Archive for July, 2010

Summer 2010

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Home School Drop-Out

Sitting here with Ra at the Regina Airport, and he is showing me pictures of this amazing bus-yacht…. who —hooo! But I don’t know if he is suggesting that we take that rather than fly today.

We have lots of fun. I was just razzing the guys that “I am here ONLY for the conversation…..”
I hear stuff on the road that simply is not discussed at home.
I have already learned more about Mac OS that I had thought about all year.

We have  just enjoyed the longest stretch of winter and spring inactivity,
being that our last gig was the Olympics, about 5 months ago.
And suddenly we are at it again, a flight per day……

20 June –         arrive Vancouver (TROOPER) 9:20 am
21 June –         fly out of Bellingham Washington 10:50 am
22 June –         arrive Los Angeles (days off )…..Eddie Jobson UZ concert and go to the beach !
23 June  –        fly out of LAX 8:40 pm
24 June  –        fly out of Vancouver 1:30PM (TROOPER)

Life is amazing, (or am I just in a really good mood?)!
I think that the smaller the town, the friendlier the airport security staff.
I never get hassled.
I get asked to tell my little road stories-to-date with those cats sometimes,
and they never question bringing a violin bow onboard.

‘The Cloots’ (Paul Cloutier, tour manager) is simply the best guy around,
and he gets us all checked in and organized,
All I do is show a ticket and passport to a WESTJET person at a gate
and at the last fight we both said “rock and roll” at the exact same time.

Nice to go on the road………….
The day before this tour (2 days ago) I borrowed the neighbour’s truck and smashed out their taillight at the recycling depot….(I got guided into it by a worker there)…..hassles, you know….just trying to dispose of old drywall….

…so I went to an auto wrecker and got a used truck taillight, broken in a different spot, and a
wonderful mechanic friend just Frankensteined the two together……….

….and 2 construction guys are making 3 new bedrooms out of my GOGO MANOR basement suite, and the windows I ordered for the job were the wrong size……so a re-order
and a re-design there…..and now,  all of that has been taken care of……all I do is talk on the phone now….thank you.

…. I sit here wondering what the next youtube song is that I should listen to……probably CHICAGO’s  “If You Leave Me Now” ……..I LOVE the violins.

You Tube is my new best friend on the road.
I have listened to every posted version of CHICAGO’s “If You Leave Me Now” ……I never get tired of it.

I have always been obsessed with string arrangements.
Most songs, I could not tell you the lyrics, but I can sing to you all the violin lines…Annie’s Song….Roger Whitaker… all great real strings. Over the winter I have been recording lots of violins, making my own string section.
VERY liberating.

The Olympics

I did not write a road report about the Olympics; about the athletes at the hotel, and having run into each TROOPER band member amongst the thousands of people crowding all the streets…and the beautiful gift basket, and the lux hotel and the limos and the tight security …..
….. and the huge scrim in front of the stage, watching the countdown before the curtain drops, hearing the crowd roar … and seeing the BC PLACE crowd for the first time, surrounded by high-def cameras.

It wasn’t until after the show that I learned that the whole thing was broadcast on Much Music and that my friends back home got to see it too. Then I was all “Oh did I screw-up ay parts or look too ridiculous?”
But I saw a DVD and am really proud of how we represented.

Loverboy was wonderful as well, and great dinner-mates at catering backstage. Mike Reno and I had soup, and for the first time ever, I had a nice long and detailed chit chat with Doug Johnston, (keyboard player),  and I got to know him a little better…and I let him know how much I look up to him, and always have.

I love profile-raising gigs like that…and I love all gigs. We played the Arena in Regina last night to a ton of people.  It was billed as a COUNTRY NIGHT, and there were still messages for Dwight Yokum backstage, who had the stage, (and backstage,) the night before….we Troopers all stayed back after the show for awhile laughing with each other…..the start of our summer tour.

I somehow woke up for this 9 am lobby call this morning, despite my phone and alarm not working…..and I have a ton of emails from my family… stuff….TONS of it……and I would prefer to take a break from that, but this is about the only point where my 2 lives collide right now.

I spend a lot of time dealing with family emails on the road.
Total reality shift.

Did I mention that I have 8 international student living in the downtown house right now, and they are so fun, so cool, but most are leaving now.   I just got a schedule, with a chart for the summer students who will by staying at GOGO MANOR.
The school takes care of booking everyone, and GOGO MANOR acts as a private wing of the school. Nice hey!
But I will miss these kids, for sure…just said good bye to Anastasia (from the Ukraine) before I left.  I asked that she keep in touch over the years, ‘cos she is a really neat kid.

(As I read this over before submitting it for publication on the TROOPER site,
I find that I do not, in fact miss the students as much as I thought I would).

Going Back on the Road

That day (2 days ago) before I left, was way too busy. I told myself that I would just relax the day before I leave, but no, I always fall into a mini-time panic…..even after our record-breaking long time-off break between shows.
Things somehow find their way into being important at the last minute.

I drove back and forth from SLEGG LUMBER to GOGO MANOR with loads of drywall, 2-by-whatevers lumber…..and then to the recyclers with the old drywall…..and I did not get a chance to go to the swimming pool. Brutal. But I did get the construction guys to carry the new 5/8ths drywall into the house, and the international students to help load-in the boards. I can not risk any hand-strain before going on tour.

But swimming, I CAN do !
We have the biggest wave pool and highest waterslides West of Edmonton…at the Nanaimo Aquatic Center…..and I manage to dive-in 3 times a week…..and it is COLD….COLD!  I tell you!
So we are now back to hotel pools, and I am always on the look-out for a lake to swim in.
Gotta be more careful though, ‘cos for years I would jump into any pond…..

The fancier the hotel, the less people use the pool….and the nicer the pool too.
I watched a windshield-breaking hail storm from the hot tub at the Marriott in Calgary,
with nobody around…….but if that had been the econo-motel…..the place would be jammed with kids.  Fancy hotels may not get the people into the pools, but they sure get them into the restaurants.

I remember once when the whole band went swimming in the Georgian Bay….early into my run with this band….summer time, cliff diving…..slightly more than a pond (Lake Huron!) hey, awesome……
this band has gone swimming together lots over the years…..the salt pool of Saskatchewan….we always have fun.
I think that is why we are all still here.

I love this band, even if they didn’t notice the huge wild blonde streaks and wild hairdo stuff that I did for this tour.

Man, I forgot to pack my vintage stage boots and had to go onstage last night in my skateboarder shoes. I was pretty-much embarrassed about that, or at least uncomfortable, but nobody hassled me about it. It does not feel right to be in the same shoes from sound check to the gig…..for me anyway, ‘cos I have been doing some things a certain way for so long.

I bet tons of people are like that with their professions.
A doctor doesn’t want to operate in gum boots
and a bricklayer does not want to wear ballerina slippers.

Yeah, and I am missing the Saint Peter’s Council bar-be-cue in a couple of days, at Father Valdimar’s house. I got nominated for church council last month, and also elected (I think on the back of my late Mom’s old friends….like the CWL choir) ….and I managed to stay awake for the first meeting. I dunno ………I kinda do what is asked, you know.

Wow, 28 emails from my immediate family alone over the first day-and-a-half, would be fun if it was not all related to estate issues.
We are into day 2 now, and both mornings I did not get my wake-up call, and my alarm has not worked. Amazing that I woke-up at all, and not even late.

Alberta Badlands

I drove home from the gig in Delia last night, and we stayed at the Ramada in Drumheller. I didn’t bother to get out to see either the dinosaur or the creationism museum. What a stupid argument that is, between the two, hey. Things started somewhere in the universe and things developed, didn’t they?  How things start, and where they go from there are two different concepts…….so what is all the fuss?…. So other than some violin scales, a walk to the IGA for bananas, and some email replies, it has been pretty recreational, lying around.

I drove the band bus back from the Delia Town Hall after we finished signing stuff and meeting all the good-vibe folks. I drive way slower than anyone else, and made room for people to pass me. I have to concentrate, cos Ra has pictures of ultra-gourmet meals on his new iPad, in the passenger seat

Smitty was driving one day and got pulled-over for a bit of speeding, and the cop was a young guy who was not as impressed with TROOPER as he was to have finally caught someone on his deserted stretch of highway. His quote was,  “Just because you are a celebrity, I can’t give you a break.”

I love gigging, and I do miss it when I am away… soon as we stand on the side of the stage for the last couple of minutes before we go on, I can feel the intensity of what I would miss if I ever had to stop touring. I love it all…I love the fog machine at the back of the stage….don’t get that at home. I miss my people back home, of course, and the ocean out the front window….but I do not miss the telephone. Terrible invention that one.

And I miss the TROOPER people who were with us over the years, and we talk about the guys tons. About Lance,….who has heard from him… long his hair might be now …..Frankie and his wild energy…..Richard Nott and what a great guitar player he is…and lately, that Craig is no longer with us as well. Craig, the ultimate tourist, the best day-trip buddy and the computer fix-it man, the human GPS, the eating machine……I totally miss Craig. Great man. Craig was always a good vibe, really smart, and organized.  We hung around lots in Barcelona and took a Niagara Falls day trip once too…and Wasaga Beach….I like when cats are always up to going out to see stuff.

Ok ….. ever since that  guy on TV tried to blow up a plane with toothpaste, or whatever, we always check-in our shaving kits with our crew, who put stuff into the merch bags. So when I get into any airport, I am handed back my shaving kit. The idea is that I never bring a suitcase for tours that are less than 4 shows, so I put the shaving kit into my knapsack, and it has to get transferred every time we go through security, which is A LOT. So … as boring as it was for you to read that, it has been equally complicated for me to keep track of …..and I lost my shaving kit 3 times over the last 2 days.

Somehow it always comes back to me, (thanks to our amazing tour-manager)…..and even if I accept its eventual demise someday…. I always tell myself that it’s better than forgetting my violin.

Two Birthday Party Gigs in a Row

And I talk to anyone I see who has any kind of music case at airports, even the Australians with the banjo. To my delight, Ian Cameron got on the last flight (he is a very versatile guitarist and violinist). I have been a huge fan of Ian’s since EXPO 86… I very casually went up to him and got really excited about getting a violin lesson from him. He knew I wasn’t kidding.

So when we landed in Grande Prairie, checked into the fine hotel and spa (I had a KING suite with 3 sinks)…and I got a chance to reply to the latest batch of wild emails…….I got a text from Paul Cloutier “Lobby 8:30 the gig is awesome.” If we had left earlier we could have gotten in on the helicopter rides, and the set of tunes by the 7-piece band DEERE JOHN. But we arrived at the restored antique caboose, turned private gaming room…. with plenty of time to snack-out and meet the big-time wheelers and dealers of Northern Alberta. I was told that these are the big boys who deal in hundreds of millions. Cool, I guess…..

This was a private party, a retirement and birthday bash for some folks who are into trucking, oil and everything,…..(well not everything…….I am not convinced that they are hooked on abstract expressionism…)…… the party was was held on their  5,000 acre buffalo ranch. VERY beautiful setting with a small lake and high-end PA and staging. Scientists have studied the unique plant life on  this farm ‘cos the last ice age passed over this area.

(I am at the Edmonton airport for an hour stop-over as I write this, Ra is contorted and sleeping on the 3 seats next to me…) sleep at 3 am and awake at 6……had the LOUDEST phone in history wake me up today; the first of 3 wake-up calls that I actually got… and some airports have free internet, this one not……..try to type thoughts with 3 hours sleep …….whooooooooooooo

Ok,  so about 200 people at this private party last night surrounded by oceans of fields. Very nice people, I liked everyone, but I was most excited to track-down Ian Cameron for the big violin lesson. He was very enthusiastic, smiles and opened his case, brought out his electric violin and quickly pointed out 5 things that I could improve in my technique. From my thumb to my shoulder position, I got a total work-over. It was the best crash-course lesson since that last one he gave me, backstage at Club Soda when he was with JUAN TRAK…..when was that ? 1986. EXPO…..I was THERE !!!

So really what are the benefits of playing with a very successful rock band? Everything….whatever you land on really. What interests you? At this gig, you could have learned anything you wished to know about tractors, oil rigs, card playing…..and have contacts at the top of every field. The nice wealthy folks left us alone in their private caboose, with all their booze and cheezies….so you really could have as much high-end party delights as you want as well, really…….. But me…..I am thrilled to grab as many violin tricks as I can from Ian Cameron. Considering how many musicians we meet, you really could learn anything about music (and booze and cheezies) anytime.

I saw Bill Henderson (singer with Chilliwack) at the ferry terminal once, so I asked him what the first chord to BABY BLUE is. I knew it was not a regular E6th. He told me to play a C, 5 frets up with your pinky down. And really, how else would I ever have figured that out?

It is like Smitty’s intro to THE BOYS IN THE BRIGHT WHITE SPORTS CAR…what he plays is so original, and bizarre, that you have to learn it from the master himself. Nobody would ever guess the actual technique.

OK, having said all that…….here we are back on the flight to Toronto.

Who have we seen lately at the airports…THE TREWS….THE GUY FROM SPIRIT OF THE WEST. He is really nice, John……


We just had 5 or 6 days off, so I drove to Bellingham, stayed with a friend and then  flew to Los Angeles to see Eddie Jobson’s new band.

I had booked these flights months ago, before these Trooper dates came up, and I only had to shift the arrival time to make it work.

The few days I had in California would make a book in itself.   A lifetime in a short time … the highlights were warm ocean swimming, a whole lot of chit chat with British people, gourmet Mexican food, and a concert by my favorite keyboard player, who also happens to be my electric violin guru (Eddie Jobson)……I am a mega-fan, and was guested at the concert and after party, along with several others who flew in from around the world. We all stayed at our friend  Lenore’s beautiful Spanish Long Beach house, and were treated like kings the whole time.

The vibe was as golden as the California sunshine.
As far as I can tell, the beaches in LA are the ULTIMATE hip scene.
The epitome of cool, with everyone invited, not elite, just groovy as the day is long.

Lenore’s husband, Bob, who goes to the beach A LOT, helps a 86-year-old, with a stroller, in and out of the water every day. It is total community. I can imagine that not all of L.A. is like this, but I sure got blessed with the right crowd.

My dune buggy obsession took the next step on this trip, as an overnight stop (with our excellent friend Scott Miller) exposed the little green dune buggy that I now intend to buy, bring back to Canada and have rebuilt. Stuff of dreams, but I think I am awake enough to pull this one off. Gotta have some fun, right?

My plan is to tow-bar that dune buggy across the border and over to Vancouver Island after the closing date of the PNE on September 6th.

Life can’t all be just simply flying, hotels and rock concerts.
You gotta be able to hit the beaches in style….even if the style is classic 1965 Meyers Manx.

The drive over the US border and connecting flights were seamless, back from my little California holiday, and I got to VYR earlier than the rest of the band; happy to see Clayton arrive next.

I sat next to Ra on the flight out…(empty seat in between) in the emergency exit and I told my stories, plans and concepts…..subdivisions, house rebuilds, recordings and of course, dune buggies. I think Ra is up-to-date with my hype.

Ra showed me pictures (on his iPad) of the house next door to him being ripped down by an excavator, and I showed him all of my pictures of boating and cabins on this little HP mini. My battery died, (and his iPad battery never will).


Played the Casino Rama last night; TROOPER and COLIN JAMES. 
4,200 people in a HUGE theatre with top-of-the-line production and hallways with hundreds of photos of the top world’s entertainers, who one-by-one have filled the 200 shows this place hosts every year. The building itself in on a reserve up from Toronto; a multi-multi-million dollar facility, with the fastest glass elevators in town, and the most giant buffet of the year. I was surprised to get six $20 food vouchers with my room key, but it all made sense when I saw the size of the hotel suite. These people are first-rate about everything. This is the KING of the casino gigs, as far as I could tell……4 front-of-house consoles to choose from…..

Scott Brown kept running into Colin James all day and they became chums.  I stayed in my room the whole time, other than to do laps in the warm indoor swimming pool. We played our “OLYMPIC set;” 45 minutes, and then spent most of the evening signing t-shirts, with money from that going to a charity for radiology. I have never seen a more genuinely friendly staff at any facility on earth. Everyone was happy to be there.

My local Toronto friends Derrick and Jen came out for the hang-out and concert, and they will be there tonight as well. It is very rare for me to have guests, and really quite a nice treat when it happens. So we all hit the buffet pretty hard.

We sat out front for a bit for the Colin James gig, and the sound was really good, and the facility, (the biggest concert theatre I have ever seen), was very comfortable. We signed a ton of stuff on the way out, and I never did meet anyone from that band, other than the really nice new guitar player…..I kinda know those guys from years ago, but between meet and greets and me being a hotel hermit, there were no extra jams that night.

There had been a tornado and an earthquake in the same day….and then the G20 riots, that looked totally staged to me. Why, oh why, would there be cop cars burning away for the cameras and nobody putting the fires out? How could anyone even light one up with 8 zillion cops around? Seriously. There are more riot police than regular people on the street, and still somehow….guys can jump on the cars, burn them……good theatre, but I don’t like it…..It came across like a handy way to justify the incredible expense of all of that security, and a proven method of trying to keep the public in constant fear. Really, like the cops couldn’t figure out who the “BAD” people are (all dressed in black) and get them to smarten-up. Primitive bunch of clowns.

My friend Jeehoon dropped by the hotel to hang out, but he couldn’t make it to the gig, ‘cos his job was to take the Korean First Lady to a Catholic Church in the morning. I will be flying at that point, and avoiding earthquakes by being in the air.

Hey, speaking of which…..
Our priest back home is happily trapped in the 14th Century.
When he talks about getting stoned, he means that people are gonna throw rocks.
I just wrote that one hahahahahaha……..

The brand new Ferrari California (the first ever with a removable hard-top) was parked next to us when we left at 1 pm the next day for a short drive to the airport hotel …cloudy.  As I hear … it had also turned that way in  Los Angeles as soon as we left.

So we stayed the last night at the Delta Airport Hotel in Toronto. It was about an hour drive out to the Mossport Speedway, for the ‘Ride for Sight’…..a huge biker festival for charity. This was my fave gig in quite awhile. There was a huge bus for the opening act COLT HARLEY and I got permission to board, and they called me by name and said I couldn’t leave until I had a puff on a reefer. I just took pictures instead., had some laughs, grooved on the crazy green lights and the mob of people sitting really low….and then got to play a really nice digital piano outdoors for a sea of bikers. It was kinda ominous with the surrounding fields all dark with a dozen big campfires glowing. 800 bikes, apparently, amongst the campers…..

This is the start of the summer shows, and this one was loose and psychedelic. Great people. Ra got the guy up front with the harmonica to play a solo and I got the dazed-looking  teenage girl to look up and smile. I almost got to take a picture of 3 huge bald guys with very serious faces and video cameras, but I was still playing piano….. It would be neat to see a documentary and interviews of this crowd. Everyone would have a ton of good stories, I’ll bet.

Canada Day … Parksville Beach

We are all at the TO airport now, everyone with their computers and iPhones out… gig is just minutes away from my hometown….outdoors at Parksville Beach, Canada Day.  Chilliwack played this one last year….30,000 people on the beach….legend has it.  It is a free concert and EVERYONE is going to be there…….the last time we played Vancouver Island at all was 2006….4 years ago……and it sure raised my personal profile on the Island. I got very friendly service at the lumber yard after that one…..and that is what I do with the odd days-off here….drive back and forth to the lumberyard……but happily I do not pick up a hammer these days….at all…..not even for fun.

So what is the best thing about dating a homeless girl ?
You can drop her off anywhere.

Scott and I saw a huge pod of orca (killer) whales right off port-side of the ferry. Absolutely majestic. They did the huge water-spray and curve-up out of the water routine. There was about six of them moving along at once. Made the trip for sure.

We had a day off, and I continued to organize the summer students booked at GOGO MANOR, and see-off the ones leaving. Mr Chriss took the gang to the beach in his limo for the last night together, and it was all very loving……. until I saw the mess that they left in their bedrooms. Some people just don’t get it, and probably never will. Love and kindness are not always rewarded, of course…..and I suppose that is why the Lord invented damage deposits.

I figured that as renters….international students were a pretty safe bet.
But still……….you are going to get slobs.

I was very excited to be playing Canada Day on Parksville Beach. Talk about a dream gig; a huge outdoor festival 30 minutes from my hometown of Nanaimo. The big word was that Chilliwack played last year, for 30,000 people………as I keep telling everyone….. I was hoping that we would beat that attendance record, of course, it  rained  (but it did stop in time for our show….)

Our 2 days off of touring was far busier than I had been on the road. And most of it was really fun, including my drive to Lantzville to rehearse one song on electric violin with the band 33rd Rail……. Heather (our webmaster and promotions manager) and her husband stayed one very short night at Gogo Manor, and we went for a nice stroll around the neighbourhood and had a midnight jam with Richard Nott…..these are the defining moments of a summer. It is always the events between the events that are the most outstanding memories, hey…..

So what is the best thing about the homeless?
They are good on Pita Bread.

My goal for the Parksville concert, being that it was a local show, was to not have a huge entourage. Pretty-much everyone I ran into said they were going to this gig.  At other shows, such as the Vancouver Island Exhibition, I had well over 30 people in my entourage, on a guest list, and most of them were guests of my guests. That is way too much work for me.

Scott told me that he had spent that day alone, back 4 years ago at the VIX,….relaxing, and I can learn from that kinda of wise approach. I mean, there is no reason why I need to burn out before an important show… this time, Tracy-Lyn and I hopped into the new Maxima and made an early drive up to Parksville, without anyone else onboard… students, no nephews…..nobody.

The idea was to get to the site for a 10 am sound-check, being that there were to be bands from 12:30 onwards. What I did not know is that Parksville shuts down the entire Island Highway for a parade every Canada Day, so the highway was backed-up, and traffic was detoured down residential side streets. I thought it was really funny, and I loved running into the very friendly traffic directors who were so excited about our show that night, and I got waved right across the parade route. Scott, who was ahead of me, ran into a bad cop … one of those “I don’t care who you are!” guys.

So I made the soundcheck, saw ex-Trooper crew members Randy Bergner and Harvey Windsor, Richard Nott…..we played some songs, had some laughs and watched the last half of the huge parade, ‘cos we sure were not getting out of there until that passed. I loved it all. Great sound check and a great parade.

We checked into the Beach Resort Hotel, a brand new luxury 8-story beauty right on the massive expanse of Parksville Beach, and as Tracy-Lyn ironed my shirts, I got set-up with violin scales. I walked the boardwalk and the beach up to the stage and was astounded to hear how good one of the opening acts was. THE RACKET CLUB, a 4-piece group of Nanaimo veteran players, with a stunning Beatles medley, heavy and great vocals. They cover songs that nobody else would dare (“Conquistador”), and yeah, I wanna play with them too!

I got prepared for the one song to jam with 33rd Rail at 6 pm, and I arrived at the stage at 5:30 to plug in my ZOOM echo pedal thing, and have my cable ready for “Paint It Black”…..the closing song of their set. I did have a mini entourage of 6 at the hotel by then, and I told them where I would be, so Tracy-Lyn video-taped my violin intro, and the song I got to play … I was horrified to watch the play-back, ‘cos I could barely hear one note onstage. The next band up was also a who’s-who of excellent Nanaimo musicians….my people… I was a little excited to play electric violin loudly in front of all of them. (I did watch the video tape back that night and was happy that my pitch was not as bad as I thought it may be…) Of all instruments, the violin is the one you don’t wanna play by sight alone (fretless, hey, with tiny spacings…..) The crowd was yelling TROOPER all day……..

The other local musicians were very gracious and tons of fun. I only got up there and jammed for the fun of it, you know….when we headline a festival, this is usually nap time in this situation. I walked the boardwalk back, got a half-hour of lay-around time and met with the rest of TROOPER for a beach board-walk to the stage. The crowd had filled to capacity by then, and I had a hard time making it to the backstage trailer, as there was so many great people that I knew, who had made it up for the show.

There was a host who would talk in the mic the whole time during any band changeover, and he had earlier threatened to have my car towed during sound-check (in a huge empty parking lot with the parade still going on the highway) and he stomped on one of Ra’s jokes in front of everyone…..he ended up playing tambourine right center stage behind me during my guest violin spot with 33rd Rail….so I don’t think I wanna post any of that footage on Youtube. He was a nice enough guy, but I don’t need to hear comments over the PA about “TROOPER is backstage collecting their social security…” before we go on. Both untrue, and unfunny. What is the point of slagging the headliner before they play for a festival audience?

I know, a joke is a joke, but the best ones are not at the headliner’s expense… my opinion.

The stage was not huge, no big video screen production, (but a GREAT sounding PA!) and the people were pretty compressed up front, as far as I could see, and a great sea of people going back in all directions, and a HUGE exaggerated lion’s roar as we hit the stage.  This, I would say was my favourite gig ever….or in the last 25 years anyway. Very proud to have the band up and running so tight and powerful, and I loved improvising a big keyboard solo at that volume.

The crowd was magnificently loud for the whole show, and I have really never seen so many people that I know all in one place in my life. Great gig, great fun. The autograph signing session went on for over an hour-and-a-half afterward ….the field had become empty, and just a line of people left to see us. My voice was raunchy by the end of it, for chatting everyone up, and this is where I run into friends from junior high school (and dance class) that I have not seen in 30 years. Tons of little kids, smiling, lots of young girls, one with a mom who barked at me “SHE’S ONLY SIXTEEN !!!!!!!”….yeah, as if I was hitting on her……get real. There were also special needs kids there from the acoustic volunteer gig I do, family people, Facebook people…….not exactly the time of place to be hitting on 16-year-olds.

I was the last guy there, with Carson, the bass trombone player from Gogo Manor this year….so along with his entourage of 3, we went back to the backstage trailer to have some laughs with Ra, and a few other people still having fun  …had some deli snacks and we walked the lit-up boardwalk back to the hotel., I had a ground-floor room with beach chairs, so I just walked through the sliding glass door, and we had some laughs until they departed and I hit the snooze, for real. No extra overnight guests….. just a rare, rare moment of silence.

You know, festivals of this magnitude tend to burn out after a few years. We see it all the time. There will be a run of 4 or 5 years, until the thing becomes unmanageable. I was thrilled that we got to play one while it is still fresh in its run. I could see, very clearly, from the stage, how the security guys were picking on the people in the front row, causing a fight, and that kinda thing ends up looking bad on the festival, and on the band. Also, I heard later of one mugging, one stabbing and 5 guys beating up one girl in a parking lot. THAT is the kind of junk that shuts down a festival, even if there are thousands of very chill, happy and loving west-coast people there to sing and feel the music in the summer sea-breezes of the sea.  It only takes one violent offender to shut the thing down.

Oh yeah, and it was FREEZING that night…..2 days before the heat wave hit……

Our amazing drummer Clayton got assaulted after the gig as well. He went to see his friend’s band at a local venue THE ROD AND GUN, (the name alone scares me)…… I had played there with Megalicious a couple of years ago, and I don’t ever need to go there again. The big guys yelling YOU SUCK, and the girl fights….no thanks. I generally have boycotted all alcohol products since I was 19 anyway, so I have no business even being there, really…..

Anyway, Clayton had a wonderful time, met new people, and on his way out he heard some derogatory comment about his pants (he was wearing his mildly-embroidered cool rock and roll pants) and someone pushed him by his neck and shoulders and he fell face first on the pavement. When he got up, nobody would admit that they did it, or knew anything about it, and he appeared for our flight (I am on the flight to Regina as I write this) with huge scrapes and rash all over his nose and chin and face. This really upsets me a lot … there is no reason for this kind of behavior other than cowardliness and bullshit cruelty. Nothing he can do about it. He also has a very sore neck. This is the drummer for TROOPER we are talking about here……

These are the stories that have kept me from “going out” after gigs.
We get invited to tons of parties, or to see bands, and I NEVER go, unless I am with an entourage.
So really, I just never go.
Especially in small towns.
But thank you for all of those invitations anyway… offense.

So here we are at the Calgary airport for a 3-hour stopover, after a 5 am leave….Smitty is telling kid stories….Scott is laying down to sleep….we can smell SUBWAY… know, musicians don’t work, right……they PLAY.
And we don’t get paid to play……….we get paid to travel………with two flights and a drive, that amounts to 9 hours worth today……

We arrived at a hotel with a gorgeous view of a yellow canola field….slept for a couple of hours before hopping back into the fully-loaded Buick Enclave and down the prairie highway…”to the gate…you can’t miss it.”  My other fave quote was from a roadie at the hotel,  “Every 18-year-old girl in Manitoba is there, learning how to drink…”

True enough, the huge country fest was sold-out to capacity, which we saw as we drove down a narrow road full of people all walking the opposite direction. There was a delay getting past the gate, which I had never seen since I joined this band.   (As I write this, it is now 6 am the next day, back on the road out of town, and Smitty just got pulled over by the cops).

We found the stage, right in front of a sardine-packed-shoulder-to-shoulder-TROOPER TROOPER-chanting-mob who had been waiting for a long time.  (Smitty just used the T-word on the cop here…)…….where were we…….oh, right … the opening act was backstage, BOB’s YOUR UNCLE, some security guys (the coolest ones ever) and some snacks…the crowd was very loud…..

The crowd was right up to the front of the stage, no barricade, and I could see the huge video screen of the other band (Aaron Pritchett) who was playing in the space next to us  (Keith Urban had played the previous night, and still had all his merch for sale)…..our audience did not wane through our entire set, and by the end a few dozen had jumped up to join us, dancing and singing, and the security guys awaiting Ra’s direction. We did a huge mass-bow and went backstage to rave about what had gone on.

Ok … so back to the present … best cop quote,  “No I can’t give you a break, just ‘cos you are a celebrity……..I smell alcohol in your van….”  First time for everything. I don’t think we have ever gotten a ticket before.

And did I mention the mosquitos? I had 8 major welts before even getting out of the van on the way to the gig. Besides all this, some guys in the band said that this was the PERFECT GIG….what more could you want ?

THANK YOU for reading  (or skimming) through this.

I try to  find the time to type out what is going on as best as I can…..and I want to THANK YOU for being here.


P.S. ….to be continued…..

Special thanks to Derek White for helping out with this road report!