April 4—just driving away from the cop who pulled over the birthday boy for doing 'a buck 36' (the cops words) in a 90 zone on the trans Can. 1/2 an hour outside of Thunder Bay. Sean Kelly all growed up and $150 the poorer. First show tonight on our 12 gigs in 12 days tour of western Canada. It has been a wild ride since returning from Texas two weeks ago. The last few days leading up to this tour were absolutely surreal. We played two, 3 am gigs at the Matador in Toronto on the weekend. The Matador is an old after hour's club where partiers stumble in in droves and dance the night away swilling rye and cokes. Night one was packed with a horde of people from the on-going Canadian music week festival thingy. I saw Minnie Driver in the crowd and, thinking she was someone I must have met, waved at her. She sweetly waved back. The next day I saw in the newspaper that Harrison Ford and Minnie were at the Matador. Isn't that funny. The 2nd night was a blast for sure. We actually played something resembling "good" too. We had an equally packed room (the word was out about the C&W band playing 'the Wall' at the old 'speakeasy'). This show we tried to get a little closer to the state of mind of the people in the crowd. The first nights clarity was slightly shocking. Drunken hordes are scary to a sober lad. Must watch that, hell is hot and standing room only.
-Monday morning after the gig started a little rough for ole el Dubya. After being hit on the head by a flying projectile tossed out of an airplane and going to the hospital to get stitched up, I made my way up to Verona to purvey a van for the tour. While filling out the intimidating financial papers I get a phone call from our man Olesh, the steel player. He breaks the bad news that he can't come on tour with us. That is, the tour that we were leaving on the next day. A minor scramble later and Sean Kelly reports that our friend Bob Egan has a friend named Burke Carroll who is willing to go out on the road for 3 weeks with total strangers (who happen to be touring their new C & W take on Pink Floyd's 'the Wall'). Brave guy. When we pick him up in Toronto the next day it's like a scene from some Andy Warhol/Keystone cops film. Our hair-doo's are enough to have the police setting up roadblocks. To his credit, Burke stuck out the two day drive to Thunder Bay with his walkman on listening to every recorded piece of music we have made and occasionally asking song arrangement questions. If reminded about this now Burke likely would laugh heartily about the usefulness of that endeavour, (other than it allowed him to not have to listen to our crazed banter for 20 hours).
April 4th-16th T-Bay to T-Bay via Victoria As we were setting up and getting the soundcheck under way Burke commented, "how interesting, you guys are really a band and Grant is actually a soundman". By the end of soundcheck it was apparent that Burke could play his instrument on the level of Jimi Hendrix. We were practically crying. Hail glory! The show was lightly attended but we didn't care because we soared into the musical stratosphere. The rest of the tour was a variation on the same theme with high points in Victoria, Nelson, and most notably, Edmonton. When we arrived there the staff was wearing cowboy outfits and they were showing the western flick, "Once Upon a Time in the West", on the back wall. The press has been very generous and the fact that we played every night of a three week tour led to a delirium that made anything possible. Grant and I shared a particular sick addiction that involved drinking hotel room coffee with the coffee packs tripled up. The thick orange/black brew made our heads swim. Meals became secondary, or even thirdary. If the club didn't feed us then we pretty much subsisted on gas station junkfood, beer, and the aforementioned 'jiggy juice'. After playing Victoria we had to bolt out of town back to Vancouver where we were set to record for CBC 'Radio Sonic'. It was already one of those big days of music by the time we got to the Railway club to soundcheck for our show that night. The recording went quite well. Bukre played Dobro, Dan picked acoustic and we sang pretty much in key! If anyone reading this heard the broadcast of that recording please send us a review. Reveling in the glory of the recording I may have had one too many gin and tonics before our show was inclined to reign it in a bit until my head cleared (which was about 3-quarters of the way through the show!). Apologies to the Vancouver crowd, although by all reports (and the encore encouragement), I think we pulled it off. Somewhere, sometime, someone said to me that the sheik-country thang works for a fella with a couple drinks under his belt. On nights like this one I cling to that ace in the hole like child to teddy bear. I sure look forward to redeeming myself this summer at the Starfish room. The next day we drove a bleary 11 hours to Nelson, deep in the interior of B.C. The astounding beauty of the drive knocked my socks off and brought me around to the land of the living again. Grant did the crucial morning drive until we'd made good our escape of the big city and entered mountain paradise. The hippy/back-country crowd in Nelson was just what the doctor ordered and an old fella requested a Hank Williams tune that, lo and behold, Burke and I both knew! The fella almost cried when we played "Cold Cold Heart". It was beautiful and reminded me why I want to do this for the rest of my life. To connect the dots of our hearts through music. As if the 10 hour drive the day before wasn't enough. Assuming the lead role in a rare rendering of sadistic tour routing, we awoke at some un-godly hour and looked down the barrel of a 12 hour drive that was to take us north through the Slocan valley in all it's rainy glory, across Roger's Pass and the mind- boggling beauty of the Rockies, towards and by Lake Louise, down through Banff and then, as the junk food rush wore off and reality pooled into a gelatinous goo on the floor of the van, we hurled ourselves sideways to Edmonton on the flat, characterless superhighway. And the rest...was how it all should have been.
End of Spring Tour—Stunned and broken men we were when finally the trip ended on the corner of University Avenue and Bloor Street in Toronto. Even the plush decadence of the hotel rooms provided by the Mike Bullard show (where we performed the next day) barely scratched the surface of the hard-shell coating that we'd developed to survive the tour and notably the 18 drive straight from T-Bay. Morning was a shock when it hit. A simple sign from within that one is raw and burnt and in need of a static, soothing lifestyle. Done wrung every bit of musical juice from the cloth and we were heading home to brew up a whole new pot of lyrical liquid love to soak in.