Day 1—Vancouver to Panorama

There is something odd about good musicians off the stage. On it they contain an inherent timing and communication rarely evident anywhere, but off it they possess no more of it than your average menstrual cycle (sans birth control). Therefore it was hard to get going on the first morning, February Fool’s Day, 2003.  We didn’t know the time of departure or where we needed to be until about 6AM. And because a show in Nelson was cancelled 2 days earlier we had to drive all the way from Vancouver to the Panorama ski resort. This should have been more daunting, but Colin is a bit of a driving machine. This will be a recurring topic, or if it doesn’t recur, it’s just true… (more…)

Day 2&3 – Panorama to Kananaskis

Another ski resort feeling the effects of a dry winter. Not a lot of people staying here, but they hadn’t had a band in for about 4 months, so the entire work-force from the stores and hotels surrounding the ski hill showed up at Woodies to see JR play 2 nights.  Fancy hotel and friendly people. Rider transgression attempt number 2. A group of 40 British kids were staying here for some sort of ski training. About 10 of them showed up for the first night, stayed too late, drank too much, slept in and although promising to bring out the whole crew the next night ended up getting banned by their coaches from attending because they had been so useless that day. This was a big shame because they seemed really nice, enjoyed the band a lot and would have filled the bar up with drunk people, which always adds flavour. In the end, the bar made off with 6 of our dollars. This was negotiated with the manager who really did resemble Fat Bastard of Austin Powers’ fame (as told by an unnamed staff source before we met her). This made for a difficult conversation where Al was very friendly and polite and tried very hard not to laugh… or go off in his Scottish burr and roll around in his sumo outfit…

After the first of the 2 shows, Stephen, Al and I ended up at a party at the employees’ residence with sound guy Norm and the rest of the cast from Jay and Silent Bob.  Stephen takes my picture wearing a ridiculous outfit next to some drying pot in the window (because I’m such a pothead!!).  We later discover the pot is fake. Like curtains. Weird… People were rolling joints made from pages of the bible. We (of course!!) abstained. It sure seemed smoky…

Day 4 – Off in Banff

Short drive. Gets colder. More ice. No falling this time. Stephen thinks it is minus 4 out.  I insist that it must be minus 10 to make myself feel better as it will get much colder… We meet up with old school friend Jesse who now lives in Banff where he is a manager at the Banff Arts Centre. Bad bars and bad cigars. Well just 1 bad bar. The first place is Wild Bills where we will play on the way back. Nice bar, my problem with it is the country band, a country band that played AC/CD and Ring of Fire, which is about the only country song I like, I think. Here we meet up with Mark the sound sucker the band has hired for the whole tour. He lives in Banfff and is the sound dude for Wild Bills. He’s driving his green truck all the way across so we can all fit. He definitely has hypoglycemia. More on that later.

Day 5 – Banff to Fernie

Strange order to do it but back through a few mountains to play for Australians in BC for ski holidays. The drive is not very comfortable as it is quite snowy and I’ve never really driven in this kind of weather before. Colin is doing very well and is driving WAY faster than I would be, but I’m a bit of a wimp on dry roads so… The CD player works again (this was a big scare on day 2…) Rheostatics seem apt…

Day 6 – Fernie to Calgary

Fernie was an odd night. The venue was an odd shape with an odd sound system and an odd stage. It was hard for the guys to hear themselves and they had a bit of an unnerved first set. It might be something that most people don’t notice, but when it sounds like shit on stage (for whatever reason) it is hard to be comfortable while performing. Once they were assured that it sounded good in the audience and they had a few more drinks things relaxed a little. Stephen is sick by the way. So am I a little.  The crowd was interesting. They danced like crazy then when the song ended they talked until the next song started. Almost no clapping, but if you really think about it clapping is kinda weird anyway. Had a nice chat with a girl who thought that the CD was too expensive and sneered at me. She was a very conceited dancer. Big fan Tyla was very sad that the band probably wouldn’t be back… Met up with old Vancouver friend Leslie for breakfast at The Blue Toque—very good breakfast!!! Al picked the wrong day to start his diet! Oh… I wasn’t supposed to say anything about that… too bad this is permanent ink… Uneventful drive. Temperature is around zero, so not too bad. Arriving in Calgary so must put away the laptop… Mark is a great sound guy; there really is an art to it.

Day 7 – Calgary to Edmonton

Calgary was a nice show. The sound was really good, good size room, sold quite a bit of stuff and started to meet more of the friends that Jazzberry has made over the years.  The temperature stayed good and the Flames lost. The next 2 nights in Edmonton the Oilers lose too…. Canucks are still going strong weather we are in town or not… Arrived in Edmonton, weather holding. I went for a walk near the hotel at around 3am after the first show and it was only about minus 1. Really nice people and staff at the Sidetrack for both shows with the first one being a little busier than the second, but they played awesome both nights to a very dancey crowd. The opening band on the first night is called red shag carpet, not bad… the second night it’s a cover band that has sequined shirts. Not overly eventful and I’m starting to see the stress and difficulties of playing mostly the same songs every night. It doesn’t matter how proud of the songs the band is, playing every night is hard on the ears and the system. It’s really not a natural thing, this sexless, noisy relationship.

Day 9 – Edmonton to Saskatoon

Illness. I can’t talk; only a barely audible and pubescent squeak will leave the mouthal area. But much more important, the band is,, one by one, starting to fall. Stephen has a sinus infection and can barely stand half the time. Al is next, ears. Drew is feeling a bit of everything and has a really tough time finishing the set at Lydia’s (quite a few songs get cut). A doctor fan loads us up with free samples and we move on into the night trying to feel our way to Thunder Bay. The other issue is the weather. IT’S COLD!!!! Much colder than it ever got in Toronto when I lived there for a year. Getting out of the van in Saskatoon was a very big shock. I’ve brought my dad’s 43 year old long underwear with me just in case. Well this is a case. I’ve never worn long underwear before and they are really quite toasty (feeling, not looking). We are currently driving from Saskatoon to somewhere east. The show in Kenora is cancelled because the band just can’t play. Colin is just in the last couple hours starting to feel the sickness. He sneezed all over the windshield and it froze. Left a nice note for Geoff Berner who plays at Lydia’s on Friday. “Stop following us.” The guy at the door puts “Jizzberry Rim” on the count sheet with lots of really girlie doodles… ….. it made me laugh…

Day 24 – A road in Quebec.

Illness killed any thoughts of doing this every day. I just felt so crappo for so long that I didn’t feel like doing anything. Just kinda wanted to go home. This touring thing is much harder than I’d imagined. I’ve been on tour once in my life for 15 days, but I got to play nearly every night. This time I get to watch every night, which isn’t quite the same sense of release that the band gets. So it is a tough go. The illness killed Stephen, Drew, Al and I for a few days each. I think I had 2 or 3 things going at once – as did Stephen.  Drew puked on stage in Montreal. Very sexy! Colin is still driving like a demon and never really did get sick. The van is holding up well. Puking on the side of hwy 17 into a 3 foot snow bank while semis blew the wind-chill up over (down below??) minus 40 is now officially the worst moment of my life…… The puke was freezing before it hit the snow… So since Saskatoon we’ve had a cancellation in Kenora (the band was way too ill), an odd night in Thunder Bay where the band house had no shower and little beds and a couch that I think was the cause of the flu, our food consisted of 4 terrible subway sandwiches that weren’t right at all…. Then someone made us burgers, then never served them, and they never did appear?? There was a nice battle between bar owners in Thunder Bay in the days leading up to the show. One bar promoted the show before the other one so the owner of the other bar kept stealing the letters J A Z Z B E R R Y R A M off the marquee that happens to be RIGHT across the street from his bar. Very juvenile and odd… the whole thing.

I don’t know what day it is anymore, so I’m not going to bother and I don’t feel like counting…

Next day was illness day in Canada. The day after that was Ottawa at Zaphods where a girl was trying to pick Drew up right in front of her boyfriend. Nice venue, but the band had to get off stage so the DJs could take over. SO the totally full bar emptied out while DJs played the Cult and Tones on Tail while about 7 people danced. Damned nut-sack shavers… Jazzberry could have played 2 more hours to a very appreciative crowd, but no, DJs must have their chance at beat-matching glory… Al left his bag in Ottawa. (Left behind item number 1.) A guy in the opening band called himself Spag. Short for Spaghetti. I vote no on abbreviated (possibly self given) nicknames.

Toronto

Toronto was very odd for me. I lived there for a year and quite liked it and hadn’t been back in the 8 months since I had moved home. So being there for about 17 hours was just kinda disappointing. Got to see some great friends though!! Plus it was Valentine’s Day and the turn out wasn’t what was expected. Plus it was freezing. But I got to eat at Pho Hung on Spadina. A great place for many reasons if you’re ever in the home of the Leaves. The Horseshoe is always special somehow and the Stewart parents flew out for a few of these shows. Very nice to see parental types anytime, but while ill it was especially appreciated, I think. I stayed with my friend Sarah where her little dog curled up next to me on the couch and kept me company. Her other dog (a pit bull who bit me on the knee last year, requiring tetanus-shot surgery) kept her distance…

Kingston

In Kingston we play on the coldest night of the year in a 100-year-old mansion that has been turned into the alumni type club for Queens University. The band plays in the Corner of the Living room. It feels a bit odd; it’s too small and they don’t move the tables in front of the stage so the dance floor is in this really small area just to the right of stage. The promoter orders us very mediocre pizza then proceeds to eat Thai food that her and the bar staff have ordered. The show goes well enough, but it’s just too cold and it’s the first day of Reading Week and the venue is just too small and just kinda odd. A very nice woman takes our terrible laundry and has it ready for us the next day just as we are leaving for Montreal. It costs 6 bucks and I don’t think about tipping. Just as guilt is setting in I hear that Colin gave her 20 bucks. I feel a little better. Colin always tips like a millionaire even though he’s only a hundredaire. This is when Al realizes that he has left one of his bags in Ottawa. The one with all his dirty clothes… more sexiness and glamour of road life!!

Water east of BC tastes terrible (I guess that’s relative, but I’m right!). The ice trees in Ontario, NB and Quebec are very beautiful. Like chrome-forged things. A combination of freezing rain and snow and just fucking cold has transformed the trees into things that simply must die, but they won’t. Plants are so resilient… way more than us wimpy humans… anyway they look excellent, like my grandparents’ old Xmas tree, all fake and silver. Had yet another night out in Montreal last night. Hung out with excellent Jazzberry sister Elle who takes us to an English language beer stronghold in the heart of french Montreal and friend Claire (who wrote a nice review of last week’s Le Swimming show in the “McGill Daily” twice-weekly paper, she didn’t mention the puke…) (24-hour video? Not in a ROW!). We eat Godlike Potates for the 3rd time on this tour. Pizza de Pins!! Go there!!

Antigonish

Antigonish is the best town/city name of the tour.  Drew says it many times while on stage just because it’s fun to say. I say it off stage many times to bug Al.  Say “Annie gone ish” really fast. Here the boys play to a completely packed out bar unfortunately called “Chuggles”. Half of the town’s population goes to St. FX University but alas it’s reading break for a lot of this tour so what I think of as packed is not quite as packed as the manager had hoped. It’s a nice shaped place, almost the perfect size venue for a good rock show. Here we meet super fan Jenn who laughs at everything I say. Very good for the ego when you’re so far from home. Ryan Clark has come with us from Montreal just for these 5 shows. He traveled with the band a few times in the past and wanted to have one last run of it. His company and heavy lifting energy is appreciated by all of us. I hurt my knee kicking him. He has a website with his own face on the main page. He’s an artist and will one day design plastic utensils that are strong enough to actually deal with the Alberta beef we are all so fond of. I’m not sure what that means.  We are on about 2 hours sleep and probably still drunk.

Fredericton

Fredericton. There ends up being 2 shows in Fredericton. The first is at a huge place called The Chestnut Club. It’s just a little too big, but the fans are happy and friendly.  The sound guy is a crazy bugger, possibly literally. “Bite the pillow; I’m comin’ in dry” and “It’s my hips that deceive them.” Super Fan in Fredericton is Jake who steals a guitar as a souvenir after the second show, which is at a tiny pub, called the Capital.  Well, he didn’t take a guitar but he is suspected of absconding with Drew’s kazoo and slide. To whomever took these items please note that Drew was very ill in the days leading up to this show so I wouldn’t play the Kazoo and also note that Drew hacked one of his fingers open on the first day of the tour (vehement strumming) and bled often all over the slide… so enjoy your souvenirs!! Do you know what a good kazoo is worth these days!! Nothing? Oh ok…

Halifax

Halifax. Day off here is heavenly. Hotel is nice. City is quite great with a bookstore that is better than anything in Vancouver. How can this be? Not fair! We have way more people. Stephen and I go for some sushi, as we are both suffering from withdrawal. It’s not too bad, a bit pricey, but it’s well made. Not like in Toronto where they don’t put the vinegar in the rice… Both shows are excellent. The bar is in this crazy complex of 5 bars where people can wander around between them all, drink in hand. There is a TV in the bar downstairs to which I sneak to watch some of the Canucks game. Ryan and I arrive just in time to see Morrison get the overtime winner. Puts a nice cap on a great night. The owner here is another nice guy, as is the sound guy. We have a sing along back stage with a few fans and some old friends from Ottawa. Al can play anything so we have a go at some John Cougar, Talking Heads and some more that I might remember later… The bar is open until 4am so we don’t get to sleep until after 6 both nights… I leave my electric razor in the hotel… I needed a new one anyway. Jessica made us an excellent dinner and gave us beautiful paintings. They are in the back of the pickup. Getting large oil paintings while on tour reminds me of that Monty Python scene when the Sergeant receives cake and a grandfather clock for his birthday from his soldiers while in a foxhole in the middle of a battle…. Very nice!!

Drive.  Colin gets gas. Stephen pays for it. Somehow I end up paying for it too? Rinse. Repeat.

London, Ontario

London, Ontario… This is where I’ll discuss strange tour phenomena number 1. The venue is great. Lots of good bands have played here at Call the Office. Tons of band promo type photos all over the walls with signatures and praise for the bar. Unfortunately it’s Tuesday and we are competing with pro wrestling and that “Don’t walk away Eileen” guy. Definitely the second best song about Eileen of all time. OK so strange tour phenomenon number 1: the number of times people ask me about downloading. People just aren’t buying the new CD. I fully respect anyone’s decision to download and not buy. This is the way of the world, it’s a personal choice and CDs are expensive; maybe many people born after… maybe 1982 just don’t know anything different, but to come up to me and ask why a certain song isn’t available yet on Kazaa is just really odd. Gas is more expensive, gear is more expensive, hotels are more expensive but people expect music to be cheaper or free… it’s hard being an indie band folks… People want stickers, they want posters, they want shirts and even hoodies which are kinda pricey, but they won’t buy the new record because they know it’ll be all over the internet in a week… Quite a shame… The ones who buy the record are HUGELY appreciated and really are supporting this band; It is REALLY expensive to tour… not to mention unhealthy, unsafe, time consuming, boring (when not on stage), cold (or hot) and just generally trying of one’s patience and will to live. The ones who don’t buy the record and come to the shows and buy other stuff are appreciated as well, but just don’t talk about downloading in this context. You are stealing from the band and are one of the reasons that bands stop touring and have to get real jobs.

Sudbury, Ontario

Sudbury, Ontario. The show is dedicated to Todd Bertuzzi whose cousin is in attendance and has been a big fan for a few years.  Bertuzzi was born here back before the trees started to grow. I went through Sudbury about 7 years ago and there were no trees or birds or… Met some more excellent fans, some of whom drive the 3 hours to SS Marie the next night for the show at Foggy Notions. Once again I open my big mouth and offend some Catholics… or maybe they were just tired… They were very nice anyway… Anal Satanism is as valid a belief system as any other, isn’t it? There was a used syringe on the doorstep when we were loading in. It felt quite a bit like home!! The bandhouse, which is under the bar in this case, is a scary place with no windows and not enough beds and normally terrible things drawn on the walls. The pictures are gone mostly now, but the vibe is still musty and oppressive. Dave Bidini wrote extensively about this place in his “On A Cold Road” book partly about a winter Rheostatics tour.  Recommended!  It’s my second sleep on a TERRIBLE band room couch; who knows what has gone on before… Did you know that Sudbury is a very francophone place?  Neither did I… Sandwiches at “the only” were excellent!!

Sault Ste. Marie. Day 412

Sault Ste. Marie. Day 412. There is no Sault anymore, which I think means “falls” in one of the native languages. They put in a canal. Canal Ste Marie just isn’t the same though. We get to watch the leaves lose during sound check; we enjoy this and the bar staff doesn’t enjoy that we enjoy it. The show is fantastic, maybe the best energy combined with the worst sound of the tour. This isn’t Mark’s fault. It sounds like the whole left side of the PA is vomiting (just for old time sake). A couple fans ask me if the distortion is intentional. I say yes. Jazzberry the metal years!! The owner of the bar, Brendan, is younger than I am. This bothers me. He has a good day job too. But he doesn’t get to sleep with Drew tonight!! I do! Oops… I promise him that the next time I come through the Soo I’ll be younger than he is and even less successful. I remember something about Red Bull?? And Drew literally bouncing off the hotel room wall.  Drinking was heavy this night… A fan writes (in finger) ”I wish my wife was this dirty” on the side of the van. We are proud. The opening band is wrong for Jazzberry really but they had a lot of friends there and they seemed to have a good time. They did about 3 originals and 9 covers. The ratio should be reversed… It was nice to see that cool handshakes have finally arrived in SS Marie. Both vehicles get speeding tickets on Hwy 17 on the way to Thunder Bay. We are asked what we were doing in SS Marie and where we are going. Colin screams “WHAT? ARE WE AT THE FUCKING BORDER??” then “YOU LOOK TERRIBLE IN THOSE PANTS!!” at the OPP important lady. This is the first thing Colin has said all tour. She cries and runs to her car and drives away.  Take 2. She lowers the fine to 100 when it could have been 295 for excessive speeding. She also asked if there were any drugs in the car…. I’m still working on the logic behind that question… wait. I’m still working on the logic of this tour… too bad we aren’t from a warmer, smaller country with great roads and no speed limits. But then that just wouldn’t be Canada now would it? We wonder how fast we would have to go to keep up with the sun. I do some fake math and guess about 6000 kms/hr. The band believes me. They sure are dumb. Then I tell them how much my head weighs and that I lost my pen again.

A new rule to live by

A new rule to live by: Make Bands Dinner. This is a very nice gesture that fans everywhere should try. You’re not going to get the Rolling Stones over anytime soon, but if you are a fan of an indie band and have maybe had some contact with them in the past, send an email when they are coming to town and invite them over… They might not be able to make it, they will definitely be late, they will definitely leave quickly after and they will definitely appreciate it beyond belief. This time in Thunder Bay it was Nancy and friends. Excellent!! (Note to self: buy a bread maker!!!) (update: I have a bread maker and have made 145 loafs so far) Drew just stuck duct tape in my hair. I’ll leave it for a while so he doesn’t get the joy of watching as I try to remove it… The band will randomly do odd things. Suddenly sending off packages with posters and shirts and CDs and photos when they get bored. This is all stuff that needs to get done, but I’m amazed at their sticktoitiveness… I’ve decided that it is unnatural to be surrounded by attractive women in a party atmosphere for 3 hours only to return to a hotel room to sleep next to a man you’re quite bored of. This could very well be psychologically damaging.  As the band’s official psychologist (and biographer), I’m afraid I’m at a loss… The show this time in Thunder Bay was a half decent one. It was in the lounge in the SUB at Lakehead University. The maximum capacity of the room was 130 and they cut it off at 130. This is unfortunate because people got turned away and it could have easily fit another 50-100 people. Promoters don’t like to break rules when it’s a door deal… When bars feel totally overstuffed it’s because the band got a guarantee. When there’s a lineup or it’s soldout, 99% of the time the band is getting the whole cover charge… Adam put the show on for the band and sang “I’ll Never Take The Place Of Your Man” with Drew.  He also did an opening set with a friend or 2 that we heard was kinda funny. Not sure if it was supposed to be funny, he was very drunk though… We missed it because of the dinner that we were late for. Actually we were late because a nice fellow gave us directions based on the Big Dipper being in the east. He later corrected himself, popped his head out the door and said he meant west. Both were moot, as it was cloudy. Duct tape is not hard to remove and put in Drew’s nose while he sleeps.

Dryden, Ontario subway

The girl in the Dryden, Ontario subway pretended to wipe blood on my subway bun. It was a very nice gesture on one of these entertainment craving days. We drive through the hometown of Avril Lavigne.  I quietly wonder if she ever worked as hard as Jazzberry Ram……………. I quietly suspect not. The band (and crew) votes on her being cute or not. Cute wins 4-2. March First. Ice fishing season in Northern Ontario is almost over. People walk the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver in T-shirts…. Wait, that was February first… This very messy and rambling diary is actually only a plea for the government to do something about hwy 17. This is supposed to be the Trans-Canada Highway, but it is one terrible curving lane of crappy slow semis, potholes, pothillls and blowing snow. Just imagine blowing snow…. ummm.. yeah.. Anyway… We’re about 3 hours from Winnipeg, late once again and the temperature is dropping.  We know this because ice starts to form on the inside of the windows. I know this because my feet start to hurt.

Drew finally grants me an interview

Boredom takes its toll so Drew finally grants me an interview. Usually he won’t talk to me.

Random van interview number 1.

B: Drew, how many times have you masturbated on this tour so far?

D: Me personally or me masturbating the other guys?

B: Well, both then.

D: ummm… don’t talk to me.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Drew makes noises when he sleeps. Sounds like a distant, stalling motor boat.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg was yet another odd show.  I have to do this thing called “advancing” the shows. This is where I play phone tag with the promoters to ensure that the rider will be ready, hotel rooms booked, time for load in and sound check etc… I have a terrible time getting in touch with the Winnipeg promoter. He is ALWAYS on the other line, doesn’t have voice mail and doesn’t call back for 2 weeks until finally he calls the day before the show to say “hi, call me.” This concerns us all, but in the end it all pans out completely professionally. The Rider is handled perfectly, the hotel is nice enough, the venue is huge and the sound is incredible. One problem, they forgot to promote the show.  Friends in Winnipeg have no idea the band is in town. The crowd is nice and appreciative, but the venue is 1000 times too big for an unpromoted show. There is a waterslide and pool in the hotel but once again we just don’t have time to play… Two dudes wearing plaid seem to really enjoy the show. The show turns out (we assume) to be a trade off show where the promoter will do a favour for the booking agent in return for Matthew Good or Trooper playing the venue in the future. The promoter doesn’t really care how many people show up because he will get his sell-out down the road. This world is a weird one… The bar looks like a Las Vegas showroom complete with those stairs that light-up as you stand on each step. Drew does his best Michael Jackson Billie Jean routine. I’m becoming more and more impressed with how many different brands of hand dryers there are. I’m partial to the bobrick touchless model. Good temperature and airflow, but not too loud. We hear the crappy Big Yellow Taxi cover by Counting Crows way too many times. Why does radio insist on playing the crappy cover when the original is almost always better? Hang out with Stephen’s friend Tara in Winnipeg. We realize we’ve met before and I think I owe her money. She doesn’t remember. I give her no money (I offered and she wouldn’t take it…). Very, very, very small (and have I mentioned cold?) world. Mark loses his old wooly toque, his “longest serving piece of accessory clothing.” It may have been stolen, he thinks. He is sad and needs to raise his blood sugar. Then he is happy. I go outside in only a Jazzberry hoodie to get something from the van and I die of exposure after making the mistake of touching the doorhandle without gloves.

Regina

Regina (the queen would be shocked) is a scary place. It’s a Sunday night and the bar is packed with some of the toughest looking people I’ve ever seen (and that’s just the girls). I swear some of them still have the broken cuffs on one wrist. We all feel small and weak (at least I do and I’m the tallest and heaviest one in the crew). Things are tense until the Hell’s Angels show up. Then things calm down terrifically. The biggest Angels dude befriends me and asks about the band. He keeps talking to me and people look at me funny. I get to watch as the big, fat, old guy gropes the young and attractive bar staff. As soon as he leaves things get kinda tense again. I order a Pint of Big Rock Traditional Ale. It’s not Trad, it’s really gross and the wrong colour. They say this happens a lot with Big Rock… I think this happens a lot in Regina… The bar is split in two, dance club in the back and pub, where the band plays, in the front. Most of the kids are in the back, but there is a nice response as the band gradually wins people over. I end up selling a fair bit to people who had never heard of the band. The actual bar, the wooden structure of the front room, is from a bar in the midwestern states where there was a gunfight and a murder. Something involving “Billy” or “Sundance”. Bullet holes are still visible. I suspect there might be more added before long. “MC Infamous” does some freestyle rapping during “Shoe Shine.” He asked during a break if he could jam for a bit. We kinda thought he might suck but he actually did a good job (and I don’t like rap very much). He had a good attitude about the bravado and imagery that really bugs me about rap… He told Al to never give up, which was nice, and of course ironic… The bar staff is very cool and it turns out to be an ok night considering the murderous atmosohere. We stay in the youth hostel in Regina. It’s a 6-bed dorm for the 6 of us. Bunk beds and all!! I sleep on top of Al and Drew gets on Colin. Stephen and Mark grab the singles in the corner (like they always do, ha ha?). We jokingly lament not having 6 bed dorm rooms more often while on tour. It ends up being as expensive as 3 hotel rooms and we can’t get our 15 dollar key deposit back in the morning because check out is at 10 and there is no one around at 11 when we leave. We take the television and colin figures out how to wire it to the alternator via the fuel pump and we get cable!

We all have gear-loading injuries

We all have gear-loading injuries. Backs, necks, fingers, knees, feet are all cut or sore or twinged or pinched. Carrying heavy stuff up really awkward stairs and through narrow doors and halls and more stairs after sitting in one spot in a cold/ freezing van for 8 hours is yet another part of this that is not natural. It’s still fun though. Kinda feels like I imagine being a contestant on stupid Survivor would feel. That would be sexy: “Survivor, Canada, Winter” On the way to Calgary we get speeding ticket number 5. This is a record. We will need to do a speeding ticket fund raising show somewhere soon. Feel free to donate! Somewhere west of Thunder Bay, Mark’s gas pedal gets stuck open (or on or all the way down or whatever). They hit top speed and enjoy it for a while, but soon realize that stopping will be an issue. They turn the engine off and glide to a stop at the side of the road. Fortunately we are behind them in the van. Colin gets out and snaps his fingers and fixes the problem in about 4 seconds. I’m taking my car to Colin from now on…

Trevor Linden played Junior here

I’ve learned how to sleep sitting up in the van. This is something that I’ve never been able to do before so I’m kinda proud in that dumb way you get proud of yourself for dumb things… Drew thinks I eat too many sandwiches. I think he has too many hot chocolates. Al and Colin like poo jokes (so I tell lots and lots of them). Stephen is in a rush to get to Calgary for some reason. Oh right, his new lovely girlfriend, Lisa, has flown in and is waiting impatiently… tap tap tap tap. “Where were you!?!” hah. She’s not like that at all… (update: they have a lovely new baby!) We are currently slowing down to see if the coppers are going to turn around and get us for another speeding ticket… they don’t. We rejoice and drive faster. More blowing snow today. Like little white disco synth laser lights all over the highway. Thankfully it stays down low so I can see. I’m not driving, I just like to see… What’s with the signs in Medicine Hat? What’s with the name Medicine Hat? Two unrelated words forced together… I have another sandwich at Subway in the Hat (do they call it that?). Drew has a pita just to be difficult. Trevor Linden played Junior here, I think?

Touring is bad for the figure.

Touring is bad for the figure. Wake-up, eat, sit in van, eat, sit in van, lift heavy things for 20 minutes, stand around, drink beer, eat, drink beer, stand around, lift heavy things for 20 minutes, drink beer, sleep (maybe). Repeat. Fat. 37 days of this. Fatter. Drew manages to lose weight; the rest of us are normal. He expends energy on stage beyond his calorie intake. I would need to do 9 sets a night to accomplish this. I do no sets. Calgary is getting closer. The temperature outside is rising because it is March and it is supposed to. Canucks play Boston I think. Very soon. We gain an hour and are now only 1 hour off Pacific Time for the first time in 4 weeks. Somehow this makes it into the diary.

Calgary (second edition)

Calgary (second edition). The show is at a venue on 17th Ave. in Calgary though. The “enue” part in avenue gives you away as a non Calgarian. So does “calGARY.” Morgan’s is a good bar. They fill it way beyond hope and they feed us crazy drinks to try and kill the band. Polish Potato Vodka. In this case Polish should be polish like the stuff your mum cleans her Vilas dining table with. Drew pukes out the back door. This big DJ guy (“red dog” from 92.9 or something like that) pukes for 5 minutes and takes one of the band shirts with him and pukes on it a bit. I accidentally later sell this to someone… (heh, just a little joke…heh….). He gives me half polish vodka and half absinth. This doesn’t make me puke, but it sure makes me feel funny. The show is awesome, very energetic and well played and the crowd is huge and packed and excellent. The hotel has very small pillows so that night’s pillow fight is quite bloody.

Banfffff

Banfffff. Mark is home and quite happy and comfy about it. Lisa squishes into the back of Mark’s truck for the ride from Calgary to Banffff. She is taller than Ryan, but she somehow manages to fall asleep in a place meant for tool storage…  oh…… I get it now… Anyone get that? I barely do… I’m not sure why she is tired. (update: I want to remove all of that, but won’t because I take responsibility for my mistakes) Wild Bill’s is a nice wide room with great steak and ugly, ungenerous staff (please turn on sarcastic irony filters). All the waitresses buy a little shirt and the tenders all wear their previously purchased jerseys so the whole staff is in jizzberry colours. I sell the last of many items this night. We have a day off the next night (although we later hear that people are expecting a show in Canmore that night and some even took the night off, oops very very massively sorry…… miscommunication in the music biz? Never!!) The tenders keep feeding us drinks well into the morning and we all die. I leave at about 6am only to realize that I’m not really sure where the band house is…. It’s cold and snowy and the town is spinning. A young woman gives me a 20 foot wide birth as I stagger past. I feel guilty, but I use this new found guilt strength to guide me home. I wake up at about 11am with my head on Drew’s foot and his head on my knee…. (he’s quite wee). How sweet it is…. We will all miss Mark terribly. I’ve only known him for 4 weeks but I feel as though it’s been 5. (Sorry old joke, but I like it…) We present him with a new wooly toque at breakfast that we found in the grand banf mall downstairs at the front. Mark cries and hugs us all saying “NO WAY” and shaking his greying locks in disbelief that it is all over. We sleep at his house for the 4th time and head off to BC where it’s warm and the driving is safe.

Kamloops

The worst driving of the trip happens in the last two days in our home province. We take a wrong turn down Death Blind Highway. I’m sure that any road called Death Blind is bad, but we drive on it for about half an hour before we find our way to Sun Peaks for the last Canadian show on the tour. Back to the ski resorts with few people. The show is a quiet one. The room is interesting. It’s supposed to be a submarine and it sorta sounds like it too. There is a smoking room (BC!!) and directly above the smoking room is a smoke machine. So it looks like people go in there to smoke and then the smoke gets released into the room every few minutes. It makes me laugh, but I’m really reaching by this point. Just as Stephen is taking off his guitar a huge wave of feedback hits the monitors and he jerks back and cuts his head open with his guitar. Blood spurts out in that great head-injury way and scares the crap out of all of us. Now he will have a physical touring scar to go with the emotional touring ones.  Drew notes that quality of accommodations is inversely proportionate to the quality of the shows on this tour. He doesn’t say it that cool though. Al and I breakfast on the meatballs from his pizza from the night before.

Seattle

We have to drive through Vancouver on our way to the border so colin can “clean out” the van before a border attempt. This is really weird. I get to hang out at my parents for 1 and a half hours before continuing on. They all have passports, I only have a drivers licence…. We have to go into immigration (At a border crossing that I’ve crossed 500 times in my life with no ID) where a guy types for 20 minutes into a computer all about me and my attempt to sneak into the states to blow something up no doubt only to finally get a print out saying that I’m Canadian, but I have no proof so after all that we have to drive all the way back to my parents’ house to get my birth certificate. They couldn’t have just said it right away. They had to waste our time and theirs with that crap!! I’m very angry. Livid is a good word here. I tell Al to go on to Seattle, but he very nicely insists that Nancy and he drive me all the way back and take me to Seattle anyway. This is extremely nice, but I’m unsure whether I want to go into the paranoid states at this point. (nothing against the good citizens, but…) (if I hear Bush’s voice one more time……………) (there are people alive today that simply won’t be…) (the Arab world will feel even better about Americans after…) sorry I digress terribly. Which reminds me, Ford Pier’s first album wins the most played record award for this tour. Simply (complexly actually) brilliant. The seattle show is a bit of a let down and we all decide that the last show really should have been banff, but touring is an odd thing. 600 people one night and 26 the next… The bar is kinda cool though and they have some great beer on tap. Including Molson Canadian <snicker> because it’s owned by a Canadian… The opening band is the best of the tour…. Ummm … I’ll put the name in when I remember it… (update: I never remembered) Jazzberry’s biggest Seattle fan tells me that I’m “gonna get a hard on” when I watch her dance and what can I say… ummm… I really tried…

The End

In summary I’ll say that I’m really glad I went. I don’t think I would tour Canada in February ever again. I got to play on a song on some of the nights which was, honestly, a huge thrill for me. Thanks very much for that and everything else guys!! The tour could have been better organized and maybe even a bit longer, but the guys were so busy finishing the record that the planning got left to agents and promoters and the usual problems did ensue… It really is a huge shame they are breaking up, but I really understand it now. I really really do. Meeting everyone was excellent expeshally Mark and a couple others. Sorry if I left out some names of people who deserve to be in here, but I don’t remember names too well when I’m rested, healthy and sober so………… The opinions in here are mine only, not the band’s necessarily at all. Get mad at me if you have problems with any of this. Home for a rest!!

PS.  You know what it did on our first day back in Vancouver?

It snowed…

Jazzberry Ram with Jpnsgrls at the Hindenburg in Vancouver! Sat. Feb. 21st, 2014! Check out our FACEBOOK PAGE for ticket info!!