Thursday, January 25, 2007

Queens of the Hootenanny Part I

The Cast: The Queens of the Hootenanny Tour featuring
The Queen of Hearts Miss Jenny Whiteley (guitar and
vocals) and The Queen of Clubs Miss Carolyn Mark
(guitar,wurlitzer, shaker and vocals),
accompanied by The Ace of Diamonds Miss Diona Davies
(violin and vocals).
The Vehicle: My Mother's 1989 Toyota Camry
The Mission: The funnest easiest tour ever.

Calgary Airport
I was standing near the taxidermied bobcat and
Stampede buffalo display waiting for Jenny when I
heard the announcement.
They are holding a 'seized items' sale on the third
floor. Ah these post 9-11 times...
I've had so many cork screws taken from me, I'm
starting to feel like a terrorist myself. And now the
liquids. Oh. Get this: According to certain fashion
magazines, dry shampoo is making a comeback. Yeah. Now
that no liquids are allowed on planes, guess who's
waiting in the wings? That's right. Dry shampoo. Wanna
make a bet that dry shampoo is behind the whole thing?
To totally digress for a moment, The Spinach Ban is
more troubling to me. I mostly just use conditioner
anyway but spinach is my formula man!
I wonder what really happened. Did Arugula have a nude
picture of a spinach executive with a goat or
something? Is it a Pee Wee Hermann/ Micheal Jackson/
George Micheals type of fall from grace/publicity
spin? Does Earth Bound Farms control all the spinach
in the world? God. After years of flawless
nourishment, one old lady keels over and now spinach
is jerking off a small boy in a public toilet and
can't get a gig. You work with wood your entire
Do I have to find a dealer?
Where was I? Oh yeah. The airport. Seized items sale.
A room full of lighters. A room full of Swiss army
knives. Drawers full of lap top memory chips. Boxes of
polar fleece vests and gortex jackets. Half a bottle
of tequila. Acres of cork screws. (I think I
recognized some of them). Diona was in heaven filling
her pockets with knives and leathermans (leathermen?).
We got so into shopping we almost forgot our original
mission-picking up Jenny.
Luckily her plane was late.
Much hugging and jumping up and down and waiting for
luggage and then out to the practise ranch. Twin
Butte. Near Pincher Creek.
Since we're ladies it, of course, took ages. Supplies
were needed-guitar strings, a capo, food, that hat
she'd seen at the Le Chateau in Toronto and then well,
it was dark which makes the ranch hard to find. "Have
we gone too far or not far enough?"
"Jeeze I don't remember this part at all."
I know that the sign for Spread Eagle Road is gone on
the one side but if you pass it there used to be one
on the other side. Not no more. Huh. I think it's this
one but is it the second right or the third after
Eventually we found it and pull into Burns and Lucy's
drive way and the door opens and the eleven fucked up
healer/Australian Shepard dogs pour out and surround
the car and I can tell from the way Lucy is standing
that we've arrived a day early and she's not expecting
us but we have beer and the store's closed on Tuesdays
so we are told to come in and pull up a stump
(literally!) around the kitchen table by the wood
stove. Burns and Lucy, the daughter, the guy from up
the road, eighty dogs and the cat recovering from two
broken legs are pouring over a dictionary looking up
the word 'snort'. Apparently Lucy makes this noise
when she laughs that the family calls a snort. Lucy
claims that a snort is an INHALATION, which is NOT the
noise she makes when she laughs. That is an EXHALATION
and therefore NOT a snort. This is kind of exactly
how I grew up so I don't think it's weird at all in
fact I kind of like it a lot.
But we had come to practise and make dinner and be
together away from worldy distractions and it was
boiling beside the wood stove so we started making
shuffling off motions but Lucy wanted to make the beds
for us and the daughter was making clam chowder that
we just had to try and since we were a day early they
held us hostage for a little bit which was not the
least bit unpleasant.
Also it turns out that the reason there's no sign for
Spread Eagle Road is that it gets stolen every '"May
long" because drunk people think it's funny.
We loaded into the ranch house and set up the
Wurlitzer on the table and plugged it in and got out
the guitars and the fiddle and started making a set
list. I'm totally in love with Jenny's new record so
it was a treat to get to play her songs. I hoped I
wasn't butchering them or that I wasn't too loud but
when there's nobody else to rely on you just have to
keep going. I detected no murderous looks being shot
in my direction and figured that Jenny would be the
type to say what she wanted if she wanted anything.
It was really fun and Diona was fabulous of course and
by the end of the night we felt kind of like a band.
We debuted the next night at The Twin Butte General
Store and Bar. Grabbed the P.A. from the community
hall down the road where they were having 'Bitch and
Wine' night -a dog training/wine tasting class(!) Felt
like I'd stumbled upon something so heart-explodingly
perfect for me that I couldn't even speak.
Farmers and ladies came from all around. Stella from
Beaver Mines brought a whole posse which was sweet but
I don't think she got the part that Jenny and I were
sharing the show because every time Jenny would sing,
Stella would dance over towards us, kind of lean on
the speaker, wave her free hand in a conducting style
motion and yell 'Come on Carolyn! Sing something!'
And Jenny would finish the song, a single tear rolling
down her left cheek.
Met an Australian cow hand outside who said he'd been
surprised by a 'joyant ilk' earlier in the day.
The friend who'd been at Burns and Lucy's set up his
drum kit and played with us for the second set and was
mercifully tasteful. At the end of the night the big
man who was buying everyone shooters passed out on the
bar. Everyone was poking at him until he lifted his
head, releasing a small puddle of drool. All in all a
total success.

Lethbridge, AB
Dinner at The Allens. We had booked an early show in
hopes that all our school teacher friends would come
out to see us. I wrangled a guarantee out of the
notorious promoter with the caveat that if no one
showed up he could kill me! The fact that I am typing
this now signifies that I lived to tell the tale. And
this is the tale I'm telling:
We were shorted a hundred bucks and the walls smell
like cocaine. There. I said it.
Fun show though. Our friend Dianne came and played
bass with us and was awesome. I was feeling
adventurous and tried this crazy organ they have there
that has all kinds of buttons and lit-up tubes and a
volume control you operate with your knee like a
sewing machine but it made the hugest farting sound
during Jenny's quietest song and gave me a massive
electrical shock when I put my lips to the microphone
so I stuck with The Wurlitzer. I knew the bands who
played after us - Chet and Away Rio. It always feels
good to meet up with friends from back home on the
road. Stayed with Shawna The Horny Hairdresser and her
awesome new boyfriend. Watched surf videos, ate
guacamole and fell asleep on the floor. Someone
removed me and I drifted off right when the doorbell
Fuck. The other bands.
I know what it's like to be desperate and from
Victoria so of course I did the honourable thing and
avoided their eyes all night, dodging the 'So where
are you staying?' question, but someone must have said
something. Ah well. I had a bed and that's the
important thing.
Woke up and the house was snoring and covered in men.
Got our hungover hosts take us out for Vietnamese
food-(for Jenny, the woman loves Asian food and hates
breakfast) which was, of course, a mistake. I mean
come on! It's Lethbridge. And then later, while Diona
checked out the motorbike and knife store, Jenny and I
almost got tickets for J-walking whilst seeking
peppermint tea. The cop said, 'Next time girls, wait
for the light!'
We muttered smart ass retorts as soon as we figured he
was out of earshot.
'Next time? With any luck that'll be never, ass
Obviously, it was time to leave this town. Found Diona
hemming and hawing over a pair of leather chaps. Told
her to buy them but she left them there saying
something about how the only way to know if you really
want something is to walk away.
I said I already knew I really wanted to leave so we
walked away.
Successfully located and roused the Notorious
Promoter, extracted the key to the club, got our gear
back and got the rock out of there.
A couple of hours later, down a back road in the
middle of nowhere, we passed some sort of
factory/giant round silver refinery thingy.
Jenny asked me if I knew what it was and because I'm
from Out West and feel like I ought to be the tour
guide, I started to answer, not for a second letting
the fact that I had no freaking idea stop me.
'Oh well Jenny, it's obviously some sort of....
er... giant...uh... Uranium Ball!'
I could feel Diona's eyes rolling even before I heard
the snort.
And so uranium ball became the catch-all answer for
any unanswerable question for the rest of the tour.
'Sound check? Oh yeah. I just talked to the guy and he
said it was at...uh... uranium ball o'clock!'
* * *
Stopping for cheap gas out on the res. All a little
loopy. Diona kept flipping the open trunk switch
instead of the open gas switch while the guy pumping
gas waited patiently in that calm Indian way. I got
out of the car and tried to put on my coat but it
caught the wind like a sail and the arm holes kept
blowing away from me. I was making some Pee Wee Herman
type of 'Woah Woah Woah' sounds and the guy just looks
at me in that calm Indian way and says 'Windy.'
Thus another tour catch phrase was created.
Two in one day! What a great tour.

The Palomino - Calgary, AB
Headed to Diane's house. It's very nice and she's a
fab hostess. I like to torment the cat (Snowball the
Midnight Yowler) and bounce on the nubbed yoga ball.
Got all whored up and headed to the club. To drive or
taxi? That is always the drinking girl's nightly
question. Too late to taxi and it's Friday night and
the chance it might might not come so into Diane's
father's mini van! Get to the club and there's no
parking. I mean there's parking if you have a credit
card but that seems so unglamourous, to have to pay,
when you're playing. I went in and talked to someone,
the bartender, and he said it's a problem with the
OWNER OF THE BUILDING, not the BAR and all this crap
but there's some signs for STAFF PARKING and well,
we're PRACTICALLY like staff and they make Lance move
his car and we have to give our keys to this sketchy
dude and if Diane's father only knew he'd have a
heart attack, any of our parents would, but what the
fuck else are you gonna do? So we give the sketchy man
our keys and some money and now I'm mad at the bar for
having live music but not working out the details
because sometimes a half-assed job is worse than not
doing it at all so we follow Lance up the alley to an
old man bar where his other country band is playing
and it's pretty awesome and Dianne and I have a heart
to heart and drink a zillion vodka sodas, which isn't
really like drinking, and some weird old man offers me
a hundred and fifty dollars for my raccoon hat which,
coincidentally, is what the promoter has already told
me she's going to rip us off but no freaking way mack,
I love my hat. The band is awesome and we start to
calm down. We dance a dance and kiss Lance on the
cheek and wave good-bye and head back to the club. We
pass the sketchy parking guy and he doesn't seem so
bad and now I feel embarrassed for freaking out so we
pet his pit-bull for a while and go inside.
The Palomino. It's not perfect, they blast the music
upstairs and downstairs in between bands and the
sound's brutal, but the promoter girl is a sweetheart
rock-a-billy china doll so we do it for her.
There are seven bands tonight and we're on last. Fuck.
Two of them are our friends from back home again, Chet
and Away Rio (They are DEFINITELY not staying with us
tonight.) and I've never heard of the others.
The sweet rock-a-billy china doll has double booked
the night or done us a favour and let us play with not
a lot of notice, depending on how you look at it.
Anyway, I'm wiped and cranky and it's loud and there's
nowhere to sit and the wine's skanky and there's fruit
flies in it but finally we get to play and there's
people to play to and Lance brings the drummer from
his other band and he's perfect and so now we're a
five piece band and the sound's not so bad and the
songs are coming together and it turned out to be an
awesome relaxed show maybe because we'd already gone
through every emotion before we even started.
Maybe it was the little white pill Lance gave me...
* * *

The Powerplant - Edmonton, AB
They've changed the road to Edmonton. There's this new
diversion if you're coming in from Red Deer that takes
you to hell and back with no place to turn around. No
signs or nothing. Why?
Made our way to the University. If you're playing you
get to drive over the lawn and through bus only zones
which is always a good time. 'What are they gonna do
to us TAKE AWAY OUR LIBRARY CARDS? hahahah!' It's that
little bit of power that can make your whole day.
Sound check. Jenny, Diona and I meet up with Phil from
The Shiftless Rounders who now lives in Edmonton who
is the Best Guitarist Ever and Dianne calls because
she took the diversion thing too so we set up and the
sound man's a lady and the manager's a lady so it
feels awesomely take back the night.
And we get a hotel too! Jenny and I go back and watch
Bridget Jones' Diary and get ready and ditch the car
and take a cab back and as we come in I hear the
familiar sound of John Guliak's voice. I played in a
country band with him for four years and played his
wedding and all and so now he lives in Edmonton and so
by special request he is our opening act. As I come
around the corner and look on the stage, my brain
actually turned on its axis. That was John on stage
all right only in honour of the whole 'Queens of the
Hootenanny' thing, he was wearing a little black
cocktail dress edged with marabou feathers and a
bobbed wig.
'Oh my god!' I kept saying holding my hand to my
'Is your friend a drag queen?' asked Jenny casually.
'NO! This is a man who wore the same brown sweater for
seven years! You don't understand how WEIRD this is!'
Garb aside, John is playing great. I look around the
room and people seem completely unphased. Oh these
Modern times get kind of weird because now that it's
2006, everybody's so worried about being politically
incorrect that they basically don't laugh at anything
anymore in case it's offensive.
It's like it's easier to be weird now but it has less
of an effect.
I kind of liked it as a social experiment and John is
a bit of a prankster. His banter was really cute too:
'You know I thought, with the whole spaghetti strap
thing that when they fell off, you girls were just
being coy but I can see now that it's a real concern.'

Saw my friend Marc from Vancouver who said he was here
on tour with another band playing drums.
'Well you better go get them from the car then...'
Awesome show. Killer band. Everybody played great and
the sound was clear. Sort of hard to 'ignite' the
audience when they're all sitting down like that and
some of our older friends didn't show but tried not to
let it get me down.
Our friends The City Streets left us a care package in
the band room which is so sweet I can't believe it.
Didn't get ripped off, sold some cds and lived to do
it all over again and tell the tale.

Queens of the Hootenanny - Part II

The Auditorium - Nanton, AB
Nanton is one of my favourite places to play. I can't
put my finger on why exactly. Pretty sure it ain't the
taxidermy. Maybe because it's not about the money or
what the show can do for your career, it's about the
joy of playing the show for no other reason than the
joy of playing the show.
Maybe it's what I think I deserve.
We got to stay in the funky rooms upstairs and were
joined, in order of appearance, by Lance and Toby,
Diane, Pat the Drummer and Shawna from Lethbridge for
pre-show cocktail hour and watched a lurid nature show
about black widow spiders. At Jenny's suggestion we
were drinking Tijuana Rashes- Tequila and cranberry.
Anti-oxidize while you oxidize! Cure while you poison!
Like the negative calories of celery. In any event we
were feeling no pain while we played and it was quite
possibly the most cutting edge banter of the entire
tour. You see, earlier in the day, Diona had read us
an article in The Economist. (She didn't bat an eye
when I was reading Pamela Anderson's memoirs so I
don't judge) The article was a cheery affair about
rape laws in the U.K. and how it's pretty impossible
to be prosecuted for rape any more, especially if 'the
victim' was drunk or crazy etc. which, incidentally,
is a line of thinking I kind of live by-not the rape
part, but the daytime self is much more uptight and
therefore more accountable than the night time self.
The article also suggested that there were different
types of rapists like "The Predator" or "The
Opportunist". It was rather bleak but of course we
still found ways to joke about it in the car.
"You think you're worried, I rape easy" etc.
So that night on stage I introduced a song sighing,
"Well if this next number doesn't get me raped in the
parking lot after the show, I give up."
And Jenny who is so supportive, no matter the mission,
chimes in from behind the organ and says, "Oh I know.
I've been taking that date rape drug the last four
nights and... nothing!"
And then she suggested she sing a song she co-wrote
with her mother that starts with the unforgettable,
"Quit your friggin' jiggin'
you cock-sucking son of a whore!"
Based on a true story apparently. Quite touching. And
not a lot of people can pull off the word 'piss-flaps'
in a song and make it work.
Since we were in Nanton all the ladies in the bar were
grinning like wolves totally getting it and the big
dudes were nervously laughing 'Hehehe you guys sure
look like you were having fun up there hehehe."
begging us with their eyes to not give their women any
more big ideas. Or maybe it was pity. Who knows?
That's the best part about being drunk, when you're
surrounded by a golden glow, in love with yourself and
immune to reality.
A long time ago my friend Nathan told me that the
definition of A Lady is one who knows when she is
being vulgar. I was thinking about that when I went to
One for the memoirs for sure.

The Royal - Nelson, BC
Monday night. Hardly anyone there. Even less people
for the second set. Slept like motherfuckers back at
the hostel.

Little Slocan Lodge - Slocan , BC
Only an hour and a half drive so we lurked in Nelson.
It was raining. Hit the good coffee place and
breakfast and then the health food store. Spent all
our money on milk thistle and ear candles. Got
Mandrew's glasses off Laoh from the June tour and put
them with Clay's jacket, thinking that by the end of
the tour we'd have enough stuff to make a whole man!
Speaking of which, our three transgendered friends in
Nelson are raising an accidental baby. Can you say
'Three Half Men and a Baby'?! Stick to hand jobs
people and this shit doesn't happen I'm telling you!
Got to the Lodge at sunset. God I love it here. We
were so grateful for the rest the night before and so
relieved that we weren't going to die anymore, to
celebrate fact that we weren't going to die anymore,
we had some drinks on the deck. Well, it started
innocently enough with throat tea but the conversation
was getting so good we turned to the wine. The
previous times I've played here I've always been
amazed at how the people just come out of the woodwork
at showtime and I guess I just thought it happened
every time so when Jenny asked if I figured she should
give herself a talking to or open the second bottle,
as her attorney, I advised her to continue full steam
ahead. Now, we'd been playing in bars as a trio so
perhaps to overcompensate for our sparseness, we'd
been getting pretty 'showbizzy' with the delivery of
the songs and banter. So picture us reeling down the
stairs after getting dressed in our spangles and
coming in to start the show in a Liza Minnelli 'thank
you all so much for coming' kind of way to discover
that 'the audience' is four people doing yoga
stretches on the floor.
And of course being a little stoned cause it's Harvest
Season and then having a total mind fuck argument with
yourself about how The Show Must Go On but then
becoming super shy because without an audience you
just feel like a big fake and then of course feeling
compelled to say all this out loud and then realizing
that you're kind of slurring and making no sense.
Rather sobering actually.
Think I'm getting the message that working together is
the cure for mental illness. The binding contract of
consensual reality. If we decided to be a band
together and play these songs then that is the
agreement no matter how weird it gets. This is the
wreckage to cling to when the storm hits. With nothing
to cling to it's all horrible and false and cold and
ludicrous. That night, the absurdity of performing
before four stretching people caused a door to open in
my brain. I've seen this door before. A couple of
times actually. I know if I chose to go through the
door it would be permanent. I would never come back.
The first time was years ago. We were playing at the
Town Pump. My first band. The Vinaigrettes. Kind of a
big deal show. After sound check there was an early
metal show and somehow I got locked out of the band
room and then thrown outside. The bouncers wouldn't
let me back in. It was February. I was wearing a mumu
and my coat was inside. They told me to go away. I
told them I was IN the band but they wouldn't believe
me and were unimpressed by my tears. Finally found a
back door four minutes before show time only to find
Brigette, the guitarist, had vanished without a word
and was AWOL. There was much yelling from management
to get the hell on stage and with one minute to spare
Brigette sauntered in with her girlfriend.
"Oh my god! Where were you?!"
"Oh we went out for Ethiopian food.." she says calmly.
CALMLY. That's what did it. How could she be so calm
when I was so upset? In retrospect, the whole having
money to go for dinner part might have been a deeper
thorn in my paw at the time too.
"Ethiopian food?" I say, a vein twitching on my neck.
At that moment, my friend J, who could sense the
tension, hell you could have cut it with a knife,
popped up in front of my face wearing a giant Russian
fur hat and said,"Ethiopian food? Such SMALL PORTIONS.
And the way the waiters hover over you asking 'Are you
going to eat that? Are you finished with that?"
That's when the door opened. I was laughing and crying
so hard that had I taken the door I would never have
stopped. From the comments of others I would wager
that I have a tenuous grasp of reality at best so this
would be akin to throwing the final sandbag out of the
hot air balloon and just drifting away from all
earthly troubles forever taking a permanent vacation
from tedious consciousness.
Of course I 'came back' and played the show but I
always remember the door and was reminded of it in
Slocan standing there tarted up in front of the four
yoga stretchers. I surveyed the room and I looked at
us and could feel the giggles coming on and I could
tell right away that these were gonna be the door kind
so I tamped them down but they wouldn't go away so I
just looked at Jenny and Diona and even though it was
ridiculous, they were still singing my song and so I
thought about them and how if I cracked up it would be
like breaking a promise and how being part of three
people makes you only a third and to make the whole
you gotta work together and the door went away. One
day I might take it but there are a few people I
really like down here like Jenny and Diona who make me
wanna stay. So, unlike Sartre, my theory is that other
people, as much as they make you crazy, keep you sane.
I don't want to be one with everyone but I'll make an
effort to be one with the people I like. If reality is
consensual it's necessary to have accomplices.
Jenny sang an a Capella song at the end of the night
that was so beautiful I was forced to bite her.

CBC taping of The Vinyl Cafe-Behind the Music
Community Hall/High School/Theatre - Mission, BC
We arrive in the rain at dusk and find the theatre but
can't figure out how to get in. All the doors are
locked. Someone is called and we are led through some
back hallways and then greeted by The Producer and
introduced to the band and shown to the dressing room
where the producer wants to screen my material for
anything too risque for the blue-haired demographic.
Before I begin, she asks if I've ever been on the CBC
before. I nod and tell her that if she's trying to
find out if I'm house broken, I am. Of course she
vetoes the whore song which would have been so perfect
for the occasion given that they were giving us $900
to play two songs.
Funny to come from Nanton where we played for three
hours for $200 to this. I don't know. I'm funny that
We are then led to the stage where two silver-haired
dudes are playing a grand piano and a stand-up bass. I
suggest they stick around and join us and they do and
they're awesome. Jenny knows everyone from being on
the show so many times and through her family.
We go for Greek food in honour of Diona's birthday and
when we come back it's time to start the show.
They set us up three chairs so we can watch from the
darkened wings and Stewart McLean stands in front of a
podium and then that voice every good Canadian knows
comes out but what's surprising is the accompanying
gestures. He waves his arms around a great deal and
bounces up and down on the balls of his feet to
emphasize words. I had always pictured him sitting at
a desk in a cardigan. The audience love him. He is the
Canadian version of The Oprah Oracle in tasselled
loafers and wide wale corduroy. When he hits a
particularly pithy turn of phrase he pauses to let
them appreciate him. The CBC is all about bowing. The
stories are good and heart warming and the other
musical guest is Murray McLaughlin who sings a song
about getting older called The Second Half of Life and
then Stewie and the piano player rip into a
semi-rehearsed song about how their bodies are falling
apart now that they're getting old. And like I said,
it was Diona's birthday and we were pretty exhausted
and in that heightened
nap zone when the night's theme appeared unavoidably
before us: Ageing.
In the break, us dames slip outside for a smoke and
some sips of Lucky. There is, evidently, a high school
Hallowe'en dance going on in the adjoining gymnasium.
These two dudes come out of the trees, stumbling a
little and not doing a very good job of hiding a half
twenty-sixer of rum. I think that they probably want a
smoke or something but as they approach and see us up
close in the light, the one fellow's face falls and he
says, "Oh... You guys are a lot older than I
"Honey I think that every time I look in a mirror."
It's more than a little awkward but the kid is a born
charmer so to cheer us up he says, "Well you guys are
hot from far away!"
"I mean, you guys must be like 25!", the other one
"Just turned," we say in unison.
"So are you here for that theatre thing?" he asks
We start to answer and he adds, "My mom's in there!"
Yup. We're rolling with yer Mom tonight.
Oh my god. When they reeled off into the night we
laughed, holding our faces Macaulay Culkin style for
about twenty minutes.
Then back inside the blackened theatre for the second
half and the gospel finale. Jenny said I sounded very
soulful on my verse. I told her it was because I was
so scared of screwing it up I was ACTUALLY praying.
Packed up the car which was reeking of garlic from all
the Greek food and air-kissed all our new boyfriends
goodbye. Murray McLaughlin, rosy from scotch, turned
to Diona as we were leaving and said, "I haven't met a
nicer musician since Margo Davis!"
We left not knowing who that is but vowing to look her
up sometime. Navigated the dark and rain slicked
highway 7 into Vancouver down Main Street to the Honey
Hut where Baby Honey and Mandrew awaited us with
kitchen table drinkies a mere two steps away from the
World Famous Honey Hide-a-bed.

St James Hall - Vancouver, BC
Woke up feeling like ass. Finally broke myself for
real this time. Like when you feel so ridiculously bad
you have to laugh? Yeah. That bad. Had to drink
fluids and watch White Oleander on VHS to recover. The
problem is indoor smoking. Since it's so rarely
allowed anymore anywhere in the world, now when I'm
able, I go to town. It's horrible. You can't tell me
not to do something. It just makes me want to do it
Oh fuck. The car. Had to move it to avoid getting a
ticket. All of Main Street's under construction. I
asked Amy if she had any Armour All and a Dustbuster
and she eyed me suspiciously as if aliens had taken
over my body.
I suspect I am not known as someone respectful of
things. I am hard on my toys I guess. People too
I wanted to clean up the car to my mother's standards
because I respect her and was grateful that she'd lent
it to us and of course there was the whole
not-so-noble motivation that if it worked out this
time she might be persuaded again at a later date.
But the Dustbuster sucked because it didn't suck hard
enough so mostly used my fingers to pick up the
disturbing amount of hay (?!)we had acquired in the
wheel wells and under the floor matts. Having a chore
in the outside air proved most restorative. I'll be a
farmer's daughter til I die.
Met my mum outside the hall. She came bearing cookies,
chatted with Amy and Jenny for a while and rolled on
home in her dirty car on half a tank. Where did the
day go?
Sometimes it occurs to me that if I didn't stay up so
late, the next day might not be a total write-off, but
then it's dusk again and too late to care.
Nothing was happening at the hall yet so we went for a
stroll. Sure it was to the liquor store but it did the
trick. In the parking lot I saw the guy that tried to
kill me in an airplane when I was 19 walking with a
woman and pushing a stroller and thought, "Oh good. He
And the show. Oh the show!
The hall is a former church with an apse and great
heavy curtains. My friend Nancy puts on our hall shows
in Vancouver and she went all out. There was dinner
for fifty before the show with all manner of things
drizzled and encrusted which was fabulous except I ate
in the dark and kept thinking I was eating the smoked
salmon lasagna but instead getting the black bean
tortilla pie which was an odd sensation.
The Pauls joined us. Paul Rigby and Paul Pigat. Best
guitar players ever. Got to sort of lead them through
the arrangements of Jenny's songs on The Wurlitzer
which made me kind of feel like Paul Shaffer. The
Minimalist Jug Band, Kent McAllister, Ridley Bent, Amy
Honey and The Weathered Pines rounded out the bill and
the whole night felt very old timey and sweet.
Funny Story:
Jenny had stashed a bottle of white wine in the
kitchen fridge in the basement and she went to get it
when we finished the first set and on her way there
people were congratulating her and she was saying
thank-you thank you as she whipped open the door and
was greeted by the sombre silence of an A.A. meeting.
She realized there was no way she could ever walk to
the fridge, get out a bottle of wine and walk back
across the room with everyone's ears all pricked up
licking their lips and of course just then there was
the unmistakable sound of someone dropping a beer
bottle down the stairs behind her in the hallway and
she bolted back upstairs while the clanging died down
thinking maybe she didn't need that wine so badly
after all. I mean it's not like any of us has a
PROBLEM or anything. I mean it's only a PROBLEM if you
want to stop.
I figured they must have been the advanced level
practicum group.
Ah the hilarity of multi-purpose buildings.

The Waverly - Cumberland, BC
All aboard the 12:30 ferry in the Po'Girl van with
Diona at the wheel with minutes to spare!
"Oh my god you're magic!"
"Experience darling."
Took the scenic route to show our Ontarian hostage the
majesty of the west coast. Thought about stopping for
fresh oysters but only the bars where all the people
who work with oysters drink at were open so they don't
keep 'em on the menu. Shucks.
Stopped in Coombs at the store with the goats on the
roof and bought crazy groceries. Didn't see the goats.
Maybe they went out.
So tired.
We were expecting to play The Abbey which is a
gorgeous venue where the walls basically sing for you
however there has of late been Issues with The
Capacity so the promoters figured we'd make more money
if they moved the show to the working man bar across
the street plus they'd give us rooms upstairs for
free. It was Hallowe'en Saturday.
Last year we had come through town with the giant 14
person Hootenanny tour and then I got the impression
that we were too big and too wild for The Abbey and
now I worried that our new stripped down formation of
just three ladies singing pretty with only organ,
guitar and violin for accompaniment would be too
mellow for the wild night the whole town had come for.
Can I get more irony in my monitor? Thanks. Ah there's
no place like the right time.
I knew a bunch of our hometown gang were planning to
join us and I was happy to see them but (I'm sure the
Germans have a word for this) there's nothing like the
imminent threat of your best friends who really know
you showing up to make you nervous about performing
when you're tired. I was really proud of the music
we'd been making, the arrangements and the singing,
and wanted to show it off.
The sound was un peu brutal. The kind of sound where
you can't tell where the decay ends and the distortion
begins. Like, is that muffled boomy unsustained sound
coming from the monitors or could that be what my
voice actually sounds like or have I blown my own
speakers and have simply gone deaf? But press on. It's
only one night. There'll be other shows etc and we
still had the fresh memories of all the good shows
we'd just had to console ourselves with right? Right?
At least we weren't air traffic controllers or open
heart surgeons (Oh aren't we?) Just playing some songs
on a Saturday night right? It made me think about a
certain moment driving back into B.C.
I think Jenny, after spending 8 days with us, just
thought that Diona and I didn't like to listen to
music in the car which isn't true. I had even made The
Perfect Road Tape (and left it at home of course in
the early morning packing while still drunk state).
So somewhere on the long trip back while riding
shotgun, Jenny turned on the radio and was fiddling
with the knobs to make it sound good for quite a while
before I turned to her and said "I think the solution
here is that you must turn down the expectation knob".
See I'd had the whole trip out to figure out that the
speakers in my mother's car are blown out and that the
sound cannot be improved for all the knob-twisting in
the world.
I don't like thinking like this. It makes me feel old.
But sometimes it's the only way to combat
throat-slitting despair. The Weathered Pines came over
from Vancouver to join us and Hank Pine and The Pine
Family (total fluke with the two Pine bands I swear!)
and J. and Sarah and Emilie and the whole town came
out to see us and it's fine. Just tired that's all.
Hank got us to be in his band and Jenny playing the
drums in high heels is one of the hottest things I've
ever seen!
Afterwards we all played guitar upstairs on one of the
beds in a giant kitten ball trying not to notice any
underlying lyrical themes in the selection of
This tour was one of the best I've ever been on. I
felt like we were real lady musicians and Jenny and
Diona are fabulous tour mates. We're all pretty
different people but maybe that's why it was so easy.
Structural integrity.
And thanks Ma, for the car!
Carolyn Mark
Nov 2006
Barlassina, Italy