Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mountains in the Distance

Not often do I have more than a day without a show of some kind! Calgary tonight. Meanwhile, the bugs build up on the front of the car. They must be good. Whenever I stop, the wasps swoop in to feast on the splatters. Nothing is wasted out here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Flatlands

Medicine Hat is a "no gig" zone for the 6th straight year. Couldn't book it solo or for the Tour, going in either direction. Doesn't matter what month you come through either, or how much lead time. It joins like cultural centre Sarnia, Ontario, on my special map. These are cities where Blue Rodeo plays six nighters, Gord Lightfoot can be found busking by the train stations, and Downchild splits nights with Randy Bachman at the local diner. Um, right? Anyway, I don't need to worry about stopping here today. I'm stopping in Swift Current. In the morning I'll drive through Medicine Hat, past the empty aluminum tee-pee.

Just a few more hours. Set the cruise and tie off the wheel... I'm touring on Route 13, through Cadillac, and again the road is my own.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Manitoba and Beyond

Meeting the border without any problems. Glad to get the Lincoln pumped up to a faster speed. It's a slow haul across northern Ontario, so a few extra kph are welcome indeed!

It's always a little shock to suddenly find oneself on the flatlands. Big sky. Divided road. Today the TransCanada is good.

Getting there...

And soon I am in Big Dave's backyard! Winnipeg! Dave's Town. We load gear into the Lincoln to save on flying it west. I'll pick Dave up at the airport in Victoria in just a few more days. Meanwhile, we're pumped! I've got to rock to get to my event in Regina tonight! Go, go, go. The wheels are humming. James Brown and the Fabulous Flames are singing. It's a hot sucker out here on the prairie, and I've got the windows open, the wind blasting through!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kenora Concert

I'm on the road by 8:30 AM. It's a long, long ride today. I'll need to put in about 9 hours of driving to get in on schedule and set up for tonight's show. But it's a big, fluffy sky again, and the air is crisp. I'm low on fuel this morning, but I'm going to buy some just down the road.

What I really want is coffee. I've gassed up the Lincoln, but decent coffee has been in short supply so far today.

The roads get a little smaller past Kenora. I'm headed up to the Winnipeg river, where I'm to play a "deck concert" overlooking a big bay. Over 40 advance tickets have been sold and, as I've played around here before, I'm pretty sure I'll have a friendly crowd!

Sure enough! And many hands making light work, I'm set up pretty quickly!

I bet people are going to hear this show for miles tonight! Nice backdrop, eh?

The show continues until all is way dark. A fun night which finally winds down with my hosts, Craig and Darlene, playing for me under the rich and starry sky. What a nice way to wrap the day!

Cathy set this whole thing up. Well, she talked her pals Craig and Darlene into taking on this whole thing on! It was a great event for all!
Hey! One handed pics rule!
My hosts. My new pals! Ain't love sweet?
My colours! Of course I leave a jacket behind... It fit Craig so nicely!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Road to Rossport, Superior calls

Yeah, I got the key to the Highway. I'm billed, I'm bound to go.

Superior breaks on the horizon. One of the world's Great Lakes. And one of the greatest, wildest, biggest things you'll ever see. Touching the shore of Superior always feels great. It's a long road over the Lakes, but once in a while it's worth the drive. I usually fly over, or drive under, because of the depressed economy and long distances. This is the second year in a row I've driven this highway, and it's very cool as I've still got friends all up and down the line.

It looks like a tough day out here. But it's a private road, and the hissing of the wheels feels good. Dr. John plays me through quite a few miles...

It's a pretty good haul today to get to the gig. About eight hours of snake road. Two lane black top. Semi trucks groaning up the hills, blowing smoke. Hawks overhead, watching, watching, floating on the updraft.

Sunny days are back as I arrive at Rossport, ON, for my gig. It's a little cafe I've played before, and when I walk in I'm made to feel welcome right away. Owners Roger and Mary have got my red wine poured and I'm soon loaded (in) and set up. It's a small room, so I'm going to play without the PA tonight. I catch a few winks in the Lincoln, parked in the shade behind the club.

Soon it's showtime. It's mostly accidental tourists here tonight. For some, it's a good accident. We have fun, even if I forget the words to "Three Cards on a Coffin." I meet some great people, including Rob, a lawyer out of the Sault who works with various First Nations peoples. Post show, we have a drink and talk about the world. You never know who you are going to meet out on this big, blues highway.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Fluffy skies north of Toronto. A late start, but with no show tonight I've got nothing to do but drive. The Lincoln is humming nicely. Now, north of Barrie, northern Ontario starts to take shape. I've got the windows open. I'm sipping on a giant coffee. Albert King's "Crosscut Saw." Set the cruise control. Relax. Oh, yeah!! Man, it is so good to get this whole thing on the highway!! Mobile, under fluffy skies.

The Canadian Shield rears its edges. Trees and rock. There's a whole lot of trees and rock in some parts of Canada. I know I'll be rolling through this kind of picture for a few more days.

Looks like the weather is gonna turn, but that's OK. This road belongs to me.

Smoke stacks of Sudbury. It's still a hard rock town. I remember blowing into the old hotel- was it the Colson? We'd play six nights- plus a Saturday afternoon show with the strippers. Big room with miners, bikers, railway men, and the self-described, First Nations, FBI. You could take your date out for a romantic ride to watch the slag being poured off in the dark. You could buy popcorn from Gus. But not tonight. I'm alone, and I'm going to ride the Dark Road for a few more hours. A couple more coffees and I'll be in Sault St. Marie. That'll be my stop tonight. I hate to bypass Sudbury, and the Bluenose Barber, but maybe we'll see you next time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Storm Warning!!

I'm supposed to be up all night doing my last minute packing, or maybe checking my lists. Instead I'm on my neighbour's porch watching this storm. They have reported over 500 lightening strikes a minute! As you can see in the picture above, it is very, very bright. A strange light over the city, a strange shade of darkness. I washed the Lincoln today, so I don't want to see any trees falling on it.


A quick roll into Long and McQuade's Bloor St., Toronto location. I've got a lot of stops to make today, but this one is usually pretty easy. I'm around at the Rentals door- a place I know well.

The Lincoln is looking good, too. It has a pretty big trunk. I'm going to pack a smallish, back-up PA in there along with everything else. I always hope that it never will need to come out- but every Tour has it's equipment supply failures. If requirements come up short I'm ready with a back-up of every item. I was just reminded of touring England for the first time where "a full PA system" turned out to be a single mic on a cord!

That's not a problem here. Mike quickly helps me select what I'll need for this Tour. I'm taking out a little Yorkville System that packs nicely. It would not be great in a theatre, but it would cover our butts, and it will certainly sound very good in any smaller venues. Quite amazing to think how good modern gear actually is. Not so long ago a PA of this efficiency would of required large, heavy cabinets and probably a small van to move them around in.

Hey! This Tour is good to go! While Long and McQuade outfits us, I always buy extra insurance on all the gear. Tomorrow, the open road! Westward bound!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Promo Heaven, Marketing Hell

No, not really. But it seemed like a good title, so what the heck. Actually there is a lotta hell and damnation going on as the print materials come together. The final detailing always seems to take forever, but it is getting done!

Today I'm at my local big box business supply store, working on the photocopy machines. It's a task which lasts several hours and involves lots of old fashioned cut and paste. Handbills. Yup. One for each show. Rather, a bundle of them for each show. Big Dave and I will distribute these as we advance the particular shows. Should be big fun- and hopefully it will help put some bums in seats!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Posters Released

I know, you can't read it on here. But it's gone to print, and the first batch has already been mailed out to some of the September shows. The rest will follow in a few days time. DPI Graphics, of Mississauga is doing the print of the posters and banners. Wendy Walker produced the images, designed and maintained the brand.

Absolutely crazy times, but under control. The first proof lacked the Long and McQuade plate, so we went back and took care of that. And then a couple of shows came in. Added those. And then the press release went out. My friends in Quebec quickly reminded me that Ile Perrot was not spelled correctly! Called back the poster. Fixed it! Corrected the Blog, the future press releases, the calendar, the Tour Book. It's quite amazing how one little mistake can leak into so many places. I dread mistakes of any kind. I've been pretty lucky for most of the last 600 shows– hopefully all the dates on this Tour will be smooth.

I always delay the poster until the last minute- trying to get all the shows on it. In the end, there are always a few shows that don't get on the poster, and sometimes a TBA or a TBC that remains unsigned. All in all, it's a moment in time. It's what the Tour was on the day the poster went to print. And thank goodness Ile Perrot is spelled correctly! The schedule is pretty solid, but I know there will be a considerable number of Long and McQuade and media events added in the upcoming days. Meanwhile, I'll be licking stamps here in the National Steel mail room! See you out there on the Blues Highway!