The Always A Bridesmaid Tour - Part 1
Renewing My Vows With Western Canada
"Where you've been is good and gone, all you keep is the getting there."
The mission this time? The Always a Bridesmaid Tour: A multiple destination choose-your-own-adventure odessey with a budget of 1 point 2 hundred dollars and a cast of thousands.
"Slow Down Andrew!"
Left Vancouver at 3pm. A three vehicle convoy. Hank and Lily with Emma Crow in "Freedom" ('91 maroon Dodge Aerostar minivan), Me, Baby Honey and Mandrew in The Honey Wagon ('91 blue Camry sedan) and Tolan, Hoff, Goose and Clay allegedly en route in the latest addition to the armada, "Gwynneth Paltrow" (1980 white Dodge short box van with a slant 6 engine). When The Goose's father caught wind of our travel plans he said, "What's the van for? All the money you're gonna make?"
We bought walkie talkies so the fleet could stay in contact but they were crap. Had lofty and noble plans of camping that night somewhere in the Okanagan but could find no site devoid of family oriented Christian RV enthusiasts. Amy had the CAA camping guide to Western Canada but I think we need something a little more off the grid. Maybe "The B.C. Pirate Heathen's Guide to Stealth Partying" would be more like it, but I heard it's out of print.
The bumper sticker on Tolan's new van says "Habitat is the key to wildlife". The 'key' isn't the word 'key', it's a picture of a key. I kept thinking about it as we searched for a place to stay.
Suckered in by a pleasing font, we ended up getting rooms at The Spanish Fiesta in Osoyoos. The rooms were stuffy, tiny, and expensive, but, most importantly, it had beach access and there was nobody around. We tried to radio Hank and Lily but could only hear crackling. Had my back turned to the road and was shouting, "We're at the Mohawk!" loudly as they drove by. Caught their attention with my actual voice rather than the walkie talkie. Phoned Tolan. They were still near Abottsford. Gwyneth had been overheating and they'd hit rush hour and all the things.Gave him our co-ordinates: "What's it called? The Skiddish Fiasco?" Pretty much.
Played guitar on the beach until it started thundering and we all thought about how glad we were not to be camping.
Wonder if they found the murderer. There was a roadblock on the highway. Cops were stopping everyone. Border's near by.
The Royal - Nelson, BC
"If I Was Miserable I Wouldn't Care Where I Was or How Much They Were Paying Me."
7a.m. wake-up. Strolling. Warm wind. Religious tractvista. This is my spiritual home.
Got picked up by Mandrew on the way to the T-Ho. Parking lot hulahooping and badminton. Breakfast at the ABC Country restaurant. Amy ran into her uncle the undercover cop. Guess we blew his cover by asking if they'd found the guy yet or what. He looked at Clay for a while and asked how well we knew him. I was thinking the same thing.
All day drive to Nelson. Kind of foggy. Osa Negro coffee and some thrifting and then rescued by The Bearded Ladies who totally took care of us. Balmy sexy valley mist all day and then surprise sun at the end. This is P.O.T. country.
Had an AWESOME show with everyone in fabulous spooky bridesmaid outfits. Dancing, hooping, badminton. A long walk with Goose. I wasn't bored once. Momentum, man!
I am so fucking happy to be back in Western Canada. It doesn't hurt at all to be here.
Little Slocan Valley Lodge
"Since there was no one around to react to I just dealt."
I think I figured out why it's better to play in smaller communities. Firstly, the last thing a big city needs is more people but out in the boonies they're just so damn happy to see you. Plus, I think in the city you just get overstimulated into docile submission. I guess London's still on my mind. By the end I was going around asking everybody "So, like, are you guys happy?" which doesn't really jive with that whole stiff upper lip thing they got going on over there, and, since we all know deviants die, it was like by even talking to me they'd be marked by association. They're just too taxed from Survival to get enthused, instantly exhausted by the old "But if enough deviants got together..." spiel I occasionally trot out when the wine hits and I momentarily forget that people were never meant to be brought together. When you're tired any idea just seems like potential work.
Still Eager? Meet Already Resigned. Hilarity ensues.
Got to the Lodge early enough to play badminton and go for walks and hang out. There was a guy there who had bicycled from Calgary. He said he had just ridden four hundred miles to see if anyone needed any help. I'll take that over a fucking text message any day! Makes me happy to know stuff like that still exists!
I was looking for the river when Hank came out of the trees with a funny look on his face.
"If you're intending to swim in the river, you might want to re-think your plans".
He said he went in and was swimming around until the surprise sensation of leeches on the ball bag made him get out. The interesting part to me was that he said since there was no one around to react to, he just dealt with the problem.
All the kittens were lounging or reading or busy so I snuck into the kitchen to make my salad. Ah. Sometimes on tour a lady just needs to be alone in a kitchen so bad she can taste it. If you're away from home long enough you can become nostalgic for things like doing the dishes. I got a glorious twenty minutes in chopping, listening to the sattelite radio before all the other bitches got the same idea.
The troops were all laid out by 8pm but became resuscitated by the power of rock and the freedom of having nothing to lose. The road to sucks ass, as my friend Thomas would say.
Once again, with barely two days notice and without the aid of even a flyer, the people came out of the woodwork to see us play. Pass the hat and that's that. $200 bucks and three joints. Wahoo. In London they would have charged you that much.
On the Road to Vulcan: The Convoy Reconvenes
Creston. Retroriginals Funky 60's and 70's Fashions is going out of business. It's the place that was run by the spooky Children of a Lesser Corn kids. Going strictly E-bay. That's where the money is.
Hoff's dog Lolita died.
Five matching marionette hats were purchased.
"You Just Can't Take a Bad Picture Here!"
From Ali's driveway, there's two ways you can go. Vulcan or Nanton. Is there a rivalry? You bet. I think I am a Nanton person. It's got antiques and vintage stores, music in the bars and a candy shop and cute lawns and vegetarian soup sometimes. You know. While Vulcan does have a replica of the Starship Enterprise and Spock Days going for it and the vague promise of Counsellor Troi, it just seems much more of a beef dip, draught beer and date rape kind of a place to me. But maybe I only think that because I have already decided that I am a Nanton person. We invited the cute farmer, who is a Vulcan person, to our Nanton show and he said he'd like to come but feared getting stabbed!
Went to town (Nanton of course!) early because we heard our favourite vintage store was closing down. Going strictly E-bay. That's where the money is. We all scored and Dreanne gave us super deals on everything. Amy bought the apron collection. Hank got a new hat. A Smithbuilt! She gave Mandrew the vintage fireworks collection as a reward for his boundless patience. I got some fingerless evening gloves, a new crinoline and some hors d'oevres toothpicks with plastic roses on the the ends all of which remain to this day in Ali's car. I learned something on this trip. Every time I tried to be greedy and spirit something away from The Others to a secret place, I lost it. I'd think, "Well I'll just put that 'there'." But if you are in motion, the 'there' keeps changing. Different cars everyday so nothing is where you left it. Well, it's there but you're gone. I guess it all goes back to the first rule of touring: Don't bring anything you love. Or anything you only have one of.
Hotel lunch. Phoned Lance about the P.A. and to see if he'd play some pedal steel with us. He was coming in the back door with a speaker when I went to see if there had been any word.
"How are you doing?"
"Well... If I would have known I was gonna live this long, I probably would have done things differently."
Lance is an awesome musician/rancher and our Albertan Spiritual Guide. He makes me want to be a better person. Every time I see him he asks if I wanna come by and work on the farm. At last call I totally want to. I love work. Especially when I'm drinking and it probably won't happen. Or, you know, when it's done. He played in Jr. Gone Wild, the band that made me want to be in a band. So I love it when he plays with me because I get to sound like my favourite band!
I loved our show. Taxidermy and oil dudes were a perfect backdrop for what we were serving up. The myth about the Nanton bar is that the cat sleeps in the popcorn machine. Quizzed the owner. He denied. Dreanne showed up at the end of the night with a garbage bag of wigs, vampire teeth, manequin arms, and graduation robes. Something for everyone! The set went well except I was standing directly in front of Tolan's amp. Started to complain before I remembered the thing about how sound travels to the densest thing in the room.
At the end the owner and a couple of drunk dudes said, "You guys are having way too much fun up there." Not sure if it was meant as a compliment and in retrospect maybe the three song curtain call elaborate encore holding hands deep bow finale was a little excessive for Sunday night but it's too funny to resist. Ten people traveling around in full costume singing their hearts out. It's so obviously not about money I think we deserve that bow. They already think we're crazy. We've got nothing to lose!
Met a dude who left Newcastle forty years ago. We toasted to the majesty and splendor that is Western Canada. Overheard guy at the bar on the way out: "She was a wonderful mother but she wouldn't have sex with me after that." The cute farmer came to the show and nobody tried to stab him. Not even once.
Full moon car ride home. Wondered if Cash was the rebirth of Lolita and if the death of the vintage store heralds the birth of learning to sew.
Tolan: Why are you so busy collecting up more stuff when the ship is going down?
Amy: Because it's FUN.
"Oh there's never enough time do anything."
Time's slow here because there's nothing in the way. No mountains, no gigs, no money, no chores, no nothing. We need it to feel the difference.
Tolan's last words at the end of the night were, "Well thank you for SEMI-orchestrating this." It's funny to see him stressed out. It's like he just woke up or something. It used to be me. Guess it's all kind of highlighted by the advent of the same old Dodge all these years later on the same road. I passed the stress baton and it feels good.
Most everyone left for Nanton or Vulcan for oil changes and vegetables. Hank was reading comics to the puppy, Clay was checking his email. Emma was smoking pot and reading science fiction. I went for a walk over the lone prairie which activated all the nesting mosquitos. Walked for miles but since I could see the house the whole time it didn't feel very satisfying. Thought about that prairie joke. The one about how you can watch your dog run away for three days. Had a nice long chat with a red-winged blackbird on the way home. Did some reading on the front stoop using smoking as insect repellent.
Wondered if we were getting on Ali's nerves. She is a total neat freak Virgo and we had exploded all over her house. Bodies, bedrolls, Louis XIV wigs, rubber ears and empties covered every inch of floorspace. Ah well, nothing's permanent. Soon we'd be but a memory...
We were stealing farmer boy's bar-b-cue right when he pulled into the driveway. Everyone had come home with food and we prepared a giant feast. Bar-b-cued corn on the cob with lime and Jamaican spices. Mmmmm. Lance and Toby came over with steaks they grew themselves. All the carnivores said it was the best meat they'd ever tasted.
FINALLY figured out The Golden Rule: If you find yourself complaining, shut up. Better yet, go to bed!
Palomino Club - Calgary, AB
"It's only a problem when you want to stop."
O Calgary! Damn you and your mystifying grid system! Never once made it in and out of there without crying. Not once.
Palomino Club is awesome. Bar-b-cue joint upstairs with proper venue downstairs. Was worried because I didn't see any posters and they said the promoter girl was sick which is never a good sign but in the end she showed up and did the door herself and people came and we had a nice rock'n'roll show. Amy ruled. Clay was awesome. Hank and Lily too. Goose, Tolan, Lance and Dianne are the best band ever!
Low pressure and ladies pains. All the forces of nature. Got lost on the way back to the venue. Started bawling and wished that there was some sort of Clint Eastwood pill that ladies could take when they get crazy.
Received a much needed cash infusion to keep the organization afloat. Biblical rains and thunder when the show was over but there was Magical Joe waiting in his giant truck to take us all back to Dianne's. She was in a mood to celebrate as she had just gotten back from touring Australia to discover that her girlfriend had just relieved her of all her savings in the name of crack and gambling. I rode in the back out in the rain taking sips of The Goose's beer. Amy gave us the eye for having open booze in the back of the truck as we cruised by the strip with all the bars getting out wooh-ing loudly but it's so easy for the inside dry people to look down on the less fortunate. Especially when they're just lashing out because it's time for their nightly special.
Party party party. Sleep sleep sleep. Lather rinse repeat.
The Black Dog - Edmonton, AB
"Everything's impossible and nothing really matters."
Okay troops. Today's the day we go over the top. Tried to arrange The Meeting Place at the perfect breakfast place on the north side of town but alas it was closed for renovations which foiled everything. We were about to descend into Oilers madness. One of my first tours was during the world series. I remember carrying an amp into some bar and accidently unplugging the television during a crucial moment and how popular I was afterwards. This was an even bigger deal. A hometown team involved in the Stanley Cup Play-offs. Apparently last time they won, there was looting and rioting on Whyte Avenue. We were playing on Whyte Avenue.
Also our group was about to become even larger. J. and Grayson were flying in from Victoria, Sylvia from Nanaimo and Dave, Laura, and Garth were driving up from Regina. I won't even get into the past indiscretions and overlaps that these six had gotten up to over the years (small town, no men, long winters) but suffice it to say that even the tension of an overtime shut out would have nothing on these people. I worried that more people would equal more questions.
Okay. A word about 'leadership'. I never really wanted to be in charge. It was only out of impatience and disgust that I even started. Everyone wants someone to be in charge so badly. It's easy to see why. The whole being raised by parents thing and then school and then more school and then a job with a boss and the benevolent and merciful God that watches out for all of us (if you Believe) or the imaginary camera that follows you around everywhere that you do Norman Fell "are you getting this" takes to when things get too weird (if you're me). But here in the pirate world there's a lot of grey area.
Now some would say that grey is just white that became soiled but I like to think of it as uncharted territory. We are all equally free to stake our claims and create the modern heirarchy, which is based upon the fact that everybody's in charge of their own selves. People don't seem to like this and continually endow whoever's beside them with the power of being incharge. I guess that way when things fuck up there's always someone to blame. I'm sure there's a physics term (Help me out here, Melissa) for when a force gets used to leaning on another force and then it's removed. If you get used to leaning on something and then it is removed, I think you fall with more force than if you just fell over on your own. Because you were leaning, I guess.
Maybe it's like if you work at a bar and they find out that you know how to tap a keg how you always have to be the one to do it. Pretending to be helpless seems to have its rewards. I will help if I can and if I think you need it and obviously if I'm at all hot for you, but if I suspect any kind of faking and that you could do it yourself, you're cut off. Where's my help?
Also certain questions have no answer. Just because I know that we play Nelson on Tuesday doesn't mean that I know if there happens to be a dry cleaners in Driftpile or in which hotel room you may have left your hat or what the gross national product of Abu Dhabi is. I'm not OMNIPOTENT! I just booked a couple of shows. Occasionaly it seems tempting to lie. It's like people would prefer an answer, any answer even if it's wrong, to "I don't know." Whenever I've been asked for directions by strangers in a place I'm not familiar with and I say, "I'm sorry. I don't know", they invariably drive away looking a little pissed off. Sometimes I think that they'd appreciate it more if I were to confidently tell them, "Yes. Follow this road until the next light turn left go for two blocks cross back over the highway until the first stop light can't miss it." The beauty is you know they'd blame themselves when they got lost.
Sometimes I wish I were just a little more evil. Or maybe I'm the worst kind of evil. The no hope kind. This is all there is people! There's nobody in charge! Constant Vigilance is our only saviour! Nobody wants to hear that. Especially when you're preaching to the perverted. I am a viral marketer selling "The Truth". My 'leadership' includes the caveat that there is no one in charge other than your own self ever. I guess not everyone got the memo. Maybe we should have a meeting.
To be fair, I've been on the other side too. I was That Guy on the Po'Girl tour. It's amazing how quickly you let yourself go if you think someone else is in charge. It's like your gut reactions somehow become dulled in the presence of others. Maybe because you get so busy trying not to block anyone else's dreams that you end up looking like a mouth breathing simp. Or something. Or maybe it's like The Paramedic's Code or something. Apparently if you are a paramedic and you start to save someone's life, you are obligated to finish the job. You are allowed to say no but if you START, you are legally not allowed to stop. I sometimes think that men think about sex this way too. "If you start something Lady, you have to finish it!" So maybe the very act of suggesting that we all tour together makes me responsible for everyone. Hmm.
Rule 2: Don't bring anybody you're not prepared to take care of.
Arrived in Edmonton before the actual chaos started. At least six cops on every corner for twenty blocks all the way down Whyte. Destination: Cafe Mosaics for the secret burrito and the tomato soup that's like getting your blood changed. No cops here. I guess if you were the type to loot somewhere after getting all fucked up on hockey, the vegan restaurant might not be at the top of your list.
Went with The Goose to get dressed and found Tolan and Hoff at Guliak's place watching the game. The Oilers won as we were walking to the venue. Honking horns and mad high fiving all the way there and everybody shouting "Goilers!"
The show was madness on wheels but for once the external vista matched exactly how I was feeling inside so for me it had kind of a reverse polarity zen calming effect. I was like, "Good. Now we're all even. Ha!"
I love Edmonton. It was the first town to dig me. I remember the heady moment when The Vinaigrettes sold 12 cassette tapes at The Ratt on our first tour. We felt like stars. You don't forget your first love. Renewed my vows with Western Canada on stage during the set.
Tolan was in a rage at the end of the night. He refused to come with me to our host Craig's house. Said he was going to sleep in the van because he 'knew what was there'.
Cafe Mosaic breakfast. Whyte Ave strangely calm. No trace of last night's action. Like a secret party cleaned up before its parents got home. Everybody trickled in to the cafe in various states of zombified disrepair. Now that our posse had expanded, the rides had to be shared even more. I rode with Hank and Lily so J. and Grayson could ride in the back seat of the Honey Wagon. Stopped for supplies, snacks, booze, water, rubber boots, bug spray, digestive enzymes and what-not, and headed north... to the North Country Fair.