Saturday, November 18, 2006

Summer 2006 - Part 3: Irony vs. Respect @ Hillside, followed by random Kate-napping!

Hillside Festival
The Friday

Oh my god the line-up! I've heard about this festival.
How it's not a 'Folk' Festival like the others. How
it's a Music Festival and upon consulting the
programme my first thought was "Holy shit this guy's
got good taste in music!" And then because I'm older
now, I changed it to "Oh my god me and this guy have
the SAME taste in music."
Picture every band you've ever wanted to see and all
your friends all on one island for three days. And
nearby swimming for when your brain was gonna melt and
a backstage celebrity beer tent to boot.
All the conditions for manic euphoria.
My only beef, upon consulting the program, was that I
was hostessing "The Irony Workshop".
"Irony? I was kind of working on more of a real life
tell it like it is kind of thing here. My life is NOT
ironic." I thought puffing up my chest and sticking my
chin out.
I don't know why I chose to focus on this detail more
than others. I was also in the "Those Were The Days"
workshop and one called "New World Disorder" and those
titles stayed on the page their normal size without
glowing, growing and grabbing me by the throat.
Irony huh? Huh.
Also in the programme was a picture of The Arcade Fire
and underneath there was a caption stating that they
had played Hillside '04 and '05 and that "Hillside
excels at catching rising stars just before they meet
nation-wide acclaim."
I'll keep all my digits crossed, with one foot on the
floor like usual.
We got really nice hotel rooms for the first and only
time the whole summer and we were pretty grateful as
'habit blunts the edge of pleasure' or at least that's
what all the poor folks say to comfort themselves...
The catch was that the festival site was half an hour
away from the hotel and there were only a few 8-seater
vans leaving every hour on the hour for everybody and
there were like seventy bands.
The plan was to arrive early so we could practice but
since a time was never fixed, Tolan and Diona and I
wandered off in search of supplies while the others
congregated and then when we materialized the others
had vapourized. Then time sped up like it does and we
boarded the shuttle to the first workshop which had
its charms and then we hung out in the celebrity beer
tent in between checking out The Great Lake Swimmers,
Corb Lund and Katheen Edwards who were gracing the
main stage. Me and Serena Ryder hula hooped like
fiends. She was even wearing black and white so we
matched. She asked if she could join our hootenanny. I
said only if she didn't ask me any questions and well,
that was one already.
Quite drunk, fairly stoned, a little bit AWOL and
totally unconcerned with The Future, ended up missing
the last shuttle.
Headed down the dirt road with a fairly motley and
hopeless crew, representing most of the provinces and
even The Yukon, not knowing what to do, when a man in
a van slowed down because he recognized my orange
travel case. He should have. He sold it to me. Runs
the thrift store in Guelph. He's normally kind of a
handful but I've never been happier to see him. And
his van was empty and he had room for all of us and
gave us a ride back to town.
Who says shopping doesn't pay?

The Saturday
Had a very sober, brief and daylight set with the
whole gang. The people really dug Hank and Lily. Would
have been great to play at night but it left the whole
day mostly free to check out bands, swim and avoid the
lure of the beer tent.
Saw The Hidden Cameras play and my new favourite band
Spiral Beach before heading over to the dreaded Irony
Right before I went on I thought I'd ask The Poets
about it before I got out of my league. Shockingly, I
found them standing around the bar. (The guys from
TOFU-Tons of Fun University. Go and see them now!) I
said, "Hey Poets! Quickly before I go on, what's irony
And they sighed and one said, "When the outcome defies
the expectation."
And the other added, "The vast gulf between promise
and reality."
Oh like EVERYTHING in my life!
I froze. Oh my god! Maybe my problem was way bigger
than the title of the workshop. Maybe if you refuse,
or are unable, to pick what I call "Door Number One"
(marriage, money, 'success' that straight people can
recognize etc) the people for whom door number one
actually worked out for think you are simply being
'ironic' anytime you think you are speaking 'the
truth". Holy shit. Did I once again pick the biggest
battle there is? Here I've been trying to convince
people (okay, and myself) to never accept anything
less than pure joy and not be lured by the promise of
money and that fun doesn't have to be accompanied by
consequence and the whole time they don't want to be
convinced because they've had to train those instincts
out of themselves to get hold of all the money and
power which would also explain The Humour Barrier.
Maybe some people aren't funny because they haven't
had to be. Oh god it was so depressing standing there
in the heat amidst all my peers about to go host the
irony workshop with these awful new revelations
running like ice through my veins.
Worst of all that fucking Alanis Morisette song was
stuck in my head. "Like ray- ee-ain on yer wedding
day.. " etc.
In the end it was fine. Garth had instructed me in
advance to simply say "I'm delighted to be hosting the
irony workshop" so I did.
The other guests seemed pretty sincere.
Well compared to me I guess.

Saw that Final Fantasy kid play in the evening and
holy does he ever have something going on. A SOLO guy
playing the VIOLIN through a LOOP PEDAL??? Give me a
break. But his songs were beautiful and the tent was
crammed and there were people gathered around outside
the tent. Even the back of the tent teaming.
He is so amazing that I saw straight guys lingering
around wondering what he was doing later!
Sarah Harmer headlined the main stage and she was
extra fantastic.
And okay, maybe in retrospect, perfecting the flaming
hula hoop trick with Lily during Sarah's quietest song
wasn't the best timing, but holy fuck we were so
excited we simply couldn't wait.
Holy Fuck played too but I missed them.

Hit the beer tent for some formula but pacing still
had to be implemented as they were paying us extry to
play the party at the end of the night. Sort of
thought there might have been a P.A. Also, we had only
said yes on the condition that there would be a ride
for us when we finished but at the end it was like
Saigon trying to get out of there. Plus everyone was
running out of smokes so it was Very Dire for a while
with those In The Know declaring to the darkness that
if we ever made it out they were going to have A Talk
With Sam the next day.

The Sunday
Loafed around, enjoying the fleeting hotel room luxury
and the brief respite from the heat and action.
Took a trip into town for some health food (Funny. It
was this place where nothing was cooked but it took
fucking forever- like they were all fucked up on
health or something) before heading to the site. Took
a cab.
A couple of sips of a.m. ale and then en route to the
swimming hole where I was stopped dead in my tracks by
This Voice. The Voice was accompanied by shit-hot
guitar playing and pedal steel and wicked drums. The
owner of The Voice was a black haired girl with red
lips and matching Converse in a black summer cocktail
dress with hickeys all over her back, presumably from
the guitarist (he seemed about the right height to
have been the artist) who smoked while he sang
Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles was the name of
the act. From The States. Man was she good. None of
that ladyfake shyness. Just The Real Deal and what a
voice! And Balls to the Wall music and that I've
never heard of her and that she was The Real Deal was
spiritually as good as a swim right then. I was soon
surrounded by all the other ladies that hearkened to
her siren call and we made up dance moves at the side
of the stage.
When it was over, all us Westerners floated out to the
middle of the lake and The Lone Yukoner swam out to
meet us because we know what time it is and where the
good times are at goddamn it! We even felt a little
bit bad for Ontario because everybody else was still
gonna have to live here when were were done with it!
Watched C'mon play to an adoring audience. Halfway
through the second song I saw a pair of orange
Converse go by horizontally, still attached to their
legs and thought, "Ah Tolan's started the stage diving
then has he? Good man. Good man"
But the admiration soon turned to dread at the
prospect of how drunk he was gonna be later.
Had a stroke of luck. Stopped to talk to The Snake and
Sean Dean from The Sadies and while we chatted a line
formed behind us and the clock struck five which meant
we were first in line for dinner! This never happens
and food had been kind of scarce so we were pretty
Confronted with our new found luck, someone had to be
worried and for once it wasn't me.
"Uh it probably isn't considered very 'rock'n'roll' to
line up for food is it?" Sean ventured looking behind
We decided that it's a hell of a lot more
'rock'n'roll' to find yourself at the front of the
line-up without even trying than stuck at the back.
Also if everything you did was rock'n'roll you'd
probably be dead because that's the most rock'n'roll
thing of all so if you want to continue rocking and
rolling, you should probably eat every once in a

I headed to The Sun Stage for The New World Disorder
workshop. It was the last chore before unfettered
freedom and the sun was finally going down. The host
was a CBC guy who I've met before and like but after I
played my "You're Not a Whore if No One's Paying"
song, he said "I guess in the future there's no
shame!" and did all these double takes to the audience
and waggled his eyebrows like what I was throwing down
was too risque to be associated with and it made me so
mad to be that misunderstood and dismissed.
I said, "No! Maybe in the future there's no MONEY!"
But by then my turn was over and it was his and he
sang some "George Bush is a jerk" song he had just
written. Sigh. Fuck.
Ran into my friends Kate and Tara who were camping in
style. They took my picture a whole bunch on the way
back to their tent and said I was beautiful but they
were on Ecstasy and it is they who are beautiful.

Got drunk, watched Feist, saw Christine Fellows' most
beautiful show ever and stayed up late with criminals.
Have decided there's only two ways you can wake up:
wrapped in pride or covered in respect.
Went for the former but the blanket's getting so
tattered I might soon be tempted by the latter.

The Monday
Kate had been suggesting that I come for a visit the
whole weekend. Even though I should know better than
to ever doubt her, I hemmed and hawed feeling
obligated to The Group. Plus I could sense that Luther
was desperate to get us all out to his cottage on the
lake for the upcoming coupla days off.
Kate pulled up in her Wagoneer with coffees right when
the armada was shipping out and receiving/ignoring the
many instructions. We were all supposed to meet up at
some gas station a couple of hours up the 401 but the
one mistake a hostage taker can make is leaving the
hostages unattended as this is when they revert back
to having their own ideas. Once out of Stockholm, the
Syndrome wears off. Diona, Lily and I, spying an
opening, hopped in with Kate and about 20 minutes up
the road we had all started to get the notion that why
shouldn't we get to visit Kate and her dog and her
horses and opulence? I mean what the fuck we could go
to Luther's the NEXT day and how pissed could everyone
be since it was a day off and all etc.
But how to leave word so no one would be left waiting
for us?
Ah. The delightfully passive aggressive text message
feature offered to us by these modern times for such
occasions could be implemented and word could be sent
with limited consequences.
Think of the savings!
So with one flick of the wrist:
"Go on w/o us.
going to Kate's for the night.
C U 2morrow
xo us"
was sent into outer space and we were free!
"You had this planned all along!" I said to Kate.
She told me to reach into her purse and look in her
day timer under Monday. There in ink with no question
mark after it was my name.
A few minutes later Diona's phone rang. It was Jenny
saying "You fuckers are leaving me alone with all the
dudes tonight?" Ah shit. If anyone could handle it it
was her and it was only for one night.
We hit the ranch mid afternoon after stopping at the
grocery store and the farmer's market and the hooch
hut with lofty dinner plans on our minds.
Mojo the pointy headed dog met us in the yard as we
unloaded the Jeep. Fuck it was hot. Kate suggested
that we walk up the road for a swim in Greg's pool.
Greg Keelor. From Blue Rodeo. They're neighbours.
Awesome guy. Let me record a song at his house once.
Now because of the fashion in which we had abandoned
ship, we were left without fashions. Kate pulled out a
surprising array of bikini options but she is a
supermodel and I am, well, two supermodels. Found
something possibly intended for yoga that covered both
fur and flesh and headed down the road.
Lily had found a bright orange two piece to match her
flaming hair and placed a tiger lily behind each ear
to complete the ensemble.
Once we were in the pool we noticed that the deer girl
was completely covered in pollen. Then the bees
swarmed. We could hardly drown out her screams even
when we put our heads under water but the thing to
remember here is that if it is your goal to constantly
be the centre of attention, you don't necessarily get
to control the KIND of attention you'll attract.
Diona was in blue afloat an inflatable spiderman
donut, drinking a caesar and smoking, looking like an
ad for neglectful parents.
Except for the deer flies (hurts like a motherfucker
when they bite and the bastards can swim!) and the
young man with the weed eater, it was most relaxing.
Headed back to the house when it got a little cooler
to start on the dinner and mint juleps.
Ate al fresco joined by Greg and Kate's parents, Lord
and Lady B..
Candle sticks and plates laden with food overlooking
the darkening valley. It looked like a gourmet
magazine or the set of a Peter Greenaway film!
Wonder where the poor folks are at tonight?
When the eating slowed down and it was back to the
drinking, Kate's father seized his opportunity to
grill his guests. He enjoys nothing better. He's
written several books on how well he knows people but
mostly he asks questions so he can tell you The Real
He leaned back in his chair and said, "What is it you
like best about what you do?" I could feel it coming.
I've been here before so I know about this part. I
watched Kate and her mother exchange long eye rolls
and sigh.
"Uh Mr. B, as grateful as I am to be enjoying your
hospitality, it's like the MONDAY after a festival and
we're all a little depleted so if you start asking us
about that stuff now, we'll probably end up crying and
switching professions", I said tearing up.
I could see Keelor stifling a smirk.
He turned to Diona who was, as ever, more prepared.
"The travelling" she said without even a pause to
consider all the other things.
"And what is you you dislike the most?"
"The waiting".
"Excellent answers. Marvellous."
I felt like a failure. I needed to win back the table.

"So what is it you like about staying in one place
best?" I said trying to beat him at his own game.
"Well.... (huge pause).... you can't really just pick
one thing and say what's best ....."
"Well I just think if YOU'RE allowed to ask a 'what do
you like best' question than so am I..."
"All right. My wife. Now ask me what's my least
favourite thing!"
"All right. Shoot"
"My wife."
Ho HO!
There's something about dining with peoples' parents
that makes all us travelling rock stars act like we
are about seven.
Look at me Dad! I got an A!
I think when you are tired and exposed to opulence it
makes you want to rethink all your decisions which
makes you defensive.
Retreated back to Kate's teenager suite over the
garage where we smoked hash and played guitar man! I
love her. She is one of those rare souls who know
they're lucky, don't feel guilty about it and wanna
share it.

The Tuesday
Woke up quite puffy from all the everything but not as
bad as Lily. Man, when we were eating dinner outside,
those mosquitos ate the shit out of her ass through
the slats in her chair. Holy shit. Wow. It's usually
Slunk into the main kitchen in hopes of discovering an
unattended coffee pot but alas, Lord B. had beaten me
there and was manning the espresso maker. I really
didn't want to face him without coffee. But it was,
after all, his castle so I waited with him for the
precious nectar.
We had yet to figure out how we were going to hook up
with the Mother Ship. There had been talk of buses
and/or trains and whatnot the night before.
Lord B, anxious to be rid of the hobo element, asked
if we had figured out a plan yet. I said no but that
after I had some coffee I was going to look into it.
Then he got me with a double zinger.
He said, "Well why don't you just rent a car? You're
too old for public transit!"
I said it was sort of a money issue and then he
reloaded and said, "Well poverty's a sin you know."
Luckily Diona entered right when I had to stick my
head in the fridge, under the pretext of finding
cream, to muffle the primal screams that lurked in my
throat. Mercifully, she was able to distract him until
the coffee was ready.
Kate had risen early and gone to work. She worked at a
restaurant we all loved in Port Hope called Zest. She
suggested we go down to Greg's for a swim and ask him
for a ride into town.
I hoped Lord B didn't think I was too old for that
Of course Greg said he would give us a ride to town-
and in a Golden Cadillac to boot!
On the way there he asked us if we had all our stuff.
We told him we had no stuff and explained the
conditions surrounding our escape. "Oh so you're part
of a bigger thing..."
Then he said he'd give us a ride the whole way to
Luther's once Kate got off work and they'd stay for a
swim. "Better to be moving in heat like this anyway.."

Three heads nodded vigorously in the back seat. We
couldn't have agreed more.
We were all thinking, "You mean we get to pull up in
front of Luther's in a golden Cadillac driven by you
after a night like that and it won't even hurt?" and
marvelling at our luck.
We got to eat peaches and listen to Greg's new record
and take a cute ferry and everything. Luther called
Diona with the directions and we patched him through
to our 'chauffeur' grinning devilishly.


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