Archive for September, 2010

Summer 2010 Tour … continued

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

I had rightly predicted that the Parksville concert would “up-my-personal-profile” on Vancouver Island (where I live). I found that everything takes a little longer now, when I am out running chores at home, ‘cos some people pull their cars over to chat….which is super friendly, and fun.  Everyone wants to see us do well on tour.

Before Taking to the Road …  Life at Gogo Manor

My days off at home are FULL of activity, even if it is recreational, like swimming, ‘cos that can include cliff-jumping.   I am responsible for filling GOGO MANOR with food; all the freezers up to the top, to be sure that everyone, all the summer international high school students all survive in my absence. We have new guests from Columbia….Korea.  For those who may have missed the topic that ate up the past year of my life  … GOGO MANOR is the new international student housing complex for Malaspina International High School that has been established over the last semester.

Such a facility has never been established, or allowed, in my hometown of Nanaimo, by the city, or the school…… so it is a brave venture, on everyone’s part.   Somehow, all three parties (me being the third) all had the same idea at the same time….I guess, and I proposed it. This is also the perfect side-project for a musician, (which is all I have ever really taken on as a profession).  I have invested in a dozen small businesses since I was a teenager…..each one failing more miserably than the last.  Brutal, year after year of putting all my resources into a “really good idea” that eventually bombed. And this concept is based on a serious student housing shortage…….so I call it a success, so far….. There’s an idea……base a business on something that there is a proven need for, as opposed to something that I think people will really like.

There are 8 summer students now, and will be 11 by the end of the month.  There have been 30+  guests over the last 10 months.

For fun, here is a list of the nations represented so far at our mini-UN:

Saudi Arabia
Viet Nam

But nobody from NORWAY, so there have not been many cakes baked…….

————————- Joke Break! ——————————-

So, my huge joke:
How do homeless people educate their kids ?
Homeless schooled.


I am sure I talked about this before… buying this huge old house I grew up in, and the constant updates….new shower, bathroom, electrical service, drywall, paints… face-lift.  It still needs a ton of extensive (expensive) updates, that will probably take up towards 2 years to complete.  But the house is already successful to the point where 3 more first-class bedrooms are being built into the suite below. Before I left town to go on this leg of the tour, I said good-bye and good-luck to 2 electricians and 2 carpenters.  All working in my absence…..

……….so what do I do at GOGO MANOR ?

Well, I financed it…..I oversee bookings……help settle students in…..cook a bit…..(I hate cooking).  And before we had any guests, I tried my hand at everything from tons of drywall mudding to electrical.   There was very little time and very little budget last year, so I did what it took to get it all running….  Now I really just shop for groceries. That is what I do…..and I enjoy that very much. I have a thing about grocery stores. I love them.  I compare brands and prices in every province, just for fun.  I don’t know, it makes me feel some kinda fancy to push that big cart around.  I honestly find it really interesting and entertaining.  I’ve always hated (non-grocery) shopping, but this project has taught me to somehow enjoy it. During our next break I must go and acquire three more desks, lamps, curtains, sheets…..all matching, of course…rugs, too.

Oh….and having a house full of international students….I did plunge a toilet and sink on my way out to tour.  That is the downfall of international education. I hear that the washrooms at the school are like upside-down septic tanks. Many wealthy people, from overseas, neglect this part of their children’s development.  If you can believe that.  The good news is……this new semester, the students at GOGO MANOR don’t just get a washroom orientation….they also get assigned janitorial duties.  I am not saying that all of these kids are pigs……but it only takes one….right?  And chances are, there is more than just one.  Same deal with the kitchen.

Tracy-Lyn is Den Mother Extraordinaire and she delegates things very well….the chores…. I give it a year before the system is at a point where a manager can take a lot of that on.  Once the house is fully rebuilt, and the systems are all in place…..someone else can run it….please (!?!?)  And I don’t wish to write blank cheques to a house manager….I have written enough blank cheques in my short business life so far…..

Before leaving with TROOPER, I also had to cancel a recording session I had booked with the Opera Girls, due to my having been sunstroke.  With so little time off,  I decided to condense my fun in the sun … during a heat wave (the likes of which I never see ‘cos we’re on the road so much during the summer).

Heading Out On the Road

So I got to sleep by 10 PM on our last day off before the tour……set the alarm for a 4 AM leave.  This HP MINI is my new best friend in the hotels. It is sloppy, slow to warm-up, and the whole system looks hopelessly dated… but it is friendly.  Paul Cloutier (aka Cloots), our tour manager had a briefcase full of fresh homemade spring rolls that he shared at our regular spot at the Calgary Airport (our second home these days). He also brought seaweed chips, deep fried spiced seaweed. So, I plug this little computer in at airports and read emails while I snack.  The best.

The first flight had me next to Laura Lee, who retired from skiing after she won the Canadian Championship, and she now runs ski schools and arranges charity events, very successfully.  She had really funny stories … neat people you meet on planes hey………………

Two  cabs, one ferry, two planes, and one hockey bus later, (12-hour travel day) we arrived in the Best Western Prince Albert, where we used to stay frequently, many years ago.  That night I fell asleep after the last gig listening to the Jonestown death tapes on YouTube on the HP MINI.  The next morning it played different performances of Schubert’s AVE MARIA……

Pavarotti is in Italian, but a really high key.

This quiet time away from home is something to adjust to. The time it takes to start up this computer is well spent ironing my 3 new stage shirts……….

Prince Albert

I managed a mini nap at the hotel, and we got a ride for the one block to the arena, and stood in the hallway connector to hear the last bits of Kim Mitchell’s set. They were in top form. I went back to our dressing room (hockey change room) to snafle and sandwich, and we could hear the crowd howling for Kim’s band. Excellent.  Kim walked in to our room to shake hands and show some brotherhood. I am a fan, and I always liked him.  It was an unusually long changeover between bands, and I had the time to visit his room.  The band was very nice, fun and gracious when I asked if I could enter their dressing room. I asked KIm if he was a big fan of progressive rock, being that he always had one foot in that camp and he replied, “Yeah, I always used a slide ruler and calculator.”  Then he said “Here check this out” and put the heaviest pizza box in my hands….funny stuff.  He told me that “ anytime you are in Toronto, drop by my radio show and chat, play something or whatever…”

And Peter Fredette, bass player and famous singer told me all about the new MOOG TAURUS 3 pedals that he is getting, and that backline companies are going to supply….and that he has two sets of Taurus ones; Kim has three sets (I have one mint set) so some shop talk.  I am careful not to overstay my welcome in these types of situations these days, I don’t know how good a job I did of that in the past. But seeing those guys lifted my spirits for sure.  Great band.

Has anyone noticed how our audience is getting younger every year?  I would guess that most of the arena audience that night has never seen us before, ‘cos we have not played this town in so many years. They would have all been little kids. This is great hey….I got some wonderful crowd shots with my fancy little new camera. No offense to people my age, but teenagers are great upfront as well.

I don’t know if the security crew felt the same way, because it became a game for the stage-runners to try to not get caught and thrown off the stage by this army of bouncers. I have never seen so many kids get bounced, and it actually got dangerous at the end, to the point where we did not do our stage bow….for the first time ever. There were people flopping around all over the stage, and it was all really unnecessary, from my perspective. All they wanna do is dance, and I have nothing against stage dancers at the end of the set … once all the guitars are off of the stage, what can it hurt?  It is a love-fest, always….this is not a political riot…..very high-energy and physical….but all totally positive.

Scott walked back onstage and pushed all those guys aside ‘cos they were stomping on his cable.

And they ran out of booze…..a LOT of booze.

My fav quote of the day:

“The way you guys interact with the audience is not normal either.”
(from Mr. Bus Driver)

So we kept moving on….more flights….
Had a day off in Calgary….so I called up my old friend Dave Kean and visited him at Audities Studio.  This place is a registered charitable foundation dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of important electronic instruments and recording devices. Dave has been doing this for over 20 years, and the results have been the resurrection of  the MELLOTRON, and now several synths and outboard compressors.  The bottom line is a serious world-class recording facility. I stayed up late playing some neat instruments including one of the BEATLES old pianos on a track the next day (also, some electric violin).  It was amazing to hear what a full-out analog studio sounds like, after hearing digital for the last 20 years. Lots of discussion about that with Dave, who is a detail fanatic.

Dave and I also went to a party that featured a bar-b-que and performance by 79-year old Art Adams, who is a rockabilly pioneer, and cool guy.  I met the neatest people, got to spazz-out on a 1875 square grand piano … and had a grand old time (with salad).

We TROOPERS played a corporate fundraiser gig in Calgary with BC-DC, who were amazing; the guitarist was in a cow-suit.  There was a violent hailstorm that knocked out the lights, but we were able to finish the show with sunbeams as lighting.  I had missed the sound-check for the Calgary gig … I had no piano onstage ‘cos it was turned down, so as not to kill Clayton on drums.  Didn’t feel that I played very well, and that my solo was actually not fully smooth or exciting……but hey still kinda wild.  I got back to the hotel in time to stay up for our  7:30 AM leave.

Had some laughs and stories with THE STAMPEDERS at the airport before catching a flight to Winnipeg.  Once there,  we stayed in a hotel outside of town a wee bit,  so I just spent the day in my room for the day, watching a serious storm and getting some serious snooze. I got a call from one of the builders back home…..the GOGO MANOR 3-ROOM renovation was behind schedule, and I had slightly overbooked the place with too many students (or so I thought )…..some phone calls were made. It felt like my hotel room was a spaceship going nowhere…..feeling disconnected…. I am not used to that kind of isolation, to the point where it was strange to see the guys the next day at the sound check. Longest sound check we have ever had, and a state-of-the-art casino.  The gig was super high energy, my favorite  quote of the night was:

“people here don’t usually go ape-shit like that…..”

Scott wiped-out into a fog machine and cut his leg, and we had real Winnipeg rye bread backstage. In fact the nicest sandwiches of the tour;  and Scott is not too worried about the gash in his leg. (Should I have made that into two separate topics?)

It was strange … this huge casino hotel was FULL of kids, all families, all Natives.   I wondered why everyone was on holidays at a massive casino with a McDonalds that is open until 3 AM.  I finally asked someone and apparently there was a huge flood at a Manitoba reserve and the village got evacuated.  The gig sold out, and we signed a ton of stuff and I was proud to see our picture on the wall next to WAYNE NEWTON, DAVY JONES and KENNY G.  I was also proud of how well we played and what a great party-vibe was created at the gig.

We learned “Little Loretta” to play at the next gig at a huge festival with our friend Greg Malo. At the Winnipeg Airport, we ran into THE STAMPEDERS again, for some mega-laughs.  They got rained-out and didn’t play the same festival the night before, that we were going to play that night…..

Steve Crane (our stage manager) got to jam afterward with a guy from STREETHEART and HARLEQUIN at the Jaguar Lounge.   I almost went, but got too enthralled with a hallway which was really a gigantic aquarium, with fish flying over your head. About the neatest thing I have ever seen. There was a hallway like that in Vegas with lions above, but this was much more psychedelic.

—— Rant Break ———————————–

“…MUZAK….Eulogy for a dead art….”

OK…here is a short essay I just wrote, FOR FUN…..
(inspired by chit chat on the Eddie Jobson Forum)…..

the location:          8th floor, empty office building
wardrobe:              dated gray suits
time:                       4:45 pm, Friday.
ambient sound:    MUZAK “One is the Loneliest Number” on flugelhorn
action:                   man walks up to a microphone, clears his voice…

“I LOVE Muzak….always have.
But, sadly, I hear it less and less every year.

I take different elevators everyday now,
and not even one plays a drop of Muzak.

It is all now just a series of BEEPS from buttons now.
Everything has a loud BEEP, everywhere you go…..what floor ?
in case you don’t know that you just pressed
for your floor, or that the door is about to close…..BEEP BEEP….

I can not even tell you that last time I got to bliss in Muzak.
It just is not there any more, not even at ZELLERS,
(where the lowest price is the LAW.)

Now it is classic rock,
and even the first ASIA album can not match
the profound reverb wash of pure, traditional, classic Muzak.

My big brother Tommy, and I  bought a stereo when we
were kids, and there was a radio station that played nothing
but Muzak…..and I cranked it all the time…..
the most compressed mixes I have ever heard….
it was insane…..NO bass to speak of…
just one big safe, plush, ocean of glorious and relaxing mid-range….

And now even that station is “Soft Rock”…Whitney Huston….and so on…
top of their field…. and they don’t even play the zaked-out Christmas carols.

I fear that the Golden Age of Muzak has dropped its sail.
The sun sits on the horizon, and barely a silhouette remains.

And what some considered to be
“America’s Classical Music”
has become much like your old computer…….
….uncelebrated for its former glory.
…a junk relic, scorned for getting old
while the rest of the world moved toward
new ways of recycling old ideas.

MUZAK has lushed-out its final harp-swoop……..
..sounded its final bell as the tuba case
obscures its last gasp at a lush novelty military bark…..

….when the racks of tube audio compressors…
all sold to “retro-sound” studios….who search “That Beatles bass sound”

While the halls of creepy studio reverbs……are filled
of boxes of assorted tax papers…from the lucrative accounts
… services…..on hold….boring offices…
…spiced with vintage instant coffee dust

The virtuoso violists and bassoonists with relaxed toupees…retired on union pensions,
with kids past the age of university dropout…..

And the weird aging scientists who scored for multi-strings,
all designing websites for small-time knitting clubs…..

Yet,  it did not have to be this way.
We could have saved the beast,
protected our non-entertainment
from this demanding modern age…

we could have added more bird and whale sounds..
waterfalls…..the sound of sunshine through the rain…
scored new tunes rather than always covering the big hits….

And we could have cut production costs
by investing in a sampler
or an Elka Rhapsody…and a drum machine….for Pete’s sakes…

We could have added vocals,
Mormons, fine singers……..always on time….
‘cos…who need to hear the actual voices
of Simon and Garfunkel?
The meaning is in the melody….
always has been…….until now…….

I mean, think of the lost revenue here…..!
the piano tuners…….the album sales….!!

’Cos there used to be full albums too, you know.
……..the complete version of Sgt. Pepper’s,
TOTALLY Muzaked to death.

Hilarious……..a total party-killer.
I bought a copy, and can not even find it on CD…..

And, a valuable educational tool……to prove
once and for all that soft drugs are
not a necessary recording technique for the music business.

And you thought that Altamont killed the ’60s…..

They even hired a sitar player and recreated
“Within You Without You” with the Muzak philharmonic…gorgeous !
Way safer than the George Martin production.

And “A Day in the Life”……the vocal melody
on left-hand piano notes…before the beat
…behind the beat….wild phrasing…stuff of genius.

Nobody plays like that any more.
Nobody produces like that any more.
And shoppers are not as relaxed as they used to be, either…

And, get used to hearing more straight-out advertising on the
phone lines, while being promoted here and there….

since 1997,
only 11 years past the summer of love
(Expo 86….)
Muzak uses only original artists for its music source

And you can hear how many accounts they have lost in the process.

Meaning….Muzak still supplies piped-in music,
but they don’t record it themselves anymore.
(other than the environment channel…whatever the heck that is….)

So………there is corporate America for you.

Now you can enjoy “soft jazz”
in hotel lobbys……cable TV “what’s ON” stations……….

If you DO hear real, honest-to-Betsy, Muzak at all these days,
consider it a time-capsule moment.

Because, like great second-generation fresco artists
of the Post-Renaissance…….the true Voice of Muzak has been muted.

Will there be a backlash ?
A 20-year-cycle Muzak revival ?

Will we ever live to enjoy late-night
“greatest Muzak-Moments” on paid TV ads
when we are strung-out on the 3am couches of the promised land ?

I don’t think so.
‘Cos so far, nobody has noticed that MUZAK has disappeared…….

And how can you miss something that you were
not supposed to notice, anyway ?

I never could figure that one out.

….and that, my friends,
is why the soft jazz if so darn LOUD in hotel lobbies….



Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Road Programming …

Where did we leave off ?
We played an outdoor festival the day after Thunder Bay and for three days we averaged about three hours of sleep per night. I got my snooze at airports, and on planes.

We played outdoors at Thunder Bay, in the rain… wet…..

We had one very early hotel leave and Scott and I cruised in one of the cabs to the airport with the funniest driver. I don’t even know what was so funny, but it was the best AM comedy….the driver was a total fan and capable of designing the wildest ideas…..lots of fun…..

Then, four days off at home, and other than one afternoon spent with some friends at the cabin on Protection Island, I pretty much dedicated my energy toward helping to complete the building of the three new student rooms that were started before this tour began.  This is exactly what I said I would NOT do with my time-off……but I did get to jump in the river by 9 PM every night.

After the days at home, Scott and I were back catching an early 4:30 AM ferry to continue the tour – this time out for 26 days … when is the last time we did that ?
Years ago.

We played a gig in Red Deer as part of  Westerner Days, so a HUGE arena concert, the place packed……..followed by a  fund-raising gig in Calgary…. and  a VERY successful casino gig at the Deerfoot.

We stayed a a brand new Ramada, where I shopped at two brand new stores next-door, a  SOBEYS grocery store and a  Wal-Mart….. bought a new lap top and mailed it home. That night’s gig was a big metal grandstand in Olds, Alberta…..a radio station promotion.  The radio station people were really nice and they took great care to every detail of getting us, and our equipment in and out from Calgary. A local (and very cool) elementary school teacher brought his gigantic limousine to the hotel, and took us to a backstage room, and a meet and greet, and then right onto the field to the stadium… having us pull-up to the stage in this huge limo was part of the actual show. Hype….I love it.  It was really neat, and the floor section had all young people, cool groovin’ kids all very enthusiastic. As the sun went down we could sometimes get a glimpse into the bleachers where everyone was standing up and dancing….as the crowd-blaster lights worked their flashes of magic.

What is really interesting here is how LOUD the audiences have been lately.  In my 16-years with TROOPER I thought I had a pretty good idea how loud festival crowds can be.  But lately, and all the band guys noticed have also noticed, the roar has taken the next step, if you could imagine that possible. And having everyone stomping on the gigantic metal grandstand helped at the Olds festival as well.

But it has been noticed, at these last few shows, that some key songs are just one massive roar from the audience,  and our excellent sound engineer Cloots can not even hear the band at some points.  (This is a good thing, by the way.)  And, we were breaking attendance records everywhere.

Writing this, we were far above it all, in a plane going back to Toronto.  It had been a long travel day … my seat-mate for this flight was a little baby crying, which was all right.  I had one of those $2 vegetable soups, and a good book to read, so I dug into both of those while most of the band and crew had already fallen asleep.

—— Rant Break —————————————

Essay of the concept of: AGEISM…..

I remember once performing at an outdoor festival in some town and doing
REALLY WELL at it……everyone was ecstatic as could be. And the next day, the local paper had a review, that focused primarily on:
“They were really good, considering how OLD they are…..”

The review just made one reference after another to that fact that we are no longer teenagers……..nope, not teenagers.  Well, neither is the president of the United States.
But somehow he got the job. I couldn’t help but think how silly the person who wrote
the review is going to feel when he/she reads it again someday.

You know, the people are great, at our shows, of course, always are, God Bless ’em.
But the media looks for anything on anyone who they are still allowed to pick on.
…and who are left….”old” people….fat people….Catholics……gays……. all of the same
groups that the Nazis were not too fond of……

The gays have a lot of power in the media, now, so they can fight back, with comedy. They still get picked-on …and there is no defense for the fat people who not united, yet, and the Catholics are too busy praying to counter the attacks…….which will never end, until “THE END.”

….and meanwhile the alleged “old people” still take the blame for ruining the planet……….

And you know, they are going to pick on Mick Jagger until the day he dies………then they are just gonna talk about how great he was. And they may even recognize the fact that he GOES FOR IT even though he can well afford to stay home.

He is 67 now, and do you remember the “Steel Wheels” tour, when everyone
with access to a microphone with a TV (or print) feed made jokes about the
“steel wheelchair tour ?”…..when was that? 1989?

How old was MIck Jagger then?……46 ? Or is my calculator on drugs ?

And now, we have Bon Jovi on tour……front page headline glowing reviews
in Alberta….and not a mention of the notion that the singer is (gasp !) 48.

What has changed ?
Is it suddenly OK to be a “Dad Band?”
Or do the glam-metal era reviewing-fans not want to admit that they too are spinning around the sun at the same pace as the rest of of the world…….and that they too are aging……

And somehow the media allows classic performers like Tony Bennett, George Burns, Gordon Lightfoot, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck… age gracefully….
like ….”they get better with age”……….

Well, I like to think that everyone gets better with age, as do THINGS….classic cars……movies… … if they were any good to begin with, and if people care to keep them alive.  Does anyone ever say “Yeah the Mercedes Gullwing 300sl is good, but
it is so OLD !”…….funny, nobody ever says that.

I read a book where the author called the 1769 Cugnot Steamer a “lemon.”
Well, if it was the first car, what was it being compared to?
Wouldn’t it just be kinder to admit that something is “unique?”
Really, the guy did  pretty good job of building that first car when so many other innocent souls in France was getting their heads cut off.

There are plenty of factors for change……details can be flexible over time…
a guys uses a different gauge guitar string….
the band plays through a frappy PA……
things can sound different over time….
even a listener’s perception changes (matures)..
but if the spirit is there, it cannot be all bad.

But I guess it is the job of the media to jump on the factors in nature, that can not be altered ….like age…..(although things like weather conditions get a pass.)

I sometimes wonder … what is it that some people are looking for, that they do not already have?  What is the magic detail that upsets the balance in life ?

To me, it is like when people complain about McDonalds.
Does anyone really think that the world would be a better, safer or happier place without McDonalds? Maybe…..I dunoooooooo…….. but I like my McFavorite Hamburger Clown……even if he is in his 60s.


Rant Over, Off to Toronto

We enjoyed two days off in downtown Toronto. I got into a big slice of pizza right away, and answered a text from our tour manager to join everyone for a little gathering (party) in his room. Neat when everyone hangs out for no reason other than for some good company.

So after some snooze…….I walked around the next day and bought religious necklaces from a neat Mexican lady who makes them and sells as a street vendor. I was so inspired that I went to a bead store and started to make some as gifts for friends back home.

Talk about a no-pressure scene.

We performed a private birthday party gig at the famous old dance hall, Kee To Bala, where a successful businessman honored his 82-year-old dad with a big party….about 100 people, and us playing, loudly. I liked this one ‘cos our tour manager Cloots got to run into a store as it was closing to get stuff to make up a deli tray. It was really funny, ‘cos he loves oranges. There were some pretty girls there, and the belle-of-the-ball ended-up with broken shoes, yet was still walking around, crying, and yelling at small groups of guys.  I liked it all. The people were fun, and the local crew were great, and the Cloots’ deli tray magnificent.

We went on to a schedule that was basically the same every day:

ride to gig,
meet people,
hotel ….

But what was neat was that we had three big outdoor gigs in a row:  Port Colborne, Peterborough, and North Bay,  where the crowds ranged from 10,000 – 20,000 people. We broke attendance records, had huge PA systems and met hundreds of really nice people. I liked everyone I have met on this tour. At every gig, we were the last people to leave the site, (other than the security and the techs who tore the big rigs down).

The routine did not really allow for much walking around the neat towns…… other than walking across parking lots to find some snacks…….so really I did not get into the local culture much.  But I could see that it was summer in Ontario, by the canoes on the roofs of the cars, and obviously by the fact that it was so hot…….(heard from home that there was a heat wave there too).

Ahoy Matey!

Canada has a law now that you have to get a boating license to operate any power boat, of any size……all you need to do is pay a fee and take a test online. So, we had four days off in Ottawa, and I had the “Safe Boating” guide sent to my hotel.  With Smitty as my sponsor,  I read all the study materials, bombed 75% on my practice test…but nailed the real test at 94%.
Kinda proud of that…..

Feel free to skip this part…….. the two questions I got wrong:

Under what conditions can a marine signal, such as a marker buoy be used to moor pleasure craft?

Answer: Under no conditions.

I said “In an emergency”
(I figure I would tie-up rather than die…in an emergency……but that is just me…..)

Why should you reduce the speed of your pleasure craft in poor weather ?

Answer: to avoid losing control

I said “to avoid taking in water.”
(which is true in my 2 hp open aluminum boat situation…..very much so…..with no risk of ever losing control).


We had a few days to relax in Ottawa, and the Marriott became our home.  I walked around tons downtown.  Beautiful.  Also saw the multimedia light show presentation on the Parliament buildings….a couple of times. Nine projectors of 14000 lumens each hey….and serious subsonic quad sound. This is quite the amazing country we live in.
I learned East Indian riffs on the violin, off of YouTube,  slept sideways on a KING bed, and stayed up until 3 or 4 AM every night. It took a while, but I finally got rested from the busy year we had, and grew accustomed to spending time by myself. No international students…….

Ottawa…………….10 things to do in Ottawa……..

1) walk around in the pouring rain and get SOAKED

2) walk around in the sunshine and get soaked

3) sit on the lawn on the Parliament building at night and enjoy a huge quadraphonic multimedia display….awesome…

If you want to read the rest, you’ll need to check out my Facebook page!

The other neat thing was a private tour of the Archives and Library Preservations Building in Ottawa. The band  got a two-to-three hour private guided romp through this indescribable tight-tech operation which preserves treasured Canadian artifacts, including every book that has ever been published here.

A 98-milllion dollar, four-story concrete structure, housed in a metropolis-looking glass building……containing 48,368 square meter vaults, all serious temperature and humidity-controlled. In fact,  the air is completely changed seven times per hour.  There is not one speck of dust….no wood, no drywall.  The whole thing was so shockingly high-tech….the film to video lab, the map restorations…  The video and film transfer, restoration and archival section blew my mind….tens of thousands of hours of hockey games, as you can imagine, in the most high-tech facility possible on our planet…..ANY format to ANY format.  Dignitaries from various nations visit just to see how Canada does this.  No dignitaries on our tour, just a really nice reporter who accompanied us. The day before, I toured the Canada Mint, and same deal……the rest of the world visits just to see how well this can be done…..consequently we mint coins for dozens of other countries.

Days after our visit, I got an email from Mister Chris, back home, telling me that a half page of our local newspaper is about our trip of the National Library, and the fact that TROOPER documents are stored and studied there…….pretty neat….it was in the National Post too…..and probably a few more papers,  I would imagine.  All good.


We played a 600-seat venue in Toronto as part of a radio station, Q107 summer party, we headlined (the KINGS PLAYED TOO !!!).  Driving into Toronto for this gig, the traffic was at a standstill; everyone in attendance had won tickets for this very serious party with go-carts, and a pool.   I had invited Prince Abeeb (from Nigeria) to the gig tonight (he lives at GOGO MANOR, but was holidaying in Toronto)….but he couldn’t make it because of his Islamic fast.   I guest-listed my friend Jeehoon and his friend, both of whom are rock journalists from Korea, living in Toronto.  Unfortunately, didn’t get to hang out with him, but he sent me a note after the gig with some cool comments … “I witnessed the audience going MENTAL” … “Phew!  My ears are back to normal now after all the female fans around me screamed to death” … “Your solo was superb … Jon Lord would have fainted if he had seen it!”

The Bus

I was really jazzed to get the tour bus for the last leg of this trip.
The thing was deluxe … these crafts cost a million dollars new.  Trooper’s bus had 12 bunks, mine was very snug, but I got a full 8 hours sleep the first night …  3 AM and I was the first one to retire.

I hung out on the bus the whole day for the Navan Fair. That was cool, ‘cos I could practice a lot, and also see the best of the demolition derbies, what we used to call smashup derbies. I had never seen one live before, always wanted to when I was a kid. The best one was all big 8-cylinder cars, Cadillacs and stuff…..big crowd, super redneck, super funny. GREAT fair, one of the top ones in Canada…..again we broke attendance records.

Remember exercise?  Scott has been working out on the road, but not me.

Well, it took a while to drive up to Cochrane, Ontario.  We got 11 hours of hotel time before the show, so there was some snoozin’ and some walking around, looking at the old locomotive….there was a heat wave, apparently their first in a few years. I read the wiki on the town, and learned that the arena we were booked into was named after local son Tim Horton.

Waking up on the road is always a bit of a challenge. I can sleep anywhere and through anything. On the bus,  tour manager Paul Cloutier would casually announce,  “Gentlemen, you have arrived at your destination. Your room keys are waiting at the front desk for you. All you have to do is pick up your keys and go to your rooms.”

This is the first tour where I also discovered that my cell phone is also an alarm clock. I learned that one out of every three “wake-up calls” from the front desk never happen.

The town of Cochrane has a declining population of around 5000 (so I read in the wiki) and a short growing season. Cool to be the main act as they celebrated their centennial!

I love when the people are right up front, touching the stage like this. The arena was full,  with more people outside who could not get it. The temperature and the humidity made it one gigantic rock and roll oven. I think this was my fav gig of the tour, just ‘cos it was so raw. No pleasant summer wind across the stage, just a bouncy wooden stage (my keyboard rig bounced and moved a couple of feet during the show) and one of Clayton’s cymbals fell over and knocked a couple of knobs off of my synth.

The production crew had a heck-of-a-time arranging a digital keyboard for this gig….. they called everyone in town who had anything  (one lady said hers was too expensive to let out), so they ended up grabbing the one from the high school.

Again, I liked everyone I met, which was a decent percentage of the crowd. Near the end of the night, someone commented on the brotherhood of the band and crew. I have to agree, we are all good friends, and we have a lot of fun together.

One fellow met (who had played guitar in the opening act) was a third generation local, as a train engineer (do I have that right?)….he made a documentary and left some DVDs at the front desk of the hotel for Ra and I to pick-up….but after my two-hour snooze I woke-up in just enough of a daze to get onto the bus in time … didn’t remember that I needed to pick the DVDs up at the front desk until it was too late……downer.

I was not excited to see this tour end. I could have gone on for awhile.  The last two weeks of this 26-day tour had no flights…only the one home.  It was actually nice to take a break from airports.

That final day turned out to be a 24-hour travel day between  the bus to the airport, and the three  flight delays.  We ended up at the airport in Vancouver at 2 AM, Monday morning, so Scott and I got a hotel room  and caught the first ferry back to the Island.

OK, I will admit it, I am tired……  the summer has been very free-form on my part.
It left me a lot of time to practice….snooze……and play keyboards.  I took a digital camera on the road this summer, and took a picture of every concert crowd.  That has been my fun … plus reading a lot, I found a book about the lives of saints at one of the excellent used bookstores in Toronto.

This summer also had the most whales on the side of the ferry to the Island.
One trip we had them jumping up and all around, really close…..orcas, hey, killer whales.
The most graceful and powerful creatures.
Sometimes we get the dolphins…..porpoises…. escorting the ferries.  I love that.

Thank you for being here!