Bootless and Unhorsed

Enormous blog from Canada – May ’09

The tour so far – up to a week or so ago CANADA 31/5/09

We’ve arrived in Vancouver, on the eve of our summer tour. Three of us that is, me, Shaun and AL. TOM JONES arrives first class in a coupla days after buying his ticket only days before on a loan from our harmonica-playing mechanic mate Captain Freedom, AKA Matt Mason. We got a cab to Joey Only’s place – 40 bucks and he showed us around. Curtis the V8 Conversion Chevy that took us round the country so masterfully last year is awaiting us after being rescued by Jon next door from the dreaded City Towers. He’s still intact, and started 3rd go. Joey has the tour in hand. Drum kit and bass bin in the loungeroom, looks like we’re in business. If Jones makes it to the airport. When Joey left, we walked up to East Hastings Street. At this end its very amicable. I found excellent pho, the boys a good café. I passed them drinking beer in the sun – their first trips overseas, they’re lovin’ it. I bought a ham for five bucks and a Vietnamese mango – probably the best mango I’ve ever had. Texture, meaty, delicious. Ambrosia. Thence back to Joeys where I had another Xanax and crashed out for several hours. Up now drinking chai and planning on more eating. Tomorrow the work starts in earnest. We went out to eat again – this time at an odd Chinese restaurant where I had broccoli in oyster sauce and rice. Back at the house, partaking of herb. Light till late – we crashed around 12.30. Couple of days later, Tuesday night the 2nd of June to be precise, and Curtis is registered and at the mechanics having a physical. Took a couple of days and much dealing with bureaucracy and about a thousand dollars IN CREDIT, but its done. As Mr Leahey from Trailer Parkj Boys might say, we’re in the eye of the shittercane. Speaking of which, we just watched about ten episodes of this very Canadian show. Hilarious. White trash Valhalla and it could have been set in Emu Plains. Or Albury. My left hand is still sore and difficult to clench after embranglements at Mazstock where I took a young fool to task, in the process disabling aforesaid limb. Played a show without undue stress, and a lot of pain, so I think with more generous applications of comfrey ointment, massaging and rest it should be ok. Not that it got any rest today. I had to drive Curtis to his appointment with the Air Care folks – AND HE PASSED HIS EMISSIONS TEST. Begorrah. The old fella is clean. Relatively. Despite the massive hole, or lack of solidity in the muffler and the rust degrading the rear of the vehicle. He’s got another 3 months in him, I’m sure. But the drive of necessity involves wrestling the steering, which has all the lithe responsiveness of a World War One tank, and puts a lot of strain on a sore hand. Still, it seemed to cope okay, better than it did with catching a baseball hurled by Joey, even encased in a catcher’s mitt. That involved a lot more comfrey, swearing and trembling fingers. I played some guitar today and felt some flex coming back, glad there’s still a coupla days before the show at the Railway. The first of the beer faeries manifested at the Railway – Steve, the plumber. He brought a coupla jugs of beer up front mid-gig, refreshing the venerable tradition that had gotten us through last tour. Funny story there – he’d been at a deserted beach last year with his girlfriend, swimming. They returned to their towels, and sitting beside them is a cd. it turns out to be ours – the compilation we were flogging. He’s never heard of us, but has a listen, loves it, and now knows every song on it. He’s up fromt all night mouthing the words – almost and dancing majestically. Joey’s band were triffic, revving up a desultory crowd. When we hit the stage they started leaping about straight away and we held em most of the evening. First show down. Last on and last off the ferry Woke up early on the morning of departure for the island – Shaun was still sans-amplifier and we were going to hire a Fender from Long & Mcquade. The original plan was to go down with Joey and using his account, hire one without having to pay a deposit, but he having just knocked off after a night shift, declined to accompany us. I drove into light saturday morning traffic – and we discovered that nothing opens before 10 on a Saturday morning. Nothing, not op-shops, camping shops, or Long & McQuade. When we did eventually get in there, they wouldn’t accept Joeys letter but would accept my mastercard, and a $600 deposit on a $130 rental. But we got a Blues Junior, then headed back to pick up Tom and Al. Having hastily loaded, we roared off into heavier traffic back into town along Broadway, then south on Granville to Tsawassen Bay. We made it onto the ferry with literally seconds to spare – and only because it had been delayed. We were the last vehicle aboard, and the ferry set off without further ado. Upstairs, we sat on deck in occasional sunshine, repairing to the bistro for a feed, then back out on deck to watch the gorgeous islands streaming past. Landing at Swartz Bay, we were then last off the ship, and again becalmed in slow moving traffic all the way to Victoria. Here we’d sat in a dodgy hotel for four days last time, now we returned to Value Village to stock up on utensils and camping gear. Then down to the Solstice Café, on Pandora, which we’d driven by earlier and despaired of finding a park – this time there was one right in front – pole position. Inside was ominously quiet, an unprepossessing space without much going on at all. People were nice but the deal wasn’t – it was quickly apparent we weren’t gonna take much here. We bought whisky and wine to kill the pain and had a few for the solace that was in em before kicking off around 20 past 8. There were about ten people present including an enthusiastic toddler and to give em credit, they applauded for twenty. We played a tight, long set, mostly banjo tunes and called it a night around quarter to ten. Lynday Hendrikson had showed up, an effusive rock enthusiast. On this occasion she was determined to have a night out with us despite our early stated lack of funds. We followed her back to her house, nipped inside for a bottle of Canadian Club and beers – then she took us out to Logans. Here we were ushered into a booth and soon met a couple of chaps she’d aforementioned. One of them was a New Yorker who used to play bass for James Brown. He was in town to play with various other luminaries, and a very amiable chap, going by the name of Funky-D, or Dan. His offsider, Mark, was a bomb disposal officer from Montreal, a big bloke with a handy penchant for buying jugs of beer, four at a time. What with Lynda’s insistent generosity, buying everyone wild salmon burgers and jugs, we were well catered for. The tradition of Canadian beer faeries looked to be still going strong. A couple of metal bands were playing in the band room – they were pretty good, particularly the second one, who ripped out some great Black Sabbath and other songs which I took to be originals. I went up to stage front for a look and saw a wild chick drummer flailing away, and lots of hair. We’d tried for a show here and failed – maybe this was why, it was a dedicated metal pub, or maybe just metal night, something many Canadan pubs feature. What with the jugs and incipient carousal, Gary was getting loose fast. He’d quickly disposed of a few glasses of whisky back at Lynda’s and was now shuffling about, trying to rile Jones and score more free beer from the flustered barmaid. Eventually we reeled out of Logans, and Lynda drove us back to her flat. We’d parked Curtis outside, and loaded all the gear previously, now we staggered in to drink more whisky and continue the carousal. Next morning we packed Curtis and took off, Lynda having declared she was going to materialise at other gigs in Ontario. A little lost in Victoria, we lumbered around in our unwieldy Chevrolet before finding the correct exit, roaring north for Qualicum Beach, where Caroline, wife of Wil, the country/folk/rock singer we’d befriended last year, awaited. We’d been emailing and ringing to arrange a meeting – Caroline had graciously offered accommodation – Wil being away in Calgary recording an album. So we lurched northwards, looking for an open liquor store. Passed about ten malls in ten minutes north of Nanaimo, then found an open one where we bought a carton of beer. Setting off back into traffic Shaun was driving, his first stint behind the wheel. As usual it took some getting used to, and Curtis was cranky – overheating on the turnoff to Qualicum. We had enough water to refill the perilously evaporated radiator and remembered the lessons of last tour – that at every stop Curtis would shed water through his battered radiator and he had to be constantly given drinks to assure a cool engine. Or maybe he was just pissed off at the incessant beer faeries and decided he wanted a drink himself. Stopped at Qualicum to refresh our water bottles, then clattered through the seaside village, chock full of pensioners playing golf or steaming around on scooters. Caroline had provided a good map on email, so we found the house fairly easily, by dint of wrestling the wheel through a variety of tight corners and into the bushland which turned out to be only metres from the gigantic Inland highway. Caroline met us at the gate after I’d overshot it – with her two dogs, Ozzie and Bruce. The former a big happy Lab/Collie cross who could have passed for Ticketyboo’s uncle with his white streaks and unquenchable fondness for sticks and balls. Bruce is a diminutive shaggy terrier of some sort, a courageous and obstreperous tyke whom Ozzie kindly lets boss him around. Caroline was as I remembered from meeting her with Wil, a very genuine, generous woman with a great sense of humour and passion for music. Their house was folded into the forest neatly – part of Area F, a nebulous bureaucratic designation that meant you could build anything you liked there without any kind of approval – a kind of no-mans land where confirmed outlaws could live in relative peace – hence the neighbour known as ‘fuckface’ who kept aggressive Rottweiler/wolf crosses and refused to gate em in despite their avowed ambitions to tear the amiable Ozzie to pieces – quoting Area F as his enshrined right to ignore humanitarian and neighbourly obligations and remain an entitled curmudgeon Our quarters were two tents, a becalmed trailer/caravan and a bedroom in the kit home. Carolyn had steaks and potatoes ready to barbeque and we’d bought salad fixings and beer, so we sorted out an enormous feast. Caught up on emails etc and that night slept the sleep of the just. Next morning after a leisurely breakfast of muesli followed by crispy bacon and eggs and a discussion of some potential shows on the island on the way back West in August, we took off as planned for Tofino. This allegedly exotic spot, the ‘Byron Bay’ of the island’s west coast, we had been told about by Joey as a must see, and Caroline also endorsed it enthusiastically, though she’d warned that it was expensive. That was okay, I said brightly, Joey had clued us into a cheap accom option – a property owned by a generous hippy. Hemmed in by luxury resorts, it was supposedly a Wwoofers haven and great location. I’d spoken to the owner on the phone and he seemed a very friendly obliging chap. It was a stiff drive across the island’s mountain range, a prodigious collection of razor ridged fangs complete with narrow roads, abysses and the usual spectacular alpine scenery. Curtis comported himself well despite the warm day, and we arrived in Tofino without incident, albeit my shoulders being very sore from the strenuous workout behind the wheel. Following Joey’s directions we found the place. We surveyed it glumly. Heavily vegetated with low, surly scrub and narrow roads clambering through multiple vehicular wrecks, most of which appeared to be dwellings, it was haunted by mosquitoes big as bats and twice as stupid – we decided to decamp into town to get some food. Tofino itself appears ill-at-ease, perched over a hillock slumping above the ocean and a stunning vista of mountains hunching over an archipeligo from which the bay is fashioned. The population looked to be either happy-go-lucky first nationers or nervous tourists. We strolled down to a large wharf where two sight-seeing planes were being refuelled and a diminutive hobo in outsized cowboy hat was circling a couple of yuppies driving onto the dock in defiance of signage. He was jabbering and hooting and occasionally erupting into raucous, sustained and utterly insane laughter. He addressed the yuppies with some implausible tale which they clearly could not understand, but humoured him with the usual nervous giggles and had their photos taken with him. Bored of them, he turned his attention on to us, volleying an unintelligible salvo as he approached, then lurching into the vigorous hysterics which sounded like a baboon with whooping cough. He saddled himself on the ground in front of Jones and commenced another round of muttering, which Jones appeared to enjoy, before being engulfed by another attack of heaving guffaws which I captured on my camera. Jones joined in the merriment, captivated by this bewildering gnome, who, it turned out, was named Turtle, as he was hailed by a couple of stout girls waiting for a boat. A large Indian chap with them manhandled cartons of beer and food onto the boat as she bantered with Turtle, we taking the chance to escape and saunter back to Curtis. I bought some groceries at the over-priced supermarket, clearly a delicatessen aimed at the yuppies who dominate this enclave. Though it seems a nice enough place – the scenery is breathtaking, it seemed to us cluttered, cold and infested with mosquitoes. We returned to Poole’s place to discover a yuppie in a BMW in the place we’d been told to park – he looked as befuddled as the rest of the population, probably a less than gay divorcee searching for some kind of meaning in his post-tragedy abyss and ending up in this marshland. We drove past wrecks and hippies to another patch not inhabited by weeds or ruins and nudged up next to another vehicle wedged into what looked like a primitive attempt at building a cabin – the architect having forgotten walls and roof, but having delivered a perfectly serviceable, if rotting, floor. Here we cooked our repast, a selection of baked beans and pork, together with garlic, celery and potato. In exceedingly primitive conditions, under attack by squadrons of ineffective but highly annoying mozzies, Jones and I came up with a serviceable meal, which the others trudged through but I found oddly enjoyable – washed down with Canadian Club whisky. True hobo-living. Spoilt now by luxury, we fled. Drove throughout the endless evening, got hold of Caroline enroute and she says ‘or course come back and stay’ … so we hove in and slept well again. Fortuitously, Caroline needed a lift into town next day to pick up her crippled truck, so we drove in and did some shopping – a whole wild salmon, steaks, salads, vegies … Big BBQ lunch etc, had a jam, got on computer and Caroline hooked us a gig at the Drake in Canmore and a couple of potential others. Long walk in the forest in the evening. Above the super-highway, saw deer and elk and no bear. Next day a late lunch and we finally took off mid-afternoon for Nanaimo. Shaun and I to the radio station beneath Queens Pub, where the DJ Dave, used to do t-shirts for Weddings Parties Anything and knew Richard, the guy from the Railway Club, who used to manage the Reostatics. Hayley was very pleased to hear this. Same dour barman from last time, refused to acknowledge the promised free drinks, but sound guy was good and that pub has a good PA. Jeff the enthused chiropractor who’d seen us last year showed up with his delightful doctor-turned real estate agent girlfriend, and he bought us a coupla rounds and whooped and hollered as we played three long sets. Crowd pretty good, better than I expected and even a few dancers. Another fella gave us 20 bucks and we sold a few cds and were paid, so pretty happy, we repaired to the Port O’Call hotel and had all of about 4 hours sleep before up and re-pack and fire up Curtis and get on the ferry. On the ferry I sat and wrote and came up with a poem for Hayley which I thought was pretty good and she loved when I eventually managed to email it off. Off the ferry, we hightailed it to East Vancouver to pick up the cds. Digipaks, theyre snugly plastic-wrapped and thin but the artwork looks good, Adam has come through once again. as has Balfe, with the customary prodigiously good photos. $710 on my Harvey Norman mastercard later and we’re winging back down the highway, jinking off into East Hastings, and thence to Joeys. He’s ready and we head up to try and change the rego over but hit another bureaucratic snag and cant do it. Leave notes and forms for John who lives upstairs to sign and send on, then head out for the long haul to Prince George. It’s a long haul. Up into the Rockies and Curtis a little challenged, but eventually settles in to a rhythm, though overheats once or twice when we don’t give him an adequate drink. About twelve hours in the saddle, passing through many pulp mill towns that stink like damnation, finally arriving in the desolate town of Prince George, where as I’m parking Curtis – a strenuous task, an insinuating hobo asks me for five bucks. The gigs in a gutted pizza restaurant run by a guy called Ricco, who starts hitting us up for beers as soon as we return from the bottleshop down the road. There’s a smattering of local punks and uni students, most of whom seem familiar with Joey’s work. He’s quite the folksinger, well known in many obscure places. Small PA, enthusiastic audience, we get through it geurilla style. Sell a few cds too. Afterwards back to Neil’s, punker friend of Joeys, via a servo where you slide cash onto tray through security window. Prince George is that kinda bleak industrial town. Back at the house its bongs and beers and laughs with some locals – I crashed in spare bedroom after bong was sending me sideways. Next morning Neil makes breakfast after we get supermarket fare. They have a gigantic wolf/dog, very calm and friendly. We hit the road, get medicine and tools for Curtis from autoparts shop, post cds to Calgary radio courtesy of Caroline’s connections, and in the words of Chopper Read, continue on. Into Smithers after long haul, straight to the Alpenhorn to load in, sizeable bar/restaurant, smiley, obliging staff handing out beers and good steak. We have to wait for hockey finals to be over before set-up. Mike Zinger arrives via aeroplane to reinforce the Joey Only Outlaw Band solo show, bringing pedal steel and a wry Canadian humour. Crowd boisterous and beery – we sell 5 cds, Joey and Zinger playing well as folk duo against our fully-blown rock onslaught. Back to hotel where I’m trying to call Hayley, cant get through. Shaun, Joey and Al stayed at pub drinking and smoking with staff, they got in sometime around dawn. Next morning looking for breakfast I get in trouble with an angry young single mother after slight traffic altercation – she follows us and then confronts me in carpark where I’m trying to park “What is your problem?” claiming I also swerved at her on road – untrue – delivers savage broadside, kids in car etc, I replied with the now famous quote – “sorry, I’m Australian.” Out of town through magnificent scenery, stop at servo beside small town diner – young lass in liquor store leaning over to display ample cleavage when we innocently enquired whether diner was open. Thus encouraged, we have excellent eggs and ham and coffee and take photos of touring party. At servo on way through Prince George eccentric dude in 70s Cadillac sedan adorned with hundreds of badges captures our attention and by lots of digital footage – we took photos like a gaggle of Japanese. At A&W for Teen Burgers we’re served by an unfortunate trainee who gives us two teen burgers each for $5.25 – this a clear infringement of the 2 for $6 policy as we tried to tell her, but she insisted on the deal and was probably sacked or at least bollocked by a bemused boss later on. Joey claims to spot 6 bears enroute – I see one. Reasonably long drive to Fort St James and pull up outside the Zoo, an aptly named wild looking joint, as wild inside as out – stuffed wolf sans-ears … this bar named in a Vancouver rock mag as the bar where you’re most likely to have your ear bitten off in. A number of Joey’s compadres arrive, young muscular bucks, look like farmboys or treeplanters into punk rock. We go back to hotel after supermarket, I cook enormous lentil surprise. Some desultory dancing as gig progresses, mostly these people here to socialise and get very drunk. Young blokes squawking and whooping and talking bird, one exceptionally tall boofhead with trousers falling down in approved yoof manner, continually screaming, ““Let’s have fun!!” as if its some brand new invention he’s recently appropriated. Long night, alternating sets, mostly to the backs of the sizeable crowd. But woe betide if we stop; we’re the soundtrack to their yahooing and they pounce on us demanding more, staff insisting we keep going though everyone has clearly lost interest. When finally we desist however, DJ reclaims the stage with the usual offal, and instantly the dancefloor floods with bimbos, redneck suitors and shuffling locals. We decamp hastily, back to hotel and more lentils. Lentil breakfast, TV, idling in rooms, finally away before noon, pulled up by young cop near highway pull-on, with transparent story about complaints for ‘swerving’. Sorry we’re Australian – Satisfied with my license and left us alone – we’d also been pulled over in a roadblock on way into PG and cop was bewildered by Australian license – had to tell us to pull over while consulting his peers and then came over and happily let us go. That had seemed to be a roadblock looking for ‘someone’ – everyone seemed to think it most unusual. From there its on to Jasper, via Dunster, home of Robson Valley Festival. We pulled in to visit Seph and Shera, who live there and are custodians of the festival. Beautiful property bordered on three sides by the lively Fraser River, not far from the headwaters here at Moose Lake, and which twists through the Rockies all the way down to Vancouver, we crossed and recrossed it a dozen times on our journey. Steph a huge fella with dreads, plays in a band called Mamaguroove, who I think were at Salmon Arm last year. They’re going to the Yukon this year, with their home made diesel in tanks on the roof of their enormous and capable looking tour bus. Shera also dreaded, true hippy mama – they would both be well at home in Nimbin, or Rosebank. Nice people. Stage done up in true hippy style, all painted and stylised in a paddock – Joey reckons we should be able to get into it next year – I left a cd with em anyway. If we do return we can maybe do that one as well as possibly the Wells Arts –forgot to mention that there were three chicks and a bloke who’d performed in PG the same night as we – part of a folk group who also book Arts Wells and really liked our set. Christina ‘Zippy’, Yael (singer songwriter) were their names as far as I can gather. We blew a joint and Joey mostly, talked about bands and festivals and people they know and other bands and biodeisel and the weather – the rest of us sat around and played with the enormous dog, Zoe. Then we mounted up again and continued on into Jasper, late now. Found the hotel belatedly, very posh. Gig downstairs in basement bar, looked very quiet. Sound guy there with good system including Bose stick for foldback. Small crowd developed, and the drinks were flowing. I ate a bison stew, followed by buffalo steak and salad, exquisite and filling, washing it down with rye and ginger. Joey and Zinger commenced and were doing well, a large table of well to do oldies soon left in the face of his tirades against the rich and powerful. But more came and then we played a good, mild set which they loved. The whisky never stopped flowing and we met more old pals of Joeys in the small but appreciative mob. An Australian girl from Adelaide with her Canadian boyfriend, they’ve done a lot of time in the Territory – Alice particularly – they bought a cd. Five cds in all and the manager, Jeremy wants us to come back and play the Jasper rodeo in August. Which fits nicely into the return schedule. Eventually upstairs where in Joeys room for a jam. Shaun in full Gary mode roaming the corridors all night wound up asleep in Jones’ bathroom clutching a bath robe around him for comfort. Up just in time to catch the last of the buffet breakfast, everyone looking very doughy apart from the irrepressible Joey who’d already been for a sauna and spa. Out of town and back into the mountains – we pulled off to go to some hot springs and Joey and I submersed ourselves for a while – excellent for hangover and general well-being. On way up and down mountain saw mountain goat – fearless. Passed Moose Lake, headwaters of the Fraser River. Straight to Hinton, where Joey was to do his history of folk music 101 at the library. We had A&W Teen burgers 2 for $6 again and then back to library where I got on net and emailed Hayley and then listened to last of lecture. From thence on to Calgary, start of an epic ‘short cut’ of Joeys, arriving around 3 am. Peter Brush, whom we met last year here in Calgary at the Ironwood, still awake with hospitality unimpaired by the late hour. He’d earlier invited us to stay here – he’s an expat Australian. Lovely house, full of his work in stone and collected artefacts and books. He generously gave over his basement for our accom and proved to be the most incredible host yet. We slept a few hours and then up to catch a cab in for City TV breakfast show. Cab driver a typical dithering specialist, ‘oh no you cant possibly fit all that in here, you’ll need a van” but we did fit it all in easily and whisked into town. At the station our contact delivers coffee and we sit a while. The male newsreader, Dave, comes in for hearty hellos, we decide on performing ‘Darn Tootin’ in saskatchewan’ as the female anchor is from Saskatchewan. So we run through Sick Sister and Same Road to warm up, then we’re on, do the song and have a quick chat to old mate about the tour, then its over and we’re over at Tim Hortons having a breakfast scone with no hash browns and free coffee as the dolt at the counter wilfully misconstrued my order. Had to fill out a form and eventually find a cheque to pay $100 for a tape of the segment – worth it. Cab back and we’re at Peter’s resting before our show that night. We’re at The Palomino. Load in, pay some shyster $6 for parking spot in lieu of the cd he wanted, upstairs for pulled pork and vegies and black-eyed peas and beans. Beers and much merriment with the Canadian’s game of decoying and pinching food and beer losing Jones two of his beers. Downstairs for gig – Jones, Al and Shaun playing with the Outlaws, Shaun on mandolin. Very small crowd, we did a good, measured set and the staff rapturing. Soundguy, Billy had also worked with Weddoes. Met Joelle, who’s doing our PR, and paid her for her excellent work. She’s gotten us two TV appearances, radio spots and newspaper stories for a very reasonable rate. She’s a nice gal, says she’ll see us at Ness Creek. Load up and I steam us home, Peter had been at the show, he was waiting with beers and we sat in the backyard til close to dawn. Leisurely morning and a huge lunch of salad and omelette, then we hit the tar for Fernie. Back into BC and the mountains. Pass someplace famous for many varieties of jerky and sample some. Deer, elk, bison, moose, he usual. No bear, as usual. Short-ish run to Fernie, into the pub, large, good stage, PA. In short order gin and tonics delivered by obliging barmaids, also pitchers of beer and soon, lasagna. I’ve received texts that Hayley has broken her ankle and cant find a phone anywhere in town after a brisk walk around. Eventually we locate our hotel and after setting up, drive there with Al and Zinger to make calls and arrangements. Hayley’s back from the hospital and in a lot of pain, was looking at the old empty and allegedly haunted house I like in Uralba with a workmate and broke it jumping the fence. Anyway, back to pub which is rapidly filling up. The boss, Kyle on hand to ensure we’re well watered with pitchers and GT on demand. Boys very happy. We go on first as posters didn’t arrive and only Joeys old ones up and they know his band from playing here a lot and also – importantly, I don’t wanna jeopardise our Sunday gig here in town … works out well, we put on a romping set, I pull out all the stops and give Joey a lot to work for – he gets up, with Tom and Al again and delivers, the crowd is rocking. We do another to close. Everyone’s pretty tanked. Shaun as Gary gets his shirt off at the end, a hugely popular move. Over 100 kids on the dancefloor. Not bad for a Wednesday. Soundguy, Colin, is stoked, as are all the staff, whom we give a 30 buck tip. Thence its on to Nanton, backtracking into Alberta with Joey doing running commentary on meteorological phenomena. Joey spent a winter here as cook and knows everyone.. He insists that I attend the wartime air museum in town, which I do later, checking out the Lancaster – even climbing inside – that must have been a scary ride. In the pub – a very quaint joint, full of old time country memorabilia – saws, guns, farm implements etc as well as dozens of photos of bands who’ve played here, including our pals Joey, Joellene, Kent McKinley, the D-Rangers etc – we’re served steaks and home-made fries, very good, and eat free popcorn from the machine inside the bar. Then I’m off up to the museum, afterwards ring Hayley. Poor darling in much pain, probably broken both bones in her ankle. She’s teary, alone and immobile. Wish I was there with her. Joey plays to a small crowd of old mates and is obviously much loved. We get on and half of em leave, mostly old folks. We play a spirited – and long coupla sets, by the end the drunks are up and dancing, and despite a dearth of clapping or anything else it transpires, as is often the case, that they loved it. No cd sales and only $300 but a good sleep. Breakfast downstairs, Al tackles Barb’s famous 3 pancake stack and only demolishes about one and a half. Then we’re on the track back past Fernie, back into BC and enroute to Winlaw. Pass a town called Frank – which was obliterated in early 20th century by a landslide, killing every inhabitant. We passed the massive grave – all huge boulders and scree – and the half of a mountain behind it – split as if by axe stroke from Zeus. Here the venue, looking like a glorified greenhouse, is called Sleep is for Sissies, a reference, apparently to a love of caffeine. They feed us well and provide beer. Up to the café up the road, where Joey usually plays, to ring Hayley. Joey’s guests this evening include a well known Mohawk warrior who famously fought US marshals over a home rule dispute with other First Nation resistance rebels in the Eighties. I remember reading about the incident. When I shook his hand he mumbled – “Shake the hand that shook the world.” Strongly built chap with long hair and eyes I wouldn’t wanna see coming at me behind a knife, gun or other weapon. Zinger has also brought along a Kiwi called Angela, also known as Safire, who is a circus performer of sorts and lives not far away and is to put us up in the house she’s minding which has no furniture or beds. Venue gets about twenty people in, some of whom, older hippies, are up dancing early. They’re very appreciative throughout. Don’t buy any cds though. Bossman does – for halfprice. But we get plenty of beer and afterwards drive a few ks across the river to Safire’s temporary abode, where bears rifle through the compost and cougars visit. We don’t see any of either though, and after smoking some pot I retire downstairs next to the fire, utilising a cushion from Curtis, my bag and some pilfered carpet for a very handy nest. Sleep wonderfully – with the aid of one of my dwindling supply of Xanax. Next morning we’re up for tea and I have one of my littler sachets of porridge pilfered from hotel at Jasper. Back to venue for breakfast and pack up gear. Saddle up and forge on to Rosslands. A nice drive through gorgeous Alpine country, sipping hot water from Phil’s old thermos. Rosslands a beautiful little town – and it transpires, absolutely full of attractive young couples. In fact I see few people older than 40 and most of them have kids. Seems to be a mountain-change kinda town – once home to a famous gold rush. Here we load in to a modern, reasonably sized pub and good, large rooms with excellent views. I walk into town – not far, to ring Hayley, get on internet at library. Back to pub and conducted up the hill to a Block Party – all homely young couples and yelping kids having a bbq picnic in the rain – very pleasant and cordial and middle class. We eat well of salads provided then to Gram’s house – I should mention he drums for the Touks, local band who organised gig for us – Johnny the singer is doing sound and Gabe the banjo player is acting as our guide. Gram is a well known session singer from New York who moved up here a couple of years and has a huge hand-made meat smoker in his back yard that looks like a rocket launcher. He’s made up a spread of smoked pulled pork at which all the local blokes and some women assemble to feast. We’ve brought beer and have a convivial afternoon of eating and drinking. Afterwards back to hotel for short kip and then Joey plays his gig. We do a less than brilliant gig with myself fucking up on a few occasions but the small crowd apparently very impressed, the Touks among them. After packing up we head up the road to Travis’ house (friend of the Touks) where Gabe shows us his considerable banjo prowess. Shaun playing guitar, Zinger dobro and a pleasant jam ensues. There’s a huge ice hockey player there who finds it all most amusing. He’s a big Rabelasian character who takes noxious smelling snuff and tells me how hardcore hockey is. I believe him. He’s huge. Gabe packs it in so we follow. Back to hotel where theres a ruckus over beds, Zinger and joey disagreeing over the arrangements. A huge fight ensues which can be heard all over town.. Next day out by 11 and have breakfast in a café full, again, of bright young couples. We bid adieu to the Canadians and motor off to Fernie. Farewell to Joey and Zinger. They pulled off a great tour. We had a ball, thanks chaps. At Fernie we move into the Park Plaza hotel again, eat well at the Pub, which adjoins. Colin comes in, who did sound at Bulldogs. Hardly anyone there, few drinks, two sets, kaput. Back to rooms to watch shit tv and email Hayley pics plus post a few on myspace. Next day pissing with rain and cold. Minor altercation with grumpy old codger in the bar as we load out. Breakfast at A&Ws, then the long drive back to Calgary. Peter, ever the gracious host, cooks steaks and we supply Coronas, have an extended BBQ, smoke-up and boozerama – he bringing out the red wines and tequilas. I pass out before too late. Next day long sleep in. Ring Hayley who’s very pained, immobile and bored. In evening out to chaps place to collect wood and take to Trinas house, local folksinger, where we smoke, drink and sit around fire. TO BE CONTINUED …

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