Lots of new shows in March-April-May 2013. Concert tickets make great gifts for the hard-to-please! We're looking forward to being back in Westhampton Beach, NY; Atlanta, GA; Annapolis, MD; Sellersville, PA; Alexandria, VA; Newark, NJ; Tarrytown, NY; Medicine Hat, AB; Cochrane, AB; St. Albert, AB; Banff, AB; Whitehorse, YK; Vancouver, BC; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; Bend, OR; San Francisco, CA; Saratoga, CA; and L'Assomption, QC. More details here.
Two months off the road can seem like an eternity when it comes time to packing up and preparing to head out again. A sickening mixture of anticipation and dread flows through the body and then muscle memory takes over, you find yourself tucked away in your bunk, the rattle and hum of a bus rolling down the highway buzzing away in your ear, that antiseptic clean-not-clean smell in your nostrils and it’s like you’ve never been away. At least we are in one of our favourite parts of the continent, the Pacific North West, and it’s October, one of the most beautiful months of the year out here.
Bellingham, WA: We couldn’t have picked a better day or a nicer town to kick start this little jaunt: a cloudless, sparkling blue sky, mid-70’s temperature with a light breeze, Mount Baker’s snow-capped peak in the distance, a perfect day to wander around and explore. It’s been over ten years since we’ve played here, which is too long to stay away from a cool little town like this: a couple of great coffee shops, a specialty donut shop and one of the best used book stores that I have ever come across….all the necessities for life on the road. It was a very nice sized audience tonight and very appreciative. They helped us to get through those opening night jitters: an excellent way to start this run.
Edmonds, WA: Another excellent day and this time we find ourselves on Pugent Sound in another quaint little Washington State town (perhaps a Seattle bedroom community these days). This town doesn’t have the university presence that Bellingham has, it’s a little more upscale and therefore not quite as engaging to the itinerant musician, but those ocean breezes make up for any lack of a boho scene. Another full house tonight and another excellent crowd. This is kind of fun.
Covington, WA: I’m not quite sure where we were today….it was very close to Seattle, let’s call it a Seattle suburb. We lost those high blue skies as the clouds rolled in and we were stranded out in the middle of nowhere behind the venue, which was a Performing Arts Center attached to a high school. It was a strange day. Not a bad gig tonight…we were a little unfocussed at times but there were some nice moments and the audience picked us up when needed.
Vancouver, BC: Back across the border to a strange gig in the East end of Vancouver. Two shows tonight at a very odd little venue, The Cultch. We’ve had our problems attracting an audience in Vancouver over the past few years and tonight was no different. The first show was sold out, the second, not so much. Unfortunately we suffered a bit of a meltdown in the first show, we just couldn’t find each otherand so we flailed around for ninety minutes. The second show was a lot more focussed and we felt slightly redeemed. After the show we packed up and headed for another border crossing and a nine hour overnight drive to Bend, Oregon and a much needed day off: a cross country flight, three border crossings and five shows in four nights….yes, a much needed day off.
We’ll be in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California in late September and early October. Come out and say hello to us in Bellingham, Edmonds and Covington, WA; Vancouver, BC; Bend, Portland and Grants Pass, OR; and Napa and San Francisco, CA.
This was definitely a weird way to start a tour, but a welcome one. This gig dropped in our laps a few weeks ago along with a big bag of change. Today the Hudson Bay Company (which is a large Canadian retail chain) unveiled their line of Olympic wear for the upcoming 2010 Winter Games which are taking place here in Vancouver. They also held a party to celebrate the opening of their Olympic superstore in which all of their Olympic swag will be sold. We were part of the celebration and played a sixty minute set in the store along with a couple of other Canadian acts; Dan Mangan and Sam Roberts. It was a standard in-store performance under bright fluorescent lights with a hundred or so people milling about. Later that evening we were shuttled over to the cocktail party soiree where the company was schmoozing all of the sponsors. We played a fifteen minute set that was listened to by no one. There was polite applause after the first song, the DJ politely applauded after the second song (he was feeling sorry for us) and by the third song we might as well have gone home: of all the species of geese in the world the Canada goose is the most hardy and vocal. In any case this was your classic “crank and bank”, not the most satisfying type of gig to play but they help to fill in the financial gaps. We fly home tomorrow, get in around the kids bedtime and leave the next day on the bus before sun up. It’s a lot of hassle and travelling but, as I said, it’s well worth it, from a bottom line point of view.
These last two months have been off for the band. August was dedicated to family vacations and enjoying the final few weeks of Summer (which is a real necessity up here in the North). September was focused on outside projects and everyone getting their kids settled back in to school. I did a bit of writing and did some studio work with Mary Gauthier. It’s always hard to start up again…but always exciting and fun once you get back at it.
I don’t think that this has ever happened to us before. Our Vancouver show was cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. I am not completely surprised. We played a pretty big gig in Vancouver last summer in the same venue, we had a decent turnout for that show, but there wasn’t the type of demand that warrants a return just twelve months later, especially without a new album. It’s tough enough playing indoor gigs in the summer in Vancouver without overplaying the market. I guess the promoter felt that with the addition of Son Volt on the bill we could do the business, again. No such luck. We didn’t find out that the gig was cancelled until we had checked in to our Vancouver hotel; the promoter was desperately trying to make this work right up until the last minute.So what was to be one day off in Vancouver turned in to two.Fortunately we were booked in to the Wedgewood Hotel the nicest, plushest, most comfortable hotel of the tour and all for a decent price. The Wedgewood is also located right in the heart of all that is happening in downtown Vancouver; it has a great bar from which to watch all the street action, and, man, there is a lot of street action. We had perfect weather for our little sabbatical, we spent way too much money, went to way too many bad movies, paid way too much for too much bad food and drank way too much overprice booze.It was time well spent.
I’ve never really been able to get a handle on Vancouver, the seedy side of the place has always overshadowed everything else, but these couple of days spent in the city with nothing to do but wander around has given me a new appreciation. There is no doubting the beauty of the location; the BC coast is about as stunning as it gets. Over the past couple of decades the city planners have worked hard at opening up the city to the large natural harbor that it sits on and they have done a remarkable job, despite the ongoing battle against private developers and the condo mania. It’s a beautiful city and absolutely dripping with money….a few too many homeless people, drug addicts and sex workers on its streets, but that seems to be the norm for all of the coastal cities out here.
What a difference a couple of hundred miles and an international border makes. Tonight’s show was jammed packed, a 4000 people sell out. Oh well…these are the vicissitudes of touring.
Todays gig was at the Seattle Zoo. A day at the zoo is always a good way to spend some time no matter how old you are. What’s not to like when you can wander backstage and visit with the Sloth Bear, Snow Leopard and Humbolt Penguins. The downside to this type of gig is the limited amount of playing time. The animals need their sleep so curfews at these venues are very strict. Tonight we had an 8:30 curfew which meant each band only got an hour on stage. It was our turn to go on first tonight so we loaded in at 3:30, sound-checked at 4:30, hit the stage at 6 and were done by 7. A very focused day. We had a decent show, not the greatest sound on stage, but a very good audience especially for this type of venue, where a large chunk of the crowd is there because it’s an easy and inexpensive night out with the family and a fun way to check out some music that one might not be too familiar with.
After the show we were taken on a behind the scenes tour of the new penguin exhibit. The last time here we were treated to dinner with the Grizzly Bears, so the penguins were a bit of a letdown, but still pretty cool and very much appreciated…it’s just hard to beat six inch long claws and a head the size of a bean bag chair.