Luther Wright—singer, acoustic guitar
Dan Curtis—lead guitar and banjo
Sean Kelly—bassist and underpants
Grant Ethier—Sound and exclamations
21—Victoria @ Thursdays
22—Duncan @ a cool Hall, maybe called 'Mercury'
23—Richmond @ Stanley Sports Bar
25—Vancover @ The Marine Club
27—Vernon @ Pandora's Bistro
28—Nelson @ The Royal
29—Banff @ St. James Gate
30—-Edmonton @ The Sidetrack
——opening for Fred Eaglesmith
31—Calgary @ The Village Hearth & Terrace
1—Calgary @ The Unicorn Pub
2—Saskatoon @ The Wash & Slosh
3—Regina @ The Exchange
4—-Winnipeg @ King's Head Pub
5—-Sudbury @ Cambrian College
October 21, 1999
Well we just got on the ferry to Nanaimo; it's our first show tonight. Everything's going great so far, says Julie Penner guest violin player for the tour. Everything that is, except for the fact that we are supposed to be on the ferry to Victoria!!
Grant Ethier, our part-time soundman and full time freak is of the opinion that it was our 'unorthodox lifestyle', which usually works in our favour, being creative types and all. Well, we got a bit too creative with the ferry lanes today and amidst the glow of the glee from only paying for 4 people to get on the ferry, we botched up.
On tour this time around is: Luther, Cam, Sean Kelly, Dan Cowboy Curtis, special guest star Julie Penner and Grant Ethier, soundman and former rock star himself. He's a seasoned road veteran, having played the tubs for 10 years in the seminal Canadian, power rock band 13 Engines. His company is surreal and better than anything. It's a goddamn rolling freak-show, this tour. We generally don't stop the feakin' 'till Grantie stops speakin'. Not that there are any flies on the rest of us cognitive misfits.
Olesh Maximew, pedal steel player is threatening to fly into Edmonton but we're not sure if he's going to stay just for the one show or if he's joining us for the rest of the tour. Brian Flynn, fiddle/mandolin player could not make the tour at all due to prior commitments.
As it turned out we made it to Victoria in good time to set up our PA and eat, drink and prepare for what was the first show of LW 's & the W's 2nd western tour. It's like christmas every freakin' day!! There was a fine crowd and we sailed through the songs like figure skating legend Toller Cransten at the '72 winter olympics...I'm soooo tired. We crashed at Carolyn Mark's place last night and had a real swell time hanging out with her. If you have never heard of Carolyn don't worry, she's a country girl of Shamanistic proportions and will be coming to your town one day soon, if there really is a Goddess. Cammy made gourmet coffees (Carolyn calls it 'activity juice'), for everyone and when we went to the bar to pick up our stuff the wonderfully understanding owner of 'Thursdays' gave us all free lunches to send us on our way. Let it be known that the enlightened types who book live music because they love music (as opposed to making money) are few and far between these days. We were blessed with the goodwill of such types on this tour. Getting respect as a touring musician can sometimes be as rare as getting a good haircut in prison.
October 22, 1999
We played at a town hall in Duncan tonight. The production was high end but the word was that no one really knew about the show. Blah, blah, blah. We had a huge laugh and alot of super locked-in grooves going on. You know, it was the white boys gettin' down for peace
October 24, 1999
We raced like friggin' demon's to catch the ferry from Nanaimo to Van. It was a hair raising, white knuckle express with the Hip Hop reefed to top volume as we swerved around the colourful island roads marveling at how the construction never stops in this place. The show last night was fun to be sure. It was a bit of a shame that the word on the street didn't get out 'till mere days before the gig. Lesson learned, say n'more.
We lit the stage up and decorated it like a goddamn pimpin' gangster house of ill repute and played our sensitive, witty country ditties with all the chutzpah we could muster. The appreciative crowd seemed to dig the slow, hurtin' songs (LW's favourite's) as much as the speedy numbers.
Tonight we play the Stanley Sports bar in Richmond just south of Vancouver. It's a giant hockey complex and the people seem really nice. We are keen to be heading into the glorious interior where the ferry times don't hinder our progress and the natural beauty comes in "extra large"
October 26, 1999
Kamloops — So, we did the Vancouver thang in foggy fashion thar boy. The Sports Bar gig was a trip. Good lord! By the time we left at 3:30 am we'd played every song we have (oh yeah) and had been there for 12 hours. Our unlimited bar tab proved to be virtually overwhelming, a veritable Mount Everest of merriment. The show itself was apparently very enjoyable for the many friends who made the trip all the way out to Richmond from Vancouver. Kingston transplants a-plenty. Bobby's Earle & Duncan are heroes, men who make the world safe for Democracy.
The next day is a hazy maze of Vancouver streets & sites. We disassemble our squadron for a day and a bit. Blissful independence? Nay! Torn from the womb and the blood of my Kin!! uhhh...ahem..
Our Vancouver show was at the Marine Club in downtown and it was more of the usual type of gig. Monday night in the rainy, empty core of a troubled, costal city. A death per week from drugs and more break-ins than NYC makes the logistics of where to put people, gear and the van during and after shows way more of a challenge than any where else we will likely play on the whole godurn toor! Again, we survive without incident. Weeping Tile has played here 7 times and never was broken into, but from the tales of many other bands it sounds like we had something like dumb luck (or, "god looks out for saints & fools"). Grant shared the tale of the 13 Engines van being broken into before their show in a security garage, parked right near the video camera. Later the same day they had to play an 'in-store' show and to add insult to injury, they were broken into again!
oh oh oh.
So the Marine Club gig went well, I thought. Julie has a different opinion we find out as agent Kelly reports over-hearing her immediate post-show review. The inside is sometimes not a pretty place, up for some is down for another. We did do a fabulous version of 'The Church Song', a new number that I transformed from a heavy metal song. Originally written in the 'Wadds', the band that was Weeping Tile members playing different instruments. Sticky wrote all the songs except for a couple that I penned. What a fucking band we were... Yep, and the Church Song survived and will be on the next album of original country hits tentatively titled "I Loved Playing Metal Bass But Tragedy Struck And Now I'm A Basket Case". It's due out next year sometime.
Here in Kamloops we stay at the house of Luther's sister Jean, her hubcap Jimmy and their 3 year old daughter Jaime's. We arrived last night and had some supper then hung out and goofed around. I played with Jaime and all her toys in her bedroom until bedtime, and then read her a curious George story. Sean and Captain Curtlemyer tested out the green meanies and completely melted into the cushy furniture. A nice normal night in amongst the mayhem and calamity of the extended school field trip that is 'touring'.
October 28, 1999
Nelson, B.C.-Oct.28 We sure had a swell show in Vernon with nice crowd of folks, most notably nice were Jean & Jim who drove the 2 & 1/2 hours through the mountains with us. After the show we hooked up with a good guy named Keith who lived in a quaint cabin fitted with a hot tub on the deck, overlooking a big-ass lake. We giggled for hours in the cold night soaking in the bubbly water. Awoke with a start and booted it through the mountain forests to the near-mythical town of Nelson. A breathtaking drive through the Rockies. Headed west from Vernon, drove through a snowy, steep pass to find a little ferry that drifted us across the grey/blue chilly waters of Lower Arrow Lake. That scenic treat was followed by a nice cruise through the Slocan Valley and into Nelson.
It's a good time out here on the road with these kooks. As much as some of us have driven these roads many times, (for instance Sean Kelly, bassist, is also a galaxy class tour manager having worked Hayden's big tours and a slew of By Divine Right shows) there is a alot of awe-struck-ness going on in this big white van with the dingle-balls and the cowboy hat-wearin' Virgin Mary on the dash.
Sittin' in the seedy rooms above the bar smokin' reefer with our old pal Hippy Dave and laughing it up. Grant and I are sharing what he happily calls the "Charles Bukowski Suite", need I say more? This gig, however, is the place for us. Nice and roomy with the tavern feel and the old fellas and girls are still at the bar during our soundcheck. We play a nice soft, very country song and retreat upstairs.
The show went well and the hippies were digging it. Alot of folks took pains to say that they never book country acts in here but we were okay! Gee, they'll even have us back on a weekend night! yipeee!
After we were played they presented us with a bill for beer that was 1/4 of what they paid us for the gig (that being about the average daily wage for a 14 year old dishwasher). Ahh, the west has that cool, laid back groove, no? Make us pay for beer after playing 3 long sets to a crowd that kept the bar staff busy sellin' hooch? Why, that good loving groove just makes me feel all warm inside.
October 30 1999
Oct. 30—On the road to Edmonton after lasts night's show in Banff. A great haul yesterday from Nelson to Banff through the Roger's Pass and into the national park that doubles as a developer's wet dream. Blind Al made some homemade pizzas and a posse of good time Charlies and Sherries came to our gig at an Irish pub. Again we were presented with a bill for our beers. This time it was worse because both Sean and I had established the fact that the bar would give us meals/beer/rooms but the managers insist that there was some misunderstanding. Yee-fucking-haw, what do we look like, chumps? It's not that we want to get loaded on gallons of free liquor, it's just the courtesy of a few coolie-pops for the band, eh?
Uh, do I sound bitter?
We are now in the prairies for the next five days, tonight's show is with Fred Eaglesmith. He's big, eh? We are one of those bands that really appreciates getting on the bill with the more established acts and Fred J. is the man. It's the only show of the tour that we will not be required to play three 45 minute sets.
Hallow'een—Oct 31, 1999
Edmonton to Calgary—on the road through the snow! We played with the King Fred last night at Sidetracks, he was inspiring in alot of ways. Rough and wonderful. His band-Willy P., Ralph the gentleman bass player, and the un-rivaled prince of the pots & pans Washboard Hank-follow Fred through scores of songs about lives and linen and big haired women. We were happy to hang with those road veterans and hear about the possibilities that lay ahead for a hard workin' country band. Who? uhh... us? Well shit fer sure, that's what we want! Our set was split so that we actually played the opening slot and then again after Fred had done two huge sets for a rambunctious audience, half of who had donned Halloween costumes for the event. It was good to play for such a big crowd of people who were well versed in country music, (as opposed to the usual LW & the W's crowd of people who say things like, "you know, I hate country music but you guys were okay!"). Oh don't get me wrong, we'll take what we can get anyhoo. ``~~~~~~~~~~``
Grant came up with a new nickname for Sean, whose allergies leave him a drooling, snotty mess some days-"Sean Stuffy Combs" or "Stuff Daddy. Other new names are
" scooter fiddle hickey"
"Julie the Pennertrator"
that old classic coined by Chris Brown, "Captain Cam Giroux"
This afternoon we are playing a cafe in Calgary that will feed us and provide delicious gourmet beverages in exchange for some of "our unique blend of roots-country" music.
November 1, 1999
Calgary—Played a great show at a cafe for six people yesterday then we went to Brenda's place and watched TV instead of getting dressed up and going out for Halloween. Funny enough, we didn't have much desire to go to a bar on our night off of playing and hanging around bars!?!
We are really out here playing for our own sake and hoping (to high hell) that we will gain some credibility and a good bit of stage experience and that will lead to more shows in front of more people. Fred J Eaglesmith says to start playing the State's ASAP and don't worry about losing $'s at first. More people down there are into the country thing apparently. Sean Kelly and Luther do the management stuff right now and it's working out okay but it does eat up alot of our jamming time (not to mention that their collective short-term memory capacity is about the same as a bag of hammers!). We would be happier if we put all of that phone time into songwriting and jamming. Nothing new I suppose, better than being in jail or Mike Harris's personal concubine. Ouch!!
We are eating Grant's gourmet breakfast at this wonderful Calgary home. These indie tours rely heavily on the generosity of friends and acquaintances. Places to stay, gig booking, warm supportive bodies at shows, laundry, love and affection, all this is fuel for the collective tank. I'm off to get ripped on coffee and play some bluegrass before we venture into the chilly/sunny day and shop for novelties and Calgarian specialties.
November 2, 1999
169 km outside of Saskatoon — We have been eating up the Prairies for 5 hours it's a big meal. The big sky has everybody freakin'. We are on a roll after lasts nights event and today it's Danny Curtis's Birthday! Whatever the effect of chilling out at a nice suburban, Calgary home is, it put us in the right spot for our gig at the Irish Rover owned pub, "The Unicorn". An all time performance high water mark may have been reached, I was truly ecstatic for a good part of the set and it only got better.
The bar paid us $8.
Many people were at the show, much to our pleasant surprise. Blind Al made it to his 4th show of our tour making him the fan of the year, up there with Kelly Franks and Sue Livesy. Beautiful big ass country we live in, eh? Sarah Harmer called yesterday from Brock Sask. where she is visiting relatives with her mother. She told me of how her and her cousins rounded up 80 head of cattle yesterday as a prairie snow storm blew in. They had to go back out and find a lost cow in the dark and she almost got plowed by the cow and a swinging door in the blowing snow! Good lord them country girls lead hearty lives, she was suppose to be holed up in a Toronto studio recording her new solo album!
November 3, 1999
Regina—Played at the Wash & Slosh in Sask. last night and had another great show. The lovely and talented Sarah Harmer surprised us all by being at the bar when we showed up to sound check. She had missed her flight back to Toronto so we got to laugh and sing songs together; she did a beauty version of a Johnny Cash tune and also joined us for a handful of 'Wrongs numbers. Yet another gig where we were fed, housed, and (this time) allowed to drink as much beer as we felt fit. Ms. Harmer passed the hat after the gig and collected $35 for the fund. Yee-haw!
We are desperately in need of more marijahoochie to finish the last big haul back to the home province; hopefully the Winnipegger's will come through. We're addicts not criminals, okay? The gig in Regina was at the Exchange Cultural Centre, a fabulous, non-profit venue. We had a small but dedicated crowd of people who actually knew our songs! Most of them are Weeping Tile fans that we won over on our last tour, something that is rare for LW & the W's. We don't often see the cross over from the ' Tile crowd, which only goes to show just how popular Miss Harmer is with the Weeping Tile fans. The room was so acoustically appropriate for us to play the slow, hurtin' numbers but the real fun started when we went back to our sleazy hotel and caught the last hour of Karaoke in the hotel tavern. Holy sheep shit! Lots of characters getting loaded and carrying on there by golly. After imbibing to capacity we adjourned to our suite (another dinge-pit) and played songs and laughed until Grant bolted up and shut it down, sensibly realizing that we were not going to get more than 3 hours sleep before we had to get up and drive to Winnipeg. Oh the pain when those 3 hours were up and we hauled our sorry asses out to the van.
Touring brings out the best and the worst in us. Both were on display with an obscenely short interval of time separating the evening of glory and the morning of rot.
November 5, 1999
Leaving Winnipeg. Sunny, cool day as we cruise towards the Ontario border and our lunch stop in Kenora (eh?). Played a wonderful show last night in Julie Penner's home town. Her parents and Aunt came to see us as well as a posse of Penner-heads who filled out the crowd nicely. Had a nice sleep over at the parental units. Ma Penner is excellent, she knows what time it is, if you know what I mean. She also made banana cream pie. I could talk with her for hours and never get tired of her smiling wisdom and comfortable openness. Of course my manic, half-baked, stream of consciousness, gobble-de-goop could possibly cause some measure of uncomfortableness. Who's really to know?
Tonight we have off and will have to drive until 3 am if we want to get to Wawa in time for 7 hours of sleepy-time. Sudbury is the last stop on this tour then it's back to weekend gigs in the Kingston-Toronto realm until the snow comes and we retire to record new tune-ski's and bake cookies for Christmas.
November 6, 1999
The reports from south of here say snow but it's nothing but a bit chilly and alot sunny here in Terrace Bay where we ceased driving late last night. The fellas wanted to stop and drink beer some place dangerous before going to bed so as fate would have it we made it to the Dew Drop Inn (and tavern) ten minutes before two. To check in to our rooms I had to wade through the haze of drunken pool tournament people to steer a harried barmaid upstairs to the hotel office. She told me that she was overwhelmed by the crowd in the bar, mumbling, "oh god let it be over soon". I assumed she meant the evening.
The last show of the tour is at Cambrian College on a night that they don't usually open the student pub. The school itself is so friggin' far from town that our only hope for a crowd is if the students take advantage of the unique opportunity to see an authentic, honky-assed, ole-time-weirdo-country band. Finding the campus takes a wee bit of magic but after passing through the gates we ask four different people for directions to the pub. It's some kind of sick, wild goose chase and some of us start mumbling that maybe Sean Kelly was all hopped up on allergy pills when he booked the gig at this fictitious "Pub".
Oh! There's a security guy. Lo and behold we find the bar and sure enough nobody's gonna show up. The manager even says that we could finish early if we want.
Fuck that! It's our last night on tour and they are letting us drink whatever we want and we all dress in our finest duds and play an excellent show to a handful of people (including this one fella who looks like a giant hillbilly and knew the words to our songs!). It is an excellent time and everyone is giddy and crazy. The bar staff hates us as we refuse to pack up our stuff and then keep playing songs at our table while others shoot one last game of pool.
When we get back to the hotel it's all a blur.
The morning will come hard and fast.
November 7, 1999
The morning came hard and fast.
I 'm feeling god-awful terrible from the tequila as the four (hundred) hour drive to Toronto crawls by. We drop off Julie in Kensington Market and I hop out on Queen Street with my stuff in hopes that Sarah will be at the recording studio so's that I can go someplace warm.
The van drives away and the weak sun is red in the western sky.
My future looms over me like a swarm of locusts and I'm scared shitless.
The crumpled tour booklet in my pocket ends on this date. We played 14 shows in 17 days, 35 or so songs a night.
On the street I'm tiny and alone with the poison fear gas enveloping my body. I consider peeing on a rag and breathing through it like a World War One trench soldier during the mustard gas attacks. I don't really need to pee and, as it turns out, here comes the street car.
Tours over, eh?