Friday, September 30, 2011

Doc and Dave's Big Weekend Adventure

It's real dark, plenty of stars in the sky as we roll out of Williams Lake at exactly 4:00AM. We stop at Tims and fuel up with extra large coffees for the road.

There's nobody out here but us this morning. I narrowly miss a couple of deer on the highway. We're not going fast, but they can be hard to see. Damn! Scares me, but Dave has his eyes closed and misses them altogether. Just as well, I guess!

We're heading for Kamloops Airport, where Big Dave will catch a flight out to Windsor, Ontario- via Vancouver and Toronto. A long day, for sure! Dave is to perform as part of the band for Holger Petersen's induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. We would not have done this crazy run for anybody else!

Wild sculpture, eh? We're here! And on time.
I bid Big Dave good-bye, and then head into town to look for breakfast. It's getting brighter out, but I feel like a bag of dirt. I'll be picking Dave up at Calgary airport on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Tour continues on the ground.

I love these humpy, little hills- I guess mountains- around Kamloops. I get a great breakfast at a downtown joint near the library, and then I head up the mountain to take care of some banking, do a little family history research, and then sleep in the car for a couple of hours. It's gotten rather warm, so I open the windows and park in the old cemetery. I do Starbucks for the wifi, and then it's off to work again.

Long and McQuade's new location in Kamloops is closer to downtown and much bigger. There is a large turn out for today's guitar clinic, and the workshop actually runs past closing time! It's a nicely designed store with a really good stock of instruments. There is a left handed Yamaha in the acoustic section- one of the loudest lefty guitars I've ever played. Good sounding, too. But I've got to go to the gig...

I elect to hump the Tour PA into the club, rather than use their in-house gear. It's not too difficult to do. A modern Yorkville Sound PA is easily carried and sounds great. Not too long ago it would of taken a van full of heavy gear to do the same show. Five trips to the car and I'm in with all my gear and instruments. I'm set up in 20 minutes and ready for a pre-show bowl of soup!

It's an early start and an early finish in this gallery/cafe/performance space. The staff are very friendly and keep me stocked with plenty of hot tea. I slip next door for a shot of scotch between sets! There are a few old friends in the audience tonight, including Kamloops based Brent Zwicker. He's the man behind the syndicated blues show "At the Crossroads," and does much to keep the blues alive in the BC interior.

Post show with "At the Crossroads" host and producer Brent Zwicker. A local cable station came down to do an arts segment, and I had a great time doing the interview- just one of those fun, easy sessions. After the shoot these nice folks help me pack my gear out to the Lincoln. Amazing! It's been a really long day, so I drive two blocks to the Travelodge. That's it, I don't even care how much the room is tonight. Done.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Williams Lake, BC

We're on the road and cruising for coffee.

It takes a while, but we find a spot.

Big Dave engages in handicraft projects as we drive. Genuine "Doc 'n Dave" rocks anyone?

We drop by the Billy Barker Casino in Quesnel to have breakfast. We played here a couple of years back, so we know about the secret, all day breakfast. I can always find this place because of the name of the street...

Dave likes it, too.

Before leaving town we do the rounds of thrift shops and pawn joints. The internet has pretty much eliminated amazing, miracle finds, but we live in hope and wander through the isles. Some pretty nice leather jackets in pawn, if you need that kind of thing. Lots of power tools. Lots of budget guitars... We buy nothing, and move on out of town.

We could be panning ourselves at today's prices!

It's a pretty nice run down route 97 to Williams Lake. We are in town early, so we do the local Sally Ann, and check out the music store. Our poster is up on the wall there, which we take as a good sign.

Here's a cool mural nearby the Williams Lake Library.

It is to be a house concert/dinner combo tonight. We are not sure if it will be held outside or inside. There is a big tent out in the back, and a firepit. It is also quite a bit warmer here than it was in Prince George. So outdoors ought to work. Do we need to set up the PA? We'll wait and see. Dave relaxes in the driveway with a woodcarving project.

Our host, resident chef and promoter Martin, is doing his thing in the kitchen, so we know whatever happens we'll be well fed. He's prepping for about 50 people, and we're hoping that they are going to show!

Dave and I elect to play inside for ease of presentation. We've got a great bunch of folks here, and we have a blast playing.

Good night Williams Lake. We'll catch a little shut-eye, but not too much. We need to be on the road by 4:00 AM in order to get Big Dave to Kamloops Airport on time for his morning flight. I'll tell you all about that tomorrow! Meanwhile, I think there is some desert left over... and a little red wine. Dave's giving guitar lessons again, hey, we gotta wrap- it's after midnight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prince George, not too Royal

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood. Downtown Prince George has several blocks which are torn up for renewal. We detour around these as we make a final, drive-by attack on the town. Again, the streets are very quiet! Here's the new Long and McQuade Prince George location. It's under renovation as well! Or are these barricades to hold back the guitar workshop crowds?

We are made welcome by staff, and look for a quieter part of the store to set up in. Construction is underway in the upper level, and the machines are pretty loud.

Unfortunately, the rest of the store is pretty quiet. We're here a little early, but I suggest that we wait until people actually arrive before setting up. Dave and I do our usual tour of guitars and gear, and buy some odds and ends.

It looks like just one guy has come out for the guitar workshop. He's not expecting it, but he gets a full hour of personal guitar lessons from Big Dave. Meanwhile three or four more people have arrived, so we sit in the amp section passing guitars and slides back and forth. It's a really good guitar clinic in the end. All of these guys come away pumped, playing new stuff, keen on the blues. My own contribution is pretty limited today. I'm struck by what a great teacher Big Dave actually is. He's on a roll with these guys, and I'm just adding little bits around the edges.

We've already set up, so it is back to the venue, The Twisted Cork, where we grab a quick bite to eat. Hey, I know those guys in the window!

Prior to showtime we hang out with Ken, pictured above. But soon it's time to get down to business. Showtime. We've not got the numbers out tonight that we have hoped for. The room has a comfortable number of people in it- including some that have driven in from Smithers for the show- but not enough tickets to cover our lengthy ride north and our down day. Everybody's done everything to make this happen, but it is clear that it is not going to meet even our low estimates. Numbers don't impact our playing in the slightest. We jump in! This is our time to have fun! The rest is work!

The night goes by far too fast! Soon it's raffle time! Here my lovely and talented assistant draws the winning number from the hat... And the winner of the genuine satin, white stripe tour jacket is...

Yes, indeed!! Winner!!

In spite of two very successful prior shows at the Artspace, only one member of the Prince George blues society- the Blues Underground- attends. Nobody attends from the packed, double encore Home Routes show last year. And nobody comes out from the folk festival- for the sixth consecutive year. These crowds don't seem to mix at all, and I'm sorry. Are there small town politics going on here? I don't know, but I do wonder.

In the end, the venue charges the promoter a huge fee for the use of the room. If we'd had a few more people the venue would of been free, and we would of kept that money. That was their side deal. As it is, our share kicks in after expenses. Here is a gamble gone bad. Usually our promotional organization makes these gambles worthwhile- we put bums in seats and work hard to do it. But today, the stars of the show make less than the wait staff, and the venue that takes no risk takes much of the gate, plus the bar and the food monies. The promoter's already small share is also reduced to spare change. I wouldn't bet on seeing many more live shows at the Twisted Cork. I wouldn't have made that deal, but I knew about it. I also know we'll do better tomorrow! Good night!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Running Prince George

Down in Prince George doesn't mean down and out. Dave and I take the Lincoln downtown and cruise the streets for a couple of hours of shameless promotion. Where is everybody? Plenty of cars, but very few people are out walking around today. We do a quick stop in at Prince George CBC Radio, and then head back to the country where we are staying at Dovey and Ken's place. Here's a tired looking Doc heading out to run the rural roads.

It's plenty wild around Prince George, and I'm thinking about bears as I jog past the old Studebaker, down the gravel, and out to a bigger road.

A heavy sky keeps me company as I labour along for a few more km. It's not how far you go, or how fast you go- it's the go that's important. Life's like that, too.

Dovey, our tireless promoter and host in Prince George, takes Big Dave and I to dinner. I finish the day back in our digs, working the email and vamping a Blog or two. Real action again tomorrow!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Road to Prince George

Morning looks like this out the window of my room at the Inn, British Columbia's oldest hotel. The fishing for steelhead is legendary here, so rich and famous come from around the world and hide out in this funky hotel. But today we own the place, so it's downstairs for coffee. I can hear Dave telling jokes in the distance, so I just follow the sound.

We drink coffee on the porch and look at the eagles hunting the river below. On one side of the river Canadian Pacific runs its trains, on the opposite side, Canadian National. At night they come screaming through this tight little valley, wheels gnashing, horns blaring. You can see them coming for some distance- huge golden eyes glimmering in the blackness. And then the town seems to shake while they pass by, moaning and bashing until they fade into the distance.

Breakfast companion. The guard dog of the Inn.

Good morning, Dave!

Looking out across the valley; high dessert hills.

The Inn was fun, but breakfast at the Packinghouse is on our minds. Time to load the Lincoln.

First we stop at the old, cowboy cemetery on the edge of town.

Outside the Cafe we notice this modified bike. It carries a large axe rather nicely. Inside we meet the owner, who tells us the axe is to protect himself from bears on his long rides into town. I tell him I'd probably just pedal fast in the other direction!

Wifi is on, so it's another working breakfast! Emails, press releases, and the Blog. This stuff never goes away.

Soon enough we're on the 97 Highway, headed north. We give Ramblin' Dan a spin. Dylan. JB Lenoir, John Lee Hooker, Stormriders, James McMurtry, Memphis Jug Band...

In just a few hours the landscape changes considerably. It is a little colder, fall in the air, flashes of colour in the trees.

As we drive the shadow of the mighty speaker horn keeps pace with us, pointing the way of adventures to come.

Dovey snapped this picture of us upon our arrival to Prince George, British Columbia. I hope this town is ready! Hey! The Blues is Back in Town!