Day Eight: Bocce, Bays, Bikes & BBQ

Typically for us, the drive up around Lake Superior is a giant, long grueling pain in the ass. Our relationship is bittersweet. The Lakes and sunsets are so amazing but it goes on forever….. I’m happy to say that after five previous treks cross country for rocknroll we may have finally figured out how to deal with HWY 17. This time we took the “slow and steady” approach. We gigged every day at little spots here and there. Sometimes only in exchange for food and lodging.

Tuesday we stopped at Thunder Bay to rawk the Apollo. T-Bay is always a tough on us. We’ve certainly had fun shows there but its a struggle to get folks out, especially early in the week. We always enjoy catching up with our hosts though and this time was no exception. We had our “regulars” there and a few extra. When we first landed in front of the club I was in the van chatting with Shawn about merch and in front of the van was a dude on a bike. I thought, “hmmm, that guy looks like our pal Ray from Edmonton”. sure enough the helmet comes off and IT IS Ray!
He went for a cruise on his bike and ended up in T-Bay for our show to surprise us! WOW! Surprised we were. Great to see him and catch up a bit. We’ll see more of Ray when we’re in Alberta!

Wednesday we drove to Wabigoon, a little piece of the highway near Dryden.

What a time this was. I found this gig through our pal Doc Maclean, when we dropped Doc’s backdrop off there last fall. Man! Great little spot with super nice folks there. Sold a load of merch and got fed and a place to sleep too! The venue is Pappy’s Cafe. It’s a tiny little room covered with posters from past perfomers.

Many of which we pals of ours. We played two sets to a very appreciative crowd and had a BALL!!! Attached to the cafe is the store. It had everything you’d expect from a country store with lots of supplies and such. I was cruising around the store when I saw something that caught my eye. I knew I must have one (two?). Boobie Buddy.

Yep. I know. Awesome. A headrest that attaches to your vehicle headrest and is shaped like a pair of boobs so you’re always getting a booby hug!

Amazing right?!!?! So I mention on set break that I was gonna get one and then at the end of the night some dude comes up and says “I got you something” and hands me a boobie buddy! WOW. What a week for fan kindness. Ray drove from Edmonton to see us and this stranger gives me the kindest, most thoughtful, gift. We’re truly grateful to these people.

Today (Thursday) we drove the short trek to Kenora from Wabigoon. Nice day too. Stopped in Vermillion Bay to have some lunch at Busters BBQ.

These folks smoke their own meat and have award winning blueberry BBQ sauce. We all had a beef brisket sammich and let me tell you, it kicked ass!

Karl Bastard bought some spices and sauce to try later. What a find. So sad we drove by it 10 times before getting to stop in. Looking forward to the drive home now!!!!

We’re just in our new, sketchy hotel in Kenora.

Apparently there may or may not have been a murder here. Oh well. It’s right by the water and it’s quite nice…outside….

We’re finally leaving Ontario in the AM(Friday). A show at The Standard in Winnipeg Friday night. Headed to Regina for a show at the Gaslight Saloon Saturday. After that it’s a few days off before our Saskatoon shows at Bud’s.

Hope to see y’all out there somewhere.

Ross

On Tour: BBQ at Aunties

On Tour: One hand clap no more Kelowna

Our first tour of Canada we played a pub in Kelowna. It was a soul sucking gut wrenching experience. It was busy but full of teeny bopper kids that were there to score chemicals and booty. There were a few ‘working girls’ too if I recall. We left everything we had on that stage and the kids were semi indifferent until the end of the night where everyone tells you how great it was. This example best sums up the experience….
Mid Performance …….
ME – Who wants free booze (we were sponsored by Sailor Jerry)
Crowd – Silence

I mean really? Most spots would claw over each other to taste the goods. We learned to suck it up on that gig. Later when we were back at the Kelowna Villa licking our wounds we were reminded of the Joel Plaskett tune where he references Kelowna with the line “picture the sound of one hand clapping, now picture half that sound, Thats why I hate that town”. This made us feel moderately better.

The second time we performed at a venue designed for mamby pamby soft spoken kind of acts. The sort of place where the owner is actually afraid of the drums and INSISTS on doing the sound even though they don’t know anything about that tedious, technical assembly of sonic science. The room was full of speakers which is fine if everything is mic’d but if not you have vocal and acoustic blaring at the back of the room with the drums and bass way at the front. Brilliant. We realized that That room was also not for us and thought maybe we would have to skip Kelowna next tour. This was a bummer as I had lived here years before and still had lots of friends and family that wanted to see us perform.

Not too long ago I was relating our Kelowna experience to someone and including the Plaskett story when I was informed that Joel no longer sings it like that and has made amends with Kelowna. Confused and feeling defeated I thought, “Well you can’t please em all and maybe Kelowna just isn’t for us”.

I had known about The Blue Gator Bar from my old days living in Ktown and performing with Dog Skin Suit. It was in a new location now and at our previous gigs we were told by our friends that we had to play there. So after much emailing and rustling I finally got us in there. Last night was our first of two nights. It was amazing. Dancers right on the first tune. Great crowd that ate up the originals all night long. Good Staff and a nice owner. All the things you want in a gig. It is clear that this venue is going into the list beside Mikey’s in Calgary, Blues on Whtye in Edmonton, Buds in Toon town, The “Ho” in Canmore, Tofino and a few other venues we play that just kick ass. A fine mix of people and no pretentiousness, except for a few hipsters. It was like old home week for me as I got to reconnect with lots of old friends and got to hang with some family too!

I guess things really do change and you just need to keep looking. Don’t take defeat. Don’t lie down. Stand up, dust yourself off and try harder. Like my mentor and friend Morgan Davis says – “keep pushing up on it”. Thats good advice I think about everyday.

There are some funny circles in life that appear to run a lot of things, but just underneath where they spin their wheels there is something else, a dark cool place where Real resides. A place where what you get IS what you see. Where people ARE who they are crazy or sane. Where true effort is recognized and applauded. This is where we spin our wheels. It’s a heavy load but we’ll keep pushing up. One bleeding set of ears at a time.

On Tour: One bleeding set of ears at a time

We just finished two nights at the Early Stage Saloon in Stony Plain just outside Edmonton. The first night was very lean. Second night held a slightly larger crowd for us. Some folks might be discouraged by the small turnout but I viewed the gigs as a win. Both nights the peeps that were there were very good us. They really enjoyed the show and bought cds. To me this goes along with one of our mottos and the title of this entry, “one bleeding set of ears at a time”. Any time we have folks there that are enjoying it and are going to spread the word we take it as a win. Aside from all that the owners, John and Carmen, are top shelf folks. It’s the little things they do that make the difference. From John’s introduction of the band before we go on or their invitations for supper at their home, to taking the time to spell our names right.
It’s obvious that these patrons to the arts care about us. It is those kinds of relationships that we will continue to cultivate. Thanks to the great staff and kind patrons. Good folks. Good times.

We’re off to Jasper and the mountains now where anything can happen and often does.

MB