yes we did make it home…..
Montreal is groovy. Almost too cool for us hicks. I wish we had been here in the sixties. Casa Del Popolo is lovely, a painted silver beaten tin ceiling, shabby couches, cute staff. The sun is shining in Montreal. We have a good show, Ledges Blast are awesome ladies that rock hard. Expo 67 are canadiana and a tinge of the Birds. It’s triumphan and wonderful and the promoters have been awesome and worked thier asses off. Its a full venue but its also a bit of a weird show for us , it’s cool, people don’t loose their shit, and somehow if feels underwhelming to be “hip”, especially after the irreverent roudyness of Moncton. Maybe there’s a bit of saddness too, it being our last show of the tour. After Halifax we are all feeling the pull of the west we are ready to be heading home .
Some old friends of mine from art school come out to the show, there are more than a few ex-patriot Calgarians to warm our road-worn hearts. Morgan Sea rescues us from a sticky situation with our planned accomodation. We scarf late night poutine, and spend the night on the R.A.T. art studio floor.
Old friends and other adventures occupy the next day, i end up taking a grand tour with Morgan, walking all over; lunch with a few more ex-pat art gals, a visit to Drawn and Quarterly, an stroll though the market where i spot pink frilly mushrooms and dandelion greens for sale. We meet up eventually with Danny, Eddie, Marie, Duncan and some friends lounging in the park. The Montreal culminates with a trip to Shwartz’s for the famous somked meat, outside the streets are glossy and dark with rain. Mel’s with a cousin, and Bourne is at the all day boosin convention of Rootcellar Brethern.
I’ts hard leaving montreal, we had planned to stay another night but without our planned accommodation, and not wanting to impose, we drag ourselves from friends family and bars and begin the long drive, leaving quebec shortly after midnight.
We were wondering what might happen to us with all the Ascension business, but it appears we are still among the wicked, and frankly we all somewhat relived that none of us vanished at the appointed time. The area of Moncton we played in seemed like it might be a little on the rough side, but Plan B has a very familial vibe. To add to the general spookiness, the bar is haunted, and we were remembering the ghost story we read on the cover of the local paper last week.
The bar got hoppin’, Mayor Macaw is awesome; goofy, weird and totally entertaining. People poured in, Sadie and Eric drove from Nova Scotia to see us for the second time (their first being the Halifax gig). In spite of cops driving by and asking us if we had seen any guys in black jumpsuits, we got our glow on. Flattered and full of good vibes we played a great show, took lots of pictures with the staff and stamped the walls of the bar, before piling back into the Yukon for the long night drive to Montreal.
The drives are getting to us, our tolerance for them is thinning, especially in anticipation of the long drive home. Montreal is confusing to get into; construction, detours, signs in French. We head straight for the little café called Patati Patata, I am forcing this option a bit, their affordable, and perfectly sized food is near perfect, and we are none of us disappointed. After we have filled out bellies we head up to Casa Del Popolo, to set up for the show. Casa also has awesome vegetarian food, a sunny patio, and a nice casual somewhat shabby chic found rarely anywhere in Calgary.
The drive from Sackville is blessedly short as we are all becoming vehicle gargoyles by this point. Halifax is sunny, we find the festival headquarters to drop off our merch, drop by Gus’s Pub and then settle into some fish and chips with our hosts. The show is one of the gems in spite of a slightly stressful changeover. We play well, people stand close and cheer, there are a lot of friendly faces in the audience considering we are so far from home. We drink and make marry, and i am sad to admit that it is hard to focus on the music, having made it this far we are all consumed in our own revelry. The night is hectic and full long lost friends, talking, giddy parking lot powow’s, beers, flattery, and a specific brand of tour induced strung-out excitment.
We stay with Craig and Jess in Halifax and fall in love with their “bug”(Boston Terrier/Pug) called Truman. In the morning we eat breakfast late, and then go our separate ways to beaches, festival events, extravagant seafood explorations and the attentions of doting aunts. Danny’s friend Jenn takes us on a walk along a beautiful foggy beach.
We get eight lobsters and a sack of mussels from the fish market. We play with our food, putting live lobsters into boiling water is not for the faint of heart, i find myself apologizing under my breath. We eat our food picnic style on the living room floor, cracking the scarlet shells and slurping mussels, dipping the lot in garlic butter until we are totally overwhelmed. Mel and Ryan return from the festival beer soaked with musical notes on the many great bands we have inadvertently missed while stuffing our faces with seafood. Jenn has also saved the day providing us with some prescription Flamazine and other dressings for Danny’s foot though a nurse friend, so we are now well armed with bandages, saline, cotton swabs etc. to keep the trenchfoot at bay.
Tomorrow we start heading west again, how strange that will feel, after so many hours of driving east, this is indeed the turning point (no pun intended).
Kingston Onterio to New Brunswick is another punishing drive. Getting to the the maritimes was a happy event. New Brunswick was verdant and green in a way that seemed almost unreal, especially considering that just weeks ago we were driving through blizzards. We drove across the longest covered bridge in canada, and ate a bag of “covered Bridge” cinnamon sweet potato chips to celebrate. Bleary eyed and stiff of limb we stopped over in Saint John NB for a night in a friendly hostel, bought fiddelheads and fresh haddock in the oldest farmers market building in Canada and made dinner to counteract all the greasy food after countless late night gas station snacks.
Our next show was in the little town of Sackville, and were greeted by the yellow front of the Struts Gallery and our host Evan opening the doors. We ate in the Classic and appropriately named Mel’s a convenience store, soda counter and greasy spoon all in one. The local Maritime paper has a story about a ghost on the front page. Sackville is an interesting town, who’s population swells greatly during the school year with students of Mount Allison University. Its the off season for the school, but the little gallery was well attended for the show. Somehow all the band’s playing unexpectedly had openers with them so the evening became more of a mini festival. I would say Deadhorse was a bit of a sonic surprise amidst the evenings more folky fare. After hours at the pub, shot glasses appeared for ash, and the remaining staff and the band smoked in the bar ( this being somehow so delightful and reminiscent of the old smokey bars of our youth). We have long and involved chats about music while finishing our last pitcher of beer. Hilary takes us in for the night, her house being literally next to the venue and we are grateful not to be spending another night in the car.
It has been some time since I have had any time on the Internet . I’m here at the Sleepless Goat Cafe in Kingston trying to figure out how to bring you up to speed on the past few days.
From Peterborough we drove Niagara falls to have ourselves the tourist experience. The falls are undeniably awesome but the rest of the city is like the freakish love child of Disneyland and Las Vegas. Somehow this instilled in us a creepy desire to eat overpriced casino buffet. Luckily we managed to get out without losing our souls to a buffet.
After Niagra we pressed on to St Catharines still feeling a little worse for the wear on account of the aforementioned large jugs of beer. The Mansion House is the oldest pub in Canada to have been continually licensed and functioning as such. A heavy metal showcase was just finishing as we arrived, there were no posters and the promoter disappeared after saying he would go get beer. For some strange reason no one in St Catharines would serve us tap water but finally we got some coffee which somewhat revived us. The heavy metal kids cleared out and we proceeded to play, to a smaller audience but a decidedly appricative one. We sold some vinyl and feeling better for a job well done piled back into the Yukon for the night drive to Toronto.
Laura met us bleary eyed at a quarter to four and we loaded all our gear into her tiny hallway and proceeded to fill her living room with our prostrate boddies. After a large breakfast, we were lucky to have a sunny but short day in Toronto. We took a walks though the park, down queen street and through Kensington; various of us wandered to meet friends or settle business. Laura and I did a running tour of the AGO before running back for the show.
Rancho Relaxo also seems not to have received our posters. But after a somewhat tense sound check ( our eventually very nice sound man apparently had a rather unpleasant day) the venue did indeed fill to a decent chroud which included a few friendly faces, Dan and Laura and Mitch amongst them.
We drove through the night to reach Quebec , and felt much relived on arrival to be out of Onterio ( no offense to those who call her home) but it has been a strange province for us this time out, some good acquaintances were made but it would have been nice if some of these had occurred before shows rather than after. I suppose this is simply the way with a first tour, but it seems to have hit us most here.
Naomi gratfully provided us with a spot to nap after our sound check at the Tam Tam, so we could recover some semblance of humanity.
Alex Drapeau, who Naomi had enlisted to share the bill with us, was hillarious, charismatic and ran about the streets handing out flyers on our way to the venue. The stage was huge, with wooden floors and an old piano at the back. Feeling better with good French coffee in our bellies we played on of the best sets of the tour, made people dance and even stumbled through some French, then wandered though the streets to eat a late night poutine feast.
The next few days were much needed time off; to wander old Quebec, eat copious amounts of flakey baked goods, cook meals and sleep in one giant bed made out of futons that filled the entire living room. Somehow during our last night with Naomi, Ryan’s hot beverage for a lurking bronchial ailment upended itself on Danny’s foot as he tired not to flip a rickety futon. We arrived in Kingston and dropped the invalids off at the clinic to have blisters lanced and wheezy chests checked. Our show seems to have had absolutely no promotion, so hopefully some kind souls will wander in to have their minds blown by Deadhorse and the f-Holes.
The Mansion in Kingston apparently has some Dan Akroyd / Blues Brothers connection, there was definitely a ghostbusters feel about the place. It was Ryan Bourne’s 16th Birthday ( or the 16th birthday of his beard..); hippies danced, we sold some vinyl, Bourne sold some vinyl, and we all had the sweet sleep and continental breakfast of the Howard Johnson Motel for the night.
We woke up in the morning and after greasy birthday breakfast, commenced 17 hours of driving. These drives make everyone into gargoyles with puffy eyes who stumble into gas stations rumpled and in search of junkfood to abate the endless boredom of the road. at one point we had to perform emmergency surgery to Danny’s foot in a gas station bathroom, that was nice.
We went down to Windsor for a show at the Phog, Tom the owner of the was lippy and awesome, and treated us very well indeed. Windsor definitely has the feeling of somewhere across the river from Detroit. Tom told me that at one point thousands of people would cross the river to take advantage of Canada’s difference in legal drinking age. Five years ago the boarder tightened the rules making the whole process at lot more complicated and now the business from across the water is maybe 20% of what it once was, and the city’s night life has changed drastically as a result.
Everywhere were “for Rent” signs, on houses that would cost a fortune in Calgary, we were soon to get a very specific illustration of this fact. We ended up spending the night with some musicians who had just moved into “the mansion” a palatial if somewhat dilapidated house that must have been very grand in it’s heyday, and still had a great deal of lustre, especially for those of us living in overpriced shoeboxes in Calgary. Four floors, numerous rooms, and a long yard ending at the river. From the beach there you could see the dock signs of detroit (also, many canadian geese and a dead fish…) Unfortunately that river is less than healthy looking.
We drove back to Peterborough for the next night, and were again taken in by Michael and Jonathan. During out absence the venue we were set to play, Ossia, closed it’s doors for good, so we were desperately casting around for a replacement show. Even more so because Raleigh was set to join us as the final date on their Ontario area tour. Thankfully Dave at The Spill took us in, and gave us a place to crash in the upper floor of his spooky and dilapidated heritage building. The day was as hot and sunny as August, and after hastily printing off some posters we all meandered down to the local brewery (The Publican) to drink ale and buy huge tankers of 8% Belgian beer.
The show started slow, but did eventually pick up. It was rather surreal to have a displaced Calgary show so far from home. TWNKLFNGRZ got glammed up in sparkles and goldfinishing the show with a pulsing glam-bang. After that some of us suffered from the excesses of large jugs of afore mentioned 8% beer, and the rest went up the street to the unbelievable loft apartment Jesse and Dan share with their dog Sage. We had met Dan earlier in the vintage store Sympathy For the Rebel. Dan told me some stories that combined with Michael’s made my heart sad for the hostility those sweet queer boys seem to suffer even in such a seemingly liberal town. Dan’s Project ‘We Live Here Too” is a message worth spreading and so I will.
Today we are bak crammed in the Yukon and on our way to be tourists at Niagara falls, then to play a show in st. Catharines at the Mansion House.
Ontario is a strange place, conservative scenic, sketchy and overpriced. Thank god for our day in the Backpackers Hostel. Cost a tonne, but it was a bit like coming home for a day, a kitchen, balcony and bathroom all in our own private suite. We acted like tourists for a day.
Danny and I went to the national gallery, and saw lots of art, In particular Ragnar Kjartnsson’s “song” making me a creep hard agian for icelandic creatives and their crafty behaviour. There are also some lovely Louise Bourgeois works there, they get me every time, and a Rothko. Danny affirms his heritage, he likes the ornate and detailed italian paintings the best.
At night we take a 2:00 am stroll around parliament, the cops are plentiful and surprisingly accommodating considering our slight inebriation. There is lots of giggling mixed with awe (gargoyles, flying buttresses), and frustration (Fuckin Stephen Harper). Also, they have a stray cat village on parliament hill?
Zaphod’s is grungy, black-lit and apparently we are opening for Hip-Hop. Yogi is our sound man, and gives us the recording from the board. After the show we get free entrance o the upstairs strip club, apparently they have an agreement. I end up in there with most of the boys, Mel, Marie and Eddie are rocking the jukebox at the Laff across the street. Ottawa seems like a tough nut to crack. this town is pricey and strange. On a positive note, we were happy to find out we got the Harvard Broadcasting Exposure grant which we scrambled so hard to send off while in Saskatoon.
We wanted to pull another motel heist and save ourselves a bit of cash, but weekend rooms in Ottawa have skyrocketed and we decide to take the night ride to Peterborough. We pull into a campground at 7:00 am, set up our tents and sleep through some gentle rain.
Michael is our man in Peterborough, energectic and awesome we will join him for a show in his glam persona TWNKLFINGRZ later in the week. We play acoustic in the Cannery Art’s centre, it works out surprisingly well. The guy at “The Night Kitchen” gives us a whole free pizza. We squeeze seven of us into a tiny living room, Danny and I sleep under the table in the kitchen.
It’s the Phog tonight in Windsor, i just ate a plate of poutine and i am drinking a Russian Stout. Apparently a flautist with a resplendent moustache is making families happy at the Capitol Theatre next door… We got some too, so come on round.
Two nights sleeping in a cramped vehicle do not make anyone look or smell good… Ah the rock and roll lifestyle. 36 hours of continuous driving.
Northern Onterio is beautiful. at least what we saw from the windows of the Yukon. We did stop to take in the Kakabeka waterfall, and the inside of a Starbucks, and numerous gas stations. hope we have a bit more time on the way back.
2 or perhaps 3 moose (it was dark for the last one)
Flocks of dear, strolling unnervingly close to the highway
1 red fox
lots of muted tie-dye t-shirts with the above creatures pictured adjacent to stars, moons, dreamcatchers and mountains for sale in afore mentioned convenience stores.
We are now at long last, in our Nations Capital. Drove leisurely past Parliament hill, shaking our fists and swearing at Stephen Harper.
Long live Layton’s moustache, fight the good fight for us Jack.
Playing the Elmdale Tavern tonight…. tell your friends.