indeed. Mike went out and got a big cake, which was delivered to Smitty onstage along with a bottle of champagne, which he shared with the crowd.

Smitty actually watched the cowboy movie at night, which would freak me out. I have to watch really funny stuff at night, if anything at all, and no ghost stuff.

All this stuff may have happened the next day, 145kms away in Lloydminster. Yes in fact it did. March 26 2005, There was some controversy whether to put Smitty’s guitar cabinet backstage at the Golden Eagle Casino, because we are all using in-ear monitors now anyway, but we figured that it is good to have the guitar speakers onstage anyway, so we are not all sterile-sounding, with no air movement. You can feel the guitar and bass on your feet if you still use the big cabinets, which is nice. There was all Native art backstage there, and great sandwiches.

Some guys came backstage after the show and one told me that Streetheart had kicked him out of their dressing room. I thought that was unlike them and asked him what he did to bring that on. He said that he lit-up a reefer and they kicked him out. Imagine that! A detail of the story that he missed. I can think of only one time when someone sparked up a rocket backstage at one of our shows, and yes he was also ejected. Nobody needs management on their alert about that. Also, nobody in this band or crew smokes grass. In the past, we have had lots of pot smokers in the crew, guys would burn a log here or there, but I don’t think I know any musicians who woft a fattie these days, other than jazz guys (of course) and some local guys at home. Makes you lazy, or so I hear. Also could turn you into a jazz guy. Either way, you get a chance to use some new beatnik terminology.

Lloydminster was where Smitty’s birthday party was, and we stayed around the venue quite late that night. Sure nice people there. I don’t think that I ever get to sleep before 4am these days, and then get up at 9 or 10. I used to sleep waaaaaaaaaaaaay more than I do these days. Dunno.

245km drive to Edmonton, for a day off. Actually it wasn’t a day off because Dr. Brad Basaraba hired us to perform at his promotional party for his new private chiropractor office. He gave away a ton of tickets to potential clients, assured use of a night club, and our crew set the stage up. The venue was called the Starlight Room. WOW is Edmonton set for awesome venues. This one has a total art deco brick face, a gorgeous 1925 building, originally a Salvation Army, then a church, hence the sloped wooden dance floor. Extremely cool building. Great staircases, backstage passages, big stage, big open room, great sound. I would LOVE to go hear a group there. Man, did we make friends that night.

Scott, Frankie and I accepted an invitation to join Dr. Brad Basaraba and his family for Easter Dinner at the Edmonton Petroleum club. This is the same person I had mentioned earlier, ex-college football player, Clark Kent look, and up to this point quite serious. Hard to get him to laugh. I didn’t really quite get what he all about at first. He is serious, cos he is a doctor, and he in fact is quite a gas to hang out with, and yes you can get him laughing.

So Scott, Frankie and I drove about 20 minutes to a private rich person’s club for dinner. There were families all dressed up, with kids in suits and ties. We didn’t exactly bring formal wear on this road trip. I often consider us to be quite regular conservative people, but these situations always remind me that we are rockers, and in this case we looked like rockers, despite my best Jesus pants and yellow long-sleeve shirt. In fact we were starting to feel a bit out-of-place, until the front reception girls showed that they were delighted to have us aboard, and the waitress got us laughing like the fools that we are. We realize that this is a special thing for these proper families, and we don’t want to spoil it for them in any way, you know, show them some respect, so we behaved. Well, Scott dumped my glass of water all over my Jesus outfit, and the Mexican fabric is see-through when it gets wet, cos it is light cotton and dries in the sun quickly, but who’s looking, right?

These people at the Petroleum Club all own professional sports teams, run law firms and stuff. Some of these cats are very rich, or so I hear. We held down our regular ridiculous behavior out of respect for the fact that it is their club, and also it is Easter.

The food was all set up: a table covered in high-end fancy deserts, and another long one with roasts, turkey, Halibut, baked and steamed veggies, and every salad you would ever want. No Miso soup, but what yu gonna do? We waited for a while for Doctor Brad and his entourage to show up, and Scott figured that we should go ahead and start to eat NOW, so we can also go to the hotel and get a nap before the show, which was actually a really good idea. Loaded up on this amazing yam salad, and turkey dinner (no, I am not a vegetarian, if you can’t have turkey, you are just waaaay too serious).

Dr. Brad arrived with his family and some friends, set half of them up at another table. He was a bit nervous about the show, detail, and also about the private practice he was having set up, drywall and stuff. He was happy that we had dug into the growlies, and we all had a great time telling little stories and having a laugh. IT was the BEST meal of the tour, way too much food of course. I was really glad that we attended. I figure that any eccentric doctor who invited a rock band to his old-boys club can’t be all bad. We get invited to a lot of nice things, and it was wonderful to actually have the time to attend one. Dr. Brad is cool.

So it turns out that we were not out of place with that crowd in the end, despite our earlier peaking out of the awkward meter. . Corporate folks love rock and rollers, and we were kinda-like special guests in that way. We left early, went to the venue for Frankie to check his drums (he is obsessed,) back to the hotel where I fell into the deepest sleep of the year. I can’t believe that I actually managed to wake up at all.

I really wanted the gig to be a smash, well, we all did, cos we were warming up to Dr. Brad, who had set his chiropractor table up for us backstage at a couple of shows previously, and was become a bit of a favorite guy with us. We all want him to do well, of course.

Photo by Steve Barr

Turns out, the venue was totally packed, and the place was definitely ready for a show. There were 3 skeletons set up on the stage, and it was a party, not a concert, and we had agreed to treat it as such, so we played about twice as long as normally do. There was an entourage of ladies with silver glittery Trooper T-shirts who sang back-up vocals, and we had a great jam session that included several Doobie Brother’s songs. Scott and Ra sang Sweet Caroline and I sang Billy Jean with our lighting guy, Dave Hampshire on drums. What a gas. By the end of the night, I had 3 girls with me singing into my mike. They all had wild tattoos. One girl had total chest tattoos, and the girls were pushing theirs boobs up onto each other. Wild stuff, if you don’t see that all the time, and I don’t either, actually. Really nice people, totally fun.

The vibe at that gig was right through the roof. 96 beer got opened backstage. Everyone there was your best friend. The security guys were so cool, total arm tattoo guys that would normally intimidate people in bank line-ups, unintentionally. You gotta hand it to Dr. Brad for hosting such a great evening. He got up and sang a tune and everyone had hugs for everyone. This is the total flip-side of the theatre gig. This is a total party. I sure wish that some of my friends back home could see this type of event, so they know the spectrum of what it is that we do out here on the road.

Ok, 160kms drive to Rimbey Alberta. Lots of short drives, which is unusual for a Western Tour. Ra printed out the CBC top 50 songs, we were all happy to see Raise A Little Hell on it, and Ra played some of the ones that I didn’t know on his Powerbook. I made a little list of songs that I feel should have been included, for fun. These are my essential Canadian songs that were not on the list:

  • After The Goldrush ………. Neil Young
  • If You Could Read My Mind ………. Lightfoot
  • All We Are ………. Kim Mitchell
  • Wild Eyes ………. Stampeders
  • Fly At Night ………. Chilliwack
  • I Just Wanna Stop ………. Gino Vinelli
  • I Did It My Way ………. Paul Anka

I left my soy milk, huge chunk of tofu, orange juice and some hot and sour soup in a hotel fridge, which bummed me out a bit. Scott said that you can be happy all the time. He read a few more books, one really good one about vibrating at a higher frequency all the time. Scott said that what you FEEL matters, not what you think, and the yearning focuses on the negative. Being generous is good if it makes you FEEL good, and therefore vibrate at a higher frequency.

In fact, you can even be a jerk and have the universe go your way, if you FEEL good about everything. This is a breakthrough concept for me, and explains several people that I know, who are total pricks, yet never have karma bite their asses off.

I hope that the person who cleaned out the hotel room fridge didn’t throw out the snacks, and had a decent one dish meal out of it. I hate to see good food wasted. I wonder what became of the leftovers from that big fancy club Dr. Brad dinner. There was a ton of gourmet food there. He got some wrapped up for us to go as well, which was very thoughtful, including some more yam salad.

HEY! We just stopped at a doughnut shop, and Smitty is here with dough gods for everyone. I just talked to Tracy for a couple of hours and she is having fun planting more grass on Protection Island. She has to sift a lot of soil to do this. Morgan, our total gay friend is visiting, and he like to help out with the landscaping, so I asked if she was taking the fairy on the ferry, which I thought was really stupid, but she thought was really funny. Silly girl.

We talk about house design a lot, when I am not being super funny (apparently), and I have some decent drawings to show her now. She says that she also has a design, but she hasn’t drawn it out. Oh oh.

So we were to stay in a resort at the next gig, but changed to a different hotel cos it wasn’t so groovy, so we stayed at the Raccoon Lodge, which had no raccoons cos they are bad. Tracy thought that was funny too. I may be funnier than I think, or perhaps I just have a good audience.

For some reason I thought I would be swimming in this lake, because this is a famous resort town (Sylvan Lake), seriously, that was my big plan. I guess I didn’t notice that everything is still frozen, including this huge lake. There was a truck way out there, and Smitty saw people jump skidoos, but I didn’t see any of that because I decided that it would be healthy to get some sleep. I could hear the ATVs outside buzzing around. I went to a grocery store for more crazy soups, worked on audio mixes in the hotel. Flipped around TV channels.

We were there for 2 nights, and the first morning I was raunched out by construction guys renovating rooms downstairs. This was a 3-story motel, and the sound traveled quite well. I heard every song on their radio, including Wheels in The Sky Keep On Turning and Cuts Like a Knife.

I am sure that these are delightful recordings, but I would prefer to hear them at my leisure, and not at 9am with a saw going wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee over top of it when I am trying to get some damn sleep. So, I phoned the hotel front desk to ask when they are going to take a break. I was told “I informed the gentleman who booked the rooms about the renovations.”  So, I responded, “So it’s HIS fault then? The guy who booked the rooms? Don’t you think it would be nice to put up a sign or in some way warn guests about this type of thing?” I thought I was being a jerk, cos you can now, you know, according to Scott’s book, and still have the universe go your way.

Scott said that I was way too polite.

So we were asked to stay for one more night at that gig, and couldn’t cos guys gotta get home for what short time off that we have, so Scott and I changed rooms anyway, to a big suite with a kitchen, so I could make soup on the stove, rather than microwave. We had 2 TVs in separate rooms, and Frankie next door had by far the loudest of the 3 TVs.

Scott arranged the room change as a trade off for the rights to watch golf all day.

This gig (Rimbey Alberta, March 28-29 2005), had the best egg salad sandwiched that Ra has ever had, which is saying a lot, cos that is his thing, you know. There were some nice smelly candles backstage that I took with me, in case the manager is wondering, and the place sold out for 2 nights.

Old, old hotel, rooms starting at $19.99. We didn’t stay there, (thank you LORD) but got some nice memories of the ‘80s by hanging out upstairs in the hotel room that served as a backstage. The sandwiches were all individually wrapped and labeled, which I thought was really excellent, genius in fact. Makes for an excellent gig. Great audience, super enthusiastic. Some pretty raunchy girls at the T-Shirt booth, kinda bossy, no big deal, but funny how different towns have their own character. Some really nice quiet people as well, of course, and a cool back-up band, some great gang photos taken.

Should I wrap this up? Smitty and Frankie are eating the crazy doughnuts, Scott is reading his book about how to be a spiritually excellent jerk (if it FEELS good), Frankie is reading a similar one, I am running low on notes scribbled with my pencil, dulled from house design. Ra knows how to sharpen a pencil with a knife, but I don’t know if anyone has one. Ra’s dad was an artist who never used a conventional pencil sharpener.

You know, this tour zipped by, so says everyone. No chamber maids woke me up at crazy hours, which is nice, and I didn’t jog even once. In fact, this is the least exercise I have gotten in years. Years! Ra says that I should roll over once in a while, or get Scott to help me, so that I don’t get bed sores.

This tour’s also had the most free hotel breakfasts that I have ever seen. Quite often we wake up and check out after they have shut down, and the nice front desk lady opens it up again for us. One hotel had all band and crew cooking waffles into the afternoon. Great hotel breakfast parties. I love it. Great rock and roll moments, like when everyone is in one public washroom. Only on the road.

This tour also had the most tattoos that I have ever seen on ladies, ever. Into Saskatchewan it was wild! Also the most boob (bra) signing per capita that I have ever been a part of. Sometimes a girl’s bare chest had such wild tattoo action that the band signatures didn’t really stick out like they normally do.  And no butt signing to write about. I am not a boob man, at all, really, but gimme a good butt to sign any day.

Some people get so shy about getting their butts signed, but are totally into signing their boobs. Why? Figure that one out if you will. Good rock and roll mind test.

We got to phone our ex-road manager Mike Pacholuk a couple of times from backstage and all get to have a few laughs with him. We all miss Mike of course. He is doing really well.

New Mike is really good as well, excellent soundman, and total master technician. He rebuilt 4 PAs on this tour, not that that is his job, but it sure makes us sound good.

Scott is saying that he has had dreams where he dies, and now he is asking Frankie about his will. Wow, slow down guys! I never think about that shite. Scott wants to take the titanium out of Frankie’s face and make a golf club out of it. All Scott wants to do is watch golf on TV, most exciting thing he has ever seen. Frankie has so much metal in his body that he makes the detectors go off at the airport.

I should make a will, or so my Mom says. She thinks about that shite a lot because she is an organist that plays at a lot of church funerals. She is also the queen of the funeral deli tray and always brings all the sandwiches back home. Big surprise that my parents are both musician food freaks hey.

Scott died his hair yellow on this tour, then black, and then something that looks like gray hair. He likes the grey one, hated the others, didn’t want to scare his daughter. I think I am going grey, or hopefully white, like my dad, so I can be Santa someday.

It went from way freezing for the bulk of the tour, to plus 5 recently, and now we are in the truck, hitting BC, and it is suddenly 11 degrees again. YAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Snow is gone. I don’t see much of the Rockies this time, cos I am typing out this babble.

I will turn this computer off, and predict that :

1) Scott and I WILL catch the 9pm ferry
2) Tracy’s house design is the same as mine
3) Frankie will stop for ONE more Dairy Queen rampage
4) Heather will make it all the way through this report and post it someday with corrections……
5) I will have 3 big cups of peach tea on the ferry
6) I will plant ivy behind the rock wall and burn myself out on physical labour tomorrow, get my taxes done, computer fixed, mountain taxes paid, Pierre to record on the 3 songs I just edited, get a motor on the Zodiac…………

So, thank you to all who attended these shows, all 10 000kms worth of shows. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of white and yellow lines painted on blacktop. Is it all worth it? To drive around like this and have so much fun?

Photo by Brian Smith

Ya.

Hope to see everyone else over the summer.

Life is grand, and I think my dandruff has gone away………

Love Gogo

———————————–
P.S. What Frankie ate on the ride back home:

(1) Muffin
(1) Coffee
(1) Blueberry bagel (buttered)
(3) croissants deep glazed
(1) Cheeseburger
(1) Onion Rings
(1) Large Coke
(1) creamy turkey soup
(1) brownie
(1) blueberry fritter
(1) coffee
———————————–

BC, AB and SK

Monday, March 28th, 2005

March 17.2005…Grande Prairie is a serious town, I find. I have opportunity to clown with strangers all the time, and Grand Prairie provided no such opportunity. In Calgary, I walked along the street downtown next to a guy who commented on my hat, I told him that my Dad was a hat collector, and we both laughed and laughed. I like laughing with people I have never met. I got to hang out after the gig at Grande Prairie, meet some cool cats and I stayed until I got some good laughs out of them. I think this is the financial hub of the north Prairie scene, and people are there to work, and that is serious stuff.

Best, cleanest, warmest swimming pool of the year at the hotel. No shitty music, no ugly décor, no screaming people, no scum. That pool was worth the trip in itself.

In fact, nobody has cheesed-me-off on this whole tour. Everyone has been really nice. I don’t know if this is too gross to talk about, but I got really bad dandruff over the later part of the winter, and NIZEROL shampoo didn’t work, so I went to a drug store and got some heavy duty tar shampoo. You could fix yer roof with this stuff. It is so dry here, that lord knows how long it will take to work. I will keep you posted on this. YAY! GREAT!

455km drive to Edmonton. Not sleeping a whole lot on this tour. Thinking about house design a lot. I start small, and the thing just gets grander with each feature, until it is huge, and I start thinking small again. I am thinking of what components to use from my ill-fated Gogo Mountain house to build the Protection Island place. Perhaps, or not. This takes a great deal of planning and drawing. My family politics stomped my mountain house concept into the history books. That is why I don’t live in the house that I built, and that is why I bought the Protection Island place. I put 5-years and tens of thousands of $ into a beautiful custom post and beam home and never did get to stay even one night in it. Sad but true.

I have to consider the expense of disassembling that house to remove the lumber in order to start building again. Or not. Meanwhile Tracy and I are living in a 20’ by 20’ studio. Oh to have such problems. The good news is that we are having a good time, and I may have a knack for residential architecture. I have always been a design freak. I have drawn cabin and house designs as long as I can remember. So, this is taking a great deal of my limited mind space of this trip.

Edmonton was cooooooooooooooooold. We went to the venue (REDS in the West Edmonton Mall), had a fun soundcheck, ordered a salad, veggie burger, and I slipped off to the Chinese grocery store. The PING PING music was really loud this time, and I bought bags of powdered Miso soup to add with boiling water in the van on the long drives.

I had plans to buy a new HONDA 2hp 4-stroke outboard for the Zodiac boat on this trip, but decided to relax a bit rather than run all around town talking about such lovely stuff. Lots of time for that. Sleep is good too. Scott tells me that I left some sushi ingredients and miso soup stuff in his truck after the Vancouver gig, and that is also a happy thought. I had thought I lost that, or ate it or something. I only want happy stuff.

There was a manager of a country singer at the Edmonton soundcheck who suggested that the artist sing a Trooper song for Ra. Ra asked the dude (big boy in beautiful black suit and acoustic guitar), to play it with us at soundcheck (The Last of the Gypsies) and then asked the man to perform it with us at the show. It was our largest attendance to date, and the song went really well. Steve Kay has the smoothest voice in country music and has a brilliant career ahead of him, I am sure. I am a fan already.

There was a huge metal barricade being set up in front of the stage when we were soundchecking, and Ra politely asked if it could be disassembled again and put back in storage. Glass Tiger requested it for their show, (as I am told), and there is a bylaw against crowd surfing in Edmonton, so Ra asked the crowd to relax on the surfing, and people were once again able to get right up to the stage. That is much more fun for us. One cute young blonde girl banged an empty beer bottle on the stage vaguely in time with the music until her friend took it away from her. She found another one, and I was amazed that she didn’t break the bottle. I have had wine bottles explode in my suitcase with very little persuasion. Her skinny little arm was just pounding the thing. I thought there was going to be a bad accident. She nailed the stage hundreds of times, and the bottle never broke. Amazing. Wild crowd. Everywhere you look there is something interesting going on.

The opening act was fun, all covers, with a girl singer and a girl keyboard player. They were dressed semi-goth, and I wanted to tell them to be more insane, but never did. It was loud when I chatted with them, and they were so nice. I asked the name of the band, and the singer said SIN. I thought she said SING, and raved about what a wonderful name! Like YES, a real joyous name. I don’t like SIN at all, really. Talk about me not knowing what I am talking about.

My bass-playing friend Jolene was at the gig and she updated me on her rock and roll stuff, and about breaking up with her guitar man. There was a bit of a mad house scene at the T-shirt booth, being that it was our strongest Edmonton gig ever (so says the manager of the venue) and I got away for long enough to hear this gal’s stories backstage when it was quiet for a few moments.

So what is with me hanging out with all these girls on this tour? Poor souls have to hear my boat engine, house design, miso soup talk. I hang out with girls at home as well. I do have male friends, tons in fact, but spend most time with artsy dudes, be they in construction or whatever. I want to hear about production of original works no matter what the medium. What I don’t enjoy is hanging out with guys listening to big man bragging and macho innuendo crap. Like I am expected to compete. “Ya, I lifted a heavy thing, oh ya, I make big $, oh you need a big boat engine, big this, big that.”

That is probably why I have always enjoyed hanging out with girls. They generally don’t talk like they have a bunch of BS to prove. Girls are also more caring, I find, and usually have a gentler approach to life. I also think that they are generally smarted than boys, or at least more sensible.

I don’t have anything to prove, you know. I wanna have fun now, want insightful chatter, and I manage to live that way. The only thing that I can’t stand is when Tracy’s friends drop by and all talk at the same time when I am recording. It is like being in a bird cage.

There are some girls that bug me too, of course. Some girls demand so much attention and act like I am expected to be one of the guys competing. Example: I did tons and tons of gigs in the old days where there were always stripper girls backstage. I hate to generalize here, but many of them either acted low IQ, or were not acting at all, and I felt that their scene was more tragic than celebratory. (whew, nice snob talk there dude!) It is as if they didn’t know that chill is the key to good vibe. I wasn’t trying to get any action from them, or dope, or free housing, (unlike SOME people), just hang out like any regular person (being that they were in MY backstage room), and the conversations were always about stupid shit or sad circumstance. Like, “I told my Mom that I was a peeler, and she thinks that I peel bananas at, like, a restaurant!”

I have heard that some strippers earned university degrees and raised their kids with the $ they made, although I have never seen much of that side of it. I have a couple of ex-stripper friends these days who are great people, so what do I know, other than the ones I met on the road were crazy, into dope, and that I had an old guitar player had a fine time living off of them. Anyway…………………..

I don’t ask much of people that I meet; just to have a good vibe and be treated with the same respect that I hand out. Who would be any different than that? The Trooper band has friends these days that are girls, like Tazia in Edmonton, who is just a good vibe. A good buddy. I think it’s great. In fact, she is talking about moving to the Island, has an aunt on Protection Island and is offering to hang out and help on fun work days over there. Now that is a cool chick! It is so easy to get along in this world, and some of my macho male friends suffer loneliness due to their competitiveness.

Anyway, my new green, stage long jacket wasn’t cutting the –5c situation outside, so I had to wear the yuppy marine stuff that I brought as back up. Cold out.

240kms to Trochu. Excellent! Best deli tray of the tour. The crew was treated to soup and pie as soon as they arrived. We had a table covered in chilled prawns, all sandwich ingredients, spinach dip, and yes, apple pie. There were real security dressed-up people, including a smiling one backstage, Ra gave an interview and we goofed around in the dance studio that served as a dressing room at the community centre. If I could do it all again, you know, I would be a dancer in a dance troupe. Modern dance, like the one my big sister did when I was a kid, all dressed like purple blobs with coloured lights, trippy music, slowly rolling around on the stage passing grapes around. I thought it was the BEST psychedelic performance art I had ever seen. Just totally abstract. Years later I asked my sister and she said that the dancers were supposed to be grapes, and that the dance wasn’t really that cool. I think it was the coolest, in fact, and since when do grapes eat other grapes?

The Trochu gig was excellent, and everyone was in great spirits. Great looking crowd. I don’t know what they expect when they go see a classic rock band like this, but I just may modestly suggest that we exceed preconceptions, because everyone in the place goes nuts, and that is a very good thing for any community. What a gas!

This is because we CARE. And, we are also having as much fan as the crowd. I have seen plenty of bands that don’t care (like Gordon Lightfoot in Victoria BC, in my opinion), and I think I can tell the difference by now. If we were not having fun, we would all be doing something else. Believe me. In my lifetime, so far, I have turned down 5 different offers to go to Hawaii with bands that I didn’t like.

We are averaging 13mpg with this amazing new truck. Not very good. I didn’t know that there were vehicles like that still built. We gotta take Rick Mercer’s 1 ton challenge.

230km drive to Canmore, in the beautiful snowy Rocky Mountains for a day off, and a well-deserved one at that. We are going full out on this tour, not a lot of time wasted. This town has Vancouver-priced real estate (oh, hold that thought Dairy Queen…………….) and happy young people with skis going here and there. Scott likes cold air, leaves the hotel window open, and I freeze a bit, let him know, and this time we were beside a busy street, so there was a bit of traffic noise. No big deal other than I was editing digital audio and freezing the whole time I was there. I have a new version of The Butterfly Song, and also I am ready for Scott’s bass track on Old Ladies in Outer Space. It takes a whole lot of EQ to get everything up, and I can only listen for a couple of hours before I need a break, walk around the village and get into some spicy veggie sausage rolls.

We stayed at this Villa for 2 nights, the second being a 25km drive to Banff (famous ski town) for a sound check, dinner and gig. This time it was the crowd that exceeded my expectations. Total happy young people freak out. I think they are all rich. Or at least plenty off them. Kinda luxury town to be out going for it on a school night. Lots of girls lifting their shirts up in front of the stage. This band is so chill that we go backstage, have a laugh, a snack, a high-5 and nobody even says “Hey, what about the girl with the pierced ones?” It is all part of the scene. Hey, now I have something to brag about with my macho buddies back home about. Ya, next time I have a competitive macho conversation. Ya, not.

In my opinion (oh not that again!), the human body is a beautiful part of nature. Like a tree, or a duck on the pond. If a girl wants to flash her boobs at a rock band, that is an excellent compliment to the band. I am not just being a big pig here. If she didn’t like the band she wouldn’t do that. She would probably not even be there. A person can clap, cheer, express themselves in many ways. It’s all good. This is cultural stuff at this point, it is a rock show. Where else can this happen today? At the mall? No. Let’s live in a liberated age (as in liberty) and have a good time with it. I don’t want any arguments on this one.

Guys show their appreciation to the band as well you know. Guys have their own ways of expressing joy. One guy got up in the air some how, fell, and Ra could feel the guy’s jaw hit the stage through the vibrations. The guy got up again like nothing happened. At other gigs, guys get onstage, jump onto the crown, fall all over the place. I like this stuff as well, but you can see why I like to hang out with girls. They are less dangerous. (oh, here is the Dairy Queen for real………)

I must have told you about the girls I knew in High School who worked at the Diary Queen. That is the fattest that I ever got, just before I went on the road and lost 50 pounds in a few months. The Dairy Queen girls gave all the food away to anyone they knew, or knew people that they knew. The place actually was not making a lot of dough and the manager freaked out, (poor bastard, shoulda been there more often), but the girls never got busted. He drove up in his Corvette once and walked in right when we were being handed bags of stuff. He never figured it out. I tried all kinds of things there, different dips and stuff, and even made my own cone, and the twirl was really tricky. I have a friend who tried 5 patties on one burger. The girls would also supply bar-b-que parties. I had so many novelties once, that I had to give them away to people on the street before they all melted. After their shift, I would peddle our bikes up to the lake for a midnight swim. Fun days! (kinda like now, too!)

My favourite part of the Banff gig was the ride back to the hotel. We stopped at a train crossing and let a huge, great long train go by. The sound was so thick and dynamic. It was the most wonderful sounding train I have ever heard. I thought that the other guys would have spaced out on the train music as well, but it was just another big train. Ra says that he gets big trains at home all the time. I only get a weird 1950s single car dayliner twice a day. All horn and no rumble. Ruins some vocal takes in fact. Frankie says that he has never hopped a train. I did. Once, in North Vancouver, just to say that I did. The train hopping fit the mood of the day back then.

(mmmmmmmmmmmmm excellent Dairy Queen stop, ice cream sandwich, Frankie has a peanut buster parfait.) In this lifetime, the Dairy Queen will never break even on the damage I have caused to their books.

We stopped in to visit the family of Heather, or promotions Goddess, and I tried to get her son Corbin (the mini scientist) going on a rant, but he didn’t say quite as much funny stuff this time. He is the total-professor who usually has lots to say. Heather gave the band and crew lots of cookies and muffins, helped us out with laundry, and joined us in the drive to Airdrie (30kms outside of Calgary) for 2 show over the next 2 days. This was a smaller venue with everyone in the place up and going for it. Talk about a community freak out. Excellent.

We stayed for 3 days at the Sandman HOTEL, DOWNTOWN CALGARY. (OOPS  CAP LOCK ON). Transit is free downtown, and I saw Frankie miss a train that I was on. We all did banking, I walked to a mall, enjoyed the Devonian Indoor Gardens, and braved the freeeeezing weather outside. You had to put your hands up your sleeves. I took a chance and walked into a store called Mountain Equipment Co-Op. WOW! Blew my mind! I want EVERYTHING in that store. I spent an hour the first day and 2 hours the second day looking at everything. Wheels for a canoe, trailer for a bicycle, wet suits…………..by the end of the second day, our lighting guy Dave Hampshire joined me in an actual shopping trip. I had to wait for him while he was interviewed by CBC radio and the Province newspaper in regards to Mount Washington Ski Hill news. That is Ok. Scott and I had an upper floor corner suite to hang out in for the 3 days. We commuted from Calgary to the gigs. Dave bought lexan wine glasses (no more hotel cups for the boys) and I hope Tracy is thrilled with my selections as well. (all camping stuff).

One of my early dates with Tracy was a trip to a private spot at the Nanaimo River, where I cooked a Chinese dinner in a portable WOK over a small camp stove. We stayed in my tent, and the next day, the place was so full of people that there were yuppies pretty much leaning on my tent. Like they couldn’t go somewhere else, like 50 feet away, perhaps?

(a biker just ran across the road………)

Since then we have collected camping stuff, but mostly used and heavy cooking stuff. And, cheap Zellers crud, like an air mattress that deflates right away. I still like Zellers, cos the lowest price is the law (and the quality, perhaps.) Am I gonna get sued for saying this?

I have a vision of a totally portable camp set up. All good, strong light weight stuff. So I bought all the pots that fit together, tiny puff-up pillows, tiny tea pot, hatchet…and a couple of big rubber dry bags to put everything in. If all the stuff fits into 2 bags, and the bags fit into the Zodiac boat, we can go anywhere, any beach, cook anything and even camp out. Since the Protection Island thing has taken over our lives so much, we haven’t explored the other local Islands as much. We also have friends with boats, mostly more powerful ones, and likely will have some gang cook-outs and camp-outs this summer.

If you are around, gimme an email this summer!

Photo by Ra McGuire

This big black YUKON truck has not a whole lot of baggage space, so I end up having bags of stuff in the crew truck. I ran into an old school friend from Gabriola Island at the Co Op equipment store, and I gave him a Gabriola pamphlet that I just happened to have in with my house plans. (sadly he told me that his Mom sold their huge Gabriola place), I spent 3 days in Calgary drawing pages of house design, with each change having to change the consecutive drawings, being that it is a 3-stage construction project.

Scott laid down the bass riffs for Old Ladies In Outer Space, and I guess I should work on the final mix of that today (when we get finished this 580km drive to North Battleford Sask. We just stopped beside a super long old barn with tons of graffiti on it. Ra is out taking pictures of it.) We got enough mud under the truck to go rattatatatat under the truck for the next few kms of flat highway. It took Ra 20 minutes to clean the mud off of his shoes later.

Frankie went to Science World with Heather and Corbin (the mini scientist,) had a laugh and quite successfully got Corbin going (got him to spazz out righteously). Craig went as well, got a nice basket of fried food. Frankie got over 4g on a bike that goes in an overhead circle.

Hey, we have been invited to play at a private function (invitation only), hosted by a chiropractor who is setting up a private practice in Edmonton. This fellow has been backstage at a couple of our gigs, with a table, ready to set anyone up who needs that type of work. He is a big ex-football player, looks like Clark Kent, is inviting us to a private dinner club for dinner (Easter with his Family), and is also going to make us orthodics. I am looking forward to that! I have never been able to make him laugh, and have not quite yet figured out his trip. I like him.

At this point of the tour, every parking lot is covered in ice. Ra slipped getting out of the truck one day and went down pretty hard, which is not funny at all. Happened to me a while ago too. You gotta be so careful all the time.

First Tour of 2005

Monday, March 28th, 2005

2 shows into the year, and about 60 shows booked ahead of us…….here we go!

Photo by Ra McGuire

Scott went to Vancouver several days early to visit family and record a song with his sister. I came over by myself on the ferry, met our neighbor from 2 doors away that I really like but never visit, had 3 berry teas, saw loads of beautiful huge dimensional fir lumber leave the Island on trucks, along with a dead logging truck, and a dead Porsche car, all on big truck trailers. (as I write this, we pull over at a closed gas station/Antique store with a septic tank pumpkin on the roof, ton of junk, boxes of books,  and a little black boy screen printed to a green piece of tin, the size of a door. Scott is looking though Ra’s DVDs, ready to watch a movie.)

Anyway, I had some fresh midnight cookies from Tracy, my audio recorder, and bag of clothes on the ferry baggage service, met my old friend Andy Harding at the depot where he works doing maintenance (although in real life the dude can build ANYTHING and is massively over qualified). When I walk off of the ferry, Scott is waiting, with my recorder case and big hockey bag (he insisted on carrying my bags), we drive to Smitty’s place and play some cool guitars. Ra showed up in a  (as I write this, it is a week later and we are going rather fast over a patchy prairie road, and I may get ill looking at this screen as I write.)

Is this where I left off? The tour hasn’t even started yet! Ra drove up to Smitty’s house in a black YUKON XL cop-looking truck with tinted windows. There is some new law that prohibits up from using the huge vans with the sleeping benches, now we have the giant luxury truck with the 8-million gallon gas tank. You can go almost 900kms on one fill-up. The seats are heated, everything is button this and that. And it GOES! This thing can jump curbs (as Scott is soon to show us downtown Calgary) and is also amazing in the snow, which is nice cos we are driving into the winter freeze of it all. Best vehicle we have used yet. Amazing.

Up to Sun Peaks Village (320kms) where we eat fine food and perform for a crowd of ski hill people. The ski hills always have good-looking crowds of folks that I guess are quite wealthy. Do rich people generally marry good-looking people? Great people, great food, awesome hotel with pool that goes through a heavy plastic sheet to the outdoors, where you can see the steam of the pool dissipate.

(520kms) to the city of Prince George the next day. I have played this town many, many times over the years, and have never really had a great impression of it, being that all I would see is the raunchy rock clubs, fights and a wee bit of despair in the air. And, in earlier day completely disgusting band houses. I heard that the horrible old guy that used to hire rock bands in this town, and profit hugely from his nightclubs is now dead. I bet his hell is one of his own band houses, complete with crabs.

Photo by Ra McGuire

This time we stop at a brand new casino hotel. The TYVEK is still on the exterior walls and the parking lot unpaved, but the hotel, restaurant and new casino is full of people. Wow, do they know how to hire staff there. Everyone is young and totally magazine cover worthy. And, these cats are really nice, friendly and funny as well. One dude, security guy, hung out with us backstage for the 2 day stay-and-play, and I bet he had enough laughs to last a month.

The food was wonderful (great salads), in fact there was no limit to anything from the canteen, restaurant or breakfast buffet, any time. The chef came to us after each show and asked if there was anything special that we wished for. I got some top-notch salads this way, and I even had one wrapped up to go in the end. Great gig all around. Totally enthusiastic crowd, and casino crowds can be a little more sit-downish than others at times. This was a rock concert. Total.

I met a girl (Amber) at the T-shirt booth that I knew when I was 18, playing up North. My band was all totally starved-out, and this gal (and her 2 friends) made us a turkey dinner one day, just for fun. She dropped by (this time) in the day time and we went for a trip into town to see the pawn shops. One old guy behind a counter was upset because a 17-year-old just peed into his doorway, and some really scary looking dudes drove old trucks around the block. I would not clown with those clowns. So, I bought a couple of novels, the best one being the inspirational life story of Helen Keller.

Amber likely got a kick out my mild antics, and we made it back to the casino hotel in time for a sound check. The Trooper band had invested heavily in a new, complete set of in-ear monitors, mixing board and cases for this trip, and we had several daytime sound checks to adjust personal stage sound volume levels. The new sound system is a dream. Guaranteed perfect stage sound every show! I believe that we are all playing and singing better as result (meaning that now we can all hear each other.)

Scott, meanwhile was staying with his family at relatives home close by, and almost everyone had a flu. The kids were barfing. Scott was not quite yet in road mode. I had the hotel room to myself, so I spent a lot of time with headphones on, editing mixes of new tunes I had recorded over the winter.

(we just launched and got air time on a highway bump.)

720km drive back to the coast, this time the city of Prince Rupert BC, for a day off. Talk about a scenic drive!

Mountains. Huge. I used to do this drive with 5 band guys in a 1974 Ford Pinto in the old days. I used to play Rupert quite a bit when I was 18, and I feel a real affinity with the place. When we got into town, (this time) and checked into the best hotel in town, our gang met in the restaurant, and I went out, walked all around the streets and relived some old feelings and bridged them to the present. (Wow! Church talk!) I walked the lobby of the hotel where I used to stay, and realized that there really isn’t anyone around from that early-days era that I can share the old stories with. Amber, who I hung out with in PG was there back then, and I guess she shared the same nostalgic vibe, cos she left a beautiful fruit basket at the hotel for me, which I thought was really kind, and a great feast for the morning. Funny thing, there was absolutely no sign of any decay in any piece of the fruit. It was perfectly fresh. Quite amazing, being up North in the winter with fresh fruit from all over the world.

The next day I walked all around town again. This part of the country is famous as having some of the least sunshine on earth, (for real), but funny thing, it has always been sunny when I was there. This time, the clouds were all there, the tide was low, the cruise ship pier empty, the sky drizzly, the people friendly, happy, and I bought 4 BC Ferry jackets at the Salvation Army thrift store for $2 each. They are totally hip, and I am going to paint them up with pirate stuff, I guess.

I have made 3 templates for Jolly Rogers, bought tons of black fabric and am ready to make flags at home as well.

We went to the community theatre to sound check, and what a great modern facility! Taffy-coloured floors, seats, excellent acoustics. I love theatres, be they new or old. I LOVE  playing theatres. Every one has a good sight line, and I really play like it is a concert, not a beer bash. My childhood was spent in theatre performance situations, so I am quite comfortable with it.

The gig was all ages. Everyone was there. The front of the stage had rows of little kids, all excited, and I hoped that they would all join us, which they did, covered the stage, danced around, all sang into the mics (Scott lowered his stand and kneeled down to accommodate) and it sounded wonderful, in fact. If you were there, and you were not touched by this, then you are made of ice. Talk about bringing all generations of the community together to celebrate!

I chatted-up the stoner rocker kids after the show, and they were so nice, listened to my BS and took me quite seriously, not like I am some old buffoon that is out of touch (not that I am old, a buffoon or out of touch.)

I got a note backstage from some friends who happened to be in town, with a phone number of where to reach them. Wendy, her daughter Paige, and granddaughter Jodi. They are some of my favorite people. The dad, who is at home, is a bit of a guru to me. Talk about Mr. Relaxation. I couldn’t believe this guy when I met him. Like NOTHING bothers him. This is Tracy’s extended family, and they now live in the Queen Charlotte Islands. This 3-generation girl gang just took the 7-hour boat ride from that mysterious part of the earth to do some town shopping. They missed the wonderful theatre show, which bummed me out, but I did phone Paige, and she was able to drop by, hang out backstage, tour the theatre and BS in the hotel lobby with me until 4am.

The next day, the girl gang drove to Terrace (145kms) where we were also to perform, and they managed to attend our sound check at the local town hall (about 800 people at this show, like the last theatre one.) The new monitors were working beautifully, for me anyway, and Smitty required a million adjustments. He has EVERYTHING running into them, and I kept mine simple. Keyboards and vocals. That’s it. Everything else I catch as ambient bleed through the ear plugs, you know. (OK, we just stopped for a 6” tuna on honey oat bread…mmm).

Photo by Craig Jager

Back in the van (truck) now, Smitty said that was the slowest Subway he has ever been in. They are going to shut that one down for a couple of hours, because they are running out of food. They had to cut all the vegetables as they went, the garbage cans are all full, and ants are getting in.

Terrace. Right. Frankie told the story about the guy he saw in Rupert at the laundromat who looked exactly like Chris Farly, and had to crawl across the dryers to get stuff working. Frankie was howling. I saw Frankie on the street there and he had 3 big bags of laundry. I have some used shirts, socks, gaunch. That is it. Frankie perspires so much onstage. He is soaked 2 songs into the night. Poor Scott has to put his arm around him to do the bow at the end. If I bump into Frankie onstage, I have to rub the sweat off on Smitty’s shirt.

The Terrace gig was a total town-hall smash. I would love to go to a show like that; you know, a full-out rock freak out in a small town.

Smitty always asks the band if we could not hang out at the venue too late after the gig when there is a long drive the next day, but nobody ever listens.

More hotel audio mixing. We had a 7am leave, and 980kms to drive the next day to Dawson Creek B.C. (which we did in 10 hours). This truck is wild. People slow down in front of us, likely thinking that we are the cops. This is the town where I met Ra and Smitty in 1985. I went backstage and sang a Simon and Garfunkle song with Ra. We became friends right away.

135 kms the next day to Grande Prairie. Both towns I used to play when I was a teenager, both still excellent rock and roll show towns. We played like monsters, I believe. These were my best keyboard solos, to my taste. Total improv, lots of pounding.

Frankie asked Ra to play some 1980s pop songs in the van for the drives. Ra also had some ‘70s disco, which is always fun. Frankie is the KING of the ‘80s. It took me a while to figure this out, but he knows every ‘80s song, and loves every moment of it. Kinda neat. I am a ‘70s God, I guess. My Mom still thinks that it is the ‘30s. I had a piano teacher once who was trapped in the 17th century. I try to live in the moment, you know, and use that as an excuse for never knowing what day it is.

Photo by Brian Smith

At some point, Scott, Frankie and I watched the movie Open Plain which has the best gun fight ever. I have never seen or heard anything like it, and it quite freaked me out. For the next week I was concerned that I too would get shot, and kept the curtains closed in the hotel rooms. I also didn’t want to have my back to a lot of people, which is difficult because we are dealing with thousands of people. I really doubt if anyone really wants to shoot me these days, (I hope) because the people I have met are all quite nice. No fun being paranoid, nonetheless. (Smitty just stopped at THE LAST SPIKE…GOTTA GET OUT…) Ok, in 1885 the nebulous dream of a ribbon of steel nearly 3000 miles became a reality…………………..

Also at some point, Smitty hit the brakes hard, and an entire serving of noodles hit the floor of the truck…………

February 25-26, 2005 – BC

Monday, March 28th, 2005

NEXT GIG FEBRUARY 25 2005

Scott and I (with our new lightman Dave Hampshire, drummer) played some fun cover gig$ at pubs and ski hill parties over the winter, which meant learning a ton of songs, (like 48 in 2 days) and getting to sing some stuff that I always loved. Scott and I split the night; he sings one, I sing one. His Tom Jones songs are a gas, and my Doobie Brothers and Billy Jean are a riot, and wildly out-of-character. A lot of work for me playing all of the solos, midrange sounds and singing, 3 sets a night. Fun though! The band is called MEGALICIOUS. We laugh all the way to the grocery store.

So, the next Trooper gig is an event. Great to see everyone, and a company called FM systems is there with a set of in-ear monitors for us to try. The idea is that we wouldn’t have conventional stage monitoring blasting away all night with a guy we have never met controlling the mix. With the in-ears, each guy in the band gets a separate mix on a new, portable fancy mixing board that we take with us, and the mix stays the same every night, and instead of speakers, we have a radio transmitter that beams the signal to a battery pack that we wear, and little tubes that go into our ears, like high-tech hearing aids. So, I have whatever I want mixed into my ears, and a little box on my hip with a volume control, so it will NEVER be any louder than I want it. It also has a limiter built in, so that is guaranteed. I like quiet stage sound, and have worn ear plugs at every gig I have ever played.

The in-ear monitors are like having the guys sing right in your head. You can hear EVERYTHING, and that is quite liberating. It is like being in the studio, onstage. I will likely be a little more conscientious of what I play. Naaaaaaaaaaaa.

Scott bought and updated an ISUZU TROOPER truck, and we fit my keyboard, his huge bass rig and ourselves into it and hit the ferry to Vancouver. Tracy came along and had to take a bus into town, until we dumped our gear at the gig and made a little more room. I figured that this gig would be really neat, because it was a corporate event at the Sheraton Landmark Hotel on Robson Street in Vancouver, which is the tallest building around, and I have walked by it many, many times when I lived in Vancouver. Always wondered what that huge hotel was all about. I figured that we would stay there this time as well, which would be neat.

Scott and I dumped our equipment at the underground parking lot around the back ally, and checked into the huge tall hotel. There was one old grumpy beard-head guy checking people in, and the place had a really bad early ‘70s design, and not much evidence of upkeep to the finishing since. There was a high end retail Buddha shop in the lobby, swarms of Asian tourists, and I was surprised that such a grand hotel was not kept in better condition. It wasn’t a dump, it just wasn’t as pristine as it could be, like if someone rubbed out a corner of a wall with a wagon, and the drywall got broken, nobody cared to fix it, and the stairways were dirty as hell. These details all add up to a sloppy effect, but I don’t think these cats are concerned, because the building itself is so cool, and the location so prime, that they could hang a dead moose in the lobby and it’d still be a hit hotel.

Our rooms were on the 40th floor, right underneath the revolving restaurant. We got the primo rooms, 2 stories, spiral staircase, 2 bedrooms, 2 cans, living room, dining room, bar, and sliding glass door to a balcony that looked DOWN onto the other highrises, and on towards the sea. Our room was The Mountain Vista, and the other guys had rooms on the same floor, facing different directions; The Sea Visa, and the likes. The views were crazy. Amazing. Stunning. I mean what is the Empire State Building? 84 floors or something, this is halfway, and to scale with the surroundings, the effect is quite the same.

I always use the stairways in hotels, going down anyway, and I got quite dizzy on this one. Tracy and I tried to walk down the stairs from the top of the Empire State Building once, but a security guy said, “You can’t do that!”

Why not, hey?

Man, I would love to redecorate that hotel room. It was all bad ‘70s furniture and non-colours. If I had known what a cool pad we had, I would have brought a gang from the Island to stay with us. I called up Randall Frew, my old roommate and guitar player, but he couldn’t make it in, and our friend Morgan did drop by for the show and a hang out. Morgan used to live in Nanaimo and he helped tons with the initial landscaping on Protection Island when we were pulling out the silly smaller trees and big old rocks. He is really strong for a skinny guy, and totally openly gay, which is funny cos I can ask Tracy if he was hitting on her and stuff. Morgan has a gas hanging out, loved the show.

The gig was an event for some general tire sales deal, or something. Really nice people from around the country. There were only about 200 people there, in a room having dinner, and we thought that we were going to kill them, but they all stuck around and went suitably crazy. I also found an Asian grocery store close by, so I loaded up on more Sushi-making stuff, and the entire experience was excellent.

Tracy was going to take the bus back to the Island the next day. I think she was worried because our silly cat at home ate a bird and was feeling down in the dumps for a few days, and she was worried about him. I convinced her that our gig in the town of Chilliwack would be fun too. So I drove Scott’s TROOPER the hour or so into the lower mainland BC, almost checked into the wrong hotel, found the right one, walked around a mall, had a burrito, a nap, and went to a totally sold-out night club gig. From what I was told, and from what I saw, there could have been several shows sold out at this place.

I recognized this club as one I had played years ago with a singer who got so mad at a guy with a video camera, that he stopped the band and yelled at the guy over the mic. He used foul language and the guy ran away.

This time, there were plenty of excellent friends backstage (Hi Kevin Cahoon), a few snacks, and a girl went crazy when I was onstage trying to get my attention. I think it was a girl I know long ago, who was considerably younger than myself, and now looks way old. She was, and is still quite insane, and not all in a good way. Up, Down. Freaky. She was modeling when I knew her, and could still do so if the product advertised was for donations for a used clothing charity or something. I just wish some people would take better care of themselves, be happy and not waste life being undiagnosed. It is sad really, freaks me out. I still care, and I used to care a LOT about her, and am happy that I distanced myself when I did. Poor girl.

So the gig was smash. Total smash, Scott, Tracy-Lyn and I drove back onto the ferry, back home, where our sad cat still had an old bird stuck in his bum. We got him some cat laxative, and he is fine now. The smallest tube of cat laxative is quite huge, and he only needed a little tiny bit on some tuna. I guess I have a lifetime supply of cat laxative if anyone ever needs any.

I hired a friend with a motor boat to transfer several dozen buckets of Navy Jack to Protection, had some mondo work days, and am over halfway through the rock wall process. There are about 10 steps to getting the supplies over there, and some days I have to pull water from the duck pond. It is not a cut-to-fit rock-deliver-to-the-site kind of scene. Lucky for me, I have always been fascinated with stone masonry, and am really digging it.

We had a record sunny period in February, so warm, and I canoed into some amazing sunsets, made new friends and generally had a splendid, beautiful winter. (We just stopped for Ra to take a picture of a totally hillbilly house yard, and now we need a gas station for a can break………………..)

January and February – Back Home

Monday, March 28th, 2005

MORE GULF ISLAND BABBLE

The locals on P.I. are starting to see me as a fanatic, work-wise, which is kinda sweet. I will have them all over for bar-b-ques this summer, just like last summer, I say. Most people who live on the Island work real jobs, commute to town, go back to the Island and take the rest of the day to socialize. They do important work to their homes, when they have time for such things, and rich people hire other locals to do fiddly stuff like build rock walls. I guess Tracy-Lyn and I are different because we do nothing but fiddly stuff lately, but I guess we don’t live there yet, so I just ruined whatever statistic I was trying to create.

We are what is known as weekenders.

What people value on small Islands is TIME. Life is not to be in a hurry. You would never guess that by how fast some people drive their boats, but once they get to the dock, you can chat until there is nothing left to chat about. Restaurateurs chat with social workers, chat with mill workers, chat with ex-professors, chat with quilters.

There is a rate payers association on the Island who puts out a survey every 3 years. I got 6 pages of questions this year, and had so much fun with it that I laughed for about 3 days. There were questions about street lighting, dock condition, what are your wishes for the Island….and I got totally honest, at the risk of offending the lazy bastard who has a really messy yard. It is a good thing that I get a kick out of Gulf Island politics, or this stuff would be really boring.

I will take a few pictures of the rock wall and post them here soon. My IMAC went insane over the winter, and I can barely send EMAILS, let alone edit video. None of my software works anymore. Gotta get that shit fixed.

December 30-31, 2004 – Edmonton and Saskatoon

Monday, March 28th, 2005

OK, 2 days later here, wow the Prince George hotel was a bulimics dream. We’ll get to that.

NEW YEARS NOTES DECODED

I think that my old green photocopied rooming list is getting toward the New Years scribbles: Edmonton 5:50 grumpy / Talk with Ra about Dads and UFOs / Laugh with Frankie / luxury hotel / sleep.

I have to start packing a day early, because I seem to have a problem with getting ready to go. You would think that by now I would have that much together. My dad was even worse. He couldn’t pack a suitcase without freaking out. He couldn’t get dressed for a gig without freaking out. He would be the perfect gentleman at the gig, minus the foul language and big burps in the mic. No wonder why he would forget his Santa Suit. Saved him one freak out. You gotta hand it to a guy who can still be the most excellent Santa in his regular old ex-logger street clothes.

Lately, I have tried to get all my regular life stuff together and organized at least a day early so I don’t waste a good spazz on paperwork or driving around town.  (As I write this, in the black YUKON, on route to Prince Rupert BC, Frankie is telling us about the photos he has of his old ‘80s Mohawks and airplane glue hairdos. He says, “I remember Mom driving me to school and I had to keep my head sideways cos there was not enough clearance in the car”)

So I guess I woke up early for the ferry, picked up Scott, grumped at him for a while, had herbal teas on the ferry, got to the airport and told Ra about the UFO I saw on the side of a highway outside of Nanaimo (above some tall trees), which is a total story in itself, and then we talked about our recently deceased fathers. Ra has told me many stories about his Dad over the years and they are all great tales of motorbikes, great paintings and solid family living. Ra’s Mom and Dad used to drive him to his gigs when he was 12-years-old, and wait outside all night until he was ready to go home. They did occasionally go in to watch, but some venues were too raunchy for his Mom. His Dad also built a swimming pool out of plywood and plastic. It was wonderful until a local jerk destroyed it.

So I am sitting on the plane with Ra, laughing at Frankie. There was a colouring book on the plane and Frankie coloured a snowman and made him peeing. The hotel was a total new luxury place and I for sure needed some sleep.

Although the hotel was new and wonderful, the people at the front desk were being difficult about letting phone calls through, and Tracy was unable to get them to press the right button to connect the line to my room so we could have a chat. On our Trooper rooming list, Ra’s room has NO INCOMING CALLS printed on it, and the front desk clowns read that as NO CALLS, period for anyone. It was $1 per call to get any line out, and my attempts at getting a line out went on for quite a while. Finally Tracy and I connected. We had left on a bad note, which is very rare, and ridiculous, so it is good that I finally got through. This is also good, being that I was out-of-town on this day: her birthday. I am the only guy in the band without a cell phone at this point. I don’t think anyone else bothers with hotel phones any more. Pain in the arse they can be.

I brought out big jars of fresh winter apple sauce that Tracy made as Christmas presents, and I was not planning on bringing anything questionable through airport security, and also not planning on having 100 pounds in my backpack, and not planning on having any check-in baggage, so I don’t have to wait at the carrousel on the way back to town, and risk missing the ferry. And that is what Tracy and I argued about before I left, at about 5 am. She was nice enough to make nice presents for everyone. It is all so stupid that I don’t even want to write about it anymore. We cleared that little argument up, I noticed how dry the Edmonton winter air was and felt like I was getting a cold.

We had a gig the night before New Years, at a huge club that used to be the city morgue. We had a HUGE Ford Expedition Limo, like 3 of those big SUVs welded together, and we left for the gig with Smitty trailing behind in the lobby. How we forgot Smitty, I don’t know. The SUV Limo went back to the hotel to get him, broke down on route, and Smitty took a cab.

The crowd was HUGE, and we had the exact same model Limo in white for the drive back. (New tour manager), Mike Sutcliffe’s wife was with us for 2 days and she liked the ridiculous huge car and shared a few good laughs. We got the driver to slide around in the Safeway parking lot, and do doughnuts until I almost dropped my chocolate cake. This car was sooooooooooooooo long, that the spin around doughnuts were quite spectacular when you were in the back seat, like spinning around in a huge luxury tube.

NEW YEARS!

I traditionally am not a huge News Years guy. I find it all kinda lonely. Over the years I have lightened up on that particular hang-up. 6 am leave to Saskatoon. My cold is full-out now, and total muscle cramps, sore everywhere. –22C out, fly in a plane, drive to the hotel in a can. Get some sleep, check out the hotel pool. Certainly not as plush as the Edmonton hotel. Gross pool. Cold murky water with a big floating hairball, unfinished old concrete deck, with a happy young family in an old hot tub. Scott played some indoor ghetto-golf. Ra also tried to sleep, but was awakened by friendly staff delivering free cookies.

The ride to the gig showed up a half hour late to pick us up. We stood around in the lobby. All the furniture had been removed because the staff figured that people would wreck it all later that night. I feel that a hotel should give their paying customers more respect than that, and insure their crappy chairs, but everyone else was Ok with nowhere to sit, so whatever. There was a slinky young gal getting as much attention as she could from a swarm of guys, another girl already unable to walk by herself, escorted by a guy in his 20s, who took the opportunity to totally maul her boobs. Nice move, big man. (as I write this, Ra is playing Come on Eileen on his Powerbook in the van and Frankie is telling us how he danced with McKenzie Phillips to that song when he was on a TV show in LA. He really liked her, and now Ra is playing lots of 80s songs).

So I stood in the hotel lobby for a half hour, watching everyone walk around with their cell phones, girls getting hit on, drunk ones getting groped, and a sloppy bunch of bastards pile into a rented limo. The night was on.

Huge venue, 500 people, total scream fest. There was a trailer inside the building used as a backstage. There was so much stage fog that the HUGE building was full of smoke, and if you opened any exit, a HUGE fog of freezing wind would enter. That was fun. Mixing the fogs.

We played Auld Lang Syne in the key of A, rather than D, as I did a few years ago. I played it in D years ago, and the singer sang the low octave, Ra took the high one and it was too high! It took forever for the driver to come and get us again after the gig, so we all had fun in the trailer, and Ra and I watched an 80s metal cover band that kept the crowd going after we played. They did tons of ACDC as Ra and I leaned on the stage and nodded at each other.

Back at the hotel lobby, totally devoid of furniture, the funny gang of sloppy young men who were getting into a limo were now getting into a fight with the driver. The driver first yelled at them to “GET IN THE LIMO” then he changed his mind and yelled “GET OUT OF THE LIMO.”  As bored as I was of the lobby scene, I stuck around to see the Limo fight. The driver was a bad ass who could kick all their asses at once, if he could decide where they should all be. Instead, he just yelled at them a lot, and punched them around.

One of my fave movies was on TV back at the hotel: My Cousin Vinny and try as I may to watch it, I passed out for real and finally got some real snooze. The next day, everyone was on their cel phones in the lobby, (except for me), and we hung out with the guys from the band PRISM.

That is the end of my scribbles on the green sheet.

November – Whistler BC

Monday, March 28th, 2005

SKI HILL GIG

Both Scott and Rhonda, and Tracy and I said that the Whistler gig was the best date. This is one of the premiere ski hills in the world, so I am told, and the real estate prices would show that as fact. Lady Di used to ski there, before she became lady Die. This is rich people land, and the resort hotel fit right in. BIG lobby, tons of beams and stone work, fancy everything, great huge suite that we all share.

I am a total critic of stone work now. Once our wall is finished I will go back to being a general snob, and not so focused on masonry work.

Tracy and I drove onto the ferry, drove up the Sunshine coast highway, dumped my keyboard at the venue, and went up to the hotel room. This was new Mike’s first show, or close to it, and he had the stage equipment set up in a different order to accommodate a funny-shaped stage. We asked him to set us up in the regular fashion, so he had to change everything again, which he did. He means to improve things, which is nice, but we always insist on consistency with some things. Mike is a great guy, and we appreciate his fortitude.

Tracy and I had an indoor outdoor swim at the spa, sauna. I saw a bathing suit water extractor machine, which was a cool sign of a prosperous society, although quite useless on Protection Island. Was this the gig where Pierre Trudeau’s son was hosting an event, and a Russian violinist improvised a solo opening bit over a drum machine beat? Yes.  There were guitar amp problems at this gig, we had to do a little bit without Smitty, and Gary (lightman) stressed a bit about getting it up and running, and he got mad, again, and I believe that this was his last show with us. As much as we love the man, he left angry, which is totally out of character for this fun-loving dude. Always a Trooper brother, Gary is doing well with other stuff.

It was raining in Whistler, and the real beauty of the event for me was the excellent hotel suite, that would cost a big $ to rent, I bet. We had gourmet food as well, and as I told Tracy later, I took her on an ocean cruise (ferry ride) scenic tour (drive up the coast) luxury hotel, spa, restaurant and rock show. Am I bragging, dunno, but I DO give thanks to the LORD, and appreciate the good times.


November – Back Home

RANT ABOUT STUPID STUFF IN MY LIFE

I wrote this during one drive one day, and upon spellchecking this report, I don’t know if I should erase it or if you just wanna skip over it, cos it is kinda stupid. I never think about this stuff, and have no idea why I typed it out.

You do not want me to waste space here talking about mid ‘80s shit hole bars with ultra scummy accoms (worse than anything I have ever seen on TV) and paycheques of $20 a week, playing shitty music with selfish pricks. I am not kidding or being judgmental. You would say the same. And this is how I would make a living, (and build a synth collection) back then.

I agreed to buy a PA with my band, at huge interest rates when I was still in High School and it took many years to pay for it, even though we could have rented a PA for way less money. And then, we sold our PA to our soundman for 1/3 its purchase price and continued to rent it from him. If we had kept it, we could have rented it to Expo 86 for the entire run, and it would still be used as a house system somewhere, and I would still be making money off of it.

Ok, I said I wouldn’t get into this. Soooooooooooooooooo stupid. Even after that band broke up cos the guys “couldn’t live out of suitcases anymore,” I still made PA payments, for years. Money up the dead horse’s ass, as my Dad used to say.

My Dad, bless him, was not a financial wiz, nor was he blessed with the ability to give good advice on the topic of $. Sadly, he did a lot of self pitying when I knew him, and any serious conversations usually ended up about that. He co-signed for this PA loan disaster at the Royal Bank when I was in grade 11, and had NO income. We made payments from gig to gig until there were no more gigs, so I quit school, learned some shit rock, went up north to try to make some $ to pay for the PA. So, I never got paid, personally, for any gigs for several years. I could have been playing legions and buying fun cars and stuff. I never got a drivers license until I was 28. There was no point.

I also bought 2 dead sailboats with Royal Bank loans (speaking of bad investments), and when I finally went to my branch of The Royal Bank of Canada to apply for the Protection Island lot 2 years ago, they laughed me out of the office. They would only put a mortgage over 5 years, making the payment too high. They said that they have NO RECORD of my previous loans with them because that was “before their NEW computer system.” So, after giving them every bool-sucking cent of interest, I had built NO credit rating with them.  Hey, they (Royal Bank) also screwed up my Mom’s stuff brutally after my Dad died. Got her all freaked out. Treated her like a leper. Froze accounts that they had no business freezing, wouldn’t let her into her OWN safety deposit box unless they “went through it.” Dodie insisted on dealing with these clowns by herself, and had to listen to stories, and still do. Pain in the arse, I tell you.

I always thought safety deposit boxes were ridiculous. The bank has a key, the cops can get it. How safe is that? People are always trying to break into it, and you gotta pay for it. And, you can’t get your stuff out when your spouse dies. Guys that I know that have custom built homes usually have very secret hiding spots built in, with fire-proof safes. I don’t have much to hide anyway. A few hats and some master tapes.

I did get the little Protection Island mortgage, at the Credit Union across the street, and if they couldn’t do it, they were going to find an independent mortgage person who would. I advised my Mom to dump her Royal account like I did.

You know, I don’t believe that it is the bank, the institution itself that is a problem in itself. It is the individuals who you deal with. The Credit Union could have told me to F-off just as easily as the Royal, but the lady behind the Credit Union counter grew up in logging camps and loved the small community idea. She was cool.

I also heard that when I got my big boat mortgage at the Royal bank years ago, the lady behind the desk thought that I was a cute young man, and would have asked me out if I was a little bit older. She gave me a ridiculous loan even though I had never filed any taxes in my life, cos she LIKED me. I had handed her a list of gigs from the previous gig, typed out, signed by an agent. That was my proof that I could pay the loan back. How ‘bout I shut up about this before I get sued. No wait! There is “NO RECORD OF THIS LOAN!” (even though I paid it off with NO late payments.)

So I guess it comes down to the person who works at the institution.  Like if you walk into a welfare office in North Vancouver and tell the lady behind the desk that you gotta make your next sail boat payment, she can tell you to get a job, or she can write you a double cheque.

ENOUGH OF THE CUTE YOUNG WELFARE BUM

Whistler was one of the last gigs before Christmas, and any gig before Christma$ is a good one, of course. I have an Uncle and Aunt who have a recreational house up Whistler Mountain, so we visited them on the way down the hill and they gave us a framed poster of the band that bought the bad PA when I was still in school. Super nice of them, for sure.

They have a really nice place, can accommodate a lot of skiing friends and I bet they have a gas! They have offered for years that I can use the place, like I do with my cabins, (although this is slightly more high-end than my cabin in the woods!) Tracy loved the Greek food at the ski hill gig so much that she was still talking about it a week later. I agreed every time!

THE ROCK WALL

A bit of time off at home, Tracy and I decided to start a monumental project; the building of a 120’ long, 3’ high sandstone wall alongside the property on Protection Island. I had dug out huge sandstone rocks (with a pick axe) over the last year, sorted them onto huge piles, and Tracy had a vision of what to do with it all. “Hey, let’s build a huge rock wall!”

I can not fathom how big a project like that is, luckily, or I wouldn’t believe that it could be done. We have no running water, or electricity, (YET) so this wall would have to be built the hard way. First, I have to move the big rocks across the lot (with a rock bar) and put them on edge underneath the string line, on top of the trench that I dug (with the same pick axe), borrow a drill and electricity, drill 32 holes into the bedrock and hammer in some rebar, so the wall in anchored into the ground.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t get a hernia, or break a finger. We also canoe back and forth, and Tracy doesn’t enjoy rough water, and sometimes I canoe by myself, which is wild because I am fearless on the ocean. As safe as I play in life, wind and waves just get me more excited to get out there. You can write that on my tomb stone.

I want to balance the building of the rock wall with music recording, and life living, so I decided that I would only work on the wall every second day. I also had a HUGE pile of old tree branches to sort out, firewood to give to the nice neighbor, and that stuff takes more time than you or I would believe. If I wasn’t such a food pig, I would get in quite good shape after doing all this stuff.

In my studio I mixed one song 4 times, and rejected it each time. Hard to spend a lot of time indoors when there are so many rocks to sort and move. I also started to buy navijack (washed sand and 3/4” rock) and fill 5 gallon buckets in the Toyota, carry them down the wharf in town, load them onto Mike Becher’s boat, haul them up the ramp on the other side, wheel barrow them across Protection Island, to use as aggregate in the thick back fill wall behind the sandstone. So by the time you shovel the ingredients into a wheelbarrow to hand mix the concrete, each item has been lifted over 10 times, and transported in 3 different vehicles.

This wall is going to be a lot of work, and I insist on doing it all the hard way. It is great exercise, I tell you! I always wanted to do something like this: a rock wall in the Gulf Islands. The people are so nice there that they often help carry the full buckets up the wharf, and each one is at least 50 pounds. People respect our efforts, and our love of the Island. You would love these people too. The niceness factor is way up. People stick together.

I hauled 200 full buckets of rock and sand to the Island last year this way. I have at least that much more to haul over. Hire a truck and a barge? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

(we are driving into a snow storm in the rocky mountains right now as I read this, and the temperature is dropping FAST!)

MORE WINTER GIGS

(as I revise this, a second time, before Smitty Emails it to Heather for posting it, Scott is driving in the Prairies, dirt road with a pothole that the whole truck dives into)

According to my notes: Somehow we wound up back in Edmonton, on tour, and I get grumpy. OH THIS IS THE NEW YEARS STUFF! Ok, I will take a break here, we are going to Prince George BC today, Ra is playing GOD ONLY KNOWS by the Beach Boys on his Powerbook, Smitty is driving, Scott is passed out in the back seat, Frankie is all dressed in black talking about chocolate, (he doesn’t just talk about it, you know), this battery in getting low, will save some power for Smitty, (who just requested Django Reinhart, or what ever) and a Tylenol.

I will write about New Years tomorrow, cos I remember that quite well. We are on this west Coast driving trip right now, and I just know it is going to be amazing.  Another resort ski hotel last night, corny TV movie, huge bed, lots of bottled water, have my recorder with me to mix new SUPER GROOVY stuff during hotel down hours (and there is a lot of mixing to do!) some casino gigs coming up, maybe lose some weight, (good luck if yesterday’s restaurant is any indication.) Ok, have some herb bread here that Tracy baked, a Mexican blanket, orange juice in a little bottle, need some miso soup soon. OK back tomorrow……….wish us luck in Prince George (BC) tonight……………

Vancouver Island

Monday, March 28th, 2005

ISLAND GIGS

Where did we play on the (Vancouver) Island?

Victoria, I remember seeing Smitty in front of the drug store where I got new toothpaste. Always getting new toothpaste. Tracy and I had dinner with New Mike and a lady who Ra knows from his hometown, who was making a film. Packed show. Duncan, also a packed show, Gary, lightman got mad, quit the gig. I tried to talk to him. He was too mad.

Had lots of friends at show. Saw Mr. Chris in the audience. He squinted painfully when the big white lights came on, which was too often for my taste. I drove my own car, left it at a friend’s shop for the rest of the weekend so Tracy and I could join into the band van ride up to Campbell River.

We stayed in a really neat Chalet-type hotel with big lofts, I tried to jog but it was raining like crazy and came back right away, swam in a decent indoor pool, which is always empty until you want to use it, ate greasy pub food for a change. Packed gig, lots of girls flashing boobs, had a quiet moment backstage for a minute until everyone arrived (hey, sushi on the deli tray!) loud again, who are these loud people, Blaine Smith, Trooper Keyboard player before me was there with a couple guys, had some drinks, got a tour of the renovated upstage quarters at the venue (a huge stand-alone building, designed as a nightclub in the early ‘80s).

I have played this place a million times with a thousand groups over the years and have spent way too many nights in the run-down band quarters upstairs. It was always infested with an evil entity that bad-vibed out the poor rock musicians who had to stay there.  I shudder to think of the summer days that I wasted up there for shitty $.

The new owner, and old friend of ours, and fellow musician, now has a pad set up for himself in that space when he is in town. He also used to sit up in the band quarters, frustrated. He did an amazing job of rebuilding the place. I would never recognize it now, new cans, kitchen and luxury furnishings everywhere. The evil entity is gone. Wonderful.

I drove our expanded entourage back to the hotel and listened to the beautiful rainstorm on the roof of the chalet and the pounding ocean waves on the beach. Tracy didn’t go to the show that night. She goes with me on local dates like this, and she usually goes out the first night to say hi to everyone, and then enjoys some quiet hotel time.

Somehow I lost my favorite jacket at this point, and am still not happy about that.

On the drive back down Island, Craig (merch guy) saw a car completely spin on the highway. Tracy and I loaded our stuff back into the Toyota and said bye-bye to the guys.

The New Mike and Dave Tour

Monday, March 28th, 2005

Winter into Spring

…………………March 27th 2005

YAY!

Here we are, the whole band in a BLACK YUKON XL truck, all windows blacked-out like a ganstuh mobile, or whatever, full battery in Smitty’s iBook, leaving the Delta resort hotel at Sun Peaks Village ski hill in Central British Columbia.

Still with me?

Hi fellow spirit travelers on this amazing journey, and it’s about bloody-well time we got onto a new road report.

The last road report looked so good with the pictures that Heather placed into it, I didn’t want another one to take front page over that. No, really, it is best to write this stuff ON the road. At home, in my studio, there is a piano, electric keyboards, music recorder, Tracy, paintings, couch, bed, exit door to the big blue room, and lots of fun stuff going on everywhere. I never get this stuff typed out in my studio anymore, so the reports fall behind. Thank you if you are still with me on this project.

I am also starting to draw the plans to turn the Protection Island cabin into a house, (thanks to grade 9 drafting class,) and while looking through papers to bring on this trip, I found an old green paper rooming list with some hand-scribbled notes, words and silly things, starting with……………..

THE ZIP DICK TOUR

October 1, 2004
Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC

Best all around venue in the country, I figure, or am I biased because I am such a West Coast spazz?

Doug and the Slugs open the show, 1100 people singing along. I had heard Doug had been in bad health with gout, and he was standing onstage in his big suit doing a fine job. He had been sitting on stage, or so I am told. The band (the Slugs) were full of life. Our soundman, road manager, Mike Pacholuk, had recently left Trooper, and the new guy, Mike Sutcliffe (from Vancouver Island) was mixing The Slugs that night, so I went out front and checked out the mix.

Doug was holding it together really well on stage, being quite ill recently. You know, I really like Doug a lot, as a person. Always really friendly and full of enthusiasm, and he is an artsy guy, so you gotta love him. At one point of his show, he walked to the side of the stage and said to our lighting guy, “Do you work here?”

Answer, “NO.”

Doug, ‘Well what are you doing here?”

Answer, “Working for Trooper.”

Doug, “Well, can you get someone to turn off the fog machine! It’s KILLING ME up here!”

I was creeped-out to hear about that chatter, later, because Doug and The Slugs went on the road after this, and Doug passed away about a week or two later. I didn’t really know Doug that well, but this upsets me as if we were closer friends. No good, dying young.

The Commodore gig was exhausting in the way that the backstage was full of excellent friends, all of whom I love, but I felt like a bit of a host at some points and had to be ON offstage as well as onstage. When we are on the road, it is just the band and I can let it all hang out, chill, as we all do, and not be responsible to anyone. Frankie can get nude and stick his butt out, have a laugh, whatever. Please don’t take this as a diss if you were there, or backstage at any show. I am just getting a bit inside here.

Was this the gig where Paul Cloutier and his wife Carla were there, and Tracy and I went back with them in a huge limo to stay at their place, and have a cook-out the next day? Ya! Great friends they are, we stayed up waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too late and I got Paul to tell some stories about road managing Men Without Hats. Lots of red wine and weeeeeeeeeeeeed in those stories.  They have a pool and a really comfy living room with the best stereo TV stuff, and it is hard to leave sometimes. They are outside of the downtown a bit, and Tracy and I drove back in our little Toyota, totally on intuition and made it back to the BC Ferry without one bad turn.

We have so much fun at home, I can not begin to explain. I rolled up a huge set of California rolls, including turkey Sushi, (Scott got me going on this one), and caught an early ferry back to Vancouver for the next gig. I picked up Scott, because he lived really close to Departure Bay and he showed me how he had lost all of his finger calluses in Nevada recently.  Playing bass was gonna hurt a bit for him, I guess.

This may have been the ferry trip where I had my 3 big peach teas and forgot where the car was parked, so I walked off, and saw Scott on the other side. He had wondered what had become of me. We got onto the highway and saw a big guy in a truck pass us and freak out. Mr. Road Rage Dude spazzed out, made every rude and stupid hand gesture he could squeeze out of his angry mind. We don’t know what he was so upset about, but it sure was funny, at the time. We were laughing quite seriously, and he was looking in his mirror and getting madder and madder. Best to ignore these folks, I guess.  I don’t have a lot of experience with people with violent emotional problems, but it was so funny that I couldn’t help but laugh for a long time. It was such a perfect sunny happy day and his power trip was an ironic contrast, like somebody was playing the wrong reel of cartoons.  Dunno. Funny at the time.

October 14-22, 2004 – BC and AB

We met up with the band at Smitty’s house, drove on to Penticton 295kms inland, in a big van. Old family friend Terry was backstage, hadn’t seen him since I was about 14 years old. He still had the exact same voice and mannerisms.  He told me back then to stay in school and actually learn something, cos the working world aint all fun, and having some reading knowledge will really help. He was right, of course, but I have also found the working world to be a delight so far (except for one light man years ago who told me that my keyboards looked ridiculous set up side ways.)

735kms seemed a lot longer the next day, onward to Black Diamond Alberta.  The gig was packed, I had a very decent salad, and our promotions person, Heather appeared with some wonderful cookies from her kitchen. We always have a decent laugh. Must have been snowy, cos my notes say that there were cars sliding off of the highway all over the place.

This gig has hotel rooms above the venue, with no phone, not our usual standard, but we have fun with it. I get a Wild West vibe out of the deal. Tracy’s Mom lives close by. She dropped by in the morning and the 2 of us had about the best casual chat and hang out ever. She is a nice lady.

305 kms to Edmonton Alberta, Reds nightclub, packed, 1500 however many people, all totally into it. Yes it was freezing out. I mean FREEZING! This is the gig where Frankie zipped his dick. I do not believe that Frankie wears underwear all the time. Drummers get sweated-out more than other guys and get nude a lot cos they are always getting changed, and not that I am looking or that I care, but I think he doesn’t bother with wearing gaunch, and this time he zipped his dick. Poor guy. He is Ok, or so he says.

We stayed at a nice hotel across from the world’s largest shopping center (West Edmonton Mall) where the REDS gig was, and it was no big deal walk through the freeze to the nearest open door which is a HUGE Chinese grocery store. You can find exotic fruit juices, red curry, funny smells (which Ra enjoyed) or simply listen to the funniest plink-plink music as you walk through the store. You know, the one soft-mallet bell tone that happens on The Price Is Right, well, this music was like that, just pleasant melodies on a bell-sounding instrument. Have only heard this particular production at this one store, and it played all day, every time I have been there.

Had a day off at this hotel, a few more walks through the Chinese store, on way to the food court for more sushi, had a visit from my new young friends who play in a band called In A New Vein. We hung out at the mall, talked rock talk. Nice girl on Bass, her fiancé on guitar.

Ate some Heather cookies as well, shared a few with the In A New Vein couple, read books. Lazy. All excellent.

All except that we heard that Doug Bennett had died on the road at this point, and we talked a lot about that. The city of Edmonton was a sheet of ice. This is a vibe, a moment in Canadian history, that I will not forget, being in the cold prairies in a hotel with Trooper talking freely about our colleague who had passed away.

350kms to Valleyview Alberta. Snowed a lot. A guy freaked out on New Mike (Sutcliffe), which is not good. The guy had a rough guy sense of humour and acted that way. Didn’t act like he was kidding. Just a big belligerent prick. Our new Mike is a really decent guy and doesn’t freak out at all, as far as I can tell so far. Mike is quite jolly, in fact. I don’t like when people freak out around him.

Icicles hanging from Tim Hortons signs. Tim Hortons garbage everywhere in this country, even on my car, from someone. Three things bring Canada together: Hockey on TV, Trooper shows, and Tim Hortons garbage. Ra bumped into my keyboard and hit me with his mic onstage. This never happens. He didn’t mean to, of course. Van covered in frozen dirty slush. I mean the side is totally covered with frozen mud stuff.

I walked by an herbal tea stash in a closed restaurant and liberated 3 bags of apple tea for the next ferry ride home. I think apple tea is my favorite (although I had some wonderful hibiscus and mango from Hawaii once.)

475kms to Red Deer Alberta. College gig, love it. There were students studying at tables in the hallways between the backstage and the gig. Some asked us to be quieter, which is also quite funny. Back stage was a laughing party. Heather was there. Frankie was talking about petting zoos, something about some fuzzy animals from his perspective, and I came up with the idea of a heavy petting zoo, you know, with humans in cages….and it developed from there. There were tons of wild sandwiches backstage, total deli scene, and the show was a wild insane young people full freak out. We are the perfect band for Canadian colleges.

A friendly girl from the T-Shirt booth came backstage, gave neck and shoulder massages to whoever was into it, introduced us to her MOM, according to my green paper notes, my mic stand was shitty, wouldn’t tighten up and fell down all the time, and I took some orange juice back to the van, was getting tired of an election on TV, (the US one?) and our light man, Gary, slipped and hurt himself, which is wild, cos he is bullet proof.

090 kms to Vernon, can that be right? No. Must be a spelling glitch. Blown fuse in the van, electrical outlet not working, stop at a store after Ra makes some phone calls, Ra buys fuses, try to figure out where fuse box is.

Amazing hair conditioner at hotel, and a veggie stir fry. Ok, I remember this! (oh, we are now stopped at a gas station, it is raining, Smitty said SUBWAY. Frankie and Ra get out, Scott is sleeping in the back seat, I am thinking about the jug of Tropicana that I left backstage last night……..back in a minute………wow, huge convenience store…..cows in fields, could just as well pee in parking lot I bet….)

I remember the Vernon gig because there was a serious huge buzz in the PA system, and I mean the kinda buzz that would make the band performance an annoyance to the crowd. So, the crew had to work all day to figure it out and fix it, and the show started late, with an explanation and apology to the super understanding audience. The venue was a really high end restaurant with unbelievable food. The manager told us that they had done a similar thing in another town, which is put up a really expensive and gorgeous building with a high-end menu and see if it flies. So far so excellent, I understand. Nice to see when someone cares to raise a standard, at such a wild expense. No monitor guy that night, and according to my notes: may have seen frazzled. Whatever that means. Backstage laughs continued to the van after the show.

Our van was up on a huge new fancy curb outside. Smitty put it there to be funny. Nobody around.  I volunteered to get everyone back to the hotel. A good-looking lady cop pulled up and asked why our van was parked that way, and what are we doing? I did my fancy straight talk to the cop, she was really cool, and the guys had a few laughs with her. Somehow I am never really comfortable in that type of situation. They can drag you off to jail if they feel like it, you know. I have a friend who got hauled off to jail a while ago, got pushed around by the cops, had a bad night. I have very little experience with the law, have had one speeding ticket in my life, trying to get to a gig, contested it and the cop never showed in court. My driving record is totally clean from way back, and that has gotten me through road blocks with illegally rusty cars over the years. So no problem, I guess.

Warm out again, 7 degrees, well, not freezing, snow on mountains on the way back home the next day, saw a car flipped right onto its roof. Someone told us that a newspaper in a small town had headlines about Trooper band members all peeing on a sign in the middle of the road. I didn’t think anyone was around, so there is a good reporter for you.