No Shitty Gigs …part 6….2011

--> September 2012

—–The Hotel in timmins had this at the front desk…

Speaking of Shania Twain’s sister…..soon we end up in Timmons Ontario.

We see many many bands in Canada, and I love having the chance to meet these musicians who are out there,
gigging and just going for it. One of the several opening acts in Timmons was an all-Native band (Midnight something)
and I asked the singer what he sings about:
1) Someone who is really messed-up and reaching out for help.
2) Romance
3) What it is like to be an Indian “Stuck inside these institutional walls….
we used to sail the seas, now we walk the streets.

There were several gigs in between this and the Cheap Trick gig.
In face this is the most busy summer I can recall, ever. 17 flights in July, bringing us home for most of the Mondays
and Tuesdays. Enough time to do the chores, banking and special needs acoustic gig…and of course dive into
the river, be it super chilly or just regular. I even got to spend 2 hours on Protection Island, and for some reason
the ocean was warm. Beautiful.

We have had lobby-calls at 4am, 5 am, and as late as 10am. Many nights with 3 or 4 hours sleep, and some travel days
going around the clock You need those 2 days off at home to recover, and then go on the road to recover from the
2 days off.

Bathtub weekend was a hit on the Island (from what I hear) and I had at least a dozen people stay at the cabin.
Richard Nott, (who you recall as our former stage manager) brought his entourage in a nice Zodiac, returning it
to it’s actual owner 2 1/2 days later. He was borrowing my boat and accidental took the wrong one. The dock
officers at the warfingers office said that it was the funniest thing that has ever happened at the inner harbour.

I found a comic strip bible to read on the road, and am looking for the Freak Brothers compilation.
Every show so far has been sold-out, and outdoors, other than the sold-out arenas in Thunder Bay,
Prince George and a corporate gig in Calgary. Can you believe how much we gig ?

The average size crowd appears to be about 5 000 people and they always sounds like a whole lot more than that.
We drew the largest crowd ever (closer to 8 000) at Pentictons Peachfest, and they went to dead silence
whenever Ra spoke. Then back to full football-crowd roar. That was an actual HOT night with a breeze, and I felt
great, having swam for an hour in the Okanogan lake, which was also warm (usually very cold every time I have
stuck my foot in it). I walked around with the happy tourists and sat at an auction with the locals. I like to hear
auctioneers cos I think they are funny. I hope that never becomes a lost art. You ever watch storage wars ?

I mean…have you seen enough storage wars on the plane yet ?

But I am starting to question how well I sleep on the road.
I can sleep anywhere, but I do not think that a half hour here and there adds up to a full night.
And even in hotels on the odd day when we get to sleep in, I never really do. I always wake up with a shock
going “Am I late ? Where am I supposed to be ?!?!?” And dreams are always busy on the road as well.

I woke up in Timmons happy to be awake. I was dreaming that my Mom and Dad were still alive, and I was a
teenager moving out, as I did, with one pair of worn shoes and some ugly old clothes. But I had an expensive
synthesizer, right ? A crappy Prophet 600 which I paid WAY too much for, and had thousands of gig ahead of me
to try to start paying off the debts that my bands had accumulated to date.

What was extra brutal about this dream (that much was an actual reality)…..was that I was my current age in the
dream, having nothing going on and making a fresh start into today’s gig market. So I had the same worn-out
bad early ’80s clothes with my present vintage carcass saying good-bye to Mom and Dad, who were all sad
to see me go.

Can I not just dream about dune buggies and beach parties ? I guess not, cos that is my actual present reality.
I suppose I have to have bad dreams to create some kind of balance. Life aint’ all sunshine, someone once wrote.

Hi Everyone !

(written on a flight to Calgary)

We missed the big heat-wave back in British Columbia when we were away on that 26-day tour.

Every year I hear “oh it is so hot at home” but I have not seen it in years.

The Nanaimo River had already cooled-down quite a bit into August, which is strange.

When we were kids, it would be soupy by then.

So that is how I gauge summer life…..and now in September I am still battling the chilly rapids.

I can see that my favorite swimming place has surveyors and wells being drilled.

Soon there will be new houses on those cliffs… time marches on….

We had summer students at GOGO MANOR, many of whom I never even met.

Every time I leave now, there is an excellent builder making noise with power tools

in my absence. We got three more bedrooms built into the basement suite, and

a very high-tech new 3-layer torch-on roof for the huge flat deck…..and I carried

900 “eco-treads” up there…..1′ square green rubber tiles made from old running shoes….

The house is looking amazing, and 6 of the 11 International students who are now moved-in

asked specifically to live at GOGO MANOR. So it is a huge success…..and I get to do all the

grocery shopping. Talk about the perfect hobby business hey. Right.

It will take 2 or 3 years to completely finish the rebuild and up-dating of the wild old Victorian

Mansion……I just walked through with an engineer who is designing the sprinkler system

that will allow further travel distances….bla bla things I gotta know, and pay for. All good.

So other than Uncle Mike’s gigantic outdoor annual party at the ranch, and a few smaller

house parties, I did not play very much music at all during our 2 weeks off at the end of August.

That is totally OK. I did not even play the special needs gig, nor did I attend the midnight mediation at the church.

I think time-of means time-off.

Oh, I did manage to start many days with 4-hours of firewood stacking.

Pretty funny coming off of the road and the very next morning wheel-barowing and

stacking massive mound of dry fir. That is one thing my Dad did teach me:

how to stack firewood, as a free-standing structure, not leaning on anything.

I think we have enough firewood for a few years. It is unreal.

Uncle Mike has big bundles of mill-tailings, and I pay for a truck to deliver them, two at a time.

One of the top sawyers bucks them up for us, and I stack… has never been easier.

I burn in a brand new top-of-the-line Pacific energy woodstove…the biggest one they make.

So, the electrician just has to install 6 more base board heaters in some bedrooms,

and the guys finish more corridor drywall, and we can start the rebuild of the studio where I actually live….

So it is always nice to go on tour as well.

The Pacific National Exhibition (Vancouver)

The first big rainy day of the summer landed on the same day as my first meeting as a new elected

member of the Pastoral Council of Mount Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Nanaimo.

It happened to be the same day as our PNE gig… I missed the meeting, and Scott and I hit the

12:15 ferry. We cruised over in his ISUZU TROOPER and stopped at the Sandman Hotel on Georgia

just long enough for me to email some details back to the International High School, and say “YES” to

housing another Mexican boy, and “NO” to me driving his luggage up to the school the following day.

My hotel room was top floor (11th) corner room, over-looking the city, and North Vancouver.

Ok, road-mode.

We had all agreed to a sound check at 5:30; plenty early for our 8pm show.

I had no sound in my monitors, and Smitty had noise, so it took a while to get that sorted

as we stood around, with the crowd already gathering (some people had been there since 9am)

We did get it all working and played one song, like a mini pre-concert to the 500 or so early birds.

I had a half hour to explore the fair, which I really wanted to do this year, cos I have never sen the PNE.

We have played it twice, in years past, but I had never seen the big horses and fluffy lamas.

So I did.

(written at Calgary Airport)

This show was very different for Scott and I, for neither of us had an entourage.

This, in my case was because school was starting the very next day, otherwise

I would have had to take my own bus to this local show !
(the truth, I found out later that my girlfriend, at the time, was quite happy
for me to be away….)

Anyway, even Smitty had no guests..

Ra made up for it with some of his gang, who were all super fun.

Clayton had his little daughter, who was a delight, as always, of course.

The production was huge, and the crowd was just slightly smaller than 2 years-ago

when we broke the attendance record for that summer……amazing, considering it was

raining all day, and it is quite a commitment for anyone to go out at all. Very hard-core audience.

Beautiful. LOUD ! We are told that Cindy Lauper had a bigger crowd, on a perfect sunny day…..

I ate too many terrible cookies backstage.

The only people, other than our backstage gang, that I knew at the show were two of Mr. Chriss’ sister,

and Chris Duncan who is a great friend from the Broken Toys days, Expo 86…summer of love…..

The next day I had the entire day to do anything I could think of, downtown Vancouver, so I walked up

Granville, had spinach pizza and took a bus to Granville Island. I spent 3 hours walking around the last

neighbourhood that I lived in, ending in 1990… super-starving rock and roll days.

It was actually quite fruitless, my walk around memory lane, other than to get a more realistic

perspective on how great the distances are that I used to walk everyday, and think absolutely nothing of.

I must have had a whole lot of free time on my hands back then, and patience, cos even from Granville

Island to Kits Beach is not the quick hop that It used to be. I love the oaks just past Vanier Park,

really the whole thing is so beautiful, but I feel that I have lived that, and don’t need to repeat it.

There was terrific salmon peperoni at the market, and I took a picture of my old apartment,

now so close to all the high-end car dealers….Lamborghini, Ferrari….Bentley….and I walked around

until I found the new Rolls Royce dealership and saw the new Phantom Drop head Coupe that

I have read so much about. Funny neighbourhood, and my grotty little ground-floor ally-way

apartment was the #1 cheapest unit in all of Kitsilano. I really do not miss any of it.

The Rolls was astonishing, of course.

Me walking around…..taking the sea-bus to Mosquito Creek marina in North Vancouver to

see where my first sailboat was, in dry dock, where I spent every day rebuilding it in 1986.

Crazy……..big waste of time really…..and the Marina, on a reserve, is now very high-end,

no more dead boats in storage, and no super-skinny rocker restoring a 1942 32′ racing sloop.

I don’t ever have to go back there again in this lifetime. I am in-touch with the feelings, as they say……

I don’t really like to resolve anything anymore…..although it has been pointed out to me that I do a whole

lot of that….cabins…..instruments…..bikes………but at this point, I enjoy hiring guys who know what they are doing.

The major up-dates left to be completed at GOGO MANOR:

1) Second-story egress (big outdoor stairs to the flat deck)

2) Indoor sprinkler system

3) Attic access and rebuild

4) Studio drywalling and new entrance way

5) more corridor drywall

6) Front of house post and beam rebuild

7) Six more bedroom baseboard heaters

8) Nine more bedroom hard-wired smoke detectors and alarms

9) Maids Quarters suite rebuild

……all stuff I will hire guys to do.

(yeah…other than all the stuff that I do by myself….)

This list in dinky compared to what has already been accomplished over the last year.

My plan is to study, record a, write and perform MUSIC….thank you.

Not worried about a thing.

All the freedom I had in my early 20s in Vancouver was stilted by being so poor.

I couldn’t really DO much…..couldn’t build a sauna in the Gulf Islands.

Maybe now I am playing catch-up. I don’t know…..but I have no need to rewind that clock.

15 hours of flying an a whole lot more driving….

No Shitty gigs part 8…2011

--> September 2012

Or I could just think about the last 10 days that we spent in the South Caribbean Island of Curacao.

You ever watch the TV show THE DRAGONS DEN ?

I saw it twice and it is so funny…I love it…and one of the panelists owns Boston Pizza, and also MR LUBE…..the latter which hired us for a huge corporate party in the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao)in the Dutch West Indies, right above Venezuela……all new to me..all I know is that the trips have white sand beaches !

The gig negotiations included taking our spouses, which we did,(other than a couple of the guys)….and the date was set,snorkel gear was purchased and ways were made towards the airport.

Our friend Rhonda Ferstel took over the cooks-chair at GOGO MANOR,and with 2 ‘fridges full of food, and all the bills paid, I felt confident toleave 11 International Students back in the beautiful rain of British Columbia.

Our one over-night stop-over in Toronto (at a Hilton) provided the lastWestern-style breakfast I would see for a while, and one more stop overon the Island of St. maartin (who gave half of his cloak to a poor man)..and my night time we were in the warm tropical breeze, stepping onto a shuttle across the Dutch Colony of Curacao, through the streets until we hit the gigantic and private compound of the Hyatt regency.

With the band vibe at an all-time high, we enter the magnificent ultra-fancy lobby of the resort, noticing that there are no doors…because this is the tropics. The place was stunning, even at night, and my thought was that perhaps it is a bit too fancy, and not quite beach-bummy enough. There were some people in suits, not bathing suits….in Archie Comics terms, this was where Mister Lodge would stay.

We all gathered for some food and chit chat, and orientation after checking into our private suites, and by the next day, with the way-bright sun lighting the luxury setting, I felt totally at ease, cozy, and able to wear shorts…as half the place was in bathing suits, in either of the 3 or 4 pools, or the beach….it was indeed very casual, just in no way sloppy. I am sure that if we stayed too long I would be walking around with gaunch on my head.

We had a free day, in which Paul Cloutier (our tour manager) arranged the stage, I programmed what I could of 2 mystery keyboards, and we had a fun sound check at the cabana on the coral beach. Smitty amp was facing Venezuela, which you could see some lights of, at night….I hope they like Smitty solos.

So, other than lobby call at 8pm, the next day, we were free to take shuttles into the town, or to lay around and eat snacks at the beach, or the pool, or sleep…..or all 3 at the same time. I passed out on lawn chairs every day during this trip.

The show itself, could not possible have been more successful. Chit chatting with the audience afterwards while pizza after pizza arrived in the outdoor restaurant, mostly arugula and pesto. We also had big food allowances….so snacks were not the issue. Sunscreen was the thing…use lots. I am still peeling as I write this, in the airport lounge, with chai tea, looking out at the Toronto rainy runways…..

The days were So bright…I mean we went from the dead of winter to super-summer, in 2 days of travel. We had 3 or 4 days supplied at the resoprt, with the only things to think about was to shut the big slatted hotel doors, which shuts of the air conditioning, or what TV channel to flip around at night….surprisingly USA and Canadian channals….it was a very low stress scene.

Scott golfed on one of the world’s most important courses…or some wild thing, and we concentrated on swimming with the tropical fish….until it was time for my guest and I to decide to stay or seek a hotel in town. I looked online and most of the information was very old already, and things can change day by day in the Caribbean….and every time I go anywhere really exotic, I always just look around and find a hotel when I am there. Funny thing, the first one we found was run by students….there is a switch hey, students can take care of us for a few days. rented a car for $50 a day, no mileage charges, no taxes….

so rather be swept into the crowds of cruse ship people in the mini Amsterdam town of Willemstad, we could get out and star to explore some of the 34 available beaches….the furthest being about a 45 minute drive away.

Have you ever driven in the tropics ? Scary !

All our old rules about drinking and driving, seat belts, air care….forget all of that, and just watch that nobody runs into you. Single lane roads and everyone in a huge hurry. Funny, because I did not see anyone in a hurry to do anything else on this Island. The place is 80% catholic, and the friendliest people and the safest society I have ever seen. Even the big scary tattoo beach guys have rosaries around their necks, all peace and love. But out any one of these folks into a cheap little car and they go crazy.

So, yeah the tropics, gotta dig it.

if you made it to the end of this festive babble.

to all who went to our
shows this year.

Super fun !
let’s all do it again soon !


No Shitty Gigs 2011….part 4

--> September 2012


I was never a big Cheap Trick fan, but I sure am now. They headlined at Mattawa yesterday and I got to sit down
in front of the barricade (in front of the stage) again for their amazing set. We had played with them years ago at a fair in Saskatchewan
and they were grumpy and had no costumes, and I did not think it was very good. Meanwhile my friend Jim Survis
had been guitar-teching them on the road and he called them his “favorite American Band.” I did not quite get it
until last night, when I was thoroughly entertained with their incredible show. They looked, and played fantastic.(They also get paid A LOT…and I was in a happy summer mood…)

We all got to meet them (other than Scott and Smitty who had gone back to the hotel) and there was time to ask
them questions and take photos before they hit the stage in their Dream Police outfits. I really liked everyone.
The keyboard player told me his life story, which included changing from drums to Keyboards in the late ’60s
when he first discovered ELP on the radio.

I asked the guitar player Rick Neilson if it was true that his father was the first mellotron dealer in North America.
He told me “yes, and me too. We had the first ones, the Mark 2 before Dallas Distributors took it over.” He said
he had the rhythm tapes with Bunaglo Bill and all that shit and that he is also in the Mellowdrama Movie. (so
am I, apparently, though neither of us have seen it). He still has a mellotron with cello and flutes, but has not played
it in a long time…….neat guy. Kinda strange, but I like him.

I super liked the singer, Robin Zander. I asked him about hisnecklace, cos it was hidden under his Fantastic
Sparkle -embroidered jacket. He showed me the rosary and the inscription from a Priest in 1964. I think he said
that his Grandmother gave it to him. His kids go to Catholic School. …Yeah, I like him. He was very gracious all around.

I also loved their stunning guitar collections. You now that just several days previous to this, their stage collapsed
and fell in (right on them) in Ottawa in a freak sudden storm. The investigator refused to have anything removed from
the site, so many of their guitars had to stay out all night in the rain. We are talking about VERY valuable instruments
here. So Rick Neilson shipped up more (from his collection of 250) and the yellow plexiglass one was my fave.

Quite honoured to meet these guys. They are a perfectly strange American band, very professional, just perfect.
Serious rock stars.

This “Voyageur Days” festival in Mattawa (cottage country by a lake) was long sold-out with this line up:
Kim Mitchel–Bad Company–Trooper–Aldo Nova–Cheap Trick.
They always get really good bands. We have played here 5 times, every second summer since 2003….I think.
Someone said it has been 6 times. I don’t know. But we are a favorite, so it appears.

Our hotel was in North Bay, about 60 kms away, with a shallow and warm swimming pool. Kim Mitchel hung-out
with the guys in excellent humour on our first day off of the summer. I got some snooze and read a bit.

Aldo Nova is a Canadian solo artist who had a huge hit with FANTASY in the ’80s, and has been writing for
major artists and producing during the last 20 years. He is 54 now, and has not gigged at all since he was 34.
His new band (from Montreal)  was really organized. They spent over 40 hours rehearsing for this debut.
They did an extended soundcheck (in front of the crowd) and there were tons of samples and vocal bits,
and the results were a really great-sounding and cohesive set.

I really loved meeting everyone in that band. Super friendly great players. I hung out with Aldo’s X-wife
Nancy, (who is still VERY supportive of him) and his 2 kids, and his other son on bass. I love meeting new people.
Serious brotherhood at this festival. We had out own air-conditioned trailer at the side of the stage; a truly
luxurious way to attend a festival !

My favorite songs of the night were THE WAVE by Cheap Trick, and also a strange intense one called something
like BALLAD OF TV VIOLENCE. Not the crowd’s fave, but the most artsy and bizare, I thought. I wish we were
playing more shows with Cheap Trick, I just love them….suddenly.

Again, almost every band had a keyboard player.  am loving this.
And Holy Smokes brother can Robin Zander ever sing. That line-up was truly the festival of amazing singers.
Ra really liked them too. I like when everyone is so happy.

Another neat and very enthusiastic people we met was Carrie Twain and her friends. Her sister is a legendary
singer, of course, and we always see stuff on TV about them. Neat to see what seriously loving, fun and beautiful
folks these fellow Canadians are. This country we all share is so polite, safe and happy. This is what I see.

Bands I have met at the airport this week:
Red chamber
Yukon Blonde
These kids wear crowns

Newfoundland ….sunny happy and alive.

Ra and Clayton stayed next door to each other at one hotel, and they both opened their
doors at the same time, walked out and banged right into each other. very dated comedy.
The Cloots got mad twice at the same front desk of one hotel, and his new suit case, the
expensive one, the one that the airlines put a huge ugly sticker on…well it got locked and
he cut it open in a rage. I like hotel culture, we sure have had some great ones on this trip.

Scott liked swimming 3 times a day in North Bay, and talking with Kim Mitchel by the pool.
I liked being able to sleep the odd hour in silence. I can sleep anywhere, but you know that.

It was at least a 12-hour travel day to Newfoundland., and that 4 and a half hour time difference
does make a difference. Am 8am leave is like a 3:30am leave to us. We get out for soundchecks
entertaining the few who had gathered early on George Street for day 2 of their huge outdoor
concert festival series. Very famous and popular event…I met people on the plane from Toronto
who flew out specifically for this.

I had a choice of either sleeping 2 hours, or hiking up (and down) to signal hill, the furthest
East point of North America (where the first trans-Atlantic signal was sent years ago)….
so I took the hike, as I love to do in this town. There is a part where you have to hold onto a chain
so you do not fall off of the cliff…...I was puffing and soaked by the time I got to the top to visit
the tower…..nobody else up there was perspired at all. They probably drove up, cos there is also a road.

.This is Scott and Ra’s favorite town. And I can appreciate that. There is no BS, it is
pure love, and the loudest sing-along crowd in Canada I am sure. Trooper is particularly popular
here and the streets were jam-packed like sardines.
Very happy sardines, and that makes us happy too.
We here lead around to a basement of the Yellow Belly Brewery, in a charred-timber (from the fire of 1898)
framed stone building, with pizza crust made from their brewing grains. Lovely. We had our own
private bartender backstage and full huge concert production with video feed up front.
We have played here twice; once on Canada Day, and once in the pouring rain. Each one
a total success.

Our charted bus arrived at 8am to take us, half asleep on a 7-hour cruise up the rock to Triton,
where we were separated into two small seaside Inns. Ra, Scott and Clayton took the Irish house,
and Smitty and I (and Paul and Steve) took the British house. This worked well….and we joked
on that theme all day…..then soundcheck, no dinner, snooze, gig…..funny stuff. Two teenage girls
waited outside the dressing room for a photo with the band….I let them in…we took some nice
photos and SLAM opens the dressing room door with some irate lady “I am looking for my daughters.”
No thank yous, but what the heck. There was much confusion at many points of the evening.

Dressing rooms are a whole different universe. You never know who is going to bust in and for what reason.
Usually it is someone who wishes to repeat what they just told you at the T-Shirt booth; harmless
but a slightly redundant. I like to think of dressing rooms as quieter places where you can hear
the other acts, opening bands, whoever else is playing, but at a quieter volume.
Yeah the stuff people say sometimes. Smitty and I were Greeted at the British house by a moustache
man “Hey you are not the same guys…I saw you in 1976 in Moncton…” I said “oh yeah ?”
And I avoided going on my little private porch by the lobster boats when he was hovering outside.
The room itself was quaint and pretty, with DREAM — CREATE and lovely slogans on the walls.
I love it. The air is totally different out here. The Atlantic smells different, as does every sea.

The way this summer works (So far) is that we fly out for 2 or 3 shows, and fly back home again for 2 days off.
I look forward to going home simply so I can eat some normal food. Sitting in a hotel at 1 or 2 or 3 or 4am
inspires snacking, but there is nothing that one can do about it.


Now that my Dad has been gone for about 10 years (he still gets hone calls from solicitors
and I hear people talk about all the time….and MY Mom has been gone for what,
4 years (?) every once in a while I think about the good stuff….

5 nice stories about my Mom:

1) She decided one sunny Saturday that she would walk, with however many of her kids, to a festival
at Bowen Park. I went, of course, about 7 blocks and what transpired was a huge total counter-culture hippy
fair with beards and costumes and contortionists and fat ladies breast-feeding….and their kids all running around
with proto-mullets….no bands, no crafts….these were REAL hippies…..jugs of wine…just a total happening,
a real bee-in. You could not stage this, and I have sen people fail in trying, in every movie since.
How my Mom even knew that this happening would be happening, remains a mystery.
It is not like there would be an ad in the paper.

The straight folks, like us, were well outnumbered by the freaks, and it was neat that everyone mingled, like
a big outdoor party, just for the heck of it. I did not feel so much as if the locals were simply observing the
drop-outs; it was all one, somehow. Really neat. Later one of my brothers, (years later), told me that the
smell in the air was POT. To this day I like looking at freak brothers comics because it reminds me of these
fairs (I got to go to several over the next handful of years…) Also a mystery how there were no cops….
no fights….no organization…no signs…no protests….no chairs….

This fair must have been about 1971. It was really funny. Maybe there were people selling beads and stuff…..
I was focused on the clothes and the lingo and the scene. Somehow it was all really entertaining.
Time did not exist. This seemed to be a new sat of rules….if any at all…
I later wondered where people went to the can, cos there were no porta-potties. Maybe there was a public
one by the pool. I saw one bearded guy take a wizz on a tree, which I thought only loggers knew how to do.

On the way home my Mom said that she liked it and that sometimes she wishes that she could
drop it all and live like that. (A wild comment cos she was VERY much in the straight world….the ultimate square,
as far as I could tell)……Funny thing, my Dad said the same thing whenever he saw VW vans with
flowers painted on them…..or at least that he would like to drive one. If he was still around, I would
totally set-him-up with one.

My Mom lasted longer than he did, (not by nuch) so she got lots of opportunity to be free, in the end, I figure.

2) I found at softball games that I had to pull up the top leg parts of my pants in
order to comfortably crouch down  as back catcher.
I was concerned enough bout that that I told my Mom and she said “Many men do that,
it is perfectly normal, your Father does it too.” It was the first time that I ever associated myself with MEN.

3) I told her once that I do not need to go to Catechism anymore
because I have all that stuff figured out.
She said “well that is fantastic ! There are men who have studied that for hundreds of years
who still find mysteries…..good for you !”

4) One day I got all excited and sang “roll out those hazy lazy crazy days of summer !”
in the biggest corny voice I could, despite being about 7 years old. What I did not realize
was that I was standing outside of the door to the bathroom, where she was.

Later she asked who that was singing outside of the can, cos she thought it was really good.

5) I wrote a diary in grade 4. It was a school project and got marked, so it was not exactly private.
My Mom thought it was really good, and also really funny.
She would read her favorite bits to her friends. Particularly at night. later into her little parties.
She would bring out my diary and just laugh. She loved how I would write freely about stuff
that nobody is supposed to know about, like having too many flees in the house, or my Dad
using woman’s underwear on trees to mark turns on logging roads.

No Shitty gigs part 7….2011

--> September 2012

or I could talk about the on-going fire-code legal updates for GOGO MANOR….

No Shitty gigs part 6….2011

--> September 2012


Well, I am sure that it has been a while since we have posted a road report,

and many gigs have happened…..

Our band is now in in the executive lounge at the Toronto airport for 6 hours here….and really, how much snacks can I eat….

because the flight home was cancelled.

I could write about the Grey Cup, where we played by the gates to the stadium, and then

walked in with the thousands of others to the front-lines there I delighted with

BTO opening the halftime with LET IT ROLL…..I love Fred Turner. He is THE sound. (Or I could say how the back-line supply company brought a “digital piano” that was full of someone else’s custom patches…NO piano sound…SURPRISE ! so that keyboard was USELESS, despite the fact that it was still generating income for someone…and that I played the entire gig on my KORGM50, which I had never used live before…)

I could write about the corporate parties we play, and what a great direction that is for a live rock act…

No Shitty…. Gigs Part 5….2011

--> September 2012

It has been said that

“no two deli-trays are alike”

I would like to say a huge

THANK YOU to those to put these beauties together this year.

(any repeat photos are a result of this program, and not my sloppy editing…)

No Shitty Gigs…2011….part 2

--> September 2012

Part two…2011 …some photos


Ride for Sight


Calgary Christmas Croprate

CANADA DAY CloverdaleCHEAP TRICK..MATTAWACochrane OntarioCollingwood Ontariocowichan theatre Duaphin Manitoba

fernie ski hill


fort mac

grey cup #2



lawrencetown nova scotia


Magnificent River Rats Festival

maritimes 2



navan fair

niagra on the lake

North Battleford

North Bay

Olds Alberta

OLYMPICS awards ceremony





Poisonprince albert

port colburne

prince george

red deer

SAGA Halifax

saint johns

san diego saskatoon

sidney spruce view alberta


Thompson Manitoba

thunder baytriton newfoundland


walk of fame 2011 torontowhistler

white rock



No Shitty Gigs….Part 3…2011

--> August 2012


I help out as much as I can when I am at home. Rather than hanging the hammock up on Protection Island, I
have dedicated to making other people’s lives run more smoothy, so it appears. I accepted a teenage Chinese student and his Dad to stay for 5 days at the MANOR, and wow, these guys are not organized, despite their rented luxury VOLVO and huge GPS units. The dad is a $ guy who never sees his son, who is an absolute Princess.

Protection Island (where I should be)—————->

I had to get up early on every single morning of the few days at home (where I did not have 4am lobby calls)
because these people could not get it together to get up to the school. They also needed help getting back.

One day, the student just stayed at school. Did not walk, did not take a bus. He just sat there for hours expecting
some angel to come and sweep him up (which did happen, but it was just me in the vintage VW Bug).
Ric Shaan (my buddy and great singer) and I drove up to the school to try to find him because his father wasdistraught (they also do not speak English, hey)… I find the kid walking UP the road towards the highway….aimlessly.

These are all Mexican High School kids————>

Not down hill, where he came from.

You would have to see the setting to really appreciate this. The school is at the base of a mountain, and we live by the sea.
That is the big blue thing between the land and the sky. The kids was that helpless. I have never seen anything like it.
Privileged …..that is a nice way to put it. whew……I do my best. We all do……other than some of those kids. (and other are very nice…disclaimer)…

My idea in setting up a student house was my answer to the question of how I, and the house could serve the community.
It is more fun, however, when the people being served make a better effort than that. Meanwhile, I pick the used
bubble gum out of my showers.

As there are less summer students at GOGO MANOR this summer, (for whatever reason….)I have a chance to fine-tune the finishings on some of the bedrooms as they become available. So I swish more drywall mud around like fancy plaster
and paint the results. This boxes -in the new sprinkler system pipes, that I spent A LOT of money having installed, simply
because we care. This takes hours. Show me another student house with sprinklers and integrated hard-wired smoke
detection system (lie 17 units….),and I will show you are care facility. I think that there is an illusion that we must be making
a LOT of money with this house…..well…..someone is…..the tax man…..the grocer…..the bank…..good thing we gig a lot hey……..(tax write-off)…….no kidding hey….

New ceiling 5/8 firegaurd in the kitchen————>

I also had a student leave after I helped him book his flight (on my visa) and it is MY job to try to get my money back off
of him…..he is on his Unlce’s yacht…….and on and on…..

The students can also be a lot of fun, at the right moment, of course, and we treat them VERY well…. …..anyway,
the flight attendant here just told me that we are featured in THE GLOBE……they will try to get me a copy.

OK, huge picture…..we stop off in Winnipeg, so I set off and pick up extra copies for the guys to see. The story is really
based on the assumption that “vintage” and “nostalgic” bands are only in it for the money. One of those articles
that was written before any research was done, no doubt. Nowhere does it say that what we do is any “good”. But I think
it is…and that we are……and the article suggests that this is all about money ? Come on….the world is full of the stuff.
You don’t need to take piano lessons to find that out.

Really, if you wanted to make money…would you start by saying “well I guess I need piano lessons then…” (no)

I also find it pretty one-sided to call anything “nostalgic.”
I recall last night (several hours ago) when I signed many arms, shirts and paper things and phones for 10-year-old
trooper fans, who are not bent on nostalgia at all. An act is either good or not. NOW. Period.

Many bands that I like are older bands, but I have NO nostalgia for them at all.
Perhaps I am discovering them NOW…..

New people board this plane,  and I loose the empty seat beside me, and a young rock band sits behind me. I ask them the
name of their band “These kids wear crowns” (or KINGS ?) they tell me and Scott tells them that his daughter saw them at the Port Theatre In Nanaimo. They talk amongst themselves about “the guys from Trooper are at the front of the plane” and
segue into having a laugh about billing with the band Platinum Blonde soon. “They used to be huge !” one guy
says, answered by “But they’re not NOW !”

So I introduce us and we all become instant friends.

These guys remind me of Scott and I touring with Paul Laine in 1990. We were really funny too, I am sure !

Sure, but where were all the snacks back then ?—->

They were very polite to the flight attendant and also gave Ra and Smitty and huge compliment at the front of the plane.
I got to chat with all 6 of them in a row.

It has also been such a strange weather summer; not much of a summer at all, really.
It is mid July and I have still not been in the river at all. Last time I checked it was ice cold and dangerously swift.
I know that there is a global message about water conservation, but let me assure you that my hometown of Nanaimo
has not water shortage. In our Westcoast rainforest, we have plenty or water. Some days I feel that there may be a slight
sunshine shortage, if anything. Well, we also have some VERY big trees, all of whom are having a great old time as far as I can tell.

Ok, I made it to The Island—————————->

Some towns even got flooded-out, such as the Magnificent River Rats Festival in Athabaska. After we did our festival
gig by the river, the entire festival site went under water.

We also flew out to Toronto and got a charter bus North to Collingwood for the Chili and Ribs festival,
which had more bar-b-que than I have seen since a huge red-neck truck auction that my Dad took my sisters
and I to when I was 13. We had a super fun host, Kat, who made sure that the food and good times kept
rolling. Her gang of 20-year-olds (her daughter and friends) accompanied us on the bus ride back where we
all hit our rooms for our daily 3 or 4 hour night nap at a 5-star hotel, (brand new with golf course, of course.)
No they did not go to our rooms, they just shared the ride. It did not read like that did it ? really….

That huge concert stage was METLAICAs old metal one, which had the smallest little steep stairs
going up to it. I saw one guy have a sandal-thong blow-out going down and he almost went head-first.
One of those strange things you see.

—-forget the past, snacks are NOW !—————–>

5-star hotel. Yeah. The first thing they did was give a copy of my room key to Shawn, who was out to help
our crew, so I got bang bang bang on the door as soon as I finally got to hit the washroom. Then, I got a chance to finally get some snooze from that travel night and day, and someone from the hotel BANG BANG on
the door to check that the room had 2 bathrobes. Nice building, but no GOGO MANOR (I am trying to be funny here.)

The whole thing about being on the road, especially with a schedule as wild as this, is too keep some
inner (and outer) peace. Mine was shot when I started to read emails about estate
matters, accusations, anger……dumped on me, yet again. I feel that I have had a few years of that, and I decided
then and there to put a stop to it. I am not wasting an awesome fun summer vibe on the road dealing with other
peoples issues. I keep GOGO MANOR running on the side, and only accept happy people. WHO you associate
with really says a lot about who you are, and what you are doing, I figure.


We played the Yorkton fair where storms were predicted. Storms chase us around the country.

I always wanted talent——————————–>

I must have bragged a thousand times of our 17 flights in July alone, and our 3am, 4am and 5am lobby calls after gigging until 1am. Sleep where you can. I bring a Mexican blanket with me everywhere we go now.

We just GO…………………..

All of these summer gigs are outdoors, except two. The first of which was a corporate in Calgary. We did this
one last year when there were whips handed out and some kind of dominatrix theme. This time there were naked
ladies painted colours and “the worlds best pole dancer”. I guess I am supposed to believe all of this, being that
I saw no evidence of any of it. I like the idea of the painted people though. Sounds artsy. I have no issue with that.

That gig was like playing in a big cracker box, after all the open air big stages and huge audiences.

The dressing room was way downstairs in a concrete theatre labyrinth, west jet guests and good cheer. So hot down there that my stage
and a bit uncomfortable in perspired stage clothes until we get back to the hotel for our 3 hour night-nap before the next flight.

Hallways to the stage——————————–>

Merritt the next day was joyous. Big PA on a huge stage that sounded amazing. There were bands opening that were
full of heavy Vancouver musicians, most of all whom stuck around to the end of our set, so I felt that we were
giving our very best with that little bit of a show-off edge. I was anyway.

We played so many gigs.
Ra’s fave at the time was inside a sweat-box arena in Thunder Bay; the final of 4 shows in 3 days in 3 provinces.
Scott gets up at 3am to drive up Island to pick me up and we drive onto the ferry, and onwards to the airport. By the afternoon
we are in Calgary at soundcheck and by night on the same stage. 1am back to the hotel for a 4am lobby-call for a flight to
Kelowna and a drive to Merritt and souncheck, gig, hotel and another 3-hour sleep for early lobby call. This is the
pace of the summer.

An early flight brings us to Thunder Bay where we soundcheck outdoors for a private birthday party, and again in an
arena for the public performance, back to the hotel, no dinner and onto the private party. By the second gig of the day
I was getting dizzy from being tired. And once we get back home, I step into one of the empty rooms at Gogo Manor 
and continue to mud and tape the new drywall boxes around the sprinkler pipes. There is not other time to do this, promising myself that the next break I will hit Protection Island and hang-up the hammock.

First kids to use the new roof….from KOREA——->

We opened a show on a gigantic-production stage in London Ontario on the hottest day in the towns history. Never
have I experienced such an atmospheric oven.  A park quickly filling with people, a backstage littered with tour buses, and with
no soundcheck we hit the open stage in direct sunlight and strike up the first tune. The headline band POISON  (cc Deville)—>
generously agreed to let the other acts use their huge stage fans, which was great for Scott, also in the shady part
of the stage. I simply dumped water on my head. My keyboard was HOT and stage water warmer than bath water.

Smitty got the worst of it, in direct sunlight and had delusions and was losing dexterity onstage. It was that hot,
really bad. The audience was getting hosed-down and I went under the stage during the drum solo where some roadies,
having lunch, gifted me with a terry-cloth soaked in ice water for around my neck. These are the real roadies, big beards
….like the ones in the movies.

Trooper and Loverboy Singers————–>

Ra sang like a bird, and our sound all around was at our best. I made the hugest professional mistake of my life
onstage and lead the band into the wrong song after my piano solo, and apologized backstage to a very kind
reaction. Later thinking about it, I felt that that may as well have been divine providence anyway. No point in
having a band member fall over onstage. Really, it was that hot out.

Loverboy was the next to bake onstage. There was a circle of trailers and some gourmet bar-b-que and a serious
brotherhood of bands during the day. Smitty went back to the hotel and drank water

Hottest day in history———————————>

and the rest of us stuck around and chatted with the loverboy guys and also Steppenwolf, who I managed to watch from inside the barricaded area
with some friends that were guests for the day. That band was amazing. Great sound. They rarely perform, by choice,
so I felt honoured to hear them, for such a close standpoint (right in front of the stage) and feel the twirling double
leslie cabinets of the B3. This is a first-class act, with great arranged music. Not the jammy stuff I had expected.
Beautiful. Psychedelic and strong and clear. The singer used One guitar or the entire set, a black Rickenbacker, and it
sounded like gold. They are very organized. My fave band that I have seen for quite a while here in Canada.

We had 5 deli trays backstage in the air-conditioned trailer, and one by one we would go in there, cool down and have
some fruit. We all chatted with the POISON band members, and I really liked CC Deville, being that he is very hyper-
positive high-energy and full of compliments. He played really well that night as well. The one guy I did not meet was their super-famous singer. In fact I doubt if he met anyone being that his security cleared a very wide path
from his tour bus to the stage when he walked past.

Scott watches the other bands————————>

That I have not seen since ZZ top at the same stage several years
ago. I understand it though. Those guys play almost every day this summer, speaking of amazing schedules.

Funny thing was that all 4 bands that day (Trooper, Loverboy, Steppewolf, Poison) all have keyboard players,
and each player has a rig of 2 keyboards. I do not see that everyday; usually I am the only keyboard player on site !

And once again it is bathtub weekend at home and my gang heads over to the Protection Island cabin to celebrate
the parties and fireworks…..this time it was a challenge, so I hear, because someone stole my new boat and chained
it up at a different part of the marina to use as their own. So my guests retrieved it. Crazy.

I checked-in 2 new students into GOGO MANOR during the 2 days off, and these 14 and 16-year-old boys (from Mexico
ad China) are the funniest and nicest kids yet. I actually miss them, as I sit here in North Bay at a resort on our first
actual day off on the road this summer, with people babbling outside my window. Finally I sneezed and one of them said
BLESS YOU, and I said THANK YOU…and they all shut up. Weird.

I got to teach the Chines boy how to pronounce Na-Ni-MO (Nanaimo)
not La-Li-Mo…….I love these kids cos they are more innocent and not trying to be street punks, like I have dealt
with recently. I am the only member of Trooper who has no kids of my own, so I guess this is how The Lord
compensates me, for now. I got to swim in a pool here, and in my mind count how many windows I can replace at
GOGO MANOR this year…..I count 15….plus the sliders. We have windows that are over 100 years old. Brutal.
The new windows (We have 4 so far) are So high-tech. Things I think about when not dreaming about restoring
VWs. ……oh that 1973 Westfalia in Coombs….


HAhahahaha that is funny. I took a break from this, and now on a 6-hour grid-lock Ontario drive I am staring at photos
of the 1973 Westfalia again. The Chinese boy (Bili) is getting a Superman suit so he “can help people”. And the gang
back home all camped-out on Protection Island for Bathtub Weekend, running the boat engine into rocks and drifting
to sea. I hope that by now someone has figured out how to replace the little pin on the engine…..

—-end of part 3……thank you….

Summer 2011 —No SHITTY GIGS TOUR—–part 1

--> August 2012

WELCOME TO SUMMER 2011 !!!!!!!!!!!

———-THE NO SHITTY GIGS TOUR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!———————

HI ! These road reports are just a little glimpse into what we do on the

road…and a peek into my other life as well….where I save the world !

I can see by my photos that there are dozens of gigs and hundreds of

flights that I do not mention….but here is a bit of fun to share….

Weather weird all over the country, so still way too cold to swim anywhere, despite being early June.
I caught my first cold in years which somehow resulted in a very sore back (could be a pinched nerve)

and I was basically useless for a week, grumpy and sleeping a lot. Scary stuff.

I took over 60 aqausize classes over the winter, then suddenly I can’t pull-off a simple Latin dance.

I always say that I never take anything for granted,
which is total BS.

STUFF AT HOME I chose to live.

Still I did my acoustic gigs, for special needs people, church, parties….and was surprised and ultra-delighted
to have Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard sit in with ME during a sing-along at a garden party in honour of a musician
who passed away a year ago (Gerry Paquette). I love meeting legendary musicians, and to sing with them is over-the-top fun !
I really like these guys. I have huge respect for them.

I think that I have a thing about meeting, and hopefully singing with, great legendary Canadian
musicians. So, well, I guess I am in the right band to allow for that.

And on the home front, the full-semester students at GOGO MANOR started to go back home,
one by one…and for the first time I had to kick someone out of the house.
We have been pretty much lenient with house rules…chores…leaving lights on all night…..
but smoking pot in the house…….NO…….. Imagine that, parents spend thousands giving their kids an amazing
opportunity to travel overseas for education, and they fragrantly squander it like that. And I am such a nice guy
that I did not call the cops…..cause all sorts of complications, or throw the idiot down the stairs…I always
have buildings with lots of stairs….

In this case, the Mexican boy’s parents owned a resort…and sent him here as punishment.
And the punishment for breaking laws in Canada was to be sent back to the resort.

Then I have to charge them damages.
Some of these people are so rich that they are not so affected, I guess, although they sure dicker over little
things while they are here. I am learning a lot doing this, and not all stuff that I ever thought that I would need to know.
Like, watch that people do not throw their cigarette butts on the dry cedar kindling pile….

I only started a student housing complex as a way for this huge house to serve the public….altruistic means….
because I think that it is good to serve. But I did not know that that meant having to pick bubble gum and
discarded underwear from the shower that I let people use. No matter how well you treat people, or how much
love, loyalty or kindness you give, there will always be people who DO NOT CARE. Fact of life, and I am not
going to single-handedly change human nature…..whewwwww will any of us learn this ?

I give it one more year until I step away from it, (this housing project) cos the house will be rebuilt, totally, to a fine standard
by then……spent tens of thousands on electrical and safety updates over the winter….wheww….the city should give
us an award (aint’ gonna happen)…..

At one point, my concept was to build, or convert, a string of large homes for special housing situations. But I am
now thinking it may be more rewarding to expand (at some point) into something more appreciated, like
agriculture. I know a guy who grew thousands of tons of apples on 5 acres…..and maybe live a more private life.

Rewards for efforts do not fall from the sky…but you can find them as easily and you can find distractions,
I suppose…..I brought my new near-mint 1973 VW Beetle back to town and spent some time just cruising
this cool little sports car. My idea was to make this into the dune buggy, but it is too nice to rip apart….so I guess
I need to get another doner-bug….oh to have such problems hey.

Just trying to have fun, and doing a fine job if I do say so…..

Flight from Winnipeg to Thompson Manitoba

Oh look at this !
I am hungry — Kaakpunga….

Just checking some translations to Qangatanirmi from a list in the seat pocket on this plane.
Useful phrases I may need at this next gig.
Agjaqtiqaqpit ? ————————(do you have an escort ?)
Qanuq ikajurlagit ?—————— (can I help you ?)

So far these words are just bunging-up the spell-check.

Once I tried to learn some French when we hit Europe
“Oh Shauntay”….and some girls laughed at me.
Can’t imagine.

Our tour manager, Paul Cloutier is the funniest guy aboard, I am sure.
He took some good Iphone photos of the propeller spinning and made some
good jokes about the huge cookies we were just given. Not much to
work with, but he does wonders……as we fly 2 hours up North for Nickel Days.

We were just outside of Winnipeg yesterday, had an unusually early soundcheck
(10 am) and I got to lay around and be quiet for the rest of the day. Not used to that, lazy…
but in a month I will either be well-rested or bagged-out….we have a ton of gigs this summer.

Steinback (yesterday) is a very clean and happy community; we met the Mayor and his
wife, along with lots of volunteers for the couple of thousand people they gathered outdoors
for out first summer gig of 2011. Rain rain rain on the crowd (Smitty got soaked on stage) fireworks,
a mob of young sports fans chanting “GO JETS GO !” and not a bad vibe for miles. Total
Christian community, with the pre-show announcer “Trooper is going to Raise a Little Something
here tonight !”

It is too early into this report for me to go into a religious rant (I am pro-religion) but I do think it is
alright to use the word “hell” in public….the word IS in the bible, isn’t it ? Or at least there is some reference to it.
You just should not tell people to go there, really.

Anyway, I loved Steinback Manitoba very much. There are gardens in organized plots alongside of the highway
and the flowers on the street are undisturbed. Everyone is happy, and nobody has to ruin anything. Not your
typical ghetto movie set at all.

One of my fave things is to meet other musicians, of course, and in particular I like to hang out and
chit chat with Elvis Tribute Artists. Trevor Cornelius was at the gig (and signing session) and he is
rated second at the latest Elvis Olympics. The guys is amazing. Wow, I met So many cool people, a
contrast to being so quiet at home lately, cruising the VW Peanut and just waving at everyone.

Meet and greets and T-Shirt signings have been really busy.
It was hard to hear everything that everyone said at the T-Shirt signing after the gig, and one guy I just
smiled at and agreed with. Scott old me that the guy was actually freaking out and demanding Scott to get
him a T-shirt, yelling, and finally stammering with “well Trooper are Fuckin’ ah-da-da ..(looking for word)….FAGS !”
And I smiled and “yeah right on.” to shake his hand, having no idea what he said…
Had to be there, and in the right mood I guess, but really funny. Somehow everything is so funny.
…oh landing here…..bump bump…..

OK, next day now, at the Thompson airport. We all boarded the plane on the runway, sat for a while playing
with the airline fathers day gifts (screwdriver with flashlight !) and were told to all go back into the terminal while a funky
bad light in the cockpit got looked at, and hopefully fixed. There was also an issue with 700 pounds of baggage that has
to be removed from the plane, so we are told that all our our cases were not loaded, but will be on the next flight.
Not good for connections and some words were spoken, to no avail. Let us hope that this is not repeated
throughout the next 50 flights this summer, hey. 600 kilos of stuff.

Funny how people are not considered in the weight of a plane load. I mean, one pound difference in luggage
is a big deal, and people have to pay for it…but not 100 pounds here and there of body poundage.

I gotta get a new will….like the thing that gets read after you die… I have all kinds of insurance, but yeah,
I gotta get that together, hey.
Flying so much. ( as I read this a year later, I still have not done this…)

My guess is that there is not problem with this plane, but that they are loading our gear, secretly, rather than
flying it on a later flight, as our tour manager is dealing with right now….so much goes on…
I know so little about most of it….

Gig last night was in an arena, away from the main festival fair in Town. The place was packed and had several
bands through the afternoon (another excellent Elvis Tribute artist) and a fantastic Country band from
Saskatchewan….Tim Toutant….
I listened to all of his songs in the afternoon at the hotel, and found them
to be very heart-felt. They were not around after their set, and I know they had driven up North, not flown,
so I could imagine they could use some quiet time too.

<—-cool photo hey.

It will take a few gigs for me to reconnect to doing this. There will be not much sleep this summer, other
than what we can manage in the afternoons.

TIME FOR A CHANGE (of stage boots) ————————

I gotta tell you about my stage boots….again…..cos I think I may retire them for a while.
They are from a totally different era, retro-cool, even though I bought them new (in the heavy metal days.)

In 1985 I was touring full-time with HIGHWIRE….a typical era candy-metal band from Winnipeg. I still had white sneakers
from my last band PASSION PLAY which wore all white with a black light at the front of the stage.

Both bands were really good, but the stage looks were quite the opposite.

The girl singer from highwaire got the word from her boyfriend (on guitar) that my shoes were not making it
onstage with the band’s heavy image….and insisted that I go get some real 80s rock boots… I did,
at the West Edmonton Mall, for $35.00, which was a good chunk of a weeks pay. Great boots though, size 9.5
….heels….suede, awesome. (I remember taking the ferry over for 4 nights and getting $80 with this band once,
in Langley.) The rest went into the “band fund.” No wonder I had to sneak onto the ferry all the time.

Rock bands of that time were very conservative. It was not a rebellious art form, and the dress code,
and code of conduct was very strict with some bands. It was all about conformity, within the illusion of being

Many people only got to experience being in an actual paid rock band for a very short period of time. I think it would
be a drag to look back at the fun road days and say “I wish I has been myself a little bit more….” really, I mean, what
else were they getting out of it ? I mean, you can met chicks on the beach, or at the grocery store, of you want to;
you don’t have to be in a band for that. Somehow the human race continued before guys joined rock bands…….there
HAS to be some artistic expression as a reward for not staying in your hometown and buying cheap real estate like
all your friends back home are doing……

Funny thing, how people will give up every possible benefit of a regular life, and job… be in a traveling band,
and then decide the restrict their own freedom and personal expression. I can see it if you are KRAFTWERK,
or a franchise of THE BLUE MAN GROUP……but you ever see THE OAKRIDGE BOYS, and one guy has a huge
beard ?…..That is why I love the band BIG SUGAR so much…..each guy has a different image, and somehow it works.

Anyway, I have only worn those awesome new stage boots them onstage, and never anywhere else, other than the very
odd parking lot between the dressing room and the stage itself. I always put them directly into my gig bag after playing,
and never lost them. I have had them resoled a few times and they are still in great shape….don’t even stink. Best
stage boots ever……I have worn them at EVERY gig I have played since 1985. Funny circumstance of acquisition, but a
great buy, it turns out, so THANK YOU Hywire.

1985 HYWIRE (pop metal)
1986 KIDS WANNA ROCK (excellent Fake Bryan Adams Tribute Band..National touring company)
1987 THE BROKEN TOYS (Funk pop, where the singer said “those boots aught-a last you another 2 bands hey…)
— Shatered Image (same band as The Broken Toys with the singer’s sister singing)
1988 …911 …LOVE Or MONEY (pop) …THE GROOVE (Motown, pop, with a few egomaniacs that I helped get a house gig before they squeezed-me-out and got their buddy in)
1989 KAOS (ROCK metal glam)
1990 THE PAUL LAINE BAND (ROCK metal glam)
1995 COMMON GROUND (pop)
1996 THE SPICE BOYS (fun, pop, retro, rant)
1997 TROOPER…..(totally best band going) and onwards…
…..lots of sit-in gigs as well….

I mean, these are complete full era of my life,
complete eras of pop music…and a ton of gigs.
There has got to be 2 000 gigs there…don’t you think ?
That is a lot of stage….a lot of spins….

Trooper alone played 100 shows a year when I joined…..

So anyway, I was wearing Prince Abeeb (from Nigeria) shoes, at a gig recently…sneakers that Prince Abeeb had
disposed of at GOGO MANOR…so I grabbed, and the guys backstage said “you should wear those.”

I was like “yikes, the gig will feel like a soundcheck to me !” and even walking onstage I was feeling disconnected
and checking that I had everything right, and nothing was hanging out where it should not be….(like my ear cables…)

When we started playing, I adjusted OK, and could still do my spins.
So let’s try some gig without the 1985 stage boots hey…less space in my back pack…
brave hey. If Scott can cut his hair, I can change my image a bit too.

This is the stuff I have to deal with.
It ain’t easy.
Rock and Roll is serious business….or you may slip and fall.

===============WHERE WERE WE ?

Ok maybe we will take a private bus back down to Winnipeg. We are all still sitting here stuck at the Thompson
Airport . Getting to know these guys too well !…yeah 17-hour trip back home…slept the entire first flight
squished beside some huge workin’ guy, but the second flight was brutal. I was surrounded by a hockey team of
12-year-olds and their very loud and excited Dads; all huge all yelling and rarely sitting down. How many
huge guys asses rubbed on my shoulder and arm I can not say. It all actually gave me a bit of a headache
which did not go away until I hit the ferry, and the world went back from black and white back to colour.

I love the ferry rides….good thing hey…..cos I do a lot of them.
If the ferry had a frequent flyer program, I would be ultra-gold class,
even with having snuck-on a million times in the ’80s.

Yeah, people are different everywhere you fly, of course. You go between major cities and you sit next to an
engineer for GM who tells you about robot design and the future of the car manufacturing business
worldwide. Or you sit next to a fellow who used to run a TV station….or you go up North and you talk to a guy who is
going to work for the first time. Always there are more guys than girls going up North.

One girl going up North was happy to tell me how rich she now is.
I met a teenage girl up North once who used the same word to describe herself.
rich rich rich….so rich !

I think that riches are in the heart.

==============================AND ONWARD…..

3 days off at home is our new rotating summer schedule and I wasted the first one with drywall mud (still, after 2 years)
and more repairs and cleaning of GOGO MANOR. I told myself that I would hire guys for all of that, but I am there
and what the heck hey…..when I am old I can say that I did…..The school GOGO MANOR our house for the “late Arrivals” of
summer students. Last year they had the house full (other than one room) and this year, so far, not even one booking.
Subject for another time perhaps.

So Scott and I left a day early, stayed in Vancouver and caught a 7am Flight with the band to Halifax,
where we had a night off and then played 2 outdoor tented shows for the Navy ‘family days’….about
1000 people or more per night; the perfect gig, really.

We stayed right downtown Halifax at the Cambridge Suites (where we stayed for “this hour has 22 minutes”)
and I got to be lazy and walk in the rain. Perfect quiet relax time, where I spent hours on the computer trying
to deal with a family inheritance issues… yikes, a total brain-drain when on the road. This is KELVIN from THE CLOOTS ENOURAGE———————————–>

You know, I could easily narrow down my projects to one hammock on Protection Island……
ahhhh…….we complicate our lives in an attempt to simplify….

Trooper has a 2-hour private (and very in-depth) tour of the HMCS MONTREAL Frigate; a 5400 tonn warship,
(one week before the new Royal couple were to stay on her, have mass and sail around Quebec.) We saw the
brotherhood of the Navy, had tons of laughs and felt very well treated. I love field trips.

A 7am flight back got us into Vancouver at 11am (4 hour time difference)….so do I get to go to Don and Gail’s
30th anniversary party today ? Hmmm, should I bring the banjo and violin ?

—- Ok next week now….Big Don’s HUGE house, on a lake, was the first swim of the year; something for
me to dream about when I am away.

Every flight this summer is early….like 7am….and there is no way to connect to that from Vancouver Island,
other than to go over the night before and stay in a hotel (which Scott and I did every week). I would have
3 days off at home, where I would rub more drywall mud, or paint, on the walls of bedrooms that were waiting
news of summer student’s arrivals.

Ok, so I almost always say HI to anyone carrying an instrument case at airports. Violins take first priority,
if I am awake enough to feel social, so I see this guy in a trench coat and dark glasses, and I ask “HEY what
kind of music do you play ?” He replies “I play whatever kind of music they pay me to play !!”

It took a bit of chit chat for me to figure out that he is the very famous Canadian fiddler Ashley Macisaac.
He was really funny, and we got to chit chat on both airports. I asked him also how much stuff he carries
on the road, and he said just this (one violin and a small bag)….”No pedal board or monitors ?” I insist..
and he says “no, you know those double violin cases…sometimes I take one of those and put my clothes in it too.”

I really like him. Sometimes I meet a musician, like Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo, who I think I would be great
friend with, if we lived in the same town. In Nanaimo, some guys, (like sax wizard Pierre Komen), are only a few
blocks away.

Ashley, my new friend with my violin—->

=======POOR ME ==

When I lived in Vancouver, my friends all lived so far apart, and my idea of a walk back then was over-the-top exaggerated, I could walk for hours, being that I sure did not drive……but I did have all day, only playing at night..

Keyobords were very expensive in the ’80s and many rock keyboard player were known to be somewhat….poor.,,,not that there were many of us out there, even then……

I used to walk for miles every day. If I had a tread mill, or gerbil wheel, and alternator, I could have made money selling
volts to BC Hydro.

I just recently watched a youtube documentary about homeless people, and some guy went undercover to try it out,
and he got on the buses for free just by saying that he had no money. That never occurred to me at the time.
Just ASK !…I did not ask for anything.
Hey, I had grandparents in the 1930s who would not accept relief despite having a dozen kids….

ME and CHACHIE from about 10 years ago—>

We sure met a ton of people on a 3-show jaunt….Alberta, BC, Alberta….it is 4;30am in the lobby and the
guys are all starting to arrive here….food buy-out money, thank you…, enough mosquitoes here…and then we
leave…oh free breakfast…Northern Alberta…..

That is the big thing now; hotels offering free breakfast to guests…..where was THAT in the ’80s ?
(Why did I not get free breakfast with HYWIRE ?)
Our leave times are so early these days that we were able to catch 2 hotel breakfasts in one day !
One leaving and one arriving, both many many miles away from each other.
Now we are on the highway, from Athabaska to Edmonton, free internet at the airport, sleep on the
flight (lately I have slept right before take-off and not peeped-out of dream world until after landing…)

I think the KING of sleep-world is Steve Crane, who is out with us teching. (stage manager)…
The guy can sleep anywhere, anytime, and he eats everything and is rail-thin.

We played BOONSTOCK a few days ago, and I am wearing the deluxe black hoodie that they gave me
at the T-Shirt booth. Fields of tents and campers, and a smallish stage (with another huge one sitting empty ?)
and the most enthusiastic crowd of the year keeping a row of huge ‘ALBERTA CROWD CONTROL’
security guys very busy. With that amount of crowd surfing, there was s steady supply of people being
pushed and dropped over the barricade. I have never seen so many people land so badly, on their sides,
heads, tailbones…and just get up and go “YEAH !!!!”

Kinda gross seeing girls land poorly when they are tossed on the ground from crowd surfing.
Girls landing on their heads.

You don’t get so much of that at family events. I think this was young persons wild-paradise for the run of
the event, and Trooper and CCR were the only classic acts on the bill. The show was off to a slow start with
missing PA parts and the first 3 acts got cancelled. This is some of the stuff that our excellent tour manager
(Paul Cloutier) has to deal with….

There was a trailer with subway sandwiches for us, and a young exited band DRT to hang out with us.
It was true and pure rock and roll all around, and thank God for no rain or that place would be nothing but mud.
Great gig, despite me only having Scott’s bass in my in-ear monitors.
(OH wow, here is the sunrise over Northern Alberta now from the window of a van….)

Yes, I will remember BOONSTOCK forever. I love the big black hoodies that people gave Scott and I at their merch booth.
THANK YOU….I was actually going to go out and try to find one, being that Ra has so much success with
his on the plane rides. The last time I had a hoodie was when I was 12, and it was called a “Kangaroo Jacket.”


We had our daily 5am Lobby call for a flight back to Vancouver and a soundcheck for Canada Day in Cloverdale;
usually the most highly attended event in the entire country…this time overshadowed slightly by the Royals visit to
Ottawa. There were a whole lot less boobs (as opposed to BOONSTOCK) flashing at this very clean family event.
The entertaining kid’s duo GOGO BONKERS opened the show after our very brief soundcheck (line-check) and we
were driven back to the hotel.

TROOPER and HARLEQUIN singers————–>

I like pictures like this.

Most shows now have ground transportation supplied, so rare for us to take ourselves anywhere anymore.

Scott jogs twice a day, and I do nothing. I still brag about my winter aqausize classes over the winter (I miss it now)
but I am very active when I go home. I am not going to feel guilty about laying around a bit in the afternoons where
I can, this summer. I am addicted to youtube, and wikipedia…..and becoming obsessed with VW camper vans.

The only problem I am having with WIKEPEDIA is the fact that many of my fave old-school musicians are passing away,
year after year. I check up on, say, the percussionist for BRAND X…and there he is, gone. Passed away, hey.

So I spend more time looking at VW camper vans online, focusing on the 1973. I think I have it narrowed down.

I love quiet hotel afternoons. They used to drive me nuts, but now I embrace the peace, until I feel like breaking it
with violin scales. This, as the gigantic amphitheatre filled with over 100 000 people under the summer sun and
our cell phone alarm clocks bring us back to the lobby again. At the gig we hear the hugest and cleanest PA
system of the year and the Winnipeg band Harlequin sounding the best I have ever heard them, and I got a chance
to tell them so, as there was lots of time to chit chat, at the hotel and the backstage tents, with full deli and pizzas.

This local gig was strange for me, as I had absolutely no entourage whatsoever, and there were tons of people in the
backstage area to talk to. I felt alone yet a bit crowded. This is not good, cos the idea is to not be detached. Maybe
it is a bit nervous to hear a football-sounding crowd roar when the O-CANADA singer steps onto the stage. The crowd
was so loud that they sang as loud as Ra, despite the gigantic modern PA system. I took my in-ear plugs out at the
end of the show, for the bow just to hear that glorious roar of so many tens of thousands of people. Not a bad
vibe for miles around.

The mayor joined us for the last song (one of the 3 most popular mayors in Canada) And the T-shirt booth had a
long long line-up as my cousin Shane and his daughter Erin arrived to share the last few moments of festivities
with us. I got a lot of compliments on my playing at this show, which is always fun. My solos have been pretty short,
noisy and spazzy; i guess cos that is how I feel, just hyper and happy to be here. It was a long cold winter,
so let’s make this summer nothing but fun.

With the Brits at HOTEL LENORE hollywood—>

Another early lobby call and off to Alberta again. I asked a guy to stop coughing in my ear in the line-up for airport
security. Remember when they used to ask everyone to “power-up” their electronics ? Now they make you stand
on rubber mats. I got a random pat-down search at one security line-up. It was like a massage, I guess. you think
that those guys ever actually find anything ? Like “OH this one has a pea-shooter !!!!!!!!!”

I brought my super snug Mexican blanket with me to sleep with, because I have only brought shorts
and T-shirts out on road trips lately. I insist that it is summer, (it is)…despite what the rest of the country thinks.

And at the last airport boarding stop in Edmonton for the trip home, at 6 or 7 am, I see another guy with a violin case
walking towards me… took me a moment again, and Ashley MacIsaac said HI again….what are the chances to run
into him 3 times, and we are not even playing the same town ? We got to hang out for a half hour of so; I can tell you
about every tree in his yard….and I had watched his youtube stuff, and also read his website and Wiki pages, so I had
tons of good questions for him. He held back on nothing, told stories the way that they are, and we had lots of laughs.
We will meet again when ever either one of us is playing in the same town…..I was surprised how beat-up his violin is,
but look at Willy Nelson’s guitar too hey…..very pawn-shop-looking. Amazing he can make a living with that thing.

Ashley told me that it is only in the last 10 years that he has played up the neck above 1st position, and that
other than 2 years of lessons when he was a kid, he is self taught on all his instruments. He explained Cape
Bretton music in 32 bar cycles and told me of his guitar players ability to go with changed arrangements on the spot.
All really neat stuff that I love to talk about.

I stayed a wake enough on that flight to see live TV footage of Prince William and Kate visiting the H.M.C.S. MONTREAL
….we all laughed, so cool, we could see the sailor that we had met in Halifax “HEY there is the girl who showed us the
engine room…”

Scott and I raced for the ferry back in BC. We usually JUST catch it, but this time we just missed it. Oh well, got to lay
around on the grass in the windy sun and tell even more stories. I am on the ferry now, and there is a nice young
couple with a guitar and a drum who want to jam. I also have a Mexican blanket….should I jam or snooze.
hmmm, let me lay down, close my eyes and think about this…….

I have a TON of this stuff to post….whewww good thing

I have a few hours in this hotel in Regina….and a TON of pictures…

—–that is part 1 of many….

Summer 2010 Tour … continued

--> September 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!