Archive for June, 2005

Summer Cheezies Tour 2005 – cont’d

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

June 15th, 2005    Oshawa, ON    The Big Sexy    60km
June 16th, 2005    Acton, ON    Manny’s Roadhouse   115km
June 17th, 2005    Ottawa, ON    Lonestar Cafe       460km
June 18th, 2005    Innisfil, ON    Summerfest           430km
June 22nd, 2005    Cambridge, ON    Little Big Horn        151km

I think we flew here again. And my notes say “embarassing anon cement”. Unless I figure out what that means by the time we post this, I will leave it like that, cos I can not think of what could possibly be embarrassing.

Oh, I know, the announcer at the airport made an “embarrassing announcement” inviting members of Trooper to breeze past everyone else. People were Ok with it, and we took some photos and signed things at security. A lady told me all about how cheezies are made, so I made a friend out of the deal.

We hoteled beside the GM car plants, a metal magazine asked us about DEEP PURPLE, I wish I knew more (you gotta ask NAZARETH that one!)

Some of these gigs have already melded together for me. We played a wild old airplane hanger, turned night club, with a rounded metal roof, and an owner who has a great history with the unique building. Our soundman said he had a hard time with the sound, and I detected that he wasn’t completely happy with the tour in general. Just my feeling, dunno. We drove 20 minutes from one town to another, stayed, played, ate a stack of fried sandwiches upstairs in a house next to the wild airplane dome club. We signed some butts, and the pictures that ended up in the big 2-page GLOBE AND MAIL article were taken at this gig, the least attended of the entire summer, ironically enough.  The GLOBE photographer came out for the show and we all had some laughs and songs at the hotel Karaoke bar afterwards. Great brotherhood.

We did another outdoor show where the Canadian great singer, Keith Hampshire showed up with his daughter, also a friend of ours. I hope I properly expressed my respect to this dynamite singer. He is the DAYTIME- NIGHTTIME guy, (walking  down the street everyone I meet says she’s fine….) and I think he caught me singing it to the cop outside the dressing room door. Ya, I think he knows I am a fan. My notes say “cops/handcuffs/hold/Scott beer/ Golf car smash/ girls arguing yelling”…. meaning I gotta keep better notes. I do remember girls yelling and generally berating some poor shmucks, and I also recall trying to smash a golf car into a wall, which I quite enjoy. A couple of years ago, a promoter mentioned that that was not a good sport, but I have fun with it. The gig was also a smash.

We stayed somewhere in a hotel that had 2 swimming pools, the outdoor one not yet inspected, so Scott and Smitty were not allowed to sit next to it. I spent a lot of time in the indoor pool, walking around and playing with my little hotel room studio. This was the first day of summer, and I am getting a bit nostalgic here thinking about it. I love summer, love being on  the road, love life. There was a restaurant here that I avoided. Everyone told me that there was every type of food available at a buffet, which I don’t need. I walked illegally under an bridge to get to a grocery store, tried to read a really stupid, boring and irritating book about KEITH MOON, had a 4-day juice fast, and was verbally bull-shitted to at a bike store when I tried to talk about 1970s mustang bikes. Some clown told me that I will never find one, and that he sold his for $8 000 each. As I write this, I have 8 of them under restoration, 4 running. Must be worth a FORTUNE! WOW! Why are guys at bicycle stores so weird to me? This happens a lot (guys being weird to me in bike shops). Maybe I am not high-tech enough.

We all brainstormed and made the ultimate campfire song list in the van one day, I wrote it all down put the paper with the road report notes and lost some pages, including the ultimate campfire song list. I later recreated the list of 50 songs at home from memory (I DO remember SOME things!) and printed booklets to play on a 6-string banjo around a fake light bulb campfire for special needs people in my hometown.

Frankie ripped the crotch out of his stage pants, and gaffed-taped them back together, and it being summer, when a lot of guys don’t wear underwear, he had a hard time getting undressed. In fact he skinned his nuts. Poor guy. He zipped his dick on the last tour, I do recall. My notes also say ‘Scott pee picture/ Lebanese food guy/ met the road hammers/ long-time fans/4th day juice fast”  These notes are never as bad as they sound. Oh ya, Scott took a pee outside of a dressing room door and a girl tried to take picture of him. Don’t know how the picture turned out, probably didn’t cos it was night time. We have noticed some people at gigs who have been to well over 100 of our shows, and my juice fast made me feel alive, not hungry or angry. I decided to cut the fast short cos I AM on the road, and I shouldn’t be experimenting with crazy spiritual diets when I have shows to play.

June 23rd, 2005    Toronto, ON    Hard Rock Cafe

Broke my juice fast with a wonderful veggie burger while sitting on the sidewalk cafe portion of the hard rock cafe downtown Toronto. I couldn’t resist that, and it doesn’t burn a hole in my magical aura either. Lots of ketchup. Ate on the street listening to Kim Mitchell spin old Max Webster songs on site in a glass booth on Young Street from his radio DJ gig. I had a salad as well. Delicious. I paid my Visa bill off in town, and went shopping with Scott. Ra saw everyone in the band during his walk around town, which is remarkable for a huge city like that. I guess we all go to the same type of places. This is where I bought the ultra-cool black cowboy shirt. I tried 3 different frilly leather jackets (all brown) but nothing really fit. Kinda hot out to be looking for the ultimate cool jacket, but the search continues year in and out.) Frankie saw a mob of neo-hippy people all walk into a park and pee into the fountain at the same time, protesting something, until the cops chased them away. Frankie said that it was bizarre and not good dinner entertainment.

Our hotel was right downtown, overlooking Saint Michaels music academy and school. I went to see the Saint Michaels Choir when I was a kid and dreamed about going to a school like that. I had a piano teacher once who went to that school, and he happened to be the greatest musician I have ever met. I stood in the hotel hallway looking out a window overlooking the uniformed music students playing basketball, thinking how strange, varied and wonderful life is. There were beggars outside of the hotel door, and here we are being treated like kings in that city.

My fave Canadian comedian friend Harry Doupe was backstage at the Hard Rock Cafe gig, as was the woman (Shauna MacDonald) who plays Erica Miller, Julian’s cop girlfriend on The Trailer Park Boys. She has been recording CBC radio stuff with Ra, and is a totally talented and genuinely nice person. Her friends were also a gas backstage, and I didn’t have the nerve to be a shmoe and ask her for a photo of me being arrested, as Julian was at the end of the (3rd) TPB season. Every so often I try to be cool. I have seen every episode of TPB several times. I think it is really funny, and original.

We had a smashing gig, a total excellent city crowd at the t-shirt booth, and as divine luck would prevail, Erica Miller asked me if I would like to have me picture taken being arrested. Neat hey? Peter Cheney had finished his assigned tour with the band and took his wife to this gig, we got him up to sing, and we kept them up near 5am, Trooper style.  Toronto is a great party town.

I got up early enough the next day to find one of those hot dog cats with the big veggie dogs that I love so much, and stood around waiting for Ukrainian Dancers to dance, but had to go before I got to see that part of the ethnic food festival (and tupperware!) that I cruised. I walked up and down Young Street and donated $ to a big black man in a beautiful suit who was handing out a 4-page booklet  listing invention by black people, celebrating black month. The idea being to create more understanding. Later in the van, while Smitty kept up with the WILD Toronto highway traffic, I read the list in the van and we all delighted at the booklet. All inventions: Keyboard stand, kitchen table, folding kitchen table, motor……….The cool stuff you find traveling! Meanwhile I am making peace signs at kids in school buses. They go crazy for that, you know.

June 24th, 2005    Trenton, ON    Ride for Sight  430km

1000 motorbikes, big huge guy backstage. The PA snake was patched wrong and we found this out right before we went on. Big outdoor stage. I remember this one very well. We were delayed going on while that OA problem was fixed. Frankie discovered it. It was actually a bit of a bad vibe. The gig went well, people were great, but too far back from the stage. Before we left, Ra had a talk with the crew, and I talked to a guy who said that he bought a bike at walmart, had one little bump with the thing and the forks are all bent to hell. I say get a REALLY good new one, or an old one and restore it. Better yet, restore a bunch of them. What the hell. I can sure change subjects well, can’t I?

Somewhere about this time we had a day off and had a family bar-b-que at Peter Cheney’s house, which turned into a late-night fun party. They live in a quiet neighborhood right downtown Toronto, where kids can leave their bikes at the park overnight. Peter bar-b-ques peppers and asparagus, which we all do at home now, telling each other that we had a Cheney Bar-B-Que. He also has the lightest and fastest bicycle I have ever tried.

June 25th, 2005    Lucknow, ON    Strawberry Summerfest   386km

I slept all day. Don’t know what was so tired. Lots and lots of going up and down these huge Toronto highways. There is nowhere to pull over sometimes, and although this is a bit personal, I came as close as I ever plan to peeing my pants. Actually this is quite serious. We spend HOURS in these vans. If we are at a stop, and I think I even may have to go at all, I will. Go when you can, not always when you need to. I drink a TON of water on the road. It keeps me awake healthy and in good spirits.

We played a packed-out sports complex, and the ZOMBIE fan club arrived with a big sign. (ZOMBIE is a set of 2 purple push mowers I restored last year.)  I wanna post the picture of these guys, if I can get Craig to send it to me in time. Craig has THOUSANDS of pictures on file. This crowd was like a huge theatre crowd, meaning that they really LISTEN, making me play better, I know that much. Our new road manager is ready to quit the tour, I feel.

We had more than our share of laughs in the van, and went 3am shopping at an all-night grocery store. I got cans of peas, salmon cream cheese, asparagus and stoned wheat crackers. Ra got the hugest bag of fake cheezies that I have ever seen. Really funny. The people at the front desk didn’t want any fake cheezies. They were more like cheese puffs, really.

Tracy phoned me at 5am, telling me that my brother Tommy fell off a ladder, needs shoulder and hand surgery, not good for a fabulous musician. He can play any instrument, but has taken up big man work lately, I guess. He had to play one hand gigs for a while. The doctors did an amazing job. I have have always been really careful on ladders (other than 4 years ago when KEVIN and I tried to winterize my mountain house, and my ladder fell over while he dropped a big piece of plywood ). My brother and I were brought up to be in the performing art more than so than the industrial arts. I CAN build things, but slowly with no power tools or ladders. Funny that I should have a massive collection of aluminum ladders. Comes with having several cabins, I guess………

ANYWAY……………….Ra is really good at naming and putting years to cars on the highway, like “hey, 1963 Pontiac.” I believe he has a brother who builds hot rods. When I was a kid I could name every car. Not so much these days.

June 28th, 2005    Moncton, NB    Rockin’ Rodeo   245km

I think this was the one where a ton of teenagers surrounded our van outside. Wow, what a great crowd in Glace Bay, wild theatre crowd, always a delight to meet these folks at the T-shirt booth, different from any others in the country. Genuine! We stay at a luxury waterfront hotel in Sydney. I space out watching the boats at sea, and always jog the wooden walkway along the waterfront. I also check house prices at the local real estate office. Wow. $25 000 big houses. Wacky. A bit cheaper than Vancouver.

June 30th, 2005    Halifax, NS    Casino Nova Scotia485km

Smallest washroom I have ever seen on the airplane. Went to the maritimes, hung out with Jim Clench, APRIL WINE bass player, at the historic Halifax waterfront. I run into him quite a bit these days in different towns, including my hometown where he put my friends on a guest list at the Cowichan Theatre. I am the dink that yells FREEBIRD when the quiet moment happens. Jim is a nice guy, gentle soul.

I have a nice collection of canned food with me at this point. Swam all day at an outdoor pool in Moncton. Smitty had the WORST mexican food. Had a nice turkey buffet at the casino in Halifax. A bit of a seniors, cruise ship type menu. The cast of the Trailer Park Boys were out of town shooting their movie, so no run ins there, stayed at the finest waterfront hotel in Halifax, walked the waterfront, listened to ALBERTA BOUND performed by a real live maritime band.  I love it.  Love Halifax, always have. Occasional smell of bad sewer from the harbour. I read about someone who dove in to save a tourist who fell into the sea and had to be treated for possible infections after being in the water. Come on you guys. I swim in the Nanaimo harbour every day in the summer, just dive off the zodiac, it is beautiful, and natural, cos we have a state-of-the-art sewer processing plant. Cost a huge $$$$$$$, but we did it., and so can others, including VICTORIA British Columbia. Ok there is my rant.

Played a packed-out full house gig right on the Halifax waterfront (Loverboy the next day) and Ra said something funny to the kids who sat on a hill overlooking the stage. 6am leave. Don’t think our crew got to see much of Halifax. Both flights 1st class that day. Quieter engine noise up there, better magazines, and great food! A special vegi lunch was made on the spot for Dave.  People in the cheap seats eat pretzels. One more flight to Grande Prairie Alberta on a small prop plane. Must be why we left so early.

Summer Cheezies Tour 2005

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

OK! I have a cold, it is fall, raining, just spent 2 days (mornings) hanging out with our Scottish brothers, the band NAZARETH, on Vancouver Island, listened to great stories, (the one about the frozen corpses of derelicts in Russia being loaded into carts on the street was good), we all said good-bye after they discovered that someone had entered their tour bus, stolen their passports, personal items, and beer. So the visit ended on a bummer note, and I managed to rescue a guy who was laying on the road, all beat to crap by strangers on the way back home. I think it was a fairly greasy town they were playing. I pick up lots of hitchhikers in my time, but rarely ones that are bleeding and laying in the middle of the road.

Here is a chance to do some typing. I have a cold, so I can’t think straight enough to drill on the old classical piano trip. Hey, got pulled over by the cop for having no car insurance today. It ran out quite awhile ago, I didn’t know. Ran out last summer when we were on tour, actually. There can be a $800 fine for that, you know, and they tow your car. I DO realize that it is massively irresponsible to have no insurance, sure I don’t drive much, whatever, but that is no excuse.  If I had hit someone, they would have no recourse to protect themselves with. My insurance normally covers the maximum for other people, (cos I DO care!) but nothing for me. I don’t worry about my car being stolen or damaged.  The cop was very understanding (he missed our Duncan gig!) and ironically, my fine was actually a lot less than the in$urance that I didn’t pay. I should donate the difference to some relevant charity. I could also pay more attention to important things other than music and West Coast adventures, I guess. I had just consumed my mind with a local gig, playing with the band THE THIEVES at a benefit for Pierre and Sonia’s baby, who is battling cancer. Beautiful little guy. He is going to be fine, I just know it.

Pierre is the sax player I record with, and also a real great and popular guy. The show was sold waaaaaay out around the block, 15 turkeys were cooked up, 9 bands played, and I did the entire show with the headliners, all unrehearsed on my part, except for the couple of my songs that they did. The next night I played their full show, and showed them 2 more of my songs during the break. It gets pretty crazy with all the megaphone yelling, theramin soloing and audience spazzing. Real fun. No wonder I never noticed my car insurance running out last summer.

And, the only driving I do on the road is back from the gig with my madly laughing bandmates beside me, and NEVER in my car, of course. Ok road report:

LETS START THE SUMMER TOUR!!!!!!!!!


You know when your parents had really good friends that you would call UNCLE or AUNTY, even though you know you are not related? My Uncle Ted turned 80 just before we left for tour, so I wrote a bouncy song about him (based on the Mr. Chris song, who happens to be Uncle Ted’s son). Being that my Dad is not around to represent himself anymore, I recreated the 3-piece singing group that my Dad had in 1947 with Uncle Ted. I learned and made a medley of the stuff from their 78, threw the UNCLE TED song into the set, and headlined a huge birthday party. I became the big party-goof with the microphone for most of it, and surprised myself with the fact that I AM turning into my dad. Happens.

Tracy and I found wrought iron fence panels, with great metal leaves and vines,  all assembled beside a dumpster, cleaned and painted it all, and I cemented that stuff vertically into the top of big rock wall, creating the Japanese Sushi garden (and clematis trellis). Another of my Gulf Island dreams. I make 20 big sushi rolls for every party we have, (under the hanging purple flowers) and only once did I ever bring sushi back back to town (cos it got too dark to see where anything was).

Tracy got really good at driving the zodiac, I got good at laying around and looking at the clouds during the saluvrious Nanaimo harbour crossings. Scott Brown, Dave Hampshire (now Trooper Tour Manager) and I put together a working rock band MEGALICIOUS, and we gigged as a 3-piece (Dave on drums, Scott and I singing), and as a 4-piece with a singing guitar player, and as a 5-piece, with a singer and a guitar player. All EXCELLENT players, all FUN gig$. We stomped every other club act that played the big music venue 3-blocks from my studio, and had an all-night piano party afterwards. Nice to have success in the world of fun.

My purple-star ebay site got hacked into, and a guy sold thousands of $ in undelivered good to people, using my good name, and I managed to clear that up, which is a pain in the time clock, and I built a bike stand to hold the increasing bike collection. We got  a couple of nice orders for my dinosaur sculptures, and we made a light-weight carry-on case for my 16-track audio studio recorder. I woke up at 5am and caught the ferry to go on the Trooper summer tour. My Mom offered to get up early and drive me to the ferry (where I met Scott and Dave) just like the old days. She said that she is proud of me and also I love you, which is nice.

CALGARY………..TROOPER IS ON THE ROAD!!!!!!!!!

June 9th, 2005    Calgary, AB    Q107 Studio Q

I am not yet in road mode. Not at all actually. Even says so in my scribble notes. We set ourselves into a downtown hotel, took a van to a radio station and rehearsed and sound checked for a live on-air TROOPER performance. Fun hanging out in a decent recording studio, laughing with the totally cool people who work there, drinking tea, listening to the guys play their stuff. Smitty is a great improv rock player. I have never met anyone who can play like that. Experimental and greasy. Excellent. The rehearsal went perfectly, and the next day I say the performance went as equally well. The big recording room was FULL of radio station listeners, and there was enough pizza for everyone, including our stage manager Craig, who was eating the whole time, which I thought was fascinating. Our promotions manager, Heather and her husband, Brian, were on hand to joke with, and the red light went on, we played to the sit down crowd, song after song, and who knows what happens with that tape. Someone, I dunno.

Neat way to start a tour actually. A few of the band guys walked around town through a total rainstorm on one of those days, I bought new sandals, browsed at the Mountain Equipment Co-op store where my friend Myles works ( so he can’t stand around and chat about Gabriola Island all day), and I got totally soaked in the early summer rain. Had a day off after the radioQ show, set up my hotel room audio studio, as would be my project for the summer, mixed some bass and drum stuff, went grocery shopping for nice soups, and according to these notes, fields of green. OK, ya, during the drives, fields of green, lots of them.

June 11th, 2005    Vulcan, AB    Spock Days

Ok, I may claim to be clever, but don’t believe it. I had the worst stage sound ever at the Spock days festival. Never had a stage sound so bad, like a distorted grinding howling tunnel of noise, and it wasn’t until after the show that I figured out why. We were presented with SPOCK ears before the show; actual genuine rubber VULCAN ears that fit right over your natural EARTH ears, and I was bent on wearing them all night. I adjusted them every few minutes, not thinking for a second that that is what was making the band all sound weird and distorted in my head. Had a gas with the gig and the people, of course and loved the town, and all its sci-fi buildings. Loved the people all done up trekky as well, especially the biker with the Star Trek 2 outfit and make-up.

Cool town. Like it!

June 12th, 2005    Thunder Bay, ON    Fort Williams Historical Park

Fly to Thunder Bay. My audio recorder case is of shiny black cloth with Scull and Cross bones painted on it (I used the stencil from the flags I make for the rock wall poles). Funny thing, I NEVER got asked to open this dangerous-looking case while going through airport security. I thought they would take me for a real pirate for sure. Man, I don’t fool anyone!

Met Darby Mills (The HEADPINS singer) at an airport and she told us that there are 30 000 people at the big rock festival. I saw 20 000 for sure, when we arrived at the site, and was told that there were way more people behind the hill. Scott and I cramped into the back of a rock and roll van and we entered a huge fair site, greeted with the PRISM guys, listened to a bit of their set, ate a bit of the food backstage (pitas, nuts, chips and salsa, apples), and our road manager was surprised that we would all take off and go back to the hotel, “you don’t have enough time!” We do manage to do a lot in a short stretch of time, it is wild, funny and true.

We met with Peter Cheney, the reporter with Canada’s National Newspaper THE GLOBE AND MAIL. Together we would all travel for 4 or 5 day, all becoming very great friend. I totally liked Peter right away. Was he at this gig? Sure he was. We headlined this huge festival in Thunder Bay, where we are always very well received. Great people. Excellent way to start the tour, in fact. People everywhere, a laugh a minute. Frank Baretta, and Greg Malo, (and Paul Jokelanen) took amazing pictures, people crowd-surfed, a guy got his head cut when he fell down and the airline stewardesses showed up, so we gave them a ride back to their hotel in the bus provided for us. This was the beginning of the laughing session that went on all summer.

Frankie did a wonderfully funny airline-style SEAT BELT demonstration at the front of the bus, narrated by one of the flight attendant girls, and the bus turned around to shine lights on the people who had to pee outside, total rock and roll laugh stuff. We are all quite elated after a gig like that. The vibe is electric. A good high to start the tour rolling.

Scott was interviewed by someone from a fitness magazine. I don’t know why they didn’t talk to me. Scott probably exercised.

June 13th, 2005    Atikokan, ON    Celebration Centre 205km drive

I went to the venue (a big hall) early because it was a part of a golf course, and I love driving golf carts all over the place. I went over a wooden bridge, over a river, and up a crazy dirt road, and decided not to flip the thing. Amazing what those little cars can do. I have to practice to keep up to Protection Island traffic you know.

This town was full of terrific people, very accommodating. Peter and I golf-carted around, he telling me silly stories of his war reporting, the Shiites in Iraq, (“it was like woodstock. Fields covered in people, I helped a man burry his dead mother”) Afghanistan……….. You would love Peter. He has seriously been around the world, races bicycles (by himself) and has a wonderful family life. He became part of the band always asking questions.

Smitty fixed his in-ear monitors, Scott golfed, I slapped mosquitoes,  and our new friend Patricia, drove us around and told stories of her film projects. This gig was particularly special by the accommodations provided. Ok, Patricia then drives out to a resort, a compound by a lake and we sign into our own rooms, totally quiet, no TVs, no BS. It is a total spiritual retreat centre, or conference facility, if you like. PERFECT place for a religious cult. Reminds me of what I read about Maharishi MeshYogi’s Ashram in Rikadesh where the Beatles studied with Donovan a Mia Farrow after summer of love. I walked by the lake, didn’t swim cos the mosquitoes threatened to finish me off, found an empty log cabin, went back to the hotel did some audio studio mixing, decided the silence was much better and had the clearest meditation of the entire summer.

Ra asked the security people at the gig to move the stage barricade over so that the kids could get up to the stage (it was a divided and licenced venue) and the kids loved him for the consideration, (they also loved when Scott threw his beer bottles too!) and we went to the upstairs backstage for a long piano sing-along with the locals, the whole thing peaking with SWEET CAROLINE. All I remember is HANDS REACHING out. Dozens of them above my head. A moment that you could never recreate or fake. It was here on the piano bench when I was informed that Michael Jackson got off on all the charges. I knew a guy who ran our local boys club like that. A story for another day, or not.

Oh ya! It was Ra’s birthday!!!!!!!!!!!! No wonder we got so festive!!!!!! There was a ton of food, 2 cakes, one with Ra’s photo printed onto it. He was gifted with a magnificent handmade paddle, significant of the significant local canoe culture, and we sang a million significant songs, and Mike, the new road manager was happy and loving. We helped him back to the retreat later, and several of our gang stayed up with Peter until the sun came up and the birds decided to start singing to us.

We had an early leave the next morning, so we all gathered for a huge breakfast and marveled at how much bacon Craig can eat. Peter said it was remarkable how I am so up-and-ready and chipper after so little sleep. Designated drivers are like that, I guess. I was a bit tired, but the vibe of the retreat, and the meditating did energize me. The sing-along mass freak-out was a wee bit electrifying as well. So you don’t know whether to be tired or all buzzed out.