Well I’m back home after ten days on the road. Ten days bookended by Stampeder dates in Sault Ste. Marie and Burin Newfoundland with three a half days in between spent working with my longtime friend and collaborator Gary MacArthur at his studio in Brighton Ontario. I had hoped to have some new music to post along with this blog but we got hung up changing parts and making guitars into pianos etc. etc. etc. The bottom line being we’re still not quite ready for an unveiling of all this music. There are at least a dozen tracks…I haven’t actually stopped to count. It’s going to be a fascinating collection as some of the initial recordings date back to the late eighties and were recorded on an eight track Fostex machine, quite archaic by todays standards. Through the magic of new tech and much study Gary has been able to transform these into cool tracks…and, of course, there is much more recent stuff including some of the work David Knight and I have produced over the past while.
But enough on the new music. I know I have been threatening to post some for so long it’s beginning to sound as if it’s all just a figment of my imagination and doesn’t actually exist. Kinda like the Mueller investigation down south. So no more talk…I’ll just pop one up when I do I guess.
The trip itself was quite enjoyable for the most part; sadly, the unenjoyable time was that spent onstage. It’s always a drag when that happens and it is almost always the result of badly designed stages which cause the sound to roll around making playing a real chore. Both stages on this trip qualified as horrible. Both were shell shaped and the monitoring just couldn’t cut through the mess; so what you end up with is a super loud, ear-ringing din where it seems the guitar and bass are perpetually behind the beat. This is not happening in actuality and folks out front said it was good but for the musicians it’s an exhausting struggle.
In the end though, what counts is what the audience gets and it seems that was acceptable to both. Whew!
As much as I love living in central BC I admit that it’s not a great place to fly in and out of. My trip from Kelowna to ‘the Sault’ was via Vancouver and Toronto and saw me arriving at midnight, an eleven hour sojourn. Now the Sault Ste Marie airport was at least a thirty minute drive from my hotel and when I when I walked outside to grab a taxi and head for bed there was not a one in sight. ‘Oh no! I’ve got to call for one which will take thirty minutes just to get to me and another thirty to get me home (Oh yes, hotels become instant home when you’re on the road). Arghh! ‘
But suddenly, out of nowhere, I see a man taking a woman's bag and directing her to, you guessed it, a TAXI! I immediately fell on my knees and began begging to share the ride. No, said the driver, he could take only the person who called. Thankfully this lovely lady took pity on me and allowed me to ride along. The uncertain driver had to check with his dispatcher who said “ No problem, just charge double”, which I was more than happy to pay. Over the course of the long ride in we all began to chat and I told them what I was in town to do and discovered they where both Stampeder fans and quite thrilled to have me in the car. So now I had been pegged as a rock star and, as such, felt obliged to leave an extra large tip. And so it goes.
Gig day was rainy…it was outdoors of course…it is summer after all. People came with umbrellas and a good time was had by all. (excepting, of course, the three of us struggling to hear what we were doing)
I rented a car in Toronto and drove the hour and a half to Gary’s. We worked at least ten hours a day and ate from a food truck that makes the world’s best burger. It was great!
Then a drive back to Richard’s house, an evening with some old friends and a few bottles of wine and an early morning flight to St. Johns.
The three plus hour drive from St. Johns down the Burin Peninsula was a magical one. I had done it once before a few years ago and another time in the seventies. That part of the NFLD landscape is like no other I have ever seen. Beautiful and mysterious, windblown so that the dwarf trees all lean away from the wind at ten or fifteen degrees, large rocky formations that appear as mountains but are only a hundred or so feet high, endless ponds and moss and treeless hills…a moor…to be sure. And the weather was pure Newfoundland; a Scottish mist with foggy patches and then a beautiful evening sun slipping in underneath it all. Like I said…magical.
The gig would have been great fun, save for the shitty sounding stage. Newfoundlanders are Canada’s party people. They have a great love of music and will let you know when they like you with endless offers of free beer. Fabulous folks. I can see NFLD becoming a solid tourist destination once word gets out to the world. There are not many places like it still around and it’s traditional fishing industry is, very sadly, no longer able to sustain the people as it has for centuries.
Bottom line…if you’ve never been to NFLD…go. You probably won’t need your swimming suit but bring hiking boots and a good water resistant jacket. St. Johns is a one-of-a-kind city and the food is great.
I do find it amazing that I can get from one end of this vast country to the other in a single day…which is about what it took to see me home on Sunday night…or, rather, Monday morning. Eighteen hours in transit… I was twenty pages short of finishing a novel I started on the St.Johns-Toronto leg.
It’s good to be home.