We packed our bus last Friday and sent it West, then spent the last past few days with our families preparing to leave them as they recover from surgery, cram for finals and struggle to finish up end of year projects. We will be absent for that transition in to Summer vacation, that beautiful rush of freedom and energy. Yesterday we all flew in to Penticton from various points, catching snatches of the Euro Cup in various airport bars: Portugal coming alive, the Dutch sputtering. We arrived in Penticton at dinner time and ate at a water side restaurant with very average, very over-priced food but with an amazing view of Lake Okanagan and the mountains that ring it. It was worth the larceny. This is the start of a very long cross Canada tour as an opening act for John Mellencamp. Despite being Canadian we have done very few cross Canada tours and we have never played in about 80% of the towns and cities that we’ll be visiting. We are approaching it as a great adventure.
Today was a long day, especially for the crew, Jared and Chris had to load in and set up at 8am. The rest of us stumbled in to the venue at 10, occupied the stage for a couple of hours to get our monitors set and generally get comfortable and then we broke it all down. We appreciate the generosity of the Mellencamp-camp, letting us use some of their production time….it’s a true luxury. I took the opportunity of some free time between production rehearsal and soundcheck and grabbed my fishing rod, rented a kayak and tried to find a ledge in the lake that some local had told me about. I wasn’t out there for very long before a thunderstorm came racing down the valley and chased me back to shore. I plan to fish wherever I can this tour, especially in BC, where highways trace the paths of wild rivers.
Soundcheck today (as it will be everyday) was at 5pm, dinner at 6:30, showtime at 7:30, off by 8:15. I love a well run ship and this one looks to be in fine trim. A little know fact is that John Mellencamp’s music was a pretty big influence on the band and an influence that we probably haven’t acknowledged enough. When we were putting together the songs for Trinity Session, Mellencamp’s albums Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubillee were enormous hits. We listened to them a lot and his arrangements and use of fiddle and accordion was very inspiring, especially the way he used accordion. So we owe it to John for setting us off down a path that lead to Jaro and Jeff (who we initially contacted as a fiddle player). We are very happy to be along for this ride, it feels like another completed circle.
Considering that we hadn’t played together in several weeks, and we were on a strange stage, in a strange room, in a strange situation…I think our opening night rocked. My favourite part of Mellencamp’s set tonight was the audience sing-a-long, five thousand strong, during an acoustic performance of Jack and Dianne….”oh yaaaa, life goes aaaawwwaawwn, long after the thrill of livin’ is gawwwaawwn”….how great is that…..