Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pappy's Cafe, Wabigoon, ON

Up sort of early. Not too early, but early enough to get down to Kal Tire to see what they can do for the leaky rear tire. All the tire places are busy getting snow tires onto peoples vehicles before snow. I can't wait days, or even hours. I beg. The guys at Kal Tire help me out. I'm on the road by noon. I've not got a long drive today, but I need to make a stop first...

Back out to the bush country. My friends have got a collection of antique prayer bowls I want to check out before heading south. These things are supposed to have healing powers... They are pretty cool...

Ok, hugs all around and I'm back on the road. I've got the cruise set under the speed limit- I'm crawling through the bush at about 85 km. You get used to it. But I'm not going to give these northern cops any grounds to stop me. Last year there was a rash of illegal stop and search operations up here, and I'm VERY nervous about meeting any of these guys. Stuff can happen on these lonely highways, and I don't want to be part of it. Thankfully cell service seems a little better this year. It might not help, but I could probably call my lawyer this time around.

It's an uneventful trip to Wabigoon, ON. I'm loaded into Pappy's Cafe pretty quick.

I get a good crowd out here tonight- lots of old fans, and old friends, which is really, really nice. After an encore, a quick bite to eat, and then back to my hotel. Good night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Road to Ontario: Visit to Kenora

I'm on my own for a few days- bringing this big Lincoln over the hump, doing a few solo shows while Big Dave catches a rest at home. Running east, it is not long before the calm of the flatlands changes to the tough, splendid beauty of rocks and bush.

It's all connected to this highway here in Canada. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody just down the line from someplace.

The highway speed drops here, and the highway patrols swarm like bees to get a little money for the Ontario government. I set the cruise control, sip a coffee, and enjoy the ride into Kenora. I've got good friends waiting to see me. We dine, and talk into the wee hours. In the morning we'll explore some deep woods on ATV's. Can't wait.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Times Changed Jam- Winnipeg Sunday Night

It's Big Dave McLean's legendary Sunday night jam at Times Changed High and Lonesome in Winnipeg. Since I don't have to do anything, I arrive later than usual. It's not crowded yet, but there's a little buzz in the room. "Big Dave's back!"

Big Dave has been hosting the Sunday Jam here for over 20 years, and it continues to be a happening event. The sign-ups are walking in with their gear, and Big Dave is writing them down and organizing them into bands. His brother, Grant McLean, who is visiting from England, leads off with an acoustic set. I am pressed into doing sound, and pretty soon we have him sounding pretty good indeed!

Big Dave's Times house band launches the next set. Joanna Miller is on drums. Aside from the social factor and fun of being here, she's the musician I came to see! One of the top drummers in Canada. It's too bad Winnipeg lacks a functional Blues Society which could help put her in the national spotlight. She ought to be nominated for some of those Maple Blues Awards, and playing Massey Hall with the Women's Blues Revue... You can hear her play on Big Dave's latest recording, and with Scott Nolan, and with a variety of other quality roots bands in Western Canada.

After a couple of numbers Big Dave calls up Harpdog Brown to play the rest of the set. He's been playing at the George for the past few nights, and is on his way to do shows in Ontario. A Japanese guy gets up and plays a very strong mini-set. His guitar playing is really good. He sings "Mustang Sally" while Big Dave "translates" all in good fun. A parade of strong, local players follow. Dave gets "Dancin' Lou" up to play a number before taking a half-time break. It's a great local music scene, and a great little community of players. Before you know it the night is through. Classic, Winnipeg Sunday night.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Road to Brandon, MB

Up early and off to the Thrift Store to shop. I get nothing, but Dave finds some boots that fit! Nice!

It's a beautiful fall day out on the prairie. We're blasting off for Brandon, Manitoba today. Point the car, set the cruise, let her fly...

High water across the prairie. There has been plenty of flooding over the past few years. Some of the roadbeds give you the strange feeling of driving down the middle of a lake. Birds seem to like it well enough...

Before you know it we are in Brandon, doing the drive around. After a few passes through town we check into the venue, Lady of the Lake. It's a nice, big place- almost sold out for tonight's show. Hooray!

We do sell out in the end. Here's our lucky tour jacket winner!! Yep, forgot the tour camera again, so I use the iPhone...