Archive for October, 2006

August 2006

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Aug 1st to 4th

Fly back to Edmonton, night in hotel, fly to Inuvik, 8 flights in 5 days. We are talking double breakfast. First Air. They just keep feeding you, then they gave us a monster bag of chips, snacks and waters for our stay up North. Everyone is at Peace. This is our second time in Inuvik, Nunavut, (we are talking Arctic Circle here) and it was wonderful to see the people who treated us so well the first time up. This time, summer, I got bit to death by bugs playing violin in the park, and chatted to every passing Northerner. It is such a trip to be there, just to go to a grocery store (THE grocery store) marvel at the high prices and see everyone having coffee in the same place where they get their $10 orange juice, and new boat engine.

My first  ZEN concept was to try to swim in the Mackenzie river. Last time we were here, this river was 8′ solid ice, and that was our highway to Tuktoyutuk. This time, it was as warm as the Nanaimo River, but quite brown, murky, strange. I enjoyed sitting around with with some very peaceful locals, who said nothing, as nothing was needed to be said, until they finally f-ed off and I could go for a swim.

The sun was up all night. The drummer from another band negotiated his deal with a manager in front of us backstage, where the deli-tray was warming in the sun under a window. Hot, unbelievable. Everyone was some kind of manager or something in this wild town. The place is cosmic, I tell you. The hotel where we stayed was brand new, and a bit unfinished. The fire alarms were being tested, almost constantly. Strange place, charming, totally. What a gas, proud to be there.

Fly To Fort Saint John, over Vancouver. OR did we fly to Prince George? Either way, I had never left the Vancouver airport and gone straight NORTH before, right over the city of Vancouver. Breathtaking. I would pay just to do that, but not too much, cos I gotta get my new cabin finished.

Aug 5 Tumbler Ridge

……outdoor gig, tons of kids. 8-hour drive, rock and roll spectacular. Dave Hampshire, tour manager, always there to greet us with his huge smile.

Aug 6 Edson

…….. kids upfront. This is what summer concerts can be, and are, when people care to make them so magical for all to share.

And then, Bonsai trees are my new love. A guy that I sat next to on a flight got me going on it, and the town we landed at, and played, had a huge bonsai display in the town centre. Inspired.  I wish to get some small cedars displayed. (I have since taken a course, and read-up.)

Oh yes, trailers backstage, super nice guys from opening act, the drummer retrieved a stage shirt that a girl had stolen from me when I was not looking onstage, during a power outage. I left my stage shirts in my keyboard case, and the road crew set them up with my gear. I never even thought that some prick would decide to rip me off. I have since considered that some very rare people love to steal from bands, like it is some sick status thing. Very uncool. I appreciate this drummer being a good scout, and getting my psychedelic shirt back. Sorry to sound harsh here, but really.

Then, the biggest ball tournament in North America. Softball, hardball, I dunno. But a sea of camper-trailers. The woodstock of RVs. Driving into this was surreal, of course. Lots of women at that gig. All baseball girls, I guess. Amazing. What a gas.

Drive to Edmonton airport, fly back in time for evening ocean swim. Life. I’ll take it!

August 2006………

2 days off…..Tracy went out of town with Mom Rose, who is terminally ill, to see about a lung transplant, and I was late picking them up at the bus depot, and they were both grumped out, and I left on the road on a bad note, never a good thing. Fly to Ottawa…….drive to Arnprior, beautiful town, went to the venue early and played violin scales…then, at an outdoor gig where some people were surprisingly and uncharacteristically rude at the T-shirt booth, and one 12-year old boy repeated “can I have some free stuff?” Someone did make their way onto the stage, when nobody was looking, I suppose, and take my best 3 stage shirts. I am actually embarrassed about how pissed off I got about this, but I don’t even want to think about this. OK? Oh Lord, I still have a pile of scribble notes here.

10 000 people outdoors Saskatoon, electric, Smitty was amazing at that gig……….delay at the airport, too much static, Frankie walks around, hours in airports, Scott with headphones on listening to Frank Sinatra, Ra and Smitty on laptops, Richard looking for pre-packaged sandwiches. Honestly, my notes are such a mess, I don’t know if I even wrote about the tour when I brought an old ukulele and we all jammed in the van, Scott being the master of the Spanish Uke. Smitty was really quite amazing on the thing, actually.

I have not talked much about Brian Smith here. Years ago, he was more high-strung, I don’t know why, but he is a hyper guy, and he is a lot more relaxed these days, which is great. He is a very understanding guy. He remembers every story ever told to him and conversations can continue much later at the same speed. And since I am now spending so much time with a stringed instrument (violin) I can see even deeper into what a great player Brian is. A true natural who breaths music.

I almost got into a fight on the ferry on one trip over. I went into the cafeteria and picked up a tray to put tea cups on, and a big arrogant super redneck grabbed to pull it out of my hand, and I was quite surprised, and I am also an arrogant super redneck, if need be, so I didn’t let it go, and the guy mouthed-off, this unexpectedly at 7am, and the guy was huge, and I can only guess that he thought that I was butting-in on his burger line-up, so I told him that I am not “butting-in on his burger line-up” and he mock surfer-talked some sarcasm at me…later walking around the ship he refused eye contact. …which is good cos he could have killed me…..and I was wearing the full Jesus outfit at the time……and then a different angry guy totally road raged Scott and I on the way to the airport, and Scott laughed, man did he laugh.

There were random days off at home, zodiac to the Islands…swimming the crystal clear Nanaimo River every day… bug bites from Nunavut slowly healing……thinking about the lake where Nunavut people had suggested I swim, cos it was warm, and then other people telling me ” NO! Boot Lake is where we dump the garbage!”…and then staying over night at the hotel in Richmond for early flights, walking round playing scales as people fight other cars to drive into Costco………fly to Ft. Saint John, see forest fire damage,  snooze in hotel with rotted-out bathroom wall, box of chips backstage, cold, violent movie on TV, sleep in back seat of big Chev SUV for 8-hour drive, watch the crew hit a deer, organize group photo shoots, get ready to gig with people all around the backstage trailer, cheers when we step outside, gig sounds like a lions den, front-end speakers fall over and one girl stand there like “this wouldn’t happen to me.” Lucky the huge cabinets fell backwards, cos I don’t need to see people get crushed…….And then Richard trying to get the attention of the local crew to put them back up, and then a fool climbs up there again, and Richard climbs up to get him down..all this as I play and sing along…………

Ok, I see there are notes here about the Maritimes……..swimming at Prince Edward Island…and stories about my attempt to write a book about making wine at home, (when I was a kid), and my very successful attempt to make beer in my bedroom……… taking all the light switches from condemned houses and building a monster light show when I was 12, before I got to play organ at hockey games……..those fun stories I tell other kids sometimes…………and I see a midnight clock here………how about I email this to Heather and see if she wants to post this as the start of the new road report ?  OK, here it goes, zzzzip………….thanks for being here, these shows would not have happened with out you, the concert goer, and we love you for it……… back soon!



late July 2006

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Saskatoon, last gig

Frankie and I still talking about the cosmic butterflies as John, the nice cop, is driving us from the Ramada to the Saskatoon airport. 2pm lobby check-out. I had been at the lobby computer, chatting with the guys from Sweeny Todd, walking around with the violin, thinking how I never get in trouble bringing this instrument, with its long pointy bow, on airplanes as carry-on. Sometimes they look at the rosin and decide that it is not a liquid. There was a big freak-out this summer about bringing liquids aboard. It always amazed me how I could drag my HUGE old backpack full of orange juice aboard for a flight home, to the fridge. How do they know its orange?

The only problems I ever had bringing liquids through airport security was in Toronto once when the guys decide that they should take some of the wine off my hands. What can you do? Airports always make me nervous. I feel it as soon as we drive into Richmond. Butterflies. No reason. I just start to think; ID? Wallet? Keyboard pedal? What am I forgetting?

July 29 Edmonton

4000 people, outdoors, Ra’s son, Connor, and his band, The Dead Rat Marionette Theatre (DRMT). Connor’s new rock band of which I am fully in support of, played a couple of scary good rock anthems during our set. These have got to be about the most fun, and accepting bunch of teenage rockers I have ever met. They were so much fun, backstage, in the parking lot, passing the violin around, joking like old road warriors. I love these guys (and 2 girl singers!) Lots of good lobby laughs. Can we keep them with us, PLEASE !?!?!?!?!?

–fly, rent van, drive to ferry…….repeat. You would not believe the stack of ferry receipts I have. Gotta get these into the office, lemme count them, just to be bizarre…….yes, Smitty, if you read this before we chat again, I have sent them to the office OK, all 35 of them. Let’s see, the ferry ride is almost 2 hours, times 35, that is 70 hours on the ferry, not including receipts I have already sent in. I love it. That is a lot of tea. At 3 cups of tea per crossing, which I maintain, 210 big cups. As soon as I hit the ferry, coming back to Vancouver Island, I feel like I am instantly at home, or heading out, I feel ON THE ROAD. There is no turning back!

July 30 Sechelt

…can I say this is my fave gig of the summer? This is about where Joni Mitchell lives, I hear. Funny thing, when I look out any window here in Nanaimo, such as the one where I live, the one where I grew up, I look across the Strait Of Georgia, and I see the lights of Sechelt. But I have NEVER been there! This time, I got to see the lights of Nanaimo from the other side. This is pretty neat.

I have spent so little time on the mainland Sunshine Coast, and I always thought it was way more redneck than it actually is. For Pete’s Sakes, hey. It is stunningly beautiful! Bowen Island Gambier……shocking. Paradise.

I had my own condo by the sea at the Sechelt gig, a short violin walk to the grocery store, where I over-stocked the kitchenette in anticipation of Tracy (and Oline) taking the ferry over, hung out with Gary Vanderhoeven and his sons, while Tracy and Oline sat on a bus, intending to meet up with us, which they did, and we (the band Trooper) picked them up on the side of the road to the outdoor festival. There was a food tent closing down, a trailer where everything had to be moved to a tent, some friends (Rob Becker, bass viruoso) playing with the Lisa Brokop band…….and a huge crowd.

Rocky Mountain Sound supplied a concert P.A. system, and Randy, our soundman (from Germany!) told me that they were the ONLY company to deliver MORE sound reinforcement than was asked for. He was delighted! Nice to see him so happy. When Randy works shows in Europe, there would never be a throw-together system, rickety stage, bogus light rig at any show. People are way serious over there, I guess. Sometimes we play places that are quite remote, and concerts a rarity, such as waaay up North, and if there is a non-European-standard technical situation to deal with, Randy tells someone in the band about it. He is a great, guy, great talent, he sometimes just takes is too seriously. No, I didn’t say that. Kidding. He is SUPPOSED to take this seriously! God bless the man!

So I made the late-night burritos after the beautiful Sechelt gig, after the band van sped down an airport runway at full speed..wheeeeee…and I had the Lisa Brokop people over in my condo-suite, jammed a bit, slept in, let the band leave without me, touristed around, caught a city bus right to the ferry, took a picture of MOLLY’S REACH (from the 1970’s TV show The Beachcombers) and made it back home in time for a hot sun afternoon skinny-dip in the river. The perfect day. Summer is blessed.

I remember this ferry trip, because I spotted a guy with a banjo case, and I met up with him and a guitar player on the upper deck for a fake bluegrass jam. I have a picture of this, and you wouldn’t believe the look on the beard-face of the hippy-who-hates-me on banjo. I am not kidding. The guy was a stiff player, and I jammed around his progression the best I could at that time, and he tried to hide it, as a crowd gathered, and despite the fact that he invited me to play, he hated me being there. Poor guy. I guess he decided that I killed his moment of attention. Hard to day. I can not figure this guy out. So I went back to the cafeteria for tea #3. Don’t think I am going to call him up at any point.

June 2006

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Ok, I lied, it is night time again. Think back……Summer in Toronto, that is my thought. Super hot out. I went for a walk for hours and ran into every guy in the band, either on the street or in a store. Our crew went to the huge radio station before the band, set up drums, keyboard, guitar stuff, while the host, Kim Mitchell chatted with them, had a good vibe, and more laughs when we arrived. We ran through Raise a Little Hell with Kim on guitar, and he riffed-out smoothly in the run through and then into the live to air performance, Brilliant, wow what a great player. Effortless. The radio station, right downtown Toronto, has a huge huge-huge audience. I don’t quite know what it was all about. Perhaps this was connected with Ra’s book promotions. Much was afoot with Ra’s book.

Man, I am so proud of Ra. His reading in the Ottawa Public Library was indeed a surreal moment in Canadian history. A little theatre full of people asking Ra questions, and him answering them like the ultra-hip scientist that he is. Scott, Frankie and I sitting in the crowd, me asking him a totally unrelated question, for him to recite my favorite story (not in his book) and once again hearing the story, and visualizing Ra’s conversation with a strange man, in Stanley Park, in the late 1960s, who sings opera, waves his hands and adjusts all the colours in the landscape. Ra asks him, as they quickly walk, “Who gave you that power?” “HIM” is the man’s answer as he points to the word GOD on the passing pavement. And then the man waves his magic arms as Ra sticks out his hitch-hike thumb, and the first car takes him exactly to where he is going, far away……….Ra told the story in vivid detail, and someone in the audience later thanked me for asking for that story. Brilliant stuff. All true, cosmic, and my gift, just for ever having met Ra McGuire.

I learn a lot from Ra. I think that if I had never met Ra, I would be in many ways a different person today. I quote him at least twice a week. Seriously. Ra always understands.

One reason why I have lasted longer than any other Trooper member (other than Brian Smith) is the concept that these guys don’t try to make me behave or think any other way than I already do. I don’t feel as if I have to compromise who I am around them. This is not the case with some other groups I have been with, and it is not true of many groups that other people tour with, to this day. We have a lot of personal freedom. And a lot of it gets really funny.

We pretty-much spend the days trying to come up with the funniest stuff we can, talk of ironies and get the most out of the moment we all share. Most of the van talk is of a spiritual nature, and how to get the most out of life. It is all personal connection stuff. We don’t just sit around and gossip. In fact very little is said about former band members, other than an update of good news on their behalf. Yes, just lots of cosmic talk of how it all works in the big picture.

I like trippy cosmic talk, and I enjoy input from all people I meet. Richard Nott, our new stage-managing merch man and guitar tech all in one…..this man always gets the joke…dude has read up on more religions that most people would care to hear about. So, of course, I gotta get him going on the subject whenever I can. At 3am, downtown Toronto, one block from the longest row of derelict ghetto slum male housing that I have ever been scared to drive through…..I decide that it is time to go all the way across the street and check out the deli. So I ask Richard (who is scared of NOTHING) and (Soundman) Randy (who can scare anyone with his German language) to go along with me. So we avoid one big street guy with blood all over his face, and the other yelling guy on the sidewalk, and enter the fabulous (seriously!) gourmet all night deli! It was there that the new religion was born.

Richard, looking into the deli case was the first to spot the Baba Ganoush.

Baba (being the LORD) and Ganoush (being a miracle).

So we spent the rest of the summer praising the most delicious of all deities, and waiting for the next Ganoush.

Richard and I were (ARE) still seeing converts, renunciants, and at one gig in New Brunswick, we did, in fact, convince one fellow to become a born again BABA-G.

All things start small.

You still with me here?

And then, one day, at one airport, I complained to Richard about a restaurant where I had once become the house band (with my Dad) for 6 months, with a popular seniors menu, and of my growing disappointment with some of the old folks in the crowd. I always thought that the elderly were extra wise, super enlightened, and peaceful…..and I found this popular Nanaimo restaurant to have an aging clientele of boring ill-tempered old red necks. This is the kind of crud that I was telling Richard one fine morning as we waited for yet another plane. Another day, another plane……..another rant about something……….ever notice how everyone has something to say about something?

And the small plane is FULL, and I sit next to an 81-year-old man. He is chatty. And he is REALLY smart, he is an Order of Canada recipient, he is a business consultant, he is the man who got compensation for the merchant marines……….so I ask him about LIFE. He restored my faith in today’s elderly. Aurele Ferlatte, Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association Inc. Good memory, hey? Kidding, I have his card with these notes.

My notes ! Did I not learn anything at school?
How can I squeeze a story from notes like THIS? :
1) Big Ken
2) People walk through sand
3) string bean
4) sailor at dock F-off
5) yes tree falls
……all junk,
………you don’t mind if I keep random time with this report…….

Summer 2006 revisited

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

No one has ever asked me why, love doesn’t fall from the sky…la-de-dah-dee-dee-dee…….OK, I can take the headphones off now. I can not believe how the winter is flying by here…….Totally fun……..

Yes, I think about Trooper often when we are on a break. Like this morning, for example, when I got my Air Canada Prestige card in the mail. Free upgrades, free lounge visits……sounds like a lotta free booze. Kinda nice ! But it all still makes me think about my high-tech-keyboard, in it’s case, unattended on the moving conveyor, dropping 4′ onto the tarmac. Airports…….seen one you seen ’em all.

But really, this summer was an amazing maze of flights, and we always got there, and back, didn’t we! I actually am quite grateful of this amazing rock and roll experience here. And to the mystery man who booked all those connecting flights, I salute your genius.

There is no way that I can detail the last Trooper touring wildness in great detail, lately. My notes are always abysmal, and there is this approach to life which attempts to live in-the-moment rather than try to capture and analyze ….OK, lame-o excuse, but also please recall the last attempt at a road report, I spent the entire epic complaining that I had deleted a masterpiece, and that my notes are all junk, oh it is all junk, what to do???

All day I think silly thoughts.
I live in a dream, or so says every girl I ever dated.
P-is a dora.
The door is ja: Nothing is what is seems.

Did I cover all of this already?

Did I cover my big TV rant?
…….we get to watch lots of TV on the road. This is something that I never do at home. I have had cable in my studio for the internet for the last, what, 5 years at least, and I finally got the inspiration to split the coaxial signal and hook it up to the TV. Now I get Law and Order, bastards, all out there doing bad things.

You ever notice how guys always grab girls arms on TV and pull, forcing the entire girl-body to respond to whatever the guy’s issue is? This happens on TV all the time. I even saw John Boy Walton do it once. And never ONCE have I ever seen a real guy, in real life, grab a real girl’s arm and pull at her. I know my girlfriend pretty well, and if anyone ever grabbed Tracy’s arm like that, they would be laid-out on the ground as embarrassing rugby wreckage pretty quickly. It is a good thing that we don’t spend our lives copying TV behaviour. Otherwise I would have a new car and way too much ice cream to eat.

And horses ! My GOD ! Every time I see a horse on TV, and this happens in the best, most credible movie, the horse ALWAYS makes that big frightened horse “NAAAAAAAYYY.” No horse mouths moving, but some post-production audio-editor-dude hits the big horse sample and there is that sound “NAAAAAAAYYY.” Come on. I have spent enough time with horses to know that they are pretty darn quiet. Grandpa Gogo’s horse only got mad when my big brothers threw apples at its dink. But not on TV. Horses are always yelling. Drives me crazy.

OK that is my road report this year. Thank you for being here!

love Gogo

PS, Ok more notes:

-The Trailer Park Boys gig, really nice guys, shy in fact. I lost my glasses.
-Rolls Royce sightings, brand new one in Kingston.
-spaced out with Buddhist skater girl guru
-spaced out on the Detroit River
-toured scary ghetto housing in Toronto
-radio show with Kim Mitchell playing with us
-Scott tending my laundry in luxury Ottawa suite
-Scott takes a break for touring
-Larry Church gigs on bass guitar
-Larry walks everywhere with his mandolin playing ‘turkey in the straw’
-Randy flies in from Germany to do our live sound mix
-Randy says “Canada has the highest cheese prices in the world.”
-Dave Hampshire joins as tour manager
-Mike Pacholuk returns as soundman and tour manager
-Lance tours as drummer as Frankie takes a break
-Lance’s family attend with thousands in the rain at Ottawa’s Tulip Festival
-Lance is one of the great musicians of planet Earth. He is my Guru.
-Craig leaves the merch gig, visits us on the road
-Richard Nott takes the merch, stage, guitar tech gig
-Richard starts a new religion………….
-big sing-along backstage with Fred Turner in Winnipeg, girl tells him “without you, BTO is just BO!”
-I visit every church I can, just to hear the crazy music, same as at home.
-I decide to learn the violin for real this time…….
-long walks every day to find outdoor violin practice space walks.
-heard rumour that both Grandpa and Grandma Walton were gay……
-had a guy rent my mountain cabin when I was away, the guy had more problems than he was willing to disclose and disassembled the place…left tons of garbage, wrote all over everything, typical crazy speed-freak crap..I still have to restore the place. Disappointed.

Yes, this is what my little pile of notes looks like…..Arena gigs-hockey change room deli trays…what about it? I dunno. We saw lots of them, I know that much.

Frankie left the band. He is getting married soon, his life is complicated. I think so. I love Frankie. His last outrage was in the form of big loud howls in the van, laughing, imitating big loud Japanese samurai…. hooraghaaaaahhhhhhh……Frankie, I should have recorded you. Miss you Frankie. Ra said that Frankie’s huge energy will be totally missed. I have never met anyone like Frankie, and I never suspect that I ever will again. He noticed the things that I always pass by. We would zone-out on all the butterflies on the road. Details. He would talk about his favorite tree in Manitoba a few miles before we passed it on the highway. He remembers everything, every play he ever read. In some ways Frankie is the smartest guy I have ever met. And the funniest. And every time we got to a town, airport, anywhere, he would take off all on his own, spend hours walking all by himself. And talk on the phone late into the night. Every night, every detail. The guy is a machine. Frankie’s mind is a national treasure.

Can I tell you about the new religion that Richard Nott and I started?

It is midnight here in my studio, as I write this…….. I will start this up in the morning.

October 2006 – Catching Up

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

……scales scales scales, can I take a break now, please………..I ask myself……….

Hey Cats,
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………………, 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.
A lot.
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?
Their personalities!

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.

The End.

Love Gogo

………..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……… 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…… 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.

Love Gogo