……scales scales scales, can I take a break now, please………..I ask myself……….
Been a while since I posted a Trooper road Report, hey?
Guess what ? I DID write a huge detailed essay on our summer 2006 tour, complete with one trip to the Buddhist temple, 2 trips to Newfoundland, a few trips to the salad bar, tripping over cables beside the stage, trippy stuff…….but it — IT being the entire report, which took about 2 weeks to type out and edit — IT got deleted on a friend’s computer.
Eaten by hell.
Who loves computers ?
Kinda broke my spirit, a bit. But I vowed to start up again as soon as the West Coast summer fell to fall. Here we are, rainy night, headphones on, British Prog Rock, 2 fingers type on….but where are my notes ? Do I have to search through this huge pile of crud under the piano ?
Ok, I lied. It is now winter, the snow has the studio buried, the sky is strangely pink, the pumpkin soup is half gone……….can I start now ? Ok, this from the fall………
I think we are going to test my memory, which is great, but I don’t pay attention to stuff when it is happening, so to recall…….easier to write about the dream world I live in……but….2 days ago, flew back from Edmonton, drove from Red Deer, stale sandwiches, out for 3 days, played an air force base in Cold Lake Alberta, met men that were going over to Afghanistan, signed huge pictures of regiments after a great-sounding gig……..woke up at 5:30 am to the sound of Scott brown’s green VW bug horn outside of my studio, grabbed my coat, grabbed my hat, Richard took a bus, no room in the VW, had my keyboard in its case. Richard is our new stage manager. He doesn’t like taking the bus.
………………Remember Mike Pacholuk ? He is back !!!! Soundman – road manager. He replaced Dave Hampshire, road manager, smiley-face Prince-of-a-man and known here on the Island as the MEGALICIOUS drummer. Dave he replaced Randy Bergner, soundman and road manager, who flew in from his home in Germany every time we had a few gigs to play………..and Richard replaced Craig on merch and stage managing… and now we have Harvey Windsor, my old friend from Junior High School, and Gabriola Island, who is also a bass player and gardener extraordinaire…….working to take over Mike Pacholuck’s duties in the New Year………………..wow, how am I even going to star in this year’s story ?
Let me start with Richard Nott.
– Merch manager, stage manager.
– Don’t room with him cos he snores REALLY loud.
– Falls asleep in the bathtub.
A guy that I knew as a teenager in Nanaimo. His brother is my age and was a nice guy in school, and ended up boxing. We have all our friends in common, and Dave Hampshire brought him into the Trooper touring crew based on his experience as a soundman. He also plays bass, guitar, sings, and can recite doctrines of most world religions.
I don’t like to pick favorites, but I really like touring with Richard. He really gets every joke and laughs wildly at my stories about my dad, to the delight of everyone else in the airplane. (I used to always know where Frankie was on a plane cos he laughed so loud.) Richard looks a lot like Frankenstein, but is a whole lot more agile. He can drink and never lose his balance. I would not want to fight this Irishman, cos he could very well outrun me as well. Richard also works construction during his off time (with Tony Thompson, master builder), and wow can Richard ever eat a lot, and often. He is a tall lean calorie burning machine, and he does the BEST Smitty impersonations I have ever seen.
Richard, Scott, Harvey, all from Vancouver Island, all bass players, all big dudes………….
Harvey’s not going for the second 3 days outing. He had a really close friend pass away……so Scott and Gogo (ME!) meet Richard on the ferry, Scott gets Richard a bus ticket, we all see the rest of the band and crew at the airport as we have done many many times over the summer. I have never flown so much in my life. Every weekend there is somewhere to fly to. 3 Saskatchewan fly-outs in a row a few weeks back. That is a lot of tomato juice, no ice please.
I think we are going to get our Prestige Flyer Card again this year. And you gotta see this stack of ferry receipts. Actually, I gotta get them into the office.
What a year of travel ! The people I have sat beside on the airplanes !
- Guy with an art shop, told me how to make bonsai trees. (and then we played a gig with a fenced off bonsai section right in the middle of town, whoooo)
- Huge tattoo-arm geologist, told me about water problems of cities, and cage fighting .
- Old lady with 1930s jokes. Yuk Yuk Yuk.
- Guy with the worst BO on earth. Show-off.
- And after complaining to Richard about so many old people being disappointingly unenlightened, I meet a 81-year-old Order of Canada Merchant Marine, business consultant, who told me all about life.
And then the man whose company sent him to the Queen Charlotte Islands for a fishing holiday. His Company ? Why, Old Dutch Potato Chips, of course. !!!! WOW ! Did I ever tell you that I am CONNECTED. And that prayers DO work !?!? Old Dutch just bought out Humpty Dumpty; I got all the gossip. Dude is going to give us a tour of the plant in Calgary, next time we venture out, and he shall load us up. What did he say ? 35000 pound of potatoes cooked there every day, the starch hauled away in semi tractor trailers? Lots of secrets. I will tell them to you at the T-shirt booth, but not here. Let’s just say that the snack food business aint
goin’ broke real soon.
The nutty stuff. Missed a flight on the road 2 days ago, despite the entire band getting up at 5:30am (crew at 3:30) a 4-hour drive turned into about a 12-hour travel day. All because some 36-year-old ya-hoo stole a huge semi tuck and ran over the cop’s spike belts, rattled, grinded at high speed past us, chased by 20 cop cars, and we get stuck at a road block. The spaz finally pulled onto a side road and tried to run away on foot.
I like the word spazzzz.
Did I tell you that Frankie left the band ?
I really miss him.
I always missed Frankie as soon as we had a touring break.
His energy is really strong.
A laugh a minute.
Clayton Hill is our new drummer. He is from Vancouver Island as well, (lives on the mainland now) and strangely enough I had only met him once before. He has played much in Europe over the last 10 years and is a great, great, solid and imaginative, and totally symphonic player, and a funny guy, lovable as can be, great guy. I am just getting know him now, so no offence to him, but I miss Frankie, of course, who wouldn’t.
Frankie is about the highest energy funny man ever invented, and I really enjoyed all his nutty drumming stuff. My kinda fun. He has a family, a full solid life, and he became so busy that he was unable to continue to fully commit to our band. There were dates that were not fitting his schedule. So much so that Lance Chalmers, Gentleman of life and monster drummer of the Universe, filled in for most of the summer. We all love Lance as well. We are so blessed.
What do I do for a living, well, I travel, but for fun, I stand there and watch some the best drummers on Earth play. I sit beside them for their solos, feel the stage shake. This is my reward for all the travel, and I feel very blessed.
……Yes, so I was sleeping in the van when the clanky, stolen semi rolled by, and I immediately came up with about 5 funny thing to say that NOBODY in the band even replied to or acknowledged at all. Funny stuff like “Oh the monkey must be driving and the trucker sleeping,” and “Oh great ! Another remake of the Blues Brothers!”
No, just a stolen truck in Alberta, just another long drive after we miss the flight………
Oh well, I have my own problems. Before the last trip out, my new side project did its (our) first amplified gig. THE CAMPFIRE GIRLS have played acoustic gigs all summer, and while driving home from the after-party drive through, on this welfare of all autumn Wednesdays, one of the 4 cop cars littering the streets decides to follow me, pull me over and remind me that my car insurance has expired.
I remember writing about this last year. I promise I will never do this again. I gotta keep track of time. I admitted to the cop that it it totally socially irresponsible, and that I rarely use the car, and never know what day it is cos I am a MUSICIAN (like we sensitive artists have an excuse for everything!) and he said “It’s OK, I recognize you, I know who you are, I don’t think you are the criminal type, in fact your music is an asset to the community.” So instead of the $600 fine, and the fine for wrong address on drivers licence, and the fine for no sticker, and the towing fee, and the storage fee, and the driving suspension, and the points, and court appearance……..he gave me the minimal fine and escorted me home. Should I be writing this ? I PROMISE I will not push my luck any further.
How did he recognize me? The Vancouver Island Exhibition gig this summer killed what anonymity I had going for me in my home town. Not one day goes by when I don’t catch a good vibe and compliment about that gig. 6000 people outdoors, hometown, perfect summer night, HUGE lights and PA, band at peak performance. The ladies at the Credit Union say “Oh now I know what it is that you do!”
The same cop was at our last Megalicious gig. I drove home from that one with a broken fan belt, the car was steaming and it wouldn’t turn off. 3 am loud stuff. So decided I could fix it, and spent about 2 weeks stripping the same bolt. Our 19-year-old neighbour dropped by, moved the alternator and got the belt on. He refused cash. Tracy gave him some canned pears, the same ones we gave NAZARETH.
Did I tell you that I play violin now ?
Wanna hear my violin jokes ?
How do you know that the violin teacher is religious ?
Every time you play, she closes her eyes, looks up and says, “Oh Lord.”
How many violinists does it take to screw in a light bulb ?
1) Only one, and the world revolves around him.
2) “None ! We’re above manual labor!”
3) One to change the bulb, and four to complain that it is ELECTRIC!
How do you keep a violin from getting stolen?
Put it in a viola case!
How do you know a violin player’s kids are on the playground?
They can’t swing.
Two members of The London Symphony Orchestra walk past a bar…
Wait, it could happen!
A violinist’s funniest joke:
Why was Mozart so hungry?
Cos Beethoven was Haydn his Chopin Liszt.
Ha haha ha
What do violists use for birth control?
Ok, I am stalling, gotta start this road report…………
…….Ok, let me dig through and see if I have any notes, scribbles from this summer. I don’t expect to detail every gig, but let’s try to recapture the general vibe…………back in a wee bit, wish me luck……….
Digging through old papers, Christmas lyrics……..I am so sorry about this, wishing that that road report didn’t get deleted. No doubt I threw away my notes then as well. This year has been so busy. Yes, I bought an old old old violin at an antique store at the side of the highway one day. I was sitting in the lobby of Tracy’s chiropractor, reading the local Ladysmith newspaper, all about the fabulous player pianos, so I decide take Tracy on a cheap date to this antique store, blow 25 cents, and we hear a player piano go plink plink so charmingly, until Tracy spots an old violin case in the corner, unopened, unloved, and under priced. $300 crossed out, $200, so I offer them $100, settle on $140.
Don’t mean to be rude, but have these people not heard of EBAY ? So my constant companion has been an actual Baroque instrument, a 200 to 300 year old gorgeous German violin, and when the people across the street on Protection Island built a new house and moved in and told me “Oh I am a violin teacher,” I looked to the sky and said “OK, I get it. I am gonna learn some violin scales!” So here I am, Trooper keyboard player, road warrior, violin student.
But could they make the violin any more difficult ? Every Chromatic scale is fingered differently, and different again descending. When God was handing out brains, I thought he said Trains, and I jumped out of the way.
Hey, how do you know if tuba players are smarter than horses?
If they don’t poop during the parade.
I spent the summer walking around playing grade 3 pieces, scales, getting a tone, loving it like I have never loved an old piece of varnished wood before, and hey, I am getting a tone ! Difficult, yes. We had 3 days off in Prince Edward Island, and trying to get out of the hotel and away from the lovely tourists, I found the perfect concrete stairway, and the odd person would look in, the old security guard finally asked me to leave. That is the trick, find a nice-sounding stairwell. I also got booted off of a church porch, playing scales in the rain in Sydney Cape Breton Island, home of the largest illuminated fiddle on Earth, and I mouthed the guy off a bit, couldn’t help it. Not quite the vibe I was looking for. That is the other trick, find a nice church where nobody hangs out, and mouth-off anyone who tells you to f-off.
Other than that, Canada has been very tolerant of my new violin. And one old man even held out money for me as I walked around at night playing G Harmonic minor. Yesterday a guy asked me if I had had lunch yet. So far 5 people have apologized for not having money. I think they figure I am busking. Walking, no case, busking……….is art dead in Canada, or are the people just really generous ? Whatever, at least I know I have a different career option if I get tired of arena and theatres full of people slapping me on the back, so lovingly.
Some people pull their cars over when I walk down the street playing scales, and they ask nice questions. One lady ran down from her balcony and said “I was sitting there so depressed, and your music touched my heart, and I realized that I still have a heart, so I thank you. ” I think I was playing B flat major.
I played the violin when I was 14 as well. Some greaseball yelled at me from his porch. Called me a fool, right in front of all the other kids. Freaked me out. I stopped playing violin on the walk home from school after that.
Music does funny things to people. When I go for a violin walk, (and who wants to sit indoors practicing all day !?!?!?) people either say “COOL!” or they act like I am the devil from HELL. I figured it out, too. I think that outdoor music has been so closely associated with poverty, and that as soon as some people notice an acoustic instrument being played outside, they AVOID lest they be judged for not giving money to the poor slob (me). I don’t know. I can only guess. Thank God most people leave me alone. Money: the patron of the arts, the killer of the arts.
Life wasn’t always like this, you know. When I was kid in the 1970s, people sat around and strummed guitar everywhere. People camped on the side of the road, traveled with arts and craft fairs, and playing instruments was like talking, or dancing. No big deal in public. That is the world I grew up in.
Now I meet hundreds of kids at T-Shirt booths, and I ask them all what instrument they play and it is always GUITAR. GUITAR. Ok, fine, A million teenage Canadians play GUITAR. But where ? I counted 3 people playing acoustic instruments for the hell of it, outdoors, all summer. One was a crazy old nut on the BC ferry who I jammed with, very poorly. I sounded like a 100 year old bad fiddler who forgot how to play. Oh well. Another guy played banjo with dirty fingers and dirty expressions, caught on a photograph of me jamming, on the BC ferries again, with the hippy who hates me. The guy just HATED me. Commented that I was good fiddler, to my surprise, despite the fact that he is the hippy who hates me, and the sentiment was streach at the time. My scales are way better now ! Oh, and I saw one other guy playing a penny whistle. I invited him in to play and recite poetry for some special needs people one day. Other than that, a million guitar kids, all playing indoors, I guess. Please, anyone, feel freeeeeeee to prove me wrong anytime.
Life at home.
Now we have 2 house guests, until their house is completed on Protection Island, Olene, and her 7-year-old son, James, are staying at our house, and I walk James to school everyday, playing scales, while his Mom works in a bakery. Yum. So I have the Larry Church’s (ex-Trooper bass player) Jig down with a groove, and I crank it up after school, and all the kids start to dance, and the secretary runs over asks who I am, what I am doing there, and that the teachers are concerned cos they have never seen me there before. They have never seen me, after 3 months of violin walks? They have never seen the kids dance ? They aint keepin’ track. She was really freaked out. Music has a wild effect on some people.
Ok the road report:
1) wake up
2) drive to ferry
3) 3 teas
4) drive to airport
5) meet the guys
6) feel nervous, for no reason, going through security
7) sleep on plane, eat pretzels
8) wait for bags to unload, van to arrive
8) driven to town, hotel
9) practice, groceries, soy milk, nap, wake, get ready
10) van to gig, laugh with the guys
11) deli tray, install in-ear monitors
12) play the gig, have fun
13) sign stuff, laugh with the guys
14) drive back to hotel
15) flip around TV channels, looks for Turner Classic Movies
16) sleep, dream about the violin scales
This times a few dozen, Frankie left the band, Dave Hampshire left too.
………..Ok let me try again tomorrow………the 1914 KIMBAL piano is sitting beside me and I feel an arpeggio coming on…and what about popcorn, and sleep………..life at home is in many ways not so different from the road, one big day life is……………….lets see, think, what happened this year ? Clayton dumped a coffee on his pants, took them off and threw them in the garbage, Richard got the Arabian Suite at the Fantasy hotel at the West Edmonton Mall, had florescent lights and mirrors by the bed, Richard walked into Scott’s and my hotel room at 5 am, thought we were 2 girls, complained to the front desk guy who came up and banged on the door, yelled “WHO ARE YOU?”, good luck sleeping, Mike walks into our room 2 gigs later at 5 am, front desk guys giving out wrong keys………I never leave my violin in the room. Crazy to take her on the road at all…naaaa, crazy is all relative. And I missed my crazy relatives cos we gigged right though my family reunion.
Good news !!!! I looked through this basket beside this IMAC and I FOUND a pile of old scribbles from the road from all of last year……..now that it is raining on the west coast, and the river is too cold, and dangerous to swim, I will step by step unfold and start typing, tick tick tick, WARNING, nothing will be very chronological, or logical, it will be abstract, but, let’s face it, life is but a camping trip.
Meanwhile, Heather, oh grand webmaster, could you please include this blob of words, as it is, one big mess, as an example of what my first draft road reports look like: (thanks)
I went onto the ferry with my bass player, stage manager, and merch manager…..all bass players……..all big galootes, huge dudes, unlike myself…………had tea on the ferry, sat on an old couch in Harvey’s van, first time I had ever gone for the couch ride in his roadie, van, then off to the hotel, through Vancouver City, and the Hotel was this HUGE pink building with the cheapest of all componects warped beds, cheap curtaions, cheap bathtub, and it was FREEZING in the room, I mean totally frozen, so I cranked the thermostat, and went with the crew to the town hall we were play (a coast gaurd fund raiser, ….) and I stand in a stairwell for a few hours doing scales until Scott and my other guitar player (Burke from Megalicios) appear and I go with them and end up at the condo where Burke lives, and he wants to play violin, and I think he should, so I show him a bow hold, and he can’t play loud his building, so back to the hotel, and Scottsecured a new room, much much nicer, but he always likes it so cold in the room, I turned up some heat and tried to sleep and the road manager knocked on my door wanting to use the shower, so I get a nap, and it is still cold when I wake up, get ready, and Clayton picks Scott and I up in his van and he has yet ANOTHER bass player with him, and it is snowwing like crazy, for the first time all year, and it is sticking, and the gig is PACKED, and tons of people back stage, including another bass player Larry Church, who gets up and jams, and the singer gives everyone new IPODS for Christmas, which is really cool and I am super excited about this, and Ra’s son Connor does plays a beautiful song, and after the gig I got more compliments on the show than I did all year, I couldnt walk throught the crowd without everyone going WOW WILD SOLO, which is super nice, and I thought it was a bit sloppy and long and strange, but I can take a compliment, including one from John Rothorn, a great musician, technical man and studio owner who I quite admire, which is really cool, and there is about 20 or 30 people linked up to go backstage, and some are all loaded for my liking, and I run into a guy that my sister used to date when I was a kid, and I told him that his pinao playing was a big big influence on me at the time, and he didn;t really manage to care aobut that at all, then I told him a detail that I admired about his band from 30 years ago, he has been out of the bizz since, and he didn;t care about that either, so I went into a quiet, well, quieter corner and played violin for myself, and the guy, who I also quite respect, being that he was such a huge inspiration for me, and comes up to me, with his wife and requests Jesu Jpy Of Mans desiring, which was my Dad’s fave tune, and hey, I am on my time, not performing, and everytime I bring a violin out people think it is a cue for them to talk to me, so I played the big famous riff, guessed at it and nailed it, ot my surprise, and I am so funny and asked if that was the key he was interested in, or should Iplay it in G. And then a girl who was strange, talked about being an artist, and I can talk art crud with anyone, and she was not at all interested that I came up with the kind of questions that every artist wants to hear about what media, oh styrophoam ! what density, blocks, what size or it injection foam into moulds….and her answers were all very vegue like she wasn’t too interested in the conversation, and then she wants to play the violin, and I vowed not to let any freaks touch my really really old nice violin anymore, but mr nice guy lets her hold it and twist the bow in the most unatural way, and the guitar player who visited earlier just stood there and watched, and then I wondered if he thought I was trying for his girlfriend, which is insane, but a milion things run through your mind every second, you know, and the deli tray was old thin sandwiches, and Ra was so happy to be in his hometown and had dozens of people around him, so happy, and he brought in 30 more beer for them, And I was so happy that he is so proud, love the guy, and then the artist girl found pictures to show me of here styrofoam sculptures, and then Scott said he was going to the hotel, so I put the violin away as quick as I could and the girl said, “I will wait until you say good bye to your friends,” and I said, “I AM GOING WITH THEM !,” and I slipped out the door, down the stairwell where I had spent the afternoon alone, and it was totally snowing outside, and into the Smitty’s new luxury pick up truck, back to the hotel, meanwhile Richard and Harvey got stuck down a one-way street, this town is a big hill right into the sea, a really expensive beautiful sea side town right beside Vancouver, and nobody wanted to slide into the sea, so back to the hotel, still cold, so I watch a bit of a nice move, crash out and early morning we leave, back into the roadie couch van, driving very slowly and seeing lots of vans that have slid off of the highway into the big ditches, and made the ferry on time YAY !!!!! Sat by a gas fireplace in the ferry lobby, and even that was cold, and on the ferry saw yet another bass player, who was returning from chili with his wife on their honnymoon, which is strange cos I was the last person they saw before they went and the first person they saw when they came back and they told me about their trip and it sounded dreadful yet very romantic, and they were with a guy who raises money for mining companies and he cut me off of things I was trying to explin, which I am Ok with, and I sat and had 3 fruit teas with my other 3 bass players, and the ferry , huge 500 car ferry was going slooooooow cos the sea was rough and there was an annoucment not to go on the deck, and if you stand up you get bounced around, which I LOVE !!!!!!!!! and then I went home, and I think there was a lot more strange stuff that I forgot about already, it was all snoowed in at home, towns with no power for a few days, which is really unusual cos all the infastructure here is new and modern, you know………….and then the gaurdian of one of my nephews, who is doing so well on guitar, and who really looks up to me, well, they almost drown driving an ATV thing into a lake, and on and on, and too many phone calls to return, so I take that slow, and dont let anyone shake my PEACE, and my Mom brings home a huge tray of funeral sandwiches, and I make more sushi, and I drive Tracy-Lyn to stay with her step Mom who is really ill, and is getting worse and worse, we dont know if she will make it through the night, seriously, and I went out to visit her today, and she was up all night sick, what she has is terminal, and who knws if she will bounce back, and I have to get a flu shot tomorrow cos I am considered a caregiver at this point, yiles, I hate needles, and then the father and of my excellent nephew, well, family member, shows up soaked last night from being in a puddle, which is nuts cos everythign is frozen, even my ropes were frozen to the dock, (but the sauna still works!) and 3 of the car doors are frozen shut. (this is a very rare cold snap, it is really mild here, really !) so ya my deadbeat family member appears andI give him some socks, and he stays in the den, and he has always beena really nice guy, and I have always really liked him, and the next day he walks my mom to church holds her arm the whole way so she doesnt slip, and he doesnt see his son this time and goes along on his way cos he is a heroin junkie, yikes………….and nobody wants a junky to stay around too long, I guess, which is a shame cos I have known him his whole life, used to give him my hand-me-down after I had gotten them for 4 guys before me………..whew…….
Ok I am going to start to look at these road report notes…….
back in a wee bit.