Sorry for the delay in updates - I've just been having too much fun globetrotting - I started writing this from my hotel room in Tokyo (when the ABPT was three quarters of the way through our four night residency at the lovely Blue Note Club in Roppongi)...
But there's still so much to write about... so where shall I begin? Hmmm.. well, this whole journey started in Comox, an absolutely gorgeous small beach town on Vancouver Island, where we played a couple of sets at a really cool festival (VI Musicfest). We arrived a few days before our gigs, because it was our first gig with Marco Minnemann (as Monsieur Eric is busy traveling around with Dr Dog). So for the first few days, we rehearsed at a little club fittingly called Joe's Garage:
It was a cool little place to practice, although it was not air conditioned so we had to keep the door open, filling the bustling Main Street with our cacophonous jams. One day, while running "Big Electric Cat", a gray, mustached man was passing the club and stopped to peer into the window. He shuffled on, turning in past the threshold, and stood inside until we finished the song. He placed his plastic bags on the floor to applaud us and yelled from across the room "Hey! You guys are really good - you could be on the radio! There's a recording studio down the street you should check out."
... After rehearsals, we'd go out for dinner (and I'm convinced Comox has no bad restaurants - every meal we had there was utterly fantastic). A particularly memorable dining experience was had one night at Locals, where we were treated to fresh caught oysters for our amuse-bouche - need I say more...
After ingesting far too much food (including a trio of crème brulées), we decided to check out the Whistle Stop Tavern, the quaint little bar next to our hotel. We sampled some nice Canadian Whiskeys (our favorite was Wiser's), and deemed the spot our official watering hole for the weekend. Upon our return the next night, we were delighted to discover a tight little band rocking the dancing Friday night crowd. We decided to sit in the back room so we could chat and enjoy the scene from afar.
After our first round, the band took a break, and the guitar player came walking towards us, in order to take the back exit for a cigarette. We stopped him along the way to compliment his playing, and his response was classic "Oh thanks, well... I'm not going to lie - I'm a little sloppy tonight..." He pointed over to a table of middle-aged women, surrounded by balloons and empty salt-rimmed glasses, "See it's her birthday over there, and they keep sending Tequilas to the stage." Over the next few minutes we discussed Led Zeppelin, Nashville, Canada, the festival (drunk people tend to switch subjects rapidly), and eventually, he recognized Adrian, and invited us to play a song for the next set. Marco was eager to jump in, but Adrian and I looked at each other hesitantly, with the look of "Ehhh... maybe he should just go up there to represent us, before we make fools of ourselves."
Soooo fifteen minutes later, I found myself fumbling around with a vintage Jazz bass, and we were counting off to play "Rock and Roll" with our new friend, John on guitar. Adrian then caught the itch, and joined us on stage to play "Writing on the Wall." The crowd seemed to enjoy it, so we decided to rock them with the KC classic "Three of a Perfect Pair." Let's just say they were not prepared to dance in 7/8, so for the second half of the song, they pretty much stopped trying and bobbed their heads as best as they could. Attempting to save the set, Adrian started right in with "Purple Haze" and we won them back pretty quickly. It was a great first show with the new line-up, and it's always fun to see Adrian rock out without all of his toys, because you're reminded of how naturally good he is. The night even had a perfect ending - when we got off the stage, the partying ladies passed us pieces of birthday cake (of the strawberry short variety) - such a sweet payment for our hard work.
Our real show took place the next day, and it was actually our first trip down to the festival. It was certainly full of music-loving hippie types, and as we passed by each stage, we heard got the vibe that many of the acts here were more folksy, with an eclectic world music sort of twist. We knew we were going to have fun as the loud rock group.
Festivals are always difficult, though, as you don't really get a sound check (other than strumming a loud e chord to make sure everything is working and close to the right stage volume). Luckily, everything appeared to be functioning, and the audience filled up nicely in the sunny late afternoon. We were having fun plowing through the set, going a little over time, when we got to what I call "the crazy, climactic Indiscipline section" of "e." I was hammering away at my bass, and all of a sudden, I felt powerless - my volume was gone! I looked over helplessly at Adrian and soon realized his sweeping backwards guitar had vanished too. I soon realized that we were, well, actually powerless! Shaking our heads and laughing at the situation, we took our bow and exited the stage. A few moments later, a panting stagehand shouted in between breaths, "Hey - it's working - come back!" So we did, and closed with "Three of a Perfect Pair" (the crowd still attempted to dance, although I'll say they fared a little better). After the show, we went back to our trailer and found a woman quietly eating alone inside. "Hi, my name is Joan. Nice to meet you - sounded great, guys!" We apologized for using what now appeared to be her trailer and explained we'd be out in just a minute. We gathered our things and as the door slammed behind me, I realized who we had just met - Joan Osborne! I was instantly transported back to my childhood Saturday afternoons, sitting on my living room floor, painting or sketching while my Mom played "Relish" on repeat.
We were then carted over to the CD tent to do our usual signing, and from there we went to another lovely meal and sat in for another set at the Whistle Stop. Now that's a fun day.
The next day we had a couple of open jams on a smaller side stage - the first one was in the afternoon, and consisted of a song by song trade off between Amos Garrett, David Lindley, and Dan Hicks.
It was all going so well, until Ade popped his bridge out during "Young Lions":
After the gigs, we went to Blackfin, which was a great restaurant with a stellar view of the river:
The next day we left around 10 to catch the ferry to Vancouver Int'l... it really started out as the perfect journey - I was sad to leave, but excited to spend the week at Marco's place on the beach to make and record some music.
But alas, it was not the perfect trip. We checked in at the airport 3 hours early, but United already knew the flight was going to be delayed 2 hours, and since San Diego has an ordinance against planes landing past midnight, we were told that we'd have 2 rooms provided for us in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Marco and I combated our boredom by taking photos with some funny YVR statues...
When we finally arrived in San Fran, we were instructed to go to Gate 81 to talk to customer service about our accommodations for the evening. We were ever so mistaken, and rudely given the following letter:
Defeated, depressed and hoarse from yelling at the United representative (and without my luggage), we luckily found a hotel not too far from the airport, which contained a nice little 24-hour diner:
When we finally made it to San Diego, we were greeted by Marco's pet wild cat, Flash. He took a severe liking to my suitcase...
More stories to come!